A Boon and A Bane

Darwin’s theory of evolution stated that all living things have evolved from other living things. This article says that is not completely true. That we not only have evolved from living things but also from viruses as well. Darwin would be most surprised with learning that we have retrovirus DNA in our genome and that we can say we are descended from viruses. Darwin never considered that we can evolve from non living things. He knew that our environment can shape the way we evolve but we could not evolve from it. He thought that all living things could  trace their roots to other species that came before them. But this article says otherwise. If he had proposed his theory of evolution today it wouldn’t be that great of a theory because there would be evidence against living things evolving from other living things. But even if some part of Darwin’s theory was proven wrong there is even more evidence supporting it. The only way that humans and apes could have so similar of a genome is if the retrovirus infected our genome at the same time in the same exact way and the only reasonable answer to that is if our common ancestor had been the one infected and then passed their genome on to us.

Viruses have played a part in our evolutionary history. Once retrovirus become part of our genome they become genes as well and even if those genes don’t have a purpose they still helped shape the human race. The article says that about ten percents of our DNA is old retroviruses. Our DNA the thing that makes us who we are (excluding environment) so that says something about the effect of retroviruses in our evolution. One example about the effect of retrovirus is the placenta. Our common ancestor used to lie eggs but at one point a retrovirus inserted itself into the germ cells and it changed into a placenta. I do think that viruses do and have played a role in evolution. Before reading this article I just thought that viruses were something that once someone got they could never be cured of. But after reading this article I realized that they have their benefits to the human race as well as being very bad, evenly deadly to a human person.

I found that fact that one can revive dead viruses from our DNA with ease very surprising and a bit terrifying. Almost anyone who wants to could probably be able to put together a virus that has been gone for generations maybe even centuries. I would be fine with it if it stays in the lab but what if it was used for bad instead of for research. Coffin called it “Proof of principle for bioterrorism. Nothing more”.  Yes the researchers who have been reviving viruses are using it to help address the medical problems we face today and I support that path. I like that even in biology we can learn from the past to deal with the problems of today. So I think science should “revive” dead viruses for future process in the medical field and for research. I guess there will always be a risk that someone would want to use this for wrong but we can always just retrace their steps and make a vaccine.

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

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