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Author Topic: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed  (Read 1026 times)

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Offline Wheeler97Topic starter

Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« on: August 07, 2014, 02:15:03 PM »
I came across the article shared by the "I Fucking Love Science" Facebook/Web- page this morning.

Apparently a husband and wife team, and their assistants, have been studying the finches on one island of the Galapagos for more than 40 years. Other scientists, reviewing their findings, have pointed out that they have likely witnessed the evolution of an entirely new species of finch in that time.

The summary version is that they had documented and measured nearly every bird on the particular island they've been studying. At one point a hybrid bird arrived and eventually mated with a bird from the island. Hybrids, being offspring from two distinct species, are usually sterile and unable to reproduce. This particular bird was not, and the offspring of this pairing are possibly being identified as a new species entirely. Now the multiple subspecies of Galapagos finches are relatively new, from an evolutionary standpoint. They have the capacity to mate with others of the species, but usually choose not to. This new group is behaving like the other separate species, choosing not to mate outside of their own, which is in its seventh generation and has continued for 30 years. The long-term viability of the species is at risk from natural factors, but this is at least a significant observation.

IFLS: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/new-finch-species-evolves-our-eyes

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/science/in-darwins-footsteps.html?_r=0

Nature: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091116/full/news.2009.1089.html

Offline Sabby

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014, 04:48:36 AM »
Hmmm... this may technically be evolution, but I'm not sure it fits the usual description. Evolution is when a random mutation becomes beneficial, and thus helps that animal to survive and propagate, spreading that beneficial gene to the next generation. Hybrid species don't really fit that bill. We have examples of evolution already in the form of ring species, though.

Offline NotoriusBEN

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2014, 08:47:30 PM »
Late reply on this. but isnt that exactly what evolution is? evolution is always mutation. Sometimes the mutation is not beneficial to a species, and that mutant dies out. We only see the stuff that's helped the species keep on going because there are more of them than the nonviable mutants.

Offline Sabby

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 09:02:09 PM »
See, this is a case of a big bundle of new genes jumping into environment out of no where. The mechanism of Evolution is environmental pressure. I don't really know if this counts as Evolution because there was no environmental pressure dictating these genes.

Online Zakharra

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 09:13:00 PM »
See, this is a case of a big bundle of new genes jumping into environment out of no where. The mechanism of Evolution is environmental pressure. I don't really know if this counts as Evolution because there was no environmental pressure dictating these genes.

 If it results in a new species (or even if it doesn't), whether its because of environmental pressures or not, it still counts as evolution. Evolution is filled with far more dead ends (dead/extinct species of all types) than successes, and most of those were successes at the time. The passage of time and everything with it is what defeated them. As it will eventually kill off everything here. Entropy wins all wars.

Offline Sabby

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 09:48:56 PM »
If it results in a new species (or even if it doesn't), whether its because of environmental pressures or not, it still counts as evolution. Evolution is filled with far more dead ends (dead/extinct species of all types) than successes, and most of those were successes at the time. The passage of time and everything with it is what defeated them. As it will eventually kill off everything here. Entropy wins all wars.

By that logic, gene manipulation in a lab is also Evolution, because it results in new species/mutations. Evolution works via natural selection, something which hasn't occurred in this situation. Yes, we've ended up with the same end result, but I don't think we can call the process that got us there Evolution.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2014, 01:04:12 AM »
By that logic, gene manipulation in a lab is also Evolution, because it results in new species/mutations. Evolution works via natural selection, something which hasn't occurred in this situation. Yes, we've ended up with the same end result, but I don't think we can call the process that got us there Evolution.

I agree. It's not evolution yet, although it is potentially the first step of a process of evolution. Now that these new genes have entered the population, we will see natural selection taking place and determining whether these provide a survival or reproductive advantage to the new group of animals. As that happens, it will be a process of evolution.

evolution is always mutation.

Not necessarily. Evolution is a change in Allele frequency within the population due to natural selection. It doesn't necessarily require mutation (at least not at the time), if a disease wipes out all blue-eyed humans and we're left with no more blue-eyed genes in the population that would still be evolution.

Offline Sabby

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2014, 01:07:32 AM »
All correct :)

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2014, 09:39:49 AM »
By that logic, gene manipulation in a lab is also Evolution, because it results in new species/mutations. Evolution works via natural selection, something which hasn't occurred in this situation. Yes, we've ended up with the same end result, but I don't think we can call the process that got us there Evolution.
It's the stepping stones to the theory of Artificial or if you prefer a more trendy label, Designer Evolution.

Natural selection hardly needs to be natural.

Offline Sabby

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2015, 02:47:46 PM »
Natural selection is by it's very definition a natural process. We can make all manner of species by gene sequencing that would be entirely possible via natural selection, but you've still skipped the process of evolution. What we have is a product that is usually produced by evolution, just not in this instance.

