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Thread: Looking for Examples of Extreme Evolution in Action Today

  1. #1 Looking for Examples of Extreme Evolution in Action Today 
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    I'm not talking minor adjustments here. No SNP's. I'm talking creatures developing amazing new traits within a mere few generations...developing wings or legs, for example...I know bacteria and viruses replicate quickly and this allows them to evolve more quickly, yet I have heard that finches, monkeyflowers, sockeye salmon have undergone dramatic evolutionary changes quickly..I just can't find a good explanation online, so maybe people here can help me out...I need to formulate a convincing argument for a friend.. thanks...


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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Try the bible.

    That's the sort of evidence your friend is seeking.


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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Try the bible.

    That's the sort of evidence your friend is seeking.
    She's not religious. Merely curious.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    He is asking the wrong question.

    He is asking evidence for evolution with his criteria. That is wrong. Instead he should read on the available evidence on evolution and adjust his misconceptions.
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  7. #6 Re: Looking for Examples of Extreme Evolution in Action Toda 
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I'm not talking minor adjustments here. No SNP's. I'm talking creatures developing amazing new traits within a mere few generations...developing wings or legs, for example...I know bacteria and viruses replicate quickly and this allows them to evolve more quickly, yet I have heard that finches, monkeyflowers, sockeye salmon have undergone dramatic evolutionary changes quickly..I just can't find a good explanation online, so maybe people here can help me out...I need to formulate a convincing argument for a friend.. thanks...
    Steelhead trout I believe, within 7 generations, unable to mate with their lake-mates. Try google.

    There was also a 1-generation example in butterflies a few years ago, a single mutation that caused a complete sexual selection to a single butterfly variant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    He is asking the wrong question.

    He is asking evidence for evolution with his criteria. That is wrong. Instead he should read on the available evidence on evolution and adjust his misconceptions.
    It is a she. lol..I know. The question is based on a misconception, yet I still find examples of accelerated evolution exciting. Especially the ASPM and microcephalin variants:

    In the two Science papers, the researchers looked at variations of microcephalin and ASPM within modern humans. They found evidence that the two genes have continued to evolve. For each gene, one class of variants has arisen recently and has been spreading rapidly because it is favored by selection.

    For microcephalin, the new variant class emerged about 37,000 years ago and now shows up in about 70 percent of present-day humans. For ASPM, the new variant class arose about 5,800 years ago and now shows up in approximately 30 percent of today’s humans.

    These time windows are extraordinarily short in evolutionary terms, indicating that the new variants were subject to very intense selection pressure that drove up their frequencies in a very brief period of time—both well after the emergence of modern humans about 200,000 years ago. Each variant emerged around the same time as the advent of “cultural” behaviors. The microcephalin variant appears along with the emergence of such traits as art and music, religious practices and sophisticated tool-making techniques, which date back to about 50,000 years ago. The ASPM variant coincides with the oldest-known civilization, Mesopotamia, which dates back to 7000 BC.
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    I wrote a short essay to clear things up for her..please make sure I've got all my facts straight:

    Extensive evolutionary adaptations don’t happen in the blink of an eye. Drop a dog into the middle of the Atlantic and he will swim for awhile until he exhausts his energy reserves and drown. He won’t automatically develop a nose that enables him to swallow underwater, develop periotic bones structured like those of whales, enabling it to hear well underwater and a more streamlined body resembling that of Ambulocetus natans of the Eocene. Ambulocetans was a creature that was an intermediary between a land-dwelling mammal and a whale. It did not develop all of the necessary components needed to live permanently in water at once. It lived on the coast and had time to adapt and eventually evolve into a new species. Exceptions to the rule are bacteria and viruses, which evolve more quickly due to a faster reproductive rate and lateral gene transfer. Our major histocompatability complex (MHC) locks can’t always keep up with the clever manipulations of viral keys.

    Genetic drift and natural selection are the major driving forces of evolution. Genetic drift simply means that random allele frequencies occur in a population over time and are subject to change, or drift. Natural selection, on the other hand, makes gene variants more or less common due to their causal effects on reproductive success. These processes effect small changes over time, which can eventually lead to more noticible phenotypes. Single- nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s) are these minor changes that have a cumulative effect over time in drastically effecting gene expression. SNP genotyping is so important, in fact, that it can be used to find out how medicines may potentially effect individuals.

    So, evolution in action obviously isn’t a human or pig developing wings in a generation or two just for the hell of it. There must be an important reason for such drastic change. There must be A.) some sort of evolutionary pressure to drive the change and B.) minor adaptations leading to a greater change over an extended time period.

