BioLogos Basics Video #8: Genetics
Some of the strongest evidence for the common ancestry of all life forms comes from genetics.
From the Archives: Evolution as a Scientific Theory
In common English usage, “theory” means something like “guess” or “hunch”. In science, however, a theory is an idea that has stood the test of time.
What does the fossil record show?
Though the fossil record does not include every plant and animal that ever lived, it provides substantial evidence for the common descent of life via evolution. The fossil record is a remarkable gift for the study of nature.
What is Evolution?
The word evolution can be used in many ways, but in biology, it means descent with modification. In other words, small modifications occur at the genetic level (i.e. in DNA) when a new generation descends from its parents. Over many generations these modifications can result in significant differences from the ancestral population.
What is the genetic evidence for human evolution?
The more research that is done on DNA, the more evidence we find that all life is related.
The Changing Face of Evolutionary Theory?
Is evolution driven mainly by random genetic variation, or are there other factors at play? Michael Burdett reviews the scientific debate.
Series: Reviewing “Darwin’s Doubt” (11 entries)
Saturday Science Links: December 6, 2014
Many of this week's science links happen at the wondrous intersection of mystery and discovery.
Series: Evolution Basics (50 entries)
Written by BioLogos Fellow of Biology Dennis Venema, this series of posts is intended as a basic introduction to the science of evolution for non-specialists.
Evolution and Christian Faith Grantees Announced
Congratulations to the 37 winners of the Evolution & Christian Faith (ECF) grants competition! ECF is a new BioLogos program designed to support projects and network-building among scholars, church leaders, and parachurch organizations.
Where are the Transitional Fossils?
A common argument leveled against the theory of evolution is that scientists have not been able to produce transitional fossils that show the change of one species into another. In this podcast, we address a common misconception about what transitional fossils actually are.
Series: Decoding ENCODE (8 entries)
The BioLogos Foundation explains to the findings of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project and responds to the claims that its discoveries challenge the theory of evolution, especially regarding so-called "junk DNA".
Denisovans, Humans and the Chromosome 2 Fusion
The Denisovans, an extinct hominid group that interbred with modern humans, made the news again lately with the publication of a more detailed study of their genome. One of the many interesting findings was that the Denisovans share the same chromosome 2 fusion that modern humans have.
David Lack and Darwin’s Finches
Considering the immense popularity of "Darwin's finches", it is quite surprising to learn that Charles Darwin himself had very little to say about them. In fact, it was actually David Lack, one century later, who conducted the critical research that immortalized the finches in biology textbooks and popular lore.
Series: The Human Fossil Record (20 entries)
In this series, James Kidder provides an intriguing study on transitional fossils and the evolutionary history of modern humans. He begins by discussing the fossil record, explaining how new forms are classified. He then explains the physically distinguishing trait of humankind—bipedalism. From the discovery of Ardipithecus, the earliest known hominin, to the australopithecines, the most prolific hominin, Kidder focuses on the discovery, the anatomy, and the interpretation of these ancestral remains.
What evidence do we have for evolution besides fossils and genes?
Scientists have found multiple lines of evidence for evolution, not just one or two. These types of evidence are independent of each other, coming from sources as different as ancient fossils and modern genetics labs. Evidence also comes from comparing the anatomy of creatures living today. All creatures with four limbs (whether mammals, birds, or reptiles) have the same bone structure in each limb, pointing to their descent from a common ancestor. More evidence comes from biogeography. Isolated islands are missing common species found on the mainland, but are filled with many unique species that can be related by a common ancestor. Finally, evidence comes from embryonic development. As an embryo of a mammal grows, its heart develops through stages similar to fish, amphibians, and reptiles. God’s creation declares the history of life in many different ways. All these ways are pointing to a consistent picture of God creating through evolution.
The Fossil Record
There are two opposite errors which need to be countered about the fossil record: 1) that it is so incomplete as to be of no value in interpreting patterns and trends in the history of life, and 2) that it is so good that we should expect a relatively complete record of the details of evolutionary transitions within all or most lineages.
What is the genetic evidence for human evolution?
In recent decades, scientists have discovered more about the beginnings of humanity. The fossil record shows a gradual transition over 5 million years ago from chimpanzee-size creatures to hominids with larger brains who walked on two legs. Later hominids used fire and stone tools and had brains as large as modern humans. Fossils of homo sapiens in east Africa date back nearly 200,000 years. Humans developed hearths for fire, stone points for spears and arrows, and cave paintings by 30,000 years ago. By 10,000 years ago, humans had spread throughout the globe. Genetic studies support the same picture. Humans share more DNA with chimpanzees than with any other animal, suggesting that humans and chimps share a relatively recent common ancestor. Also, the same defective genes appear in both humans and chimps, at the same locations in the genome—an observation difficult to explain except by common ancestry. Genetics also tells us that the human population today descended from more than two people. Evolution happens not to individuals but to populations, and the amount of genetic diversity in the gene pool today suggests that the human population was never smaller than several thousand individuals. Yet all humans, of all races, are descended from this group. Humanity is one family.
Series: Understanding Evolution: Theory, Prediction and Converging Lines of Evidence (4 entries)
One of the challenges for discussing evolution within evangelical Christian circles is that there is widespread confusion about how evolution actually works. In this installment we explore how evolution is a theory in the scientific sense, how it is supported by converging lines of evidence, and how it can make accurate predictions about the natural world, using whale evolution as an example.