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May 26, 2011

Toward evolutionary monism

Is there any substantive difference between natural, sexual, and artificial selection? Or is it just semantic sugar, useful for humans in our own cognitive bookkeeping? I lean toward the latter proposition. To some extent I would think that this is an irrelevant issue, selection is selection, but I have encountered folks who seem surprised at analogies between “artificial” and “natural” selection quite regularly. Of course Charles Darwin famously elided the distinctions across the two categories in his original works in the 19th century (this was later a subject of controversy, insofar as Darwin’s conflation of the properties of artificial and natural selection may have misled him in terms of the weight of factors shaping evolution in the wild).

These are the questions which bubble to the fore of my mind when I encounter reports such as Elizabeth Pennisi’s in Science, On the Trail of Brain Domestication Genes:

Researchers have proposed that bonobos evolved domesticated behavior to encourage group living. By isolating a group of 40 putative brain domestication genes in the prefrontal cortex and comparing their expression in humans versus chimps and bonobos, researchers found that the activity of that gene group in bonobos was clearly “domesticated” compared with chimps, they ...

May 13, 2010

Biology of Genomes tweeted

Filed under: Biology,Biology of Genomes,Evolution,Genetics,Genomics — Razib Khan @ 6:22 pm

Check out the #bg2010 hash-tag on twitter. There’s a lot of interesting tidbits. Here are some tweets from the presentation on the Neandertal genome in relation to the Denisova hominin (a.k.a. “X-woman”):

lukejostins SP: The Denisova finger is from the Neanderthal line, but didn’t interbreed with humans, hence looking like an outgroup

dgmacarthur: SP claims that Neanderthals and Denisova archaics are more closely related than either are to humans; intriguing.

dgmacarthur: SP: next steps: generate 10-20X coverage of Neanderthal, sequence other archaic humans (e.g. Denisova).

I hope Dr. Daniel MacAthur and Luke Jostins will say more when they get back to Perfidious Albion.

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