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Author Topic:   Questions on "Random" Mutations
Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2198 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 61 of 80 (410901)
07-17-2007 6:54 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by crashfrog
07-15-2007 5:14 PM


If the phrase was actually "evolutionary developmental biology", then it would be "evo-dev-bio", now wouldn't it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_developmental_biology

The answer would appear to be no.

TTFN,

WK


This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 62 of 80 (410906)
07-17-2007 8:07 PM
Reply to: Message 61 by Wounded King
07-17-2007 6:54 PM


Did you have something to add to the discussion?
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taylor_31
Member (Idle past 4027 days)
Posts: 86
From: Oklahoma!
Joined: 05-14-2007


Message 63 of 80 (411093)
07-18-2007 9:01 PM
Reply to: Message 46 by Dr Adequate
07-15-2007 6:33 PM


Thanks for your post; it was very helpful to me.

He didn't have to do anything in particular to simulate that, because a computer only has a finite memory, so programs trying to copy themselves are de facto in competition for a finite resource.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this a simplified version of bona fide natural selection? In the real world, I think it's not only the availability of resources that selects genes; other factors, such as the climate, can also drive natural selection.

But for this particular simulation, the programs that had the most offspring were selected, I think. So in the beginning, the programs with the quickest and most efficient reproduction methods would quickly dominate. As the simulation progressed, arms races would start, and predation and similar mechanisms would evolve.

But with evolution in the real world, the nearest we get to this is the fossil record, and by and large this only tells us about the development of bones.

Can't we use genomes to compare species and then postulate how evolution has progressed? The process would probably be tedious, but I'm sure it'd be accurate. Like you said, however, I would rather see evolution in the fossil record so I can actually trace a particular trait or characteristic as it evolves over the years; this would aid my imagination.


This message is a reply to:
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taylor_31
Member (Idle past 4027 days)
Posts: 86
From: Oklahoma!
Joined: 05-14-2007


Message 64 of 80 (411095)
07-18-2007 9:45 PM
Reply to: Message 56 by Equinox
07-17-2007 1:46 PM


Re: The information adding two step move
Your post was spot-on, and it helped clear up several things in my mind.

I have a couple of questions:

1) How often do these mutations occur? I've learned that the factors that cause mutations are called mutagens, but I'm still slightly confused as to how often these mutagens happen. There must be a tremendous amount of mutagens and mutations to account for the diversity of life.

2) These mutations account for the vast variety of characteristics that see in the natural world, right? From a whale's blubber to a bird's feathers, mutation must have been the cause of it. I still don't really understand how that can happen, exactly, but I feel that I'm getting closer.

Thanks for your help


This message is a reply to:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.4


Message 65 of 80 (411097)
07-18-2007 9:59 PM
Reply to: Message 64 by taylor_31
07-18-2007 9:45 PM


The numbers add up
There must be a tremendous amount of mutagens and mutations to account for the diversity of life.

Two different numbers there:

Do you know how many mutations that you may have? (somewhere between 10 and 100 apparently)

How many natural mutagens are you subject to? (do you have a geiger counter? -- a few a second of just radiation maybe eh?)

The diversity of life has been built up over 3 billion years. Let's just look at multicellular life:

600 million years ago the more complex life would probably look like 'worms and bugs' to you. Let's say as each reproduced each offspring had 1 (not 100) mutation.

How many living things have there been on the planet since 600 million years ago? Wanna make a WAG? How many are there now? I'm guessing there are something over a trillion multicellular animals alive now.

I'd also guess that the average life span of an individual is 1 year.

That gives us 10+17 individuals that have lived. Anything you don't like about the numbers so far?

Our genome is about 3*9+9 base pairs long (IIRC). There have been 3*8 individuals for each of those base pairs. Seems like lots of chances to pick up a few changes don't you think?


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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 2198 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 66 of 80 (411228)
07-19-2007 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 64 by taylor_31
07-18-2007 9:45 PM


Frequency of mutation
Can't we use genomes to compare species and then postulate how evolution has progressed?

We can and we do, there are hundreds of studies looking at the comparative genetics of populations of one species up to large genetic comparisons across dozens of species or even more.

The process would probably be tedious, but I'm sure it'd be accurate.

As the methods used to collect and analyses large volumes of genetic data become simpler and more reliable the tediousness is reduced. The accuracy is to a large extent dependent on the method of analysis and the degree to which the assumptions which are used in such analyses reflect the reality.

