The La Brea Tars Pits gets themselves in a sticky wicket over climate change and adaptation

One of the most shrill arguments from alarmists is the idea that climate change will wipe out species because they can’t adapt. The claims run from polar bears to tortoises, to plants and coral. Yes, if we listen to these arguments, Nature so poorly equipped it’s creatures that they can’t adapt to a slightly warmer future.

Except when the last ice age ended, and it got warmer, and the saber-toothed cats got bigger because the prey got bigger…instead of disappearing due to “climate change”.

From the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

La Brea Tar Pit fossil research shows climate change drove evolution of Ice Age predators

LOS ANGELES — Concerns about climate change and its impact on the world around us are growing daily. New scientific studies at the La Brea Tar Pits are probing the link between climate warming and the evolution of Ice Age predators, attempting to predict how animals will respond to climate change today.

The La Brea Tar Pits are famous for the amazing array of Ice Age fossils found there, such as ground sloths, mammoths, and predators like saber-toothed cats and powerful dire wolves. But the climate during the end of the Ice Age (50,000-11,000 years ago) was unstable, with rapid warming and cooling. New research reported here has documented the impact of this climate change on La Brea predators for the first time.

Two new studies published by research associates at of the Page Museum document significant change over time in the skulls of both dire wolves and saber-toothed cats. “Different tar pits at La Brea accumulated at different times,” said F. Robin O’Keefe of Marshall University, lead author on the dire wolf study (Palaeontologia Electronica, April 9, 2014). “When we compare fossils deposited at different times, we see big changes. We can actually watch evolution happening.”

After the end of the last Ice Age, La Brea dire wolves became smaller and more graceful, adapting to take smaller prey as glaciers receded and climate warmed. This rapidly changing climate drove change in saber-toothed cats as well. “Saber-toothed cats show a clear correlation between climate and shape. Cats living after the end of the Ice Age are larger, and adapted to taking larger prey,” said Julie Meachen of Des Moines University, lead author on the sabertooth study (Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2014).

The two scientists discuss their work in a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK_DKSNbgR4&feature=youtu.be

“We can see animals adapting to a warming climate at La Brea,” said O’Keefe. “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear. We haven’t been able to establish causality there yet. But we are working on it.”

The emerging links between climate change and evolution needs further study. There are many unanswered questions; such as why predators change in the ways that they do, the importance of factors other than climate, and whether the arrival of humans played a role in the mass extinction at the end of the Ice Age. “There is much work to be done on the specimens from the tar pits. We are working actively to bring together the researchers and resources needed to expand on these discoveries,” says John Harris, chief curator at the Page Museum. “Climate change is a pressing issue for all of us, and we must take advantage of what Rancho La Brea can teach us about how ecosystems react to it.”

###

O’Keefe, F. R., W. J. Binder, S. R. Frost, R. W. Sadleir, and B. Van Valkenburgh. 2014. Cranial morphometrics of the dire wolf, Canis dirus, at Rancho La Brea: temporal variability and its links to nutrient stress and climate. Palaeontologia Electronica.

Palaeontologia Electronica was the first peer-reviewed online paleontology journal in the world and has been in publication for 17 years. On April 9, visit palaeo-electronica.org/content/2014/723-canis-dirus-craniometrics

Meachen, J. A., F. R. O’Keefe, and R. W. Sadleir. 2014. Evolution in the sabre-tooth cat, Smilodon fatalis, in response to Pleistocene climate change. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 27: 714-723. Visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jeb.12340/abstract

About the Natural History Family of Museums

The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Park and Museum (Newhall, California). The Family of Museums serves more than one million families and visitors annually, and is a national leader in research, exhibitions and education.

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190 thoughts on “The La Brea Tars Pits gets themselves in a sticky wicket over climate change and adaptation

  1. Darn those open pit fires our ancestors used, they created the first Global Warming problem and now we have no one to tax!
    /Sarc

  2. It’s just grant grovelling. Grovel for some research budget by adding on climate change to the proposal.

  3. “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear. We haven’t been able to establish causality there yet. But we are working on it.”
    ____________________________
    The answer is obvious. Get your grant application(s) turned in and approved and then crank up the models. You will then be able to clearly show that we are to blame and must be suppressed. Especially since this all happened in North America and North Americans are the worst of all and must be made to pay and pay.

  4. You know, with all that oil and tar on the surface you’d think there would have to be a huge amount of oil under the surface just waiting to be produced. Oh, I know there was some drilling back in the 30’s and 40’s, but modern experience in Texas and other places shows that the best place to find new oil fields is to go deeper and deeper underneath oil oil fields – that’s why the fracking boom is happening in all the spots that have had shallow oil wells for 50 years.

    A shame that’s no longer allowed in California. Imagine what it would do to the state budget to have those extra billions of dollars coming in. Oh, well.

    • WSS — they’d have to have a steady supply of liquid gold come out of that spot. Pretty pricy real estate. I recall it’s near Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, etc?

  5. Perhaps the dire wolves became smaller because the larger-and-larger saber-tooth tigers ate the bigger ones.

    Nah.

  6. a jones says:
    April 10, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Pray tell me something new.

    Kindest Regards
    ____________________
    In this case, prey tell me something new.

  7. “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear. We haven’t been able to establish causality there yet. But we are working on it.”

    There can be only one! BMOP(lanet) that is.

  8. …wolves became smaller and more graceful..

    As a wild guess, someone probably means “smaller and more gracile..”.

    Same word root, but a more technical meaning for body form…

  9. It would be interesting to know how many samples they took, whether they were from several examples, was it typical that all the wolves appear smaller & all the sabre-tooth-tigers were bigger. Are there any associated dating issues if bone has been encased in oil & tar? As to humans turning up, & big s-t-ts & large wolves disappearing, I am sure he meant to say it was all those white western European swine who caused it to happen in the 17th, 18th, 19th, & early 20th Centuries, that caused it. It wouldn’t be those Native Americans who did it! Would it?

  10. I think fracking under Los Angeles, and most of California, is a totally different story than fracking in Colorado or Wyoming. LA is riddled with hundreds of faults, and the rest of California is not much better. There would be some risk of earthquakes fracking there.

  11. Adaptation is NOT evolution. Darwin’s cult is species metamorphosis and life from dead matter. Period. A cat becoming ‘bigger’ is not proof of anything, except that it is still a cat that has built muscle, imbibed nutrients, enzymes and meat; and whose DNA software code is still that of a cat. A body builder is human proof of the same. Another hilarious by-line from a non-scientific cult closely allied with the cult of warming…..cats ‘evolved’ due to climate change. Good Grief.

  12. What’s so weird about all this is that we have a historical record showing all those species alive
    and well during the previous warm periods, periods far warmer than today or the warmth likely at the end of this century. Polar bears didn’t just happen yesterday – they were around when the Arctic was ice-free , so why does anyone think an ice-free Arctic sea is going to kill them off this time around?

  13. The part which caught my attention:

    “the importance of factors other than climate”

    It almost sounds as if they started out with the premise “We know climate was changing, so lets see what changes we can find in the fauna record.” Then they describe their results with “climate change” being front and center.

    I can understand using the climate change aspect to solicit grant funding. It’s the world they have to live in. It might be picking nits, but I believe they could have been a bit more circumspect in how they presented their results.

  14. After the end of the last Ice Age, La Brea dire wolves became smaller and more graceful, adapting to take smaller prey as glaciers receded and climate warmed.

    Warming causes smaller prey, which causes smaller predators.

    “This rapidly changing climate drove change in saber-toothed cats as well. … Cats living after the end of the Ice Age are larger, and adapted to taking larger prey,”

    Warming causes larger prey, which causes larger predators.

    No matter what, no matter when, no matter the contradiction … WARMING DID IT.

    Warming is *magical*…

  15. Is anyone surprised at this? You can’t get any closter to big oil than the La Brea Tar Pits.
    (sarc)

  16. Let’s see what they actually say for Smilodon fatalis:
    Pit 77 (37 KY BP) small morph
    Pit 91 (28 KA BP) large morph
    Pit 2051 (26 KY BP) small morph
    Pit 13 (17.7 KA BP) intermediate morph
    Pit 61-67 (13,6 KY BP) large morph

    Hardly a very coherent trend. Also note that the three latest dates includes the glacial maximum c. 20 KA BP, so the “intermediate” Smilodons at 17.7 KA BP were living in a considerably colder climate than the “small” ones at 26 KA BP.
    Also I fail to understand how they can date the Smilodons in each pit so exactly. The pits were mostly active for a long time, so unless they actually radiocarbon dated each separate bone the ages are quite doubtful. In Pit 13 all three dated Smilodon bones are admittedly of very similar age (14,950-15360 uncalibrated BP), and also in Pit 61-67 11,130-12,200 uncalibrated (13,025-14,304 calibrated) BP (Alleröd, by the way, not Bölling), but in the other pits the spreads are much larger: Pit 77 28,200-33,100 uncalibrated BP, Pit 91 25,100-30,800 uncalibrated BP, Pit 2051 20,900-29,760 uncalibrated BP. Note that the ages from pits 77, 91 and 2051 all overlap.
    I’ve seen a couple of similar papers lately, written by biologists without any geological experience who “find” dramatic effects from climate changes by blind faith in radiocarbon dates and undisturbed stratigraphies.
    Details on radiocarbon dates from La Brea here: http://www.nhm.org/site/sites/default/files/pdf/contrib_science/CS518.pdf

  17. Adaptation is NOT evolution. Darwin’s cult is species metamorphosis and life from dead matter. Period. A cat becoming ‘bigger’ is not proof of anything, except that it is still a cat that has built muscle, imbibed nutrients, enzymes and meat; and whose DNA software code is still that of a cat.

    It seems that there is much you have failed to understand.

  18. @LB, This is not grant grovelling. FR O’Keefe has been doing this sort of research since day one of his Ph.d. and in any area of science where field work is required needs some grants. The fact that this research points to evidence counter to the alarmist claims most of us should be happy to be seeing.

    The general desire to slam grants for academic research may be tempting but misplaced. A lot of good has come out of such grants. These authors did not plug made up data into a model and crank anything out, but took measurements and came to a conclusion that seems very reasonable: llfe is very adaptable.

    • The general desire to slam grants for academic research may be tempting but misplaced. A lot of good has come out of such grants.

      ==========

      It’s grant grovelling. If I was doing research, I’d do the same. A least it means some of the climate research cash hasn’t been going into crap research.

  19. LadyLifeGrows says:
    April 10, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I think fracking under Los Angeles, and most of California, is a totally different story than fracking in Colorado or Wyoming. LA is riddled with hundreds of faults, and the rest of California is not much better. There would be some risk of earthquakes fracking there.
    _______________________
    On the other hand, if there is anything to speculation about frac liquids and particulates acting as lubricant and releasing pent- up energy from tectonic shift, then fracking in CA might not be a bad thing. We don’t know.

  20. An attempt at a little common ground reconciliation (I hope)…

    Dear Ferdinand (9:13am) and Mr. Sharpe (10:17am),

    I think this is more a failure to communicate than to understand. Ferdinand, you likely accept the basic textbook definition of “evolution,” I think: (only stated from this non-expert’s memory) Change within species via non-directed genetic mutation and natural selection over time.

    Mr. Sharpe, you can, I think, accept that it is reasonable (at least) to not believe in Darwin’s “Origin of Species” theory (as refined by later science, of course).

    Thus, HAPPY CONCLUSION (perhaps):

    Both of you AGREE! “Evolution” as properly defined happens and temperature changes could drive adaptation within species. And this is to be clearly distinguished from a theory about the origin of species.

    Pax?

    Your Friendly Neighborhood Mediator,

    Janice
    #(:))

  21. Ferdinand (@StFerdinandIII) says:
    April 10, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Adaptation is an evolutionary process. It might or might not eventually produce a new species. If the selective forces producing the adaptation continue and are associated with reproductive isolation, then it can lead to speciation. Other evolutionary processes work more rapidly; in the case of polyploidy, in a single generation.

    Evolution is about the origin of new species, not about the origin of life. How life developed from complex organic compounds is another study, called abiogenesis. Evolutionary processes appeared early in the development of living things, of course, since evolution results from reproduction, one of the key distinguishing features of life.

    Adaptation did in fact lead to speciation in the machairodont felid (Miocene-Pleistocene sabre cat) lineage before the time studied in this paper. Indeed not just species but genera. And of course the machairodonts descended from earlier felids, just as all groups of organisms have evolved from their ancestral groups.

    There are no barriers in the genetic code to keep new species from arising. In the case of adaptation by increasing or decreasing size, obviously the genetic or epigenetic changes occur from generation to generation, with for instance leg bones growing longer thanks to their growth not being shut off as soon, under heritable, epigenetic control.

    This happened in human evolution, when our ancestors’ leg bones grew longer and arms shorter to adapt to spending more time on the spreading grasslands than in the diminishing forests during the Pliocene, among other heritable changes. Our upright stance probably owes to a single gross chromosomal mutation, the combining of two smaller standard great ape chromosomes into the single human number 2 chromosome, which is why we have 23 pairs instead of the 24 in other great ape species. This karyotypic change might not have been adaptive in the Miocene, when dense tropical forest still stretched clear across central Africa, but was highly adaptive after the Rift Valley started to form and climate in East Africa became drier.

    There are no barriers in the genetic code to keep new species from arising. In the case of adaptation by increasing or decreasing size, obviously the genetic or epigenetic changes occur from generation to generation, with for instance leg bones growing longer thanks to their growth not being shut off as soon, under heritable, epigenetic control.

    This happened in human evolution, when our ancestors’ leg bones grew longer and arms shorter to adapt to spending more time on the spreading grasslands than in the diminishing forests during the Pliocene, among other heritable changes. Our upright stance probably owes to a single gross chromosomal mutation, the combining of two smaller standard great ape chromosomes into the single human number 2 chromosome, which is why we have 23 pairs instead of the 24 in other great ape species. This karyotypic change might not have been adaptive in the Miocene, when dense tropical forest still stretched clear across central Africa, but was highly adaptive after the Rift Valley started to form and climate in East Africa became drier.

  22. @ LB (8:02am) and Timothy Sorenson (10:22am)

    I think that your assertions are not mutually exclusive.

    (more common ground, perhaps!)

    That O’ Keefe is a genuine and competent scientist of integrity whose studies discussed above ARE good science (thus, my “Good” vote above)

    IS (logically) CONSISTENT WITH the “Grant groveling” remark:

    “… says John Harris [likely with a brown paper bag over his head at the time], chief curator at the Page Museum. “Climate change is a pressing issue for all of us [Barf!]… .”
    {emphasis and annotations, mine}

    BECAUSE (assuming John Harris speaks to a significant degree for O’Keefe et. al.) paying lip service to the funders is (however shameful in itself) NOT NECESSARILY inconsistent with doing good science.

    {Note: this case is to be distinguished from that of the BLATANT propaganda JUNK SCIENCE of the “We can predict droughts by measuring the moisture in the top 5 cm of soil” article posted recently on WUWT.}

    More Mediation from Your Neighborhood Mediator (I hope)
    #(:))

  23. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Your supposed “definition” could not possibly be more wrong. Evolution means two things in biology. First, it is the observed fact that organisms have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth. Second, it is study of the processes by which this development and diversification occur. The standard definition is “any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next”, which change may or may not lead to the formation of new species (speciation). Some researchers now might tweak this definition from the “modern” (1930s) evolutionary synthesis, but it’s still valid as far as it goes.

