So How Long Does It Take For a New Species To Develop?

Would you believe 2 generations? I was somewhat surprised too when I read this.

Now this surely wasn’t a case of slow evoultion by natural selection. It was a hybrdization event that did happen in the blink of an evolutionary eye though. Very interesting.


So A Guy Walks Into Pet Store…

And finds a scaleless Bearded Dragon. He promptly buys the lucky lizard and has its genome sequenced. Guess what? The gene coding responsible for hair and feathers is the very same gene coding for scales.

This is big, because as many of us evilutionists know, the general pathway of evolution went from fish –> amphibian —> reptile and reptile branched off to birds/mammals. Finding that the same gene coding is responsible for scales —> hair —> feathers (generally speaking) is of course fantastic evidence for common descent. Which is the foundational premise of evolution in the first place.

Another hats off to science moment, and another nail in the dusty old coffin of creationism.

The story is better explained where I found it. @ Pandas Thumb.

I Want To Be E.O. Wilson When I Grow Up

I caught a PBS presentation last night by the name of “Of Ants and Men” It is a documentary on E.O. Wilson and covers his life as a scientist and his personal history. All I can say is I am blown away by the accomplishments of this man, and the show was spectacular. I highly urge anyone who hasn’t seen it to do so at your earliest opportunity.

It is so good, I was watching a baseball game last night with playoff possibilities, and thought I’d go back and forth between commercials and keep up with the game. I still have no idea who won the game and don’t even care. It is that good.

Mr. Wilson is the father of sociobiology and popularized the term biodiversity. He took a lot of heat for sociobiology as it ran counter to popular thinking of the day, but I believe over time his sociobiology has been vindicated. It appears to me to have been almost as profound and as important as the work of Darwin himself.

Sociobiology is the assumption that our social aspects evolved as we did, which to me isn’t that far off base. The heat he took was from other scientists who believe that our social aspects are genetic in nature. I fail to see the problem here, as I feel that in the bigger picture, both are correct. Social behavior had to evolve with us, or we would not be what we are today. Genetics are of course a grounded standard for the way we may be wired. Finally culture or environment, and our life experiences, polish up the who and what we may have become. I see it all as one large system incorporating all of these conditions. Hell I am no scientist, I am not university trained in any particualr field, I am just a guy who has been paying attention through life, watching, learning, and trying in my own way to make sense of my surroundings. It all made good sense to me.

They also covered group selection, kin selection, tribal groups, among other things, and every single point to me was spot on.

Now Mr. Wilson, it could be said from a few things I have read, may be a little soft on religion, but I think I can forgive him that considering his massive achievements. Anyone who has a ken to understand evolution, social evolution, see a lot of fantastic science, and finally, sort of,  get to know a guy anyone would desire as a friend, has got to see this show.

“Of Ants and Men.” Look for it.

Some Recommended Reading

I have followed Panda’s Thumb for a long time now. For those of you not familiar with it, this site is front and center to the fight against creationism pseudoscience. The players there are way above my pay grade and education. You have real scientists there who actually know, understand, and do real science, and they have particularly keen insights to the inner workings of the creation science (oxymoron alert!) field of chicanery.

There is an ongoing thread there now:

…which I found very entertaining. The comment section is well worth digging into if you are so inclined. If you check it out, let me know if it was worth the trip 🙂  The good stuff starts late in page 2 of the comments with Mike Elzinga.



If You Dig Into A Pile Of Dung…

You find…anyone? Yes, dung! You remember that site I brought to your attention a few days back? I went in for another look, I was well prepared with ample means to retain my sanity. I fashioned myself a bullshit deflector. Basically it works the same way as that wonderful invention many people wear to keep the government from reading their minds. Yes a tinfoil hat! Believe it or not it helps keep you sane when you visit internet crazyland. You see the insane protons that try to invade your mind are reflected by the foil! Bet you didn’t know that did ya?

So, with my new tinfoil hat I went in. I found a seemingly innocuous post:

After some reading on the initial facts which were fairly interesting but not all that far out. In fact the real facts in the story weren’t all that special really in my opinion, I got the feeling the author just needed a couple of facts to to precede his desire to spout creationist canards later. Sure enough, we are then treated to to some real live creationist…what’s the word I’m looking for? Misconceptions will do. Here is the quote in its entirety:

“The adaptation of animals to their environments is striking.  Creationists allow for a fair amount of variability within created kinds, believing that genetic adaptations are built in to the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms of each kind.  Today’s mammals probably do not resemble the original created kinds, or even those before the Flood.  The sorting out of traits between species adapted to specialized environments does not represent an increase in genetic information required by the evolutionary theory.  It’s actually a loss of information as each species retains only the genes and gene networks needed for its habitat.  The variations among dog and cat kinds are good examples.  Both evolutionists and creationists believe they descended from common ancestors of their own kinds (e.g., domestic dogs, dingoes and coyotes from an original wolf-like animal), but creationists deny that the huge increase in genetic innovation required to turn a mouse into a cat is possible or supported by evidence.  Many variations went extinct in the severely-altered habitat after the Flood.   Nevertheless, each species is a marvel of engineering design and warrants praise to its Creator and protection.”  (end quote)

The first sentence is off to a good start. Yes indeed the way animals adapt to environments is very impressive. But in sentence two we go completely off the rails with the “kinds” business. Most of the guys and gals I know who follow my little blog, I am sure already know that “kinds” is the standard creationist way of lumping creatures together by shared traits (that is outward appearances and nothing to do with real biology). We also know that no real scientist or science inclined individual will find the “kinds” classifications in any way compelling.

