Insect Digesting Proof of Evolution


Regardless of determination to dismiss, avoid or walk away from slippery slopes leading to fundamentalist Christian jibber-jabber, every so often it pays to have an arsenal of politely dispatched counterpoints up your sleeve.Scientific proof of insect digesting genomes lingering in the soup of our current gene pool serves the purpose nicely.

Ancient mammal ancestors of all animal species, including humans, were insect eaters. 66 million years ago small insect digesting mammals darted between dinosaur toes. Able to escape asteroid induced dinosaur apocalypse by burrowing underground, formerly inconsequential bug eaters gave rise to life as we know it. Fickle as evolution may be, it saw no reason to deny humans chitinases markers, genetic enzymes capable of breaking down chitin, the hard outer shells of ingested insects.

Research published by Christopher Emerling of UC Berkeley in the journal Science Advances, based analysis of 107 different animal species genomes to conclude –

“One of the coolest things is, if you look at humans, at Fido your dog, Whiskers your cat, your horse, your cow; pick any animal, generally speaking, they have remnants in their genomes of a time when mammals were small, probably insectivorous and running around when dinosaurs were still roaming Earth,” said postdoctoral fellow Christopher Emerling. “It is a signature in your genome that says, once upon a time you were not the dominant group of organisms on Earth. By looking at our genomes, we are looking at this ancestral past and a lifestyle that we don’t even live with anymore.”

Evolution is why millions of people around the world digest insects. God unleashed a plague of locusts to punish humanity, evolution shrugged and sat down at the dinner table.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-inherited-bug-eating-ancestors.html#jCp

Image result for gene inherited from bug eating ancestors

A spectral tarsier (Tarsius tarsier) feeding on a grasshopper in Tangkoko National Park, Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. Tarsiers have five chitinase genes to digest the high amount of chitin in their insectivorous diet, which likely …more

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-05-inherited-bug-eating-ancestors.html#jCp

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Ponder Degrees Of Acuity


New research by Eleanor Caves at Duke University suggests most species view the world in less detail than us Comparison of visual acuity in 600 species of animals, birds, fish and insects conclude humans see fine detail elusive to most species. Based on spacing and density of light sensing structure in eye anatomy, the study measured acuity in terms of cycles per degree, translation – how many pairs of black and white parallel lines a species can discern within one degree of the field of vision before they turn into a smear of gray.

Average human eyes resolve 60 black/white cycles per degree of acuity. Anyone with less than 10 cycles per degree of acuity is legally blind. Most insects can’t see more than one degree of acuity. Fish and birds hover around half the visual acuity of humans. (One exception birds of prey – Australian web tailed eagles boast 140 cycles per degree )) Cats and dogs perceive 7 times less visual detail, slightly more than goldfish, significantly more than rodents.

Evolutionary perfection compensates lack of visual acuity with species specific tweaks of survival fancy. Sight as we know it is not the measure of life on Earth.

 

Image result for kitchen as seen by different animals

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/humans-see-world-100-times-more-detail-mice-fruit-flies-180969240/

 

The image on the left shows the wings of a map butterfly as they might look to a jay looking for a snack, and on the right, to another member of its kind, such as a rival or potential mate. Image courtesy of Eleanor Caves

The image on the left shows the wings of a map butterfly as they might look to a jay looking for a snack, and on the right, to another member of its kind, such as a rival or potential mate. Image courtesy of Eleanor Caves

Image result for eleanor caves acuity

A spider web as seen in bird vision (left), and fly vision (right). The zigzags on the spider’s web send a secret message to birds that their insect prey can’t see, even from less than a foot away. Image via Eleanor Caves.

Longer Days


Moons orbit planets, planets orbit the sun. Round and round they go forever locked in gravitational harmony. Sunrise, sunset, new moon, full moon, every day a 24 hour certainty. Foundations so fundamental we take them for granted. Not so fast – days haven’t always been 24 hours. Truth is, days are getting longer.