    Evolution can and does lead to the origin of new species, genera, families, orders, classes, phyla and kingdoms, which Linnaean terms are now applied to phylogenetic clades based upon degrees of relatedness, but its processes need not do so. Eventually however all species go extinct to replaced either with nothing or with their daughter species.

  24. Re: “Evolution can and does lead to the origin of new species”

    This has NEVER been observed.

  25. Surely the topic here is not speciation, but rather a shift in allele frequencies such that the mean size of members of each species has changed over time (not their lifetimes, but subsequent generations.)

    So, we can dispense with the pro- and anti-evolution flame war.

  26. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:01 am

    It most certainly has been. Repeatedly. You really ought to study topics upon which you chose to pontificate out of such laughable ignorance.

  27. Richard Sharpe says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

    The topic raised by Ferdinand is indeed speciation, what he called “species metamorphosis”. In the early 19th century it was called “transmutation”. It is a repeatedly observed, scientific fact. Evolutionary theory seeks to explain these observations. Like any well supported body of scientific theory, such as gravitation, it constantly improves through the scientific method.

  28. All depends on the rate of temperature change. Evolution happens over 10s of thousands of years not hundreds of years. If warming happens as predicted, we’re toast.

  29. The cats may have become larger, because of an increase in local prey. The wolves may have had to become quicker to catch prey and so the leaner smaller body types had more success at hunting. There are many angles to view this picture from.

  30. trafamadore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Evolution (both so-called “micro-“, ie adaptation, and “macro-“, ie speciation) can happen in a single generation. Its rate varies enormously.

    Even in the “worst” case so unscientifically “predicted” by anti-scientific consensus “climate science” (the antithesis of real science), humans and most if not all living things will adapt, survive and thrive.

    Polar bears and their main ice-loving prey species (ringed seals) lived through the Eemian Interglacial, which was at least 3 degrees C warmer than now overall & perhaps 8 degrees warmer in the Arctic.

  31. trafamadore says:

    Evolution happens over 10s of thousands of years not hundreds of years.

    And you know this, how?

    Evolution happens from days to millennia. Bacteria evolve quickly, elephants less so. But making an all-inclusive statement like you did is nothing short of cherry-picking whatever you like, to support your religious belief that: “If warming happens as predicted, we’re toast.”

    What an idiotic statement. All available evidence shows that a warmer world is better for the biosphere. All available evidence also shows that more CO2 is better for the biosphere. It is cold that kills.

    Your religious belief clouds whatever reason you might have had. You only assume, based on your feelings. That is not science at all. That is what motivated Chicken Little.

  32. wws says:
    April 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

    You know, with all that oil and tar on the surface you’d think there would have to be a huge amount of oil under the surface just waiting to be produced. Oh, I know there was some drilling back in the 30′s and 40′s, but modern experience in Texas and other places shows that the best place to find new oil fields is to go deeper and deeper underneath oil oil fields – that’s why the fracking boom is happening in all the spots that have had shallow oil wells for 50 years.

    A shame that’s no longer allowed in California. Imagine what it would do to the state budget to have those extra billions of dollars coming in. Oh, well.

    The real problem with pumping oil out from under LA and the surrounding communities was subsidence. The removed oil left voids or poorly consolidated rock that proceeded to gradually compress as the oil was removed. This caused considerable concern among building owners who experienced fun stuff like buckling foundations, wall cracks and other nuisances.

    More interesting and less exploited is the off-shore potential, since there are seeps and actual asphalt “volcanoes” in the Channel. Lots of locals and touristas blame the oil companies for having to clean their feet after a day at the beach because they don’t understand just how leaky the local geology is. The local Chumash and Gabrielinos used beach tar as an adhesive, and to water proof boats and basketry water jars.

  33. Catherine Ronconi says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:11 am [ ... ]

    Instead of calling someone names, you might want to post verifiable observations that you are certain must exist.

    Maybe there are observations of evolution in action. Maybe not. Do you have proof? If so, I would be interested in seeing it.

  34. dbstealey says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

    There are so many from both the lab and the field, where would I start? Janice could have found oodles on the Net with one minute’s searching instead of making a baseless assertion of religious certainty without even bothering to look. I may be blocked from posting. Will try with this comment before offering a selection of the dozens if not hundreds of instances of speciation. With bacteria, it’s hard to say what counts as a species, which accounts for the imprecise number of instances.

    [Reply: why would you be blocked from posting? This isn't a censoring alarmist blog. ~ mod.]

  35. It is always amusing that population-phenotypic-variability is never mentioned in these anecdotally (tiny sample size) based studies. Here we have “Large vs Small morphs” without reference to the full range of population clines at any particular date/period – likely because they don’t have any data on those clines. And yet they ignore their assumption that any particular population does NOT,at any single particular time have had BOTH individuals larger than the “large morph” and smaller than the “small morph”.

    Any of us knows that there are a range of sizes present in any population (“wow, that’s a monster sized bass”) except, apparently, these pinheads. Of course there could actually be differences in the mean body size / mass of any particular species over time, but these folks wouldn’t actually have any certain proof of that. Characterizing population genetics actually requires larger samples than a handful to yield reliable data.

    BTW, Catherine Ronconi, well said. For some reason, the concept of evolution seems to bring out the worst in us.

  36. Catherine Ronconi says:

    There are so many from both the lab and the field, where would I start?

    Start with posting some verifiable observations. I am not a biologist, and I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I would like to see some proven observations showing evolution in action. I’m interested, that’s all.

    BioBob says:

    …the concept of evolution seems to bring out the worst in us.

    It does. I take it this is the kind of statement you were referring to:

    You really ought to study topics upon which you chose to pontificate out of such laughable ignorance.

  37. The emerging links between climate change and evolution needs further study. There are many unanswered questions; such as why predators change in the ways that they do, the importance of factors other than climate, and whether the arrival of humans played a role in the mass extinction at the end of the Ice Age.

    Look at a tar pit covering the ice age before the last one?

  38. Catherine Ronconi says (April 10, 2014 at 11:57 am): “There are so many observed speciation events] from both the lab and the field, where would I start? Janice could have found oodles on the Net with one minute’s searching…”

    Challenge ACCEPTED!!!

    Quickly types “observed speciation” into Google, hastily corrects mistyped “speciation”–20 seconds elapsed–desperately chooses first result, OH NOES! Dense verbiage! Skims frantically–40 seconds–lots of stuff that might be interesting to GEEKS, but wasting time, dammit…Wait! Section 5 reads “Observed Instances of Speciation”…TIME’S UP!!! If they’re not in Section 5, I’ve fail–THERE THEY ARE!!!

    Challenge ACCOMPLISHED!!!

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    Er, sorry about the “geek” remark. Sections 1 – 4, read without the pressure of a challenge, are actually pretty good. The meat’s in Section 5, though.

  39. Please note that extinction is the rule and not the exception.

    Abstract
    Biological extinction in earth history
    Virtually all plant and animal species that have ever lived on the earth are extinct. For this reason alone, extinction must play an important role in the evolution of life. The five largest mass extinctions of the past 600 million years are of greatest interest, but there is also a spectrum of smaller events, many of which indicate biological systems in profound stress. Extinction may be episodic at all scales, with relatively long periods of stability alternating with short-lived extinction events. Most extinction episodes are biologically selective, and further analysis of the victims and survivors offers the greatest chance of deducing the proximal causes of extinction. A drop in sea level and climatic change are most frequently invoked to explain mass extinctions, but new theories of collisions with extraterrestrial bodies are gaining favor. Extinction may be constructive in a Darwinian sense or it may only perturb the system by eliminating those organisms that happen to be susceptible to geologically rare stresses.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/231/4745/1528.short

    Here is an Essay in Nature

    Nature
    Concept Extinction: past and present
    The fossil record, together with modern data, can provide a deeper understanding of biological extinction and its consequences.

    Extinction is a fundamental part of nature — more than 99% of all species that ever lived are now extinct. Whereas the loss of ‘redundant’ species may be barely perceptible, more extensive losses of whole populations, groups of related species (clades) or those that share particular morphologies (for example, large body sizes) or functional attributes such as feeding mechanisms, can have profound effects, leading to the collapse of entire ecosystems and the extermination of great evolutionary dynasties.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6975/full/427589a.html

  40. evolution in action:

    look up any of many works by Pimentel et al (Cornell University) who studied the development of pesticide resistance in insects. One replicated study determined that in only takes 25 generations for a SNP conferring pesticide resistance to spread in a population of houseflies. That’s equal to 25 x 3 weeks = 75 weeks = 1.44 years. So not only is there adaptation but there is also potentially speciation if that SNP (or any mutation) causes the individual to form a new species. For that matter, read the classic about the moth that changed it’s pigmentation due to pollution during the industrial revolution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppered_moth_evolution

    Most folks think that species formation takes a long time. This is incorrect. Species formation can take as little as a few hours / weeks / years but it also can take a long time as most have learned. There are millions of species on earth; there is NOTHING NEW (conceptually) under the sun. In the billion+ year history of life on earth, most everything has been tried and discarded over and over again.

  41. Maybe they should have read this study first. Stasis!
    Size and shape stasis in late Pleistocene mammals and birds from Rancho La Brea during the Last Glacial–Interglacial cycle

    Abstract

    Conventional neo-Darwinian theory views organisms as infinitely sensitive and responsive to their environments, and considers them able to readily change size or shape when they adapt to selective pressures. Yet since 1863 it has been well known that Pleistocene animals and plants do not show much morphological change or speciation in response to the glacial–interglacial climate cycles. We tested this hypothesis with all of the common birds (condors, golden and bald eagles, turkeys, caracaras) and mammals (dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, giant lions, horses, camels, bison, and ground sloths) from Rancho La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, California, which preserves large samples of many bones from many well-dated pits spanning the 35,000 years of the Last Glacial–Interglacial cycle. Pollen evidence showed the climate changed from chaparral/oaks 35,000 years ago to snowy piñon-juniper forests at the peak glacial 20,000 years ago, then back to the modern chaparral since the glacial–interglacial transition. Based on Bergmann’s rule, we would expect peak glacial specimens to have larger body sizes, and based on Allen’s rule, peak glacial samples should have shorter and more robust limbs. Yet statistical analysis (ANOVA for parametric samples; Kruskal–Wallis test for non-parametric samples) showed that none of the Pleistocene pit samples is statistically distinct from the rest, indicating complete stasis from 35 ka to 9 ka. The sole exception was the Pit 13 sample of dire wolves (16 ka), which was significantly smaller than the rest, but this did not occur in response to climate change. We also performed a time series analysis of the pit samples. None showed directional change; all were either static or showed a random walk. Thus, the data show that birds and mammals at Rancho La Brea show complete stasis and were unresponsive to the major climate change that occurred at 20 ka, consistent with other studies of Pleistocene animals and plants. Most explanations for such stasis (stabilizing selection, canalization) fail in this setting where climate is changing. One possible explanation is that most large birds and mammals are very broadly adapted and relatively insensitive to changes in their environments, although even the small mammals of the Pleistocene show stasis during climate change, too.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.08.015

  42. trafamadore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:26 am

    All depends on the rate of temperature change. Evolution happens over 10s of thousands of years not hundreds of years. If warming happens as predicted, we’re toast.

    Oh really?

    Abstract
    Rapid Evolution of a Geographic Cline in Size in an Introduced Fly
    The introduction and rapid spread of Drosophila subobscura in the New World two decades ago provide an opportunity to determine the predictability and rate of evolution of a geographic cline. In ancestral Old World populations, wing length increases clinally with latitude…….

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/287/5451/308.short

    ————————-
    Science Daily – April 18, 2008
    Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution After Introduction To A New Home
    In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, to the neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru. Now researchers have shown that introducing these small, green-backed lizards, Podarcis sicula, to a new environment caused them to undergo rapid and large-scale evolutionary changes.

    “Striking differences in head size and shape, increased bite strength and the development of new structures in the lizard’s digestive tracts were noted after only 36 years, which is an extremely short time scale,” says Duncan Irschick, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “These physical changes have occurred side-by-side with dramatic changes in population density and social structure.”

    …Results of the study were published March 25 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417112433.htm

    Leiden University
    Super-fast evolution

    http://www.news.leiden.edu/news/super-fast-evolution.html

  43. hehe @ ferd berple

    except the species concept does not apply too well to bacteria & virus lineages. too much cross taxa exchange of genetic material in so many groups. Perhaps we should only apply the species concept to eukaryotes. Dunno

  44. Adaptation as used by the IPCC is in fact intended to be conscious or cultural evolution. Ecosystems are people among other things to those who push these concepts. In the early 80s Ervin Laszlo among others created a both sides of the Cold War Group called GERG-General Evolution Research Group. It is still around and it calls its conscious evolution initiative the Darwin Project.

    Laszlo is involved with the Club of Rome’s lesser known but affiliated Club of Budapest that pushes cultural evolution. At the moment it is called the Holos Consciousness and again it bears a striking resemblance to the kinds of personal transformations to achieve Climate Resilient Pathways that the IPCC considers to be Adaptation.

    When it comes to schemers with transformational plans, never assume terms have their dictionary standard definition.

  45. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Re: “Evolution can and does lead to the origin of new species”

    This has NEVER been observed.
    _______________________
    Actually, we’ve witnessed speciation in our own lifetimes. Here’s just one example:

    http://www.livescience.com/7984-human-feeding-creates-population-birds.html

    Does this example increase our understanding? Belief can impede our understanding. A very limited view of evolutionary process is that a species randomly evolves to fit a particular need of conscious performance in order to cope with environmental pressures. Observed data implies something far more profound at work. For one thing, there is no reason that perfectly viable, yet non- specialized mutations could randomly occur and coexist with extant species. We haven’t seen that happen. We have observed a new species evolve to fit a particular need. This seems entirely purposeful to me. In other words, it seems to me that the species doesn’t randomly evolve to produce a consciousness tailored for specific circumstance, but that the consciousness evolves to produce the species, specifically tailored to meet a need.

    Disclaimer: I do not know anything at all about, nor have I studied evolution or any counter theories. I’m just thinking out loud.

    • @Alan Robertson

      Actually, we’ve witnessed speciation in our own lifetimes. Here’s just one example:

      Moral – DO NOT FEED the BIRDS! ;-)

      But thanks for the link. It was a fascinating read.

  46. OK. I can post. Another comment of mine hasn’t appeared yet. Sorry for delay but I do have work to do.

    Maybe you object to my reference to ignorance, but what else would you call it? To that I would add willful ignorance, since Janice didn’t bother to do the least bit of research before commenting. I’m sure that evolution has been explained to her before on this blog if not elsewhere.

    I’ll take examples from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, but bear in mind that there are at least dozens in the literature. Bear in mind that it is populations of organisms which evolve.

    As noted, it is harder with bacteria than sexually reproducing eukaryotes to define “species”, as opposed to “strain”. (Bacteria have “sex”, too, but not in the same way as multicellular organisms. Their “sex” is horizontal gene transfer. Normally they just split to reproduce.)

