X. Read and translate the short text without any dictionary:
Fact of life:
With the advent of genetic engineering. Artificial selection has entered a new phase. It is now possible to breed clones of cattle and sheep which have genes for producing specific human proteins. What is more, nuclei of two different species can be combined to form a completely new type of animal. In this way, a hybrid that combines the characters of a sheep and a goat has been formed: this new species has been dubbed a “geep” by the popular press. Plants can also genetically engineered to incorporate characters of a number of different species, for example, potatoes with a high starch content and high productivity can be genetically engineered to produce the beta-carotene of green vegetables and the vitamins of citrus fruits. One day it might be possible to design foods on a computer by choosing characteristics from a palette of tastes, colours, textures, and nutrients.
XI. Food for thought:
The dog is thought to have been the first domesticated animal. For at least 12 000 years, it has been subjected to artificial selection. Dogs have been bred to do specific types of work (for example, Labrador retrievers for retrieving fishing gear, Old English sheepdogs for rounding up sheep, and poodles for retrieving ducks) or for show. Suggest why pedigree dogs bred for show tend to have more genetic disorders than mongrels and cross-breeds (for example, highly inbred pedigree Labradors often have hip problems, St Bernards suffer eye problems, and Pekineses pften have respiratory problems).
Text 6.4. Human Evolution: Primate Ancestors
■ Essential targets:
By the end of this text you should be able to:
● explain the significance of the adaptations of primates to an arboreal mode of life.
■ With your partner try and answer these two questions. Then see if you were right by quickly scanning the text.
1. Do you agree with the statement that all humans are descendent from a common ancestor?
2. How do modern primates differ from their ancestral primates?
■ Read the given text and make your essential assignments:
The theory of evolution applies just as much to humans as to other organisms. All humans are in the same way related and, in the words of Darwin, are “descended with modification” from a common ancestor. Although our social and technological developments have freed us from many of the effects of natural selection, our present-day physical and behavioural characteristics are rooted in the adaptations of our ancestors. So, by finding out more about our ancestors, we can learn more about ourselves.
Adaptation of primates
The classification of humans reflects our evolutionary relationships. About 150-170 million years ago, all mammals were small insectivores rather like the shrews of today. About 75 million years ago some of these insectivores adopted an arboreal (tree-dwelling) mode of life and evolved into lemur-like primates. The adaptations of these ancestral primates to their new tree-living mode of life are thought to have included a short nose, large eyes and prominent ears, long flexible fingers with nail-like claws, and teeth well adapted for eating insects. These features are found in tarsiers (lemur-like primates) living today in Indonesia. Many other features that evolved in ancestral primates as adaptations to an arboreal life have been retained by modern primates.
These features include:
-A prehensile (grasping) limb:the hands (and often the feet) of primates have long and highly mobile digits so that they can grasp the branches of trees. The first digit can oppose the remaining four digits, giving primates a powerful grip. Primates have flattened nails that support pads of sensitive skin on the fingers or toes.
-A mobile forearm:the clavicle (collar bone) and scapula (shoulder blade) are adapted to allow a wide range of movements. Mobile forearms are essential for moving from tree to tree, and for manipulating objects in the hand; for example, to transfer food to the mouth or to bring an object to the eyes for closer examination.
- Well developed stereoscopic vision:the ability to judge distances is essential for leaping from branch to branch. Primates have large, well developed, forward-looking eyes with overlapping fields of view. The development of stereoscopic vision has been associated with a flattening of the face.
- A reduce sense of smell:it is not easy to locate scents through the canopies of trees and primates have a reduced sense of smell and a relatively small nose. Combined with the flattering of the face, a shorter nose is associated with the development of stereoscopic vision, and has allowed the development of facial muscles which play an important part in non-verbal communication.
- An inspecialised digestive system:primates have relatively unspecialised teeth and guts and they can exploit a wide range of food sources. Although some primates have a specialized herbivorous diet, all primate families have some omnivorous members that have a mixed diet.
- A skull modified for upright posture:primates have an upright posture associated with having a forward-looking face. The skull rests on top of the vertebra and has a large opening, the foramen magnum, though which the medulla of the brain emerges and extends downwards as the spinal cord.
- Reduced number of offspring:life in the trees is difficult and dangerous, especially for young animals. Some arboreal animals, such as birds and squirrels, build nests in which the young can be protected until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Primates have adopted another strategy: from birth, the young cling to the mother’s body and only slowly gain independence. Primates produce few young but look after them for a long time: they have a long gestation period a prolonged period of dependency after birth.
- A large brain:an active life in the trees requires precise movements and therefore good muscular coordination, vision, tactile senses, memory, thought, and learning. These processes depend on a large and highly developed brain.
- A social groupings:all primates live to some degree in social groups in
which members cooperate with each other. Complex social behaviour probably stems from the strong pair bond which enables a mother and her young to remain closely together for a long time. Lengthy rearing of a small number of young is most successful when he mother has support from other adults. The continued success of a group of animals depends on the recruitment of young helpers, and so evolves a social interdependency which is the basis of our own human society.