    We can see evolution at work today in rare instances of what is known as accelerated evolution. In humans, it would make sense to see the most prominent genetic variations in our brains, as our encephalization quotient is much larger than expected for a primate of our size and the fact that this is what makes us so unique among other animals. This is certainly the case. For a brain-size determining gene, microcephalin, the new variant class emerged about 37,000 years ago and now shows up in about 70 percent of present-day humans. For ASPM, another such gene, the new variant arose about 5,800 years ago and now shows up in approximately 30 percent of today’s humans. What’s the significance of this? The microcephalin variant appears along with the emergence of such traits as art and music, religious practices and sophisticated tool-making techniques, which date back to about 50,000 years ago. The ASPM variant coincides with the oldest-known civilization, Mesopotamia, which dates back to 7000 BC, according to two articles written for the journal Science. More recent variations may have occurred and are as of yet unknown.

    In finches and sockeye salmon, accelerated evolution is also at work. Finches of the Galapagos must often compete with other finches for food and their beak size must change accordingly. They have a limited time frame available to do this or they will face extinction. Change or die, this is the mantra for some species of finch.
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    I heard a talk a few months ago where they followed the evolution of sticklebacks over a single generation.

    The allele frequency varied a lot through this one generation span, but the observant person would have noticed that the end state was actually frikking the same as the starting state.

    so this was actually a bad example.

    The following paper is much better. This is over a period of 40 years. Rapid evolution!

    paper

    We have reported a dramatic example of “reverse evolution” [9], in which there has been an increase in completely plated sticklebacks in a freshwater lake. Our data demonstrate that selection for the complete morph was particularly strong during the early 1970s, suggesting that the main increase in the frequency of completely plated fish might have occurred during a time period of less than a decade. Armor reduction has also been shown to occur within only a few decades after the introduction of marine sticklebacks into freshwater [35], [36] and [37]. Thus, sticklebacks can respond to environmental changes by either an increase or a decrease in lateral plates within a few decades. Rapid phenotypic evolution in sticklebacks provides us with a great opportunity to further investigate the mechanisms by which animals can respond to rapidly changing environments [38].

    edited your link so it wouldn't mess up the page formatting. -Paralith
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    it's always a dangerous game to try and answer a creationist using his preconceptions as a starting point - before you know it you'll be trying to answer questions in the vein of "when did you stop beating your wife"

    here's my thoughts on the subject (sorry it's a recycled post, but i'm a great believer in recycling)

    back to the insistence of having the impossible proven, another example, using the fake distinction between micro- and macro-evolution, of how an argument can be pushed into a direction where it is impossible to prove one way or another - in short, another move into the realms of untestability

    (1) there are now plenty of experiments and observations in nature that prove the existence of evolution and even speciation in real-time, the latter mainly on micro-organisms - since they can't deny them, a creationist calls this "variation within one kind"
    (2) it is possible to infer evolution over longer periods of time using the fossil record as well as genetics - the response of the creationist is to deny the validity of this inference and emphasize what he calls "gaps"

    by combining elements of both types of evidence, creationists can now come up with 2 challenges to "prove" evolution to their satisfaction :

    • show me the process proven for (1) but over the time scales of (2) - ignoring the fact that the quality of evidence deteriorates the further back you go in time
    • show me the effects observed for (2) on the time scales of (1) - ignoring the fact that time is essential to move from small variations to large differences


    the impossibility of these proofs are evident since it treats the all-important time factor as if it were of no consequence, presumably since most creationists don't believe in an old earth anyway
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    gottspieler, your explanation isn't bad but there are some details that aren't quite in place. Such as, of course dropping a dog in the middle of the ocean won't cause evolution because individuals don't evolve - their genes don't change in their life time. Populations evolve. Natural selection and genetic drift are some of the mechanisms of evolution but you didn't mention in that paragraph the most important mechanism of all, from which all the others ultimately stem, mutation. Little but important details.

    I realize the talk origins pages are pretty hefty and perhaps not worth reading through for someone who's just minimally curious, but if your friend is willing they have several good pages that address this issue. Maybe you could read through them and pull out some good points for her.

    29 Evidences for Macroevolution

    Observed Instances of Speciation

    More Observed Speciation Events
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    I would like to refer to one particular observed Instances of Speciation. In this particular publication almost a countless amount of speciation events were described.

