Monday, June 20, 2005

How Not to Write an Article on Evolution

The subject matter itself is pretty interesting, but the way it was written was horrible.
Researchers at the University of Washington - Seattle examined a small section of chromosome 2 in humans, apes and old world monkeys. What they found was that old world monkeys did not have a series of duplications found in apes and humans - implying the duplications occurred after the last common ancestor of old worl monkeys, apes and humans (approximately 10-20 mya). An interesting finding is that the gene duplications occurred in a very short timespan. How does the article characterize the research ( Did Humans Evolve in Fits and Starts?)?

Humans may have evolved during a few rapid bursts of genetic change, according to a new study of the human genome, which challenges the popular theory that evolution is a gradual process.

It is unknown what effect the sudden duplication activity may have had on chromosome 2. Eichler theorises that it may have resulted in genes for increased brain size or pathogen evasion. If specific regions of chromosomes can have very punctuated events, it means our models based on gradual evolution are probably wrong,”he says.

You would think that New Scientist would do a better job of an interesting and important subject. The whole "popular theory of gradual evolution" is a bit overdone and makes it sound like evolution has been proven false. The theory of punctuated equilibrium has been around for long enough - and there is some evidence to suggest it has occurred in human evolution - that these kinds of spins on scientific research are unwarrented.