Haeckel Vindicated? Parathyroid Glands from Gills?
“Human gland evolved from gills” trumpeted a BBC News science article without apology.* It gives uncontested press to a team from King’s College that is claiming the human parathyroid glands evolved from gills. This is claimed on the basis that they have similar functions (calcium regulation) and are located in the neck region. Fish have no parathyroids; their gills help them extract calcium from seawater. The parathyroids in mammals are attached to the thyroids in the neck and are vital for regulating the amount of calcium in the blood.
Calcium is the most tightly regulated of all elements in the body; it performs essential functions in cell signaling, nerves, muscle and bone. The parathyroids (unrelated to the thyroid glands) regulate calcium by manufacturing and secreting a specialized hormone, 84 amino acids in length, into the blood. When calcium levels fall below normal, parathyroid hormone stimulates at least three processes to conserve it: resorb it from bone, absorb more from food, and prevent loss in urine. (For anatomy and physiology of the parathyroids, see these sites: Colorado State, Dr. Howard Glickman, and Parathyroid.com).
Professor Anthony Graham, part of the team making the connection between fish and humans, told the BBC Ernst Haeckel has been vindicated:
The researchers also found a gene for parathyroid hormone in fish, and they discovered that this gene is expressed in the gills.
Professor Graham said: “The parathyroid gland and the gills of fish are related structures and likely share a common evolutionary history.
“Our work will have great resonance to all those people who have seen Haeckel’s pictures, which show that we all go through a fish stage in our development.
“This new research suggests that in fact, our gills are still sitting in our throats – disguised as our parathyroid glands.”
The researchers also based their claim on the fact that the gills in fish and the parathyroids in mammals stem from the same location in the developing embryo (but then, so do many other organs and structures, including the tongue, epiglottis, pharynx, Eustachian tube, and more; see Temple University site for details).
Does anyone really need help to see how dumb this is? Three strikes and they are out:
- Ernst Haeckel, Dr. Sickman Fraud, the toady disciple of Charlie Frown (see 04/22/2004 headline) deserves nothing but scorn (see 07/10/2001 headline), but look at what these absent-minded professors do: they point to his classic fraudulent drawings for support of their theory! That makes them accessories to a crime. Strike one.
- Do they have any idea how complicated the parathyroid system is? It may be located in the neck, but its influence is felt throughout the body, in every cell. It is so essential, it is 4-times redundant, and the manufacture of its special hormone, its packaging in the Golgi apparatus in a dormant state, and its delivery to the blood stream, and then what it accomplishes in terms of regulation – all these interconnected systems are staggeringly complex (for a good overview, see the explanation by Dr. Howard Glickman). Darwinists have no explanation for how any hormone, any cell, any complex regulatory system, just “emerged” by an unregulated process of natural selection (see 07/16/2003 headline); that is the issue, not just homology, whatever that is (see 04/22/2004 headline). Strike two.
- It’s not just location that matters; it is function. The parathyroids are located right where they need to be to work. An evolutionist cannot tell simply by location of an organ that animals are related by common ancestry. Evolutionary theory is so flexible, in terms of location and rate, that any observation, even contradictory observations, can be made to fit it (see 10/29/2004, 10/13/2004, 09/17/2004 and 09/13/2004 headlines out of many examples). If the parathyroids were located somewhere else, the evolutionists would have an alternative explanation to keep Charlie’s idol from collapsing. Strike three.
The laziness of evolutionists is parasitic on society. Did this tall tale by Darwin Party mythmakers bless your heart? Did it do anybody any good? Did it advance civilization or help those in need? Mutations could not have built the parathyroid nor any of the systems with which it interacts; on the contrary, mutations have broken the system, causing diseases of the parathyroid and calcium irregularities. Challenge your professor when he wastes your time with unproveable assertions and glittering generalities that assume evolution before the evidence even has had a chance to speak. Tell the prof you’d rather the time be spent understanding the function of the parathyroids so that science could help those with parathyroid disease and osteoporosis.
*Update 12/08/2004: One of our readers wrote to the BBC and said he didn’t appreciate the way they had titled the piece about gill evolution as fact. To their credit, the BBC wrote back and made a change:
Many thanks for your message. I would stress that the piece reports the King’s College research as a theory, and not a fact. The piece says that the researchers believe that the gland evolved from gills, not that they have proved it. I have modified the headline to read, “Gill theory of human glands”.
Never underestimate the power of a letter to the editor. Most editors like to hear from readers, and unless readers respond to bad information, editors can get away with unwarranted claims, whether intentionally or not. Now, at least readers of this article will not get a wrong impression that the evolutionary link was proven. At Creation-Evolution Headlines, we also make corrections when typos or errors of fact are pointed out to us; feel free to write to us here. (Editors also appreciate knowing if the articles were helpful.)