Like you said, however, I would rather see evolution in the fossil record so I can actually trace a particular trait or characteristic as it evolves over the years; this would aid my imagination.

As the ability to recover DNA from more ancient tissues improves this has become more feasible for genetics but there is never going to be a comparable level of preservation to that seen in gross morhphology, or even cellular morphology in some cases.

The best thing to do is to look at both the genetic and morphological data (such as fossils) in parallel and the degree to which the trees of relationships between different organisms agree from these two independently derived sets of data seems to many a compelling point in favour of common descent.

While the derivation of these data is independent they are fundamentally connected as the morphology of an organism is largely dictated by its genome. The relationship between genetics and form is not a simple one however and directly connects to some of your questions about the nature of mutations.

I've learned that the factors that cause mutations are called mutagens, but I'm still slightly confused as to how often these mutagens happen. There must be a tremendous amount of mutagens and mutations to account for the diversity of life.

There are, mutagens are all around us constantly. Every time you see a new report in the media about how something increases your chances of developing cancer they are talking about that substance's potential as a mutagen. Sunlight is mutagenic, atmospheric background radiation is mutagenic, oxygen is mutagenic, red meat is mutagenic, salt is mutagenic it would be well nigh impossible to remove all the potential mutagens from one's environment and still have an environment in which life could exist.

2) These mutations account for the vast variety of characteristics that see in the natural world, right? From a whale's blubber to a bird's feathers, mutation must have been the cause of it. I still don't really understand how that can happen, exactly, but I feel that I'm getting closer.

That is correct and Crashfrog pointed you to the relevant discipline, evolutionary and developmental biology, which concerns the evolution of the way in which an organism develops. With modern genetic tools the degree to which the effect of mutations impacts the morphology of an organism can be studied to a degree previously unthinkable. The effects of changes in a single base pair of DNA can be studied in terms of changes in the morphology of the organism and changes in other genes governing its development.

Similarly the genes, and indeed whole genomes, for differing species can now be compared to allow the identification of the genetic differences between those species which can highlight possible genes or genetic elements responsible for the morphological differences between those species.

TTFN,

WK


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16093
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 9.0


Message 67 of 80 (411238)
07-19-2007 4:02 PM
Reply to: Message 58 by MartinV
07-17-2007 3:21 PM


Re: Really BAD analogy.
I don't see a point. Let say we have at the beginning 1.000 Englismen and 500 German. If individuals are not passed on the number of individuals would decrease each race. After some rounds we would have 50 sportsmen, Englismen and German separated to their own boats. We would have homozygous groups - all German or all English.

Oh, for pity's sake.

It's got nothing to to with heterozygosity. He's talking about how recombination and selection produces set of genes --- different genes, DIFFERENT GENES --- which are suited to one another.

Of course you don't see the point. You never see the point of anything. This is because, as you admitted, you don't bother to read the things you're pretending to reply to. As I said, it's not a Rorschach test. The point of what Dawkins wrote is not the subconscious ideas it stirs up in your head after you skim-read it and pick out a few words.

Could you just try to be right about something, just for once?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by MartinV, posted 07-17-2007 3:21 PM MartinV has responded

Replies to this message:
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Equinox
Member (Idle past 3246 days)
Posts: 329
From: Michigan
Joined: 08-18-2006


Message 68 of 80 (411248)
07-19-2007 5:24 PM
Reply to: Message 64 by taylor_31
07-18-2007 9:45 PM


Re: The information adding two step move
Taylor 31 wrote:
Your post was spot-on, and it helped clear up several things in my mind.

Thanks!

I have a couple of questions:
1) How often do these mutations occur? I've learned that the factors that cause mutations are called mutagens, but I'm still slightly confused as to how often these mutagens happen. There must be a tremendous amount of mutagens and mutations to account for the diversity of life.

Mutations happen due to mutagens (chemical or physical things that cause mutation, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutagen - also see the wiki page on mutation to see a diagram of the types of mutation I was describing, such as duplication, etc), ***and*** also just from simple copying errors when the DNA duplicates. There are indeed a lot of mutagens, including the cosmic rays from distant stars that have constantly streamed into earth throughout it’s history, and many common chemicals. Also, don’t forget the huge amount of copying that is done in the course of life – mistakes happen in copying, leading to a constant stream of mutations.

