Pleistocene Bird Recovers From Extinction

Guest “what has a higher recovery rate? COVID-19 or Extinction?” by David Middleton

What do the Coelocanth, PETM benthic foraminifera, the Incilius genus of toads and Aldabra white-throated rail bird have in common? Apparently, a very high recovery rate from… Extinction!

Hat tip to Mrs. Middleton…

An extinct bird just ‘evolved itself’ back into existence
The Aldabra hasn’t existed in almost 100,000 years. Now it’s back

Thomas ShamblerMay 18, 2020

The Aldabra white-throated rail bird was declared extinct, a victim of rising sea levels almost 100,000 years ago.

However, the flightless brown bird has recently been spotted – leaving scientists scratching their heads as to how – and why – the species has come back to life.

According to research in the Zoological Journal of Linnean Society, the re-incarnated Aldabra bird is a product of ‘iterative evolution’. That’s when old genes thought to have died out re-emerge at a different point in time.


Esquire… No, seriously, Esquire

Honestly, does a bird that can’t get out of the way of sea level, deserve to not be extinct? Why in the name of Sam Hill would a bird, so vulnerable to the map datum, re-evolve just in time for catastrophic (1-3 mm/yr) sea level rise to re-extinct it? Or… Did the alarmists genetically engineer it to use as a prop for Green New Deal infomercials? Eaquiring minds want to know. I didn’t read the rest of the article… So let me know if any of my questions were answered.

“I’m not dead yet…”

161 thoughts on “Pleistocene Bird Recovers From Extinction

    • Yesterday’s figures from ECDC showed negative 217 COVID deaths in France. I’m sure the families concerned will be much relieved by the good news.

      It is unclear whether these individuals had visited Lourds before or after their initial deaths.

      French fatality data has been looking very suspicious for the last week, since house arrest rules were eased. It is the sole period in any major country which has show deaths trending up while new cases is trending down.

      In this log plot I have scaled and shifted the fatalities data back to align with the profile of cases.

      The two follow each other quite closely with a delay of 7 days. The up-tick in fatalities exactly matches the relaxation in movement. This is too soon for it to be a medical result of the changes. Any result of relaxation should be happening right now due to the delay of incubation. So far the fall in new cases continues without any visible sign of change due to de-confinement.

      So what is going on with the fatality numbers?

      Is someone gaming the stats or have they just stopped treating people somewhere and they are dying faster than they are coming in, literally?

      Just waiting for Macaroon to announce that we’ve all been very naughty and we are going to have to stay in our rooms again.

    • Indeed. Like reported miracles about resurections in religion. The original diagnosis of being dead was wrong.

    • “The Aldabra white-throated rail bird was declared extinct, a victim of rising sea levels almost 100,000 years ago.”
      I’m wondering exactly who it was that declared it extinct 100,000 years ago?

  1. I’d kind of like to see what would happen if a few short faced bears reappeared in DC. They could chase these.

    • I read a few days ago that a number of House Democrats want to start new articles of impeachment over Trump’s handling of the Flynn investigation.

      • “I read a few days ago that a number of House Democrats want to start new articles of impeachment over Trump’s handling of the Flynn investigation.”

        Oh yeah, the Democrats are still focused on bringing down the president. The can’t challenge Trump on the issues so the only thing left to them is to attack and try to undermine him.

        I think the Democrats are going to be in for a rude awakening when the November, 2020 elections roll around. The American people see what they are doing, and I think they are going to punish the Democrats by voting them out of office.

        The Democrat have turned themselves into Domestic Enemies of the United States and its people. The kind of Domestic Enemies mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

        • “I think the Democrats are going to be in for a rude awakening …” I sure hope you’re correct, but there is whole lot of MSM following sheeple out there.

          • There are, but if they were proportionally as great as people would like you to believe, then Trump wouldn’t have gotten the nomination, let alone won the election in 2016.

        • If the republicans are smart they will use their Senate majority to conduct a detailed investigation, step by step, from Hunter Biden and the Flynn fiasco all the way up the Democrat food chain as election season rolls along. They should be able to drive spike after spike in Democrat credibility and wipe them out in Congress and in the presidential election. Chew up everybody except Obama and crosslink the entire conspiracy. Toward the end they can start asking the media why they haven’t even asked Obama some very obvious questions. Anybody else notice that? Harvey Weinstein didn’t get this good a cover up treatment.

