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Tafari Williams

Evolution Evidence Project Part 1

September 17, 2015

Evidence Example #1-The presence of a notochord in the early


developmental stages of Tunicates.
Description #1- A notochord is a cord of cells that acts as the support of an
organism as it is developing. This collection of cells is found in an extremely
wide variety of organisms, from vertebrates like humans to a species of sea
squirt called Tunicates. These are small organisms that make their home on a
solid, stationary surface and live out their lives filtering the oxygen and
plankton from sea water. Tunicates, unlike humans, keep their notochords
until they have anchored themselves to a surface so they contain the
notochord for a proportionally longer period of time than humans but they
are still the same structure. Though the same structure, the notochords in
tunicates are used to help with movement and structure while those used in
vertebrate embryos are only used as the template for the backbone of the
organism.
Justification #1- The shared notochords among the organisms are
homologous structures although they may only exist in the embryonic stage
of one of the organisms. One may think that these structures are only
analogous, however they must be homologous because the structures are
developed in completely different environments yet have the different
functions. Analogous structures perform the same function and may appear
the same, however they do not have the same internal structure.
Homologous structures, on the other hand, have the same structural
composition but serve different functions in the organism. Homologous
structures like the notochord prove that organisms have stemmed from the
same ancestor. I guess humans and sea squirts arent so different after all.
Evidence Example #2- post-anal tails in almost all vertebrate embryos
Description #2- All vertebrate embryos have post anal tails or structures that
closely resemble them. These structures in many organisms such as apes
and humans as development progresses, however they obviously develop
into functioning structures in most organisms. The evidence of the
disappearance of the tail during embryonic development is shown in pictures
taken during the development of human infants as well as in humans today
who lack the tail. The human tailbone is also evidence of the once present
balancing structure. The developments of Ernst Haeckel are the original
representations of homologous structures in embryos of various vertebrate
species. Although many of his observations have turned out to be artistic
fabrication, Haeckel was still correct about the embryonic tails shared among
species.
Justification #2- These structures in the human embryo that disappear in
most adult, or even infant humans and any other structures that may be

Tafari Williams

Evolution Evidence Project Part 1

September 17, 2015

present at one point but currently have no function are called vestigial
structures. These prove evolution through the existence of a structure that
was once put to use but no longer is. Either through the establishment of a
new niche or the change from one environment to another, the vestigial
structure became obsolete or harmful and therefore, was selected out of the
population.
Evidence Example #3- Tooth buds in baleen whales
Description #3- Baleen whales derive their name from their anatomy and the
method with which they consume their food. These whales have a filter-like
structure on their upper jaw that allows them to capture small animals in
their mouths and expel all of the water. This efficient method of catching
small prey may have evolved from organisms who had teeth and consumed
their prey through killing them instead of just swallowing. The evidence of
this is displayed in the embryos of baleen whales, which have tooth buds in
their developing jaws. Now why would organisms who never have teeth or
any use for them ne tooth buds? This is because these tooth buds may be
vestigial structures such as the leg buds on some snakes, or the tailbones of
humans.
Justification #3- These structures(tooth buds) help to prove evolution
because they point to a parent or ancestral organism that once had teeth
and used them to capture its main food source which was most likely larger
than those of todays Baleen whales. There have even been organisms that
have a combination of teeth and baleen, which goes to show that the
transition was not all at once, it was most likely a gradual process.
Evidence Example #4-Biogenetic Law
Description #4- The father, and unfortunately, fraud of embryology, Ernst
Haeckel, also made some rather legitimate claims while he was performing
his studies, one of which was called biogenetic law. This states that the path
that an organism takes while it is progressing through its life may reflect the
anatomy of its ancestors. For example, the anatomy of the tadpole stage of a
frogs development reflects the anatomy of a fish, sharing a heart with two
chambers and gills. This process is called biogenetic law or recapitulation
theory.
Justification #4- The similarity of the external structures such as the gills
could be considered analogous structures, however the anatomy of the heart
is most likely not an analogous structure, as it is not a characteristic based
upon the external environment. This may point directly to fish as the
ancestors of frogs. This also makes sense because amphibians like frogs
developed from aquatic animals like fish.

Tafari Williams

Evolution Evidence Project Part 1

September 17, 2015

Evidence Example #5-Snakes leg buds


Description #5- Snakes along with many other organisms who no longer use
them develop their embryo with leg buds. Now obviously snakes have no use
for legs, making these very small remaining structures another example of
vestigial structures, which are those that once were made of use but have
failed to retain their function over the years. These structure are found in
many organisms such as the appendices of humans, and may suggest
something about the origin of these structures.
Justification #5- These structures support evolution by giving the conclusion
that sakes are very distant descendants of legged reptiles. As some lizards
with small legs were able move around their environment more efficiently
than others, the spread their genes and the gene for legs just became less
and less dominant. This may have allowed early snakes to develop a new
niche in their environment and reproduce at much larger rates than would be
expected had they stayed in their normal environment.

Website resources
http://www.nhptv.org/wild/chordata.asp
https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biologytextbook/evolution-and-the-origin-of-species-18/understanding-evolution124/evidence-of-evolution-498-11724/
https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/are-the-gill-slits-ofvertebrate-embryos-a-hoax/
https://www.icr.org/article/6926/
Demr, T. A., M. R. McGowen, A. Berta, and J. Gatesy. 2008. Morphological
and molecular evidence for a stepwise evolutionary transition from teeth to
baleen in mysticete whales. Systematic Biology 57:15-37.
http://www.biozoomer.com/2011/02/evolution-embryology-evidences.html
http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/darwin/evolutiontoday/how-do-we-know-living-things-are-related/vestigial-organs