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Natural GMOs Part 283 - "The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life" by David Quammen

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A long very readable blurb at Anthropocene Magazine for a recent book that’s at last announcing what most microbiologists and geneticists have known for decades, but many people still do not know– that genes move around, tangling the tree of life.

Blurring Life’s Boundaries
Darwinian theory is based on the idea that heredity flows vertically, parent to offspring, and that life’s history has branched like a tree. Now we know otherwise: that the ‘tree’ of life isn’t that simple.
By David Quammen 

Since the late 1970s, there have come three big surprises about what we humans are and about how life on our planet has evolved.

The first of those three surprises involves a whole category of life, previously unsuspected and now known as the archaea. (They look like bacteria through a microscope, but their DNA reveals they are shockingly different.) Another is a mode of hereditary change that was also unsuspected, now called horizontal gene transfer. (Heredity was supposed to move only vertically, from parents to offspring.) The third is a revelation, or anyway a strong likelihood, about our own deepest ancestry. (It seems now that our lineage traces to the archaea.) So we ourselves probably come from creatures that, as recently as forty years ago, were unknown to exist….

David Quammen is a contributing writer for National Geographic and author of 15 books. This article was adapted from from THE TANGLED TREE: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen. Copyright ©2018 by David Quammen. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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