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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.
What scientific evidence do we have about the first humans?
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.
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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: The Human Fossil Record
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.
Series: Decoding ENCODE
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".
Being Human (Infographic)
The BioLogos Forum is pleased to present this infographic about the current anthropological understanding of human evolution, which takes into account research into both physiological and cultural developments among our ancient ancestors.
Hominids Lived Millions of Years Ago, but How Can We Tell? (Videocast)
This BioLogos videocast addresses the age of recently discovered hominid fossils and how scientists are able to obtain those dates.
Where is the Genetic Evidence for Evolution?
The discovery of DNA has revolutionized our understanding of common descent, particularly in the past few decades. Mutated genes spread through populations over generations, leading to evolutionary change. In this podcast, we look at several examples of genetic evidence for evolution.
Series: Made in the Image of God: The Theological Implications of Human Genomics
This series by Denis Alexander reflects on advancements in genomics as well as their theological implications. He focuses on the relatedness of hominin genomes, arguing that this does not interfere with the image of God in humans. The image of God depends more on the capacity for relationship and covenant, not on a list of particular physical qualities. He then discusses why the recent studies of genomics provide “no grounds for genetic determinism.”
Dead Bones with a Living Message
In this video, Pääbo covers a lot of ground, noting several lines of genetic evidence for the evolution of modern humans from earlier hominids in Africa, as well as for the interbreeding between early humans and Neanderthals.
Series: Evidences for Evolution
This technical series, co-written by Darrel Falk and David Kerk, looks into the evidence for evolution in order to dispel doubts that people may have about this well-supported theory. They look at three things specifically: the separate methods which reveal of the age of the earth, the unfolding history of whale evolution, and finally the common trends of heart development in vertebrates.
Series: New Limbs from Old Fins
Stephen Matheson presents common descent by evolution as the best explanation for the universal pattern found in tetrapod limbs. He discusses initially the evolution and development of limbs in specifically vertebrate tetrapods. He looks at the question of origins and further digs into amazing fossil discoveries. He then gives evidence of evolution from fish to tetrapods by discussing the similarities in the anatomy, development, and genetic systems associated with this amazingly common pattern in vertebrate appendages.
Was Humanity Inevitable?
If the tape was rewound and evolution started over from scratch, Conway Morris says, the evolutionary details would be different, but the end result would be similar: a species characterized by intelligence and complex civilization.
Series: Genetics, Theology, and Adam as a Historical Person
Denis Alexander begins this five part series by discussing both what a model is and whether it is appropriate to use one when building a bridge between scientific truths and theological truths. Providing evolutionary facts about the origins of humans as well as discussing the origin and meaning of Adam in Genesis, he constructs what he calls a Retelling model and a Homo divinus model. Both approaches, he concludes, “suggest that human evolution per se is irrelevant to the theological understanding of humankind made in the image of God.”
Signature in the Pseudogenes, Part 1
One interesting feature of looking at genomes is that often we can find the mutated remains of once-functional genes. These are called pseudogenes, or “false genes.” Pseudogenes might be part of a shared backstory for two species, or they might crop up independently after two species go their separate ways.
Signature in the Synteny
In some ways, comparing the DNA sequence between related organisms is like reading alternative history novels. The hypothesis of common ancestry between similar organisms makes a very straightforward prediction about their genomes...
Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple?
Is the human race descended from one ancestral pair in the recent past? Are we, as C.S. Lewis puts it in his Chronicles of Narnia, the “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve”?
In The Bones
I am a fan of the blog "Jesus Creed." Recently it published an interesting post about the transition from fins to limbs as evidenced by fossils of an organism trapped in sediment 375 million years ago.
Misconceptions About Evolution, Part 2
Evolutionary theory is not in crisis; scientists accept evolution as the best explanation for life's diversity because of the multiple lines of evidence supporting it, its broad power to explain biological phenomena, and its ability to make accurate predictions in a wide variety of situations.
Misconceptions About Evolution, Part 1
The website Understanding Evolution, hosted by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, offers its readers numerous helpful resources regarding the science and history of evolutionary biology.