Information Sharing Is Not Evolution
Scientists are finding that organisms can use libraries
of functional information obtained from one another.
As Dr Bergman shared recently about ancient DNA, the discovery of Neanderthal genes in our modern genomes sent shock waves through the evolutionist community. Darwinians had long portrayed Neanderthals as pre-human hominins that were “different” from us because they evolved separately. Creationists, by contrast, recognize variations between people groups that share a common ancestry from the first human pair. A modern human would not have had a sexual relationship with an ape, but recognized a Neanderthal as one of their own kind, just like some mountain men married Indian squaws in the Rocky Mountains, though their people groups had been separated by thousands of years.
More and more, geneticists are discovering that animals, plants and microbes have ways of incorporating genetic information from the collective library of existing information in the biosphere. This happens through hybridization, introgression, horizontal gene transfer and perhaps other ways. Organisms don’t have to wait for lucky mutations to arrive that Neo-Darwinism can “select” for new functions. If the functional information is already present in the world and taken up, that is not evolution, it is diversification via sharing of created information using mechanisms that were designed for that purpose. Moreover, the growing field of epigenetics (10 Oct 2022) shows that a creature’s existing information can be rearranged and re-applied in many ways.
These are ways a Creator could allow the filling of dynamic environments around the globe by designing creatures with robustness to adapt. They could draw on informational resources greater than those within their own bodies, and on resources within their own genomes that remain latent till needed. This “overdesign” defies Darwinism. It required foresight to permit change within limits.
These news stories present evidence that fits the creation model: ways that organisms draw on existing genetic information.
A new way to make new species (University of Konstanz via Phys.org, 10 Oct 2022). In a crater lake Xiloá in Nicaragua, biologists found a surprising case of speciation that was un-Darwinian. It resulted from hybridization of two species of cichlid fish. Genome comparisons showed that the new species, which tended to mate only with itself, was not a product of mutations. It appeared to be a case of sympatric speciation coming from a merger of existing genetic information.
The new, very young species, emerging within a few hundred generations, is not directly intermediate between the two parent species, A. sagittae and A. xiloaensis, neither morphologically, physiologically, nor ecologically. Instead, the hybrids show aspects of a transgressive phenotype with traits not found in either parent species. As a result, they occupy a different ecological niche than their two parent species, allowing them to coexist in the lake.
The biologists consider this to be “very rare in the animal kingdom,” but who knows? Perhaps many other species began through the shuffling and recombination of existing information rather than by Darwin’s assumed mechanism of mutation and selection.
Humans evolved with their microbiomes – like genes, your gut microbes pass from one generation to the next (The Conversation, 15 Sept 2022). Two microbiologists claim that humans evolved with their gut bacteria in a form of “co-evolution,” but there’s another way to look at the data. Humans pick up different microbes in different environments. Those microbes can share information with the host and help them adapt.
We hypothesized that as humans fanned out across the globe and diversified genetically, so did the microbial species in their guts. In other words, gut microbes and their human hosts “codiversified” and evolved together – just as human beings diversified so that people in Asia look different from people in Europe, so too did their microbiomes.
Excuse me, but Asians and Europeans are members of the same species (Homo sapiens). They did not “evolve” their slight differences in the way Darwin theorized. Mustn’t be racist now. We know that’s hard, given the systemic racism that plagued evolutionary anthropology for 100 years (10 Sept 2020).
Not all in the genes: Are we inheriting more than we think? (WEHI, 12 August 2022). An “astonishing discovery” led by WEHI showed that “epigenetic information, which sits on top of DNA and is normally reset between generations, is more frequently carried from mother to offspring than previously thought.”
Plant molecular geneticists discover, and begin to crack, the epigenetic code (Penn State, 16 Aug 2022). Why breed new plant types to withstand stress when the plants already have the know-how?
“Plants can enter these new states — either really vigorous growth or, let’s say, hunkering down to withstand stress,” said team leader Sally Mackenzie, professor of plant science in the College of Agricultural Sciences and professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science. “In other words, we don’t have to cross breed to make it happen. We don’t need to add new genes because the plants actually go into that state, when properly prompted, on their own.”
The plants apparently “remember” previous times of stress and can activate the response. There’s an “epigenetic language” scientists are learning to read that can help them switch on a needed response from information already present in the genome.
“Zip Codes” Tell RNA Where to Go (Weizmann Wonder Wander, Weizmann Institute, 26 July 2022). Another kind of epigenetic information has been elucidated at the Weizmann Institute in Israel: zip codes!
They say that life comes without an instruction manual, but that’s not entirely true. Each cell in our body lives according to instructions issued by its DNA in the form of RNA molecules. RNA was recently thrust into the limelight as the basis of innovative COVID-19 vaccines, but much fundamental knowledge about this vital molecule – for example, how it manages to make its way in the cell to a designated location – is still lacking. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have now discovered a cellular “postal code” system that makes sure all RNA gets to the right place, right on time.
