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Evolution. “Of course, long before you mature, most of you will be eaten.”. “The picture’s pretty bleak, gentlemen. The earth’s climate is changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have brains the size of a walnut.”. “Now this end is called the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmons.”.

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“The picture’s pretty bleak, gentlemen. The earth’s climate is changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have brains the size of a walnut.”

1 humans evolved from monkeys
1. Humans Evolved From Monkeys Thag Simmons.”

  • Humans and great apes had a common ancestor about 5 million years ago

  • Humans and monkeys had a common ancestor about 50 million years ago

2 it s only a theory
2. It’s Only A Theory Thag Simmons.”

“Theory” does not mean “hypothesis” or “guess”

  • Music Theory

  • Stress Theory

  • Quantum Theory

  • Number Theory

    “Theory” means an organized set of related ideas.

3 if nobody saw it we can t be sure it happened
3. If Nobody Saw It, We Can’t Be Sure It Happened Thag Simmons.”

  • If you find your room trashed and your TV and stereo missing, will you hesitate to call the police because nobody saw it happen?

4 science can t say anything about origins
4. Science Can’t Say Anything About Origins Thag Simmons.”

  • Maybe not. But once the origin happens, everything after that is history. And historical evidence is preserved in the physical record.

5 obsolete concepts
5. Obsolete Concepts Thag Simmons.”

“Survival of the Fittest”

  • “The winner of the Super Bowl is the team with the most points.”

  • What does “fittest” mean?

6 there are no intermediate fossil forms
6. Thag Simmons.”There Are No Intermediate Fossil Forms

7 evolution is not testable
7. Evolution Is Not Testable Thag Simmons.”

  • Darwin suggested birds had evolved from reptiles in 1859; Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1862.

  • Piltdown Man

    • Famous Early Fossil Man Hoax

    • Controversial from the start because it didn’t match evolutionary expectations.

8 evolution means humans are just animals
8. Evolution Means Humans are Just Animals Thag Simmons.”

  • Are you a vegetable or mineral?

  • Humans have hair and nurse young just like all other mammals

  • Traits like nurturing, cooperation and monogamy are often favored by evolution because they enhance survival of species

9 evolution is just random
9. Evolution is Just Random Thag Simmons.”

  • Is the following number sequence random: 592653589793238462643383279?

  • It not only looks random: it is random.

  • But lacking in meaning? No. These are the digits of pi beginning with the fourth decimal place.

  • Random does not mean “meaningless”

The scientific meaning of random
The Scientific Meaning of Random Thag Simmons.”

  • Something cannot be predicted with better accuracy than that predicted by statistics.

  • The phenomenon is its own simplest description

Randomness and evolution
Randomness and Evolution Thag Simmons.”

  • Biological systems are far too complex to describe or predict mathematically

  • We have incomplete information

  • Significant events like climate change or asteroid impact are unpredictable.

10 complexity cannot arise naturally
10. Complexity Cannot Arise Naturally Thag Simmons.”

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is often paraphrased as:

  • ”Things always go from bad to worse”

  • ”Disorder in the Universe is always increasing"

The second law of thermodynamics
The Second Law of Thermodynamics Thag Simmons.”

  • The Second Law is about entropy

  • Entropy = (Heat Absorbed)/Temperature

  • Entropy can decrease locally if it increases elsewhere

  • Intuitive notions of “disorder” are of no relevance whatsoever

Chemical reactions are not random

Chemical Reactions are not Random Thag Simmons.”

Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na

Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl Na Cl

Scabland terrain oregon
Scabland Terrain, Oregon Thag Simmons.”

The geologic record
The Geologic Record Thag Simmons.”

  • Physical evidence records mostly small-scale, gradual processes

  • Fossils show a gradual increase in complexity with time

  • Fossil forms intermediate between major groups are well documented

  • Over most of its history, life on Earth was simple

Were the dinosaurs failures
Were the Dinosaurs Failures? Thag Simmons.”

  • Human History = 5000 years

  • Dinosaurs = 150,000,000 years

  • Dinosaurs had:

    • 30,000 years for every year of human history

    • 80 years for every day

    • 8 hours for every second

Prebiotic evolution
Prebiotic Evolution Thag Simmons.”

  • The basic molecules of organic chemistry are easily made

  • The first self-replicating molecule was almost certainly not DNA

  • DNA assembles from simpler materials all the time

DNA Thag Simmons.”

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid

  • Total length of human DNA in a single cell is about a meter

  • A human body contains about 20 trillion cells

  • The total length of DNA in a human body is thus 20 trillion meters, or twenty billion kilometers, the circumference of the orbit of Pluto.

Plants and animals
Plants and Animals Thag Simmons.”

  • CO2 + H2O + Energy = Sugars, Starches, etc. + O2 (toxic waste). O2 is actually toxic (even to us!)

  • 6CO2 + 6H2O  C6H12O6 +(glucose) + 6O2

  • Idea: Take the sugars and starches (from somebody else) combine it with the waste O2, and get energy

Amazing events in life history
Amazing Events in Life History Thag Simmons.”

