Guide Puijila darwini and Pinniped Evolution (Evolution: The Grand Experiment Book Series)

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This strongly refutes the claim that Puijila had pinniped-like teeth see figure 2. Pinnipeds also have very short tails. Puijila is just an otter, almost identical to the North American river otter, which is still very much alive today. However, Dr Werner shows why this does not stand up to critical scrutiny. For one thing, the authors do not include any of the six classic distinguishing characters of pinnipeds in the analyses. See creation.

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Further Reading Fossils Questions and Answers. References Werner, C. Return to text. This partially disarticulated skeleton is the oldest pinniped now known. Enaliarctos was fully aquatic, and had most of the skeletal adaptations of modern sea lions. Miocene 23 million years ago. Rybczynski, N. Dawkins, R. Helpful Resources. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Episode 1. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Teacher. Dennis W. US February 6th, And Nature magazine has any credibility remaining??

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THAT is incredible!! Richard R T. PR February 6th, Do the editors of Nature ever acknowledge mistakes? Or do they just never make any? What list to they next aspire to join with a 1 position? I also wonder if "Nature" contends that Darwin invented Evolution or just discovered one of God's heavily used tools to avoid micro-management of all species? Don Batten February 6th, Indeed, all that is true about 'evolution' such as the role of natural selection in weeding out the unfit is also part of the biblical creation model that has operated since the Fall of Genesis 3.

Dennis H. US February 5th, The scriptures of evolutionists are never subject to correction if the priest or scribe writing is waxing their truth eloquently. It is more than a precise dissection of fact from fancy that science has yet to find any evidence which contradicts the Word's account of events, yet scientists often find contradictions in their evolutionary-centric Atheology.

The Bible stands on its own as an organic revelation of God to the believer, while no one will ever read Nature to learn more about any omits authors, just their foolish professions and vain accounts. Ben Nature's editorial staff knows this fact, as it forms the basis of its policy to never retract or edit and republish corrected works. It would indict far too many of the peer reviewers, as well as the authors. No one cares for them, but themselves..

Michael F. US February 1st, DNA evidence has shown that seals are closely related to bears, so I would imagine their ancestors would be more bear-like rather than otter or weasel-like. Sea mammal fossils are not too common because they are often totally devoured by other sea creatures when they die, but I am confident that a million year old pinniped will eventually be found, and that it may look something like a cross between a polar bear and a seal a baby harp seal and baby polar bear actually look surprisingly similar.

Don Batten February 2nd, I am glad that we agree that Puijila is an otter but we don't agree on the imaginary "20 million year old" bit. The different topics are well designated into twenty chapters. Each chapter is broken down into sections. I think this makes the book very reader friendly, easily readable in small sections at a time.

To give you a taste of the feast of information in this book, I have included a small glimpse of five chapters of the book. One view is that an all powerful God created the universe and all forms of life. Another view proposes that the universe began billions of years ago as a result of the big bang. Evolution debate. I also enjoyed the many quotes shared from both sides of the debate. A picture is worth a thousand words in this section. This chapter demonstrates the faulty thinking about spontaneous generation in an excellent manner.

Not to mention that I did get a chuckle out of one of the proofs. Each example is well illustrated. Chapter 4 Natural Selection and Chance Mutations Chapter four offers thought provoking questions and illustrations about natural selection. The use of a bit of humor in this chapter is well done. I really enjoyed the discussion on how many parts of a hyena would have to change to become a whale. To make this chapter even better, it calculated the odds of a hyena type creature mutating into a whale — and illustrated this difficult concept spectacularly. It beautifully diagrams several unrelated animals with similar features.

Carl Werner and Debbie Werner have done a fabulous job weaving multiple learning styles throughout this book. Evolution: The Grand Experiment, is a book that is interesting and understandable, with balanced scientific information that is well worth the investment! Jan 16, Jersc rated it really liked it. Great textbook to argue against the theory of evolution, but it was very repetitive and my sons ages 10 and 12 found it boring. Feb 11, Quang Nguyen Dinh rated it really liked it Shelves: science.

