Around 3.6 billion years ago, there dwelled a great many chemicals in a beautiful primordial soup, and then the mutations began… ‘Primordial soup’ was a phrase coined by Alexander Oparin (1894-1980), a Soviet biologist, back in 1924. His theory of life’s origins, penned in 1938, was in accordance with Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) theories of natural selection but also encompassed the molecular evolution of proteins.
In a step-by-step process, chemicals interacting with the environment resulted in amino acids being abiotically amalgamated (Griffiths, 2007, P1018). The first appear to have been Glutamic acid and aspartic acid, as demonstrated in the picture below. Complementarity occurred, ...view middle of the document...
He was reported as saying that our species “put halt to natural selection of its own free will” (Furness, 2013). He was intimating that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is no longer in play because we are able to save the majority (up to 99%) of our young, including the weak and vulnerable. I strongly disagree with this statement.
For me, the idea of natural selection is about the genetic modification of our bodies to promote the survival of those beings most suited to dwell in their particular environment. Similar to the process by which the original amino acids formed with respect to the temperatures in their environment. Just because ‘weak’ young survive, does not mean they are substantial contributors to the human genomic pool, nor that our bodies are not evolving to meet the needs of our constantly changing environment.
I don’t believe that as a species we somehow detect the need to adapt and then grow some brilliant new framework or system to ensure our survival. My argument is that unplanned, indiscriminant anomalies occur due to the nature of our mobile genetic structure and natural selection is involved in choosing which of these genetic mutations will be advantageous to our continued interaction with this planet.
In defence of my argument, it is the mechanics of transposable elements and their involvement in the processes of evolution that lead me to my conclusions on this matter. I believe ‘jumping genes’ and their ability to create tremendous diversity and genetic metamorphosis proves that we have always, and will continue to, evolve by processes of natural selection (Oliver et al., 2012, P18). In order to offer validation to this perspective, I will go back to the beginning.
Alexander Oparin attempted to demonstrate that a billion years needed to pass, just in the process of creating the primordial soup and that life evolved from inorganic matter to eventually become organic matter. He believed the formation of hydrocarbon compounds, amino acids and electrolytes as well as the building of polypeptide chains, were key to the development of more complex structures (Lukaszek, 2009, P525). What was present during this early phase, was the intermediary of life, as we know it, in the form of protobionts, relatively organised bundles of lipids.
This was followed by the materialization of enzymes and eventually, genetic information. It took two billion years for the single celled organism to finally emerge. Only then did the need for collaborative, symbiotic relationships develop, which would lead to the formation of multicelled organisms, the metazoans (Lukaszek, 2009, P525).
Most of us cannot come to terms with the concept of a billion years, let alone comprehend the time span natural selection has utilized. Although there are instances of natural selection occurring incredibly quickly, as in the case of the retrovirus HIV, the majority of large alterations in genes, resulting in the eventual development of the existing...