282 reputation
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bio website sites.google.com/site/…
location Greenbelt, MD, USA
age 48
visits member for 1 year, 6 months
seen Jul 13 at 19:11

My utility function appears to be approaching zero.


Mar
6
comment What prevents predator overpopulation?
Another factor that the asker's model might not have considered is predator-against-predator action. Territorial conflicts would become more common as the predator-prey ratio increases. Another possible factor might be reduced hunting ability from malnutrition.
Jan
2
awarded  Yearling
Dec
3
comment Body size, what are the evolutionary trade-offs?
Somewhat related questions include: How does natural selection favour large body mass and size (or so it seems), Do large animals often evolve into smaller animals?, and What was the reason for some plant and animals to become giant in course of evolution?
Nov
23
comment Does the existence of one species imply the existence of many other?
If complexity correlates with specialization, then it seems that complexity would correlate to some degree with ecological specialization. The speciation argument presumably also includes survival of simpler organisms/species while complexity develops. (By the way, even the definition of organism might be a bit fuzzy. E.g., when, if ever, did a mitochondrion ancestor stop being a symbiote/separate organism? Or how is a colony of clones distinguished from a single organism?)
Nov
23
comment What is the evolutionary advantage of regret?
Besides encouraging thought which leads to strategies that avoid behaviors that lead to regret, could regret also be involved in a kind of catharsis, perhaps draining feelings of anxiety (brought by a negative event)? Persistent anxiety would tend to have negative consequences, so having a way to mute that response could have advantages even if the mind did not learn or reinforce any behaviors that reduce the bad events (or their bad effects).
Oct
8
comment What are the benefits of elucidating the crystal structure of a protein?
Having studied a little geology, I immediately thought of X-ray diffraction, but I could see how X-rays might be more problematic for proteins. Wikipedia's NMR crystallography article might be worth linking.
Sep
10
comment evolutionary reason behind sharing the same path for food and air?
Incidentally, providing two paths to the lungs could be useful if one is blocked (e.g., from a bad cold) and might allow different specializations to be applied to the different paths to achieve a better balance of trade-offs (e.g., support for panting [higher cross sectional area passage] might conflict with support for smelling [narrower passage]?).
Aug
15
comment Why did the urinary bladder evolve?
@JackAidley Does the edit address your concern? (Note that all of the "above are just ... speculations", though I think they are "somewhat reasonable".)
Aug
15
revised Why did the urinary bladder evolve?
added how scent marking _might_ coevolve and presumed pre-terrestrial origin
Aug
14
revised Does artificial high intensity light damage permanently dark ecosystems?
typos, some rewording for more idiomic English
Aug
14
suggested suggested edit on Does artificial high intensity light damage permanently dark ecosystems?
Aug
14
revised Can viruses protect themselves against restriction enzymes?
removed duplicate link
Aug
14
suggested suggested edit on Can viruses protect themselves against restriction enzymes?
Aug
14
awarded  Enlightened
Aug
14
awarded  Nice Answer
Aug
10
comment Salmon returning to lay eggs
It would be rather difficult for a released salmon to return to its birthing fish farm. :-)
Jul
25
comment Why are there no organisms with metal body parts, like weapons, bones, and armour? (Or are there?)
There are magnetotacti bacteria. One problem would be oxidation. Also spider silk has greater tensile strength per unit mass than steel. Metals like magnesium and iron are (each) more than five times less common in the human body than sulfur much less carbon or even calcium, hinting at general biological availability.
Jul
24
comment Is it possible to make humans extinct artificially?
Apart from not being extremely infectious, HIV/AIDS had some appropriate characteristics: long incubation period and initial deaths being attributed to diseases taking advantage of a weakened immune system (initially predominantly affecting people that could be marginalized--at least in the U.S.--might also have made the disease more effective). If initial symptoms appeared among the poor (no health care, somewhat marginalized), a disease might be undiscovered and later mostly ignored until it is too late (but a trigger factor would seem more effective).
Jul
24
comment Is it possible to make humans extinct artificially?
Such would probably also tend to reduce populations of some animals such as cockroaches and raccoons which exploit human-created niches better than other animals.
Jul
14
comment Are there animals which can see movements better than shapes or colors?
Wikipedia states "Compound eyes are very sensitive to motion." Peripheral vision might also be more sensitive to movement than to shape or color and some animals might have greater emphasis on peripheral vision (e.g., a spider's additional smaller eyes?).