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zer0netgain
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09 Jun 2014, 10:30 am

A thought.

As I understand it, flatworms and amoebas have more complex DNA than humans do. This doesn't indicate that the "evolved" creatures are superior...rather we have missing/dormant genes present in more "primitive" organisms.

I'm wondering if indeed what happens over time is "de-evolution." The amoeba has more complex DNA, but it's a bunch of traits competing for dominance...and none of them are, so it remains a simple organism. As genes become recessive or just disappear, other traits become genetically dominant, and a new organism results.

This would indicate that over time, humans might become actually lose traits (absent tinkering with our own DNA) and ultimately become nonviable genetic constructs.

Imagine the possibility that DNA is hard-coded to self-destruct....ensuring that "advanced" life only goes on for so long...then ends.



eric76
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09 Jun 2014, 2:00 pm

It's hard to imagine how that could be at all possible. There is nothing to recommend the idea and every reason to think it wrong.

As for losing traits, that is possible if the traits lost did not somehow improve our chances of survival. Instead of becoming nonviable genetic constructs, I would expect the exact opposite -- that if any traits were to be lost and they had any effect on our chances of survival, at least long enough to reproduce, then the effects of those traits would lead to more problems surviving and their disappearance would be a good thing.



Janissy
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09 Jun 2014, 3:17 pm

Here is a fun article about it, delightfully titled "Evolution, You're Drunk".

http://nautil.us/issue/9/time/evolution-youre-drunk

It ends with this, which says that calling this "de-evolution" is just being stuck in a linear way of perceiving things. Nature zigs and zags and goes with whatever works.

Quote:
Casey Dunn, an evolutionary biologist at Brown University in Providence, R.I. who took part in the still-contentious comb jelly project, now doubts all notions of increasing complexity. Instead, he says the environment selects whatever form handles the challenges at hand, be it simple, complex, or plain ugly. Mother Nature, with her 4 billion years of experience, does not work like Steve Jobs, continuously designing sleeker versions. When asked whether de-evolution, a reversal from the complex to the simple, happens frequently, Dunn replies, sure. ?But,? he adds, ?I wouldn?t call that de-evolution, I?d call it evolution.?


The article shows that this is just nature going with whatever works. It isn't some sort of inevitable entropic decline into oblivion.



olympiadis
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24 Jun 2014, 6:54 pm

zer0netgain wrote:
A thought.

As I understand it, flatworms and amoebas have more complex DNA than humans do. This doesn't indicate that the "evolved" creatures are superior...rather we have missing/dormant genes present in more "primitive" organisms.

I'm wondering if indeed what happens over time is "de-evolution." The amoeba has more complex DNA, but it's a bunch of traits competing for dominance...and none of them are, so it remains a simple organism. As genes become recessive or just disappear, other traits become genetically dominant, and a new organism results.

This would indicate that over time, humans might become actually lose traits (absent tinkering with our own DNA) and ultimately become nonviable genetic constructs.

Imagine the possibility that DNA is hard-coded to self-destruct....ensuring that "advanced" life only goes on for so long...then ends.


Yes and no.
Certainly there are more steps backward than forward. Most often new branches are pruned when a level of unsustainability is reached either by design or by change in environment. Evolution starts again from the last functioning stem, sometimes repeating mistakes and sometimes overcoming or avoiding them.
The process is multi-directional and normally tempered by the laws of physics.

Through the functioning of the human brain, the DNA has produced a way to direct system intelligence (algorithms) beyond the limitations of physics, and thus assume non-sustainable forms.
This is in the conceptual world, imagination, or what we commonly call ideas.
The evolution of ideas is known in the field as "memetics". Like genetics it is algorithms competing in an environment in order to survive, reproduce, and improve in efficiency.

One only has to look around to observe the un-sustainability of many of these evolved ways of thinking. Memetic evolution (increased complexity) happens at a much quicker rate than genetic evolution, but many of the processes are similar in nature. An idea must survive in an environment of other ideas. Deception often takes the place of what would be pruning of certain branches.

An idea can evolve defense or immune systems to protect it from other competing ideas. We see this all the time in religion and politics. Being that memetics only resides inside the host human brains, it is effectively insulated from the direct effects of the environment. Also as I just described, certain ideas can remain insulated from otherwise rational thinking that is based on a real environment.

You may be beginning to see that the nature of this can be very destructive over time, so though it isn't necessarily hardcoded into our genes, the ability of de-evolution is there, and the mechanism of branch pruning has always been there.

Lastly as a general rule, the simpler the code is, the more likely it is to survive an environmental change, and the quicker it can adapt. Aggressive codes have advantage over passive codes here. A passive code finds a niche to specialize in and stay out of the way. An aggressive code adapts and spreads quickly to new environments.

Compare a bacteria species with an orchid species.

The favor of evolution over de-evolution is a matter of the rate by which the environment changes vs the rate of adaptation by the algorithm.


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beneficii
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25 Jun 2014, 1:51 am

Organisms do not "de-evolve"; rather, they adapt to their environment and other circumstances. Evolution tends to favor members of a species that are better adapted than other members, with less adaptation.

But no, I would not count the amount of DNA an organism has for "advancement."

As I once saw on Berkeley.edu's website dedicated to evolution, you can find that there is no evolutionary ladder by which we can judge the [i[superiority[/i]" of one species over another. Evolution is much more akin to a tree or a bush than a latter.


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BlankReg
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25 Jun 2014, 11:34 am

Are we not men?