‘Hydra Common ancestor; evolution not bogus’

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Sunday, 28 January 2018

Biologist Surendra Ghaskadbi has been working on the 600 million-year-old hydra for 20 years

Pune: “The 600 million-year-old hydra, a multicellular animal, can regenerate itself if broken into two parts. We are working on this animal for the last 20 years to understand it,” development biologist Surendra Ghaskadbi of Agharkar Research Institute told Sakal Times.

The emeritus scientist said, “Evolution is a long and slow process. It has not happened overnight. So there would not be anyone to see a monkey turning into man, but it does not mean it is wrong. Darwin’s theory is not wrong. We have fossils to prove it. We have grown from simple to complex beings. Science is based on empirical and statistical evidence. Monkey and ape fossil records are available and bi-pedalty had come from there.”

“In the same way, genes and proteins found in us are similar with hydra and we can safely say that this animal is our common ancestor. This animal can regenerate itself and we are working to find the trigger factor for this regeneration,” he added.  “We noticed that genes and proteins found in various organisms from hydra to humans are similar to a great extent. Darwin’s theory is a 150-year-old theory and many people have been working on it. Evolution of various species from a single organism is known. So we cannot deny the fact that we have evolved from simple organisms, but with variations. Whenever a species come into being, it’s sole aim is to survive and reproduce. When we talk about survival, we adapt to specific surroundings. This means that though we belong to one particular specie, our growth, development and needs depend upon our environment,” Ghaskadbi said.

When asked if regeneration in hydra can be replicated in human beings, he said, “Complexities go down when we break a thing into two or more pieces. Hydra is a very small animal, found in fresh water everywhere on Earth. Scientists world over are working on kidney regeneration, but then we can work on one particular organ. The most complex specie is human being. But the genes and proteins of many vertebrates and mammals are similar.”

Ghaskadbi, who also conducts lectures for school students, said, “We need to teach students concepts. We need to teach them the evolutionary process. Names are not important, it is the concept which is important.”

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