September 26, 2006

Understanding Evolution

You probably already do, but if you are interested in science, read PZ Myers Pharyngula blog; it's not only well written, it's written by someone who knows his stuff, and decides to share it occasionally.

Evolution has been getting kickings (or occasional rockings by phillistines?) and demands that "controversy" be taught. I'm all for tecahing evolutionary controversy, new ideas and breakthroughs in science. I think Myers is too, because he posted a really cool piece on a new idea in evolutionary thought: genetic assimilation. Like a lot of good science, it's an idea that once understood and backed by data seems so sensical, it's almost obvious.

Some traits that are not exactly useful (but not harmful either) develop. But, these traits sufficiently modify the organism that other developing traits may actually accentuate each others usefulness towards survival and pass on to offspring. Myers uses the example of anti-symmetry, or handedness in organs and organisms to illustrate the idea. And it probably des a lot better job than those two sentances.

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