Humans shape their environment in ways that other organisms cannot. Are humans subject to the same pressures of natural selection as other organisms? Why or why not?
Yes, humans are subject to the same pressures of natural selection as other organisms. However, I would say that I think humans are subject to some pressures of natural selection which no other species on the planet face. We are the only species capable of higher brain function therefore that must be expressed in any equation of natural selection involving humans. This is one area that we could evolve in a way, unlike other species. There are tens of billions neurons in the brain and they are interconnected with hundreds of other neurons (Mapping Neurons, 2005). As the world becomes more dependent on technology and advancement it could become necessary to push the limits of our brains and create more connections. This could lead to the evolution of the brain beyond its current limits.
We are subject to the same pressures because we are a part of the natural world. Our bodies are subject to the same laws of nature as other organisms.
Provide an example of convergent and divergent evolution, adaptive radiation, and co-evolution.
An example of convergent evolution would be maras and rabbits. Even though they are geographically far apart they superficially resemble each other in many ways. A good example of divergent evolution would be wolves and dogs. Even though they can interbreed they are considered separate species because of their physiological and geographical differences. The classic Galapagos finches are a prime example of adaptive radiation where one species become several closely related species. A perfect example of co-evolution would be African cheetahs and their prey, the gazelle. As the speed of the cheetah increased so did the speed of the prey.
Choose one of the examples you provided and discuss the implications this example may have for future humans.
The divergent evolution of dogs and wolves will probably impact the human race the most out of the above examples. We do not yet understand how our domestication of dogs will affect their evolutionary path. Over time they will probably diverge greatly from their wild wolf counterparts. They will probably become less aggressive and more appeasing because in domesticated life that leads to more food and a more stable living environment.
Mapping neuron connections in the brain. (2005). Retrieved January 25, 2008, from Biology News Net Web site: http://www.biologynews.net/archives/2005/06/25/ mapping_neuron_connections_in_the_brain.html