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Mechanisms of Evolution

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In Part One of our story of evolution we demonstrated the Facts of Evolution. In Part Two we will explore the Mechanisms And to do that, we need to ask and answer just two questions: How does variety arise in the genomes of individuals in a group? ....and.... How does that variety give rise to new species? The first question is probably easier to answer, so let�s work on it first. Lets start with the genomes of two individuals who are clones of one another. Their genomes are as close to identical as the real world allows. As these individuals live their lives, their genomes encounter viruses, which implant their genetic material into that of the host, thus making the two genomes no longer identical. ...the two genomes will also encounter radiation and mutagenic chemicals in the environment which further modify their genomes differently. ...transposons already resident in each genome will modify the genomes differently as well ...the process of DNA replication isn´t perfect and the mistakes that arise in this process will further diverge the genomes. If these modifications happen in the DNA of the egg or sperm cell, then they are passed on to the children. In addition to those mechanisms for introducing variety into a genome, sexual reproduction has its own mechanisms to ensure diversity. This man has two complete sets of chromosomes: one from his mother and one from his father. But when it comes time to give a single set to each offspring, his two set recombine in different combinations. The same is true for this woman. So when they have children, each child gets a unique combination from each parent. This greatly diversifies the genome of a population every generation. Now that we understand how variety can arise in individual genomes, we are prepared to tackle the second question. How does this variety give rise to new species. There are two major answers to the second question: Natural Selection and Genetic Drift These creatures are DarwinBabies: DarBabies for short, and they have volunteered to be test subjects while we study how they evolve in their environment. They are not strong They are not fast They are not poisonous They are not smart. All they can do is hide. Predators exist in the environment and a DarBaby that stands out is more likely to get eaten than one that is camouflaged. Their genomes consist of 8 pieces of DNA,each piece contributing to the color of the DarBaby. Like this: In each generation, 25% of the Darbabies get eaten by predators. Another 25% perish for random acts of misfortunes, just unlucky. Mating is completely random and each DarBaby Baby has a 50% chance of getting one random mutation. As you can see, almost all of this environment is random. The only tiny nonrandom factor is the predators eating the 25% that are easiest to spot. Will evolution really work here??? Perhaps ... Evolution is a very robust phenomenon. We start with all the DarBabies matching the environment- gray But the environment changes and now they stick out! Predators come to feed Some are just unlucky The survivors mate - mating is totally random... producing the next Generation Notice all the mutations which are indicated by the GREEN DNA bits. Some mutations are bad -notice the DarBaby that is completely WHITE Many do almost nothing... ...and some are actually GOOD Predators come to feed - notice how the really bad mutation causes that poor DarBaby to stick out and get eaten. While the really good mutation prevents that DarBaby from being seen - keeping him alive - for now Some are just unlucky...oops the DarBaby with the really beneficial mutation was unlucky and still died. How can evolution EVER work? The survivors mate... producing the next generation ...This guy gets to mate SIX times. While this guy gets to mate only two times...remember mating is a random variable. Now sit back and watch the rest of the evolution unfold - thirteen generations total --surely that won´t be enough? This guy survived to mate, and just because of bad luck never found a partner. Remember, mating is a random variable. Did you see it happen? In an environment filled with random variables, a tiny bit of non-random competition imposed by the predators was able to drive evolution. If we repeat the simulation but with a light background, this is what we get... The environment biases the competition - thus steering the evolution. And...THAT is NATURAL SELECTION. In an environment full of random variables, a tiny bit of competition is all it takes. Notice how the evolution is not smooth. Sometimes evolution appears to stop. Other times it moves fast. It can even go backwards. Yet, over time, the net effect is a directed process making the organisms more fit for their environment. The element of misfortune - unlucky DarBabies dying without regard to their fitness is an example of Genetic Drift - the OTHER prime ingredient in the mechanisms of evolution. There are many more issues that the scientists must pursue... going by names such as Punctuated Equilibrium or Bottlenecks or FounderEffects But you have just seen how it happens. It really works. Common Descent is a Fact Species Evolve Natural Selection and Genetic Drift are the primary mechanisms

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 45 seconds
Country: Colombia
Language: English
Producer: The Cassiopeia Proyect
Views: 148
Posted by: racuna on Aug 2, 2010

It is a descriptive video to teach any audience the principles of how the species evolve

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