Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Human Variation & Race Blog

1.)  High altitude can lead to great stress on the human body and negatively effect one’s survival to stay alive.  The percentage of oxygen is roughly the same at sea level as it is compared to high altitudes, which is around 21%.  However, in higher altitudes the air pressure is lower and the air molecules are more dispersed all over the place, causing each breath of air to deliver less oxygen to the rest of the body.  In really harsh high altitude environments if one does not drink enough water it can lead to dehydration, edema, or even death!  Edema is caused by fluid building up in the body from dehydration.  This causes the legs, feet, or face to swell up and usually resolves after descending from high altitudes. 

2.)  Short-term adaptation- A short term adaptation to high altitude is an increase of breathing and heart rate.  Our hearts need to pump faster in order to get more oxygen to the rest of our body.  High altitude is a stressful change in environment towards those with weak hearts.  Higher altitudes cause moisture from your skin and lungs to evaporate at a fast rate.  That is why it is important to drink lots of water in order to keep hydrated from your body’s increased exertion.

Facultative adaptation- When one arrives at a high altitude their capillaries and red blood cell count goes up in order to produce more oxygen.  The lungs also increase and open up and the vascular network of muscles expand in order to transfer gases properly.  Many track stars and Olympians train in higher elevations in order to open their lungs.  One’s lungs require a bit more time to return to its’ original phenotype than the short-term adaptation.  This provides Olympians the ability to breathe effortless and make it easier on the heart and lungs when in low areas performing their event.  It gives them a higher competitive edge to those training at sea level.

Developmental adaptation- Some populations have developed actual changes in their DNA for high altitudes.  Over thousands of years natural selection takes place and only few populations respond differently to the stresses of high altitude.  Most of the time natural selection selects those who have had ancestors who had lived in high altitudes for thousands of years.  Many indigenous individuals who live in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru have been living there for at least 3,000 years with altitudes of 13,000 feet above sea level.  One who has been living in environments like these produce more hemoglobin in their blood causing them to be capable of breathing faster and transferring more oxygen to the rest of their body.

Cultural adaptation- Many individuals are very unique when it comes to their use of culture to help them to adapt to high altitudes.  When it comes to diet, one must always drink plenty of water.  This will help in order to be completely hydrated when hiking up to high elevation areas.  Those who use tools use oxygen tanks with masks in order to breathe easier and allowing one to climb drastically into higher areas.  Some individuals like monks, practice religious methods with controlling their breath for long periods of time while in prayer. 

3.)  There are some benefits to living in higher elevation environments.  Besides the altitude sickness, nausea, dry skin, and your heart working double the amount it would at sea level; studies have shown that those living in higher areas can lead to a longer life.  Not only do individuals live longer, but their rate for encountering heart diseases drop drastically.  Many scientists believe that living in higher altitude environments is very healthy for the heart and helps strengthen it to improve endurance and stamina.

4.)  You could use race based on how people developed over the years in order to adapt to the high altitude.  Peruvian Indians have a redness to their skin due to the increase of blood flow near their skin surface.  This helps them get more oxygen to the tissue in their bodies.  Certain races have been living in high areas for a long time and this helps to understand the variation of the adaptations; as opposed to those with ancestors who have been living in low altitude places.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Language Blog

Part 1:
First off I thought it would be somewhat easy to not speak for only 15 minutes, but it was frustrating!  My mom was talking to me and I would just nod or shake my head and she started questioning if I was ok.  I would just shrug my shoulders and keep nodding.  It sort of put my mom and I in an awkward situation and conversation.  My mom did alter her way of communicating with my absence of communication.  She quickly changed the subject of how our days were going, to if my boyfriend and I were ok.  She started going on and on about boys and if it make me feel better if I wanted to go shoe shopping with her that day.  I think the 15 minutes were up and I took her on for the shoe shopping:)
I personally think if two entirely different cultures met up, I believe it would be better to use hand signals and such rather than talking.  Even though it was hard for me with my mom, yet my mom is used to me talking a lot.  So for me not to talk much and just use hand motions it was bothersome for her.  I work at a restaurant and a lot of the cooks speak Spanish.  Most of the time when I started out I would use hands signals and they would too.  We understood completely rather than trying to speak the other language to each other.  Now I caught onto Spanish and can speak it pretty decent. 
If one culture could speak and did not use hand gestures and another culture did not use symbolic communication but did use hand gestures, then I think the culture that could speak would have a better understanding of learning the hand gesture language.  This is because hand gestures you can point out certain things.  The hand gesture culture would have trouble speaking because they wouldn’t know what certain things were verbally.  So personally I think it would be better to know hand signals but in the long run the culture that was able to speak would be better off.

