Evolution and Opinions

7-interesantes-curiosidades-sobre-el-mundo-de-la-genetica-1Image from: http://www.taringa.net/posts/ciencia-educacion/18351376/7-curiosidades-sobre-el-mundo-de-la-genetica.html

Hi everyone,

After last class I realized that there are many opinions about evolution and how men was created. I feel that this topic can usually cause conflict and discussion between people. Our beliefs and what we have been taught since we were little kids influence our thoughts as well as what theory we defend.

As we get older, we start learning in school different theories, we learn about Darwin and other scientist who have evolutionary theories and conduct experiments to prove how organisms evolve from each other.  As human beings we have the capacity of reasoning and use our intelligence to construct our own beliefs based on what we see and from our past experiences.

If we compare ourselves with other organisms we can see that we are extraordinary. We may not have all of the genes that other organisms have and we may not even have the most complicated structure… but in the one we have, we are able to think and reason and with this and many other characteristics we are on top of every other living thing on Earth.

Personally I think that the problem is not the evolution theory but evolutionism as a theory.  Evolutionism is a belief that organisms inherently improve themselves through progressive inherited change over time, and increase in complexity through evolution. It is understandable to think that Humans evolve from a different animal, but we need to remember the fact that the human being as a living organism can find its own place in evolution and creation. But one important point that I think many people are forgetting is that the human being’s essence can’t be reduced.

A man essence is not the same of the animal one. As humans we are able to reflect on our actions and we have the ability of self-criticism and this makes our freedom transcends any other living organisms.

It is important to remember that as humans we have dignity and we have this amazing ability that other organisms does not have which is reasoning and think and come up with logical solutions to the problems that we face every single day. Now it is true that there are basic needs that we share with other animals and organisms such as eat, sleep, we reproduce and we fight to survive… but we can see with experiments that the scientist have done with monkeys that humans have the ability to reason, learn, prevent and learn from our mistakes.  We have the ability to combine different knowledge, date and experience and create a complete different point of view and ideas.

Looking at this, I think that yes… evolution can be a part of this world, and some organisms do adapt and go through a genetic evolution, but I think that humans did not evolve from animals. We are amazing organisms and I feel that our essence will never change it gets better and we grow as individual and that’s great.

Bye see you all in class 🙂

-Maria Anleu


When You Don’t Look Like Your Parents: A Personal Commentary on Genetics

Photo: BBC’s “Variation and Inheritance” (see link above)

During family get-togethers, we frequently have discussions on genetics and “who resembles whom”. There is always a debate over whether I most resemble my mother or father, but the general consensus is this: I look a great deal like my paternal grandfather. His daughter (my aunt) says she’s reminded of her dad whenever she sees me, and many agree. So why do I look more like a grandparent than a parent?

The idea of recessive genes and traits that “skip” a generation is fascinating to me. I recently read a great book by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult, called Second Glance. Much of the plot is based on eugenics, as well as the mistreatment of northeastern Native American cultures. One of Second Glance’s main characters views these darker-skinned humans as “scum”. Little does he know that his wife is the daughter of a Native American, as the dark skin was not passed down to her. When they have a child, however, the dark skin reappears and causes much of the novel’s conflict. It’s strange to think that genes can sort of “disappear” and “reappear” simply because of their recessive nature. It makes genetics even more unpredictable.

Another one of our family discussions considers “inherited personality”. Growing up, I was obsessed with frills, sparkles, and stereotypical “girly-girl” things, and to this day, I still pine over cute shoes and bags. My mom always asks, “Where did you come from?” because my parents are nothing of the sort. In fact, my family jokes that I’m my aunt’s daughter – the one I mentioned before – for she is very much a “shoe, bag, and girly accessories” kind of person. What’s most interesting, however, is that she greatly resembles her father, just as I do. I’ve seen photos of my aunt when she was little, and I think my own childhood photos look quite similar.

I remember our class discussion of the foxes that were bred to be kind and gentle – they eventually began changing appearance as well. Along with friendliness came curly tails. I have to wonder – is there a strong link between appearance and personality that we’re not fully aware of? If we resemble a family member, will we also act more like them? It can’t always be the case, for twins can be exact opposites. But it seems odd that the family members I most look like are the ones I behave like as well.

