Where did altruism come from? In-Class Discussion for Dec. 6th

header-logo-2So far as we’ve seen, selection favors traits beneficial to the individual. In that case, how did altruism evolve? The concept of group selection offers a compelling perspective…

Once again, we’re going beyond what’s in our textbooks to look at some related topics that connect with more recent developments in Biology. Today, we’ll consider portions of a Science Friday interview with EO Wilson and TED Talk by Jonathan Haidt below should provide a nice introduction to the concept of group selection, another means by which species can change over time.

Also included here are excerpts from The Social Conquest of Earth in case you’d like to get more familiarized with group selection.

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Class Prep on Dec. 6th: Evolution

colors-2-_custom-afc93498ec5df91f516ee25aa3141c750524cd16-s700-c85For class on Dec. , please do the following:

  • Read Biology 20.1, 20.3, 20.4 (20.2 optional) or EO Wilson’s Life on Earth chapter 3
  • Listen to this news story about color and be prepared to answer these questions in class: (a) what selective pressure(s) are mentioned in the news story? (b) what is the result of the pressures?
  • Also, to get some perspective on (cosmic) evolution through a short oral history of the universe, listen to the “What Are The Origins Of The Universe?” TED Radio Hour segment. The rest of the episode has some fantastic perspectives on biological evolution as well.

If you’re curious about how some butterfly wings take on vivid colors, give this Deep Look video a watch.

Class Prep for Nov. 15th: The Central Dogma

central_dogma_gate copy

To prepare for class on November 15th, please read one of the following:

  • EO Wilson’s Life on Earth chapter 10
  • Raven’s Biology 15.1-3, 15.6-9 and
  • OpenStax Biology 14.2-4, 15.1-2, 15.5

Then look over these slides on the Central Dogma. Please note that if you are reading Biology by Raven or OpenStax you’ll need to use other sections of the textbook or additional resources (such as the slides from previous years or Wikipedia) to get familiarized with the basics of chromosomes.

Also, these animations may be helpful (there are versions of these in EO Wilson’s Life on Earth).


For Nov. 1: How our microbes make us who we are, TED talk by Rob Knight

For class on Tuesday, Nov. 1st, please come in having watched this TED talk by Rob Knight and worked through the items below.

  • Jot down three specific takeaways.
  • Consider the image of “microbes” found in the gut shown at 1:15. What kind of microscope was used to produce this image? Why does it have color?
  • How are microbes in the human microbiome identified and characterized?
  • According to Rob Knight, how many “human” cells make up a typical person’s body? How many “other” cells are there?
  • What happens to a number of children who are given antibiotics within 6 months of birth?
  • What connection (even if only speculative) can you draw between this talk and probiotic products you may have seen or heard about in recent years?

Also For Oct. 24th: Protein Structure News Story and Video

Protein_folding Now that you’ve read about protein structure, listen to the brief news story and short videos below to gain more perspectives on protein structure and folding to prepare for our class discussion tomorrow.

If They Want To Make Anything, Proteins Must Know How To Fold” from All Things Considered


Continue reading Also For Oct. 24th: Protein Structure News Story and Video

Reading For Oct. 24th: Cell Biology

raven biology 9th ed, coverTo prepare for class next week, read

  • chapter 4 of Biology by Raven, et al.,
  • chpaters 4 and 5 in OpenStax Biology, or
  • chapter 5 and sections 6.1 & 6.2 in EO Wilson’s Life on Earth (which are in Unit 2).

Note the function each organelle has and the key differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Also, what are the key components of the plasma membrane?