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Old 10-08-2014, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Westeros
90 posts, read 88,195 times
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Hi all---


I just wanted to offer to answer any questions or even discuss any comments or observations you might have about the fascinating field of Biology. I have had a lifelong love affair with it, beginning from when I got my first microscope at 10 years-old. I took my Master's degree in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and am currently working on my Ph.D. My field of specialty is in Evolutionary Biology, and also in Human Physiology and Sports & Exercise Science. I currently work as a physical therapist.
Fire away and let's have some fun, talking about the science that without it, none of us would be here!
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Old 10-08-2014, 04:40 PM
 
Location: TX and NM on the border of the Great Southwest.
11,768 posts, read 15,788,877 times
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Sorry but biology has much evolved since I worked in it.
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Old 10-09-2014, 12:58 PM
 
1,692 posts, read 1,908,169 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffin_Ready View Post
Hi all---


I just wanted to offer to answer any questions or even discuss any comments or observations you might have about the fascinating field of Biology. I have had a lifelong love affair with it, beginning from when I got my first microscope at 10 years-old. I took my Master's degree in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and am currently working on my Ph.D. My field of specialty is in Evolutionary Biology, and also in Human Physiology and Sports & Exercise Science. I currently work as a physical therapist.
Fire away and let's have some fun, talking about the science that without it, none of us would be here!
Here's one that I have always thought about when reading about evolution or in the "human evolution" section in museums.

Humans, i.e. Homo Sapiens had close ancestors that were very human-like. Why did they die out and why did the Homo Sapiens survive? What genetic advantages did humans possess over the others?
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Old 10-09-2014, 04:12 PM
 
Location: Westeros
90 posts, read 88,195 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Here's one that I have always thought about when reading about evolution or in the "human evolution" section in museums.

Humans, i.e. Homo Sapiens had close ancestors that were very human-like. Why did they die out and why did the Homo Sapiens survive? What genetic advantages did humans possess over the others?
Your question is an awesome one, Sandy, and actually one that hasn't been that easy for even professional anthropologists and biologists to answer. Only fairly recently, thanks largely due to some radio-carbon dating work done on Neanderthal fossils found in Europe, have made us believe we finally got the correct answer.
The consensus in anthro circles now is that we (homo sapiens) arrived on the European continent, from Africa, about 60,000 years ago. Up till then, Neanderthal man had dominated and ruled that region, working and living in hunter-gatherer systems. They had the largest brains thus far of all the primates; until homo sapiens came along, that is!

Seems that Europe suffered some pretty drastic, if not catastrophic climate changes around this time, and the homo sapiens, because in large part to their even larger brains--most importantly the pre-frontal cortex that we use to make logical and tactical decisions--were better able to better figure out how to survive and adapt successfully to these new conditions. This was most likely done by building better shelters and making better hunting weapons and also planning better hunting strategies for increasingly rare game.

So, yeah, it was our bigger brains that basically gave us the necessary edge. By 45,000BC, all Neanderthals were pretty much wiped-out. No one has found a fossil from them dated more recently than this.

Thanks! And again, good question. It's cool that you picked one that has only fairly recently been answered. And if I recall, the name of the project--I think it was done in The UK--that answered this question was called "Project Reset"-- or something like that.

Last edited by Ruffin_Ready; 10-09-2014 at 04:28 PM..
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Old 10-10-2014, 12:34 PM
 
1,692 posts, read 1,908,169 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffin_Ready View Post
Your question is an awesome one, Sandy, and actually one that hasn't been that easy for even professional anthropologists and biologists to answer. Only fairly recently, thanks largely due to some radio-carbon dating work done on Neanderthal fossils found in Europe, have made us believe we finally got the correct answer.
The consensus in anthro circles now is that we (homo sapiens) arrived on the European continent, from Africa, about 60,000 years ago. Up till then, Neanderthal man had dominated and ruled that region, working and living in hunter-gatherer systems. They had the largest brains thus far of all the primates; until homo sapiens came along, that is!

Seems that Europe suffered some pretty drastic, if not catastrophic climate changes around this time, and the homo sapiens, because in large part to their even larger brains--most importantly the pre-frontal cortex that we use to make logical and tactical decisions--were better able to better figure out how to survive and adapt successfully to these new conditions. This was most likely done by building better shelters and making better hunting weapons and also planning better hunting strategies for increasingly rare game.

