April 28, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

Evolutionists Hold Mammal Party

Scientists collate hundreds of mammal genomes
to display the explanatory power of Darwin trees,
but are some important questions being begged?

 

 

For its cover story this week, Science Magazine celebrated the assembling of 240 mammal genomes for its Zoonomia project. All the usual suspects in the media jumped into the party to glorify Darwin for how genes are clarifying the story of mammal evolution.

“The Zoonomia consortium, which includes more than 150 scientists and 30 research teams from across the world, made its 240 genomes available to the public for the first time in 2020,” said Nature News on the same day (27 April 2023). “Since then, the researchers have looked for similarities among them.” This is legitimate science; data collecting is worthwhile, and similarities can aid understanding in many ways. But do similarities demonstrate evolution? That is a different question. To avoid being snookered by non-sequiturs in the media, pay attention to who’s on first.

We’ll start with the popular media response to the Zoonomia project and then get into the meat from the scientific journals. Look around you and don’t let Darwin steal a base.

Genomes from 240 mammalian species reveal what makes the human genome unique (Broad Institute, 27 April 2023). “Studies from the Zoonomia Project pinpoint key parts of the human genome that have remained unchanged after millions of years of evolution,” writes press room reporter Allessandra DiCorato, “and may shed light on disease and unusual traits.” It may, or it may not, but what does this have to do with humans evolving from shrews in the dinosaur era? And how does gene conservation support evolution? The perhapsimaybecouldness index starts rising as DiCorato continues, but we’re looking for evidence that humans had shrew ancestors by a blind process of mutation and the Stuff Happens Law.

In the new studies, the researchers identified regions of the genomes, sometimes just single letters of DNA, that are most conserved, or unchanged, across mammalian species and millions of years of evolution — regions that are likely biologically important. They also found part of the genetic basis for uncommon mammalian traits such as the ability to hibernate or sniff out faint scents from miles away. And they pinpointed species that may be particularly susceptible to extinction, as well as genetic variants that are more likely to play causal roles in rare and common human diseases.

Comparing Genes of 240 Mammal Species—and One Famous Dog—Offers New Insights in Biology, Evolutionary History (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 27 April 2023). Nothing in this press release about evolution, either: just animals at risk of extinction, and a heartwarming story about Balto, the sled dog.

Texas A&M Research Redefines Mammalian Tree Of Life (Texas A&M Today, 27 April 2023). In this press release, Texas A&M reporter Rachel Knight promises “a definitive answer to the evolutionary timeline of mammals throughout the last 100 million years.” But the only detail she writes about is whether placental mammals diversified before or after the dinosaur extinction event. Then she writes a pop song about how the Stuff Happens Law works: The Great Nobody tweaks genes. It’s a bit like watching a blind sharpshooter not knowing or caring what to hit.

“Mammals today represent enormous evolutionary diversity — from the whizzing flight of the tiny bumblebee bat to the languid glide of the enormous Blue Whale as it swims through Earth’s vast oceans. Multiple species have evolved to echolocate, some produce venom, while others have evolved cancer resistance and viral tolerance,” she said.

“Being able to look at shared differences and similarities across the mammalian species at a genetic level can help us figure out the parts of the genome that are critical to regulate the expression of genes,” she continued. “Tweaking this genomic machinery in different species has led to the diversity of traits that we see across today’s living mammals.

Why “evolutionary diversity” and not just diversity? Why state that multiple species “have evolved to echolocate” instead of saying that multiple species echolocate? Does the e-word add any fresh information, or does it just beg the question of evolution?

Study suggests catalyst for human brain evolution (Phys.org, 27 April 2023). Here we learn from the Gladstone Institute that gene evolution happens very fast except when it happens at a snail’s pace. Well, hardee har har.

“We realized that these human-specific structural changes may have created the right environment for HARs [human accelerated regions] to evolve fast in the human ancestor, after remaining almost the same over millions of years of mammal evolution,” said Kathleen Keough, Ph.D., first author of the study and former postdoctoral scholar in the Pollard lab at Gladstone.

Information ‘deleted’ from the human genome may be what made us human (Yale University, 27 April 2023). How about this conundrum: evolution works by subtraction! Yale reporter Bill Hathaway says, “The loss of about 10,000 bits of DNA over the course of our evolutionary history helped differentiate us from other mammals, a team of Yale researchers found.” Darwin works in strange ways.

What the human genome is lacking compared with the genomes of other primates might have been as crucial to the development of humankind as what has been added during our evolutionary history, according to a new study led by researchers at Yale and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Was all that evolutionary innovation and progress thrown to the winds? What’s going on here? “Some of those “deleted” pieces of genetic information are closely related to genes involved in neuronal and cognitive functions, including one associated with the formation of cells in the developing brain,” he says. Have humans been devolving from apes? The apes would like to think so.

Huge cache of mammal genomes offers fresh insights on human evolution (Nature News, 27 April 2023). Nature tends to give more detail than university press releases, so what does Max Koslov in the world’s leading journal say about the scientific evidence for mammal evolution?

Using the Zoonomia data, researchers also constructed a phylogenetic tree that estimates when each mammalian species diverged from its ancestors. This analysis lends support to the hypothesis that mammals had already started evolutionarily diverging before Earth was struck by the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago — but that they diverged much more rapidly afterwards.

That’s a minor detail that begs the question of Darwinian evolution and assumes deep time. Even so, it only “lends support to the hypothesis” that it happened sooner than later. Much of the rest of Koslov’s piece is futureware: what additional genomes might tell us.

