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Evolutionary Predictions

Computer science has both contributed to and gained inspiration from the theory of natural selection. The power of the theory, and why it is accepted by scientists, is in its ability to predict things. The most profound of which is that it predicted the need for a biological way for passing information between generations. That ultimately led to the discovery of the DNA molecule and within half a century the mapping of the human genome as well as that of other animals.

Fossils for the record

Fossil Ammonite

Recently palaeontologists went looking for fossils on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic. They were specifically interested in finding fossils that made the link between fish and land living animals. Why did they look there? Not because fossils had been found there before but because they knew from existing fossils from elsewhere the time, 400 million years ago, when such animals should have existed. Next they used their knowledge of geography to work out where rocks of that age existed. Ellesmere island fitted so that is where they looked. After 5 years of digging on the island, earlier this year, they found near perfect skeletons of fish with wrist like arrangements that one would expect from the missing link.

Beak to the future

A Herculean study showing the amazing dedication of some scientists is that of Rosemary and Peter Grant. They did field work on small remote islands in the Galapagos documenting evolution as it took place in the islands' Finches. They did this over a staggering 30 years. They carefully measured the beaks of the finches generation after generation, also recording things like the weather and kinds and quantities of seeds available each year. Based on the data they collected they were able to predict what would happen to beak sizes when droughts happened.