August 6, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

More Plants That Didn’t Evolve

We continue with looks at how plants supposedly evolved, drawing from latest news from the leading journals and science media outlets.

More Plants That Didn’t Evolve

Dinosaur plant found: “Imagine you’re at work and suddenly, a cheetah pokes its head through your window.” That’s a strange way for an article on Science Daily to begin. Cheetahs used to live in the western hemisphere, but we don’t expect to see them here now. “That’s about what Richard McCourt, PhD, and his colleagues dealt with when they came across Lychnothamnus barbatus, a large green alga that was thought to have died in the Western Hemisphere long before the cheetahs here died out.” Has it evolved in all that time? No mention of that in the article. In fact, McCourt thinks the plant could have been living here unchanged all this time, but had not been recognized.

Ugly stepsister or beautiful dodder? Maybe you’ve seen unsightly strands of orange fibers wrapped around chaparral plants. Cuscuta, or dodder, has many names indicative of its bad reputation:  “strangle tare, scaldweed, beggarweed, … fireweed, wizard’s net, devil’s guts, devil’s hair, devil’s ringlet, … hailweed, hairweed, hellbine, … pull-down, strangleweed, … and witch’s hair” (Wikipedia). Maybe this parasitic plant should get more respect. A paper in PNAS suggests that those threads provide a kind of information channel to send warning signals to their hosts. Notice that “conserved” means unevolved:

Here we show that herbivore attack on one of the Cuscuta bridge-connected plants induces gene expression and increases the activity of trypsin proteinase inhibitors, and thus elevates the resistance to insects in other undamaged but Cuscuta-connected plants. This Cuscuta-mediated interplant signaling is rapid, conserved, far-reaching, and partly requires the plant hormone jasmonic acid. Although Cuscuta parasites can negatively influence their host plants, under certain circumstances, they may also provide ecologically relevant information-based benefits.

Fern innovation or extinction? A paper in Phys.org seems poised to show evidence for evolution in ferns. But does it deliver? “Fern fossil data clarifies origination and extinction of species” is the title. We learn about extinction, but origination gets a little complicated.

The observed variation in the fern diversity was compared with the variation in other groups of plants and in the environment, such as continental drift and climate change. The results show that changes in the environment strongly influence extinctions but surprisingly not the origination of new diversity. Instead, the formation of new fern species is accelerated when the fern diversity is low (e.g. after mass extinctions). The study suggests that origination of new species is mainly a neutral process in which the probability of speciation increases when diversity is low.

Got that? Looks like all the ferns are still ferns, just varying in a neutral way. Unless Darwinism confers upon ferns some novel, innovative new structure or function, this kind of change is something any young-earth creationist would yawn at.

The leaves of Jurassic Park: Swedish evolutionists are looking at fossil leaves to try to determine evolutionary relationships, reports Science Daily. The article makes an important admission about DNA survivability for those finding it in fossils much older: “The oldest DNA fragments ever found are scarcely one million-years-old.” Still the evolutionists feel they can infer DNA characteristics indirectly by looking for organic molecules in the leaves. Wait a minute; those leaves are supposed to be 200 million years old! How can any organic molecules remain?

“The results from the fossil leaves far exceeded our expectations, not only were they full of organic molecules, they also grouped according to well-established botanical relationships, based on DNA analysis of living plants i.e. Ginkgoes in one group, conifers in another,” says Vivi Vajda.

That presents two problems for evolutionists: (1) How did organic molecules survive in fossils for 200 million years, and (2) Where is the evolution if the molecules sort themselves the same way they are sorted in living plants? What has evolved?

Leaf database; where is the evolution? Nature tells about a massive database of 182,000 leaves being used to interpret family relationships of plants. But readers will look in vain for the keywords evolution, phylogeny, or selection. Degrees of relatedness are not controversial—even to creationists—as is evident from the work of Linnaeus and John Ray. The huge database of leaves seems profoundly uninformative about the concepts that drove Darwin: survival of the fittest and progress by competition. Who is surprised that leaves come in different shapes? This is about morphology, not phylogeny.

