Questions about evolution?
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12-06-2013, 04:46 PM
Questions about evolution?
I get that species evolve through mutation and then natural selection, but if an animal mutates into a more desirable form, how does it reproduce? Would it reproduce with its 'old species' (i know that not correct, not quite sure hoe to phrase it though). What causes these mutations? Thanks for your responses i've been searching online, but I can't find a website or youtube channel that can explain complex things, any suggestions are welcomed.

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance. -Laurence J. Peter
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12-06-2013, 04:57 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(12-06-2013 04:46 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  I get that species evolve through mutation and then natural selection, but if an animal mutates into a more desirable form, how does it reproduce? Would it reproduce with its 'old species' (i know that not correct, not quite sure hoe to phrase it though). What causes these mutations? Thanks for your responses i've been searching online, but I can't find a website or youtube channel that can explain complex things, any suggestions are welcomed.

Mutations that are survivable are overwhelmingly tine changes. A large change would likely be fatal, but if it weren't, then it might be impossible to find a mate (in a species that reproduces sexually).

However, it is the accumulation of small changes over generations that creates new species.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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12-06-2013, 05:04 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(12-06-2013 04:46 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  I get that species evolve through mutation and then natural selection, but if an animal mutates into a more desirable form, how does it reproduce? Would it reproduce with its 'old species' (i know that not correct, not quite sure hoe to phrase it though). What causes these mutations? Thanks for your responses i've been searching online, but I can't find a website or youtube channel that can explain complex things, any suggestions are welcomed.

Animals themselves don't mutate. All of us have genetic mutations in our DNA that were locked in at conception. Recent research has been putting the count of mutations per human to be on the order of hundreds:
http://news.discovery.com/human/health/e...121207.htm

So if each of us has on average 400 mutations, clearly a large number of mutations can occur which have no noticeable impact on us. Also clearly, if mutations that effected reproduction were passed on, those genes would swiftly be removed from the gene pool. A lot of people cannot conceive naturally, so their genes don't get passed on. But most can reproduce even with 400 mutations built right in.

It is the cumulative effect of these mutations over generations that cause more of a drift of the genetic makeup of the species than a clear mutation. Some mutations may cause a significant noticeable change, but clearly those are the minority. Each generation is barely distinguishable from the previous one, and that is why the Creationist "crockaduck" is a stupid attempt to mock evolution--such a large swing in one generation just wouldn't happen.
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12-06-2013, 05:07 PM (This post was last modified: 12-06-2013 05:24 PM by ridethespiral.)
RE: Questions about evolution?
(12-06-2013 04:46 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  I get that species evolve through mutation and then natural selection, but if an animal mutates into a more desirable form, how does it reproduce? Would it reproduce with its 'old species' (i know that not correct, not quite sure hoe to phrase it though). What causes these mutations? Thanks for your responses i've been searching online, but I can't find a website or youtube channel that can explain complex things, any suggestions are welcomed.

There are lots of good books on the subject Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene' is supposedly one of the best and I'm working on that myself now....

It's way more gradual than how you make it sound, way, way more. Organisms acquire various genetic mutations that are very minor in nature (a single chemical marker even, roughly equivalent to a 1 or 0 in compiled computer code) but that can have large effects alone or in combinations... In a dog with a long snout like a collie it might have a gene sequence in section X (which controls snout length) like GCAGGGGT, where as a pug might have GCAGT instead and a husky might have GCAGGT. It even gets crazier, for instance changing the exterior of the common fruit fly to be transparent also causes them to become homosexual....

Mutations occur at a predictable rate depending on a number of factors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutation_rate) and can be caused, chemically (victims of gas poisoning, Vietnamese children born with deformities caused by agent orange, the children of thalidomide) or through nuclear radiation (small amounts of radiation are everywhere, unsafe levels can easily give you cancer) and also solar radiation (which is literally everywhere you look). Too much mutation or the wrong mutation and you die, get a 'meh' mutation and you live, or get a good mutation and live exceedingly well and have lots of offspring. Checkout this free computer program that will simulate the process in a very simple/limited way if you are really interested (http://www.framsticks.com/).

