Biology 1907 Trivia Questions and Answers

What was the main question that Edmund Beecher Wilson, a prominent zoologist, discussed in his 1907 lecture?

  • How does life relate to the non-living world?
  • How does the body maintain its temperature?
  • How are new species formed?
  • How does the brain process information?

Correct Answer: How does life relate to the non-living world?

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson’s lecture, delivered at Columbia University, focused on the fundamental question of biology: the relationship between life and the non-living world. He explored the idea of understanding life through a mechanistic lens, viewing organisms as complex machines governed by physical and chemical processes.

Which of these discoveries provided evidence for a mechanistic view of life, according to Wilson’s lecture?

  • The discovery of the cell
  • The discovery of DNA
  • The discovery of the germ theory of disease
  • Mendel’s law of heredity

Correct Answer: Mendel’s law of heredity

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson highlighted Mendel’s law of heredity as a prime example of how a mechanistic approach could explain complex biological phenomena. Mendel’s work demonstrated that traits are passed down in predictable and quantifiable ways, suggesting that heredity can be understood through a set of rules and mechanisms.

What phenomenon did Wilson argue posed a challenge to the purely mechanistic view of life?

  • The ability of plants to grow towards light
  • The ability of birds to migrate long distances
  • The regeneration of the lens in salamander tadpoles
  • The ability of bacteria to reproduce quickly

Correct Answer: The regeneration of the lens in salamander tadpoles

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson pointed out that the regeneration of a new lens from a different source (the iris) in salamander tadpoles challenged the idea that all biological processes could be explained solely through physical and chemical mechanisms. This phenomenon suggested that there might be other factors at play, potentially involving a form of “intelligence” or “psychoid” beyond the physical realm.

Which of these is NOT a definition of life that was discussed in Wilson’s lecture?

  • Life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.
  • Life is the process of growth and development.
  • Life is “response to the order of nature.”
  • Life is the ability to reproduce.

Correct Answer: Life is the ability to reproduce.

Correct Answer Explanation: While reproduction is a crucial aspect of life, Wilson’s lecture focused on broader definitions of life that emphasized its dynamic interplay with the environment and the underlying mechanisms governing its processes. The lecture cited definitions like “the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations” (attributed to Herbert Spencer) and “response to the order of nature” (proposed by Professor Brooks).

Which of these is NOT a characteristic of adaptation as discussed in Wilson’s lecture?

  • Adaptations can be inherited from parents to offspring.
  • Adaptations always arise through random mutations.
  • Adaptations can improve an organism’s chances of survival and reproduction.
  • Adaptations are specific to the environment in which an organism lives.

Correct Answer: Adaptations always arise through random mutations.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson acknowledged the role of mutations in evolution, but he did not explicitly state that they are always random. The nature of mutations, whether they are random or directed, was presented as a topic of ongoing debate in evolutionary biology.

What is the central question about evolution that Wilson’s lecture left unresolved?

  • How do new species arise?
  • What is the role of natural selection in evolution?
  • How do adaptations arise in the first place?
  • What is the relationship between genetics and evolution?

Correct Answer: How do adaptations arise in the first place?

Correct Answer Explanation: While Wilson discussed the role of natural selection in favoring traits that improve survival, he acknowledged that natural selection does not fully explain the origin of these adaptations. He highlighted the difficulty of explaining complex adaptations, like lens regeneration, solely through a mechanistic lens, suggesting that there might be other factors at play that are not yet fully understood.

According to Wilson, what is a key aspect of Mendel’s law of heredity?

  • The offspring inherits only one parental trait.
  • The offspring inherits all the traits of both parents.
  • The offspring inherits half the traits from each parent.
  • The offspring inherits a unique combination of traits from each parent.

Correct Answer: The offspring inherits only one parental trait.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson explained that in a hybrid offspring, the germ cells contain only one character or the other. This is a crucial aspect of Mendel’s law, highlighting how traits are transmitted in a predictable manner, with offspring inheriting specific characters from their parents.

What did Wilson suggest could be a possible analogy for the process of heredity?

