50 Fascinating Facts About the Evolution of Life on earth

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1Appendix

The once-thought useless human Appendix has evolved at least 29 times and been lost a maximum of 12 times, but evolution keeps bringing it back in mammals, possibly due to it having an important role in immune function.


2. Bats and dolphins evolved echolocation in the same way (down to the molecular level). An analysis revealed that 200 genes had independently changed in the same ways. This is an extreme example of convergent evolution.


3. “The Great Filter” is theoretically a point in evolution that only a minuscule fraction of species could evolve past. This may explain why we have never contacted other high functioning species. Also, we do not know if humans have yet to reach it, or have already passed it.


4. It has been found that human evolution solved the same problems in different ways throughout history in different tribes. Native Early peoples adapted to high altitudes differently: In the Andes, their hearts got stronger and in Tibet, their blood carries oxygen more efficiently.


5. Males may have evolved facial features specifically beneficial to take a punch. Researchers found that facial bones commonly broken during a fight grew more resilient as time progressed and were the same bones that showed the most divergence between males and females.


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6Owls

Owls have serrations on the edge of their flight feathers, allowing an owl’s flight to be practically silent. Some fish-eating owls, for which silence has no evolutionary advantage, lack this adaptation.


7. There is no “Missing Link” in Human Evolution. The term “missing link” has fallen out of favor with biologists because it implies the evolutionary process is a linear phenomenon and that forms originate consecutively in a chain. Instead, the term Last Common Ancestor is preferred.


8. While both tea and coffee plants produce caffeine, this trait evolved independently, meaning caffeine production developed genetically at least twice.


9. It’s hypothesized that warm-bloodedness evolved in mammals and birds because it provided defense against fungal infections. Very few fungi can survive the body temperatures of warm-blooded animals. By comparison, insects, reptiles, and amphibians are plagued by fungal infections.


10. The Roman Catholic Church fully accepted the Darwinian theory of evolution back in 1950. They accept it, provided that Christians believe that God created all things and that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces.


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11Lactose Tolerance

Ancient human DNA shows just how recent adult lactose tolerance is, in evolutionary terms. 20,000 years ago, it was non-existent. Today, about one-third of all adults have tolerance. That lightning-fast evolutionary change suggests that direct milk consumption must have provided a serious survival advantage.


12. Ants manage large-scale infrastructure projects with no coordination at all. Each ant acts alone, solving problems such as removing obstructions as they are encountered. Research points to the simple, evolutionary energy-saving principle of: “If you do not need to communicate, don’t!”


13. The word ‘theory’ in ‘theory of evolution’ does not imply scientific doubt about its validity. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of facts.


14. Dogs evolved the specific muscles that give them the ability to raise their inner eyebrows more than 33,000 years ago; as they were domesticated. It’s an evolutionary trick used to manipulate humans.


15. The Stoned Ape Theory, which is a controversial theory from Terence McKenna states that a lot of our advanced human evolution came as a result of the ingestion of psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms by our primate ancestors.


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16Epicanthic Fold

The extra layer of skin over the eye of 90% Asiatic people is called the “epicanthic fold” and it is theorized to have evolved as a protection against cold and snow blindness.


17. Scientists say caesarian births are “affecting human evolution” because women with narrow hips are spreading this genetic predisposition to their daughters.


18. Humans are the sweatiest primates alive. We have up to five million sweat glands producing a maximum of three gallons of sweat per day. The production of sweat glands is inversely related to the production of hair, and the evolutionary loss of our hair is connected to our success as a species.


19. The smell of the air after a storm is caused by Geosmin: a chemical released by dead soil bacteria. Humans are hypersensitive to it, capable of detecting it at a concentration of 5 parts per trillion. It is theorized that in our evolutionary past this helped us seek out water.


20. A saltwater lake on the Pacific island of Palau was cut off from the ocean sometime in the past and it is now inhabited with a particular species of jellyfish. As natural predators have been sealed off from the lake, this species of jellyfish have harmless stingers due to evolutionary regression. Therefore swimming in the lake is safe and permitted.


21Domestic Sheep

Due to human interaction, domestic sheep have evolved to require humans to shear them. Their wool never sheds.


22. The human eye is different from most animals in that we have a large sclera, the white part of the eye. It’s theorized that we evolved this so we could silently communicate where we are looking.


23. Depression (characterized by low energy, social withdrawal, etc.) is believed to be an evolutionary response that was advantageous to many humans to reduce the likelihood of them catching contagious diseases.


24. Studies have found that women are better at discerning shades of colors, while men are better at tracking fast-moving objects and discerning detail from a distance. These evolutionary details are linked to a hunter-gatherer past.


25. The Plantaris is a small muscle in our calves that is believed to have been used by our ancestors to grip with their feet. It is so weak that it is considered functionally obsolete and arguments have been made that humans are evolving it out. It is absent in 7-10% of the population worldwide.

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