Yep. Tremendous is a large amount, but the number of mutations over history is so big that we really don’t have a word for it. Nosy ned gave a good stab at this, but let me try a different angle. First, let’s just look at the time from 3 billion until 2 billion years ago. Nothing but bacteria on earth. Bacterial clumps were all over (many have been fossilized – they are called stromatolites). Bacteria are a few microns in size (let’s say about 10). So that means a 1 meter diameter clump has around 100,000^3 = 10 ^15 bacteria. You’ll need around 20 million to go around the earth in a single line (20,000 km/ 1 meter), so there could be at least millions of these on earth back then – let’s use 40 million as a conservative estimate. Now, bacteria copy and split at varying rates, which can be as fast as once every half hour. Let’s use just once every 12 hours as a very conservative estimate. So that’s 40 million of clumps * 10^15 per clump, copying twice a day, for a billion years (which is over 300 billion days) = around 10^33 copying events! That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Now each of those times the whole bacteria genome had to be copied – even if a mistake only happened in two or 5 locations each time, that’s still a tremendous number of mutations – and I only counted the time from 3 to 2 billion years ago, long before even a simple worm evolved.

In humans, as has been already mentioned, there are estimated to be 10 to 100 mutations with every birth (!) – though I’ve heard estimates before of as low a s 2 or 3, and of course most of those are in junk DNA or otherwise have no effect.

2) These mutations account for the vast variety of characteristics that see in the natural world, right? From a whale's blubber to a bird's feathers, mutation must have been the cause of it. I still don't really understand how that can happen, exactly, but I feel that I'm getting closer.
Thanks for your help

Yep. But remember that it takes many, many mutations to add up to, say a feather, or an eye, or an antelope. Think of the mutations to make a beak – one mutation makes the nose a tiny bit longer, the next a tiny bit longer, the next a tiny bit shorter (but that offspring dies for lack of food so we are back at the previous step), then the next makes the nose a tiny bit longer, and then a tiny bit harder, and on and on for hundreds of little steps. Selection constantly weeds out the mutations that don’t push things in the beneficial direction, and over millions of years (and millions of generations), we see huge changes, new features (made from old ones), and such. Could someone post an example of a new function arising, say breasts from sebaceious glands, flight from running, echolocation from calls, eyes from no0eyes or such? I’m out of time myself.

Have a fun day!

-Equinox


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MartinV 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3932 days)
Posts: 502
From: Slovakia, Bratislava
Joined: 08-28-2006


Message 69 of 80 (411374)
07-20-2007 11:50 AM
Reply to: Message 67 by Dr Adequate
07-19-2007 4:02 PM


Re: Really BAD analogy.

Oh, for pity's sake.

Don't bother respond my posts. I am not interested in your opinion that reminds me of those singletons at AtBC.


It's got nothing to to with heterozygosity. He's talking about how recombination and selection produces set of genes --- different genes, DIFFERENT GENES --- which are suited to one another.

Hehehe, DIFFERENT GENES. Because Dawkins wrote about genes, not alleles. The exapmle he had given is for people who had no idea about genes. People that do not use their brain very often - but often use abuses and capital letters on the discussion forums instead. Such people consider themselves to be very wise but have little knowledge about geography and biology.

The others know that scientists are interested in frequency of alleles in given population. Dawkins example has nothing to do with reality. Population is in many cases of genes polymorphic. Heterozygosity in humans is 0,77%! It means that DIFFERENT GENES are present in many variations, compositions. In sexual reproduced organisms an allele is in each generation in a different company of another alleles. There is no such thing as boat of rower-men who have the same place over generations - homozygous you know (maybe except of supergenes). On the place 1 is rower A (allele) in first generation. In the next generation in the place 1 is rower B ( and A is present but recessive - he rest). In the third generation it is again rower B but in the fourth it is A. But now the place 2,3,4,5 are occupied by rowers (alleles) completely different than in the first generation. So if the benefit of an allele in the first generation was positive it may happen that in the crew of the fourth generation the same allele could be slightly detrimental. That's why the concept of selfish gene is very weird - the crew (genotype) is always different.


Of course you don't see the point. You never see the point of anything. This is because, as you admitted, you don't bother to read the things you're pretending to reply to. As I said, it's not a Rorschach test. The point of what Dawkins wrote is not the subconscious ideas it stirs up in your head after you skim-read it and pick out a few words.

