Category: Evolution

Tomkins on the Human Vitellogenin Pseudogene: Who Needs Signal When You Have Noise?

Tomkins on the Human Vitellogenin Pseudogene: Who Needs Signal When You Have Noise?

I've blogged previously on the subject of pseudogenes and how they can constitute evidence for common ancestry. In short, they can represent the remnants of genes that once served a specific purpose in our distant ancestors, but were lost in a particular lineage for one reason or another. Imagine if there were a "gill gene" … Continue reading Tomkins on the Human Vitellogenin Pseudogene: Who Needs Signal When You Have Noise?

Human Genetics Confirms Mutations as the Drivers of Diversity and Evolution

Human Genetics Confirms Mutations as the Drivers of Diversity and Evolution

The purpose of this post is to outline 3 lines of evidence from the field of human genetics that clearly demonstrate that the slow accumulation of mutations over generations is responsible for the genetic diversity of modern human populations, and that the same process is responsible for the genetic differences we have compared with chimpanzees, … Continue reading Human Genetics Confirms Mutations as the Drivers of Diversity and Evolution

Pseudogenes Testify to the Evolutionary History of Animals

Pseudogenes Testify to the Evolutionary History of Animals

I’ve written about pseudogenes before on this blog, but I focused on their application to dating species divergence times and their implications for common ancestry amongst those species. This time I’m going to focus on their ability to inform us about the phenotypes of an animal's evolutionary ancestors. The principle is simple, and I’ll illustrate … Continue reading Pseudogenes Testify to the Evolutionary History of Animals

Applications of Phylogenetics in Medicine and Public Health

Applications of Phylogenetics in Medicine and Public Health

One of the most common charges levied against evolutionary biology is that it's a useless science with no applications in the real world. If this was true it wouldn't do anything to tarnish the validity of the evolutionary biology research, despite what many anti-evolutionists would have you believe. After all, the mark of a valid … Continue reading Applications of Phylogenetics in Medicine and Public Health

Chromosome 2 Fusion and Bayes Theorem: Addendum

In the final hours of 2016, I published a blog post discussing the fusion of human chromosome 2 and its implications for evolution versus creationism in the light of Bayesian probabilities. I walked through the simple maths demonstrating that contrary to what might seem intuitive, the fusion does in fact lend evidentiary support in favour … Continue reading Chromosome 2 Fusion and Bayes Theorem: Addendum

Testing a Strong Prediction of Universal Common Ancestry

Testing a Strong Prediction of Universal Common Ancestry

In 2013, a paper was published by researchers from New Zealand in the journal PLOS ONE  entitled "Beyond Reasonable Doubt: Evolution from DNA Sequences". After reading it recently, I was surprised to find that it seems to have flown under the radar in popular science circles. I couldn't find any references to the article in … Continue reading Testing a Strong Prediction of Universal Common Ancestry

Alcohol Tolerance in Fruit Flies: A Classic Case of Molecular Adaptation Refuted

Alcohol Tolerance in Fruit Flies: A Classic Case of Molecular Adaptation Refuted

Two weeks ago, an article was published online in the inaugural issue of the new journal Nature Ecology & Evolution entitled "Experimental test and refutation of a classic case of molecular adaptation in Drosophila melanogaster". As the title suggests, the article soundly refutes a classic example of molecular adaption that was first established in a seminal paper by McDonald and … Continue reading Alcohol Tolerance in Fruit Flies: A Classic Case of Molecular Adaptation Refuted

Chromosome 2 Fusion and Bayes Theorem: Support for Common Ancestry After All

Chromosome 2 Fusion and Bayes Theorem: Support for Common Ancestry After All

(Since this was published I've written a short addendum, found here.) By now I would hope everyone is familiar with the fusion resulting in human chromosome number 2, but for those who aren't, or would like a quick refresher, here is a short video of Dr. Ken Miller explaining it: Note that that the fusion … Continue reading Chromosome 2 Fusion and Bayes Theorem: Support for Common Ancestry After All

Dating Shared Processed Pseudogenes in Primates

Dating Shared Processed Pseudogenes in Primates

I'm sure most of you are already pretty familiar with pseudogenes - they can be considered "vestigial" genes because they've lost their original protein-coding function, and are often totally non-functional. Processed pseudogenes are a specific kind of pseudogene that has been produced through the action of reverse transcriptase. A functional protein-coding gene is transcribed into … Continue reading Dating Shared Processed Pseudogenes in Primates

The Evolution and Function of the Type VI Secretion System

The Evolution and Function of the Type VI Secretion System

Here's a recent review paper about the bacterial Type VI Secretion System (T6SS), or for the laymen out there, this video gets the message across: I was first introduced to the T6SS as part of my undergraduate studies, in a class all about the effectors of disease possessed by bacteria and other microorganisms. I've been learning more about … Continue reading The Evolution and Function of the Type VI Secretion System