Part 2:
            I am the type of person who uses hand gestures a lot and a lot of expressions when I talk.  I am also a very smiley person so this part of the assignment was even harder then the first part!  I ended up doing this part with my boyfriend and I used my hands on accident and then I started laughing and my boyfriend thought I was crazy and I ended up only accomplishing like 4 minutes of this part!
I really had a fun time doing this assignment, plus I got a free pair of shoes out of it yay!
I definitely think that people who have adapted to reading body language can almost in a way speak two languages; body language and actually speaking.  I think even military and others use sign language when they are in a quite environment.  I actually can not think of an environment not to read body language except maybe in a classroom and you are taking a test.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Piltdown Man

The Piltdown man was a remarkable discovery recognized in the old-fashioned village of Piltdown, England in the early 1900’s.  Scientists were awestruck by the peculiar missing link between humans and apes that arose and was founded by Charles Dawson, an amateur archaeologist.  Charles Dawson publicized some magnificent discoveries in regards to developing “academic credibility”.  In 1912 Dawson spread his findings of coming across a peculiar human skull that would compete with the German’s “ape man”.  This brought the attention of Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, a noted geologist, who later accompanied Dawson and a group of laborers to an endless summer of digging.  On December 18th, 1912 the public awaited eagerly for the “first glimpse of mankind’s earliest ancestor”!  Dawson was pleased to announce to the public about his findings and that “of all the places in the world where mankind could be born, he had chosen England”.  For 40 years this striking discovery helped scientists and sky rocketed to being the “reigned supreme”.  In 1953, the news broke out, “Piltdown Man was a fake”!  Scientists had been fooled, the British embarrassed, and the scientific world was in chaos.
            Many human faults came into play in this scenario.  For 40 years, scientists had been tricked and deceived by this “fake missing link”.  It took a scientist named Kenneth Oakley to perform a chemical test to date the fossils.  The results were preposterous and to the scientists’ dismay the fossils were a fraud.  The Piltdown man had filed down teeth, a stained skull, and was actually just an old ape’s jaw.  How could anyone forge and plant this mastermind hoax?  Pointed fingers were quick to locate Charles Dawson for this horrible act because he was the one who found all the fossils.  Charles Dawson wanted publicity; he wanted Britain to be known as the home place to the missing link.  Other countries like Germany, France, and Spain had already made some remarkable fossil discoveries, while Britain had none.  Although, Dawson could have been at fault, another scientist took the stage.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and a theatrical kind of character, was keen on hunting for fossils.  Many scientists tried to make a fool out of Doyle, so it seems to be only fair if Doyle made a fool out of them.  Doyle had been living 7 miles away from Piltdown and was quick to pick up Dawson in his motored car whenever Dawson needed a ride.  Could Doyle have been the mastermind behind this famous act?  Whoever it was, this stunt that was performed, negatively affected the scientific process.  Nobody could trust science anymore.  What was real?  What was fake?  Did scientists lie about everything to the public?  It definitely impacted the scientific world in the wrong way.
             Whoever took act in this forgery, they took skill and knew what paleontological and anatomical tests the specimen would be given.  Scientists used a fluorine test in order to test the age of the fossils.  When they performed these tests the results came back that the bones were only about 100 years old.  The teeth in the jawbone had been filed down and one tooth, had been rushed to be made, that you could tell it had been painted.  Scientist finally put out the correct results, that in fact these bones actually belonged to a female orangutan and were not apart of the missing link.
I do not think it would be possible to remove the “human” factor from science.  Perhaps it would remove some errors, but one always learns from the wrongful acts that they perform in the past.  Humans always strive and compete to be the best.  Competition is exceptional when it comes to science.  Aiming to finding the “missing link”, cure for cancer, or just the best peanut butter jelly sandwich; humans must always be a factor.  I believe history helps reduce having errors like this happen again.  Humans are quick to learn and we build our knowledge off of mistakes in the past.  I believe this is a good example of science correcting itself.
Life Lesson of the Day:  Humans by nature have an inherent desire to soar above the rest, even if it means to cheat.  “Tis my opinion every man cheats in his own way, and he is only honest who is not discovered”-English Playwright.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Body Size and Sexual Dimorphism