And then these genes are shuffled together with it's mates (or cloned in the case of non sexually reproducing species) and a youth is born with some combination of it's parents DNA.

The concept of a species is just the way that humans classify what are really all unique organisms, each lineage is in fact it's own species, and biologist disagree on where to drawn the distinction between one species and another constantly. When two organisms get to be so different that their genes no longer line up in a stable way no offspring are produced (thats why you can't do it with a gorilla and give birth to the dumbest super hero on earth), but why you can do it with with any human being and you could even mate with neanderthals if they where still around (many people of European decent are indeed part neanderthal).

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12-06-2013, 07:13 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
What distinction between animals makes it so that they cannot procreate? I have heard that some animals can be bred together, is that true or just crap?

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12-06-2013, 07:21 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(12-06-2013 07:13 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  What distinction between animals makes it so that they cannot procreate? I have heard that some animals can be bred together, is that true or just crap?

Different species in their genetic structure - an insufficient match prevents pairing of their DNA molecules. (It's more complex than that.) However, two species that have not diverged too far from a common ancestor can often produce progeny, though often those progeny are sterile.
Examples are horses and asses, lions and tigers.

I'd suggest reading some popular books on evolution. Richard Dawkins has written some very readable ones.

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12-06-2013, 07:26 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
(12-06-2013 07:13 PM)Derek Hammar Wrote:  What distinction between animals makes it so that they cannot procreate? I have heard that some animals can be bred together, is that true or just crap?

I am unsure of the first question, if I had to guess, I'd be making the guess that the genes between two distantly related species would be incompatible.

Some closely related species can reproduce, for example, the Liger is the end result of mating between a lion and a tigress.

I refer you to this wikipedia page, which give various examples of hybrid animals.

The people closely associated with the namesake of female canines are suffering from a nondescript form of lunacy.
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12-06-2013, 09:56 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
To elaborate on a point that BryanS touched on, each successive generation is barely distinguishable from the previous. All offspring receive half of their DNA from their mother and half from their father (note that these terms differ when referring to plants or hermaphrodites). If you have siblings, you can clearly see how the generic traits vary depending upon which specific DNA is passed. This is basic variation. Oftentimes this variation results in traits that give a slight advantage to the individual (e.g.: running faster to avoid predation, broader leaf to capture sunlight, greater immunity to a virus, sharper eyesight, etc.). These new advantages can be passed on to their offspring if the individual survives. Bear in mind that in evolution, the term "survival" simply refers to living long enough to reproduce.

Although you may have slightly different traits than your mother, grandfather, or great-great-great-grandmother, you are still clearly the same species. Never in history will you find that a species changes so significantly within a few generations as to qualify as a different species. We, humans, like to label and categorize. It is only in retrospect that we can define different species that have evolved into others. Even when lines are drawn to define speciation and relative dates of existence, they are blurry lines.

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12-06-2013, 10:09 PM
RE: Questions about evolution?
keep in mind that evolution isn't linear, a mutated gene in a species still has to reproduce with members of it's species that don't have this mutated gene, therefore making the gradual change in a species not predictable and change on an extremely small scale.
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13-06-2013, 05:38 AM
RE: Questions about evolution?
Derek, I like the language analogy. The latin language changed and diverged over thousands of years and now can be seen as french, spanish, etc. Every generation of latin speakers spoke a slightly different language to their parents. Each generation could communicate with their parents and their children. Even over many generations people could understand each other, but add up those changes over thousands of years and ancient latin won't be understandable to a modern Spaniard, and vice versa.

Genetic change works in a similar way. Each generation has a slightly different genetic composition to its parent and child generations. The genes still work together, and individuals can still interbreed both within their generation and with nearby generations. However, stretch time out far enough and you'll find that might not be able to breed with individuals spaced thousands of generations apart in time.

No child is ever a different species to its parents... but changes add up over time and a thousand generations later you can easily spot the differences. It's not possible to really point to the moment an old species became a new species, but you can point to a region of time when this occurred over many generations.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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