What PRIZE does Darwin get for the theory of evolution? A SURprise!

In reading “Darwin’s Surprise,” I was introduced to many different ideas and proposals that have stemmed from virology and various types of viruses.

I think what lends most to the title of “Darwin’s Surprise” is the concept of endogenous viruses; these are both genes and viruses. This special type of virus suggests that the retroviruses that infected humans many million years ago have actually been a part of our genetic makeup. Their genome has been taken into the human genome, becoming a part of noncoding DNA humans have now.

In determining this, there was an obvious connection between chimpanzees and humans. This perhaps could have been most surprising to Darwin because he based his theory on the findings that different series had a common ancestor. In understanding that there is dormant viral DNA in both of the species, may allow us to determine when these species separated from each other.

I think the article proposed many interesting ideas. I also hope to be able to use this information to serve as a foundation for more research on viruses and how they have impacted the human genome.



This entry was posted in AP Biology, Evolution, Viruses. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What PRIZE does Darwin get for the theory of evolution? A SURprise!

  1. JulianaC says:

    I agree that the similarities of embedded viruses showed connections between chimpanzees and humans, however, I don’t find it so obvious as you stated. I also believe that Darwin would have found it odd that while most of our genome is the same, the difference in immunity to PtERV and AIDS is so substantial. I that this distinction in immunity could help us determine the point at which species divergence occurred.

    To Villareal, this distinction in dormant viruses has a morbid reality: without an AIDS vaccination, he expects that all of Africa will perish. With the survival of few humans seemingly unaffected by the virus, an improved human race would soon develop. I wonder if this sort of immunity would be as a result of traditional genetic mutations, or as a result of newly embedded viral DNA. I find comfort in believing that Darwin’s theory of evolution will hold true, and eventually humans will be changed enough to resist the AIDS virus — unfortunately I expect that they will lack immunity to another virus, possibly one even more grave.

    Also, your title is too good.

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