    But a bacterium that evolves from eating sugar to eating nylon is a new species as well as a strain of its mother species. This evolution occurred naturally in Flavobacterium and has been induced in the lab for Pseudomonas, apparently using a different enzyme. Further, via plasmid transfer, the Flavobacterium enzyme has been implanted in E. coli. This example is so well known I’m surprised that Janice has never heard of it.

    The Founder’s Principle is also a well known (at least to anyone who has ever studied biology) evolutionary process leading to speciation. It has been observed in the lab repeatedly. Here’s one example:

    Weinberg, J. R., V. R. Starczak and P. Jora. 1992. Evidence for rapid speciation following a founder event in the laboratory. Evolution. 46:1214-1220.

    I could go on for pages just with instances of single-celled organism evolution, so familiar to hospitals and dangerous to people. But since I have other things to do today, on to multicellular organisms. Species here are easier to define, although of course problems always arise, as with ring species (Google that), because unlike creationists, scientists know that species are not discrete but often shade into each other. The basic concept is though that for sexually reproducing organisms, a species is a group consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding to produce offspring also capable of reproducing. The classic example is the mule, a hybrid which usually is infertile.

    In plants, it’s common for new species to emerge in a single generation through polyploidy, ie genomic duplication. The resulting plant breeds with others of its species but not with the parent species. Instances are too numerous to mention, but readily found on the Net. It’s rarer in animals, but does occur.

    Similarly, hybridization can produce new species, ie a population produced by rare successful mating between related “species” which produces a new species that breeds preferentially with itself but not the parent species. Even some mules are able to produce offspring. Here’s a recently discovered example of speciation by hybridization:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140111-hybrid-dolphin-species-ocean-animal-science/

    Butterfly species that occur in the wild have been shown in the lab to result from hybridization by recreating the same species experimentally:

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/supplementary/1471-2148-7-28-s1/index.html

    Also in the lab new species of plants have been produced, as with hybrids not just from different species, but even genera to make a new genus. In the 1920s a cytologist crossed the radish and cabbage (Raphanus and Brassica) to produce a sterile hybrid (Raphanobrassica). But some unreduced gametes formed in the hybrid, from which seeds could be produced and individuals of the new species and genus grown. Unfortunately, the new plant had radish leaves and cabbage root.

    But often speciation occurs more slowly, over generations, which in the case of insects are short enough to be observed. Speciation by natural selection has also been observed in animals with longer generations, such as lizards introduced to islands in the Caribbean & Adriatic Seas.

    In the lab, speciation through reproductive isolation and natural selection for more than one trait has been shown by Lenski:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment

    Not a bad treatment on speciation, well sourced, from Wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation

    An outdated but still valid list of observed speciation events in lab & the wild:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    If these aren’t enough instances for you, I can post more at length, but really, why should I spend time educating Janice, when the Internet is such a great research tool? Too bad no amount of education can overcome religious prejudice against science. Not that there haven’t been a lot of great scientists with religious faith. They just don’t substitute faith for evidence.

  47. I let a lot of time slip past before I completed my reply to Janice and many others have weighed in… further thoughts:
    Catherine Ronconi, I’ll say welcome, even though you were snotty as all get out to my friend, Janice. Please follow through and add to the conversation.

  48. Alan Robertson; the example you mentioned is typical that evolution is thermodynamically driven, the new species follows the track of minimising energy and maximising entropy. So his wings adapt for shorter distance.

  49. Here ist a interesting lecture about this fossil founds in LA. Note especially the remarks after 36:47 ! It seems that too little CO2 might be a bigger problem for the biosphere than too much…

  50. Gary Hladik says:

    [from the link posted]:

    These things were not observed in populations… eighteen labs attempted unsuccessfully to reproduce these results… None of their gametes passed into the next generation… they found that many of the hybrids were inviable… During early growth, just after the four leaf stage, the leaves of many of the hybrids turned yellow and became necrotic. Death followed this. And so on. That does not instill confidence in verifiable proof of evolution. But thanks for posting, it was an interesting link.

    ==============================

    BioBob links to the debunked [IIRC] study of the peppered moth. I’m too lazy to look it up, but as I am ignorant of biology and have used that same example in the past — and was soundly thrashed with links falsifying that study — I’m pretty convinced that it is not, in fact, a proven case of evolution in action.

    In fact, out of the many comments following my request for Catherine Ronconi to post verifiable proof of evolution, no one has done so to my satisfaction. All the examples are iffy. And Catherine has not posted any satisfactory links.

    I believe in evolution. But so far, no one has posted any conclusive examples.

    ==============================

    ferd berple says:

    …I would like to see some proven observations showing evolution in action.

    So would I.

  51. For those interested in a well-documented case of a new (1870) and, incidentally very successful, species I suggest that You google Spartina anglica

  52. dbstealey says:
    April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Did you actually read every single link in full that I posted? I doubt it, or you would not have made such a ridiculous claim.

    To take but one example, how is a new polyploid plant, genetically distinct from and incapable of crossing and producing offspring with its parent species but interbreeding freely with other polyploids with the same genome in its environment, not an example of speciation? It fits the classic definition of a species to a T.

    What more evidence could you want showing an instance of rapid evolution?

    Speciation via polyploidy is so common in vascular plants that its frequency can be analyzed statistically:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2728988/

    Will you ignore this study, too, in order to cultivate the ignorance to which you seem so attached?

    Maybe you “believe in” evolution, but apparently not in science or the scientific method. Evolution makes predictions which are confirmed. Creationism makes predictions which are always found false.

  53. Alan Robertson says:
    April 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    What’s the point of adding to the conversation when my examples & links are ignored.

    I used to respect this blog before I found out that it’s a hangout for creationist cretins.

    Goodbye.

    [This mod recommends more time be allowed for various readers and writers to respond. Mod]

  54. JJM Gommers says:
    April 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm
    I forgot to add in this case it means degradation
    _____________________
    That makes sense. Since we know that creatures can and do degrade their future chances of survival by changing to fit within narrow little niches, why then do we lay waste to wide swathes of the economy in order to afford them protection, a la the Delta Smelt in California?

  55. BioBob links to the debunked [IIRC] study of the peppered moth. I’m too lazy to look it up, but as I am ignorant of biology and have used that same example in the past — and was soundly thrashed with links falsifying that study — I’m pretty convinced that it is not, in fact, a proven case of evolution in action.

    you mean like these ?:

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/icons/peppered-moths/

    You do need to do your homework, my good man. “lazy” and “ignorant ” don’t cut it. Just because some strawman arguments were foisted by anti-evolutionists does not mean the science does not exist. Of course, there is all kinds of science good and bad but a modicum of study should help. The DDT debate is another good example of bullshit attempting to overwhelm science. Rachel Carson predated environmental watermelons by 30 years but still the marxist try to link the stupid with the ignorant.

  56. Catherine Ronconi says:
    April 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm
    ________________________
    I made that request of you before your remarks appeared, (still in moderation,) so thanks for the information. I don’t think that you were calling me a cretin (although I am that and far worse in many regards.) People from all sorts of backgrounds come here and exchange knowledge and ideas. No one makes them stay, but bad actors sometimes are made to go.
    If you decide to really go, I would first ask, in all of your acquisition of knowledge, have you gained wisdom or understanding?

  57. Catherine Ronconi says:
    April 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm
    Alan Robertson says:
    April 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm
    “What’s the point of adding to the conversation when my examples & links are ignored.
    I used to respect this blog before I found out that it’s a hangout for creationist cretins.
    Goodbye.

    The above is one of the worst bits of reasoning I have encountered on WUWT since beginning reading here in September of 2008.
    —————————————
    Gentle Tramp says:
    April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm
    . . . “ It seems that too little CO2 might be a bigger problem for the biosphere than too much…

    Much better that it double or triple than to be cut in half or to 1/3 of current levels.

  58. Geez Catherine! Your detailed rebuttal was only up for an hour when you stormed off. Ya gotta give folks a chance. Even though I was raised as a devout baptist I don’t understand the creationists skepticism regarding evolution. I guess they’re generally put off by the constantly changing “truth” inherent in good science, and the lack of simplicity. I also understand the frustration that the definition of a species can get a bit blurry on the edges.

  59. dbstealey says (April 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm): “‘These things were not observed in populations…’ [snip]”

    Whoa! Nice selective quoting! If deliberate, kudos!

    If, on the other hand, this was a misunderstanding due to your self-described laziness and ignorance of biology, please focus your short attention span for just three brief paragraphs:

    The full version of the first quote is “These things [some sterility and assortative i.e. non-random mating] were not observed in populations which were separated but raised under the same conditions“. These are the control groups, whose perfectly ordinary behavior strengthens the experiment, i.e. the opposite of your conclusion.

    All but one of your other half-quotes are similarly misleading; the only one that stands is the “eighteen labs” one, i.e. the original results were indeed not reproducible. In other words, so far you’ve only thrown suspicion on one of the listed observations, with of course the assistance of the lister himself.

    Now I’m somewhat lazy myself, and frightfully ignorant of many subjects, at least one of which (women) I’ve studied for a lifetime. Generally when I’m unqualified to judge the truth of a claim of little practical importance to me, I go with the “experts”, e.g. if particle physicists say they’ve definitely found the Higgs boson, I say “Congrats!” If the topic is iimportant or interesting to me, I try to educate myself to the point where I can make judgements. If evolution is important to you, perhaps you should educate yourself on biology enough to understand the evidence.

  60. Mod:

    If my long comment wasn’t blocked, why then has it not yet appeared? When it didn’t show up even with an awaiting moderation notice, I posted it again and got a notice that it was a duplicate. So what happened to it?

    Alan: I’m wise enough to know not to waste my time on a blog that purports to promote science yet is infested with creationists. I’m also wise enough not to consider blog posters as “friends”, even if I don’t consider them ditzes. To me a friend is someone I know, who will help me move house or reroof the one I have and in whose care I feel safe leaving my kids.

    Comments on my leaving: I did give people time to reply, long enough to learn that D. B. rejected my comment without having the decency even to read my links. When my patients die of MRSA, C.Diff, VRE, CRE and other hospital superbugs after I saved their lives, then I find on an ostensible science blog the most ignorant possible garbage about evolution, which has produced MRSA, et al, you’ll have to excuse me for not wanting to try to cast more pearls of reality before swine uninterested in learning.

  61. “We can see animals adapting to a warming climate at La Brea,” said O’Keefe. “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear. We haven’t been able to establish causality there yet. But we are working on it.”

    The big ones thought they could whup those pink apes. The pink apes stuck ‘em with pointy sticks, then went hunting for more big ones to kill. The little ones stayed away and survived. Duh³.

  62. james says:
    April 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    But the moths from which butterflies evolved in the Eocene to exploit the spread of flowering plants were not butterflies.

  63. Catherine Ronconi says (April 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm): “I used to respect this blog before I found out that it’s a hangout for creationist cretins.”

    Heh heh. I suspect Ms. Ronconi has had dealings with creationists and/or “intelligent design” fans before. I’d suggest, though, that the name-calling is counterproductive. It certainly doesn’t improve the odds of convincing one’s opponents.

    Example: When I checked BioBob’s peppered moth link I found this comment:

    “ID and Creationist propagandists will never stop using the peppered moth bit, anymore than climate change denialists will ever stop claiming that the famous emails revealed unholy doings…Good luck getting people who think you’re the enemy to invest the effort required to actually understand an issue that requires as many as three sentences to convey.”

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/02/selective-bird.html#comment-278540

    The irony, it burns! Such arrogance also makes me want to support the creationist view out of sheer cussedness.

    Almost. :-)

  64. Dear Duster,

    “evolution” does NOT = “Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Species”

    It is (essentially): Change over time with-IN species via NON-directed mutation and natural selection.

    “[T]he varieties of dogs you see being walked every day… ” came about from highly DIRECTED genetic selection.

    Who’s the “religious” one, here? Takes a WHOLE lot of faith to believe in Darwinism (even as refined by later scientists).

    Why did you bring in pastors and stuff like that anyway?

    Sincerely,

    Janice

  65. Well, I have to agree with BioBob’s comment that evolution brings out bad behavior. I don’t understand why.

    Some folks seem to insist that I must agree with their world view. And I would, if I believed that the links posted so far proved conclusively what is claimed. But I don’t see it that way. That makes me ‘ignorant’ to more than one commenter. Who has the problem here?

    I look at evolution as the argument that people are descended from apes, more than the argument that different breeds of dogs prove anything. To me, evolution means evolving to a higher state. As I said, I am not a biologist [or a creationist, and I think DDT was the best medical invention of the last century]. But I do believe in evolution. What I asked for is proof. I know that is a high bar, but I didn’t see proof. I saw some evidence. Not the same thing.

    Forgive me if the examples posted were not very convincing. What I hoped for was more than a few examples of simple natural selection. If evolution is nothing more than natural selection, there is no need to go ballistic. I think I’ve been pretty level-headed in this thread, unlike some.

    Finally, I agree with a lot of what Cathering has written. Part of the reason I replied to her was because she was very unreasonable in her attack on Janice Moore, who has never been anything but polite to everyone. She only asked for information. Catherine responded with some vicious name-calling ["...you chose to pontificate out of such laughable ignorance."]

    I wrote way upthread: “I am not a biologist, and I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I would like to see some proven observations showing evolution in action. I’m interested, that’s all.” And I’m not alone: another commenter wrote “I would like to see some proven observations showing evolution in action.” So you see, some folks here are just not as convincing as they think they are. Or, maybe ‘evolution’ means different things to different people.

    I expected more than the links that have been posted. I didn’t expect the insults for having a different view of the matter. So at this point I will agree that I’m ignorant about evolution. I will stay that way on this subject, because it’s time for me to MovOn. ☹

  66. james says:
    April 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    a butterfly that adapts to a new enviroment is still a butterfly.
    ___________________
    They used to be called flutterbys, so what’s that tell you?

    listening to: Jethro Tull- “Thick As A Brick”

  67. Duster says (April 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm): “…why Spanish immigrants could not reproduce at the high altitudes in Peru, while their children and descendants, who grew up there, could and continue to do so”

    Since discussions on “religious” subjects like evolution are endless and often unproductive, I try instead to mine them for humor. While I think I understand what Duster means, as written it’s pretty funny. :-)

    BTW thanks for posting, Duster. I hope Catherine reconsiders and continues to educate us as well.

  68. james says:
    April 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Are you having us on?

    You know that we can keep going farther & farther back into insect evolution, don’t you?

    Order Lepidoptera probably evolved in the Early Jurassic from a group of Trichopterans (caddisflies), which emerged in the Triassic. Those two sister orders are grouped into the superorder Amphiesmenoptera, which Grimaldi & Engel find diverged from the extinct Necrotaulidae in the Jurassic as well. Whiting, et al, proposed a sister group for Amphiesmenoptera called Antliophora, a superorder comprising Diptera (flies), Siphonaptera (fleas) & Mecoptera (scorpionflies). The two superorders, Amphiesmenoptera & Antliophora, compose the group Mecopterida in this cladistic phylogenic reconstruction.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0079500

    BTW, the Ur Butterfly probably took wing in the Paleocene or even Cretaceous, not the Eocene.