So, yeah, it was our bigger brains that basically gave us the necessary edge. By 45,000BC, all Neanderthals were pretty much wiped-out. No one has found a fossil from them dated more recently than this.

Thanks! And again, good question. It's cool that you picked one that has only fairly recently been answered. And if I recall, the name of the project--I think it was done in The UK--that answered this question was called "Project Reset"-- or something like that.
You summarize this really well and reflect the popular theory for the extinction of Neanderthals. But arent there a lot of competing theories - some which suggest that Neanderthals interbred with early humans.

Neanderthals may have been wiped out due to INTERBREEDING and not because of a lack of intelligence | Daily Mail Online
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Old 10-10-2014, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Westeros
90 posts, read 88,195 times
Reputation: 141
Yes--that study--and many others like it--only serve to illustrate one of the common misconceptions about Evolution.

For example, one of the favorite mantras of Creationists who refuse to believe in evolution, despite irrefutable evidence, has always been "But where are all the transitional fossils?" Meaning, I guess, that they need to see a fossilized skeleton comprised of both ape and homo sapien or homo habilis bones. (Sort of like the infamous "Piltdown Man" which, alas, was a hoax, where it's perpetrators used a human skull and an orangutang jawbone, if I remember correctly.
Well, there is an abundant amount of transitional fossils out there to be seen by anyone, But the Piltdown Man-type is not how evolution works. The changes are very, very, gradual. And it cannot ever be emphasized how much time, ergo how many generations it takes. There was no "first man" or "last ape." The genes were s-l-o-w-l-y replaced over generations by those of the transitional species which, thanks to undergoing a positive mutation that proved advantageous, was better adapted to the changing environment. This is where the "survival of the fittest" part comes into play.
So, yeah, interbreeding almost certainly took place; there was no sudden, momentous "wiping out" of the Neanderthals, as there was, for example, with the Dinosaurs after the meteor impact down on the Yucatan 65M years ago. But rather, as the Neanders numbers gradually dwindled, more bloodline from the homo sapiens was "put in the mix" until they became the majority gene donors, and then finally the only ones. (Think of mixing a solution of water, with food dye, where you begin with a one quart beaker filled half-and-half and then slowly siphon out a few cc's and then replace that with pure water. Do one extraction/add-in every 50 years. What happens? After maybe 5000 years you have, yes! Clear water with no colorations, i.e. residue from the previous mix.

Always remember: Evolution=replication/variation/selection.

p.s. I am of course a huge Richard Dawkins fan. A book of his entitled "The Selfish Gene" does an excellent job of explaining the nuts-and-bolts of evolution.

Last edited by Ruffin_Ready; 10-10-2014 at 02:04 PM..
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Old 10-10-2014, 03:40 PM
 
1,692 posts, read 1,908,169 times
Reputation: 1012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffin_Ready View Post
Yes--that study--and many others like it--only serve to illustrate one of the common misconceptions about Evolution.

For example, one of the favorite mantras of Creationists who refuse to believe in evolution, despite irrefutable evidence, has always been "But where are all the transitional fossils?" Meaning, I guess, that they need to see a fossilized skeleton comprised of both ape and homo sapien or homo habilis bones. (Sort of like the infamous "Piltdown Man" which, alas, was a hoax, where it's perpetrators used a human skull and an orangutang jawbone, if I remember correctly.
Well, there is an abundant amount of transitional fossils out there to be seen by anyone, But the Piltdown Man-type is not how evolution works. The changes are very, very, gradual. And it cannot ever be emphasized how much time, ergo how many generations it takes. There was no "first man" or "last ape." The genes were s-l-o-w-l-y replaced over generations by those of the transitional species which, thanks to undergoing a positive mutation that proved advantageous, was better adapted to the changing environment. This is where the "survival of the fittest" part comes into play.
So, yeah, interbreeding almost certainly took place; there was no sudden, momentous "wiping out" of the Neanderthals, as there was, for example, with the Dinosaurs after the meteor impact down on the Yucatan 65M years ago. But rather, as the Neanders numbers gradually dwindled, more bloodline from the homo sapiens was "put in the mix" until they became the majority gene donors, and then finally the only ones. (Think of mixing a solution of water, with food dye, where you begin with a one quart beaker filled half-and-half and then slowly siphon out a few cc's and then replace that with pure water. Do one extraction/add-in every 50 years. What happens? After maybe 5000 years you have, yes! Clear water with no colorations, i.e. residue from the previous mix.

