I haven’t been able to do much blogging because Mrs. afarensis has been doing work from home in the evenings (which ended Friday – she will be returning to her office Monday allowing me to actually write some posts). While this was occurring Dr. Ben Carson popped up in the news for criticizing President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. Which caused a flurry of searches for info about Carson and resulted in a lot of hits for the post I wrote on his views on evolution. Which leads me to ask two things. First, What is it about neurosurgeons and pseudoscientific bullshit? Second, what is it about neurosurgeons that cause them to let their inner right wing nutjob loose on the rest of the world? Actually, I have a third, what is it about a middle of the road politician like Obama that sends right wing nutjobs into absolute paroxysms of insanity (don’t answer, I know the answer to this one)?
Carol for Another Christmas was written by Rod Serling and was part of a series of Xerox specials promoting the United Nations. It has ran several times on TCM recently and if it comes on again I highly recommend you see it. The movie is based on Dicken’s A Christmas Carol) and features a number of interesting performances (Steve Lawrence was brilliant as the Ghost of Christmas Past). In the clip below* Peter Sellers gives a phenomenal perfomance as the “Imperial Me.” When watching this part of the movie I couldn’t help thinking about the current state of the Republican party.
My apologies, apparently I am unable to embed clips for some strange reason. Follow the link below.
Pardon the awkward title of this post. What I would like to do in this post is revisit something I mentioned in the first part of my review of Science and Human Origins in that post I mentioned a paper by Jianzhi Zhang called “Parallel Functional Changes in the Digestive RNases of Ruminants and Colobines by Divergent Amino Acid Substitutions.” The paper looked at mutations in the pancreatic RnNase of ruminants and colobines and found nine mutations in colobine RNase and five -different- mutations in ruminant RNase. The fact that Zhang found fourteen different mutations that affected pancreatic in much the same way prompted Zhang to come up with an estimate of how many different mutations can affect the function of the Rnase. He concluded that this number was somewhere between 16-44. So, of those 16-44 theoretical mutations 14 had been identified.
I have found a more graphic example to illustrate the point. The picture below illustrates the Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R)
The picture is self explanatory. The black colored dots are mutations that cause melanism, the green dots are mutations linked to coat color changes in rock pocket mice, the red are mutations that cause red fur or hair, the blue are mutations that cause red hair in humans and possibly melanism in other species. Not shown are the mutations in the -COOH that affect coat color in retrievers and other dogs.
The point is that there are many ways to a new function and to say that unless a given specified pathway is followed evolution can’t happen is clearly nonsense.
Majerus and Mundy (2003) Mammalian melanism: natural selection in black and white. TRENDS in Genetics: 19(11)585-588
Zhang (2003) Parallel Functional Changes in the Digestive RNases of Ruminants and Colobines by Divergent Amino Acid Substitutions. Molecular Biology and Evolution 20(8):1310-1317
In a long line at an understaffed polling place. Been in line for an hour so far…
Update 1: Crap! After standing in line for over two hours we find we are in the wrong place.
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Just saying… Hopefully I’ll work through it soon and get back to my review of Science and Human Origins as well as posts on some other subjects that have caught my attention…
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