May 24, Wendy rated it it was amazing. Wow, what a fantastic book. The presentation is top notch, it looks like a coffee table book, but oh so much more! The photographs are top quality and definitely add as perfect examples for the explanations. The writing is plain, the scientific examples easy to understand and comprehend. The author has taken each type of distinct life form on earth and showed what fossils have proved or disproved about it's development.

He has included remarks from both pro-evolution and pro-creation scientists Wow, what a fantastic book. He has included remarks from both pro-evolution and pro-creation scientists and then ended each chapter with a question: "What do you think? He has included the different theories of life over the centuries and pointed out how and why they originated and disappeared. He has an excellent chapter on what the scientists have proven in the last century since Darwin and includes a very understandable explanation of DNA and proteins.

Apr 24, Maggie rated it it was amazing. Non-biased overview of the two sides for how the world began; creation and evolution. Though I already knew where I stood when I began reading, I appreciated the way they stated facts from both sides and allowed the reader to engage in his own thinking.

But of course, for me, it further confirmed my already ardent belief that God created the world in 6 literal days, and that the scientific evidence scattered across earth is in sync with the Biblical account. Apr 20, Natalie Shook rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. This book explains what evolution really is; a theory that has virtually no evidence. I would find it hard to believe that anyone, after they read this book, would think evolution is even partially true!

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Before I read this book I just thought, 'Evolution is not true' now I know just how unbelievable it really is! I recommend taking the time to read this, I had to read it for science, and now I want to read the second book for fun! Read it! Apr 11, Ahmad rated it it was amazing. A destroyer book for evolution :. Jun 23, Gina Mcandrew rated it it was amazing Shelves: curriculum. My daughters used this in their creation science class, but this is a great coffee table book to get your guests asking questions.

This is a must-have book! Sep 02, Beverly rated it it was amazing Shelves: anfchristian. If an animal grows at the same rate in all its parts, so that the adult is just a uniformly inflated replica of the infant, it is said to grow isometrically. Isometric growth is quite rare. In allometric growth, by contrast, different parts grow at different rates.

Often, the rates of growth of different parts of an animal bear some simple mathematical relation to each other, a phenomenon that was investigated especially by Sir Julian Huxley in the s. Different breeds of dog achieve their different shapes by means of genes that change the allometric growth relationships between the parts of the body.

For example, bulldogs get their Churchillian scowl horn a genetic tendency towards slower growth of the nasal bones. This has knock-on effects on the relative growth of the surrounding bones, and indeed all the surrounding tissues. Bulldogs also have breathing difficulties, which are shared by Pekineses. Bulldogs even have difficulty being born because the head is disproportionately big. Most if not all the bulldogs you see today were born by caesarian section. Borzois are the opposite. They have extra long snouts. Indeed, they are unusual in that the elongation of the snout begins before they are born, which probably makes borzoi puppies less proficient suckers than other breeds.

Coppinger speculates that the human desire to breed borzois for long snouts has reached a limit imposed by the survival capacity of puppies trying to suck. What lessons do we learn horn the domestication of the dog? Surprisingly few genes may be involved. Yet the changes are so large - the differences between breeds so dramatic - that you might expect their evolution to take millions of years instead of just a matter of centuries.

If so much evolutionary change can be achieved in just a few centuries or even decades, just think what might be achieved in ten or a hundred million years. Viewing the process over centuries, it is no empty fancy that human dog breeders have seized dog flesh like modelling clay and pushed it, pulled it, kneaded it into shape, more or less at will. Of course, as I pointed out earlier, we have really been kneading not dog flesh but dog gene pools. Some sculptors work by taking a lump of clay and kneading it into shape.

Others take a lump of stone or wood, and carve it by subtracting bits with a chisel. But they do something close to carving dog gene pools by subtraction. It is more complicated than pure subtraction, however. Michelangelo took a single chunk of marble, and then subtracted marble horn it to reveal David lurking inside. Nothing was added. Gene pools, on the other hand, are continually added to, for example by mutation, while at the same time non-random death subtracts.

