September 4, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinism Is a Constant; Just-So Stories Are Variables

Stories about the evolution of particular organisms often replace older stories, but the main plot is unalterable.

Be WAIR:  For the last decade, Ken Dial’s partridge family episode about chicks running up ramps (Wing-Assisted Incline Running, or WAIR) has dominated the storytelling on the origin of flight (6/25/14).  Too many evolutionists, it provided a welcome alternative to the “stale dichotomy” of opinion between cursorial (ground-up) vs. arboreal (tree-down) stories.  Now, a pair of scientists at UC Berkeley are specifically challenging WAIR and offering up a new version of the arboreal story again.  Science Daily reports:

Dudley noted that some scientists hypothesize that true powered flight originated in the theropod dinosaurs, the ancestors to birds, when they used symmetric wing flapping while running up an incline, a behavior known as wing-assisted incline running, or WAIR. WAIR proponents argue that the wings assist running by providing lift, like the spoiler on a race car, and that the ability to steer or maneuver is absent early in evolution.

Falling, gliding and flying

Such activity has never been regularly observed in nature, however, and Dudley favors the scenario that flight developed in tree-dwelling animals falling and eventually evolving the ability to glide and fly. He has documented many ways that animals in the wild, from lizards and lemurs to ants, use various parts of their bodies to avoid hard landings on the ground. Practically every animal that has been tested is able to turn upright, and a great many, even ones that do not look like fliers, have some ability to steer or maneuver in the air.

Contrary to WAIR, maneuvering is very important at all stages of flight evolution and must have been present early, Evangelista said. Seeing it develop first in very young chicks indirectly supports this idea.

How the Whatzit Got Its Whatever:  In Kipling Just-So Story form, the Max Planck Institute proposes to tell the public “How the zebrafish got its stripes.”  Using standard Darwinian circumlocution, the article tells how traits “developed” or “originated” or “arose” without specifying exactly how, but we are assured, “Their work may help to understand the development and evolution of the great diversity of striking patterns in the animal world” (see perhapsimaybecouldness index in the Darwin Dictionary).  Like any good story, the tale contains surprises and a bit of the unexpected.  Then, the authors extrapolate their story to explain patterns on peacocks, tigers, and real zebras.

How the Body Got Its Symmetry:  Most complex animals have three body axes: left-right, front-back (ventral-dorsal), and anterior-posterior.  The simple hydra, a cnidarian, only has one axis.  Scientists at Heidelberg University, according to Science Daily, found that the hydra has genes for two axes: anterior-posterior (Wnt) and left-right (Nodal).  “We assume that this was a starting point in the evolution of left-right axis formation in the bilaterally symmetric animals,” they say: important for getting a grip on the sudden appearance of many bilaterian body plans in the Cambrian Explosion.  There are at least two problems with this assumption: (1) the Nodal gene has a function in hydra, and (2) the sudden appearance of a gene in a cnidarian is an even greater puzzle than what it purports to explain.  The authors cannot, therefore, use their discovery as support for their initial hope: “This polyp, with its simple structure and radial symmetry, can help us understand how our body axes came to evolve.”  Why, too, did hydra fail to evolve with its Nodal signal when everything else around it became peacocks, tigers and zebrafish?

Pin the butterfly on the tree:  A new phylogeny of Lepidoptera is “strongly contradicting the traditional placement of butterflies in evolutionary history,” but that’s good, according to evolutionists at the University of Florida.  They love surprises:

Among the study’s more surprising findings: Butterflies are more closely related to small moths than to large ones, which completely changes scientists’ understanding of how butterflies evolved. The study also found that some insects once classified as moths are actually butterflies, increasing the number of butterfly species higher than previously thought.

These counter-intuitive reversals are examples of helping biologists “better understand an evolutionary history” than before.  Scientists can “completely change” their understanding of how butterflies evolved, as long as they don’t question that butterflies evolved.

Darwinism: dogma hunting for support.  The Darwinians are like snipe hunters calling to each other that the elusive bird (representing “scientific understanding of how x evolved”) is “over here; no it’s not, it’s over there.”  Because they have been taught to believe that the snipe is really out there somewhere, endless random leads provide confidence they are making progress.  It’s a bit like searching for treasure on the wrong island.


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  • Sagebrush Gardener says:

    Science Daily reports: … wings assist running by providing lift, like the spoiler on a race car …

    Actually, the purpose of a spoiler on a car is not to provide lift, but to reduce it. Aerodynamic lift can cause a car to become unstable at high speeds. A spoiler counteracts this by providing downforce to help keep the car on the ground.

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