Calm down. Before you write another intelligent post full of denigration try to consider for a moment to genetic interactions and epistatic interactions. Try to explain why Dawkins do not considered them in his "DIFFERENT GENE" example.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16093
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 9.0


Message 70 of 80 (411414)
07-20-2007 2:18 PM
Reply to: Message 69 by MartinV
07-20-2007 11:50 AM


Re: Really BAD analogy.
So, first you tell me that you don't read my posts, then you tell me that you are not interested in my opinions --- and then, in an attempt to refute me, you babble out a load of garbage that has nothing to do with my opinions or my posts.

This is consistent, certainly. Don't you worry that it is also frickin' stupid?

If you can't be bothered to find out what I think, you will never, ever, be able to find an error in my thinking. In particular, your latest babble has nothing whatsoever to do with anything that I said, or that Dawkins said, or that anyone has said. It's just your lonely raving about something you haven't bothered to read.


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Replies to this message:
 Message 72 by MartinV, posted 07-20-2007 4:05 PM Dr Adequate has responded

  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16093
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 9.0


Message 71 of 80 (411423)
07-20-2007 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 63 by taylor_31
07-18-2007 9:01 PM


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this a simplified version of bona fide natural selection?

Yes, absolutely. But this observation doesn't change the point I was making, which is that we cannot imagine the precise processes which went on to produce sexually reproducing computer programs.

Can't we use genomes to compare species and then postulate how evolution has progressed?

Up to a point. However, looking at the differences between a chimp genome and a human genome don't reveal to us how (for example) true grammatical speech evolved, nor allow us to imagine how it happened.


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MartinV 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3932 days)
Posts: 502
From: Slovakia, Bratislava
Joined: 08-28-2006


Message 72 of 80 (411433)
07-20-2007 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 70 by Dr Adequate
07-20-2007 2:18 PM


Re: Really BAD analogy.
quote:

If you can't be bothered to find out what I think, you will never, ever, be able to find an error in my thinking.

You don't think. You just repeat Dawkins arguments like a parrot. Obviously you don't see difference between alleles and genes and that GENES are polymorphic. Because you don't realize that phenotyp of a sexualy reproduced organism is the result of genetic and epistatic interactions of genotype which is in each generation different you consider story about "GENES in boat" as wonderful. You consider any close insight and change of "GENE boat" for more realistic "Allele boat" only as "babbling".

Edited by MartinV, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 70 by Dr Adequate, posted 07-20-2007 2:18 PM Dr Adequate has responded

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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16093
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 9.0


Message 73 of 80 (411435)
07-20-2007 4:31 PM
Reply to: Message 72 by MartinV
07-20-2007 4:05 PM


Re: Really BAD analogy.
You don't think. You just repeat Dawkins arguments like a parrot. Obviously you don't see difference between alleles and genes and that GENES are polymorphic. Because you don't realize that phenotyp of a sexualy reproduced organism is the result of genetic and epistatic interactions of genotype which is in each generation different you consider story about "GENES in boat" as wonderful. You consider any close insight and change of "GENE boat" for more realistic "Allele boat" only as "babbling".

This supposed critique of my posts would be so much more relevant if you'd bothered to read my posts, or if it had anything to do with my posts. But as you have admitted, you can't be bothered to read my posts before replying to them. This is why your babble has no relevance to my posts, or to anything else.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16093
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 9.0


Message 74 of 80 (411443)
07-20-2007 4:52 PM
Reply to: Message 72 by MartinV
07-20-2007 4:05 PM


Re: Really BAD analogy.
I was going to explain to you further the difference between the real world and the magic delusional fantasy fairyland in your head, but then I noticed that I've already done so in post #70:

Dr Adequate writes:

So, first you tell me that you don't read my posts, then you tell me that you are not interested in my opinions --- and then, in an attempt to refute me, you babble out a load of garbage that has nothing to do with my opinions or my posts.

This is consistent, certainly. Don't you worry that it is also frickin' stupid?

If you can't be bothered to find out what I think, you will never, ever, be able to find an error in my thinking. In particular, your latest babble has nothing whatsoever to do with anything that I said, or that Dawkins said, or that anyone has said. It's just your lonely raving about something you haven't bothered to read.

Let me know when you are capable of understanding that, and then I shall continue your slow and painful introduction to reality.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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AdminModulous
Administrator (Idle past 208 days)
Posts: 897
Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 75 of 80 (411453)
07-20-2007 5:22 PM


New topic
This thread is not about the selfish gene concept, it isn't about certain analogies used by Dawkins. A potentially interesting debate lies therein, but it is off topic here (and yes I'm chiding myself just as much here).

If anyone is interested in discussing the idea further - please start a new topic. Thank you.


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