The idea of sculpture calls to mind the over-muscled physiques of human body-builders, and non-human equivalents such as the Belgian Blue breed of cattie. There is a substance called myostatin, which limits muscle growth. If the gene that makes myostatin is disabled, muscles grow larger than usual.

It is quite often the case that a given gene can mutate in more than one way to produce the same outcome, and indeed there are various ways in which the myostatin-producing gene can be disabled, with the same effect. Another example is the breed of pig called the Black Exotic, and there are individual dogs of various breeds that show the same exaggerated musculature for the same reason.

Human body-builders achieve a similar physique by an extreme regime of exercise, and often by the use of anabolic steroids: both environmental manipulations that mimic the genes of the Belgian Blue and the Black Exotic. The end result is the same, and that is a lesson in itself.

Genetic and environmental changes can produce identical outcomes. If you wanted to rear a human child to win a body-building contest and you had a few centuries to spare, you could start by genetic manipulation, engineering exacdy the same freak gene as characterizes Belgian Blue cattle and Black Exotic pigs. Indeed, there are some humans known to have deletions of the myostatin gene, and they tend to be abnormally well muscled. If you started with a mutant child and made it pump iron as well presumably the catde and pigs could not be cajoled into this , you could probably end up with something more grotesque than Mr Universe.

Political opposition to eugenic breeding of humans sometimes spills over into the almost certainly false assertion that it is impossible. I have no doubt that, if you set your mind to it and had enough time and enough political power, you could breed a race of superior body-builders, or high-jumpers, or shot-putters; pearl fishers, sumo wresders, or sprinters; or I suspect, although now with less confidence because there are no animal precedents superior musicians, poets, mathematicians or wine-tasters.

The reason I am confident about selective breeding for athletic prowess is that the qualities needed are so similar to those that demonstrably work in the breeding of racehorses and carthorses, of greyhounds and sledge dogs. The reason I am still pretty confident about the practical feasibility though not the moral or political desirability of selective breeding for mental or otherwise uniquely human traits is that there are so few examples where an attempt at selective breeding in animals has ever failed, even for traits that might have been thought surprising.

You want high milk yield in cows, orders of magnitude more gallons than could ever be needed by a mother to rear her babies? Selective breeding can give it to you. Cows can be modified to grow vast and ungainly udders, and these continue to yield copious quantities of milk indefinitely, long after the normal weaning period of a calf. As it happens, dairy horses have not been bred in this way, but will anyone contest my bet that we could do it if we tried?

And of course, the same would be true of dairy humans, if anyone wanted to try. All too many women, bamboozled by the myth that breasts like melons are attractive, pay surgeons large sums of money to implant silicone, with for my money unappealing results. Does anyone doubt that, given enough generations, the same deformity could be achieved by selective breeding, after the manner of Friesian cows? About twenty-five years ago I developed a computer simulation to illustrate the power of artificial selection: a kind of computer game equivalent to breeding prize roses or dogs or cattle.

Each shape is constructed under the influence of a particular set of numbers, which are its own particular values of the dozen genes. Only genes are passed from generation to generation, so, by direcdy choosing biomorphs by eye, the player is inadvertendy choosing genes. The number of branches, and their angles and lengths, are all under genetic control, determined by the numerical values of the genes. An important feature of the branching tree embryology is that it is recursive.

Although the Blind Watchmaker program starts off with a simple branching tree, it rapidly wanders off into a wonderland of evolved forms, many with a strange beauty, and some - depending on the intentions of the human player - coming to resemble familiar creatures such as insects, spiders or starfish. I shall refer back to these programs, to make a completely different point, in the final chapter.

Here I have introduced them for the purpose of illustrating the power of artificial selection, even in an extremely over-simplified computer environment. In the real world of agriculture and horticulture, the world of the pigeon fancier or dog breeder, artificial selection can achieve so much more. Biomorphs, arthromorphs and conchomorphs just illustrate the principle, in something like the same way that artificial selection itself is going to illustrate the principle behind natural selection - in the next chapter.