-Brenna Thummler

Where’s Woolly? The Evolution and De-extinction of Woolly Mammoths

NGS Picture ID:122644

Photo: National Geographic

In class today, there was a short discussion involving Woolly Mammoths and the possibility of reviving them from extinction. I decided to do a little research on the topic, because I find it interesting that bringing creatures back from the dead like this is no longer something of science fiction and I was curious to see how scientists and enthusiasts felt about the possibility. First, though, I’ll take a minute to discuss the evolutionary history of Mammoths.

From what I read, the first known ancestor of the Mammoth is a hippo-looking creature called a Phosphatherium, which appeared about five million years after dinosaurs were wiped off the earth. Everything about this creature appears to be the opposite of what Mammoths are — it’s short, hairless, and it’s nose is nowhere near the length of a Mammoth’s, but scientists have traced the Mammoth’s ancestry back to the Phosphatherium because of its teeth. Elephant’s long tusks evolved from incisors rather than canines and this dwarfed-hippo-fellow has teeth that match that development. Without getting into extensive detail of their family tree, Mammoths evolved with thick fur coats to survive the cold weather of the north and had fatty humps on the backs of their necks, which were an essential source of nutrition. They lasted through the last Ice Age, but were hunted to extinction by early humans.

Entire specimens of Woolly Mammoths have been found frozen in Arctic permafrost, and that has allowed scientists to start piecing together their genome, opening up the possibility of the species’ revival. A professor from Harvard Medical School is engineering elephant cells with thicker hair and a fatty layer to make them more like Woolly Mammoths by inserting genes into the elephant genome. As far as I can tell — correct me if I’m wrong — this isn’t the same as reviving a clone of the Woolly Mammoth, but instead a way of breeding a new kind of Mammoth.

This discussion of bringing creatures back from extinction is not entirely brand new. An extinct kind of mountain goat was revived in 2003, but the clone only survived for about seven minutes.

A lot of what I’ve read about bringing Woolly Mammoths out of extinction is actually negative commentary. While bringing back ancient creatures seems exciting in theory, we wouldn’t know where to put them. The idea of maintaining healthy zoo-bred Mammoths seems next to impossible and releasing them into wild would have unpredictable results. Even aside from the “what do we do with them” factor, scientists and environmentalists fear that introducing the possibility of reviving extinct species would create a false impression that science can save endangered species, thus discouraging the conservation movement.

I always really liked Woolly Mammoths when I was a kid — elephants were my favorite zoo animal, and Mammoths always seemed like this ancient, icy, fantasy-world version of them. So I have to admit, the idea of being able to see a real, living, breathing Mammoth is really exciting to me. Even just the fact that scientists can take DNA from creatures that have been dead for thousands of years and create life from it is amazing. Still, it seems like there’s a lot more work that needs to be done before successfully bringing back Mammoths becomes a possibility — and even if it does, there’s still the question of whether or not the environment is capable of providing for them.

Science of Dogs

The documentary ‘Science of Dogs’ was so interesting to me but there were some points that I do not like. I think breeding two different species for making a better one is immoral. Human does not have right to do that. Sometimes, animals can get obstacle and disease by hybridization. If disabled dogs born, some people throw their dogs away. Nowadays, there are so many abandoned dogs and the rate is still increasing. They are sent to the abandoned dogs or animal hospital. Then, if they do not parceled out, people administer euthanasia the dogs after few days that appointed. Of course, mixed-breed dogs can looks better but I think mixing for only pleasure of people is animal abuse.

Science of Dogs & My Unintended Experiments at Home!

This documentary provided a factual and scientific backing to my lengthy experience with dogs, and I can safely say that I felt comfortable connecting the dots to many of the interactions i have with my dogs on a daily basis!

I am by no means a professional dog trainer, but I have experience training them in official settings as a job for several years. Dog behavior fascinates me, and during my time in Sarasota while attending Ringling, I managed to pick up my two dogs; one who was a stray living underneath an abandoned car in the farmlands of Myakka, and the other a rescue from a puppy mill. Both are examples of breeds described in the documentary. My big dog, Koa, was from a puppy mill, “advertised” as a “pure bred” golden retriever. He is old, and has symptoms of hip dysplasia, which is a genetic disorder common in labs and golden retrievers. Though he also displays the typical lovable traits of a golden.My dogs! My other dog, Ipo, was found covered in oil and skinny, full of worms. She is a hodgepodge mix of goodness knows what kind of dogs (my guess is some mountain dog due to her extremely thick fur and undercoat, and a smaller dog with shorter legs due to her awkward medium size) She is very sweet, but has a wild disposition. Both are polar opposites in terms of training. I am assuming Ipo was bred by someone (irresponsibly, if i may add) simply because her looks are very unusual for a stray, and she almost looks like a designer dog. That may have been the intent in having puppies to sell quickly. She is extremely hard to train, and a difficult, stubborn dog. What breeds and traits could have been passed down to equal her temperament? Could it just be her disposition? Kona is the shining example of a dog breed bred for training and communication. While I watched the documentary, I could only think of the many emotions I can understand from Koa, and he from me. It is almost as if he has trained me to understand his emotions and wants from facial and body cues, just as he has come to understand mine without intentional training. He displays his emotions almost as clearly as a child, but in a civil and submissive way, never seemingly surpassing my “authority” as the pack leader.

