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Thursday, July 13, 2006

You Should Know: Evolution Is NOT Just a Theory

The moniker “Theory of Evolution” is a quaint misnomer. Various groups and individuals have tried to undermine evolution since it was first presented in 1858. Each attempt has failed and scientific inquiry has continued to reinforce evolution through discoveries in paleontology and molecular biology among others. Currently evolution stands as one of the most robust of scientific principles.

One needs to start at the most basic levels to understand why evolution is a LAW of nature.

Genes contain the information that is used to generate the proteins that make up biological systems from viruses and single-celled organisms to humans, dinosaurs, gorillas, bald eagles, etc.

When genes are reproduced, sometimes a mistake (mutation) will be made and this mistake will change the function of the protein coded for by the gene. More often than not, these changes are deleterious and not passed on to future generations. Occasionally, however, the change will be beneficial and the organism harboring it (amoeba, giraffe, tree, sloth, etc.) will pass it on to its offspring. NOTE: This is an oversimplification. Sometimes beneficial changes arise that are not passed on. For example, if a mutation gives a finch a beak that is more useful for cracking open nuts, that beak will probably not save the finch from being eaten by an eagle (or fox, or tiger, or shark). Conversely, deleterious mutations can be passed on if the negative of the mutation is outweighed by other, favorable conditions. Sometime mutations have both good and bad characters. For example, sickle-cell anemia is caused by having two copies of a particular mutated gene. However, individuals with only one mutated copy are somewhat resistant to malaria. So, it is a complex plot but the simplified version above gives the main storyline.

This molecular evolution has been reproduced in the lab. This point should be emphasized: the molecular basis of evolution, as explained above, has been demonstrated and even manipulated innumerable times by scientists in a controlled laboratory setting. Again, there is a mountain of indisbutable evidence for molecular evolution.

To be continued…

For more info right now see:

Law of Evolution -ROBBLOG: Science News & Opinion
Evolution -Wikipedia

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Recent Human Evolution

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