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More Bio Sci Fi Problems

September 24, 2012

1. According to a study published in the Weekly World News, 1/5 of Americans have been abducted by aliens. Suppose that the trait desired by aliens is genetic, with recessive inheritance; and that every person homozygous for this trait gets abducted.

What is the allele frequency (p) of the alien abduction trait?

What percentage of Americans are carriers of the alien abduction trait; that is, they don’t get abducted, but could pass it on to a child?

If some of those abducted never come back, what will happen to the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium? What do we call this effect?

In one very small, isolated town, the entire population claims to have experienced abduction. What do we call this effect?

2. A Klingon anthropologist tries to explain the pointed ears of Vulcans by the hypothesis that Vulcan women prefer men with more pointed ears, so many generations lead to Vulcans with extremely pointed ears.

What form of natural selection does this illustrate? What problems do you see with the Klingon hypothesis? How might the hypothesis be modified?

3. In the X-Files, the giant fluke evolved to look like a primate. What do we call this kind of evolution? Can you imagine (in a followup episode) a possible explanation (however unlikely) for how this might occur? Would the fluke ever be able to interbreed with real primates? Why or why not?

  1. paws4thot permalink
    September 25, 2012 3:28 am

    1) Para 5 – Ok, it has very little to do with biology, but I call 100% of a population claiming to have been abducted “mass hysteria”. 😉

    2) (ii) – The big problem with the Klingon hypothesis is that it’s Star Trek canon that Vulcan ears are the result of Vulcan (planet) having a thinner atmosphere than Sol3 (Earth). Never ask an engineer Trekkie to use biology to answer a question that can be answered with ST trivia!


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