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Transcript of Comparative Anatomy
Comparative Anatomy Background
Comparative Anatomy is the study of comparing separate species' anatomy in order to connect them through evolutionary changes. Organisms with similar anatomical features are assumed to be closely related (share a common ancestor). Some species have anatomical structures that are very similar in development and form, but very different in function. These are called homologous structures. Since these structures are so alike, they show an evolutionary relationship and a common ancestor of the organism that has them. Ex: forelimbs of some mammals.
Some of the most interesting homologies concern "leftover" structures of very little, if any, importance to the organism These vestigial structures are remnants of features that served important functions in the organisms ancestors. For example, the skeletons of some snakes retain vestiges of the pelvis and leg bones of walking ancestors.
Other animals have structures that are used in similar ways, however morphologically and developmentally, they are very different. These are analogous structures. Because they are so different (even though they have the same function), they do not indicate a evolutionary relationship.
Comparitive anatomy is an important tool that helps determine evolutionary relationships between organisms and whether or not they share a common ancestor. Anatomical similarities between organisms support the idea that these organism evolved
Misconceptions of Evolution
We did comparative anatomy for our project because we wanted to learn more about how species evolve separately and can converge or how species diverge to become a new species.
Evolution is the idea that species evolve special adaptations in order to survive and increase reproductive success. It refers to descent with modification. Smaller changes occur in DNA, and with each generation, these changes alter the way an organism interacts with its environment. Over longer periods of time, an accumulation of these changes can affect areas of an entire population, and a new species may appear.
Unfortunately, people have misconceptions about evolution. A lot of these misunderstandings come from assumptions that individual things choose to adapt or that evolution occurs in a certain direction. For example, some people may think that evolution is a theory about the origin of life. This is incorrect; the evolutionary theory mainly has to do with how life changed after its origin. Scientists do study how life first started, but these considerations are not the main focus of the evolutionary theory. No matter how life began, later it branched and diversified and many of the studies on evolution are centered around these aspects. Another misconception about evolution is that natural selection involves organisms trying to adapt. Natural selection leads to adaptation, but it does NOT involve "trying". Natural selection has to do with genetic variation among individuals and other factors in a population. If an individual doesn't have genes that are good enough to survive and reproduce, it can't simply get them by trying to adapt.