June 26, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionists Find Pegasus in the Gene Epic

When you conjure with genes, you never know what might appear.  Japanese scientists, publishing in PNAS,1 tried to find evolution in mammalian retroposons and found an unexpected relationship.  New Scientist explains: “You could call it a batty idea, but bats seem to be more closely related to horses than cows are.”
    “Despite the recent large-scale efforts dedicated to comprehensive phylogenetic analyses using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences,” the trio said, “several relationships among mammalian orders remain controversial.”  They compared mammalian orders using L1 retroposons, and that’s when the unexpected affinity between bats and horses jumped out.  They even suggested a new name for the super-order that contains the two: “Pegasoferae.”


1Nishihara, Hasegawa and Okada, “Pegasoferae, an unexpected mammalian clade revealed by tracking ancient retroposon insertions,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print June 19, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0603797103.

What a great subplot to add to endless tale.  There must have been some truth to the old Greek myths after all.  Centaurs cannot be far behind.
    More funny than the mythical fantasyland conjured up by the evolutionary molecular Chaldeans is the seriousness with which they admit that their evolutionary trees remain controversial despite large-scale efforts to resolve them.  “We need to look at fossils from a new point of view, because there must have been a common ancestor of bats, horses and dogs,” one of them said.  There must have been, you see; this is the deductive premise of evolutionary research, which cannot be questioned.  (We agree about the advice to look at fossils from a new point of view.)
    So we must keep trying to find the magic spells in the DNA code that bring back the tree of life and of knowledge of good and evil.  We can’t keep the horses and cows together any longer, even though they both eat hay and work weekend gigs as extras in Westerns.  Maybe if we put bat wings on this horse, the idea will fly.  But then each new proposal yields similar interjections of surprise: “I think this will be a surprise for many scientists,” one of the researchers remarked; “No one expected this.”
    Oh, really?*

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Genetics, Mammals

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