  69. Catherine Ronconi says:
    April 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm
    ________________

    I just knew you were a physician and you just set about proving it in yet more ways, without even having to mention saving a patient.
    My diagnosis is that you’re in real need of stress relief. I’d add that it’s apparent to me that any woman displaying such an aggressive and self- stroking bitchy attitude, seriously needs it, so here’s my prescription- do yourself and everyone else a real favor and go %&* yourself.

    Ps You don’t have time to be here, with your stress- you- out life as a little god (little g,) but about those multi- hundred thousands of deaths each year due to physician error…

  70. Dear Ms. Ronconi,

    You have said many things, some quite worthwhile, but you have not proven your point.

    1. You at 10:47am: “Adaptation is an evolutionary process. It might or might not eventually produce a new species. ”

    Answer: Adaptation has only been observed to drive change with-IN species.

    2. You (10:47): “…the case of polyploidy… .” [or secondary speciation]

    Answer: “[Re:] chromosome doubling, or “polyploidy.”43 This usually follows hybridization between two existing plant species. Most hybrids are sterile because their mismatched chromosomes can’t separate properly to produce fertile pollen and ovaries; occasionally, however, the chromosomes in a hybrid spontaneously double, producing two perfectly matched sets and making reproduction possible. The result is a fertile plant that is reproductively isolated from the two parents—a new species, according to the BSC [Ernst Mayr's Biological Species Concept].

    But speciation by polyploidy (“secondary speciation”) has been observed only in plants. It does not provide evidence for Darwin’s theory that species originate through natural selection, nor for the neo-Darwinian theory of speciation by geographic separation and genetic divergence. Indeed, according to evolutionary biologist Douglas J. Futuyma, polyploidy “does not confer major new morphological characteristics… [and] does not cause the evolution of new genera” or higher levels in the biological hierarchy.44

    So secondary speciation does not solve Darwin’s problem. Only primary speciation—the splitting of one species into two by natural selection—would be capable of producing the branching-tree pattern of Darwinian evolution. But no one has ever observed primary speciation. Evolution’s smoking gun has never been found.45

    {Source: http://www.discovery.org/a/10661}

    3. Your “human evolution” leg-bone point (10:47): “…Our upright stance probably owes to a single gross chromosomal mutation… .”

    Answer: Your theorizing has ENORMOUS gaps in it. You have fallen FAR short of showing a sufficiently detailed chain of causation from asserted driver to result. Pure speculation.

    4. Along with more conjecture and unobserved generalizations at 1:25pm, you make a plausible point about polyploidy: “In plants, it’s common for new species to emerge in a single generation through polyploidy… .”

    However…

    Answer: “In Why Evolution Is True, [Jerry] Coyne claims that primary speciation was observed in an experiment reported in 1998. Curiously, Coyne did not mention it in the 2004 book he co-authored with Orr, but his 2009 account of it is worth quoting in full:

    ‘We can even see the origin of a new, ecologically diverse bacterial species, all within a single laboratory flask. Paul Rainey and his colleagues at Oxford University placed a strain of the bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens in a small vessel containing nutrient broth, and simply watched it. (It’s surprising but true that such a vessel actually contains diverse environments. Oxygen concentration, for example, is highest on the top and lowest on the bottom.) Within ten days—no more than a few hundred generations—the ancestral free-floating ‘smooth’ bacterium had evolved into two additional forms occupying different parts of the beaker. One, called ‘wrinkly spreader,’ formed a mat on top of the broth. The other, called ‘fuzzy spreader,’ formed a carpet on the bottom. The smooth ancestral type persisted in the liquid environment in the middle. Each of the two new forms was genetically different from the ancestor, having evolved through mutation and natural selection to reproduce best in their respective environments. Here, then, is not only evolution but speciation occurring in the lab: the ancestral form produced, and coexisted with, two ecologically different descendants, and in bacteria such forms are considered distinct species. Over a very short time, natural selection in Pseudomonas yielded a small-scale ‘adaptive radiation,’ the equivalent of how animals or plants form species when they encounter new environments on an oceanic island.’46

    But Coyne omits the fact that when the ecologically different forms were placed back into the same environment, they “suffered a rapid loss of diversity,” according to Rainey. In bacteria, an ecologically distinct population (called an “ecotype”) may constitute a separate species, but only if the distinction is permanent. As evolutionary microbiologist Frederick Cohan wrote in 2002, species in bacteria “are ecologically distinct from one another; and they are irreversibly separate.”47 The rapid reversal of ecological distinctions when the bacterial populations in Rainey’s experiment were put back into the same environment refutes Coyne’s claim that the experiment demonstrated the origin of a new species.”

    {Source: http://www.discovery.org/a/10661}

    Finally, dear Ms. Ronconi, why the angry, sneeringly dismissive, tone? Surely, one so highly informed and confident in her position as you could be a bit more gracious to someone she apparently perceives as being simpleminded-to-the-point-of-idiocy? However, in spite of that, I take heart! (with a bit of a wry smile) For you flatter me by such a vigorous attack. I must come off, despite all my failings, as quite the worthy opponent!

    Now. How about if we TRY (I promise I will) to be friends? Certainly we disagree! The two concepts are not mutually exclusive, you know.
    #(:))

    Your Ally for Truth (about human CO2, at least),

    Janice

    P.S. Did I say anything about “creation?” How did that come into all this?

  71. james says:
    April 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    it is a lot of fun too get a debate going if every body plays nice
    ________________
    James, most of us think of ourselves as agreeing with you, but it sure is fun to get into fights, too. Maybe next time (or later in this thread.)

  72. Alan!

    THANK YOU, SO MUCH FOR CALLING ME A “FRIEND.”

    You made my day.

    btw: not just Patrick, but YOU, my friend, are BOTH being prayed for {yes, yes, I realize Ms. Ronconi will likely never want to be my friend when she reads that I pray. Sigh.} for the same thing… . (whenyoumeetherTELLus, okay? — smiling and looking forward to hearing your good news — OH, DON’T TELL ME YOU HAVEN’T WISHED FOR THAT… — I could tell from some comments you have made over the past few months, so I decided to pray. Of course, God may say, “Not yet…,” for quite awhile, too… . Hang in there.)

    Your friend and ally for truth,

    Janice

  73. Correction to mine at 5:52pm —
    At 4. replace “polyploidy” with: “your point about bacterial evolution’… “

  74. Jezzee, and all those years the poor CO2 molecules where pretty confused;

    Jim: (thinking out loud) It’s warmer now, shouldn’t there be more of us around ?
    Oh, there there are, how ya doing Fred, long time no see.

    Fred: yeah I got stuck in a stupid log until somebody burnt it, thank goodness.

    Jim: What’s that’s Fred ? we are supposed to be driving the temperature ?
    OK, Ok, I’ll get right on that.

    Fred: yeah and try to be quicker about, that last ice age went on way longer than it was supposed to.

    Jim: Oh, by the way Fred, which way am I driving the temperature now, Up or Down? I get so confused in my old age.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  75. While the evolutionary aspects of the digs at the tar pits are interesting, I’ve made my pilgrimage there and was more intrigued with the part of the parking lot they had to close off due to asphalt seepage. It’s such a strange place to find in the middle of the city.

    Pilgrimage indeed – It’s a hallowed place to software engineers and anyone else who is at fan of Frederick Brooks’ The Mythical Man-Month, still one of the best books on managing software development. http://www.amazon.com/Mythical-Man-Month-Software-Engineering-Anniversary/dp/0201835959/ref=sr_1_1

  76. Ric Werme,

    I just checked out Mythical Man-Month. What I read made me want to read the whole thing! (and I’m only a computer-science BUSINESS emphasis major).

    This is SO TRUE (I can remember this from my first CS course (BASIC):

    “Adjusting to the requirement for perfection is, I think, the most difficult part of learning to program.”

    Yes! The higher the intelligence (humans = highest) the less perfection is required. It was excruciating to remember (for a simple little example) that a computer (of average intelligence in 1983) is NOT going to see that spelling “UNTL” means, obviously (eye roll, duh! (smile)) “UNTIL,” just a typo… .
    #(:))

    …. and on and on.

    I tell you, Mr. Werme, the more I read about computer science and of the IPCC’s computer models, the more I am FIRMLY CONVINCED that the IPCC’s computer simulation code is not just JUNK it is NON-EXISTENT!

    Thanks for sharing that!

    Janice

  77. dbstealey says:
    BioBob links to the debunked [IIRC] study of the peppered moth. I’m too lazy to look it up…

    The Peppered moth study by Bernard Kettlewell in the 1950s has been shown to be flawed. That doesn’t mean the moths don’t adapt to their environment, it only means the research wasn’t properly done and included gluing moths to tree trunks so photos could be taken. I thought I had read about it here on WUWT, but when I searched for moth, only a story about clouds appeared. I have no idea why. However, the link below provides some info about Peppered moths and the flawed study. I have also included a short extract from the article below the link.

    http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/tis2/index.php/evidence-for-evolution-mainmenu-65/127-the-peppered-moth.html

    “…the peppered moth remains a peppered moth. Only the relative frequencies of light and dark varieties will alter. When the environmental conditions change again, so do the frequencies. This clearly demonstrates the on-going presence of both light and dark forms within the gene pool of this species.

    Conclusion
    School children need to learn that the peppered moth story provides evidence for changes of frequencies of different types within a population, but it does not show that large scale evolution can occur. They should also understand that the original experiments behind the peppered moth story have widely acknowledged flaws, and some of these issues have been addressed in more recent experiments.

  78. Oh, (smile), but dear James, the sky touches the earth… .

    LET’S ARGUE ABOUT ARGUING!!!! OOOOKAY??!!!
    #(;))

    Just a little gentle humor, I hope. Yes, one can debate civilly without it turning into a quarrel. Rancor and invective are NOT necessary to reasoned discourse. More heat than light is generated by that method, in the long run anyway.

    I’ll try to remember your very good exhortation.

    Take care,

    Janice

  79. “””””…..Catherine Ronconi says:

    April 10, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Richard Sharpe says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

    The topic raised by Ferdinand is indeed speciation, what he called “species metamorphosis”. In the early 19th century it was called “transmutation”. It is a repeatedly observed, scientific fact. Evolutionary theory seeks to explain these observations. Like any well supported body of scientific theory, such as gravitation, it constantly improves through the scientific method……”””””

    “Commentary on puzzling things in life………”

    This is why WUWT is such a success. We can always depend on some body who really knows, to set us straight,

    I’ve never read Darwin’s “Origin of Species”, but I get the gist, even just from the title. It almost seems self evident.

    I just look at my kids; and see they are different; in many ways from their parents, as we differ from ours. I can see how good traits might persist better than poor ones. Sooner or later that’s got to matter.

    I wasn’t good at biology, so it’s nice when we get contributions from readers, such as Catherine, who seem to be.

    I actually kick in annually towards a scholarship, for someone , who’s both unwealthy, and of Polynesian persuasion, to work towards a degree in Biology at the University of Auckland. Another person provides the beef, I just make the gravy; but right now we have someone getting a Marine Biology degree at Auckland.

    If he decides to study sea otters, I’ll disown him. But I’m all for more graceful wolves; I always liked the ballet anyway.

    Thanks for keeping us straight Catherine; maybe I should read Darwin.

  80. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm
    __________________
    It never crossed my mind that you wouldn’t know that you are my friend. Besides a long standing familiarity, we often stand on common ground, but more than that, I know your heart is in the right place. That’s one definition of friendship for me, but perhaps not to others.

    If you must pray for me, I ask only this- that you ask that my highest need be met- that way you won’t hole my skiff when you only meant to scrape barnacles. I assure you that I have no idea what such a need might be, but having witnessed the invisible hand at work many times in many ways, then that prayer should do. I’ve set the course and trimmed the sails and my hand’s been on the tiller, but it wasn’t me that steered around those rocks and into those strange ports of call.

  81. Dear Alan,

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and kind reply (made even more welcome after Mr. Smith’s subtle but definite disrespect just above for my comments — yes, I noticed — and yes, it was disappointing, but, oh, well). I asked him how his sister was and said I was praying for her about a week ago. He just ignored me. What a refreshing response from you, much appreciated.

    If I MUST pray for you (lol)… . I am HAPPY to pray. And I will (continue) pray for ALL your needs (and heart’s desires, too) to be met. Re: a habit you hoped to get rid of, I’ve been praying about for nearly a year, now. THAT is a toughy. Don’t sweat it, too much. Lots of wonderful people can’t get rid of that one.

    Well, indeed, God knows what is best. And God can DO it! “‘ALL things are possible… .'”

    Take care.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Janice

    P.S. I didn’t think we were enemies, but “friend” is a big word and I don’t like to assume.

    ****************************************

    @ D. B. — Thank you. Much appreciated (your support earlier today).

  82. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Cutting & pasting from professional liars is no substitute for actually trying to learn & understand. Uncritically accepting the odious “work” of the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis & their partners in mendacity is farther removed from a genuine search for truth than buying into Mann on the “pause”.

    I know I can have no affect on your faith in these paid liars, but for the record let me point out that all you posted is a pack of lies, as is your assertion that speciation has never been observed. As is your disingenuous claim not to be a creationist. As the Dover trial showed, ID is nothing but creationism. If you’re honestly not a creationist, then please provide your explanation for the origin of species, if it’s not evolution or creation.

    You asserted:

    “1. You at 10:47am: “Adaptation is an evolutionary process. It might or might not eventually produce a new species. ”

    “Answer: Adaptation has only been observed to drive change with-IN species.”

    As you should know by now, this is false as false can be. Repeating the false claims of ID liars doesn’t make it true. If somehow you didn’t know it before, then read the many instances provided you in the comments above. Just because the truth is inconvenient to your cult’s beliefs, doesn’t make it not true.

    2. Polyploidy is not “secondary speciation”. That is a totally bogus term invented by the professional liars. There is such a thing as secondary evolution in biology, but it has nothing to do with this mendacious “concept”, if I can dignify it with that term.

    Polyploidy produces new species, period. No ifs, ands, buts or “secondaries”. Reproductive isolation means they daughter species is a new species. It happens all the time.

    Your assertion that it has only been observed in plants is another lie. I say lie, because nothing could have been easier for you to have checked this lie by the professional liars in whom you’ve so naively placed so much trust. Speciation by polyploidy, which is very common in plants, is less so in animals, but still happens, even among vertebrates such as fish & amphibians.

    http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/polyploidy-1552814

    It’s also not true that speciation by polyploidy doesn’t support speciation by natural selection, because the new polyploid species that survive & reproduce successfully are obviously subject to selective pressure, just like all species.

    The out of context quotation from Dr. Futuyma is a typical professional ID liar ploy. They do the same thing with other issues in evolutionary theory, such as “punctuated equilibrium” or those who argue that stochastic processes are more important in speciation than old-fashioned (“directional”, not “directed” into which you’ll see it shamelessly warped) natural selection, trying to con the scientifically illiterate into falling for their line that the fact of evolution is in doubt among biologists, not just theoretical issues. Futuyma is an old school morphologist, sometimes at odds with the modern school of genetic species classification. He might disagree with that characterization, but read this & form your own opinion:

    http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/12/05/biosci.bit009.short?rss=1

    There are differing schools of thought in evolutionary theory, just as with the theory of gravitation, the Big Bang theory & most other generally accepted scientific theories. It doesn’t mean that evolution, gravitation & the Big Bang don’t or didn’t happen.

