Living without Sex for 85 Million Years

Bdelloid rotifers are tiny transparent animals that live in damp places. They reproduce asexually by laying eggs that don’t need to be fertilized. They are not the only animal that needs no males to reproduce, but they are more successful than others, having evolved into 450 species, which perplexed scientists.
It now looks as though the bdelloids do acquire new genes from time to time — that mutation isn’t their only source of genetic novelty. Yet their means of getting new genes is unlike anything previously known for an animal. Namely: they seem to pick up genes from the environment, and add them into their genomes.

The latest analysis of bdelloid genomes shows that the animals don’t just have rotifer genes. They also have dozens of genes from bacteria, fungi, and plants.

Now that's weird. This puts the microscopic creatures in a league with human scientists who are just now learning to genetically modify animals! Link -via Digg

(image credit: William Dembowski)

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I think Annie Dillard talks about just this phenomena in "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," which was published in '74. Seems like these scientists were a bit late to the punchline...
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so they didn't know that evolution can only happen by the influence of natural surroundings? i find it odd that this is a new discovery.. i mean, if you're one to dabble in the phenomena of evolution and biology, i would think that you would at LEAST know that natural surroundings play a major role in evolution. how else could it happen, especially if said animal produces asexually?
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"Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours."

Anyone else comparing these to the Borg?
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