Part 1 Video Critique
In the first part of this assignment, the video chosen to do the critique is an Amateur video of the anatomy of the Archaeopteryx (http://bit.ly/1vImeVp). The Archaeopteryx was an animal that lived about 150 million years ago, in the late Jurassic period. The video starts with several images of various fossils of Archaeopteryx. The narrator begins by citing Darwin’s theory of evolution and states that this theory “predicted that we could find fossils of intermediate forms: creatures that bridge the gaps between modern species”. Then, the narrator introduces the Archaeopteryx, and points out that this animal “seemed to show a bridge between reptiles and birds”. The narrator calls the Archaeopteryx a “famous intermediate form”, and proceeds to enumerate a series of anatomical features. According to the narrator, some of these features seem to resemble modern birds, while other features seem to resemble modern reptiles or dinosaurs. Some of the anatomical sections that the narrator covered were feathers, toes, teeth, vertebrae, metacarpals, claws, metatarsals, etc. The pros identified in the video are:
- It provides an introduction and a recount of the theory of evolution.
- It introduces the species being addressed.
- It shows several images of the fossils described.
Nevertheless, there are some cons observed in this video:
- The only source provided is an amateur webpage, and not direct peer-reviewed sources.
My first contact with the Archaeopteryx, and the theory of it being a transitional species between reptiles and birds, happened when I was a child. I have read and known several of these facts before. Even though I am a Christian, I find the evidence supporting the transitional theory very strong. Evolution is a strong theory that has been supported by many pieces of evidence since Darwin, and although it opposes creationism, I do not believe it opposes religion, or faith. However, the Archaeopteryx is but only one case, and I believe further studies should be made addressing transition between other species. Besides, if evolution is about the survival of the fittest, would not that mean that Archaeopteryx –and now birds- are fitter than reptiles? Then, why do reptiles still exist?
Part 2 Reading Critique
The chose reading for this part is the second Chapter of the book Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, by the Working group on Teaching Evolution – National Academy of Sciences. The title of the Chapter is Major Themes in Evolution, and it consists of a chronological account of events in history that lead to the theory of evolution, and the evidence that supports it. The narrative starts with the Greek theories of the origin of life, and ends at the modern techniques used in science to describe and analyze species from the points of view of paleontology, archaeology, genetics, ecology, and other related sciences. The author mentions the theory of creationism, and how Christian theologians addressed it during the medieval times. Then, the author introduces the theory of evolution, and slowly links it to genetics. Furthermore, the author addresses mutations, geographical isolation, and other factors that could explain the theory of the species. Five major pros observed are:
- A historical account helps the reader follow the reading.
- It includes the theory of evolution, but also contrasting theories (e.g. creationism).
- It mentions several brilliant people (e.g. Anaximander, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Darwin, Wallace, Mendel, Watson, Crick, etc.).
- The reading relates biology to other sciences such as archaeology, paleontology, ecology, anthropology, genetics, etc.
However, at least five cons include:
- There are gaps in the chronological account of events.
- Sometimes the reading is not specific with the information provided (e.g. “Then, in the 1930s, a group of biologists demonstrated).
- The reading comes from a book published in 1998, which means it could have outdated information.
- Although scientists wrote the book, it leaves the reader with little skepticism so as to encourage him or her to pursue his or her own answers.
- The conclusion is too general and too short compared with the materials covered and the length of the chapter.
Personally, I enjoyed the reading very much. It introduced me to several examples of evolution: from the microbial resistance to antibiotics, to other human species that no longer exist. I found the evolution of modern whales particularly interesting. I find it hard to imagine how wolf-like animals could undergo such processes, so that they adapt and change into what modern whales are. I also learned about Alfred Russel Wallace. Up until this reading, I thought that Charles Darwin was the only one that performed observations that lead to the theory of evolution.
Although it was only briefly mentioned, I appreciated the fact that creationism was addressed. I found it surprising that Saint Thomas Aquinas made such statements in the 1200s and was not repelled or judged by the Church. I agree with the critical thinking he showed at that time. I believe that critical thinking is cornerstone within science. I think that science should take into account all possible explanations for the same phenomenon, and then find pieces of evidence that support each theory. I also enjoyed very much the way the authors linked history to evolution, and then to ecology, and lastly to “societal needs, including the preservation of our environment”.