    Much as I respect Futuyma’s work within his area of expertise, he’s simply wrong that polyploidy doesn’t produce genera or higher categories of plants. It has even been observed to occur across genera. I must admit however that defining genera is even dicier than species. Catherine posted a link on the numerous species & genera of polyploid plants, which somehow you must have missed.

    “Primary” vs “secondary” speciation is a blatant lie. The branching tree is evident throughout the world of life, nowhere more so than on the genetic level at which we’re now able to study it. That “evolution’s smoking gun has never been found” is yet another outrageous lie by the Discovery Institute. The smoke is all around us, all the time.

    “3. Your “human evolution” leg-bone point (10:47): “…Our upright stance probably owes to a single gross chromosomal mutation… .”

    Answer: Your theorizing has ENORMOUS gaps in it. You have fallen FAR short of showing a sufficiently detailed chain of causation from asserted driver to result. Pure speculation.”

    Had you bothered to conduct the most rudimentary Internet search, you’d have found this assertion false as well. It’s not speculation but a fact that the fusion of two small chromosomes into the human #2 is associated with upright walking because the BMPR2 gene is located on the long arm of this chromosome. That gene is for bone morphogenetic protein receptor, type II (serine/threonine kinase). So it might be speculative that the evolution of this presently uniquely human chromosome is associated with hominid posture & gait, it’s not pure speculation but an hypothesis for which a strong case can be made. No ENORMOUS gaps, but a reasonable hypothesis

    Please don’t let your religious beliefs get in the way of searching for the truth.

    4. Nothing in your irrelevant cut & paste about bacterial evolution is to Catherine’s point about the evolution of nylon metabolism in different bacterial genera through simple mutations, which are facts observed in the wild & in the lab. Nor about the founder’s principle, experimental results on which she provided a link or citation. Maybe you don’t consider a bacterium which evolves from eating sugar to eating nylon as a new species, but that says more about you than about evolution.

    Same goes for flies which evolve from drinking fruit juices to drinking blood.

    I hope in future you’ll think twice about reasserting the falsehood that the evolution of new species has never been observed. It’s visible all the time live & in color all around us, not just on remote islands, in rocks, our bodies & genes.

    Yours, if you really are interested in truth rather than cleverly packaged lies. I also doubt very much that Catherine would be horrified by your prayers. Too bad she’s not here to tell you so herself. Alan’s probably right about her being stressed out. Blog commenting is maybe an activity for the retired or slackers, except for energetic genuine experts willing to share the results of their work with others, like Drs. Svalgaard & Brown.

  83. From those same tar pits, evidence of carbon starvation in juniper trees:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/102/3/690.full

    The title is “Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California”
    The paper is dated 2004, before such inconvenient truths were verbotten in the peer-reviewed journals. Anthony, this paper also predates WUWT and it may be worth making a post from it. The carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere remains dangerously low. The plants we rely upon in our diet evolved when CO2 levels were four times what they are now. The plants are still gasping for breath. I feel for them.

  84. Janice I love your posts? O/T I have just been told on the comments section of a local paper, that I am a moron, half twit, etc., because I have just connected to the National Broadband Network, that’s optic fibre instead of copper wire. I was on Wireless Network 3, got terrific reception but my server was not going ahead with NBN. So I went back to Telstra. It says on my computer, Wireless Network 3 and a Telstra number. These jokers are telling me There’s no such thing. Yet – I know that not all receivers are directly connected to cable, but can pick up NBN via wireless. You can’t win my friend. Just as well I am English, as it is said, you can’t insult the English, it bounces of their backs like water off a ducks back. ( Probably a national inbuilt arrogance, who cares).

  85. Just a minor correction …. The authors say “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear. We haven’t been able to establish causality there yet. But we are working on it.” What they meant to say is “Then native americans show up who live in complete harmony with nature and by some weird coincidence unrelated to their benign presence here all the big ones disappear.” Maybe “the big ones disappear(ed)” in anticipation of the arrival of Europeans.

  86. Thank you, Bush Bunny, SO MUCH! Thanks for taking the time to write that.

    I enjoy you, too. You are never petty or mean… and you say what you mean.
    #(:))
    Hoping all is well out there on “the ranch” — dog, son, etc… . (oh, and your broadband connectivity, arrrrrrgh — COMPUTERS!!!!! (heh)).

    – I’m assuming the “?” was a typo — (smile)

    Take care,

    Janice

    P.S. I’m 3/4 English. So THAT is why I’m going to ignore a certain snarler and slanderer. Thanks for the insight into how I tick (re: who I let tick me off).
    #(:))

  87. No it was coming from the ice age to an interglacial. It was the browsers that died off in Australia.
    Obviously humans in North America would have had some impact, but evidence shows that this was minimal. Anyway, your buffalo was bigger once, but they grew smaller. And before horses,
    Native Indians found it hard to catch them.

  88. milodonharlani says:
    April 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    _________________
    Many thanks for your input. I’m also ignorant of various schools of thought and oppositional points of view, as the ID which you mention. Catherine mentioned the Founder’s principle and the two of you have provided more links than I’ve absorbed, or read yet, but I have developed a question, for which I must seek the answer. Surely many others have described and discussed the phenomenon which I mentioned at: April 10, 2014 at 1:15 pmspecifically, we see speciation tailored to specific circumstance, which seems beyond random mutation events. In time, I hope to discover what current hypotheses attempt to explain the phenomenon.

    I came down hard on Catherine (too hard, but what fun,) and if she’s 1/2 as smart as I think she is, she’ll get the point(s).

    You pegged my modus as a blog commenter, being somewhat retired, but I have much to do, especially now that a whole new world of interest and inquiry is now visible, with my nose lifted from the grindstone.

  89. It was the browsers that died off in Australia.

    I was always of the view that IE and Mozilla were bad.

  90. Janice, it was a typo. Sorry. Oh, evolutionary phases and adjustments, bit of knowledge here, though Willis I am not giving references, I am not completing an university essay, post graduate.
    If you look at the various families including Homo sapiens, the seven families has not changed.
    It’s the genus that have and species. But the late Prof Mike Morwood and his team on Flores, threw a cat amongst the pigeons in the palaeoanthropology discipline, when they discovered a very small biped that they called The Hobbit on the island. They used tools too. So could be included in the primate family and were given the prefix Homo. Did that get a sound criticism in the press and on TV. A new genus and should have been extinct 1 million years ago. They died out only about 18,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption and appear to have been isolated so long, that the little elephants grew smaller too. But he was proven right anyway, and he taught me too. All species can adapt, however, those that are too specialised risk extinction if their environment changes for various reasons and they can’t adapt or move away to a more feasible environment, and keep breeding.
    Humans propose, nature deposes. Humans are not specialised, we don’t depend on hunter and gathering or fishing to keep alive, being vegetable and meat eaters our brains have adapted too. What will kill us now killed those years ago. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and cyclones, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, disease and famine. Asteroid and meteor impacts, And wars.

  91. @Richard Sharpe — LOL. #(:))
    ****************************************
    Thanks, Bush Bunny. I was pretty sure, but, thanks. #(:))

  92. Richard ha ha. Browsers were megafauna that ate trees, and didn’t graze. All I can remember about genetic mutation was that an established genetic pool in a region is stronger and more resilient to its environment than one that comes into their region. If they are of the same species, and can interbreed, there is a mutation of possibly a newer genus. Dogs are a good example. But nature has allowed this, this is why we can’t interbreed with other primates. Who would want too? The new mutated species has adapted and this happens to trees as well. In our New England National park, the Antarctic beech in the temperate rain forest, is not deciduous any more. It dominates the gum trees, who are not deciduous either. And bush fires do not penetrate rain forests areas.

  93. wws i do not think you understand what you are talking about, the Bakken oil is anywhere from eight thousand feet down to twelve thousand feet down, the North dakota oil field has never been or ever will be a shallow oil field, two mile of pipe must be held up by the oil rig. Such rigs are big and expensive. North Dakota has been and will remain on of the most challenging oil fields in the world, the temperature swing is over a hundred and fifty degree difference, I have been 107 heat and – 50 cold there, average wind speed it one of the highest in the nation. My comment to people is if you want to fish lake Sakakawea you better be prepared to fish in a twenty five mile and hour wind. Average wind speed for the day of thirty mile an hour is not unusual, I once clocked a can blowing a snow covered ditch at 45 mile and hour. I had to keep my garbage can tied up so it would not blow away filled or unfilled. I no longer live in North Dakota, Arizona weather is a lot easier to take, even with triple digit temperatures four month out of the year.

  94. bushbunny says (April 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm): “But nature has allowed this, this is why we can’t interbreed with other primates. Who would want too?”

    Apparently it’s been tried:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanzee

    Also, it’s suggested that interbreeding may have occurred between proto-humans and proto-chimps:

    “A new comparison of the human and chimp genomes suggests that after the two lineages separated, they may have begun interbreeding… A principal finding is that the X chromosomes of humans and chimps appear to have diverged about 1.2 million years more recently than the other chromosomes.”

    Okaaaaay. But I’m still not participating in “Take Your Chimp to Work Day”. :-)

  95. “””””…..Philip Nolan says:

    April 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Just a minor correction …. The authors say “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear. We haven’t been able to establish causality there yet. But we are working on it.” What they meant to say is “Then native Americans show up who live in complete harmony with nature and by some weird coincidence unrelated to their benign presence here all the big ones disappear.” Maybe “the big ones disappear(ed)” in anticipation of the arrival of Europeans……”””””

    It wasn’t the Europeans that arrived; it was some ‘ istanis, either uzbekistanis or Tajikistanis; or one of those. They were the ancestors of all “native Americans, north, south and central. Far as I know anyway. I’m thinking it was the Uzbeks, who gave us that wonderful humanist Tamerlane, or Timor if you prefer, but sometime after they gave us native Americans; who evidently first danced with the graceful Dire wolves.

    Izzat dire as in fire, or some non phonetic jingle like deeray or some such.

    Who called them dire wolves; as if wolf isn’t dire enough ??

  96. {WARNING: MUTE IF YOU HATE TO HEAR GOD MENTIONED OR ALLUDED TO IN A SONG)}

    Feeling a great need to bring some sweetness and light to this thread, here is:

    … a little prairie beauty and poetry-in-music from me to you… yes, even you, “milodonharlani.”

    “Calling Out Your Name” — Rich Mullins

    With agape, even now, milodonharlani, even now.

  97. “Then humans show up and all the big ones disappear”

    The McDonalds effect, people like bigger hamburgers.

    This also explains the related issue of why the sabre tooths went extinct, humans took over their Big Mac food supply, they just couldn’t cut it on French fries and happy meals.

  98. When the Monarch butterflies were migrating through my garden last year, they were accompanied by a number of butterflies which shared some, but not all of the Monarch’s
    appearance, but were different enough to look like different types altogether. I took pics and looked ‘em up and they were all varieties of Monarch, not different species.
    This brings up a question, for me. I have many Robins and Blue Jay visitors around my place and they all look the same. There are sometimes subtle differences by which one can tell individuals apart, but still, all Robins are the same. The Blue Jays haven’t undergone some genetic mutation which allows them to be perfectly viable, but with maybe an extra black and white stripe on their tails, or some other thing. If evolution of species is just random genetic events, why aren’t there populations of something derived from and close to Blue Jays, but which are fully as capable of species survival as the Jays which they originated from? What about whatever species the Robin derived from? Where are they? Why have we seen some birds become adapted specifically to be able to hover at bird feeders, but yet we don’t see similar instances of the same species with different, but equally viable adaptations for no discernible reason at all?

    Perhaps it’s already known why a specific modification to a creature’s “blueprint and production” happens between generations in a manner that creates exactly what was needed to take advantage of a local circumstance. I ‘m so clueless, it’s almost painful.

  99. Joined this thread late. Back to the ‘tar pits’ topic? Folks might be interested in ‘tar hills’ below the coastal waters of California. They are natural tar seeps, similar to La Brea, but just off the California coasts.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100425151143.htm

    Ancient asphalt domes discovered off California coast
    Date:April 26, 2010
    Source:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    About 35,000 years ago, a series of apparent undersea volcanoes deposited massive flows of petroleum 10 miles offshore. The deposits hardened into domes that were discovered recently by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and UC Santa Barbara (UCSB).

  100. Hi, Mac,

    I sure could use a “Hi, Sweet Pea” right about now.

    Hope all is well with you.

    Good point to refute the Envirowackos who use that natural oil seepage to stop offshore drilling.

    Janice

  101. “””””…..Janice Moore says:

    April 10, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Dear Alan,

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and kind reply (made even more welcome after Mr. Smith’s subtle but definite disrespect just above for my comments — yes, I noticed — and yes, it was disappointing, but, oh, well). I asked him how his sister was and said I was praying for her about a week ago. He just ignored me. …..””””‘

    Well Janice, I just completed a total reading of this entire thread to find your “subtle but definite disrespect just above for your comments.”

    I can find NO reference to any of YOUR posts, in any of MY posts, in this entire thread.

    So whence the “disrespect” ??

    As for your query about my sister, it was NOT ignored; it was much appreciated; and I thought long and hard about responding; but did not want to bore the WUWT readers, over something personal.

    Her condition is horrific; but very greatly improved, since I went over there, and since I returned; She will never be well again. Yes maybe your prayer did help. Something did, and it surely wasn’t me being there.

    My internet security continues to try to disconnect me from WUWT; I smell a rat (antiwuwt)

  102. Thank for the devotional, Janice!
    Looks like it was a bit ‘peppery’ up thread! Seems like a lot of that ill tempered ‘tude about lately.
    Keep smilin’ Kiddoo!
    Mac

  103. Dear Mr. Smith,

    Thank you for clarifying that. Given the context, I assumed wrongly that your advocating the one I attempted to refute was silent disapproval and disrespect for all my arguments. I’ll try not to do that again.

    I’m so sorry about your sister. I’m glad that she is better. I’ll keep up the prayers for her very hard situation (and, even now, for healing). YOU DID HELP HER. When we suffer, we need healing, but we also need HELP TO COPE WITH IT WHILE IT LASTS. You gave your sister love and that gave her strength and courage. This, in turn, revitalized her HOPE, the most important thing of all when one is going through such a hard time.

    Don’t worry about the other readers when the thread gets down this far… they just skip over stuff like this (I think 75% of them auto-skip over all “Janice Moore says” no matter what — smile).

    Re: your security firewall software, it may be some of the ads that are displayed automatically on WUWT. It may not trust them. Hope it isn’t any of the videos I’ve posted! Youtube is supposed to be pretty safe for viewing, though, and I only post youtube vids.

    I hope that all is well with your son in college, too. (he is prayed for, too, you know)

    And with you. Are you working on any electronic and or music projects these days?

    So glad we got to “talk!” Take care.