Lemurs live in the trees and bushes of Madagascar and the Comores Islands, in which they have a strict diet plan of leaves, fruits, and insects.  Lemurs have reasonably good grip for hanging in trees and rarely come to the ground, except the Ringtail lemur, that actually spends most of its time on the ground.  When lemurs are born, the mother carries her baby in her mouth until they are old enough to hang onto their mother’s fur.  Female lemurs and male lemurs are rather difficult to differentiate from each other.  Lemurs lack sexual dimorphism in size, yet true lemurs show sexual differences in their fur coloration.  Black lemurs have a strikingly obvious difference sexual dimorphism in fur coloration.  The Black lemur got its’ name from the males’ fur coloration, which is black.  However the female Black lemur is brown in color.  Lemurs vary greatly in size and include the smallest primates in the world and the largest ranging in size from the Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur (1.1 oz) to the recently extinct Archaeoindris Fontoynonti (440 lb).   Lemurs lack any common characteristics that make them stand out from other primates because they evolved unique combinations of abnormal traits to cope with Madagascar’s harsh climate.

Spider Monkeys
Spider Monkeys, like lemurs, live in trees and rarely come down to the ground.  They reside in the evergreen rainforests and live mostly in the upper canopy.  In order to swing from branch to branch spider monkeys have evolved to possess a third hand!  Their tail is very muscular and actually has a patch of skin with distinct patterns of lines like a fingerprint.  Their tail is able to support their entire weight while their hands forage for food.  The spider monkey is not characterized by a high degree of sexual dimorphism.  However the females play a more active leading role than the males.  When an intruder approaches a Spider Monkeys’ nest, the females will act uncontrollably, displaying wild behaviors and rough barking.

Baboons, like humans, are capable of living in a wide range of habitats.  They are different from lemurs and spider monkeys when it comes to living because they are ground dwelling primates.  Baboons are very clever and like to interact with people.  They are treated as vermin rather than wildlife because they can be agricultural pests with their crafty intelligence.  Baboons have a striking size difference between sexes and coloration.  The males are usually silver/white with a bushy mane around their head and their faces range in color from tan to red.  The females are usually just brown.  Males are drastically bigger than the females in size and are usually very aggressive and protective of their females.

The Gibbons live in different parts of southeast Asia, from Burma, North Sumatra, and China to the Malay peninsula.  They dwell in branches and actually do not make nests.  Instead, they huddle with other gibbons or sleep alone.  Every morning, upon awakening, the gibbon uses a territorial hooting call, which is usually started by an adult female and last about a 1/2 hour.  The Gibbon does not show sexual dimorphism in size but it does show it in color.  Males usually have a coarse black fur and black skin with white fur on their cheeks, while the females are a golden or reddish color with black faces.  They are very distinguishable between each other.

Chimpanzees usually live in rain forests and wet savannas.  They spend most of their feeding and sleeping time in trees, yet they spend equal time on both land and trees.  The chimpanzee is very intelligent and social and is the mammal that is most like a human.  They have no tail surprisingly and they have short legs with long arms.  Most of their body is covered in hair, except their ears, face, fingers, and toes.  The females and male coloration are very similar, but they do differentiate in size greatly!  The females are usually 2-3 ft tall while the males range about 3-4 ft.

