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Human Evolution: The More the Merrier
ScienceNOW Daily News ^ | 31 August 2006 | Elizabeth Pennisi

Posted on 09/03/2006 12:47:12 AM PDT by neverdem

Researchers peering into the DNA toolbox have found yet another instrument of evolution. Simply replicating a piece of a particular gene--from one copy in mice to more than 200 in humans--may have prompted some of the changes in the brain that define us as human, according to a new study.

Evolution occurs when genes mutate, or when they alter where, when, and how strongly they are active. In addition, hiccups in DNA replication can foster change by causing some parts of genes to be repeated as they are copied. Twin genes or duplicated regulatory regions result, and although one in the pair usually has to keep doing its original job, the other is free to mutate and take on new roles that can enhance an organism's survival.

In earlier work, James Sikela, a genome researcher at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Jonathan Pollack from Stanford University and colleagues found 134 genes that had been duplicated primarily after human ancestors split off from other primates. In the new study, Sikela, Gerald Wyckoff from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and their colleagues compared the sequences of these genes in primates, as well from mice and rats, to reconstruct the history of each duplicated gene.

They found 44 genes with more than five copies each in the human genome. One in particular, called MGC8902, caught their eye. Humans have 49 copies of this gene, while chimps have 10 and macaques have four, the team reports tomorrow in Science. With so many copies, "MGC8902 stands out as a very good candidate to be important to a human specific trait," says Sikela. A closer look revealed that the heavily-duplicated gene contained its own duplications: six copies of a domain called DUF1220.

The domains exist in other primates, but are most common in humans, says Sikela. The researchers discovered that the genes with the DUF1220 domains are expressed in the heart, spleen, skeletal muscle, and small intestine, and are particularly active in the brain's neocortex. Thus, they may play a role in higher cognition.

"The exciting thing here is the expansion of a gene family associated with expression in specific neurons," says Evan Eichler, a geneticist at the University of Washington, Seattle. But, he adds, "I would be cautious about overextrapolating these observations to brain enlargement."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevo; crevolist; evolution; humanevolution; science

Populous power.
A cross section of human cortex shows the distribution of a protein fragment (red) that may have been key to human brain evolution.
Credit: James Sikela
Related sites
Discussion of human brain evolution

Genomics and brain evolution

1 posted on 09/03/2006 12:47:14 AM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem
found 134 genes that had been duplicated primarily after human ancestors split off from other primates

Speculation.

2 posted on 09/03/2006 12:55:45 AM PDT by My2Cents (A pirate's life for me.)
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To: neverdem

Interesting that the latest significant evolutionary advancement of mankind is the development of a belief in God.

No other animal has it, it is very recent, and it is almost singularly responsible for the creation and advance of civilization.

The most Enlightened and advanced humans believe in God. (Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist._


3 posted on 09/03/2006 1:02:41 AM PDT by Mark Felton ("Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.")
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To: Mark Felton

I guess you missed the latest poll, majority of Americans now believe in evolution. Apparently we are now on that path to 'survival', that is if the funding doesn't dry up.


4 posted on 09/03/2006 1:09:33 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: neverdem

Duplication is a particularly powerful mutation.


5 posted on 09/03/2006 1:10:25 AM PDT by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: your mind)
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To: Mark Felton
(Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist._

Oh? And how do you know that animals are atheists?

6 posted on 09/03/2006 1:11:37 AM PDT by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: your mind)
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To: Mark Felton
The most Enlightened and advanced humans believe in God. (Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist._

I would love to know what methodology you used to divine the religious beliefs of, say, dogs.

7 posted on 09/03/2006 1:16:09 AM PDT by ReignOfError
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
Review: Plan B, How It Works and Doesn't Work (Vanity)

When Earth Turned Bad: New Evidence Supports Terrestrial Cause Of End-Permian Mass Extinction

Stem Cells And Mammary Glands

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

8 posted on 09/03/2006 1:20:48 AM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: Mark Felton
Interesting that the latest significant evolutionary advancement of mankind is the development of a belief in God.

Interesting that you interpret it thus. The principal brain function that separates humans from other animals is abstract thinking -- something beyond stimulus and response that leads us not just to observe that things as they are, but to wonder how and why they are as they are.

That level of abstraction leads both to religion and to science. Different people find different answers. The evolutionary advance is the one that raised the questions.

It is possible, though I personally doubt it, that other animal species have the capacity to contemplate abstract questions and form philosophical abstracts to answer them, but we don't know it because we haven't yet managed to decipher their language.

