Evolution and the flu

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  1. profile image0
    Rad Manposted 11 years ago

    Is the changing of the flu every year evidence for evolution?

    1. BrahmaEgg profile image60
      BrahmaEggposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      So an ant proves God exists?

      1. profile image0
        Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Did I say something about an ant?

  2. knolyourself profile image60
    knolyourselfposted 11 years ago

    Evolving to what?

    1. profile image0
      Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Evolving to a different version of the flu. New flu shot every year.

  3. profile image0
    Emile Rposted 11 years ago

    It's adapting, I would think. It is still the flu; isn't it?

    1. wilderness profile image94
      wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Define "flu", including what antibiotic will kill it.

      Anyway, isn't "adapting" the same thing as "evolving" in biological terms?

      1. profile image0
        Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Antibiotics don't kill the flu. The flu is a virus, not a bacteria.

        1. wilderness profile image94
          wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Sorry, you're right.  How about which antibodies need to be produced to kill it?

      2. profile image0
        Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I respect your views and agree more than I disagree. I will explain my  problems with this question being posed on a religion and philosophy forum.

        First, the question (by its placement here) is presented as a challenge to the idea of God existing. This is, in my opinion, an excellent question for the devoutly religious to ponder; but I'm not sure how the only conclusion the question presents is tied into religion or philosophy from an atheistic viewpoint. The flu is a tenacious, and seemingly intelligent on some levels, little bugger. We scramble every year to stay one step ahead of it, cross our fingers that the shots we chose to administer will match the strain that hits our area; and live on a level of standing alert to address the worldwide pandemic we all  assume will someday happen again.

        I would love to assume that a day would come where this thing would evolve into something different that we would have a better shot at controlling, but it appears to be adapting; and doing a stellar job in the process.

        Secondly, the word evolution is loaded in this environment and needs to be viewed from the position of what we know, not what we speculate, when juxtaposed with religion. The problem with mixing science and religion is that we are, for the most part, lay people and adults. Information floods in from a lot of different sources. Science fine tunes the overall picture, sometimes drastically, when evaluating that information because we have set an assumption of what point A was  (which we don't know) and how we arrived at point Z (which we know a lot of),  but the middle is not written in stone and rests on both what we know and what we assume. Unfortunately, as lay people, we aren't always all up to speed on the most up to date scientific assumptions. Which might work well in other settings but the intricate web of information involved in the ongoing development of the theory is ignored in favor of sound bites by the devout on each side.

        In this particular setting, you pit lay philosophies against one another. Team atheist assumes point A began in one manner while Team religious takes the opposing side of the field. To what end? What it does is inhibit the free flow of ideas. You can't ask a question about any portion without the teams seeing it as an opportunity to insist that what we know doesn't imply what we assume, but proves it. A virus that changes and adapts doesn't prove anything, to me.

        I don't wholly support point A of either assumption. Evolution simply makes sense when you try to imagine how everything happened...up to a point. I'm still stumped on the beginning. I can't imagine a god being responsible for individually forming an infinite number of creatures who we discover, daily, are more complex than we could have ever imagined. But, I also can't imagine life simply springing up from something that just appeared out of nowhere.

        I know I didn't answer your question directly or indirectly. But, I don't see it as necessary since I don't see adaptation as proof positive of the broad stroke assumptions of evolution.

        1. profile image0
          Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Adaption is in fact evolution, but it happens through generations and not because one gains weight because it's cold. In the scenario of moving to the arctic and gaining weight to survive, you would be correct that gaining the wait help you survive, but it doesn't mean you kids would be more fat. But if you had 5 kids and one turning out a little fatter with shorter limbs then that child would most likely do better in that environment and pass on his genes to the next generation. I we isolated the people of the far north and the sub-sahara Africa people long enough we would eventually have a scenario like the donkey and the horse. The amazing thing with the donkey and the horse is they have been separated by evolution long enough to have a different number of chromosome, but can still reproduce the mule.

          What does this have to do with Religion was you question? To you and me nothing, but I've been fascinated by the number of people who dismiss the idea of evolution in favour for ID or Creationism because of the bible. They repeatedly say that they see nothing evolving in everyday life. Well if the flu is and does evolve then they would lose that argument.

          I was reading last night that there are two common mechanisms which allow viruses like the flu to evolve. Reassortment and Drift. The 1957 evolution of H2N2 is thought to be of reassortment and it mixed with H1N1. Drift refers mutation and selection. Antigenic mutants can evolve quickly because of the high mutation rate of viruses. This evolution occurs under the pressure of antibodies or immune system responses. This is the same way animals evolve.

