Evolution by Devolution
How does evolution work?
It subtracts things!
Some Darwinists are having new flashes of insight into how evolution works. It gets rid of stuff. In that insightful revelation, they see all kinds of amazing abilities emerging!
Losing parts of our voice box may have helped humans evolve to speak (New Scientist, 11 August 2022). A new theory says apes were held back from inventing language until they lost some bits of tissue. Presto: speech!
The loss of small tissue structures from the voice box may have been essential for the evolution of human speech.
In a study of 43 non-human primates, all the animals had “vocal membranes”, a small extension of the throat’s vocal cords that makes their sounds louder and higher but also more irregular and harder to control.
As humans lack vocal membranes, this suggests they were lost when our ancestors diverged from chimpanzees to allow more precise voice control, says Tecumseh Fitch at the University of Vienna in Austria.
Once “more precise voice control” was “allowed” by evolution, what was to stop Shakespeare and Pavarotti from emerging on the Darwin Theater stage?
Could a Less Complex Larynx Have Enabled Speech in Humans? (The Scientist, 11 August 2022). If one Darwinist says something dumb, then they all feel compelled to support it. Alejandra Manjarrez doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of Clare Wilson at New Scientist, so she poses it as a question: “could” it have happened? To her credit, she entertains some skeptics about the new theory. But she does it oh, so gently, so as to keep the storytellers from being ashamed.
It remains unknown whether “the selective force for losing the vocal membranes in humans is so that they can produce this ultrastable broadband signal,” Ghazanfar says, but adds that “I think it’s a . . . super cool hypothesis.” The study does not present irrefutable evidence for that hypothesis, but that’s the nature of evolutionary studies like this one, he notes. However, the authors provide “tantalizing evidence in favor of that idea.”
When less is more in the evolution of language (Science Magazine, 11 Aug 2022). One might think that Harold Gouzoules is about to laugh hilariously like the chimpanzee in the opening photo, but he gives a way-too-serious treatment of the theory that human language began with a loss of vocal tissue. He had to, of course, because it was presented by his bosses, the Darwin-drunk editors of Science Magazine. Almost lost in the impenetrable jargon about “vocalizations [that] frequently bifurcate to subharmonics or chaos at higher intensities” and “extensive dorsal intracortical connections between motor and auditory cortices” is a major rethink about natural selection: it works by subtraction! Human language is like the blindness in cave fish!
What makes this study especially noteworthy is that the authors conclude that the human larynx differs from that of extant nonhuman primates in that it has become simpler or less complex with the loss of the membranes. Evolutionary biology textbooks emphasize that natural selection does not inevitably produce greater complexity. For example, the Mexican cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) no longer has eyes, and there is genetic, developmental, and physiological evidence for adaptive eye regression in this species and other cave animals. In essence, the cave dwellers represent a “use it or lose it” evolutionary scenario. But what did humans lose with the loss of their vocal membranes (and air sacs)?
In nonhuman species, including primates, nonlinear vocal phenomena (NLP) are prominent features of communicative calls. NLP vocalizations sound harsh and have been hypothesized to lower perceived voice pitch, exaggerating the body size of the vocalizer to the listener. This suggests that selection can favor anatomical structures and physiological mechanisms that promote vocalization instability and support complex subharmonics and chaos. Although the descended larynx in humans likely offers some compensation with respect to lowering pitch, the loss of vocal membranes and the concomitant abatement of NLP would seem to reduce this dimension of human nonverbal vocal communication.
Are you still following the idea through this thicket of diversion? The next part is a screamer—literally. Gouzoules suggests that language emerged from the ability to scream.
