Happy Origin Anniversary!

Hello Origin readers,

Happy Origin Day!  I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying all the  celebration about Darwin, Wallace and Origin of Species.  Here are a few newspaper articles I’ve been enjoying this morning: 

(Twoof my favorite subjects:  snails & Darwin.  This is also a greatexample of predator-prey interaction and how it can affect evolution -you should remember Darwin’s discussion of this in chapters 3 & 4. If you’re interested, the video is worth watching as well.  Apart fromjust being cool, it’s also interesting to watch it and think about howthings might go differently if the snail was ‘left-handed’.  Thearticle is also written by Sean Carroll, the speaker of the thirdDarwin150 webcast!)

(An interesting story about how scientific collections can change hands and some background info on Wallace . . . . . )

(This is a fun section with different scientists reading their favorite sections of Origin – see if they’re reading any of your favorites!)

Darwin150also has two great events today:  E.O. Wilson speaking via tapedcomments at 1pm and a free webcast from the New York Academy ofSciences.  Visit here for more details and to sign up for either ofthem:  http://www.darwin150.com/home/<wbr/>2009/11/23/darwin150-events-<wbr/>for-the-150th-anniversary.html

Finally, our final conference call is two weeks from tonightat 8pm EST.  Please let me know if you’re having any problems with thereading or have any other questions – I’m really looking forward tospeaking to you all on the 8th. 

I know you probably all have the discussion questions, but just incase, I’ve copied them again at the bottom of this post. 

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your reading!

Chapter 6:  Difficulties in Theory

1.  Darwin usesthis chapter to present the main difficulties that he anticipates with histheory.  Two of them are discussedin detail in this chapter, and two more are addressed in subsequentchapters.  What are these fourdifficulties? 

2.  Darwinargues that we can see “transitional forms” in both living species and fossils.  What does he mean by “transitionalforms” and what was one example he gave of a living transitional form?  Why does Darwin suggest we see so fewtransitional fossils?  Can youthink of any modern discoveries of transitional fossils?  (Hint:  we briefly discussed one example during our last phonechat.  Another recently discoveredtransition fossil has feathers.) 

3.  Darwinspends much time in this chapter discussing the eye, a structure that is alsohighly scrutinized by many creationists. Why does Darwin worry about the evolution of a complex structure likethe eye?  Do you think it’s easierto theorize (and accept) how these complex organs developed evolutionarily nowthat scientists have a better understanding of molecular and developmentalbiology? 

 4. In this chapter Darwin also discusses structures that maybe considered opposite of the eye – “organs of little apparent importance.”  How does he explain their continuedpresence in organisms?  Can youthink of examples of such organs in humans or other animals?  Do these structures truly have “littleimportance,” or do we just not yet understand their value? 

 5.  Darwinspends more time in this chapter discussing three more things that naturalselection cannot do (pg200-203).  What are these points,and what do you think of his suggestions and explanations for them? 


Chapter 14:  Recapitulation and Conclusion

This chapter represents Darwin’s “closing argument” – hisfinal chance to convince his reader of his theory of natural selection.  Appropriately, he spends most of thechapter presenting a summary of his beliefs.  Having read much (or maybe all!) of his great book, please considerthe following questions: 

1. What line of evidence recapitulated in this chapter wasthe strongest support for descent with modification in your opinion?  Explain.

2.  What line ofevidence recapitulated in this chapter was the strongest support for descentwith modification in Darwin’sopinion?  Explain.

3. What line of evidence recapitulated in this chapter wasthe strongest support for descent with modification in the average Victorian Englishman’s opinion?  Explain.

24. November 2009 by Arrian
Categories: Commentary, Darwin | Tags: | Comments Off on Happy Origin Anniversary!