    Your Ally for Truth in Science and WUWT pal,

    Janice

  104. Richard Sharpe says (April 10, 2014 at 10:32 pm): “The paper that makes the claim about 1.2 million years more recently…”

    Thanks for the link, Richard.

    I suspect that at least part of the prejudice against evolution is based on conscious or unconscious revulsion that we’re so closely related to–quoting Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes”–“damn dirty apes”. I’ve also wondered if evolution would be more acceptable to some if it turned out we were actually more closely related to something cuter, like dolphins. :-)

  105. I thought this was a science blog? Well, people are entitled to their religious beliefs, but they should not confuse them with science. If you don’t believe in evolution then that is great, but it has nothing to do with the subject of this post – a very weak paper based on little data that makes ludicrous claims that have nothing to do with evolution. This is just licking the spittle of the CAGW orthodoxy. It is hard to blame the authors too much. Why not give it a go? The editors and reviewers of the journal are the ones who are really to blame – this paper should have been turfed.

    For those of you who are pepper-moth-challenged try these sites:

    Grant BS. 1999. Fine tuning the Peppered Moth Paradigm. Evolution 53: 980-984. http://bsgran.people.wm.edu/melanism.pdf

    Majerus MEN. 1998. Melanism – Evolution in Action. Oxford University Press, NY. http://www.amazon.ca/Melanism-Evolution-Michael-E-Majerus/dp/0198549822

    Miller K. The Peppered Moth – An update. http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/Moths/moths.html

    For BioBob – nice to see you are on the side of science (in your curmudgeonly way), but reticulate evolution is very common even among Eukaryotes. Look at the interbreeding tendencies amongst the Canidae. If you want to be really grossed out, try plants (all Eukaryotes). Some plants (especially those that use the winds for sex – probably not coincidentally including many ‘species’ we depend on for food) are about as indiscriminate in their sexual proclivities as you could imagine, even if you live in California (I have, so no complaints about bias, I am speaking from experience). Speciation can be instantaneeous when allopolyploidy occurs.

    There is no reason why anyone trying to make sense of the world has to believe in evolution by natural selection (traditional Darwinism). Many evolutionists do not – they think drift or meiotic drive or some other preferred method is more important. However, all of these scientists do agree that populations change over time and that the world we see around us today is the result of change over time. No one who tries to use the scientific method as the basis for their analysis of nature claims that the natural world is fixed and cannot change. That is clearly in contravention to the facts.

    If you believe otherwise, then unless you can support your beliefs by testable hypotheses, then probably they are not science. If you think that ‘evolutionists’ are bullying you or your children into accepting Darwinism as gospel, then I suggest you re-evaluate the problem. I bet its is mostly (mad dogs like Dawkins and his ilk excepted) government bureaucrats who are the problem. They are force-feeding your offspring what they think is politically correct, just as they do with CAGW. Evolution by Natural Selection should never be taught as more than the most generally excepted scientific theory to explain the diversity of life, not as an absolute explanation for life. Alternative theories not based in the scientific method, however, do not belong in science classes.

  106. Dear evolutionists, variability is not evidence for undirected variability. Windows XP installments vary greatly but the variation is all dependant on the action of an intelligent agent (the programmer). Your framework is Complexity = a*Natural laws + b where b is noise.
    The intelligent design framework is Complexity = a*Function + b, where b is statistical noise.
    Accordingt to the evolutionist framework, there can be no intent or real control since every variable is dependent on the others, thus science is impossible since the variables are fed to scientists by the environment. Science requires controlled settings, control implies teleology, teleology is incompatible with evolution since evolution denies teleology. Science requires reason, reason reqires free thought, free thought requires free will, free will requires supernaturalism. You can’t test something while in the test tube. You have to disconnect yourself from the subject of your observations. You can’t do that in a naturalist setting since you are a product of the very thing you try to observe.

  107. There also squirrels.

    Squirrels used to zig-zag to avoid predators. Then came fast autos and many squashed squirrels. During my lifetime I have seen the behavior go from zig-zag to a mad dash across the road for squirrel populations near high use roads.

    I still see zig-zag squirrels but only in the country with low use roads.

  108. Catherine Ronconi says: @ April 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Mod:
    If my long comment wasn’t blocked…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Catherine, long comments that take a long time to type especially those with more than two links get shoved into the spam filter by WordPress and a human has to physically fish them out again.

    It is darn frustrating, I spend a lot of time in moderation, but you will find it all over the net on WordPress hosted blogs.

    Hang in there. There are plenty of intelligent people here but as long as everyone stays polite no one is censored. A brisk interchange of ideas is always useful.

    For those of us without any back ground in biology (I am a chemist) the ideas you bring are interesting.

    You can replace h*t*t*p://www. with (wwwDOT) to provide a link without getting kicked into the ether.
    Also I do not compose in the WordPress window or if I do I copy and remove it and then put it back before pressing the [post comment]

  109. Gail Combs says:

    Also I do not compose in the WordPress window or if I do I copy and remove it and then put it back before pressing the [post comment]

    Why?

  110. Alan Robertson says:
    April 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Re: “Evolution can and does lead to the origin of new species”

    This has NEVER been observed.

    _______________________
    Actually, we’ve witnessed speciation in our own lifetimes. Here’s just one example:

    http://www.livescience.com/7984-human-feeding-creates-population-birds.html

    ============================================================================
    I know I said this before but here’s another example.
    “When glaciers calve, alarmist have a cow. That explains all the bellowing.”

    Regarding Darwin or dire wolves having smilodon pups and bacteria becoming algae, the science was settled and the consensus formed a hundred years or so ago.
    Hockey Sticks don’t hold a candle to embryology and Nebraska Man.

  111. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Dear Duster,

    “evolution” does NOT = “Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Species”

    It is (essentially): Change over time with-IN species via NON-directed mutation and natural selection.

    “[T]he varieties of dogs you see being walked every day… ” came about from highly DIRECTED genetic selection.

    Who’s the “religious” one, here? Takes a WHOLE lot of faith to believe in Darwinism (even as refined by later scientists).

    Why did you bring in pastors and stuff like that anyway?

    Sincerely,

    Janice

    The point, Janice, is first, “Darwinian evolution” is a misnomer. It emerged mostly as a strawman argument used by 19th century opponents of “progessive” evolution, the idea that “evolution” Darwinian or otherwise, some how lead to “progress.” That was an implication that the more recent a form was, the “better” it was, which is empirical nonsense, and not even good science fiction.

    The concept was driven by a deep seated, egotistic belief that modern man was superior to early forms, and in fact that the modern man was morally superior to less modern man. This naturally got up the noses to the religious leaders of the time. Both England and the US were also undergoing fundamentalist reactions at the time, and the idea that society or even individuals could “progress” without external help was quite anathema – and still is, viz. this thread.

    It is (essentially): Change over time with-IN species via NON-directed mutation and natural selection.

    That is so profoundly wrong I can’t imagine where you learned it.. You are discussing several issues all at once conflated under one rubric. Selection is a filtering process ["directed" assumes an agency which is not supported empirically], and the only thing Darwin addressed as a cause of speciation, which is why “Darwinian evolution” is such a stupid term. He observed that off spring do not necessarily closely resemble either their parents or each other. He knew that human selection (by farmers, animal breeders, horticulturalists, etc.) could elicit new, and profoundly different forms. He argued that natural circumstances could act in a similar manner, and that since these generational changes (slow antelope vanish as cheetahs eat them and don’t have little antelope) seemed largely irreversible, that they would lead to either extinction or new species. That is the short version of Darwin’s theory. That theory of natural selection has not been refined in any profound way since it was first propounded. The range of selective processes has broadened, the idea that changes were necessarily irreversible has been challeneged, and the entire definition of “species” has been altered.

    My point about dogs addresses the fact that prior to very modern tools, species were defined comparatively. Thus a paleontologist – even modern one in the case of dogs – if constrained by skeletal data alone, not only would, but would have no choice but to conclude that extreme varieties of dog are are different species. Even if you derive DNA from the bones or teeth of a very small and a very large breed and determine that they are genetically nearly identical, as long as the bones can be identified as adult animals, the empirical evidence, based on body size alone, is that the two breeds must belong to separate breeding populations, and the AKC does its best to make this true. This same situation exists in nature. There are well known examples of natural species that are completely genetically compatible, but do not interbreed because of behavioral distinctions alone. Others, just as well known, include clades of related subspecies where each neighboring subspecies is compatible, but members of geographically separated populations are not.

    Darwin’s argument was that these filters, and in proper Victorian fashion, he emphasizes conflict more than other kinds of filters, act upon variation within a population, determining which forms are successful under what conditions. That property, the ability of the species to meet selective pressure is what makes it possible to breed chihuahuahs, bull dogs and great danes from a basic wolf. Mutations, methylization, and other properties of DNA establish new “variation” within a breeding population.

    More seriously, if you wander into a hospital and wander out with an MRSA resistant infection, you have been a victim of the selective pressures to which a hospital subjects bacteria and other infectious beasts. You can not make evolution go away by redefining the “theory” and then by telling those of us who deal with the reality every day that it really doesn’t exist. That is the difference between reality and religion. Religions come and go, reality keeps reaping.

    The reason I bring preachers into it is that 1) my oldest friend is a fundamentalist and we have had discussions on this topic that stretch over decades. Every one of his misconceptions derives from an earlier misconception by a religious teacher who inturn acquired it from a pastor; 2) I married a woman, many of whose relatives are members of a fundamentalist sect, and who have been remarkably eager to tell me what evolution is, and then tell what is wrong with the “theory.” Consequently, I have over 50 years of experience in dealing with the misconceptions you advance. You cannot redefine a theory and then argue about with any coherency.

    Your concept of is evolution wrong. I agree. My definition however is not based upon your assumptions or misunderstandings, nor those of the people who taught you, nor do your criticisms of what you conceive the theory to say constitute a criticism of my understanding of the theory. In fact, claiming that I simply “believe” in an outmoded (unrefined) version of the theory, is possibly a unique argument that I don’t recall encountering. It seems almost postnormal.

  112. Hi, Gunga Din!

    Yeah. It is AMAZING what Darwinists believe — in the face of solid evidence refuting them.

    The key really is at the CELL level (good source is Dr. Stephen Meyer’s work, one book of his is: The Cell). DNA is where Intelligent Design is startlingly obvious. And DNA, not a very incomplete fossil record, is where to look for clues about species. For instance, re: Mr. Hladik’s assertion about apes and humans, this relies largely on morphological similarities. At the DNA level: humans and apes are not even CLOSE to being similar; our DNA has as much (maybe more) in common with fruit flies.

    While some “creationists” can be disgustingly obnoxious, it is, intriguingly, the anti-religious Darwinists who usually bring religion into the debate. This makes, sense, though, for their paradigm requires a lot of faith to maintain it. ID requires no faith at all (see, e.g., David Berlinski on Intelligent Design — he is either an agnostic or an atheist).

    Good to see you, here,

    Janice
    *****************************************

    Gail Combs! Hi!

    Did you get An-tho-ny’s e mail about my being done with your answer? It is 37 pages long. I don’t want to post it on WUWT (LOTS of formatting, also). I’ll assume you don’t want it if I don’t hear from you. I spent an awful lot of time on that, though… . Sigh.

    Perhaps, you won’t be back to this thread — I sure won’t be. In case you did NOT receive A.’s e mail, I’ll keep trying to flag you down when I see you on other threads. (grrr — that is the frustrating thing about a WordPress blog — so hard to “get ahold” of someone! — I’ll keep trying, though…)

    I hope that your busy spring is happily so. Any babies born?

    Janice

  113. Janice Moore says:
    April 11, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Now you’re piling even more preposterous lies on top of your prior ridiculous lies.

    “Intelligent design” is not only not obvious in DNA but is totally absent. Only a startlingly stupid designer would work the way genetics does. DNA is itself a fossil record.

    You really need to study biology before commenting upon it, or at least do an Internet search before making laughably false assertions. Humans & the other apes are just as similar genetically as morphologically. Humans are closer to chimps than to any other organism on the planet. Your lie about what we have in common with fruit flies is absurd. Humans & chimps do share many gene sequences with flies, but much more so with each other.

    You apparently are not the least bit interested in the truth, but here are the facts:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee_Genome_Project

    “Typical human and chimp homologs of proteins differ in only an average of two amino acids. About 30 percent of all human proteins are identical in sequence to the corresponding chimp protein. As mentioned above, gene duplications are a major source of differences between human and chimp genetic material, with about 2.7 percent of the genome now representing differences having been produced by gene duplications or deletions during approximately 6 million years since humans and chimps diverged from their common evolutionary ancestor. The comparable variation within human populations is 0.5 percent.”

    Caswell JL, Mallick S, Richter DJ, Neubauer J, Schirmer C, Gnerre S, Reich D (2008-04-18). “Analysis of Chimpanzee History Based on Genome Sequence Alignments”. In McVean, Gil. PLoS Genet. 4 (4): e1000057. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000057. PMC 2278377. PMID 18421364.

    When you look at individual base pairs, the similarity becomes even more startling. Humans share more mutations of all kinds with chimps than with gorillas (although we do share the MNO blood groups with them), more with gorillas than with orangutans, more with orangs than with gibbons, more with gibbons than with Old World Monkeys, more with OWMs than with New World Monkeys, more with monkeys than with other primates, more with other primates than with other mammals, more with mammals than with “reptiles” (to include birds), more with reptiles than with amphibians, more with amphibians than with lobe-finned fish, more with lobe-finned fish than with ray-finned fish, etc.

    By contrast, only about 50% of fruit fly protein sequences have mammalian homologs.

    Reiter, LT; Potocki, L; Chien, S; Gribskov, M; Bier, E (2001). “A Systematic Analysis of Human Disease-Associated Gene Sequences In Drosophila melanogaster”. Genome Research 11 (6): 1114–1125. doi:10.1101/gr.169101. PMC 311089. PMID 11381037.

    So you’re off by a factor of at least 20 regarding relative similarity between human & chimp genomes v human & fly.

    Human & fruit fly genomes also vary in other important ways, such as in share of repetitive v. non-repetitive DNA.

    Duplications play a major role in genomic evolution, as I tried to teach you re. polyploidy, ie whole genome duplication. Duplication may range from extension of short tandem repeats, to duplication of a cluster of genes, and all the way to duplication of entire chromosomes or even entire genomes. Such duplications are probably fundamental to the creation of genetic novelty, giving evolution more material upon which to work.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome#Genome_evolution

    Your total disregard of facts, to the extent of not even looking for them but willfully ignoring them, is not only unscientific but anti-scientific. You could start by reading real science instead of swallowing hook, line & sinker the lies of the Discovery Institute. That is, if you actually are searching for the truth, which you so painfully obviously are not.

  114. This discussion has been stimulating, so thanks to all participants. While many might disagree, it seems to me that the subject is understood only minimally by any branch of the debate. I’ve taken the first steps to alleviate my ignorance and am now the owner of a 1952 volume of two of Darwin’s works, The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. I’ve also looked around the web a bit for answers and am stunned by the depth and furor of the controversy. I was surprised to find that Darwin himself was puzzled by some of the same questions which have arisen for me. I haven’t yet found if he (or anyone else) ever figured out the answers to my questions
    I’ve always been a technical/machine person, able to solve just about any issue, but was uninterested in evolution. Now, I’m confronted with my own inability to satisfy my curiosity and find that there may not yet be viable answers from any source and that I may be peering into the abyss of man’s ignorance.