Conchomorphs: computer-generated shells shaped by artificial selection Darwin had first-hand experience of the power of artificial selection and he gave it pride of place in Chapter 1 of On the Origin of Species. He was softening his readers up to take delivery of his own great insight, the power of natural selection. That will be the conclusion of my next chapter; but my strategy first will be to continue the softening-up process, to ease the passage towards understanding of natural selection. Who could not love dogs, they are such good sports?

It is nearly but not quite true, given what we now know about genes as long stretches of DNA. For all practical purposes we can take it as true. The meme probably originates from the fact that he possessed a book called Die Pflanzen- mischlinge by W. It is arguable that even Mendel himself did not understand the full importance of his findings. If he had, he might have written to Darwin.

Hardy and, independendy, the German doctor Wilhelm Weinberg, the theory culminated in the work of the great geneticist and statistician Ronald Fisher, and, again largely independently, his co-founders of population genetics, J.

Haldane and Sewall Wright. Not suckle: mothers suckle, babies suck. But we are humans, accustomed to making choices that are deliberate and planned. Are there other animals that do the same thing as human breeders, perhaps without deliberation or intention but with similar results? The first of these intermediate steps along the path of seduction is it over the top to call it a primrose path? The human eye and the human nose went to work on wild roses, enlarging them, shaping them, doubling up the petals, tinting them, refining the bloom, boosting natural fragrances to heady extremes, adjusting habits of growth, eventually entering them in sophisticated hybridization programs until, today, after decades of skilful selective breeding, there are hundreds of prized varieties, each with its own evocative or commemorative name.

Who would not like to have a rose named after her? The flower of the rose, even before human eyes and noses embarked on their work of genetic chiselling, owed its very existence to millions of years of very similar sculpting by insect eyes and noses well, antennae, which is what insects smell with. And the same is true of all the flowers that beautify our gardens. The sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is a North American plant whose wild form looks like an aster or large daisy.

Cultivated sunflowers today have been domesticated to the point where their flowers are the size of a dinner plate. The Russians started breeding this American flower, by the way, for religious reasons. During Lent and Advent, the use of oil in cooking was banned by the Orthodox Church. Conveniently, and for a reason that I - untutored in the profundities of theology - shall not presume to fathom, sunflower seed oil was deemed to be exempt from this prohibition.!

This provided one of the economic pressures that drove the recent selective breeding of the sunflower. Long before the modern era, however, native Americans had been cultivating these nutritious and spectacular flowers for food, for dyes and for decoration, and they achieved results intermediate between the wild sunflower and the extravagant extremes of modern cultivars. But before that again, sunflowers, like all brightiy coloured flowers, owed their very existence to selective breeding by insects.

The same is true of most of the flowers we are aware of - probably all the flowers that are coloured anything other than green and whose smell is anything more than just vaguely plant-like. Not all the work was done by insects - for some flowers the pollinators that did the initial selective breeding were hummingbirds, bats, even frogs - but the principle is the same. Garden flowers have been further enhanced by us, but the wild flowers with which we started only caught our attention in the first place because insects and other selective agents had been there before us.

Generations of ancestral flowers were chosen by generations of ancestral insects or hummingbirds or other natural pollinators. It is a perfectly good example of selective breeding, with the minor difference that the breeders were insects and hummingbirds, not humans. At least, I think the difference is minor.


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You may not, in which case I still have some softening up to do. What might tempt us to think it a major difference?

Evolution: The Grand Experiment: The Quest for an Answer, Volume 1 by Carl Werner

For one thing, humans consciously set out to breed, say, the darkest, most blackish purple rose they can, and they do it to satisfy an aesthetic whim, or because they think other people will pay money for it. Insects do it not for aesthetic reasons but for reasons of. Pollen must somehow be transported from one plant to another. Hermaphroditic plants that have male and female parts within one flower often go to elaborate lengths to stop the male half from fertilizing the female half.

Darwin himself studied the ingenious way this is achieved in primroses. Taking the need for cross-fertilization as a given, how do flowers achieve the feat of moving pollen across the physical gap that separates them from other flowers of the same species? The obvious way is by the wind, and plenty of plants use it. Pollen is a fine, light powder.

