Thursday, May 19, 2005

To understand how organisms evolve ...

To understand how organisms evolve, biologists start at the beginning
(Signon San Diego)
Through the years, polls have repeatedly shown most Americans don’t believe in evolution. Does evo devo answer the disbelievers?

For those whose minds are open to evidence, evo devo will really help. We can show that tiny changes account for major differences that we can see. There’s that old lament: What good is half an eye or half a wing? It’s so hard to imagine how new things arise. Where is the intermediate step?

Evo devo provides an understanding of the deep foundation. For instance, there is the understanding that all eyes evolved from a simple arrangement of nerve cells that could sense light that goes way back into the bacterial kingdom. By understanding that all this variation we see is a modification of ancient processes and ancient organizations of cells, then you can realize there is continuity here. It’s not having to make a large leap of faith to connect A to B.

Professor Sean B. Carroll is not to be confused with the less hirsute physicist Sean Carroll of Preposterous Universe fame.

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