This month's featured video is Dr. Pardis Sabeti's talk on "Evolutionary Forces in Humans and Pathogens" from our 2016 Survival Symposium. This symposium focused on evolution and the many challenges facing the survival of our species.
"Nearly all mammals have the same number of cervical vertebrae, no matter how long or short their necks are--humans, giraffes, mice, whales, and platypuses all have exactly seven cervical vertebrae," said Jeff Spear, a doctoral student from New York University, and part of a team whose Leakey Foundation supported research explored why this characteristic has stayed the same through time and across species.
As biologists explore the variation across the genomes of living people, they’ve found evidence of evolution at work. Particular variants of genes increase or decrease in populations through time. Sometimes this happens by chance. Other times these changes in frequency result from the gene’s helping or hindering individuals’ survival.
Most mammals rely on scent rather than sight. Look at a dog’s eyes, for example: they’re usually on the sides of its face, not close together and forward-facing like ours. Having eyes on the side is good for creating a broad field of vision, but bad for depth perception and accurately judging distances in front.