          Does anyone have an argument against viruses evolving?

          1. profile image0
            Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            First; I think you are taking a very simplistic approach to the human genome. I don’t believe that there is any evidence that would lead anyone to believe that if you separated humans long enough that you would have a scenario like the donkey and the horse. Yes, we might have one group that, through natural selection, became taller; but you would not end up with a sterile mule if you intermarried.

            Look at some of the Inca’s in Peru. They have lived at a high enough altitude over a period of time that their hearts are much larger than the average person’s. If they intermarry with, say, a Canadian they will have human children who can subsequently marry and reproduce.

            Secondly; your question about the flu virus. Think about the virus. Think about what it needs to do to survive. I don’t know a lot about the flu but I assume that it has one similarity with the common cold. By my understanding you catch a cold and your body reacts to defend itself. That strain can not normally attack you again successfully because your body will already know the strain and has developed its own immunity. That is why adults don’t normally have as many sniffles as children. The children’s bodies are coming in contact with things that are new to them and their bodies have to build their own defenses.

            If there were only one strain of the common cold; it would now be extinct. I would assume that is the same with the flu virus. We all know that living organisms have a will to survive. Adaptation is essential; but more essential for some than others because of how they live in the first place. The flu lives in other organisms. Other organisms develop their own antibodies and immune systems that ensure that those organisms will only host an unwelcome organism, in its present presentation, once.

            In order to survive the virus has to change and adapt much more quickly than something like a rabbit. So, from where I am standing, adaptation is essential to the virus and it is functioning perfectly in order to ensure its survival. The only reason it would have to mutate would be if the host organisms mutated in a manner that made the mechanisms that the virus uses obsolete.

            Compare it to a sales pitch. You might sell me something; but you can’t use the same pitch on everyone. Nor can you use the same sales pitch on me a second time with the same amount of success. You have to change up how you present yourself to me. You don’t change. You don’t evolve. You are just finding new ways to continue to be successful.

            1. profile image0
              Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Sorry, but you've made two errors.

              One: the flu and the common cold are not alive at all. The cold doesn't change year to year there are just many many different version and the more we get the better we are primed to protect against others. The flu is completely different as I've mentioned in my previous post. It can change in two way and both ways can be deadly. Sometimes the flu comes in contact with another flu and mutates into something deadly. That mutated flu is a new flu that could wipe out people for years until it have been in contact with everyone.

              Two: There is direct evidence that given isolation for enough time species separate. The humans and chimps have been separated for million of years and still share 99.8% of our DNA. There is also evidence that Neanderthals and Modern Humans were able to still have viable offspring even though we were vastly different and separated by 600,000 years. Why would humans be any different than the horse, donkey for the Zebra? It just doesn't happen over night.

              1. profile image0
                Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                So, a virus isn’t an organism. I used the wrong word. Sorry. But, we know that you aren’t usually susceptible to the same strain twice. Since we know this, we can assume that if the virus didn’t change and develop new strains it could eventually reach the point where it would die out because it had come in contact with all organisms it could invade and those organisms had developed immunities. New strains must develop for influenza to continue on. The strains are said to evolve into ‘new strains’.  New strains of the same thing.  Just displaying an ability to survive so it can continue on. I’m not sure I understand why you don’t see my dilemma here. It is still the flu.

                We don’t know how long viruses have been around so we can’t draw any long term conclusions about evolution, in general, simply by observing the development of a new strain of a flu virus.

                The rest of your post is speculation. I’m not going to speculate simply because I don’t see what purpose it serves to present it as if it is a known fact. How long do you think some tribes living in the Amazon have been separated from the rest of humanity? How different are they, genetically? Can we intermarry or are they a different species?

                1. profile image0
                  Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  The earliest signs that humans were in South American are about 9000 BC. That's 11,000 years ago and that is clearly not long enough. Humans and Neanderthals were separated by 600,000 years and we have evidence that all humans out of Africa have Neanderthal DNA.

                  The new stains are not strains of the same thing. They have different symptoms and can attack in different ways.

                  1. profile image0
                    Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                    Are you saying they aren't all viruses?

          2. kathleenkat profile image81
            kathleenkatposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Adaptation =/= evolution.

            Adaptation occurs within one lifeform, during one lifetime. If I break my right hand, I can adapt by learning to use my left hand. If I am born with poor vision, I can adapt by sitting closer to the front of the room. If my head is cold, I can adapt by growing my hair out to keep it warm.