  115. “””””…..Janice Moore says:

    April 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    Thank you for clarifying that. Given the context, I assumed wrongly that your advocating the one I attempted to refute was silent disapproval and disrespect for all my arguments. I’ll try not to do that again…….”””””

    Janice, I typically do not “take sides” if there is an on going difference of position of two or more parties; and in particular when it is a subject in which I am a total novice.

    And if I do decide to join a debate, I would always cite the two (or more) positions I am taking a stance on.

    No I don’t slam someone, by “supporting” someone else’s position. If I did slam, it would be directed at the specific position I disagree with.

    As for my sister; I have two, each living a half a world away from me, and also from each other.

    Neither of them (both are hardened world travelers) is now able to travel again; could never get on a plane again. So my two sisters, will never see each other again for the rest of their lives.

    I can travel; but I can’t afford to travel, and I don’t like to travel, because where I would like to go, is not where I might need to go, or where other family members might want to go. And if immediate present family wanted to go with me; that would raise the cost by at least one order of magnitude, and make the travel unacceptably unwieldy; so I just don’t travel.

    But yes; it went from “can I get there in time, to maybe this does have a light at the end.”

    Thanks for your words.

  116. Hey, forget about the Tar Pits, just go down the road a bit to Tommy’s at Beverly and Rampart, and generate some methane afterwards….can also visit Macarthur Park, but there probably isn’t any cake left over (btw, the strawberry or grape soda at Tommy’s goes great with a burger…).

    LA has so much more to offer than CAGW tripe…

  117. Alan Robertson says:
    April 10, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Butterflies make good subjects for studying evolution. They form new species through hybridization readily & are subject to sometimes intense natural selection, with short generations, & reproductive isolation. The evolutionary process of Batesian mimicry was first discovered in Brazilian butterflies.

    As with most species, butterflies, including monarchs, have a lot of genetic variation upon which evolution can work. Monarchs are somewhat unusual in taking four generations to complete an annual migration, with four life stages in each generation (which of course is not unusual).

    Evolution through natural selection works on the variation inherent in each species or population’s genome, along with the new mutations that arise in every generation. Some of the sources of mutation are random, but natural selection is “directional”, ie, selective forces in the population’s environment affect which alleles & base pairs will be passed on to the next generation in which frequencies. The definition of evolution is change in allele frequencies. This process cannot help but happen, even in an unchanging environment, since besides “directional” evolution, there is “stochastic” evolution, ie purely statistical processes by which reproductively isolated populations accumulate genetic differences even if their environments are effectively the same. This is not theoretical but a fact observed both in the lab & in the field.

    There are populations & species of jays (& other organisms, of course) which are just as well or better adapted to life where they live than the mother species from which they descend (& which may or may not have gone extinct). Jays are a member of the crow family, like ravens, magpies, etc. Four subspecies of blue jay are recognized in North America. There is also the closely-related species (same genus) Stellar’s Jay, found in the West, with 17 subspecies recognized from Nicaragua to Alaska.

    Cladistic analysis of corvid (crow family) DNA sequences has helped resolve evolutionary relationships in the past decade or so. Corvids & their nearest relatives are “Australasian” in ancestry.

    Ericson, Per G.P.; Jansén, Anna-Lee; Johansson, Ulf S. & Ekman, Jan (2005). “Inter-generic relationships of the crows, jays, magpies and allied groups (Aves: Corvidae) based on nucleotide sequence data”. Journal of Avian Biology 36 (3): 222. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2001.03409.x.

    Adaptation is an evolutionary process. It can lead to the formation of new species, or not. But there is nothing in organisms’ DNA to keep one species from evolving into another. Indeed, either that has to happen eventually or the species will go extinct. Evolution is a consequence of reproduction.

  118. Alan Robertson says:
    April 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    It’s always helpful to read important works in the history of science, but reading Darwin to learn about evolution today is comparable to reading Newton to learn about gravitation. To find out the most about present understanding of evolution, a modern text would educate you more rapidly & thoroughly. Darwin was hampered by not knowing how heredity works, so while he got the big picture right, some of the details eluded him. Same as with Newton, who lacked relativity.

    There is no controversy in science about the reality of evolution any more than there is about gravitation. Both theories of course are constantly undergoing refinement.

  119. “Start with posting some verifiable observations. I am not a biologist, and I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I would like to see some proven observations showing evolution in action. I’m interested, that’s all.”

    Here’s one of a series on the long-term experiments with populations of E. coli (search the PNAS site for Lenski, RE), where they report a completely new characteristic that evolved, the ability to metabolise citrate:
    Zachary D. Blount, Christina Z. Borland and Richard E. Lenski, Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli PNAS 2008 105 (23) 7899-7906; published ahead of print June 4, 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0803151105

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/23/7899.full.pdf+html?sid=e591d677-938b-4d19-a942-c69cc047ddb3

    I know that the concept of species is dodgy with bacteria; I know that these are still E. coli and not some totally new type of bacterium; but this was a notable new character which developed in roughly 31,000 generations (this report comes about 20 years – 44,000 generations – after the start of the experiment), less than a blink of an eye in geological time.

  120. Those poor sabertooths ran into an apex predator, a forward thinking toothless, clawless biped with a definite preference for preemptory strikes. It is no coincidence that all the surviving large predators species instinctively avoid man, its the only way their ancestors survived long enough to give birth to them.

  121. anengineer says:
    April 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Those poor sabertooths ran into an apex predator, a forward thinking toothless, clawless biped with a definite preference for preemptory strikes. It is no coincidence that all the surviving large predators species instinctively avoid man, its the only way their ancestors survived long enough to give birth to them.

    ====================================================================
    Who needs teeth and claws when you have CO2.

  122. Gunga Din says:
    April 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    But, wait! There’s more!

    Giant herbivorous megafauna die off, removing an important source of CO2 from the atmosphere. Plus, all the uneaten vegetation draws down even more CO2. So climate got colder, right?

    Uh, no. The vast continental ice sheets melted even faster. Fail!

  123. Fabulous info, thanks.
    —-
    “natural selection is “directional”, ie, selective forces in the population’s environment affect which alleles & base pairs will be passed on to the next generation in which frequencies.”
    ______________________
    How are those selective forces interpreted and by what mechanism within the organism in order to produce specific adaptation of the organism for an exact purpose? Do those changes begin only in one individual, or across a population subject to the same forces?

    I very much appreciate this knowledge that you have shared. Thanks for the advice. I’m becoming reacquainted with taxonomic rank and have realized the naivety of some of my previous questions. I’ll look for the latest information and perhaps find an internet forum, although Darwin is turning out to have a fascinating mind and character.

    You told me once that you weren’t affiliated with Milodon Engineering, yet I can’t help but think of you cruisin’ around in a li’l deuce coupe.

  124. Alan Robertson says:
    April 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    The selective forces aren’t interpreted by measured. The frequency of alleles from one generation to the next shows which traits controlled by them are more “fit” in the environment prevailing at the time.

    For instance, a Pleistocene steppe mammoth population isolated from other steppe mammoth populations in the northern part of the species’ range was under selective pressure in each succeeding generation as the climate cooled to grow longer coats, lay down more subcutaneous fat, develop shorter ears, change the surface of their teeth & the shape of their trunk fingers because those differences were more adaptive in the new environment. Mammoths with these traits, or especially more of them, tended to survive better & reproduce more offspring, so in each succeeding generation the northern race of steppe mammoths diverged ever more from southern subspecies, until enough differences added up for a new species to emerge, the woolly mammoth.

    The connection between the heritable traits being selected for & against are usually obvious. Natural selection cannot not happen under changing conditions affecting survival & reproductive success. IMO only willful obtuseness could prevent this fact from being obvious.

    Adaptation is not for a “purpose”, but simply a response to differential survival & reproduction rates within the evolving population. The mechanism within the organism in order to produce specific adaptation can be natural selection (ie, “directional” evolution) or “directionless” stochastic processes (such as the founder’s principle, genetic drift, etc & reproductive isolation).

    Beneficial mutations could arise in a single individual or among a number of them in a population. The larger the population the more likely any single mutation would be. But most species have a lot of existing genetic variability, so new mutations aren’t always necessary for speciation to occur. One caveat is that selection acts on the whole genome of an individual, so that even if a steppe mammoth had smaller than average ears, it might not be as “fit” (ie, leave as many offspring in the next generation) if its hair were wispy, or it didn’t get as fat, etc., as some of the others in its evolving population, despite carrying a trait under positive selection. But it is the whole population which evolves, not an individual, even if new mutations arise in its germ cell line during its lifetime.

    I hope this answers your questions. By all means read Darwin, a good writer, brilliant scientist & very decent man, but please bear in mind that biology has learned a lot more about evolution since the time of his & Wallace’s insight on natural selection. The fact of evolution was recognized long before 1858, but there wasn’t a good scientific explanation for it before natural selection, which is now known to be just one of the evolutionary processes.

  125. (Cont.)

    No little deuce coup or chopper, although I’ve owned them in the past. Currently drive a truck or an SUV. Doing my bit to stave off the next glacial advance.

    Regarding Darwin’s not knowing how heredity works, I’ve thought about how great it would have been had he somehow found the paper by Mendel, J.G. (1866). Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn, Bd. IV für das Jahr, 1865 Abhandlungen:3–47. And had it translated from German.

    Perhaps with the aid of his polymathic cousin Sir Francis Galton, FRS, “Father of Statistical Analysis”, Darwin might have been able to advance biology & statistics by a life time. Instead of having to wait for Sir R. A. Fisher, FRS, to invent 20th century statistical analysis in order to forge the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis in the 1920s & ’30s, it might have happened in the 1860s & ’70s.

    But the Internet didn’t exist in 1866, so Darwin never encountered Mendel’s work or learned about his “factors”, now called genes. But then again, maybe cytology also had to catch up with Darwin’s giant leap into the 20th century.

  126. It is interesting but evolutionary adaptations are really just a process, to help a species to survive.
    Like humans. We have three major races, Asian, Negroid, and Caucasian. With many branches within that category. Such as Australian Aborigines are actually in the Caucasian group. It only takes 5,000 years for any human race to adapt to their new climate and natural environment. We can interbreed, but unless their is some genetic flaw, we don’t produce hybrids, like horses and donkeys and mules.

    However with regards sharing the DNA with animals, it might be a surprise to everyone, that we share 98% DNA with Chimps. (Vive la difference) We also share with gorillas, Whales, pigs, and even fungi. Around 40 different species to some degree. This makes me believe, that living organisms came once way back shared an ancestor similar or same life form. (Not ET as some believe).

    Indeed monkeys were the first to appear well before the apes, yet we are all primates. Wolves, bears, cats, foxes, canines all share a very distant prehistoric ancestor. Australia is a great example how evolutionary processes missed our marsupials and monotremes, the mainland was cut off so there was no diffusion to present day mammals like elsewhere.

    But to abate religious differences, the Bible and Genesis, is right in evolutionary processes. They forgot to add 000,000,000 years. We didn’t walk with dinosaurs, as Sarah Palin suggested, but their death certainly aided mammals and marsupials to develop.
    In fact, it was an interesting point, chimps and human babies look very similar in the womb until the final months. Our spine didn’t grow into a tail.

  127. It is interesting but evolutionary adaptations are really just a process, to help a species to survive.

    If that is what you think then you simply do not understand.

  128. For instance, a Pleistocene steppe mammoth population isolated from other steppe mammoth populations in the northern part of the species’ range was under selective pressure in each succeeding generation as the climate cooled to grow longer coats, lay down more subcutaneous fat, develop shorter ears, change the surface of their teeth & the shape of their trunk fingers because those differences were more adaptive in the new environment.

    The use of active language here obscures what is going.

    There is standing variation in each group, and it us usually normally distributed.

    Those individuals who have inheritable characteristics that are better suited to the new environment will leave more offspring while those individuals who have inheritable characteristics at the other end of the distribution will leave fewer offspring. Over a number of generations, we will see the mean of the characteristic in the population shift towards a value that is better adapted to the new environment.

    However, those individuals who existed when the environment shifted have not done anything to improve the chance that their genes will continue on into the future (unless they are very smart and can see what is coming and can choose appropriate mates.)

  129. Richard Sharpe says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    That’s a better way to put the process, & maybe I should have phrased it that way, but when Gould tried to explain natural selection to a general audience, he did it as I did. I once thought that WUWT, as a science blog, could handle a more statistical explication, but posts by the Kreationist Kids’ Klub here made me dumb down my explication. Not including Alan in that select society.

  130. bushbunny says:
    April 11, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Humans share DNA not with just 40 species, but with every species on the planet.

    The lack of elementary scientific data base even on a top science blog like WUWT never ceases to amaze me.

    I’m sorry, but there is so much wrong with your comment that a detailed response would clearly be pointless.

  131. milodonharlani says:
    April 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    _________________
    I’ve done it now… references everywhere to such things as Hardy- Weinberg principle, post modern teleology, sympatric speciation and all sorts of wild ideas. At this point, the whole thing seems to add up to little more than a description of a big crap shoot.

    You are obviously well versed in this field, why is that?

  132. Richard what don’t I understand? The reason why humans continue to be successful, is they were able to adapt and are long lived. Also the females generally are fertile every month, unlike other mammals, Chimps are the same Unlike most animals our selective breeding is not just about the most fittest and strongest like in other mammals, we hand pick our mates, and ugly men with lots of money reign supreme when it comes to picking the most desirable mate. Just as well, ugly men with pots of dough are in the minority to allow us to pick our mates.

  133. milodonharlani says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Not including Alan in that select society.
    ________________
    I’m the dumbest guy that I know.

  134. bushbunny says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    “… we hand pick our mates, and ugly men with lots of money reign supreme when it comes to picking the most desirable mate…”
    _______________
    I don’t know, I’ve been around and used to be handsome with a lot of money and when it comes to women, if you get what you paid for, you paid far too much.

  135. Alan Robertson says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Wow. You’ve put yourself through a high speed crash course in biology. Well done.

    Evolution is a crap shoot, but each throw of the dice is constrained by what has gone before, with a little bit of new options each time & a changed table as well. This is what simpletons like the Janice’s lying hero Discovery Institute’s Berlinski refuse to recognize, because he gets paid for not admitting it. Berlinski’s a philosopher, not a scientist, who has never contributed anything to advance math, philosophy or science, but has made a lucrative career of lying. The con artist hoodwinks susceptible believers like Janice by making phony calculations based upon the idiotically false assumption that every base pair in the genome of an organism is up for grabs in every generation.

    If there is a circle of Hell below Dante’s lowest, that’s where the DI liars deserve to go for knowing misleading the credulous, naive faithful like Janice. As a result, she & her fellow cultists put their immortal souls in peril by accepting DI’s blasphemous conception of a god deceptive, cruel & incompetent.

    [Cut the "lying" sneers out. Be civil when you chose to disagree. Mod]

  136. Alan Robertson says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    False modesty is a mortal sin in my book. Be careful. Be very careful.