If you release enough of it on a breezy day, one or two grains may have the luck to land on the right spot in a flower of the right species. But wind pollination is wasteful. A huge surplus of pollen needs to be manufactured, as hay fever sufferers know. The vast majority of pollen grains land somewhere other than where they should, and all that energy and cosdy materiel is wasted.

There is a more directed way for pollen to be targeted. But animals walk. And animals fly, and they have nervous systems capable of directing them towards particular targets, with sought-for shapes and colours. So if only there were some way to persuade an animal to dust itself with pollen and then walk or preferably fly to another plant of the right species. The story is in some cases highly complex and in all cases fascinating. Many flowers use a bribe of food, usually nectar. Maybe bribe is too loaded a word.

But wait … there’s more

Nectar is sugary syrup, and it is manufactured by plants specifically and only for paying, and fuelling, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and other hired transport. It is cosdy to make, funnelling off a proportion of the sunshine energy trapped by the leaves, the solar panels of the plant. From the point of view of the bees and hummingbirds, it is high-energy aviation fuel. The energy locked up in the sugars of nectar could have been used elsewhere in the economy of the plant, perhaps to make roots, or to fill the underground storage magazines that we call tubers, bulbs and corms, or even to make huge quantities of pollen for broadcasting to the four winds.

Evidendy, for a large number of plant species, the trade-off works out in favour of paying insects and birds for their wings, and fuelling their flight muscles with sugar. Plants have an energy economy and, as with any economy, trade-offs may favour different options under different circumstances. If wind pollination is at one end of a continuum of cross-fertilization techniques - shall we call it the profligate end? Very few insects can be relied upon to fly like a magic bullet straight horn the flower where they have picked up pollen to another flower of exacdy the right species.

Some just go to any old flower, or possibly any flower of the right colour, and it is still a matter of luck whether it happens to be the same species as the flower that has just paid it in nectar. Nevertheless, there are some lovely examples of flowers that lie far out towards the magic bullet end of the continuum.

Both Darwin and his co-discoverer of natural selection, Wallace, called attention to an amazing orchid horn Madagascar, Angraecum sesquipedale see colour page 4 k and both men made the same remarkable prediction, which was later triumphandy vindicated. A related species, Angraecum longicalcar, has nectar-bearing spurs that are even longer, up to 40 centimetres more than 15 inches. I have carefully measured the proboscis of a specimen of Macrosila cluentius from South America in the collection of the British Museum, and find it to be nine inches and a quarter long! One from tropical Africa Macrosila morganii is seven inches and a half.

A species having a proboscis two or three inches longer could reach the nectar in the largest flowers of Angrcecum sesquipedale, whose nectaries vary in length horn ten to fourteen inches. That such a moth exists in Madagascar may be safely predicted; and naturalists who visit that island should search for it with as much confidence as astronomers searched for the planet Neptune, - and they will be equally successful!

By the way, this little example gives the lie, yet again, to the allegation that evolutionary science cannot be predictive because it concerns past history. They were predicting that, at some time in the future, somebody would discover a moth with a tongue long enough to reach the nectar in A sesquipedale. Insects have good colour vision, but their whole spectrum is shifted towards the ultraviolet and away from the red.

Like us, they see yellow, green, blue and violet. The evening primrose Oenothera looks yellow to us. A slow- motion neon sign, it changes from week to week as different flowers come into season, carefully prompted by cues from, for example, the changing length of days to synchronize with others of their own species. This floral extravaganza, splashed across the green canvas of a meadow, has been shaped and coloured, magnified and titivated by the past choices made by animal eyes: bee eyes, butterfly eyes, hoverfly eyes.

Hummingbirds and sunbirds are not particularly closely related, by the way. They look and behave like each other because they have converged upon the same way of life, largely revolving around flowers and nectar although they eat insects as well as nectar. They have long beaks for probing nectaries, extended by even longer tongues.

Sunbirds are less accomplished hoverers than hummingbirds, who can even go backwards like a helicopter. Also convergent, although from a far distant vantage point in the animal kingdom, are the hummingbird hawk moths, again consummate hoverers with spectacularly long tongues all three types of nectar junkie are illustrated on colour page 5.