  • Chemical reactions
  • Physical forces
  • Electrical currents
  • Mathematical equations

Correct Answer: Chemical reactions

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson suggested that hereditary characters undergo combinations, disassociations, and recombinations, similar to how compounds are combined and separated in chemical reactions. This analogy reflects the idea that heredity can be understood through a set of rules and mechanisms.

What is the significance of the observation that the lens of the salamander eye is not regenerated from the same material as the original?

  • It supports the idea that all biological processes can be explained through physical and chemical mechanisms.
  • It challenges the idea that all biological processes can be explained through physical and chemical mechanisms.
  • It proves that the salamander lens is not important for vision.
  • It shows that salamanders are more complex than other animals.

Correct Answer: It challenges the idea that all biological processes can be explained through physical and chemical mechanisms.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson used this observation to highlight the limitations of the purely mechanistic view of life. The regeneration of the lens from a different source (the iris) suggests that there might be other factors at play in biological processes, potentially involving regulatory mechanisms that are not fully understood.

What is the main takeaway from Wilson’s lecture?

  • The mechanistic view of life can fully explain all biological phenomena.
  • Evolution is a random process that cannot be understood.
  • The study of biology is complete and there are no more questions to be answered.
  • Biology is a complex and ever-evolving field with many unanswered questions.

Correct Answer: Biology is a complex and ever-evolving field with many unanswered questions.

Correct Answer Explanation: While Wilson was a strong advocate for the mechanistic view of life, he acknowledged its limitations and the existence of biological phenomena that defy easy explanation. He emphasized the importance of continued research, observation, and experimentation to address the unanswered questions in biology.

What was the key argument made by those who favored the “vitalistic” view of life?

  • Life is governed by the laws of physics and chemistry alone.
  • Life is guided by a non-physical force or principle.
  • Life is a product of chance and random events.
  • Life is a mystery that cannot be explained.

Correct Answer: Life is guided by a non-physical force or principle.

Correct Answer Explanation: The vitalistic view of life, which was gaining prominence in the early 20th century, argued that there was a non-physical force or principle responsible for the unique characteristics of living organisms. This force, often referred to as a “vital principle,” was believed to be beyond the realm of physics and chemistry.

Which of these statements reflects the “mechanistic” view of life as described in Wilson’s lecture?

  • Life is guided by a divine force.
  • Life is a spiritual phenomenon.
  • Life is a complex machine governed by physical and chemical laws.
  • Life is a mystery that cannot be understood.

Correct Answer: Life is a complex machine governed by physical and chemical laws.

Correct Answer Explanation: The mechanistic view of life, advocated by Wilson, argued that living organisms can be understood as complex machines governed by physical and chemical processes. This approach emphasizes the idea that biological phenomena can be explained through the laws of physics and chemistry.

What did Wilson suggest was a potential limitation of the purely mechanistic approach to understanding life?

  • It does not account for the complexity of living systems.
  • It does not acknowledge the role of chance and random events.
  • It does not explain the origin of life.
  • It does not recognize the existence of non-physical forces.

Correct Answer: It does not recognize the existence of non-physical forces.

Correct Answer Explanation: While Wilson championed the mechanistic view, he acknowledged that it might not fully account for certain biological phenomena, such as lens regeneration, which hinted at the possibility of regulatory mechanisms beyond those governed by physical and chemical processes.

What was the main reason why Wilson emphasized the importance of continued research in biology?

  • To prove that the mechanistic view of life is correct.
  • To identify the specific genes responsible for all traits.
  • To explore the complex and diverse nature of life.
  • To find a cure for all diseases.

Correct Answer: To explore the complex and diverse nature of life.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson recognized that biology was a complex and ever-evolving field with many unanswered questions. He encouraged continued research, observation, and experimentation to explore the intricacies of living organisms and their interactions with the environment.

What is an example of a functional adaptation as discussed in Wilson’s lecture?

  • The ability of a bird to fly
  • The ability of a plant to photosynthesize
  • The formation of a callus on the skin
  • The ability of a bacteria to reproduce

Correct Answer: The formation of a callus on the skin

Correct Answer Explanation: The lecture used the example of callus formation to illustrate a functional adaptation, where the body modifies itself in response to external stimuli, like repeated rubbing or pressure. This adaptation helps to protect the skin from further damage.

