The “Darwin’s Surprise” article was a very fascinating read. It definitely made me think differently about viruses and really contemplate what the future holds for viruses and the human species. I think what Darwin would find most surprising is how we evolved not only from genes from our ancestors, but also genes from the parasitic viruses that invaded them. There’s an odd paradox with viruses, as they aim to take over other cells, yet cannot “live” without them. Darwin would be surprised that viruses have been able to continue to be passed on even though they often are disadvantageous to the cells.
What I found most surprising was how the placenta contains traces of retroviral DNA. Everyone always thinks of viruses as evil and malevolent, yet these viruses led to a possible benefit for the organisms. I never thought that viruses could create advantageous traits in an organism. The fact that scientists are now able to reproduce viruses that were previously extinct is fascinating to me, especially because they are actually able to change them so they can only replicate once. I think the revival of dead viruses can be very useful, especially when looking for a cure or a way to prevent people from becoming ill. The new ideas for defeating HIV require a lot of control, which I think will eventually be possible due to what these scientists have shown us is possible so far.