Part 1- July 5, 2013: Ch. 1-3

What did you think about the reading?

Dr. Shubin opened my eyes to a new concept of evolution:  How we contain millions of years of history in our bodies, starting from our bones to our cells, and even our DNA. I do agree, on a scientific aspect, on Dr. Shubin’s theories, as he supports them with genuine and concrete evidence such as that of the Tiktaalik fossil and the compatible Hedge hog gene found in both sharks and mice.  These first few chapters opened my mind a bit more to evolution, as at first, in full honesty, I was very skeptical to the theory. I am really anxious to read what other ideas Dr. Shubin arises throughout the book.

 

What did you learn?

 Throughout the first chapter I was introduced to a new concept that I had never heard about: the presence of the “gap” organism, Tiktaalik. It greatly surprised me that a fossil of such an old animal could still be found almost intact today hinting us towards a transitional animal between fish and amphibians. I also learned that the common “thumbs make us human” statement is very valid. In agreement to  Sir Charles Bell’s theory, it gives us the ability to do more than a fish with its fins, or a bird with its talons, it gives us the ability to physically engineer our concepts.  Later in the second chapter, Dr. Shubin suggests the humanistic features Tiktaalik possessed such as its neck and limbs and how Tiktaalik could have acquired them through slight variations in the genetics of its common ancestors. Through this, I more fully understood the progression of fins to hands and its increasing bone structure complexity. As I continued to read, Dr. Shubin raised up the idea that common ancestry is not only traced through fossils, but through our very own genetic material. I also learned the effect vitamin A has on specific genes of the body, such as the Hedge hog gene mentioned by Shubin found in chickens, sharks, and even mice. I found the “flipping cells” operation very interesting, it made me relate it to a puzzle. If you place a piece with a mismatched piece, and yet it fits, the image created is different; Thus, this creates wacky creations like the 4- winged chickens or backwards flies mentioned in the third chapter. Dr. Shubin also decided to inject mouse derived hedgehog protein into a shark, yielding the same results as it would if the shark were to have kept its own hedgehog gene concluding the theory of common descent. It really astonished me that all creatures posses this intriguing hedge hog gene.

 

What questions do you still have?

Since Dr. Shubin mentions the theory of common descent, then could we genetically modify a shark’s genes into human genes, such as making human limbs out of shark fins through a slight genetic variation?

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