Despite the absence of vocal fold membranes, humans retain the ability to produce vocalizations (often intentionally and voluntarily) with nonlinear and chaotic features, such as screams. Indeed, human screams are evolutionarily conserved acoustically and resemble those of other mammalian species. Humans perceive and respond to NLP in vocalizations in ways that are consistent with animal communication studies. NLP lowers perceived voice pitch, increases acoustic roughness, and causes vocalizers to sound larger, more formidable, and more aggressive. With the loss of vocal fold membranes, humans have apparently reduced the production of NLP in speech, but still retain the ability to generate harsh sounds in nonverbal vocalizations such as screams and roars, a complexity of vocal control that has yet to be adequately investigated. If there has been a loss of a tendency or capacity to exaggerate size vocally in humans, there are other means to offset them: Humans can, of course, speak softly and carry a big stick.
It’s hard to believe Gouzoules is really being charitable to the authors of the paper. Maybe this is the best he could do to avoid getting censored by the editors. But if he agrees with them, then human speech, to him, has no logical context. It’s really all about screaming, either softly or loudly, or with nonlinear vocal phenomena like big sticks. My, what would Theodore Roosevelt say?
Evolutionary loss of complexity in human vocal anatomy as an adaptation for speech (Nishimura et al., Science Magazine, 11 Aug 2022, Vol 377, Issue 6607, pp. 760-763, DOI: 10.1126/science.abm1574).
This is the paper that started the story. Seventeen authors, most of them Japanese, contributed to “the surprising conclusion that the increased stability of human phonation results from an evolutionary loss of anatomical complexity.”
It’s not necessary to delve into the weeds on a doomed property facing an incoming bomb. One can only hope that this was a gigantic hoax perpetrated by Japanese social scientists to see how gullible the editors at the AAAS can be. If it wasn’t, then all CEH can say is: Darwin Party: you own this one, and you deserve all the ridicule the public can dish out.
More Evolution by Subtraction
Evolution by subtraction is not a new idea. You can read about it at Evolution News & Science Today; see links at end of that article, too, dating back to 2015 and 2013. Here are recent articles showing that the notion of evolution by subtraction is still alive and well in Darwin Party cocktail lounges.
Nearly a hundred genes have been lost during the woolly mammoth’s evolution (Stockholm University, 10 Aug 2022).
Darwin skeptics can accept this thesis that mammoth genomes show gene loss. John Sanford would attribute it to genetic entropy. Michael Behe would consider it devolution that worked out, like in the case of the polar bear. The Stockholm scientists seem to go along with that, saying,
Many adaptive traits, such as body size and cold tolerance, are regulated by several different genes. Losses of some of these genes can therefore affect the functional pathways that shape the development of these adaptive traits.
But if they were to argue that the loss represents evolutionary progress, they would hardly be doing the Darwin Party any favors. They would still have to explain the origin of the genes that were lost. One cannot subtract and stay above zero unless one starts with positive numbers.
Tiny Limbs and Long Bodies: Coordinating Lizard Locomotion (Georgia Tech, 15 July 2022).
This was a mostly legitimate investigation by engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They studied species of lizards and salamanders that have short, stubby legs and tiny digits. Some of the species are almost snake-like in their body motions. The engineers did beaucoup work in the lab and even built robots to learn more about their unique methods of locomotion. The students had fun on the project. It even inspired them to think of ways to apply the knowledge in robotics. That’s all great.
The problem arises when one asks what Darwinian evolution has to do with it. Some animals, like the classic blind cave fish, have obviously lost traits that their ancestors had. Even the most doctrinaire Biblical creationists can accept loss of traits. So why are the professors teaching students that evolution is making progress in this way? Why are they waving the magic wand of “millions of years”?
The researchers’ findings enabled them to conclude that evolution was not just acting to lengthen bodies or shorten limbs, but both — and in a highly coordinated and functional way.
“Our work really helps explain why these intermediate species are able to compete with other species and persist in their own right for millions of years,” Bergmann said. “They aren’t evolving to be snakelike but are completely functional species with their own ecological roles.”