Which of these is NOT a topic discussed in Wilson’s lecture?

  • The debate between the mechanistic and vitalistic views of life.
  • The role of natural selection in evolution.
  • The discovery of the structure of DNA.
  • The nature of variations and mutations.

Correct Answer: The discovery of the structure of DNA.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson’s lecture was delivered in 1907, before the discovery of the structure of DNA. The discovery of DNA’s double helix structure, which occurred in 1953, revolutionized the field of genetics and provided a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of heredity.

What is a key difference between the ideas of “orthogenesis” and “natural selection”?

  • Orthogenesis suggests that evolution is a random process, while natural selection suggests that evolution is directed.
  • Orthogenesis suggests that evolution is directed, while natural selection suggests that evolution is a random process.
  • Orthogenesis focuses on the development of individuals, while natural selection focuses on the development of populations.
  • Orthogenesis focuses on the development of populations, while natural selection focuses on the development of individuals.

Correct Answer: Orthogenesis suggests that evolution is directed, while natural selection suggests that evolution is a random process.

Correct Answer Explanation: Orthogenesis, a theory proposed by some scientists at the time, suggested that evolution proceeds along definite lines, driven by a “driving force” rather than random variations. This contrasts with the idea of natural selection, which proposes that evolution is driven by the survival and reproduction of individuals with advantageous traits, based on the random variations that arise within a population.

What was the significance of the experiment with mice discussed in Wilson’s lecture?

  • It proved that the inheritance of traits is a random process.
  • It supported the idea that traits are passed down in predictable ways.
  • It showed that the environment can directly influence the inheritance of traits.
  • It showed that acquired traits can be inherited.

Correct Answer: It supported the idea that traits are passed down in predictable ways.

Correct Answer Explanation: The experiment with mice, which involved multiple generations and different parental traits, provided strong evidence for Mendel’s law of heredity. The results closely matched the theoretical predictions, demonstrating that the inheritance of traits could be understood through a set of rules and mechanisms.

What was the main contribution of Mendel’s work to the understanding of heredity?

  • It showed that all traits are equally likely to be inherited.
  • It showed that traits are inherited in a predictable and quantifiable manner.
  • It showed that traits are always determined by a single gene.
  • It showed that traits are passed down from one generation to the next.

Correct Answer: It showed that traits are inherited in a predictable and quantifiable manner.

Correct Answer Explanation: Mendel’s groundbreaking work on the inheritance of traits demonstrated that characters are passed down in a predictable and quantifiable manner, based on specific rules governing their transmission. This discovery provided a framework for understanding the mechanisms of heredity.

What is the significance of the observation that the salamander lens is formed from the iris?

  • It proves that salamanders can regenerate any lost organ.
  • It suggests that the body can use different tissues for regeneration.
  • It shows that the lens is not essential for vision.
  • It challenges the idea of natural selection.

Correct Answer: It suggests that the body can use different tissues for regeneration.

Correct Answer Explanation: The observation that the new lens in salamanders is formed from the iris demonstrates the remarkable ability of the body to utilize different tissues for regeneration. This challenges the idea that tissue regeneration is always a straightforward process of simply replacing lost cells with identical ones.

What did Wilson suggest was the potential role of natural selection in evolution?

  • It creates new adaptations.
  • It eliminates unfavorable traits.
  • It directs the course of evolution.
  • It creates new species.

Correct Answer: It eliminates unfavorable traits.

Correct Answer Explanation: While Wilson acknowledged the role of natural selection in evolution, he emphasized that it acts as a selective force, eliminating traits that are disadvantageous for survival and reproduction. It does not create new adaptations or direct the course of evolution.

What is the main takeaway from the debate on whether variations are random or directed?

  • The nature of variations is fully understood.
  • The nature of variations is still a topic of ongoing research.
  • Variations are always random.
  • Variations are always directed.

Correct Answer: The nature of variations is still a topic of ongoing research.