We shall return to convergent evolution later in the book, after properly understanding natural selection. Here, in this chapter, flowers are seducing us, drawing us in, step by step, lining our path to that understanding. Hummingbird eyes, hawk-moth eyes, butterfly eyes, hoverfly eyes, bee eyes are critically cast over wild flowers, generation after generation, shaping them, colouring them, swelling them, patterning and stippling them, in almost exacdy the same way as human eyes later did with our garden varieties; and with dogs, cows, cabbages and corn.

For the flower, insect pollination represents a huge advance in economy over the wasteful scattergun of wind pollination. Even if a bee visits flowers indiscriminately, lurching promiscuously from buttercup to cornflower, horn poppy to celandine, a pollen grain clinging to its hairy abdomen has a much greater chance of hitting the right target - a second flower of the same species - than it would have if scattered on the wind. Slightly better would be a bee with a preference for a particular colour, say blue.

Or a bee that, while not having any long-term colour preference, tends to form colour habits, so that it chooses colours in runs. Better still would be an insect that visits flowers of only one species. Those Madagascar moths are the ultimate magic bullets. Each side could be said to have domesticated the other, selectively breeding them to do a better job than they previously did. Human breeders of prize roses have had almost exactly the same kinds of effects on flowers as insects have - just exaggerated them a bit.

Insects bred flowers to be bright and showy. Gardeners made them brighter and showier still. Insects made roses pleasantly flagrant.

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We came along and made them even more so. Incidentally, it is a fortunate coincidence that the fragrances that bees and butterflies prefer happen to appeal to us too. Such flowers have not, I presume, had their scents enhanced by human domesticators. At the same time, the flowers are breeding the insects for pollination ability.

Then again, I have implied that insects breed flowers for high nectar yield, like dairymen breeding massively uddered Friesians. Satiate an insect and it has no incentive to go on and look for a second flower - bad news for the first flower, for which the second visit, the pollinating visit, is the whole point of the exercise. Insects have milked flowers for their nectar, and bred them for increased yield - probably encountering resistance horn the flowers, as we have just seen. Have beekeepers or horticulturalists with the interests of beekeepers in mind bred flowers to be even more productive of nectar, just as dairy farmers bred Friesian and Jersey cows?

Oh yes. Think of the dull, camouflaged plumage of a hen pheasant, compared with the splendiferous male of the same species. The cocks look flamboyant and dangerously attractive to predators, but each species in a very different way. The hens are camouflaged and dull- coloured, each species in pretty much the same way. What is going on here? Bright colours may indeed attract predators, but they attract female pheasants too. Generations of hens chose to mate with bright, glowing males, rather than the dull brown creatures that the males would surely have remained but for selective breeding by females.

As with garden flowers, human pheasant-breeders have improved upon the selective handiwork of the hen pheasants that preceded them, producing spectacular variants of the golden pheasant, for example, although more by picking one or two major mutations rather than by gradually shaping the bird through generations of breeding. Humans have also selectively bred some amazing varieties of pigeons as Darwin knew at first hand and chickens, descended horn a Far Eastern bird, the red jungle fowl Gallus gallus. Fanciers have bred canaries for their songs, as well as for their appearance.

The wild canary is a yellowish brown finch, not spectacular to look at. Human selective breeders have taken the palette of colours thrown up by random genetic variation and manufactured a colour distinctive enough to be named after the bird: canary yellow. But canaries are best known for their song, and this too has been tuned up and enriched by human breeders. Various songsters have been manufactured, including Rollers, which have been bred to sing with the beak closed, Waterslagers, which sound like bubbling water, and Timbrados, which produce metallic, bell-like notes, together with a castanet-like chatter that befits their Spanish origins.

Domestically bred songs are longer, louder and more frequent than the wild ancestral type. But all these highly prized songs are made up of elements that occur in wild canaries, just as the habits and tricks of various breeds of dogs come from elements to be found in the behavioural repertoire of wolves. Over generations, wild female canaries inadvertently bred males for their singing prowess by choosing to mate with males whose songs were especially appealing.