    In a fact thousands of speciation events happened over night because of this publication.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    gottspieler, your explanation isn't bad but there are some details that aren't quite in place. Such as, of course dropping a dog in the middle of the ocean won't cause evolution because individuals don't evolve - their genes don't change in their life time. Populations evolve. Natural selection and genetic drift are some of the mechanisms of evolution but you didn't mention in that paragraph the most important mechanism of all, from which all the others ultimately stem, mutation. Little but important details.
    Thanks. I know that the dog-dropping was far-fetched but it was catering to the question she asked me. It was just an example of what you just stated, that his genes wouldn't change in his lifetime (other than due to mutation, which would potentially be harmful).
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    Having static genes is also potentially harmful.
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    I revised my essay:

    Extensive evolutionary adaptations don’t happen in the blink of an eye. Drop a dog into the middle of the Atlantic and he will swim for awhile until he exhausts his energy reserves and drown. He won’t automatically develop a nose that enables him to swallow underwater, develop periotic bones structured like those of whales, enabling it to hear well underwater and a more streamlined body resembling that of Ambulocetus natans of the Eocene. Ambulocetans was a creature that was an intermediary between a land-dwelling mammal and a whale. It did not evolve all of the necessary components needed to live permanently in water at once. It lived on the coast and had time to adapt and eventually evolve into a new species. Bacteria and viruses evolve more quickly due to a faster reproductive rate and lateral gene transfer (gene swapping via tiny tubes). Our major histocompatability complex (MHC) locks can’t always keep up with the clever manipulations of viral keys.

    (Picture) Reconstruction of Ambulocetans natans

    Genetic drift and natural selection are the major driving forces of evolution. Genetic drift simply means that random allele frequencies occur in a population over time and are subject to change, or drift. Natural selection, on the other hand, makes gene variants more or less common due to their causal effects on reproductive success. These processes effect small changes over time, which can eventually lead to more noticible phenotypes. Single- nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP’s) are these minor changes that have a cumulative effect over time in drastically effecting gene expression. SNP genotyping is so important, in fact, that it can be used to find out how medicines may potentially effect individuals.

    So, evolution in action obviously isn’t a human or pig developing wings in a generation or two just for the hell of it. There must be an important reason for such drastic change. There must be A.) some sort of evolutionary pressure to drive the change and B.) minor adaptations leading to a greater change over an extended time period.

    We can see evolution at work today in rare instances of what is known as accelerated evolution. In humans, it would make sense to see the most prominent genetic variations in our brains, as our encephalization quotient is much larger than expected for a primate of our size and the fact that this is what makes us so unique among other animals. This is certainly the case. For a brain-size determining gene, microcephalin, the new variant class emerged about 37,000 years ago and now shows up in about 70 percent of present-day humans. For ASPM, another such gene, the new variant arose about 5,800 years ago and now shows up in approximately 30 percent of today’s humans. What’s the significance of this? The microcephalin variant appears along with the emergence of such traits as art and music, religious practices and sophisticated tool-making techniques, which date back to about 50,000 years ago. The ASPM variant coincides with the oldest-known civilization, Mesopotamia, which dates back to 7000 BC, according to two articles written for the journal Science. More recent variations may have occurred and are as of yet unknown.

    In finches and sockeye salmon, accelerated evolution is also at work. Finches of the Galapagos must often compete with other finches for food and their beak size must change accordingly. They have a limited time frame available to do this or they will face extinction. Change or die, this is the mantra for some species of finch.

    The most drastic evolutionary changes that can occur result in speciation, or the formation of an entirely new species. The general rule is that this takes a fairly long amount of time to accomplish. We know this thanks to an extensive fossil record. The most well-studied evolutionary histories are the rise of modern day birds from tiny velociraptor-like dinosaurs and that of cetaceans.

    Archaeopteryx, often referred to by its German name Urvogel ("first bird"), is the earliest and most primitive bird known to man. It lived during the Jurassic Period, about 150 million years ago. It has more in common with small theropod (bipedal) dinosaurs than it does with modern birds. It shares the following features with the deinonychosaurs (dromaeosaurs and troodontids), the “fearsome claw lizards” known for their “killing claws”: jaws with sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, a long bony tail, and hyperextensible second toes (those deadly "killing claws"). Archaeopteryx’s ability to fly is disputed. Microraptor, a small, dromaeosaurid dinosaur (Dromaeosauridae is a family of bird-like theropod dinosaurs) was a feathered carnivore that flourished during the Cretaceous Period over a hundred million years ago. It also shows characteristics of both reptiles and birds. It could not fly, but was likely a glider. Rahonavis, a possible relative of Archaeopteryx, arrived on the scene during Late Cretaceous, some 70 to 80 million years ago. It could probably fly, according to researchers, yet was clumsier than modern day birds.