Correct Answer Explanation: The debate on the nature of variations, whether they are random or directed, reflects the ongoing research and exploration in evolutionary biology. While the discovery of mutations has provided insights, there are still unanswered questions about the mechanisms that generate variations and their influence on the direction of evolution.

Why is it important to study biology?

  • To understand the world around us.
  • To solve problems related to health and disease.
  • To develop new technologies.
  • All of the above.

Correct Answer: All of the above.

Correct Answer Explanation: Biology is a fundamental science that helps us understand the living world, from the smallest cells to the largest ecosystems. It provides insights into human health, disease, and the development of new technologies. Studying biology is crucial for addressing global challenges and improving the quality of life.

What is the significance of the observation that removing one kidney or lung can lead to the remaining one enlarging?

  • It supports the idea that all organs are equally important.
  • It demonstrates the body’s ability to compensate for lost organs.
  • It shows that the body can regenerate lost organs.
  • It proves that the body is a perfect machine.

Correct Answer: It demonstrates the body’s ability to compensate for lost organs.

Correct Answer Explanation: This observation highlights the remarkable ability of the body to compensate for lost organs, ensuring that essential functions are maintained. This process involves the remaining organ increasing in size and taking over the functions of the lost organ.

What is the main difference between the mechanistic and vitalistic views of life?

  • The mechanistic view believes in a spiritual force, while the vitalistic view believes in physical and chemical laws.
  • The mechanistic view believes in physical and chemical laws, while the vitalistic view believes in a spiritual force.
  • The mechanistic view believes in the power of the environment, while the vitalistic view believes in the power of genetics.
  • The mechanistic view believes in the power of genetics, while the vitalistic view believes in the power of the environment.

Correct Answer: The mechanistic view believes in physical and chemical laws, while the vitalistic view believes in a spiritual force.

Correct Answer Explanation: The mechanistic view of life, which was gaining prominence in the early 20th century, argued that living organisms can be understood as complex machines governed by physical and chemical processes. In contrast, the vitalistic view proposed that life is guided by a non-physical force or principle, often referred to as a “vital principle,” which was believed to be beyond the realm of physics and chemistry.

Which of these is NOT a characteristic of the “mechanistic” approach to studying life?

  • Emphasizing the importance of observation and experimentation.
  • Seeking to explain life through physical and chemical laws.
  • Acknowledging the existence of non-physical forces.
  • Using mathematical models to describe biological processes.

Correct Answer: Acknowledging the existence of non-physical forces.

Correct Answer Explanation: The mechanistic approach to studying life focuses on explaining biological phenomena through the laws of physics and chemistry, without invoking non-physical forces or principles.

What is the significance of the observation that salamander eggs can be separated to produce twins?

  • It shows that salamanders are more complex than other animals.
  • It supports the idea that the environment can influence development.
  • It challenges the idea that development is a deterministic process.
  • It proves that salamanders can reproduce asexually.

Correct Answer: It challenges the idea that development is a deterministic process.

Correct Answer Explanation: The observation that a single salamander egg can be separated to produce twins demonstrates that development is not always a deterministic process, where a single egg always results in a single individual. This shows that there can be variations in development, leading to multiple individuals from a single egg.

What was the main message that Wilson wanted to convey in his lecture?

  • Biology is a complex and challenging field that requires continued research and exploration.
  • The mechanistic view of life is the only correct way to understand life.
  • The vitalistic view of life is the only correct way to understand life.
  • The study of biology is complete and there are no more questions to be answered.

Correct Answer: Biology is a complex and challenging field that requires continued research and exploration.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson’s lecture was a call for continued research, observation, and experimentation to explore the complex and diverse nature of life. He recognized the limitations of the mechanistic view and the existence of biological phenomena that defied easy explanation.

Which of these is NOT a challenge to the purely mechanistic view of life?

  • The regeneration of a salamander’s limb.
  • The development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
  • The evolution of the giraffe’s neck.
  • The ability of plants to grow towards light.

Correct Answer: The ability of plants to grow towards light.

Correct Answer Explanation: While the ability of plants to grow towards light is a fascinating phenomenon, it can be explained through established mechanisms like phototropism, which involves the plant’s response to light stimuli. This phenomenon does not necessarily challenge the idea that life can be understood through physical and chemical processes.