In the particular case of canaries it happens that we know a little more. Canaries and Barbary doves have been favourite subjects for research on hormones and reproductive behaviour. One could say that male canaries are manipulating females by singing to them. It is almost as though they were giving them hormone injections. One could also say that females are selectively breeding males to become better and better at singing. The two ways of looking at the matter are two sides of the same coin.

Now, to move the argument on, look at the pictures opposite. The first is a woodcut of a Japanese kabuki mask, representing a samurai warrior. The second is a crab of the species Heikea japonica, which is found in Japanese waters. The generic name, Heikea, comes from a Japanese clan called the Heike, who were defeated at sea in the battle of Danno-Ura by a rival clan called the Genji. Legend tells that the ghosts of drowned Heike warriors now inhabit the bottom of the sea, in the bodies of crabs - Heikea japonica.

The myth is encouraged by the pattern on the back of this crab, which resembles the fiercely grimacing face of a samurai warrior. It reverted to Heikea in when somebody rediscovered that it had been so named as early as - such are the strict priority rules of zoological nomenclature. Kabuki mask of samurai warrior Heikeajaponica crab This theory, that generations of superstitious fishermen threw back into the sea crabs that resembled human faces, received new legs in when Carl Sagan discussed it in his wonderful Cosmos.

In his words, Suppose that, by chance, among the distant ancestors of this crab, one arose that resembled, even slightiy, a human face. Even before the batde of Danno-ura, fishermen may have been reluctant to eat such a crab. In throwing it back, they set in motion an evolutionary process As the generations passed, of crabs and fishermen alike, the crabs with patterns that most resembled a samurai face survived preferentially until eventually there was produced not just a human face, not just a Japanese face, but the visage of a fierce and scowling samurai.


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I even found a website where you can vote on whether the theory is true 31 per cent of 1, voters , whether the photographs are fakes 15 per cent , whether Japanese craftsmen carve the shells to look that way 6 per cent , whether the resemblance is just a coincidence 38 per cent , or even whether the crabs really are manifestations of drowned samurai warriors an amazing 10 per cent. Scientific truths are not, of course, decided by plebiscite, and I voted only because I was otherwise not allowed to see the voting figures. I think, on balance, that the resemblance is probably a coincidence.

According to him, all crabs of that size would have been thrown back, whether or not their backs resembled human faces, although I have to say that this more telling source of scepticism had a large bite taken out of it when I was taken out to dinner in Tokyo and my host ordered, for all the company, a dish of crabs. A crab as small as Heikea would be a doddle to such a gastronomic champion. He would surely swallow it whole without batting an eyelid. This eagerness is enhanced if the pattern departs from randomness in the specific direction of being symmetrical.

All crabs except hermit crabs are symmetrical anyway. I reluctandy suspect that the resemblance of Heikea to a samurai warrior is no more than an accident, much as I would like to believe it has been enhanced by natural selection. Never mind. If you were a bird, out hunting caterpillars in the forest, what would you do if you were suddenly confronted with a snake?

Evolution - The Grand Experiment - Part 1 with Dr Carl Werner - Origins

Leap back startied, would be my guess, and then give it a wide berth. Well, there is a caterpillar - to be precise, the rear end of a caterpillar - that bears an unmistakable resemblance to a snake. It is truly alarming if you are frightened of snakes - as I shamefacedly confess I am.

I even think I might be reluctant to pick this animal up, despite knowing perfectly well that it is in fact a harmless caterpillar. A picture of this extraordinary creature appears on colour page 7. I have the same problem with picking up wasp-mimicking or bee-mimicking hoverflies, even though I can see, from their possession of only one pair of wings, that they are stingless flies. These are among a vast list of animals that gain protection because they look like something else: something inedible like a pebble, a twig or a frond of seaweed, or something positively nasty like a snake or a wasp or the glaring eyes of a possible predator.

Have bird eyes, then, been breeding insects for their resemblance to unpalatable or venomous models? What, after all, is the difference between this and peahens breeding peacocks for beauty, or humans breeding dogs or roses?