Evolutionary burn-out: The Geological Society of America is looking for charred flowers and charcoal in the fossil record of plants, Science Daily says. We learn in this article that wildfires can make charcoal, but they can also destroy it. This leads to a cautionary message, not to evidence for evolution: “paleontologists must now consider that the charcoal fossil record of flowers is unlikely to preserve all types of flower equally, and as a result, they may be missing information about the early evolutionary history of angiosperms.” But why should any carbonized material remain after over a hundred million years?

How to Cheat the Readers

An open-access paper in Current Biology promises insight into “The Evolution of Calcium-Based Signalling in Plants.” Aha! We have found just what we were looking for. We’re going to learn how a complex system evolved! Alas, the reader finds at the end, that the only mentions of “innovation” are locked in futureware. Under the final section, “Unanswered Questions and Opportunities,” the reader gets the message that evolutionary insight (if there is any) is on back order:

In particular, an increase in the number of genome sequences will provide the increase in the granularity required to investigate whether there is a correlation between, for example, the increased diversity in the Ca2+ signature-decoding proteins and the appearance of key innovations in plant morphology and physiology. Likewise, increased granularity will permit the overlaying of paleoclimate data on the timeline describing the evolution of the Ca2+-signalling toolkit and the evolution of plant morphology. Mapping major losses to, or expansions of, the plant Ca2+-signalling toolkit onto a timeline of plant innovations and significant changes to climate and environment might reveal the identity of the key selective pressures that shaped the evolution of Ca2+ signalling in plants. Ideally, such approaches should be paralleled by experimental determination of quantitative Ca2+-binding characteristics and enzymatic kinetics of the Ca2+-signalling components to aid understanding of their functional differentiation and diversification during evolution.

That calcium signaling exists in plants is not controversial. But where is the answer to “the evolution of calcium-based signaling?” ‘Tain’t here, folks. Just the usual tricks: convergent evolution, microevolution, and heavy doses of the power of suggestion, like, “the selection pressures likely to operate on the evolution of intracellular signalling in plants,” or, “one of the major selective pressures would have been the transition from the saline to the freshwater environment.” The ending sentence before “Unanswered Questions” wins the prize for suggestion: “Likewise, it is tempting to assume that the abundance of different signal decoders (CDPKs, CBL–CIPKs, CMLs) that we see in extant plants is reflective of an increase in the ability to colonise a diverse array of environmental niches that have occurred over evolutionary time,” the authors say. “In this scenario, the ability to respond appropriately to an increasing range of environmental stimuli would be of selective advantage to evolving plants.” Pure storytelling based on imagination is not evidence.

A Better Way to Do Plant Science

Medicine man: John de la Perra is an ethnobotanist – someone who searches ethnic communities to see how they use plants. “Ethnobotany is the scientific study of traditional plant knowledge. It’s what gave us morphine, aspirin, and ephedrine, to name a few. And there is still untapped potential,” Phys.org says without a word about evolution. How did a blind, evolutionary process give plants the ability to synthesize thousands of complex compounds, many of which contribute to the healing of human diseases? In the Darwinian account, humans were not even around when plants first appeared. John doesn’t seem to need evolutionary theory in his work; evolution is not mentioned anywhere in the article. He just wants to help people use plants for healing.

Dear readers: we give you links to the very best evolutionary evidence from the leading journals and academic institutions. You can read what they say and see if it sounds convincing. But when you strip away the fogma, the Darwin Flubber and perhapsimaybecouldness spikes; when you are not intimated by Jargonwocky; when you disallow incestuous Darwin assumptions; when you examine their methods; when you just look at the raw data and see what it indicates, what do you find? Creation! All the Darwinese reduces to hot air and storytelling. Evolution is a narrative gloss painted on the facts, not an inference from the facts themselves. Darwin paint turns beautiful flowers into black, hideous products of the Stuff Happens Law. People need to see the how the Darwin Party subverts science into Darwinolatry.

See yesterday’s post for more examples.

 

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