September 12, 2004 - September 18, 2004 Archives
Although most Panda’s Thumb readers are probably not in northeast Kansas, I would like to announce here a speech I will be giving at the University of Kansas on September 28th. The speech is being sponsored by the science departments and the Office of the Chancellor. Complete information can be found here.
If you or people you know might be interested in this and able to attend, please pass the word on to them.
For those of you are who are watching Kansas from a distance, let me explain that there are issues here that we should all be concerned about. If for no other reason, watching what happens in Kansas will help prepare science activists for episodes that might show up in your backyard.
The phylum Chaetognatha ("spiny jaws") consists of a few species (there are only about 120 of them) of obscure marine worms that are mostly planktonic predators, drifting with the ocean currents. Most people will have never seen one, and would be unimpressed if they had—most are small, only a few centimeters long and slender, and even the largest is only 15cm long.
Their evolutionary relationships have also been problematic, but some recent work on their mitochondrial genome takes us a step closer to resolving them.
Continue reading Friday chaetognath blogging (on Pharyngula)
William A. Dembksi, mathematician, philosopher, and theologian, now has his next job lined up.
Dembski is moving east, to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He will head up the newly formed “Center for Science and Theology” there.
This story was scooped by Jeff Robinson at the Baptist Press News.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Sept. 16 the establishment of the Center for Science and Theology along with the appointment of renowned philosopher of science William A. Dembski as its first director.
William A. Dembski Wrote:
“Theology is where my ultimate passion is and I think that is where I can uniquely contribute … I am looking forward to engaging students and theological students have always been my favorite to deal with because for theology students, it’s not just a job, but a passion, especially at a place like Southern, because they want to change the world.”
“This is really an opportunity,” Dembski added, “to mobilize a new generation of scholars and pastors not just to equip the saints but also to engage the culture and reclaim it for Christ. That’s really what is driving me.”
The morphological complexity of mammals, as compared to invertebrates, is thought to have arisen through advantageous genetic changes that occurred during the course of evolution. A new research study published in the September issue of Developmental Cell suggests that the evolution of higher-order vertebrate organ systems can result from primitive developmental genetic programs that are, in a sense, recycled for entirely new structures.
According to the expression patterns in the fruit fly, Drosophila, the ancestral action of the Hmx gene was limited to the development of the central nervous system (CNS). Dr. Thomas Lufkin from the Genome Institute of Singapore and colleagues show that the mouse Hmx2 and Hmx3 genes have apparently interchangeable functions in CNS development and have overlapping yet distinct functions in the development of the vestibular system of the inner ear, an organ that has no counterpart in Drosophila. The researchers found that when mice are genetically engineered to lack Hmx2 and Hmx3, Drosophila Hmx can substitute for the mouse Hmx3 gene in CNS development and, surprisingly, can also direct development of the inner ear. Therefore, a Drosophila gene can direct formation of an organ system that does not even exist in the Drosophila body.
“These results demonstrate that the evolution of higher vertebrate characteristics can result from the recycling or redeployment of ‘old’ genes in new parts of the embryo, rather than through mutation of gene protein-coding sequence alone. Old genes can be given a new purpose through ‘reassignment’ to organs undergoing evolutionary advancement. The reassignment likely comes through a shuffling of existing regulatory elements to generate new combinations that are specific to the new organ,” explains Dr. Lufkin.
Weidong Wang, J. Fredrik Grimmer, Thomas R. Van De Water, and Thomas Lufkin: “Hmx2 and Hmx3 Homeobox Genes Direct Development of the Murine Inner Ear and Hypothalamus and Can Be Functionally Replaced by Drosophila Hmx”
Developmental Cell, Volume 7, Number 3, September 2004, pages 439-453.