            That being said, if I am able to reproduce and produce viable offspring because of these changes, my genetics will be passed along, and may cause some form of evolution down the road if I have some kind of favorable mutation.

            Adapation is one, of many things, that (may not necessarily) cause evolution. Other things include natural selection, war, accidental death, isolation...

            1. profile image0
              Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Sorry the adaption that you referenced would not cause evolution. But adaption to a different environment will eventually. My lighter skin is an adaptation to having less sun then that which Africa gets. People of the far north have adapted to withstand frost bite as did the people of Australia.

    2. profile image0
      Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      It is still a flu, but in less then a year it's different.

  4. kathleenkat profile image81
    kathleenkatposted 11 years ago

    When the flu no longer has the same symptoms, or effects a different part of the system, then it is no longer the flu. Then, I would say it evolved. Currently? I would say it's adapting.

    Asian, Black, Caucasian, etc. are all "different versions" of human beings. They haven't evolved. They have adapted, probably through natural selection and isolation, to survive in their environment. Native people in the equatorial regions of the planet tend to be browner, some has said as a result of surviving under the sun... Egyptians, Mayans, Italians, Aborigines, Vietnamese... The version of the flu that is able to survive in the environment of the vaccination-enhanced immune system, is the version that survives and subsequently reproduces. It still does flu-like stuff, behaves like the flu, looks like the flu; and thus, is still the flu.

    But I was a social science major, what do I know tongue

    1. wilderness profile image94
      wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      So what's the difference between evolve and adapt?  An artificial defined line that no two people can agree with?  A difference in genetics of a certain percentage that again no two will agree with?  A physical difference great enough to be termed a different species, once more a defined factor which no two will agree with?

      1. kathleenkat profile image81
        kathleenkatposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Evolution, as it was defined for me in school, is an adaptation within a species that changes it so dramatically that it could not successfully reproduce, and produce viable (able to reproduce) offspring with its original form. How that works with viruses, I do not know.

        Say humans share 98% of the genome with chimpanzees. We are very similar, probably from the same origin, yet not the same.

        Horses and donkeys can mate, yet, their offspring (the mule) cannot reproduce. They are not the same.

        A pit bull and a chihuahua can mate, and produce viable offspring. They are the same.

        So in short; adaptation fuels evolution, but adaptation does not necessarily create evolution. I could move to the arctic circle and gain weight so I would have a better chance surviving there, but that doesn't mean I'll have fat kids wink

      2. profile image0
        Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I disagree. It is agreed that it is a different species if the two species can no long have viable offspring.

        1. wilderness profile image94
          wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Is a chihuahua and a great dane the same species then?  I'm not a dog breeder but I don't think you could ever get viable offspring from such a cross.  Even if you interfered with artificial insemination it would still have to be the great dane carrying the pups and that doesn't seem right.

          Or what about two animals evolved just far enough that the pheromones or colors are wrong and while they could, they won't breed?  Are they still the same species?

          A liger can be fertile; is it a lion or tiger?  Or are both of those actually the same species?  Same with coydogs and dogotes.  There are actually quite a few animals of differing species that can produce viable offspring.

          Species definition isn't easy, and is more than the possibility of interbreeding.

          1. profile image0
            Rad Manposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            A chihuahua  and the great dane can interbred because they are both dogs. They are much more closely related to each other than the wolf.

            In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, the difficulty of defining species is known as the species problem. Differing measures are often used, such as similarity of DNA, morphology or ecological niche. Presence of specific locally adapted traits may further subdivide species into "infraspecific taxa" such as subspecies.

            The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), is a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus)

            The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion (Panthera leo) and a tigress (Panthera tigris). Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species.

            Hybrids between different subspecies within a species (such as between the Bengal tiger and Siberian tiger) are known as intra-specific hybrids. Hybrids between different species within the same genus (such as between lions and tigers) are sometimes known as interspecific hybrids or crosses. Hybrids between different genera (such as between sheep and goats) are known as intergeneric hybrids. Extremely rare interfamilial hybrids have been known to occur (such as the guineafowl hybrids).[3] No interordinal (between different orders) animal hybrids are known.

            The mule to me is the most fascinating. The horse and the donkey have been separated long enough to have a different number of chromosomes, but can still have offspring. The offspring is not viable because they are just too far apart. A Zebroid is an interesting one as well.


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