I am constantly learning new things with each companion I have, with these two proving even more so. Although I would describe them as the two extremes of the “types” being bred for physical appearance and desirable work traits that identify in the documentary, another thread of focus that I found of particular interest to me was the idea of intentional breeding of personality traits, and foregoing appearance standards. I want to go so far as to say that I think this would be a unique situation for dogs/strays in shelters. Most dogs adopted from shelters reciprocate bottomless love and affection, and most of these dogs are mixes. Although we don’t need more dogs running around due to the amount that need homes but are stuck in shelters, these dogs are malleable, and are used in movies, sniffing dogs etc. by many organizations and people who are giving them a chance regardless of breed. Obviously certain dogs would outperform others in certain situations, but they all have the ability and aim to please. It would be an interesting experiment to see mutts from shelters who are adopted and go from one extreme of suffering (not on purpose for the sake of science!) to happiness and comfort, and how that can develop not by nature but instead nurture, and if those traits pass on.


Science of Dogs Response

I’ve always been more of a cat person, and I’m pretty sure that the biggest reason is because cats aren’t as domesticated as dogs. Cats choose to love people, whereas dogs have been modified throughout the decades to become totally reliant on human beings. We’ve literally designed a species that will love us no matter what, that has the  exact qualities we need to make our lives easier. The narrator in the video referred to several of the dogs as machines, and that really resonated with me. Dogs are basically fluffy robots, tuned in to the emotions and desires of their masters.

It was fascinating, however, to think about how many varieties can come out of dog breeding. Cows and birds and other species can all be bred to have different characteristics, but their main qualities will remain the same. You won’t get a cow with tiny legs or fluffy ears. But dogs have a large range in their designs. Genetic manipulation of dogs sometimes leads to bad health and defects, making some of the creatures’ lives almost burdensome. However, if further research into dog genes and diseases can  lead to cures and treatments of human ailments, is it worth it?

Science of Dogs

The Science of Dogs was a perspective on dogs that i had never really heard before, It fascinated me to hear that 80% of todays breads did not exist over 100 years ago. It was interesting to see how the different time periods and the events of those time periods influenced the need and increase in cross-breading. Eugenics is a whole area of science that is not that popular in the media. I have rarely heard of such instances being televised, most of the time pets are glorified in the media or used as sympathetic devices to gain financial support.

I found it extremely interesting that dogs retained repetitive traits in their DNA which if u change one single trait you can change things such as height, size, snout, tail size and so much more. What is really interesting is the simple fact that if you go up to just outside the dog family into the bears, and wolves and so on, they do not contain this trait which makes it much more unique that they can be so easily altered for personal benefit. Eugenics in dog breading is relatively new however it is still rapidly occurring like the special breaded bomb sniffing dogs in Russia.

What fascinated me the most being someone who studied history prior to this was that the earliest known signs of dog breading was in Ancient Egypt. Some of the hieroglyphs show images of dogs used to hunt that were of a specific look which is now the modern day Saluki. They even closely resemble the depictions of them over thousands of years ago. These breads are still used in Northern Africa as hunting dogs, which is probably what attracted me most as i have seen these type of dogs in North Sudan over the many years. I have been to Sudan 4 times in my lifetime and have family in Khartoum. My uncle owns a farm with wild game present in the countryside based near the white Nile. The white and blue Nile’s meet in Khartoum just miles south of his farm which means there is a lot of game on the open land spanning across all the farms. Saluki dogs are actually quite common in Khartoum and even strays have mixed bread similarities and traits so i feel as if i have seen similar dogs as recent as a few weeks ago. I just got back from Khartoum on the 2nd of January. Overall it was an interesting documentary that got me thinking more about dogs in general.