The Raw Hide

Here are some gleanings from the research papers published by Science Magazine, beginning with a Perspective article.

Genomics expands the mammalverse (Upham and Landis, Science, 27 April 2023). You’ve heard of the universe and multiverse. Behold the mammalverse. “The mammalverse comprises ∼6500 living species and >180 million years of genome evolution, ripe for investigation,” they begin. As we look for evidence that humans evolved from small shrew-like mammals 100 million years ago, we find the opposite: unique genes and stasis. So not only have we found out about evolution by subtraction; now we have evolution by constraint.

The team estimates that >10.7% of the human genome is evolutionarily constrained, exceeding previous estimates of 3 to 12%. Zoonomia expands the set of ultraconserved elements (here called zooUCEs) sevenfold over those previously available, creating a valuable resource for future evolutionary studies over various time scales.

Is something that is “evolutionarily constrained” different from something that is just constrained? Is that a distinction with a difference? If your car engine has a piston with dimensions that cannot vary outside of tight constraints, does that have anything to do with whether it got that way by chance from previous metal cylinders?

Evolutionary constraint and innovation across hundreds of placental mammals (Matthew J. Christmas et al., Science, 27 April 2023). This paper, with a dazzling circular phylogenetic diagram, confirms the number of conserved elements stated above (“4,552 new ultraconserved elements” in the human genome). Are these findings of any help in the understanding of evolution?

Many constrained bases have no known function, illustrating the potential for discovery using evolutionary measures. Eighty percent are outside protein-coding exons, and half have no functional annotations in the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) resource. Constrained bases tend to vary less within human populations, which is consistent with purifying selection. Species threatened with extinction have few substitutions at constrained sites, possibly because severely deleterious alleles have been purged from their small populations.

This is noteworthy. Sequences within what was called “junk DNA” (noncoding regions) are turning out to be “ultraconserved” or un-evolved. “Purifying selection” is not what Darwin wants. He didn’t want to delete variations; he wanted to use them to innovate new organs like wings and eyes.

A genomic timescale for placental mammal evolution (Foley et al., Science, 27 April 2023). All this paper does is try to confirm the hypothesis that mammal diversification began before the dinosaurs went extinct, assuming deep time and molecular clocks. It doesn’t begin to explain how Darwin’s Stuff Happens Law manufactured humans from shrew-like animals. But if Brian Thomas’s data is seriously taken into consideration, 100 cases of original soft tissue in fossils proves that dinosaurs lived only thousands of years ago, not tens of millions. That makes the entire hypothesis moot.

Seeing humans through an evolutionary lens (Perspective by Irene Romero, Science, 27 April 2023). If you didn’t see evolution in these papers and articles, you’re not using the right crystal ball, suggests Romero in this article. Oddly, she talks more about evolutionary “constraints” than innovations. If something has not evolved, she explains, it must be important. “By taking advantage of an unprecedented catalog of evolutionary constraint across the genomes of 240 placental mammals, they provide context and generate new hypotheses about the evolution of human traits,” she promises like a fortune teller. It may be hard for novices to see evolution with her crystal ball. Keep staring until the visage of Darwin appears.

Gaze at nature until Darwin’s face appears to give you insight and understanding. Crystal ball mister (source CostumePub)

Did you keep your eye on the ball? Did you stop Darwin from stealing a base? If so, good. You are way ahead of the guppies in the stream who swallow any of the crud the scientists throw at them.

We were looking for evidence that humans have shrew ancestors. That’s a far easier question than whether humans have bacteria ancestors. Even so, these 150 scientists who took a hard look at data from 240 mammals did not show that genetic mutations and natural selection made humans what they are. Think of the tremendous amount of new genetic information that would be required for Darwinian evolution to turn a shrew into a man. Where was any detailed account of an innovation tied to a random mutation? How did an aimless set of mutations produce enough benefits to be selected by a blind, careless “selector” of some sort?

Remember, the alternative hypothesis that is forbidden in academia is common design: God gave each animal kind the genetic information it needs for its habitat and function in the ecosystem. We should not be surprised that there are similarities, because we all live on the same planet, and most mammals have similar organs and body functions. We should also not be surprised to find considerable variation within created kinds, because a good engineering design principle is adaptability for robustness. But a shrew cannot give birth to a human through a million generations using only mistakes that happen by chance.

Snow Job

What we got were distractions. This is a form of question-begging, sometimes assisted by sidestepping. When the reporters and scientists could not point to innovations that were selected, they lit smoke bombs to distract our attention from the issue. Notice that none of these facts mentioned in the papers and news articles pertain to the central question of Darwinian evolution:

    • Purifying selection: that’s a clean-up task that looks designed.
    • Ultraconserved elements: the opposite of evidence for evolution.
    • Whether mammals diversified before or after the dinosaurs went extinct: only a Darwinist would care.
    • Whether conserved genes have a known function: good for future research, but irrelevant to evolution.
    • The enormous diversity of mammals: profoundly interesting, but creationists have always appreciated that fact.
    • The number of scientists and universities involved in the project: irrelevant.
    • The number of genomes sequenced: more is better, but not if they don’t support evolution.
    • The possibility that the project could fight disease: good, but irrelevant to evolution.
    • Whether the project could save some species from extinction: good, but also irrelevant to evolution.

You can probably think of other distractions. This is one way the Darwin Party snows the public. They produce piles of paper and volumes of text that do not answer the question. Look at Brett Miller’s cartoon again and keep asking, “But how do you know they evolved?”

 

 

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