13
votes
7answers
5k views

How did the first self replicating organism come into existence?

When people try to explain evolution, they tell me that evolution is a cumulative result of mutations & natural section of the more superior individuals of a particular species. I think I'm fairly ...
17
votes
2answers
13k views

How do the brain and nerves create electrical pulses?

I have heard that information is sent between the brain and peripheral nerves via electrical pulses or signals, but I don't understand how they create them in the first place.
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Are human bodies programmed to die?

Following from this question: What is the evolutionary advantage of death?: Is there any evidence that human bodies have systemic self-destruction built into their developmental program? I'm not ...
7
votes
3answers
329 views

How does “be altruist to those who are similar to you” evolve?

There are many cases when people commit altruism. One is relationship. I am willing to die for 2 of my children or 8 nieces, say an evolutionary psychologist. Another is reciprocal altruism, which is ...
31
votes
4answers
6k views

Why would a plant evolve to produce an addictive chemical?

It seems kind of anti-productive in terms of survival for a plant to produce an addictive chemical as that plant will constantly be sought after by animals that ingest it. In this instance, I'm ...
30
votes
4answers
724 views

Why are amino acids in biology homochiral?

Why are nearly all amino acids in organisms left-handed (exception is glycine which has no isomer) when abiotic samples typical have an even mix of left- and right-handed molecules?
16
votes
1answer
814 views

Do large animals often evolve into smaller animals?

There are several examples where the largest animals were killed off preferentially due to a major ecological shift: The KT extinction event The Holocene extinction, as well as the major megafauna ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

If fever is a natural immune defense, why do people take drugs to lower it?

If fever is a natural defense against pathogens, why do sick people take NSAIDs to reduce the fever?
25
votes
1answer
813 views

How did viruses come to be?

My question is out of curiosity and got me thinking. How did viruses with the head, tail and tail fibres actually evolve? These viruses look more like machines than biological entities. Are there any ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Can rats pass on memories of a maze to their offspring?

A friend of mine told me once about a documentary movie he saw some years ago. On this movie he saw scientists talking about particular experiment. This experiment involved rats and probably ...
19
votes
5answers
6k views

Why are not all species hermaphrodites?

If a hermaphrodite animal (like slug, snail, etc) finds a partner they can mate immediately. If another animal with "normal" reproduction (lets say a mouse) finds a partner they can only mate if they ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did abiogenesis only happen once?

If the "primordial soup" theory of abiogenesis is to be believed, self-reproducing organisms spontaneously arose on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago, surprisingly soon after the Earth cooled down ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Can you consider a human as alive, or is it the cells on the body that are alive?

Sorry if this question seems strange, but in the recent time I have been interested in the question of what life is and how you can define life. My question: How long can individual cells live on a ...
7
votes
1answer
392 views

What causes Paresthesia (Pins and Needles) at a cellular level?

I've looked it up in plenty of places like the Wikipedia page and such, and it is clear that the most common cause of Paresthesia is either a fair amount of pressure on a specific patch of skin ...
21
votes
2answers
945 views

How is temperature sensed?

Can anyone summarize the mechanism by which when an object of a given temperature is placed in contact with, say, the skin on a human fingertip, the average speed of the particles of the object is ...
18
votes
1answer
5k views

Why do we grow so much hair on our heads compared to our bodies?

I've been wondering about head hair, facial hair in particular. Human males can grow very extensive beards should they choose to not shave - however you do not really see this in our chimpanzee ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?

Is there any hypothesis on the minimum number of amino acids required for life?
11
votes
5answers
772 views

What is meant in biology by the term “evolved”?

A student asked me this the other day and I thought that I would ask it again here. If one organism is said to be "more evolved" than another, what exactly does this mean?
9
votes
2answers
270 views

Could cancer be in itself a evolutionary process?

Could cancer be in itself a evolutionary process? Maybe in some way could it be a process of variation? Or would this idea be completely without support, if so, why? I don't mean that each case ...
7
votes
4answers
714 views

Are there any scientifically based predictions or theories of future human evolution?

Reading this question of the stack exchange got me thinking. I believe human evolution is an ongoing process and will not stop. Are there any predictions/theories about the phenotypes and genotypes of ...
27
votes
3answers
492 views

Is telomere length a reliable measure of health/lifespan?

Several companies are commercializing tests for telomere length such as this one here. I understand the basic mechanism for why telomeres shorten during DNA replication, but how good is the evidence ...
16
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do parasites sometimes kill their hosts?

It's bothered me for a while now. I understand why a parasitoid would do this, as it only temporarily requires the host, and that not all parasites kill their hosts. There seems to be no evolutionary ...
16
votes
2answers
7k views

How many organisms have ever lived on Earth?

I've looked for some information on this, but couldn't find anything useful. Has there been any noteworthy attempt to estimate the sum amount of individuals of all species that have ever lived on ...
14
votes
3answers
870 views

Is the appendix a vestigial structure in all vertebrates?

In humans the Appendix is a vestigial organ. Does it serve no apparent purpose in all the vertebrates that have one?
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does sex last so long?

I wonder why (especially human) sex lasts longer than just a few seconds? My thought is that the shorter it takes a man to ejaculate, the lesser is the risk that he gets interrupted by a rival or a ...
11
votes
4answers
339 views

What was the reason for some plant and animals to become giant in course of evolution?

The dinosaurs, mammoths, giant plants etc are known to be bigger than modern animals. I wonder why they had been lived and why they are not living now? I really don't know much but is it something ...
11
votes
2answers
9k views

Why is a lack of oxygen fatal to cells?