“Dogs that Changed the World” Response

I remember stumbling upon thought of when and how toy dog breeds came to exist. Did people pluck them from the wild and render them tame and docile? How would they have survived in the harsh environment, independent of human’s care and kind love. It was a curious noetic gap until I watched this documentary.

It’s interesting that in Man’s stride to perfection, he would mix and stir the genetic quintessence of another earthly species, particularly of the canine variety, to befit his lifestyle. In the case of the dogs, seemingly a genetically versatile sample of the animal kingdom, we’ve selectively bred them in various permutations, reshaping and repurposing the canine existence to cater to so many of our human needs: hunting, companionship, aiding the blind, etc…and consequently bred and birthed a conglomeration of canine species that were not extant until the past several human generations.

As interesting as it is, the search for the one breed presents a few questions. As we’ve invested in the past few centuries dictating the somatic and temperamental dimensions of the dogs, can this canine genetic alchemy be held as a violation of nature, in which we’ve bred and will breed more dogs with the disavowal of the dogs’ natural course of evolution? Is it a moral quandary that we’ve denuded some species of its human-independent survival traits, or cause illnesses in some that are not intrinsic to the canine flaw? Can this be seen as the dogs’ natural evolution?

The way I see it, the modern canine evolution is as “natural” as the evolution of the human intellect. The recent proliferation of canine strains is the corollary of human intelligence. The evolution of a species is a reaction to its ever changing milieu, such as the blind organisms in caves and caverns, or the bioluminescent fishes of the deep sea. In this context, the wolves, ancestors of the dogs, reacted to an autonomous, intelligent, reactive and rapidly evolving property of its environment: the human civilization. And so the canine evolution is shaped and molded accordingly by human intelligence to satisfy human needs. And as human needs grow and diversify, so does the canine variety.

Therefore, in my long and winded perspective, the modern canine evolution can be regarded as “natural” as long as the human intellect is regarded thusly in its coming to be. I think it is perhaps nature’s intent that the dogs should be fated to be divvied up into so many kinds and categories as the result of human intelligence. Whether or not if it is right, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I do not know. But this is just my perspective, which I do not express with the encouragement to transmute and hybridize canine DNA willy-nilly.

Science of Dogs

I had seen this National Geographic segment once before, at least over a year ago. Each time that I have watched this video the most amazing dog to me was the dogo. I think that the dogo intrigued me, because of the amount of power built into this animal. Being able to pin a wild board down is no easy feat.  A boar is a very dangers animal, and they can easily kill. The dogo however is able to hunt the animal down and pin it pretty easily based on this video. To be able to bread in the instinct of hunting in a pack, the loyalty and love of a good dog, and that kind of strength is amazing! I especially love that they even added white to the animal so they can spot them.

I looked up more pictures of this dog after watching the video and its muscle system and size is amazing! The dogo is very large and has that bully breed snout that is capable of locking on hard. I think that it is a beautiful animal and truthfully I wouldn’t mind having one myself. I think that people do have a tendency of going to far with mix an creating new breads but, as long as the animal is being well taken care of and not being deformed by weird breading I don’t think it is bad. Truthfully some of the best animals you can have is by mixing it up. I have to mixed breads and they are both extremely loyal and loving. I would not trade them for any other animal.

Science of Dogs

 I like dogs, and I love big dogs like ‘Golden retriever’more than little dogs. After I watched this documentary, Science of Dogs, I could learn just tiny part of gene of dogs make a size difference of dogs. This was really interesting information to me. And I remembered one funny posting about one special dog’s genetic specialty. It was Welsh Corgi‘s genetic specialty.

 I saw tones of mixed puppies’ picture and they were mixed between all different kinds of dogs and Welsh Corgi. But most of them has same kind of body shape which looks like Welsh Corgi. Welsh Corgi has short legs like Dachshund, but their body isn’t long as Dachshund. Most of puppies,mixed with Welsh Corgi, has Welsh Corgi’s body shape.
There is some pictures of puppies that mixed with Welsh Corgi.


Welsh Corgi + Husky


Welsh Corgi + Golden Retriever


Welsh Corgi + Black Lab.


Welsh Corgi + beagle

 We can see those dogs are having characters of all different dogs, but all of them have Welsh corgi‘s body shape. I think tiny genetic part of Welsh Corgi, that determine body shape of dogs, is strong enough to keep their body shape to mixed puppies.

This is one of my thoughts when I watched ‘Science of Dogs’ documentary.

Kon Kim