Then it goes from “kinds” to the friggin flud. No scientist worth his weight in pillow feathers believes the flud tale. No honest geologist with a degree on the wall will tell you there is any evidence whatsoever of any worldwide flood disaster either, and no archeologist will tell you that fossils were sorted by the flud. It is all creationist hoo haw from top to bottom and all bullshit in between.

Then we get into the ID canard of “no new information.” At this point I would call this piling on. We already have an incredible heap of dung, and why stop now? Let’s keep digging!

Where were we? Oh yes, no new information. If a bacteria evolves a mutation that makes it more resistant to antibiotics, is that not beneficial for the bacteria? I think they must have missed the memo. Or perhaps it was “misplaced” somehwere?

Then our author goes on to say that both creationists and scientists (oh I’m sorry he/she used the term evolutionist, as if fact based reality is a religion) believe that cats and dogs are descendents from common ancestors. Oh really? Since when? When creationists realised they were curmudgeonly old sticks in the mud? When they understood that they have no legs to stand on and need to start imitating scientists and pretending that they know all the answers to keep up with the times? Because more and more, every day that goes by their mythology is being left in the dust of modern investigation? One thing I know for sure, when I was a kid growing up no creationist anywhere would admit ANY kind of evolution was or had been going on and all creatures as well as man were created as told in the fairy tale of Genesis. Now after a few decades of being trampled by all fields of science they have decided to adopt the parts of evolution they feel like they can deal with and deny the rest.

Much like their own damn book of fables, the bible. Must be nice to be able to bumble through life just believing what you want to believe and ignoring everything that you may find offensive. It sure as hell is not an option for those interested in living in a world they actually understand. Wishful thinking, delusional fantasies with no observational support, assertions with no evidence, this is the world of creationism. I prefer (yep I’m gonna do it) Evidence Based Reality.




Next Time You Bait A Hook With a Worm…

Consider this.

This study suggests that our earlier ancestors, pre fish I assume, may have been from the worm family. So many relevant details in the article, I’d have to darn near copy/paste them all. More efficient to just click the link, I think. If you are inclined that is.

There is a video there, but if there was a narration it was not present for me.

In a nutshell:

  • Notochord (1st vertebrate skeleton) probably evolved from muscle
  • Evolutionary origin of notochord likely older than assumed
  • Marine worm has muscle with same genetic signature, in same place


A Case Of Convergent Evolution, Oh My!

I have to wonder what the creationists will say about this? The usual hand waving and wailing about how they are still crickets I suppose. This is another nail in the coffin for creationism.

I was perusing one of my favorite sites this morning National Geographic’s Phenomena, home of a handful of great science blogs. Ed Yong’s “Not Exactly Rocket Science” has the post titled “The Silence of the Crickets” (x2 which was odd, but read on)

There is a species of cricket on the Hawaiian island of Kauai that is being predated by a parasitic fly and I quote: “whose larvae burrow inside them and eat them alive.” These flies zeroed in on the crickets by listening to the characteristic cricket chirp, then did the nasty business of implanting eggs when they found the source of the chirping.

An observant professor Marlene Zuk, PHD, University of Michigan, who had been studying these crickets had noticed on subsequent trips that the crickets chirp was being heard less and less every trip. An investigation shows why. The crickets were caught, in real time, evolving wings that no longer allowed for chirping. The crickets that had flatter wings which were bad at chirping were surviving, because they were invisible to the parasites. The survivors offspring of course had wings unsuitable for chirping to the point now where there are hardly any chirpers left. Which is a pretty awesome story, but…

What is even awesome-er, is the neighboring island of Oahu has the same crickets, with the same problem, that also independently evolved flatter wings unsuitable for chirping, over the same time period as the crickets on Kauai! This evidence was brought about by genetic testing that showed:  “the flatwings are caused by a mutation on a single gene, somewhere on the X chromosome. But both mutations arose independently! So the same mutation, flatter wings, happened on both islands, roughly at the same time, in two different populations, in differing area of the genome.”

Absolutely fucking incredible.

Get the full story here:

EDIT: Geez, I’m slow, my excuse is I was just on my first cup of joe when I posted this story…I get it now why the original post’s title was duplicated, 2 cases of mutations, on 2 neighboring islands…doh.

Also, I hate it when my attempts at posting links fail to work. I suppose a copy and paste will get you there. In the meantime anyone have link posting tips?