Richard Lenski Provides Evidence of Evolution in Action October 21, 2009

Richard Lenski Provides Evidence of Evolution in Action

I’m not a Biologist, but I’m still thrilled to hear that Richard Lenski has a new paper in Nature that talks about his 21-year-long (and still going!) experiment.

Lenski, Hannah Professor of Microbial Ecology at MSU, started growing cultures of fast-reproducing, single-celled E. coli bacteria in 1988. If a genetic mutation gives a cell an advantage in competition for food, he reasoned, it should dominate the entire culture. While Darwin’s theory of natural selection is supported by other studies, it has never before been studied for so many cycles and in such detail.

“It’s extra nice now to be able to show precisely how selection has changed the genomes of these bacteria, step by step over tens of thousands of generations,” Lenski said.

I’m about halfway through Richard DawkinsThe Greatest Show on Earth, and the section in which he highlights Lenski’s experiment in detail is absolutely riveting.

It’s page after page of predictions coming true and undeniable proof that evolution does happen just as Darwin predicted it would. It’s a Creationist’s worst nightmare.

Which makes it an anti-banana.

If anyone can send me a PDF of the paper, by the way, I’d love to read it.

***Update***: Paper received. Thanks, everyone!

(Thanks to Jeffrey for the link!)


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  • Jenea

    It’s not that the experiment is 21 years old, but rather 21-year-long. There’s a big difference between the two!

  • Amy

    pdf sent!
    I’m also looking forward to reading it.

  • come on – little tiny things making little tiny changes? micro-evolution!

    and how come no mention of the ‘no god’ thing on twitter?

  • Siamang

    Here was the delicious smackdown that Lenski gave the creationists.

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2008/06/lenski-gives-co.html

  • Here is the link to the article from the Nature website.

    Unfortunately, the journals don’t give the full PDFs away. You have to pay for it and then you aren’t supposed to give it away after that. You can read the abstract and see the references… Maybe a copy will end up in your in-box one day 🙂

    Most authors will also send you a free reprint (hard-copy) if asked.

    Jeff

  • I’m so working on a comic for this. I imagine if we could hear the E-Coli talk, there’d be this one little E-Coli who looks around and says “Hey fellas, anyone noticed all this citric acid lying around? Fellas? I wonder what it tastes like…” *tries some, smiles* “Hey FELLAS! You have GOT to try this! It is REALLY GOOD!!”

  • One other tip.

    If you live near a college or University, there are probably public computers in the university library where you can view the full PDF of that article and any others from journals that the University subscribes to for free. Then if you happen to have a little USB thumb drive…. (assuming the IT department hasn’t locked the computers down so they can’t save content)

  • Stephan

    Your article needs should be met…

  • Dan

    Ah the joys of working at a University, a copy should be in your inbox now.

    For future reference, anyone wishing to get hold of academic papers they might otherwise have difficulty getting:

    http://friendfeed.com/references-wanted

  • David D.G.

    Which makes it an anti-banana.

    I have to admit, I did LOL at this.

    ~David D.G.

  • Josh

    One of the most interesting things about this particular paper is that it has results that VIOLATE some of our expectations from theoretical population genetics. In fact, I’d say that was the whole point of this paper.

    It’s actually really exciting. For some reason I hadn’t been following these publications very closely but now that Lenski has said something about my domain…

  • It’s not that the experiment is 21 years old, but rather 21-year-long.

    Jenea — That is what I meant, but this could be easily misunderstood. I’ve updated the article to reflect this. Thanks!

  • Eric

    This isn’t the new paper, but one Lenski published a year ago on the same evolution experiment. The entirety of this paper is free. As a bonus, it pissed off conservapedia.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/23/7899.full

  • Epistaxis

    I’m not a Biologist

    You don’t have to capitalize it. It’s not a religion. Though if it were, I’d be a fundamentalist.

  • I hope Dr. Lenski is very careful about bringing bananas to work for lunch. I’d hate to see a banana and an anti-banana interact. The results would be a tragic loss to science.

    Also, time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Does that make fruit flies creationists? But I thought we studied evolution in fruit flies. Those little things are deceiving us!

  • John Heininger

    Try reading “The Greatest Hoax on Earth” by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, a point by point refutation of Dawkins’ delusions. You will discover that, like any grand performance or show, the Greatest Show on Earth necessitates a grand conductor with all the oversight, perspectives and attributes of deity. Time to start facing reality guys. Nothing comes out at the end that wasn’t inherently present at the beginning. In short, its creation and fine tuning all the way, guys.