New astronomical research dubbed astrochronology suggests that recently as 1.4 billion years ago Earth completed a day in 18 hours. Science credits interaction of Earth/Moon tidal forces for lunar orbit spiraling away from Earth at 1.5 inches a year.

Gravity is a cosmic wonder, proximity of mass dictates rate of rotation. 18 hour day Earth was driven by a vastly closer Moon. Over time rotation slows as the Moon spirals away. Less pull, less spin, longer days.

https://www.space.com/40802-earth-days-longer-moon-movement.html?utm_source=sdc-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180606-sdc

 

This gorgeous photo of Earth with the moon in the foreground was captured on Oct. 12, 2015, by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

 

Ponder Mars Rover Curiosity Announcement


Mars rover Curiosity is on a mission to investigate Mars’ past ability to support microbial life. Exploration began when Curiosity touched down on the floor of 154 kilometer wide Gale Crater in August 2012. It didn’t take long for Curiosity core samples to indicate Gale Crater could have supported a habitable lake and stream system in the ancient past. At the centre of Gale, Mount Sharp rises 5.5 kilometers above the Martian surface. Curiosity reached the base of Mt. Sharp in September 2014. Curiosity set a course for the summit, collecting core samples along the way. All good until late 2016 when Curiosity lost the use of her robotic drill.

NASA engineers worked tirelessly to find a solution. On February 26, 2018 a test fix culminated in Curiosity boring a 1.3 centimeter deep hole. A few adjustments later the little rover that could drilled without hesitation.

This week NASA made a curious announcement. On Thursday June 7, 2018 at 2 pm EDT a live news conference will reveal something Curiosity discovered on Mars.

 

“NASA will hold a press conference Thursday, June 7, 2018, to announce a new discovery on Mars from the Curiosity rover. Here, Curiosity snaps a selfie while perched on Vera Rubin Ridge on Mars in February 2018.”

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

From https://www.space.com/40792-nasa-mars-rover-curiosity-announcement-june-2018.html

“The space agency revealed few details about what will be announced Thursday, but the “live discussion” will feature “new science results from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover,” according to a NASA announcement. Why all the secrecy? “The results are embargoed by the journal Science until then,” NASA wrote in the statement.

That means NASA won’t release any details until the press conference, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Thursday. You can watch the Mars announcement live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV. The space agency did reveal the list of scientists who will be discussing the Mars discovery. [See Curiosity’s Greatest Mars Discoveries (So Far)]

 

Remember To Look Up At The Stars……


Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76

News of 76 year old Stephen Hawking passing away March 14, 2018 arrived without point of reference. Hawking was timeless, his age inconsequential. A man who graced humanity with wonder, infectious wonder emanating from resolve to understand the universe.

“I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking was born January 8, 1942 – exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo. Interesting snippet, but not nearly as satisfying as the day he returned to the cosmos. Hawking enjoyed a good laugh, I choose to believe he slipped away with a smirk of ironic awareness – born on Galileo’s birthday, Hawking died on Albert Einstein’s birthday and International Pi Day.

March 14, 2018 – a day of mathematical reverence, Einstein accolades and Hawking reflection ended with an extravagant gesture of cosmic wonder. Powerful streams of solar wind flowing from a wide gash in the Sun’s atmosphere culminated in geomagnetic storm perfection.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

Send Your Name To The Sun


Ponder your name on a microchip aboard a car sized solar probe traveling 692,000 Km/hour around the Sun. Imagine that probe entering the Suns’ atmosphere. How cool would it be if the first mission to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona carried your name. Would you see the Sun with fresh eyes knowing your name was part of an endeavor to explore solar wind?

The Parker Solar Probe begins a seven year, seven gravity assist Venus flyby, 93 million mile journey to the Sun in summer 2018. To commemorate humanity’s first visit to a star, NASA issued an open invitation – send your name to the Sun. Deadline, April 27, 2018. Get on board at  –

http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/The-Mission/Name-to-Sun/

Learn more at – https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/parker-solar-probe-humanity-s-first-visit-to-a-star