So what’s the point? Philip Bergmann (no relation to Dr Jerry Bergman), associate prof of evolutionary biology at Georgia Tech, misleads the students into thinking that the observations can “deepen the understanding of evolution’s implications for locomotion.” Notice that the quote personifies evolution as an actor—a logical fallacy, and a misrepresentation of Darwinian theory. What would make sense instead is if prior engineering in the bodies of these animals allowed for plasticity in regulation of existing genetic information from environmental cues, as Dr Randy Guliuzza at ICR teaches. “Evolution” has no ability to act “in a highly coordinated and functional way.” These engineers should realize that only thinking designers can do that.
Note: See the commentary below for how the paper in PNAS handles evolution.
Lungless salamanders develop lungs as embryos despite lung loss in adults for millions of years (Harvard University via Phys.org, 17 Aug 2022).
The insertion of “millions of years” adds nothing to this story. It’s another example of loss of a trait: complex lungs. But the embryos have them! The adults get by with oxygen absorbed through their skin. How does this tale help Darwin?
“Clearly lungless salamanders do fine without lungs given that they make up about two-thirds of all salamander species,” said lead author Zachary R. Lewis, former doctoral candidate (Ph.D. ’16), “perhaps losing lungs enabled, rather than hindered, this remarkable evolutionary success.“
Why is this an “evolutionary success” and not just a success? Nothing emerged. No new genetic information appeared by random mutation to be selected by the Stuff Happens Law. If your car can get by without a roof by becoming a convertible, that is not an “evolutionary success.” It is a serendipitous discovery that might help in certain situations and have some advantages, like lowering your gas mileage, but it’s not as hard as designing a functional roof from scratch. Calling this an “evolutionary success” is like calling global cooling a success for “climate change” theory, when the expectation was the opposite. Darwinists need to get from molecules to man by a mindless, aimless theory of progress. They can’t get there by subtracting traits.
Time for the old joke about the salesman who lost money on every sale but thought he could make it up in volume. Don’t let the Darwin Party get away with this nonsense by calling it evolution. If it’s loss, it is not Darwinian evolution.
Regarding the claim about lizard locomotion, the paper in PNAS makes this statement:
We used Brachymeles as morphologically intermediate species because they have similar levels of development of their fore and hind limbs (30, 31). However, the limbed species of this genus are secondarily limbed, having re-evolved their limbs from a limbless ancestor (8). Therefore, our results should not be interpreted as representing an evolutionary transition in locomotion. Despite this, the geometric mechanics and robophysical approaches we used are naïve to evolutionary history, and our observations on Brachymeles and the other, unrelated species that we used coincide closely with these approaches, suggesting that biomechanics may dictate locomotor patterns in many of these convergent evolutions of snake-like forms. The role of how the evolutionary history affects locomotion of these forms could be further tested in a clade like Lerista, which has evolved [more accurately, devolved] snake-like forms from limbed, short-bodied ancestors (9, 52). We also expect that our work on body and limb dynamics in these lizards will inform control of robots that must traverse complex terrain.
Source: Chong et al., “Coordinating tiny limbs and long bodies: Geometric mechanics of lizard terrestrial swimming,” PNAS June 27, 2022, 119 (27) e2118456119, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2118456119.
Having tossed the hard part of the evolution story to reference 8, they say that their results “should not be interpreted as representing an evolutionary transition in locomotion.” OK. But reference 8, which was to support the idea of limbed species “having re-evolved their limbs from a limbless ancestor,” links to an earlier paper by Bergmann et al. in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B from 11 Nov 2020. That paper, however, offers no evidence that a mutation or a series of mutations was naturally selected in a Darwinian fashion. Instead, it assumes evolution to prove evolution! E.g., “wet substrates may impose different selective pressures on fossorial animals than dry substrates.”
Moreover, Bergmann and his colleagues have to violate Dollo’s Law to present their thesis of re-evolution. Dollo’s Law states that traits, once lost, do not re-emerge to their ancestral state.
Selective pressure is a myth. Mud has no power to make an animal grow a limb. But because different amphibians had limbs and others did not in their phylogenetic vision of millions of years, they assume that Darwinian processes evolved them from scratch. That’s crazy. It attributes magical thinking to mindless mud and dirt. Darwinism is a mystical religion.