Humans are almost certainly the only species that has managed to record its knowledge in a persistent form, so that each generation can began where the last left off rather than starting over.

9 posted on 09/03/2006 1:27:58 AM PDT by ReignOfError
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To: My2Cents
[found 134 genes that had been duplicated primarily after human ancestors split off from other primates]

Speculation.

You misspelled, "supported by a vast amount of evidence and research".

What's mere speculation is your opinion on this topic.

10 posted on 09/03/2006 1:33:39 AM PDT by Ichneumon (Ignorance is curable, but the afflicted has to want to be cured.)
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To: Mark Felton
... Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist.

Being that every human is contained within the 'animal kingdom' that's not surprising.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primata
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo
Species: Sapien

Since all animals are atheist, therefore all H. sapien (it means 'human' for those of you in Pensacola) are also atheist?

11 posted on 09/03/2006 1:43:32 AM PDT by dread78645 (Evolution. A doomed theory since 1859.)
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To: Mark Felton; neverdem; jennyp; ReignOfError
Interesting that the latest significant evolutionary advancement of mankind is the development of a belief in God. No other animal has it, it is very recent,

Then again, maybe not. Ponder this classic observation:

"Primates often have trouble imagining a universe not run by an angry alpha male" -- Anon
That alone could be the source of the instinct to seek someone to obey/follow/submit to, and that would not be limited to humans. It certainly fits in a great number of ways.

It also explains why my dog worships me, and my cat doesn't. Creatures which have evolved a social structure revolving around an alpha-male (like dogs, as well as humans and other primates) will be "hardwired", instinctually, to expect and want a "ruler" to whom they give their allegiance and turn to for protection and permission.

Similarly, Arthur C. Clarke has suggested that man looks for a god because of the instincts which help us survive as a species having a long childhood. To keep kids from wandering off on their own too soon and getting eaten by the tigers beyond the safety of the tribe (and so on), humans, primates, and other animals with a long nurturing time have instincts which instill in the young feelings involving turning to your parents for protection and sustenance, looking up to them for guidance on how to live, fear of straying too far from them and being alone, respect for their position of power over you, etc. etc. etc. After growing up and/or leaving home, however, these instincts leave a yearning to continue to look up to some more powerful, protective nurturer/rule-giver. And a belief in a watching-over-me deity would fulfill this need for some people. Is it mere coincidence that so many gods are described in terms which are variations of "heavenly father", "our father who art in heaven", "god the father", etc.?

and it is almost singularly responsible for the creation and advance of civilization.

You're kidding, right? There are many things that are responsible for the "creation and advance of civilization", but a belief in one or more deities is *way* down on the list. Nothing beats a good education, but for a layman's intro you could do worse than reading the book "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond.

The most Enlightened and advanced humans believe in God. (Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist.

Oh, excuse me, I mistook you for someone who wanted to have an actual discussion of the article, instead of someone who just wanted to make himself feel good by patting himself on the back as one of the "most Enlightened and advanced" while insulting millions of other people as being little better than animals. I won't make that mistake again.

12 posted on 09/03/2006 1:49:43 AM PDT by Ichneumon (Ignorance is curable, but the afflicted has to want to be cured.)
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To: Mark Felton
No other animal has it....

Prove it.

13 posted on 09/03/2006 2:48:13 AM PDT by raybbr (You think it's bad now - wait till the anchor babies start to vote.)
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To: Mark Felton
"(Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist."

Since animals are incapable of higher cognition, the worst they can be accused of is agnosticism.

14 posted on 09/03/2006 3:16:52 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: raybbr

No other animal has it....
Prove it.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Please ping me if proof of this is ever offered, I expect to live maybe twenty to thirty more years.


15 posted on 09/03/2006 3:29:23 AM PDT by RipSawyer (Does anybody still believe this is a free country?)
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To: neverdem

Dream on.


16 posted on 09/03/2006 4:09:16 AM PDT by RoadTest (- - - for without victory there is no survival. -Winston Churchill)
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To: Mark Felton

"Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist._
"

You know, saving your insults for another venue might well be a good idea. Since human beings are also animals, your point is poorly constructed. It's also unseemly.


17 posted on 09/03/2006 7:13:55 AM PDT by MineralMan (Non-evangelical Atheist)
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To: Mark Felton
The most Enlightened and advanced humans believe in God. (Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist._

Told you that did they?

I think it would be more proper to say that they are probably agnostic. Atheists believe there is no God. Agnostics don't have an opinion either way.

Many of the early civilizations. Roman, Greek, Persian, various Chinese and Indian civilizations, believed in many Gods, or revere some (possibly mythical but still human) person.

