Tangled Branches Confound Darwinian Trees
Darwin’s branching “tree of life” diagram made for a nice, simple, easy-to-understand, convenient myth. It has sent scientists on a wild tree chase ever since.
New Genetic Research Shows Extent of Cross-Breeding between Wild Wolves and Domestic Dogs across Europe and Asia (University of Lincoln). Did dogs ‘evolve’ from wolves? Could the history of the dog family be used as evidence for Darwinian evolution? This study from the University of Lincoln (UK) shows tangled branches in the phylogenetic tree between wolves and domestic dogs.
The results suggest that wolf-dog hybridisation has been geographically widespread in Europe and Asia and has been occurring for centuries. The phenomenon is seen less frequently in wild wolf populations of North America.
That wolves can interbreed with dogs is well-documented, and yet wolves retain their outward identity. Is there such a thing as a ‘pure’ wolf? Dr Malgorzata Pilot, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said:
“Our research highlighted that some individual wolves which had been identified as ‘pure wolves’ according to their physical characteristics were actually shown to be of mixed ancestry. On the other hand, two Italian wolves with an unusual, black coat colour did not show any genetic signatures of hybridisation, except for carrying a dog-derived variant of a gene linked to dark colouration. This suggests that the definition of genetically ‘pure’ wolves can be ambiguous and identifying admixed individuals can be difficult, implying that management strategies based on removal of suspected hybrids from wolf populations may be inefficient.”
The situation appears analogous to Neanderthals interbreeding with “modern humans.” Wolves are classified as a different species from dogs, but appear to be the same, based on the biological species concept.
Marine fish won an evolutionary lottery 66 million years ago: The rapid proliferation of acanthomorphs was a response to a mass extinction (University of California, Los Angeles). Headlines like this that speak of an “evolutionary lottery” might be cute, but do not enlighten. UCLA scientists begin with an even crazier idea: that an asteroid created fish diversity.
Why do our oceans contain such a staggering diversity of fish of so many different sizes, shapes and colors? A UCLA-led team of biologists reports that the answer dates back 66 million years, when a six-mile-wide asteroid crashed to Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and approximately 75 percent of the world’s animal and plant species….
The aftermath of the asteroid crash created an enormous evolutionary void, providing an opportunity for the marine fish that survived it to greatly diversify.
To justify their claim, the UCLA “evolutionary detectives” used divination on the genomes of several acanthomorph fish, inhaling the incense of millions of years.
“The mass extinction, we argue, provided an evolutionary opportunity for a select few of the surviving acanthomorphs to greatly diversify, and it left a large imprint on the biodiversity of marine fishes today,” Alfaro said. “It’s like there was a lottery 66 million years ago, and these six major acanthomorph groups were the winners.”
Even if their dates were correct, their theory relies on sheer dumb luck. It staggers the imagination to think that all these fish emerged from catastrophe with major changes in color, size and habitat with only the toolkit of chance mutations and natural selection. Can anyone call this a good scientific theory if it contradicts expectations and surprises the scientists?
The researchers also extracted DNA from 118 species of marine fish and conducted a computational analysis to determine the relationships among them. Among their findings: It’s not possible to tell which species are genetically related simply by looking at them. Seahorses, for example, look nothing like goatfish, but the two species are evolutionary cousins — a finding that surprised the scientists.
We still don’t know how strange celibate animals evolve (Imperial College London). Sexual reproduction is supposed to make natural selection more efficient, according to the Darwinians in this UK institution; it shuffles genes for the offspring, “and allows animals to evolve defences against changing environmental conditions more rapidly, especially new diseases.” So why did bdelloid rotifers dispense with sex? Darwinian theory did not predict this.
Bdelloid rotifers however appear to be an exception to this rule: they are all female, and their offspring are clones of their mothers. Bdelloids are microscopic animals that live in freshwater and damp habitats across the world. Despite their apparent lack of sex, we know they have evolved for tens of millions of years into more than 500 species.
By studying their genomes – the set of all the genes that define an animal’s characteristics – researchers thought they had identified an explanation for how bdelloids had ‘gotten away’ with no sex for millions of years.
Faced with this falsification, the evolutionists at ICL came up with an alternative explanation:
We thought we were understanding more about these creatures, but this is a spanner in the works.
that species able to survive desiccation would be able to remove some of the genes that cause problems with asexuality. They made predictions about what those species should look like. Did it work?
The researchers found that the predicted differences between species that can and cannot survive desiccation were not observed. This suggests that DNA repair following desiccation may not be as important as previously thought, and that other factors may need to be considered to explain bdelloid evolution.
Senior researcher Professor Tim Barraclough, from the Department of Life Science at Imperial, said: “We have been building up this story of how these creatures manage to change based on their remarkable ability to survive desiccation.
“However, when we open up the investigation to other sexless species of bdelloid that do not dry out, we find that the story does not play out. We thought we were understanding more about these creatures, but this is a spanner in the works.”
Next, they considered the possibility that these small creatures were borrowing genes from plants, bacteria, fungi and microbes – a process called horizontal gene transfer (HGT). If HGT was at work in these creatures, it would have really scrambled any attempt to find Darwin’s tree in the genes. In addition, they could not rule out that the asexual species revert to sexual reproduction and back again, or that bdelloid males are hiding somewhere. Applying tontological grammar throughout the press release, they end in failure: “We will continue to investigate these fascinating creatures, but for now, the mystery has only deepened.” Their open-access paper can be found in PLoS Biology.
More examples in tomorrow’s entry.
Darwinians speak with great swelling words of vanity, bluffing about all the evidence out there that proves Darwin was right. Well, where is it? Every time we look, we find storytelling, imagination, speculation, and falsification of expectations. We find them using divination techniques that rely on Darwinian magic (sheer dumb luck) and moyboy time as core assumptions. Does Darwin’s tree of life jump out of the data to a casual observer? If even poodles and grey wolves are the same species that can hybridize and interbreed, don’t expect the diversity of living things to line up in a great branching tree. As Thumb’s second postulate says, “A simple, easy-to-understand falsehood is more useful than a complex, incomprehensible truth.” That falsehood is what is taught in textbooks and public schools. You can hear about the complex realities here at CEH.