CMI - Fossils

Mainly, peahens are breeding positively for something attractive, by approaching it, while the caterpillar-hunting birds are breeding negatively for something repellent, by avoiding it. Far from it. Deep-sea angler fish sit on the bottom of the sea, waiting patiently for prey. Like other denizens of the deep sea, female angler fish often make their own light - or rather, they have special receptacles in which they house bacteria which make light for them.

A spine which, in a normal fish, would be just one of the rays in a fin, becomes elongated and stiffened to make a fishing rod. And on the end of the fishing rod or line is - what else? The baits vary from species to species, but they always resemble small food items: perhaps a worm, or a small fish, or just a nondescript but temptingly jiggling morsel. Small fish are indeed tempted. They approach close to the bait.

And it is the last thing they do for, at that moment, the angler opens her huge maw and the prey is engulfed with the inrush of water. In the case of the roses, the most attractive blooms are the ones deliberately chosen for breeding by the gardener. Much the same is true of peacocks chosen by peahens. It is possible that the peahens are not aware that they are choosing, whereas the rose- growers are.

Slightiy more compelling is a distinction between the angler fish example and the other two. Anglers with unattractive lures are more likely to starve to death and therefore less likely to breed. But they are choosing with their lives! What we are homing in on here is true natural selection, and we are reaching the end of the progressive seduction that is this chapter.

This is called sexual selection, and Darwin discovered it, or at least clearly recognized it and named it. The choice can be made automatically by survival - or failure to survive. I chose the angler fish as my example, because this can still be represented as an agent using its eyes to choose that which survives.

Move now from angler fish to, say, tuna or tarpon, fish that actively pursue their prey. What we can say, however, is that the tarpon that are better equipped to catch prey, for whatever reason - fast swimming muscles, keen eyes, etc. So, we can add a fourth step to our list. Therefore every gene pool, in every species, tends to become filled with genes for making superior equipment for survival and reproduction. Notice how all-encompassing natural selection is. The other examples I have mentioned, steps 1, 2 and 3 and lots of others, can all be wrapped up in natural selection, as special cases of the more general phenomenon.

Darwin worked out the most general case of a phenomenon that people already knew about in restricted form. Hitherto, they had known about it only in the special case of artificial selection. The general case is the non-random survival of randomly varying hereditary equipment. Darwin himself said it beautifully, in a favourite passage horn On the Origin of Species: It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silendy and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.

We see nothing of these slow changes in progress, until the hand of time has marked the long lapse of ages, and then so imperfect is our view into long past geological ages, that we see only that the forms of life are now different from what they formerly were. But in Darwin received a letter from Wallace, co-discoverer of natural selection, suggesting that an even higher hedge against misunderstanding was regrettably necessary.

My dear Darwin, - I have been so repeatedly struck by the utter inability of numbers of intelligent persons to see clearly, or at all, the self-acting and necessary effects of Natural Selection, that I am led to conclude that the term itself, and your mode of illustrating it, however clear and beautiful to many of us, are yet not the best adapted to impress it on the general naturalist public. To the few this is as clear as daylight, and beautifully suggestive, but to many it is evidently a stumbling-block. Wallace had a point. I like to think that Monsieur Janet might have got the point this time around.

The ultimate test of a scientific hypothesis is experiment. You go in there and do something. You manipulate. Experimental interference is of enormous importance, because without it you can never be sure that a correlation you observe has any causal significance. It is only experimental manipulation that can determine whether an observed correlation truly indicates causation.

If your hypothesis is that the non-random survival of random genetic variation has important evolutionary consequences, the experimental test of the hypothesis would have to be a deliberate human intervention. Go in there and choose, as a human breeder, which kinds of individuals get to reproduce. And that, of course, is artificial selection. Artificial selection is not just an analogy for natural selection. Artificial selection constitutes a true experimental - as opposed to observational - test of the hypothesis that selection causes evolutionary change. Most of the known examples of artificial selection - for example, the manufacture of the various breeds of dog - are observed with the hindsight of history, rather than being deliberate tests of predictions under experimentally controlled conditions.

But proper experiments have been done, and the results have always been as expected from the more anecdotal results on dogs, cabbages and sunflowers.