    (Picture) The Berlin Archaeopteryx specimen

    Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) proposedly began their evolutionary journey in the form of Pakicetids, which some scientists argue, are the earliest whales. Their fossils were found near bodies of water, they are therefore presumed to have spent part of their life in water. They lived about 53 million years ago. They looked somewhat like dogs with hoofed feet and long tails. They are linked to modern whales primarily by their ears: the structure of their auditory bulla (The ovoid prominence below the opening of the ear in the skulls of many animals) is formed from the ectotympanic (outside of the eardrum) bone only. Although the animals were designed to hear above water, the shape of the ear region is highly unusual and only resembles the skulls of whales. Ambulocetes natans, the "walking whale", mentioned in the first paragraph of this essay, came along about 49 to 50 million years ago. It had a periotic bone (the single bone that surrounds the ear of mammals) like that of a whale, allowing it to hear underwater. It’s teeth were similar to that of cetaceans. It could also swallow underwater. Rodhocetus fossils from 47 million years ago show an adaptation even closer to an aquatic lifestyle. the sacrum - a bone that in land-mammals is a fusion of five vertebrae that connects the pelvis with the rest of the vertebral column- was divided into loose vertebrae. Also, the nasal openings were closer to the eyes than in earlier fossils of their ancestors. Basilosaurids and Dorudontids, the first fully marine cetaceans emerged about 38 million years ago. They were larger than their predecessors and their limbs were much smaller. Later came early dolphins (which were classified as whales) and modern whales. Kentriodontids date to the late Oligocene, about 30 million years ago. They look remarkably similar to modern dolphins.

    (Picture) Kentriodon, an early dolphin

    Why did early animals such as the Pakicetids, for example, need to evolve? It is believed that a survival strategy similar to that of the African mousedeer was employed where, when threatened by a bird of prey, the animal dives into water and hides beneath the surface for a few minutes. That is a theory as to how their long and tortuous journey into whalehood began. Such theories are intriguing, but there is still a lot to be discovered and evolutionary biologists, like anyone else, do not always have a definitive answer to every question posed to them. They do, however, have clues. What is crystal clear is that evolution on a grand scale almost always takes time.
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    Why did early animals such as the Pakicetids, for example, need to evolve?
    They didn't need to. Some did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Why did early animals such as the Pakicetids, for example, need to evolve?
    They didn't need to. Some did.
    I believe there must be an evolutionary pressure of some sort, although we might not always know what it is. At least for speciation to occur.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Why did early animals such as the Pakicetids, for example, need to evolve?
    They didn't need to. Some did.
    I believe there must be an evolutionary pressure of some sort, although we might not always know what it is. At least for speciation to occur.
    Not true. It could be simply be a matter of a mountain range or a river arising that cuts a population in half and they slowly drift apart until they become too different to interbreed. No selective pressure, at least.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Why did early animals such as the Pakicetids, for example, need to evolve?
    They didn't need to. Some did.
    I believe there must be an evolutionary pressure of some sort, although we might not always know what it is. At least for speciation to occur.
    Not true. It could be simply be a matter of a mountain range or a river arising that cuts a population in half and they slowly drift apart until they become too different to interbreed. No selective pressure, at least.
    Agreed. It musn't always be selective pressure. That is why I said evolutionary pressure in my essay. Separation would likely force the newly divided animals to change, especially if they were introduced to unfamiliar environments.
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  21. #20 Redsitrbution of flora providing niches for speciation 
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    Another possible cause of speciation is the distribution of a species to a new environment. Consider the Galapagos. Many of the species there are believed to have originated from the mainland them changed.

    I read about a moth or butterfly on an island that only pollinates bananas. It's quite interesting since the family only exists on these islands and banana plants were introduced to the islands by Polynesians. So this insect has evolved to pollinate bananas since the introduction by man.

    As man is moving more species around the globe with him is man creating niches that can be filled by evolving species? It appears to have happened at least once.
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    There is no such thing as evolutionary pressure.

    The varieties that do well do well. The ones that don't don't. The end result is a shift in 'type'.

    It's just a process.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    change "evolutionary pressure" to a combination of natural selection, sexual selection, neutral drift and founder effect
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    There is no such thing as evolutionary pressure.

    The varieties that do well do well. The ones that don't don't. The end result is a shift in 'type'.

    It's just a process.
    Numerous sources confirm that evolutionary pressure exists.

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6807/8/34

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/art...?artid=2488352

    http://bioinformatics.oxfordjournals...btn057v1?rss=1
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  25. #24  
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    Ok. It doesn't exist in my opinion as in the way I would define evolutionary pressure. And How I think most laymen people will see it defined.



    I gather from the article it is a strictly defined concept that defines a phenomenon.

    I short. I was wrong. But can't bare to admit it.
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    In answer to the OP;

    viruses and bacteria 'evolve' - on Darwinian lines, 'immunity' to drugs. Pretty fast. I'm sure you heard of this, and on the face of it is good evidence in favor of Evolution.

    Malaria is evolving 'around' our anti malaria drugs. So fast that the whole 'inoculation' idea is being doubted. The bug will evolve faster than our anti-malaria development cycle.

    On the face of it.
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    I just posted this in another evolution question but ring species of salamanders in California are showing great speciation as we speak. I am pretty sure last semester I read a paper about color dimorphism in a certain lake species of fish in africa as well. That is two esamples
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