The environment seems to have a great deal of expression on the physical and behavioral traits of these 5 primates.  Gibbons, lemurs, and spider monkeys are very moveable and quick in their trees and canopies they live in.  Chimpanzees and Baboons are very quick witted and intelligent, living on the ground near humans and being exposed to villages.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


  Homologus Traits
  a.  Scorpions + Spiders = Shared Homologus Traits

b.     Scorpions and spiders are both are very similar and different from each other.  Spiders catch their prey in either webs or by hunting on the ground for insects and beetles throughout the day.   Scorpions on the other hand are unable to see very well, so they reside during the day in cool places under rocks or in burrows and only at night are they able to hunt for food; digesting their food in liquid form.  Both spiders and scorpions develop three stages of growth throughout their life.  Spiders begin as an egg, then the nymph, and last an adult.  Scorpions experience molting stages throughout their lifetime.  Even though these two species have different lifestyles and look completely different they both share common traits.  Both spiders and scorpions share resemblance in their abdomen and the cephalothorax.  They also both have 8 legs, which is sought out to be one of scariest traits to possess!
c.     Both the spider and scorpion share a common ancestor.  They both are classified as arachnids.  They are not considered insects because they do not have antennae or wings.  They possess an exoskeleton and an internal structure of cartilage, which certain muscle groups are attached!

Analogous Traits

      a.  Platypus vs. Duck  
b.     The platypus and duck both share some similarities.  Both the duck and platypus have bills, in which they both use to dabble through mud to find food.  They also both nest and lay eggs!  Which is surprising because the platypus is not related to the duck at all.  The platypus is considered a mammal, yet mammals are usually considered to give live births.  The reason why the platypus lays eggs is because it does not have a placenta.  A duck however is not a mammal, and is instead    classified as part of the bird group.
      c.  Birds descended from dinosaurs, which is interesting because I was reading an article and they found a dinosaur in China with feathers!  My dad is a geologist and actually has a friend who is a paleontologist and they are studying chickens’ and ducks’ behaviors and personalities to get a better insight into dinosaurs’ personalities.  Scientist have also discovered that the “scary” T-Rex that Hollywood portrayed as being such a frightful monster is actually a scavenger and couldn’t even run fast.  Besides all this dinosaur talk, platypus is considered a mammal, which is entirely different then a bird.  So, that is why the platypus and ducks have analogous traits

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Historical Influences on Darwin

1.)  I’d claim that Thomas Malthus had the most influence over Charles Darwin’s progressing theory of Natural selection.
2.)  Malthus wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population, which inspired Darwin within his discoveries of natural selection.  Even though Malthus argued that if human numbers continued to increase then the lack of resources availability would lower and would result in “misery”.  Darwin extended Malthus’s discovery, by considering this principle could affect not only humans but organisms as well.  When resources are limited competition begins to take place and with competition it results in the understanding of natural selection.  Thomas Malthus made some remarkable discoveries, which Charles Darwin broadened and extended Malthus’s ideas further than what he would have ever been able to do.  With Malthus’s ideas, Darwin saw how selection in nature was the key to evolution.  Organisms with favorable variations would be able to reproduce and survive, while those with poor traits would perish and die out.
3.)  Thomas Malthus pointed out “limits to human population growth” when he wrote his essay on the principles of population.  His theory explained that if population grew too fast than the production of growth would be affected by disease, war, and famine, in order to be the survival of the fittest and compete for resources.  This information helped Darwin build more knowledge within natural selection.  With this new insight into principles of population it helped Darwin provide an answer to the problem of evolutionary change.
4.)  I think that Darwin could have eventually discovered that population is held in check with the availability of resources, yet it would have taken a longer time.  With that, I think it was better that Thomas Malthus first founded this discovery, because it gave Charles Darwin the ability to broaden and perfect this theory.
5.)  Since Darwin was discovering puzzling information that would go against the “Grand Designer”, the Church was not to pleased.   Especially during this time, England was very religious and any information that opposed God's existence was preposterous and uncalled for.  However, with all this negative public opinion brought upon Darwin, he was still able to receive much scholarly praise and appreciation for his book the Origin of Species.