If you’ve ever wondered how can scientists determine the relatedness of different species and how much time has passed since they diverged, a molecular clock could have come on your radar. What is a molecular clock and how is it used? Let’s find out.
Do you think you know what species is? If you see two different animals, they belong to two different species. Or do they? Is this an “ugly” duckling in the picture, or is it just a different kind of bird? On the surface, term species appears to be precisely defined. I know that often even biologists fall into thinking it is. Yet it isn’t.
As I write this, there is a large pandemic of coronavirus spreading across. Congratulations if you are lucky enough to read this article several years in the future! I’m a biologist with a special geekiness towards ecology and evolution. What else should I write about if not the evolution of viruses?
Evolution, in a literal sense, means change. Anything can change and thus evolve, right? One of the first videos on Youtube was “Evolution of dance,” and since then, youtube has evolved itself a lot. Pokemon evolve, our personality can evolve, and apes and monkeys can evolve, too. At the same time, usually, when someone refers to evolution, they mean the biological one.
Even if you understand the basics of evolution, a way how new species evolve can remain a mystery. It’s easy to imagine how the length of a hummingbird’s beak can lengthen through generations, but how can this lead to new species?
“Avoid gluten in your diet, because our ancestors did not eat it, and neither should you!” “Rub your face with mud; early humans literally lived in it.” Similar statements are trendy as more people follow the seemingly reasonable logic that natural things are good and unnatural things are not.
If evolution is true and we really did evolve from monkeys, why the hell are they still here? Similar questions have been among the most common ones asked of biologists for decades. If you ask Google, you will find millions of responses, yet people still seem to demand new and clearer answers. The question gets repeated in different forms: Why are there still chimps (or gorillas, or apes) if we evolved from them?