What is the significance of the observation that amputated limbs can be regenerated in some animals?

  • It supports the idea that all animals can regenerate limbs.
  • It demonstrates the body’s remarkable ability to restore lost tissues.
  • It proves that the body is a perfect machine.
  • It shows that regeneration is a simple process.

Correct Answer: It demonstrates the body’s remarkable ability to restore lost tissues.

Correct Answer Explanation: The observation that some animals can regenerate amputated limbs highlights the remarkable ability of the body to restore lost tissues and organs. This process, which involves complex cellular processes, demonstrates the potential for regeneration in certain organisms.

What is the main point that Wilson wanted to make about the theory of natural selection?

  • It fully explains the origin of adaptations.
  • It is a flawed theory that needs to be replaced.
  • It is a powerful mechanism for survival but does not fully explain the origin of adaptations.
  • It is a theory that is only applicable to humans.

Correct Answer: It is a powerful mechanism for survival but does not fully explain the origin of adaptations.

Correct Answer Explanation: While Wilson acknowledged the importance of natural selection in favoring traits that improve survival and reproduction, he highlighted that it does not fully explain the origin of these adaptations.

What is the significance of the observation that rubbing a spot on the skin can lead to the formation of a callus?

  • It demonstrates the body’s ability to adapt to external stimuli.
  • It shows that the skin is the most important organ.
  • It proves that the body can regenerate any lost tissue.
  • It challenges the idea of natural selection.

Correct Answer: It demonstrates the body’s ability to adapt to external stimuli.

Correct Answer Explanation: The formation of a callus is a classic example of a functional adaptation, where the body modifies itself in response to external stimuli, like repeated rubbing or pressure. This adaptation helps to protect the skin from further damage.

What is the main takeaway from the debate on whether variations are random or directed?

  • The nature of variations is fully understood.
  • The nature of variations is still a topic of ongoing research.
  • Variations are always random.
  • Variations are always directed.

Correct Answer: The nature of variations is still a topic of ongoing research.

Correct Answer Explanation: The debate on the nature of variations, whether they are random or directed, reflects the ongoing research and exploration in evolutionary biology. While the discovery of mutations has provided insights, there are still unanswered questions about the mechanisms that generate variations and their influence on the direction of evolution.

Why is it important to study biology?

  • To understand the world around us.
  • To solve problems related to health and disease.
  • To develop new technologies.
  • All of the above.

Correct Answer: All of the above.

Correct Answer Explanation: Biology is a fundamental science that helps us understand the living world, from the smallest cells to the largest ecosystems. It provides insights into human health, disease, and the development of new technologies. Studying biology is crucial for addressing global challenges and improving the quality of life.

What is the significance of the observation that cutting a flatworm in two can lead to the formation of two complete worms?

  • It supports the idea that flatworms are very simple organisms.
  • It demonstrates the remarkable regenerative capabilities of some organisms.
  • It shows that flatworms can reproduce asexually.
  • It challenges the idea of natural selection.

Correct Answer: It demonstrates the remarkable regenerative capabilities of some organisms.

Correct Answer Explanation: This observation showcases the extraordinary regenerative capabilities of some organisms, like flatworms, where cutting the organism in half can lead to the formation of two complete individuals. This ability to regenerate lost tissues and organs highlights the complexity of biological processes.

What is the main difference between the mechanistic and vitalistic views of life?

  • The mechanistic view believes in a spiritual force, while the vitalistic view believes in physical and chemical laws.
  • The mechanistic view believes in physical and chemical laws, while the vitalistic view believes in a spiritual force.
  • The mechanistic view believes in the power of the environment, while the vitalistic view believes in the power of genetics.
  • The mechanistic view believes in the power of genetics, while the vitalistic view believes in the power of the environment.

Correct Answer: The mechanistic view believes in physical and chemical laws, while the vitalistic view believes in a spiritual force.

