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Topic: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Replies: 52   Last Post: Sep 8, 1996 9:44 PM

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Doug Yanega

Posts: 2
Registered: 12/12/04
Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Posted: Aug 16, 1996 6:38 PM
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In article
<Pine.A32.3.91.960815144016.39360B-100000@flute.aix.calpoly.edu>, Andrew
Singer <asinger@flute.aix.calpoly.edu> wrote:

> 3- What is the latest estimate of the age of the earth, and consequestly
> the earliest life form?

[snip]
>
> 1- Is it impossible to consider that the mutation rate might have
> decreased to its presently observed rate?


Mutation rate is only a part of the picture, and you can miss a lot by
focusing on just that.

Consider the grand scale of things - we know pretty well that there were at
least 10 million species on Earth at the turn of the century, over 95% of
which are arthropods (mostly undescribed). Many folks have intimated that
via extinction and all, it is probable that these 10 million species are
only maybe about 10 percent or less of all the species that have ever
existed. That means that over geologic history, even if you play it
conservatively, (balancing high/low estimates of modern species with
various estimates for the number of extinct species) the estimate is about
100
million species have come into being - and the *upper* estimate for how long
multicellular life has existed is barely 1 billion years. That's an *average*
of ten new species coming into being in the world every single year.
Consider that virtually all of those species have been and continue to be
arthropods, and that the first arthropods date to only about 600 million
years ago, and the rate is obviously higher. I study insect evolution and
natural history, and find this entirely plausible. Heck, even if the
modern species of arthropods were all that had *ever* existed, 10 million
species in 600 million years is still a pretty hefty rate of speciation -
evolution is NOT all that slow when the average generation time is
measured in months or weeks, and once you've got a pool of a few million
species' worth of raw material...it's no wonder that there may be a few
dozen new species cropping up every year. Frankly, I expect that a pretty
large chunk of the present species pool has originated only since the last
glaciation, a drop in the geological bucket. You also need to bear in mind
that for most
organisms, even the tiniest mutation can be enough to lead to a new and
succesful species, unlike the situation in vertebrates, where it takes a
truly significant change, in general, before speciation can take place.
Our human-biased perspective is that of a vanishingly tiny minority. If
you want to ask questions about evolution, you need to examine the
planet's dominant life forms - arthropods. Never underestimate the power
of exponential growth. ;-)

Cheers,

Doug Yanega (dyanega@mail.inhs.uiuc.edu)
Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA (217) 244-6817 fax:(217) 333-4949
affiliate, University of Illinois Dept. of Entomology
http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu:80/~dyanega/my_home.html
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is
the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick






Date Subject Author
8/15/96
Read Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Andrew Singer
8/16/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Lluis Ribas
8/16/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Doug Yanega
8/17/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Leonard Evens
8/16/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
KIRKX L AUGUSTIN
8/17/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Leonard Evens
8/28/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Brian Williams
8/29/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Lauren Owens
8/30/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Paterson, Adrian Mark
8/18/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Felix J. Thibault
8/20/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Vincent R. Johns
8/21/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Larry Adams
8/23/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Richard M Kliman
8/25/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Beorn
8/26/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Vincent R. Johns
8/27/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Steve McGrew
8/27/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
8/29/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Beorn
8/30/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
8/31/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
L.A. Moran
9/3/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
9/4/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
L.A. Moran
9/4/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
9/4/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Ram Samudrala
9/4/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
9/4/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Ram Samudrala
9/5/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
9/5/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Ram Samudrala
9/6/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
James Foster
8/27/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Joan Shields
8/28/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Steve McGrew
8/29/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Beorn
8/30/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Jerry Learn
8/31/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Doug Easton
8/30/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Larry Edwards
8/30/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Doug Yanega
9/7/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Beorn
8/27/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Dixon
8/28/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Dana Gourley
8/30/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Herman Helmuth
9/6/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Jerry Clark
8/22/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Truett L Smith
8/28/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Brian Williams
8/23/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Karl
8/24/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Steve McGrew
8/25/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Arthur Chandler
8/21/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
vorsterd@iafrica.com
8/22/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Anthony Campbell
8/22/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Mary K. Kuhner
8/31/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Arthur Chandler
9/4/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Wilson
9/6/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
Ram Samudrala
9/8/96
Read Re: Several questions on evolution, and mutation (rate)
David Wilson

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