18 posted on 09/03/2006 7:14:00 AM PDT by El Gato
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To: Mark Felton
The most Enlightened and advanced humans believe in God. (Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist._

What a dumb comment.

19 posted on 09/03/2006 7:30:17 AM PDT by Youngblood
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To: neverdem
"The researchers discovered that the genes with the DUF1220 domains are expressed in the heart, spleen, skeletal muscle, and small intestine, and are particularly active in the brain's neocortex. Thus, they may play a role in higher cognition."
I always knew that quite a few heads contain mostly intestines and their contents. It has been a self-evident truth, and now they even find a genetic basis for it.
20 posted on 09/03/2006 8:02:34 AM PDT by GSlob
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To: Youngblood
What a dumb comment.

It's early yet. Wait a few hours and that poster will look like Confucius in comparison.

21 posted on 09/03/2006 8:06:12 AM PDT by Wormwood (Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter because nobody listens.)
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To: neverdem

Mutation is not evolution.


22 posted on 09/03/2006 8:14:08 AM PDT by upcountryhorseman (An old fashioned conservative)
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To: Mark Felton
“Human society is born in the shadow of religious fear, and in that stage the suppression of heresy is a sacred social duty. Then comes the rise of a priesthood, and the independent thinker is met with punishment in this world and the threat of eternal damnation hereafter. Even today it is from the religious side that the greatest danger to freedom of thought comes. Religion is the last thing man will civilise. ”

-- Chapman Cohen, The Meaning and Value of Freethought, 1932

23 posted on 09/03/2006 11:19:24 AM PDT by thomaswest (Just curious.)
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To: El Gato; Mark Felton
"(Atheists are retro and share the property with the animal kingdom, who are also atheist."

Many of the early civilizations. Roman, Greek, Persian, various Chinese and Indian civilizations, believed in many Gods, or revere some (possibly mythical but still human) person.

Ironically, since the oldest religions are polytheistic, and Judeo-Christians are proud that they've whittled the number of gods down to one, and since the flowering of atheism seems rather newer than theism, it would follow that the lower animals would be, if anything, pantheistic.

Perhaps one of the driving forces of human development has been the relentless application of Occam's Razor to all subjects.

24 posted on 09/03/2006 11:43:28 AM PDT by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: your mind)
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To: Just mythoughts
I guess you missed the latest poll, majority of Americans now believe in evolution.

Well, sure, after generations of Darwinist propaganda being crammed down the throats of schoolchildren, and then the militantly enforced (and ACLU-enabled) monopoly that Darwinism enjoys against any valid criticism in public schools.

25 posted on 09/03/2006 5:31:45 PM PDT by My2Cents (A pirate's life for me.)
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To: upcountryhorseman
"Mutation is not evolution.

According to the modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution it sure is. (And has been for a very long time).

4. Genes mutate, usually at a fairly low rate, to alternative forms (alleles). The phenotypic effects of such mutations can range all the way from undetectable to very great. The variation that arises by mutation is amplified by recombination among alleles at different loci.
You can find a version of the SToE here.
26 posted on 09/03/2006 5:46:16 PM PDT by b_sharp (Objectivity? Objectivity? We don't need no stinkin' objectivity.)
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To: jennyp
it would follow that the lower animals would be, if anything, pantheistic

Pantheism.

Check.

27 posted on 09/03/2006 6:13:33 PM PDT by Hoplite
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To: b_sharp

This is not Darwinian Evolution.


28 posted on 09/04/2006 9:02:40 AM PDT by upcountryhorseman (An old fashioned conservative)
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To: upcountryhorseman
"This is not Darwinian Evolution."

True enough.

But it *is* modern Evolutionary theory which has Darwinian theory at its core, including common descent, natural selection and a 4.5 billion year old Earth.

Since Darwinian theory has been augmented and in a sense subsumed by the neo-Darwininan theory, what is the point of attempting to single out and dismiss Darwinian theory? Doing so is roughly equivalent to attacking Newton's work in a discussion of General Relativity.

What was wrong or incomplete with Darwin's concepts have been corrected and expanded upon.

29 posted on 09/04/2006 10:07:12 AM PDT by b_sharp (Objectivity? Objectivity? We don't need no stinkin' objectivity.)
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To: jennyp
The vast majority of atheists, are in FACT religious. But rather than anchoring their religious faith in God they have anchored it in the State.

Atheists are overwhelming pro-comminist, pro-socialist and have a supreme faith in the supremacy of their minds vis a vis the complexity of the universe even though their intellect is typically inferior to the vast majority of the God-fearing world since they believe the State is the ultimate cure for evil, and this belief has been proven false time and time again by actual real world data.