Correct Answer Explanation: The mechanistic view of life, which was gaining prominence in the early 20th century, argued that living organisms can be understood as complex machines governed by physical and chemical processes. In contrast, the vitalistic view proposed that life is guided by a non-physical force or principle, often referred to as a “vital principle,” which was believed to be beyond the realm of physics and chemistry.

Which of these is NOT a characteristic of the “mechanistic” approach to studying life?

  • Emphasizing the importance of observation and experimentation.
  • Seeking to explain life through physical and chemical laws.
  • Acknowledging the existence of non-physical forces.
  • Using mathematical models to describe biological processes.

Correct Answer: Acknowledging the existence of non-physical forces.

Correct Answer Explanation: The mechanistic approach to studying life focuses on explaining biological phenomena through the laws of physics and chemistry, without invoking non-physical forces or principles.

What is the significance of the observation that salamander eggs can be separated to produce twins?

  • It shows that salamanders are more complex than other animals.
  • It supports the idea that the environment can influence development.
  • It challenges the idea that development is a deterministic process.
  • It proves that salamanders can reproduce asexually.

Correct Answer: It challenges the idea that development is a deterministic process.

Correct Answer Explanation: The observation that a single salamander egg can be separated to produce twins demonstrates that development is not always a deterministic process, where a single egg always results in a single individual. This shows that there can be variations in development, leading to multiple individuals from a single egg.

What was the main message that Wilson wanted to convey in his lecture?

  • Biology is a complex and challenging field that requires continued research and exploration.
  • The mechanistic view of life is the only correct way to understand life.
  • The vitalistic view of life is the only correct way to understand life.
  • The study of biology is complete and there are no more questions to be answered.

Correct Answer: Biology is a complex and challenging field that requires continued research and exploration.

Correct Answer Explanation: Wilson’s lecture was a call for continued research, observation, and experimentation to explore the complex and diverse nature of life. He recognized the limitations of the mechanistic view and the existence of biological phenomena that defied easy explanation.

Which of these is NOT a challenge to the purely mechanistic view of life?

  • The regeneration of a salamander’s limb.
  • The development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
  • The evolution of the giraffe’s neck.
  • The ability of plants to grow towards light.

Correct Answer: The ability of plants to grow towards light.

Correct Answer Explanation: While the ability of plants to grow towards light is a fascinating phenomenon, it can be explained through established mechanisms like phototropism, which involves the plant’s response to light stimuli. This phenomenon does not necessarily challenge the idea that life can be understood through physical and chemical processes.

What is the significance of the observation that amputated limbs can be regenerated in some animals?

  • It supports the idea that all animals can regenerate limbs.
  • It demonstrates the body’s remarkable ability to restore lost tissues.
  • It proves that the body is a perfect machine.
  • It shows that regeneration is a simple process.

Correct Answer: It demonstrates the body’s remarkable ability to restore lost tissues.

Correct Answer Explanation: The observation that some animals can regenerate amputated limbs highlights the remarkable ability of the body to restore lost tissues and organs. This process, which involves complex cellular processes, demonstrates the potential for regeneration in certain organisms.

What is the main point that Wilson wanted to make about the theory of natural selection?

  • It fully explains the origin of adaptations.
  • It is a flawed theory that needs to be replaced.
  • It is a powerful mechanism for survival but does not fully explain the origin of adaptations.
  • It is a theory that is only applicable to humans.

Correct Answer: It is a powerful mechanism for survival but does not fully explain the origin of adaptations.

Correct Answer Explanation: While Wilson acknowledged the importance of natural selection in favoring traits that improve survival and reproduction, he highlighted that it does not fully explain the origin of these adaptations.

What is the significance of the observation that rubbing a spot on the skin can lead to the formation of a callus?

  • It demonstrates the body’s ability to adapt to external stimuli.
  • It shows that the skin is the most important organ.
  • It proves that the body can regenerate any lost tissue.
  • It challenges the idea of natural selection.

Correct Answer: It demonstrates the body’s ability to adapt to external stimuli.

Correct Answer Explanation: The formation of a callus is a classic example of a functional adaptation, where the body modifies itself in response to external stimuli, like repeated rubbing or pressure. This adaptation helps to protect the skin from further damage.

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