Sticklebacks may pass information learned from other fish to offspring (New Scientist, 23 July 2022). It wasn’t that long ago that biologists thought stickleback fish were “evolving” into new species. Now, it turns out that learned behaviors obtained by observing other fish can be inherited. “Stickleback fish may be able to pass on socially acquired information about a predator to their offspring” through the epigenetic code.
“There are so many more environmental cues that can impact our traits than usually would have been thought,” says Emily Harmon at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It’s fascinating that information from your parent’s neighbour can impact your traits.”
Darwinians have long taught that the environment drives evolution, but this is different. It’s not happening by mutation and selection. It’s happening through already-present software in the animal.
Genes purloined from across the tree of life give insects a boost (Nature, 21 July 2022). The subtitle of this eye-opening headline reads, “Adaptability and courting habits are influenced by genes borrowed from a vast variety of non-animal species.” It’s not purloining if the lender lets you borrow it. The photo of a Heliconius butterfly—a type known to share genes—has the following caption: “Insects have snagged more than 1,400 genes from bacteria, fungi, plants and viruses, according to a comprehensive analysis of 218 genomes belonging to species ranging from flies to honeybees.”
Rapid adaptive radiation of Darwin’s finches depends on ancestral genetic modules (Sciencce Advances, 8 July 2022). Surprise, Darwin. The Galapagos finches didn’t evolve your way. They just switched on ancestral information that the birds already had from their mainland ancestors.
An international team asked: Did the varieties on different islands come from new mutations, ancestral variants, or introgressive hybridization?
Here, we address this issue using Darwin’s finches and investigate the genomic architecture underlying their phenotypic diversity. Admixture mapping for beak and body size in the small, medium, and large ground finches revealed 28 loci showing strong genetic differentiation. These loci represent ancestral haplotype blocks with origins predating speciation events during the Darwin’s finch radiation. Genes expressed in the developing beak are overrepresented in these genomic regions. Ancestral haplotypes constitute genetic modules for selection and act as key determinants of the unusual phenotypic diversity of Darwin’s finches. Such ancestral haplotype blocks can be critical for how species adapt to environmental variability and change.
A press release on this study from Uppsala University, reported by Phys.org, explains that ancestral variation from the mainland—not recent mutations—accounts for the differences in beak size and other traits found in the Galapagos finches.
How a harmless environmental bacterium became the dreaded hospital germ Acinetobacter baumannii (University of Frankfurt, 6 June 2022). The dreaded “superbug” that plagues hospitals and resists all our antibiotics is typically harmless outdoors in the soil. What happened? Apparently the hospital environment modifies the microbe’s epigenetic information to make it survive and replicate inside a human body.
By comparing these genomes, the researchers were able to systematically filter out differences between the pathogenic and the harmless bacteria. Because the incidence of individual genes was not particularly conclusive, Ebersberger and his colleagues concentrated on gene clusters, that is, groups of neighbouring genes that have remained stable during evolution and might form a functional unit. “Of these evolutionarily stable gene clusters, we identified 150 that are present in pathogenic Acinetobacter strains and rare or absent in their non-pathogenic relatives,” says Ebersberger, summing up. “It is highly probable that these gene clusters benefit the pathogens’ survival in the human host.”
“Evolutionarily stable” is a misnomer. The gene clusters were already there. The team did not prove that the pathogenic forms emerged by mutation and selection, because it is known that microbes engage in frequent horizontal gene transfer.
The researchers describe another instance of a germ’s re-use of existing information:
Among the most important properties of pathogens is their ability to form protective biofilms and to efficiently absorb micronutrients such as iron and zinc. And indeed, the researchers discovered that the uptake systems in the ACB group were a reinforcement of the existing and evolutionary older uptake mechanism.
If it was existing, it was not evolutionary.
See our earlier reports about scientists acting surprised at the growing realization that microbes pick up “library books” for antibiotic resistance by horizontal gene transfer (10 Oct 2019, 22 Aug 2017, 23 July 2015, 18 April 2015, 4 Sept 2011, 19 Jan 2006).
There is unity and diversity in the biosphere. Organisms share a common genetic code with its irreducibly complex transcription and translation mechanism. But they also vary within families, genera and species. The metaphor of a lawn or forest, with branches diverging from a common soil, is proving a better fit to the observations than Darwin’s universal tree of common ancestry, because it relies on intelligent causes rather than sheer dumb luck. Unity and diversity points to a single Creator who made a diversity of creatures that could not have evolved naturally.
The Biblical creation picture allows for substantial variation within created kinds. That variability can adapt to environmental conditions based on epigenetic regulation of existing genetic information and, sometimes, through hybridization and horizontal gene transfer. Those mechanisms of sharing existing information make better sense than imagining innovation of new tissues, organs and body plans imagined to occur by Darwin’s Stuff Happens Law.