    (Or what? Mod)

  137. Janice Moore says:
    April 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    But speciation by polyploidy (“secondary speciation”) has been observed only in plants.
    ###

    The family Catostomidae, the family Cobitidae, and the genus Labeo (family Cyprinidae). The Family Catostomidae and the genus Labeo are particularly interesting in that tetraploidy, occurring independently, seems to have resulted in species exhibiting remarkably similar body plans.

  138. DesertYote says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Janice can’t handle the truth, nor is she the least bit interested in searching for it. She can only parrot what her puppet masters at DI spoon feed her.

    [Stop it! Mod]

  139. milodonharlani says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm
    ___________________
    Without meaning for it to be, the phrase with philosophical implications, became a test of sorts, I apologize.

  140. milodonharlani says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    [Snip. Labeling other commenters as a "Liar" is unacceptable. Mod] ]

  141. Alan, don’t worry you’re obviously are not a billionaire. LOL. If someone is religious doesn’t make them naive. Any living human does not have the choice but to live and adapt to society. Unless they wish to commit suicide or wage war on some foe. To come to the standard we are in right now, we have gone through years of adaptation, and some are better off than others. Not just financially but in our general adaptation to our natural environment and social/economic society. Anyway, I like Janice’s posts.

  142. bushbunny says:
    April 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Lots of people like comfortable falsehoods rather than inconvenient truth.

  143. Haven’t yet encountered the DI, but being a gardener, I know a manure pile when I see one.

  144. Alan Robertson says:
    April 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Stinking to high heaven. At least Answers in Genesis, which uses all the same lies & tricks to gull the, well gullible, is honest enough to proclaim its creationism for all the world to see. DI is creationism dressed up to be more sciencey, in a, thank God, failed attempt to sneak creationism into public school science classes. I have no problem with fundamentalism whether Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or from any other religious tradition in high school world religion classes, but it manifestly does not belong in biology classes.

    FWIW, I don’t think there should be public schools, only public standards, but that’s another matter.

  145. Milo sometimes is is beneficial to learn about other people’s world view. Education and especially university or tertiary can really open one’s mind. I think we do get skeptical about life as we get older, but start to think, there is no ABSOLUTE. Too many variables around. And this does apply greatly to catastrophic climate changes and extreme weather events. We know for sure the moon controls our tides, and high tides happen when there is a full moon. I had a friend who I cared for years ago, when she was pregnant with another man’s child and has now joined a strict fundamentalist group, she’d cut me off completely, so I eventually found her again. She didn’t believe we had descended from chimpanzees and did not share a similar DNA. Well we didn’t descend from chimpanzees. So I sent her a letter via with a picture of a family of chimps, mum, dad and babs. I wrote, ‘Scientists tell us we share DNA with chimpanzees. ‘Vive la difference!” She is now happily married it appears, and doesn’t want any recall of her former life. However, some of the religious people come to my door, and leave me Watchtower, and he said, “Of course the world was NOT created in 6 days! Add several multiple 000s to that.

  146. bushbunny says:
    April 11, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Humans & chimps are descended from a common ancestor, neither chimp nor human, but an African great ape smaller & more carnivorous than its contemporary relative, the herbivorous ancestor of gorillas. It would have looked more like a chimp than a human, but lived in denser forest than its daughter species, of which only three survive, ie humans, chimps & bonobos (whose environment most resembles the Pliocene tropical forest).

    The hominid line leading to humans specialized for a more terrestrial life on the spreading African grasslands which gave us the proliferation of antelope species & ground dwelling monkeys like baboons, while the ancestors of chimps & bonobos adapted to life in the less dense forests, so that, while better able to walk on the ground than their ancestors, retained a grasping foot, unlike the more savannah adapted hominids, whose feet evolved better to walk upright on the open prairies between wooded areas.

  147. Actually Milo you are a bit off the time scale here, humans shared a common ancestor with other primates years ago, and I mean years ago, millions when the apes and monkeys diverged from other mammals around 60 million years ago. The hominid line broke off from other higher primates around 6 million years. Recent fossil record from Chad in Africa suggests A date back 6 million years. The earliest Australopithecus in Africa, were scavengers not hunters. They made no tools and teeth were similar to ours, but there is evidence of dimorphism between males and females and suggests they ate a diet of mainly vegetables and a bit of meat. There is a A.robustus, a larger biped, but they died out about 2-3 million years ago with the more gracile Australopithecus. Then the Homo group evolved. But the hominids did have small brains like the one found in Flores, nick named the Hobbit. But this genus seemed to have evolved separately but made tools, and hunted small elephants and large rodents.

    Higher apes still live trees, and don’t walk on two legs, although they can but for short distances, and chimps don’t like swimming and the opposable thumb is a what we share with chimps and other higher primates that allows us to grasp things and use tools. Plus we have bigger brains.
    Although most higher apes are vegetarian, the chimps are known to kill for meat. About 20% of their diet is protein. I am glad I don’t look like them, don’t you?

  148. “Climate change is a pressing problem for all of us” only because so many are pressing to take advantage of its hobgoblinization, and they are making problems everywhere, from stupid-ifying school curricula to degrading the energy grid.

  149. bushbunny;
    Our “finer details” evolved much later than most think; hair and nose optimized for shallow water hunting and fishing, likely 70-200K years ago, when surviving true moderns were squeezed into a narrow equatorial band on the coast of Africa by the ice. Punk Eek at its best.

  150. bushbunny says:
    April 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    My time scale wasn’t off. I never put a number on the divergence of hominids & the line leading to chimps & bonobos, but just said Pliocene, which is indeed when it happened, whether seven or six Mya. Upright walking on a foot more adapted for ground movement appears to have been an adaptation to spreading grasslands during the Pliocene or late Miocene.

    Actually orangutans do quite well on two legs, but still spend most of their time in trees. Chimps & gorillas prefer four legs, but can & do walk on two when need be, as when their hands are full. The other great apes use different knuckles when walking on their hands, so all the living great apes have evolved different means of ground locomotion, but only hominids, represented now only by H. sapiens, have lost a grasping foot, ie they retain an opposable big toe.

    Assigning H. habilis to genus Homo instead of Australophithecus is arbitrary. Its brain was bigger, teeth smaller & face shorter than the australophicenes from which it descended, but its post-cranial anatomy hardly changed at all. It did however make stone tools, which enabled it to access more animal fat by breaking open the bones of big animals for their marrow, which in turn permitted a bigger brain, since brain tissue requires fat.

    Even after six or seven million years however, chimps & humans remain so close anatomically & genetically that taxonomists would put us in the same genus were it not that humans like to think we’re special. Even Linnaeus wrote that he would have placed chimps in genus Homo or us in Pan were it not for the religious objections he foresaw.

    It’s still unclear if H. floresiensis (the Hobbit) is simply a miniature H. erectus or descended from an even earlier hominin (as opposed to hominid, which includes more extinct apes). Some still question whether H. floresiensis is a valid taxon. The subfossils are mushy.

  151. The late Prof.Mike Morwood taught me. And so did Prof. Brown from the same university, UNE.
    I agree with your last statement about the evolutionary tree that the Hobbit came from, it is a mystery. Their small size and the elephants they hunted, seem to have occurred from isolation over many thousands of years, that happens in isolated island groups of prehistoric origins.
    I saw and attended a lecture at UNE, about H.floresiensis. But the teeth were different from H.erectus. I mentioned this to Mike, he said that the canines had got smaller or worn down. Like modern humans. But the original fossils were changed deliberately by an Indonesian minister, who according to Mike (personal conversation) knew nothing about palaeoanthropology. Luckily they had taken plaster casts of the original fossils. One of your universities agreed with our professors too. You should get Mikes book “The discovery of the Hobbit” by Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee. 2007, Random house Australia. It was so sad he died so early and a great loss to archaeology. He was one of my favorite lecturers, very approachable. I was not a great student, but I majored in Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology for a BA.

    One lecture back in the late 1980s, Mike was interested in investigating S.E.Asia and parts of East Timor,however then the political situation precluded this. He was interested in finding out more about how the Australian Aborigines actually got here. Peter Brown reckoned there was a period around 60,000 years ago, when the seas were very low, and could have island hopped.
    Also in Aborigine dream time legends, they recall very small humans that would creep up on them and fire small arrows at them. The same legends appear in Flores, when the island was occupied, and there are tales that a very small humans would steal babies, and the islanders actually killed them off. However, the cave they were found in, evidence of a volcanic eruption seems to have killed them too around 18,000 years ago.

  152. The archaeological record is changing all the time, one of the myths is that Columbus brought back syphilis to Europe in the 1400s from South America. Actually fossils from various parts of Italy especially Pompeii, show that syphilis was also present in children and adults. That was 1300 years before Columbus.

  153. one of the myths is that Columbus brought back syphilis to Europe in the 1400s from South America. Actually fossils from various parts of Italy especially Pompeii, show that syphilis was also present in children and adults.

    Although Wikipedia should be used with care, it seems to indicate that pre-Columbian outbreaks of Syphilis in Europe are false.

  154. I don’t use Wikipedia, I was completing a post graduate unit on Pompeii and Herculaneum. An archaeological examination of skeletons has suggested very strongly, that syphilis was present in adults and congenital syphilis is children.

  155. One of the cures they reckoned for tackling syphilis was to catch malaria. Yeah. It is strongly considered that some Roman Emperors were actually suffering from tertiary syphilis. But they used to cremate the buggers, so it can’t be proven scientifically. I am talking about Tiberius, Caligula and Nero.

  156. re post by: dbstealey says: April 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I look at evolution as the argument that people are descended from apes, more than the argument that different breeds of dogs prove anything. To me, evolution means evolving to a higher state.

    I’m late to the party, but hope DB will see this anyhow. DB, your view of evolution is one that’s relatively common. The scientific definition of evolution has nothing to do with evolving into a “higher state.” Evolution has no standards in that regard – the evolution doesn’t have to lead to something smarter or prettier or more complex or anything that way. It only has to be able to survive – and it may occur by chance, or because it’s in some way better able to not only survive but propagate in the particular environment it’s in.

    Look at the (disgusting) cockroach for example. It’s been relatively unchanged for an extremely long time, because in fact it’s a very successful evolutionary product. Cripes, if we had WWIII nuclear Armageddon, or a major asteroid impact, that wiped nearly everything out, it’s a good bet that the blasted cockroach would be one of the best likely to survive on land. Another example – man is in no way the pinnacle of evolution. So far, the dinosaurs managed to exist far longer than we have, and so at least thus far, are the more successful species. Time will tell on that one, but it’ll be long after we’re all dead and gone and either mankind will still exist and manage to do so longer than the Dino’s did, or mankind will disappear.

    I understand the temptation to think of evolution as somehow having to lead to something that WE think is in some way better or more complex or smarter or in some way a “higher state” – but that’s hubris. We can’t judge what is or isn’t the most likely to succeed, because we don’t have a crystal ball to know what environmental conditions will exist in the future to be able to tell which species will manage to survive and flourish, and which will, like 99% of species before, go extinct. And that’s all evolution is about – which will manage to survive and procreate.

  157. re post by: Catherine Ronconi says: @ April 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Mod:
    If my long comment wasn’t blocked…..

    Catherine, comments are moderated by people who very generously donate their time… so depending on the time of day and posting volume, it can take anywhere from almost no lag to maybe 30 min or so for posts to show up. They’re moderated to keep spam and really egregiously offensive things from being posted – but this site is one that does virtually no censoring. Further, if a mod does decide something you posted needs to be censored (rare), they ALWAYS allow your post to show up – at least your name and the time, and then will show a moderator message that your comment has been snipped, and often a brief by about why.

    If you have a post that still hasn’t shown up after maybe 30 or 45 min, and expecially if you see comments from others posted after yours, then it’s hung in the automatic filter. Post a polite request with “TO the MODERATOR” (or something like that) starting your post, and ask them to check the spam filter because you think a post is hung up. Presto, your post will appear as soon as one of them sees your request – or they’ll let you know if they’re unable to find it (almost never happens that I’ve seen).

    This site is EXCELLENT when it comes to allowing people to talk and not censoring based on ideology or prejudice or bias.

    Speaking of which – THANKS to all the moderators for your hard work for all of us!

  158. re post by: bushbunny says: April 11, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Richard what don’t I understand? The reason why humans continue to be successful, is they were able to adapt and are long lived. Also the females generally are fertile every month, unlike other mammals, Chimps are the same Unlike most animals our selective breeding is not just about the most fittest and strongest like in other mammals, we hand pick our mates, and ugly men with lots of money reign supreme when it comes to picking the most desirable mate. Just as well, ugly men with pots of dough are in the minority to allow us to pick our mates.

    Being long lived has nothing to do with us being successful. Bacteria vastly outnumber us, and they’ve generally got a very short lifespan. Same with cockroaches, termites, ants, etc. And there are MANY other mammals that are fertile every month. In fact horses come in heat every three weeks, and so do cats, etc. And they don’t go through menopause, but generally can continue having offspring throughout their entire lives. There a number of different ways to be “successful.” Having a long life and caring for your children is one – but the drawback is typically relatively few offspring, so we’re very vested in trying to ensure they each survive. Species with short lifespans, however, typically have large numbers of offspring, and are less vested in ensuring each one’s survival. Then there are mixtures, like turtles that have long lives, but still produce many offspring, and don’t do anything to ensure their survivial in terms of nurturing them after they are hatched. They’re on their own.

    And do you REALLY think that other mammals don’t “hand pick” their mates? Think again.

  159. Rational, we are long lived in comparison to our early ancestors. The biblical age 6 scores and 10 (70 years) well the poor pre Homo group were lucky to outlive 35. And of course selective breeding in domesticated animals is one reason why mating is not as free as it would be in wild animals. But wild animals or birds, have a different set of ethics regarding breeding, the pack or mob instance where the alpha males fight sometimes. Birds often stay together until one dies.
    Besides arranged marriages, we often have the factor that we or others pick our mates. Sometimes multiple mates as in polygamists. Once our leaders, kings and war lords were first fighters to lead a group or clan. The Romans were not successful because they were kind to people. They were a military society. And we introduced agriculture that allowed some people to exchange and store surplus. That evolution or adaptation what ever you call it.
    Why do you think humans, with some exceptions, generally only have one child at a time? And others animals have multiple births, it’s because of survival rates are programmed. Some are more long lived and survive better than others. That’s just nature.

  160. milodonharlani says:
    April 11, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Regarding Darwin’s not knowing how heredity works, I’ve thought about how great it would have been had he somehow found the paper by Mendel, J.G. (1866). Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn, Bd. IV für das Jahr, 1865 Abhandlungen:3–47. And had it translated from German.

    It is important remember that Darwin’s theory of selection requires a biological (genetic) mechanism for inheritance, something that can differentially pass from generation to generation. Ironically, it is one of the important scientific predictions that was never made. Darwin advanced a mechanism, selection, that acted upon heritable characteristics of an organism somehow. At the time no one had any idea of how this worked and the Victorian and earlier assumption was that it was tied to “blood” somehow. Darwin seems to have taken the fact as a matter of course, since he could see that selection worked and simply glossed over that blank spot on the canvas.

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