In animals temporary anaerobic respiration leads to the breakdown of the pyruvate formed by glycolysis into lactate. The buildup of lactate in the bloodstream is accompanied by a large number of ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Why did humans lose their fur?

The little amount of body hair humans have don't seem to be of much use for keeping warm. Our Simian cousins on the other hand sport thick furs. At which point during the species evolution and why ...
10
votes
2answers
978 views

Why does Hunger lead to the aggressive behavior?

I have observed that frequently when people are hungry; they tend to get angry more easily on pointless issues. Does this mean that our fight or flight response is more active when a person is hungry? ...
9
votes
3answers
534 views

What causes feeling of feet falling asleep to be delayed?

This answer explains the sensation of extremities "falling asleep" as a result of sustained pressure on a nerve. The answer links to an external web page that says that the feeling "quickly goes away ...
9
votes
2answers
220 views

Can life subsist on anything else but water?

Inspired by an answer to a previous question. It's hypothesized that extraterrestrial life could be based on silicon rather than carbon as its main structural element. Are there similar theories ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Which sex has higher variance of reproductive rate in modern societies - male or females?

Who has a more varied reproduction rate in modern western societies - men or women? The average rate is the same of course, but I wonder which sex have higher variance - higher variance means that ...
9
votes
3answers
480 views

Long-term-potentiation and memory. Where do we stand?

I was reading the answers to the question: How and where, in the human brain, are memories stored? and, as expected, LTP and LTD came out. Every time I read about LTP/LTD there is always something ...
8
votes
1answer
124 views

Is our color vision calibrated to sky, vegetation, and blood?

Our color vision is based on three types of receptors (cones) which are sensitive to three distinct locations on the spectrum: 420–440 nm, 534–555 nm, and 564–580 nm. We label them "red", "green", ...
7
votes
1answer
282 views

Regarding the kingdom Animalia, which phylogenic tree is more common: Molecular Comparisons or Body-Plan Grades

In the picture below, which I obviously do not own: it depicts two different phylogenic trees, one which is based on molecular comparisons and another one which is based on body-plan grades. My ...
7
votes
1answer
389 views

What are the atmospheric requirements for large dinosaurs?

What are the atmospheric requirements for large dinosaurs? and are the atmospheric constituents for supporting large dinosaurs any different from the atmosphere today?
6
votes
2answers
130 views

Why is a heritability coefficient not an index of “how genetic” something is?

On his blog, Eric Turkheimer writes: [T]aken as a number, a unit of analysis, heritability coefficients are funny things to aggregate on such a massive level. What exactly are we supposed to ...
6
votes
1answer
298 views

What exactly makes bananas go brown?

I know that often oxidation processes are mentioned when referring to the color change from yellow to brown in bananas (specifically: those that you get everywhere in supermarkets, with no seeds). ...
6
votes
1answer
401 views

What is the molecular basis of hangovers?

Well, most of us have experienced the wonderful feeling of the dreaded hangover. How does it work exactly? I imagine it has something to do with dehydration but what are the underlying mechanisms? ...
5
votes
1answer
418 views

What physics knowledge can be applied to biology of organisms and ecosystems?

In the wiki page of Biophysics: Biophysics spans all scales of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems. But after searching on the internet; the ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

What effect does the Barr body have, in relation to female Turner syndrome?

Why do persons with Turner syndrome have developmental abnormalities, when normal XX-females do not, even though they only have 1 active X chromosome? From what I know, one X-chromosome is ...
4
votes
1answer
316 views

Body size, what are the evolutionary trade-offs?

Background Considering just the "Kingdom Animalia" branch of organisms. It is clear that bigger does not necessarily mean better - there is large variation in body size... From the 94 µm long ...
3
votes
2answers
166 views

Human Evolution in Modern Times

I understand that evolution occurred to form the current hominids from a common ancestor millions of years ago. As evolutionary processes take a long time, is there proof of evolution occurring with ...
2
votes
1answer
938 views

What is the relationship between UV wavelength and penetration depth into human skin?

Some background - Some recent research has strongly suggested that UVA penetration into the skin is far more dangerous than UVB, a very good example is this paper by Agar et al. (2004). My query is, ...
1
vote
2answers
141 views

Which was the last significant event in human evolution? What's next?

At 10.000 BC (12 ka), we became the last of the Homo species on Earth. In evolutionary terms this is a very little time range to something happen, but I'm wondering anyway, in this meantime which are ...
1
vote
2answers
228 views

Has medical progress stopped human evolution? [duplicate]

We can cure many diseases nowadays, and thus the natural selection is very limited. Plus, mankind spent the whole beginning of its existence in almost the same hostile environment, and that's where he ...
0
votes
2answers
911 views

Can you answer Ray Comfort's question on Biological Evolution? [closed]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0u3-2CGOMQ There's this video on Youtube about biological Evolution that has gone viral. I'll paste it above for your convenience. To cut to the chase, Ray Comfort ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

Why are there exactly four nucleobases in DNA?

Does someone know why DNA is composed of four nucleobases? In particular, is there an explanation for the number? Why four and not two, or eight?
16
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there an advantage to linear chromosomes?

The DNA copying enzymes have a hard time working to the end of a chromosome. For circular chromosomes this is not a problem, since there is not a sharp 'end'. However, for a linear chromosome, without ...
13
votes
2answers
225 views

Are some animals, like dogs and cats, color-blind and how do we know that?

I have heard that some animals, including dogs, cats and donkeys, are color-blind. They cannot recognize any color. Is that true? And how can humans verify that animals are color-blind, or not? During ...

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