Wednesday, September 21, 2005
And, Speaking of Parasites...
Cyamids, small parasitic crustaceans, more commonly known as whale lice reveal that their hosts, right whales, split into three species 5-6 million years ago reports Alison Ross of BBC News.
Scientists at the University of Utah,
"extracted DNA and analysed certain genes found in the mitochondria, the tiny "power-stations" of cells.
This mtDNA, as it is known, has become a useful tool for studying evolution. It mutates - errors appear - at a steady rate, meaning it can be used as a "molecular clock" to investigate the history of a species.
The study, reported in the journal Molecular Ecology, gives an interesting picture of how geographic -- or, in this case oceanograpic -- boundaries can lead to speciation.
Of course, it's not nearly as valuable a contribution to science as a comparison of Mount Rushmore to the Rocky Mountains, nor is it as nearly as compelling as the notion that some things are sooo complex there's just no way they could have evolved. Novices shouldn't be fooled, either, just because the results of this new study are consistent with previous studies of right whales genes.
Evidence, smevidence as they say in Seattle.