DNA and the Cycle of Life, Part One

15 May

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

“Life is specified by genomes. Every organism, including humans, has a genome that contains all of the biological information needed to build and maintain a living example of that organism. The biological information contained in a genome is encoded in its deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/About/primer/genetics_genome.html (2004).

I intend to demonstrate, using only scientifically valid information, that we remain continuously alive over many generations, even hundreds or thousands of years. Mystics and theologians have throughout history claimed to know the truth about Man as a being who lives beyond the boundaries of our lifetimes.  They argue based on philosophy and faith, and make no claims of scientific validity.

Give me a chance to show you the science. You’ll be surprised and convinced as this accepted mainstream scientific analysis unfolds. The answer is not what you think.

Since this is a complicated subject, let me start off with a little birds-and-the-bees story. It will seem long because there are a lot of pictures, yet there’s not too much reading to do. If you need a better understanding of DNA, please look at my older blog entries entitled “DNA and Memory.” If you want the complex science of DNA, look at the link highlighted above.

When I was young, among other things I collected insects, especially butterflies and moths. My favorite insect was the Luna Moth. The story of the Luna Moth will demonstrate how DNA is the active player in the passage of generations. It has been well established by science that the instructions for the development of each stage of life for each organic being are encoded in the memory of DNA. The double-helix strand of living tissue is contained inside each cell of the Luna Moth and every other being, including humans. We need to start with a clearly explainable insect model before moving on to the human experience, which is more complex.

I’m going to describe the complete life-cycle of the Luna Moth, starting with the showiest part of the process. The adult Luna Moth is large and strikingly beautiful, with lime-green yellow-trimmed wings spanning up to four and a half inches (11.4 cm) across, with long trailing green hindwings. Here’s a picture of the beautiful adult moth. You can see why I liked them and still like them.

WP1.luna-moth

So we see the adult moth. Now let’s go through to the next stage in the life-cycle of this elegant creature. Stay with me. Each of these wonderful, yet common, Luna Moths is around only for a very short time. The adults cannot eat, since they have no mouths or other digestive structures. They emerge as adults solely to mate. For this purpose they have only about one week. They tend to hide in the day and move about at night. There is something eerie and ghostlike about their movements. They flit from the gloom into the light, and back into the gloom once more; not unlike humans in their travails.

The male shown above has feathery antennae which sniff out pheromones from female moths. The two come together and mate, as is shown in the X-rated picture below. During mating the living DNA in the sperm from the male is ejected from its phallus into the body of the female.

WP2.Luna Moth Mating

As we shall see, the only time in the life cycle of the moth – or a human being for that matter – when the living DNA crosses an open space outside the body is during mating. For the moth the open space may be only a millimeter or so, yet the sperm in its journey is definitely outside the physical structure of either moth. The sperm quickly enters the genital chamber of the female moth and embeds its living DNA in the living egg sac of the female, which contains her own contribution of DNA for the next generation.

Once they mate, the male moth has no further raison d’etre. He flies off like a leaf falling from a tree in autumn and is never heard from again. The female moth flies around until she finds the right spot and lays her eggs. Then she shrivels within a few days like a tulip in a vase. Due to the lack of a mouth to eat, it may be said with scientific certainty that the beautiful creature that flies through the air is only a transitional stage, no matter how we may love it.

Thus all that remains after the transition of the living DNA across the open space between the two moths are the extremely small eggs shown below. Each is self-contained and a little larger than the head of a pin. Each of these self-contained living eggs contains the entire living DNA from the two mating adult moths. No further instructions are needed to continue the life-cycle of the Luna Moth. Life continues, full and complete, uninterrupted.

WP3.Luna Moth Eggs

The eggs hatch without further ado in about ten days. A wormy little caterpillar crawls out of the egg case and leaves the shell behind:

WP4.HatchingEgg

Its goal is to find food. Unlike the adult moth, the caterpillar has a voracious appetite. Since the eggs are laid by the female only on the leaves of suitable food plants, the little caterpillar can go right to work on the edge of the nearest leaf. The only instructions it needs in order to do its job are completely and unerringly remembered by its DNA. Over a period of about 25 days it eats and grows and sheds its skin five times (not four times or six times), until it becomes a rather majestic mature caterpillar:

WP5.Caterpillar

At some point, the mature caterpillar finds itself overcome by a desire to leave its body and become an entirely different being. Internal changes are already underway to facilitate this transformation. The instructions in the memory of its DNA are very precise as to both the timing and the behavior, and always generate the same outcome.

The caterpillar begins to spin a web of silk to enclose itself. The outward appearance of the caterpillar is sloughed off as if it never existed. What is left is a hard brown pupa, which once again contains all the DNA memory of the caterpillar, albeit in an altered physical form:

WP6.Luna Moth Pupa

After about two weeks a summer pupa, following its own inner instructions from its DNA, breaks open and an adult Luna Moth emerges, full and whole and without blemish, ready to spread its wings and fly away. The brown case of the pupa is discarded. The life-cycle for this one individual insect is now complete:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s easy to see this transition as a commonplace event, since it’s an everyday activity of moths, and there’s no drama in the ordinary. Yet the very precision of both the timing and the physical structures involved in the changes are nothing short of extraordinary.

And these precise changes in the cycle of life are repeated perhaps millions of times over each year by individual moths. And for hundreds or thousands of years these precise and exact changes have been repeated, perhaps modified slightly over time by Darwinian evolution.

Here’s the question: Where in this cycle is death? Is there ever a time when there is absolutely no life present? The living DNA is passed from generation to generation with sufficient vitality to produce exactly the same life-stages in each cycle of the existence of the Luna Moth.

In the next essay we will explore these far from commonplace questions.

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