As socialism has grown so has atheism in those particular nations, where socialism is still percieved as successful.

The growth of atheism has occured almost exclusively in wealthy socialist nations, with exception of Vietnam which is poor and extremely atheistic.

Atheism has not grown worldwide, only in particular industrialized nations.

Atheists do have faith, they believe in the State as God.

Thus they also satisfy the condition that the bel;ief in God is also a natural condition brought about by evolution as proposed by numerous scientific studies.

"Justin Barret (2004) has argued that belief in God is a result of the “way our minds are structured” (p.viii) and “the way human minds operate” (p.30). He argues that belief in God is “greatly supported by intuitive mental tools”(p.17) and is “an inevitable consequence of the sorts of minds we are born with” (p.91). Belief in God is “natural,” resulting from the “natural workings of the human mind,” and atheism is thus unnatural (p.108). David Wilson (2002) suggests that religion is part of humanity’s naturally evolving adaptive strategy, and that religious belief represents “the healthy functioning of the biologically and culturally well-adapted human mind” (p.228). Michael Persinger (1987) has stressed the role of the hippocampus, the amygdala, temporal lobes, and hormonal processes, in explaining religious belief in God. Ashbrook and Albright (1997) focus on the neural underpinnings and workings of the brain in explaining belief in God. Newberg and D-Aquili (2001) argue that the religious impulse lies in an evolved “neurological process” (p.9), that the roots of belief in God are to be found in “the wiring of the human brain” (p.129), and that “as long as our brains are arranged the way they are,” belief in God will remain (p.172)."

Atheists prosper only in propserous nations where they can afford to be atheist. Those nations which allow atheists to prosper were overwhelmingly founded by Christians, God fearing people, who imparted their values into the core of the system which made it successul, even strong enough to bear up for a time under the increasing weight of socialist policies.

Christianity over the past 300 years (actually over last 1500 years, post Roman era) has led the greatest advancement in civilization (health, welfare, longevity) worldwide in the history of mankind.

In otherwords, atheists are much like pacifists intellectually. They can only prosper when they live in a society that is dominated by the success of people who believe the oppisite way of them. Atheists are supported by people who believe in God and pacifists are supported by people who believe in violent self-defense.

When people run into trouble they still turn to God for strength.

That is a strength that God has given us to allow us to become more succesful in the future.

God and Jesus Christ are the modern solution, and the current end result of evolution.

I suggest reading CS Lewis "Mere Christianity" or a book which compares the arguments of Freud versus CS White. Freud is demolished.

30 posted on 09/04/2006 12:11:06 PM PDT by Mark Felton ("Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.")
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To: b_sharp

Darwin calls for gradual change over time (evolution).
"Mutation" is nowhere near the definition of evolution: it's
just the opposite.


31 posted on 09/04/2006 2:35:24 PM PDT by upcountryhorseman (An old fashioned conservative)
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To: upcountryhorseman
"Darwin calls for gradual change over time (evolution). "Mutation" is nowhere near the definition of evolution: it's just the opposite."

I see you have gone back to attacking purely Darwinian 19th century evolution. Why? Science has added a fair bit of knowledge since then, shouldn't you be more concerned with what current science has to say about mutations than the version of the theory written before genetics and mutations where known?

Just what do you think a mutation is?

It sounds like you think all mutations result in large phenotypic changes. This isn't true. Although mutations (I include various copy errors during meiosis in this) can be as complex as the duplication of a chromosome, or the duplication of a gene, the vast majority of mutations are single point changes that are neutral in effect, either because they do not result in a new amino acid or any phenotypic change resulting from the change is ignored, at least for a short time, by selection.

Darwin did not say that evolution proceeds at a specific rate, in fact he stated that evolution will proceed with varying rates of change, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. That we now have a better idea how and why this is true does not diminish Darwin's concept of gradual incremental change, which is still valid.

Mutations are very much part of the SToE, they are what produce the variation on which natural selection operates.

You can't win an argument by creating a strawman version of Darwinian evolution. If you want to discuss Evolution then let's discuss a modern non-strawman version of it.

32 posted on 09/04/2006 4:02:00 PM PDT by b_sharp (Objectivity? Objectivity? We don't need no stinkin' objectivity.)
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To: Mark Felton

Um, while I greatly respect C. S. Lewis, demolishing Freud is not a spectacular achievement.


33 posted on 09/06/2006 5:49:38 AM PDT by ahayes ("The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." -- Prov 28:1)
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