Field of Science

Weird comments

I get quite a few anonymous comments to random posts. They are random in that there is no apparent correlation between the content of my posts and their comments.


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Clearly the point is to promote some site (yes, I have changed the links). But why these robotish comment with no relevance to my blog posts?

None of these comments ever get through, because I moderate submitted comments to posts over a week old. And when they do get through to newer posts, they always delete them themselves right away. Why?

I really wish I knew.

Empty talk about the evolution of complexity

PZ Myers has a post on the evolutionary origins of complexity: αEP: Complexity is not usually the product of selection I find it frustrating that people talk about terms that they don't clearly define, and assume everyone agrees on. Especially about complexity, which is hard to define, and I know not everyone has the same idea of. I'll just quote my comment on Pharyngula:
But, you have not quantified complexity, let alone say when there was an increase in it in the hypothetical example you give. If you don’t do this, you can’t talk about the evolution of complexity; it becomes a guessing game what we are talking about, and there is no chance that everyone will think of complexity as the same thing.
On top of that, there seems to be no distinction made anywhere between ‘complexity’ and ‘complex traits’. They need not be the same thing. Without defining complexity here(!), I’ll say that complexity can indeed easily arise by neutral processes, whereas complex traits cannot (but does have neutral and random processes involved) – it requires selection. And with that you’re going to ask me for a definition of a trait, so here is one: A single measurable component of the phenotype that has a function.
The key word here is function, without which I don’t know of any that can evolve without selection. Not selection every step of the way, as random processes are required (at least that’s how it occurs in nature), but selection at some point. The moment the trait acquires function, it becomes selected for.
On the other hand, ‘genomic complexity’ may not describe the state of a trait, but rather is the idea that the genome has many components that are intricately connected – which can arise by neutral processes.

Title in evolution quiz

For those unawares (prolly all), I post these titles in evolution i) as a reminder to myself when I skim the numerous eTOCs that I get in my inbox every week, ii) to point out that evolutionary biology is a very active area of research (while creationism is not), and iii) to share the awesomeness of evolution.

Today it also comes with a quiz.

  • Wormholes record species history in space and time
  • Quasispecies Dynamics of RNA Viruses
  • Genetic background affects epistatic interactions between two beneficial mutations
  • Epistasis between mutations is host-dependent for an RNA virus
  • Evolution of clonal populations approaching a fitness peak
  • Competition and the origins of novelty: experimental evolution of niche-width expansion in a virus
  • Stochastic effects are important in intrahost HIV evolution even when viral loads are high
  • Variable evolutionary routes to host establishment across repeated rabies virus host shifts among bats
  • eplaying the Tape of Life: Quantification of the Predictability of Evolution
  • Phenotypic landscapes: phenological patterns in wild and cultivated barley
  • Are elder siblings helpers or competitors? Antagonistic fitness effects of sibling interactions in humans
  • Ecological selection as the cause and sexual differentiation as the consequence of species divergence?
  • Adaptation to a new environment allows cooperators to purge cheaters stochastically
  • Fixation of mutators in asexual populations: the role of genetic drift and epistasis Public good dynamics drive evolution of iron acquisition strategies in natural bacterioplankton populations

Guess which of the papers above this figure is from:

54th Carnival of Evolution is up

54th edition is up at Carnival of Evolution #54: A Walkabout Mount Improbable.

And it's a super-fancy one, so don't miss it, and let everyone else know, too.