Students will sing along with parts of “Natural Selection,” when the chorus intones the principle of natural selection: “The weak and the strong, Darwin got it goin’ on…whoever leaves the most spawn,” as the bearded rapper Darwin gyrates and twirls.....Brinkman describes Darwin as “the first to translate his amazement at the wonder of life into a way to explain it.”.... [In] “I’m a African,” in which Brinkman raps the origins of mankind: “Africa is where my momma got her mitochondria” accompanied by wild graphics. Don’t expect to hear the word “mitochondria” in a 50 Cent or Jay-Z rap. I’ve been humming “The fossil record has gaps but no contradictions” all morning.
In “Performance, Feedback, Revision,” Professor Baba compares the process of writing a rap with evolution and natural selection, showing how random changes due to mutations alter the text or performance piece (the genetic code). The altered text sees the light of day in the organism’s phenotype (the performance), which is accepted or rejected by natural selection (or the audience), feeding back on the endless creative cycle of life. The songs can be downloaded at http://bababrinkman.bandcamp.com/album/the-rap-guide-to-evolution.
Poll: Republican Belief In Evolution Has Plummeted In Recent Years
Belief in evolution among Republicans has dropped more than 10 percentage points since 2009, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.
Pew found that 43 percent of Republicans said they believed humans and other living beings had evolved over time, down from 54 percent in 2009. More (48 percent) said they believed all living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.
The percentages for Democrats and independents were considerably more stable: Democratic belief in evolution went from 64 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2013; independent belief dipped from 67 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2013.
Among all American adults, 60 percent said they believe in evolution, according to Pew, and 33 percent do not.
The poll surveyed 1,983 Americans ages 18 and older from March 21 to April 8.
There is only one scientific explanation for how species originate. It's called the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. It's not a theory in the everyday and conversational sense of the word theory--i.e. a guess--but a theory in the formal scientific meaning of the term: a concept larger than the sum of its parts, one that incorporates various scientific laws, observations, and facts into a more unified whole and that has been verified by subsequent findings and research, like with the germ theory of disease, the theories of special and general relativity, the theory of plate tectonics, and the theory of a heliocentric solar system.
To not "believe" in evolution--as is the case with a shockingly large number of conservative religious adherents in the U.S.A. and majority-Muslim countries--is like not believing that the Earth orbits the sun or not believing in oxygen or x-ray radiation. Especially since the modern evolutionary synthesis of the 1930's that integrated genetics into evolution, thereby revealing the means of heredity--which is something evolution's main discoverer, Charles Darwin, did not know--evolution has become an increasingly important and dynamic topic of research and tool for understanding how species evolve. To not believe in it is to walk away from a rich and amazing reality about we scientists are discovering more and making interesting refinements and corrections to those discoveries on an daily basis.
Image: click to enlarge - (via Wikipedia) "A highly resolved Tree Of Life, based on completely sequenced genomes."
WITH TROWELS AND paintbrushes, dozens of archaeologists in white hard-hats patiently sift the reddish-brown earth in the caves of Atapuerca, searching for remains a million years old.
From under strata spanning hundreds of millenia at this site in northern Spain, they unearth ancient mouse bones and the teeth of horses – but what they most hope for is a sign of prehistoric humans that could write a new chapter in our evolution.
Image: A reconstructed Neanderthal skeleton, right, is contrasted to a modern human version of a skeleton in a display in 2003 of some of the finds from the Atapuerca caves.
Image: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II/PA Archive
New Scientist reports that the sample comes from a recently deceased man named Albert Perry. After the African-American South Carolina man died, one of his relatives submitted a sample of his DNA to a company called Family Tree DNA for analysis.
Evidence for an earlier common genetic ancestry--i.e. evidence for an earlier time to MRCA (TMRCA, time to most recent common ancestor, a.k.a. the time to Y-chromosomal Adam)--has been growing. See Dienekes' Anthropology blog's post on May 20, 2011, "The father of us all: 142 thousand years ago." The estimate of 142,000 years ago was itself was a far cry from the then widely disseminated estimate of 60,000 years years ago.
Nothing like being more than 400% off, huh? Well, that's in part how science works: hopefully cumulatively increased precision and understanding attained by increments of new knowledge and refinements of knowledge and occasional massive leaps, and with no guarantee--it might be added--that some of those increments along the way may be a step backward. But, it's the net result of all the efforts/findings (the increments) along the way that matters. 142,000 years ago or 340,000 years ago.... It's not that the difference doesn't matter, but the difference has a significance that's profoundly minor in light of greater reality they're addressing: the story of us all.
(Photo: An X and a Y chromosome. Univ. of Arizona.)
Brian Cox and Robin Ince get into the Christmas spirit as they look at the science of Christmas behaviour with actor/writer Mark Gatiss, geneticist Steve Jones, psychologist Richard Wiseman and emeritus Dean of Guildford Cathedral Victor Stock.
Romani wagon in Germany, 1930s; image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst - Zentralbild (Bild 183)
The Romani people—once known as “gypsies” or Roma—have been objects of both curiosity and persecution for centuries. Today, some 11 million Romani, with a variety of cultures, languages and lifestyles, live in Europe—and beyond. But where did they come from?
Earlier studies of their language and cursory analysis of genetic patterns pinpointed India as the group’s place of origin and a later influence of Middle Eastern and Central Asian linguistics. But a new study uses genome-wide sequencing to point to a single group’s departure from northwestern Indian some 1,500 years ago and has also revealed various subsequent population changes as the population spread throughout Europe.
the remains of the five most complete North American male early Holocene skeletons to examine patterns of human morphology at the earliest observable time period.... Results indicate that early Holocene males have variable postcranial morphologies, but all share the common trait of wide bodies. This trait, which is retained in more recent indigenous North American groups, is associated with adaptations to cold climates. Peoples from the Americas exhibit wider bodies than other populations sampled globally. This pattern suggests the common ancestral population of all of these indigenous American groups had reduced morphological variation in this trait. Furthermore, this provides support for a single, possibly high latitude location for the genetic isolation of ancestors of the human colonizers of the Americas.