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Darwin & DNA, What Genomics Tells Us About Evolution
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 @ 7:30 PM-9:00 PM
George Brooks Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., Fellow, Academy of Science of St. Louis and Emeritus Professor of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis
Charles Darwin once said, “The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology.” In a few months we celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday. Almost two centuries of research since have amply proven Darwin’s claim correct. Now we can assess his claim with even greater clarity. In the seven years since the completion of the human genome project in 2001, it has become possible to look directly at the genes of an organism, writing down the precise DNA sequence of its chromosomes. If evolution is true, then we should be able to see it in the genes, and now we are able to look.
Dr. Johnson takes a close look at recent genome data in a variety of animal species, testing how well Darwin’s claim is born out at the DNA level. Addressing a related but distinctly different issue, he looks at whether or not Darwin was right to say that natural selection is a major cause of evolution, the reason particular changes have occurred the way they have. With interpretations of intelligent design being widely discussed, tests using the new genomic data are timely.
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