Always remember: Evolution=replication/variation/selection.

p.s. I am of course a huge Richard Dawkins fan. A book of his entitled "The Selfish Gene" does an excellent job of explaining the nuts-and-bolts of evolution.
I have read the selfish gene - one of my favorite books.

Now getting back to this topic. I don't understand how a "smaller" or a "less intelligent" brain could have been such a BIG disadvantage for Neanderthals who were already highly evolved. Smaller and less intelligent compared to early humans? Sure. But were they less intelligent than the rest of the mammals who not only survived, but thrived.

Compared to other intelligent mammals (e.g. chimps), Neanderthals were almost early human-like - capable of building tools, etc. Maybe less intelligent, but definitely possessing the physical advantage (i.e. stronger vs early humans).
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Old 10-10-2014, 04:13 PM
 
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
5,508 posts, read 2,589,479 times
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Talking of Neanderthal genes, we are all supposed to have Neanderthal genes in us but apparently West Africans have the lowest percentage. This they say is because West Africans are descendants of the originators of Neanderthals as all other modern humans are but Europeans have reintroduced Neanderthal genes. OK, so my 'knowledge' is a bit sketchy here so if you could fill in the blanks and correct the errors, it would be greatly appreciated.

Then I have another question, that being, what is life? A dried and lifeless seed will spring into life when given some water. Some living organisms can dry out completely then spring back into life, again when given some water.
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Old 10-10-2014, 04:24 PM
 
505 posts, read 546,989 times
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This is a simple question with complex evolving answers.

My answer is pretty simple. If you choose to not have childrens(genes), your line of genes cease to exist in the gene pool.
If you fail to have childrens(genes), your line of genes cease to exist in the gene pool.

As to other answers without "Big Data"...

For example, if you have not read this,

Cave Paintings in Indonesia Redraw Picture of Earliest Art

You get the follwoing answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffin_Ready View Post
Your question is an awesome one, Sandy, and actually one that hasn't been that easy for even professional anthropologists and biologists to answer. Only fairly recently, thanks largely due to some radio-carbon dating work done on Neanderthal fossils found in Europe, have made us believe we finally got the correct answer.
The consensus in anthro circles now is that we (homo sapiens) arrived on the European continent, from Africa, about 60,000 years ago. Up till then, Neanderthal man had dominated and ruled that region, working and living in hunter-gatherer systems. They had the largest brains thus far of all the primates; until homo sapiens came along, that is!

Seems that Europe suffered some pretty drastic, if not catastrophic climate changes around this time, and the homo sapiens, because in large part to their even larger brains--most importantly the pre-frontal cortex that we use to make logical and tactical decisions--were better able to better figure out how to survive and adapt successfully to these new conditions. This was most likely done by building better shelters and making better hunting weapons and also planning better hunting strategies for increasingly rare game.

So, yeah, it was our bigger brains that basically gave us the necessary edge. By 45,000BC, all Neanderthals were pretty much wiped-out. No one has found a fossil from them dated more recently than this.

Thanks! And again, good question. It's cool that you picked one that has only fairly recently been answered. And if I recall, the name of the project--I think it was done in The UK--that answered this question was called "Project Reset"-- or something like that.
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Old 10-10-2014, 04:41 PM
 
12,405 posts, read 9,195,957 times
Reputation: 8856
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruffin_Ready View Post
Hi all---


I just wanted to offer to answer any questions or even discuss any comments or observations you might have about the fascinating field of Biology. I have had a lifelong love affair with it, beginning from when I got my first microscope at 10 years-old. I took my Master's degree in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and am currently working on my Ph.D. My field of specialty is in Evolutionary Biology, and also in Human Physiology and Sports & Exercise Science. I currently work as a physical therapist.
Fire away and let's have some fun, talking about the science that without it, none of us would be here!
Are there bacteria living today which can synthesize the full range of materials necessary for life from simple molecules that would have existed on early Earth, or have they all died out?
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