National Geographic

After Seven Hundred Years, Crustaceans Rise Again to Show Us How We Steer Evolution

On Monday I wrote here about how scientists could retrace the history of evolutionary change in bacteria they raised in their lab by thawing out ancestors and comparing them to their descendants. That’s a much harder thing to pull off in the wild, but under the right conditions it can be done.

For my column this week in the New York Times, I write about a record-setting study of crustaceans that live in a Minnesota lake. Scientists hatched animals from eggs as old as 700 years that were buried in the mud at the bottom of the lake. And by comparing these resurrected water fleas over the centuries, they discovered a big evolutionary shift in the animals–which was probably caused by us. Check it out.

There are 3 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Ron Savage
    January 10, 2014

    Not directly relevant, but here’s what I’d like geneticists to do:
    o Breed roses which dead-head themselves (*).
    o (Slightly more seriously) Breed spiders, mosquitos and blowflies (**) which are allergic to humans.
    (*) This has the side effect – cough, cough – of saving me from getting up off the couch :-).
    (**) Especially bad here in Australia.

  2. Richard Haw
    January 11, 2014

    Great stuff. I used to feed these guys to my pets, now I am starting to look at them in a different way.

  3. David Harris
    January 11, 2014

    These wouldn’t be the same organisms as Adorable Sea Monkeys, would they? At first, hatching 700-year old eggs seemed pretty farfetched and probably a bad idea, but if they are the same thing, we know they can withstand packaging and then handling by the postal service, so anything is possible.

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