Think of this like creating synthetic honey in a lab. It is, for all intents and purposes, honey, but we do not refer to this as a product of bees.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2015, 03:43:28 PM »
Natural selection is by it's very definition a natural process. We can make all manner of species by gene sequencing that would be entirely possible via natural selection, but you've still skipped the process of evolution. What we have is a product that is usually produced by evolution, just not in this instance.

Think of this like creating synthetic honey in a lab. It is, for all intents and purposes, honey, but we do not refer to this as a product of bees.
I was just pointing out that it's the stepping stone the the futurist concept of artificial evolution. You know, monkey-touch-monolith moments.

Like there might come a day when we can use 3D printers to print viable organs.

Offline Sabby

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2015, 03:51:54 AM »
You claimed natural selection didn't have to be natural, I'm only pointing out that it does have to be natural. 'Artificial Evolution' is, by it's very concept, a bypassing of that selection process, so any kind of man made species, while being a form of evolution, cannot be called a product of natural selection.

But hey, I'm just using words based off of what they mean, no telling what kind of colloquial misuse of them will be normalized in the future.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2015, 12:41:49 PM »
You claimed natural selection didn't have to be natural, I'm only pointing out that it does have to be natural. 'Artificial Evolution' is, by it's very concept, a bypassing of that selection process, so any kind of man made species, while being a form of evolution, cannot be called a product of natural selection.

But hey, I'm just using words based off of what they mean, no telling what kind of colloquial misuse of them will be normalized in the future.
Oh, yeah, no I was playing that up as a Rapturesque tagline. :P

"Natural section doesn't have to be natural!" *said in dulcet pear-shaped tones*

Offline DarknessBorne

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2015, 05:57:48 PM »
Oh, yeah, no I was playing that up as a Rapturesque tagline. :P

"Natural section doesn't have to be natural!" *said in dulcet pear-shaped tones*

I think very little here in the Anthropocene is going to be able to be considered totally natural.

I remember reading books on what scientists thought the future was going to be, like the ultimate fate of Earth and the Solar System.  I think the answer is going to end up being, "whatever humans want it to be."  So it will be with evolution.

Whether this is good or bad, is another discussion entirely.  I recommend the movie Gattaca for a very plausible take on what's on the horizon in terms of engineering the human genome.

Offline Mathim

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2015, 10:41:14 PM »
We already see evolution in practice with fruit flies so we didn't need more proof about it like with these finches, but it's still nice. Anyone who denies it now is someone who should not be bred with. :P

But speaking of artificial selection, there's obviously the laboratory approach with genetic alteration but there's also eugenics, simply forcing breeding to take place on the breeder's terms rather than letting natural selection do it. Our understanding of this allows for so much, but the fundamentals are still so much fun to watch and play around with. But if we ever want our fantasy creatures, unicorns and all that crap, we could feasibly make that a possibility if we got good enough at genetic engineering. Too bad all our tuna-matoes (tomatoes with fish genes in them to prevent them from freezing, or something) still give lab rats cancer or we'd really be on to something.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2015, 03:40:07 PM »
Too bad all our tuna-matoes (tomatoes with fish genes in them to prevent them from freezing, or something) still give lab rats cancer or we'd really be on to something.

I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Genetically modifying tomatoes to include the afa3 gene from winter flounder, was an attempt to create frost resistant tomatoes during the early history of GMO. This product was never brought to the market, not because of any toxin concerns or the controversy of including genes from  other kingdoms, but simply because it didn't work. They never got that gene to express within tomatoes.

I have been unable to find any studies in which GMO products cause cancer within lab rats.

The closest I can find is the purple tomato, which includes genes from the snapdragon plant, that helps to fight cancer and has been shown to prolong the life of lab rats with cancer.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2015, 03:57:26 PM »
Genetically modified organism is a bit of a misnomer though. The cat currently purring it out on my chest as I lean back and type has been genetically modified via husbandry, the regular corn we ate was genetically modified via uses of Mendellian genetics concepts. People tend to react badly to GMO without knowing the actual way things have been modified.

Offline Joel

Re: Potential Evolution of New Finches Witnessed
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2015, 04:29:07 PM »
Is so going to weigh in on this super late.  I think Zakharra and Caehlim are on the right track.  Evolution does not require speciation to occur.  In fact I think the major misconceptions in popular culture about evolution is that we like to think of it in terms of individual organisms rather than populations.  We also like to think of it in terms of big steps than many many tiny steps.  In that way, changes in allele frequencies in a population is evidence of evolution, but random mutations that do not alter the appearance or behavior or phenotype of a group of organisms is not a process of evolution.  Likewise changes in allele frequencies (genetic drift) can be caused by random events (stochasticity) and this is also not evidence of evolution.  Very simply, evolution is an inheritable change in the phenotype of a population that is driven by natural selection.  This can be caused by genetic drift, mutations, hybridizations, and maybe epigenetics (??).  Evolution isn't necessarily good or bad and like Zakharra said, it's sure to lead to dead ends most of the time.

Also if anyone wants to be super nerd, go look up the evolution of HIV.