  • “Invention of Sex” - Who Needs It?

  • We are a team - Mitochondria

  • The Great Freeze 900-600 m.y. ago

  • Mass Extinctions

    • Dinosaurs = 4th worst

    • Permian extinction (220 m.y. ago) took out 90% of all species

Selection Thag Simmons.”

  • Deliberate selection for desirable traits by humans (only since ca. 1700)

  • Unsystematic selection for desirable traits by humans (domesticated animals and plants)

  • Unconscious and unintentional selection by humans (self-domestication of animals)

  • Natural selection with no human intervention at all

Lessons from selection
Lessons from Selection Thag Simmons.”

  • Artificial selection has produced organisms radically different from their natural state

  • Natural selection has resulted in dramatic changes in natural populations with and without human intervention

  • Microorganisms and viruses change with dazzling speed (mutation of flu viruses, resistance to antibiotics, move to new hosts)

This descended from wolves
This Thag Simmons.” Descended from Wolves?

Evolution by natural selection
Evolution By Natural Selection Thag Simmons.”

  • Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace, 1859

  • Organisms are adapted to their environments

  • Individuals vary

  • More organisms are born than can possibly survive

  • Variations best suited to the environment tend to survive and be passed on.

Mutations Thag Simmons.”

  • Change in DNA code

  • “If you fix it often enough, you’ll break it”

  • Most organisms already adapted

  • Chance of random beneficial change small

  • Many mutations are neutral

  • Radical changes usually harmful

  • Mutations may be useful if the rules change

Radiation Thag Simmons.”

  • If no competitors or predators, otherwise harmful variations may flourish

    • Example: loss of flight or sight

  • After mass extinctions

  • Spread into unoccupied habitats

  • Rapid proliferation of variations

Convergent evolution
Convergent Evolution Thag Simmons.”

  • Unrelated organisms may develop similar features

  • Often dictated by physical constraints

  • Shark, tuna, dolphin, seal, squid, penguin, ichthyosaur

  • Deer, pronghorn, impala

  • Albatross, pterosaur

Exaptation Thag Simmons.”

  • Modification of existing structure to serve new function

  • Fin – paw – wing – hand

  • Scale – feather

  • There are no half-formed organisms

What good is half an eye
What Good is Half an Eye? Thag Simmons.”

What does a bug see
What Does a Bug See? Thag Simmons.”

What does a bug see1
What Does a Bug See? Thag Simmons.”

What good is half an eye1
What Good Is Half An Eye? Thag Simmons.”

  • A “partially-developed” eye can be very useful

  • Selection will favor:

    • More Receptors (Sharper Image)

    • Wider Angular Spread (Better direction discrimination)

    • Better Image Processing

What good is half a wing
What Good is Half a Wing? Thag Simmons.”

Powered Flight

  • Insects

  • Birds

  • Bats

  • Pterosaurs?


  • Squirrels

  • Lemurs

  • Marsupials

  • Fish

  • Frogs

  • Snakes

  • Lizards

Physics of gliding
Physics of Gliding Thag Simmons.”

  • Terminal Velocity

  • Air Resistance = Gravitational Acceleration

    • 200 km/hr for a human

    • 20 km/hr for a mouse

  • Gliders are All Small

  • Can Survive Fall

  • Selection favors duration and control

Two bumblebee myths
Two Bumblebee Myths Thag Simmons.”

Theoretically, bumblebees should not be able to fly.

  • Bumblebees can’t glide well. Neither can many aircraft

    A bumblebee can carry more than its own weight, something no airplane can do.

  • C-5A empty 238,000 lb., maximum takeoff weight 840,000 lb.

Classification of dogs and humans
Classification of Dogs and Humans Thag Simmons.”

  • Kingdom Animalia

  • Phylum Chordata

  • Class Mammalia

  • Order Carnivora (Dogs) Primates (Humans)

  • Family Canidae Hominidae

  • Genus Canis Homo

  • Species familiaris sapiens

Strigiphilus garylarsoni
Strigiphilus garylarsoni Thag Simmons.”

“Actually, I considered this an extreme honor. Besides, I knew no one was going to write and ask to name a new species of swan after me. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along.”

Below species
Below Species Thag Simmons.”

  • Ideally, species is a genetic group capable of breeding

  • Subspecies

  • Race

    • As used for humans, has little scientific meaning

  • Population

The five kingdom system
The Five Kingdom System Thag Simmons.”

  • Animals

  • Plants

  • Protista (one-celled organisms)

  • Fungi

  • Bacteria*

  • Ediacaran Fossils? (ca. 700 m.y. ago)

What s bigger than a kingdom
What’s Bigger Than a Kingdom? Thag Simmons.”

  • Bacteria differ from all other kingdoms in lacking a cell nucleus

  • We need a bigger box

  • Superkingdoms or Domains

    • Monera (Bacteria)

    • Archaea

    • Eukarya (have cell nucleus)

  • Need electron microscopes and molecular biology to see differences