By Burton Guttman
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Additional resources for Evolution: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides (Oneworld))
A nucleotide is more complicated than an amino acid, as it consists of three smaller molecules: a base linked to a sugar 3 which is linked to a phosphate (PO4). 055 20/07/2005 3:12 PM Page 40 40 evolution: a beginner’s guide A nucleic acid is named for its sugar; ribonucleic acid (RNA) contains ribose, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) contains deoxyribose (ribose with one oxygen atom removed). The bases are large ringshaped, nitrogenous molecules; DNA nucleotides have one of four bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine (A, G, C, and T); in RNA, uracil (U) replaces thymine.
A collector – of seashells, for instance – believes the world of life can be neatly and simply divided into distinct species. Even if some organisms are really quite variable and hard to classify, the typological mind tries to ignore the variation among individuals and sorts them into neat species anyway. I pointed out earlier that humans tend to do this as we try to bring order to a world that may not be quite as orderly as we would like. People who see the world typologically, as biologists did in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, think the variations among individuals are trivial, and they have no reason to question the idea that each species was created separately.
Each type of virus is very specific in its choice of hosts; some of the best-known viruses, called bacteriophage or simply phage, grow in bacteria. 055 20/07/2005 3:12 PM Page 36 36 evolution: a beginner’s guide polymers Cells are made mostly of large molecules (macromolecules). The molecular mass of a molecule is the sum of the masses of its constituent atoms; thus water, H2O, has a molecular mass of 18: the sum of 16 for the oxygen atom plus 1 for each hydrogen atom. Chemists call the units of mass amu, for atomic mass units; biologists commonly call the units daltons, after the pioneering chemist John Dalton.