      • Democrats complained about obstruction of Congress. They seem to be addicted to obstruction of the administration by impeachment. That was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they provided for the process of impeachment. The Democrats are engaging in a perversion of purpose.

    • The date of this “impeachment” video is Jan 15, 2020.

      Was this the false Russia hoax, Obamagate, or what?

      What are the penalties for treason?

      • “What are the penalties for treason?” Jane Fonda openly not only committed treason, she participated in documentary film memoralizing it. She now continues as a Climate Change Warrior, regularly appearing at rallies to save the planet/bash the current President. So the penalty appears to be fame and free publicity. The video was the House Ranking Members delivering Articles of Impeachment to President Trump, so he could have his attention diverted from their friends, the Chinese and their Wuhan Virus, and instead deal with defending against false impeachment charges.

        • “She now continues as a Climate Change Warrior, regularly appearing at rallies to save the planet/bash the current President.”

          I guess the Wuhan virus pandemic has put a halt to Jane getting herself arrested every Friday.

          I heard that some idiot Democrat politician is going to introduce a bill to outlaw the term “Wuhan virus”. I don’t think it will become law. I will continue using the term whether it becomes law or not because my U.S. Constituion says I can say anything I want and not be penalized for it by the government.

          • To give democrats the credit they deserve for political correctness about changing the name from ‘Wuhan virus’ to ‘Schiffilis’?

          • I believe that Jane is trying to keep her name in the media. In the event that more democrats are elected this coming November, she want’s to appointed ” US Secretary of State”, or at least the US delegate to the UN. Now there’s a thought to take to the polling place with you…..

          • The hypocritical Sen. Harris, shamelessly campaigning to be Veep to the guy she attacked as racist.

        • “The video was the House Ranking Members delivering Articles of Impeachment to President Trump” – incorrect. The House members were delivering the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, where an impeachment is tried. The procession was from the House side of Congress to the Senate side, not to the White House.

      • ALLAN:
        Originally the penalty was hanging. They then went to the firing squad easier to dispatch several treasonists. Now it is a ten year stint in Allenwood (prison) Country Club in Pennsylvania. Story is a Barge will be parked off of Guantanamo Cuba to house the current batch.

      • If you think that’s morbidly obese, I’m glad you’re not critiquing my phenotype. My profile is definitely “Hitchcockian”, plus.

      • yeah and looking at Pelosi as pictured in the article i read shes a deaths head and her face looked like it was painted with plastic
        Trump could lose a few kilos for sure but hes not as bad as many others

  2. Re-evolution is fairly common, but usually as alternating species of subspecies on time scales short enough that the requisite genes aren’t lost, but just suppressed by control sequences. Series of mollusks in African lakes are classic examples. To some degree also Galapagos finches.

    Even after much longer intervals, atavistic genes (protein-coding sequences) can survive unexpressed, such as hen’s teeth (also long instead of fused tail bones), dolphin rear flippers (feet) and human (and other ape) tails.

    • remember reading something about these birds a while back
      2 tiny islands and they both lost flight cos it wasnt needed no predators limited gene pool
      they couldnt work out how they got from 1 island to the other either
      theres others who do fly elsewhere
      so these are from them and reverted colours? etc
      they didnt say if the new ones FLY or not..
      that would be the wirdness if they came from the flight able species but dont fly themselves

        • Yup, same as with all flightless birds on remote oceanic islands.

          Flying is energetic. If you don’t need it, your descendents will progressively lose it. They’ll suffer no penalty from not flying, but save lots of calories.

  3. Need I add human body hair? We have the same number of follicles per square inch of skin as chimps. Our hair just normally grows short rather than long. But sometimes the control sequences are asleep at the switch.

      • Although Pliocene crocodiles would have felt they hit the jackpot had our ancestors tried to live the life aquatic.

      • Aliens might have seeded life on Earth, and it would LOOK LIKE evolution to us.

        Just saying. It’s an irrefutable possibility.

        • You’re conflating abiogenesis with evolution. For aliens to be involved in evolution of life, they’d have to have been constantly active here for the past over four billion years.

          • Right-Handed Shark
            May 21, 2020 at 5:07 am

            Who says we.. errr, they aren’t?

            Who says we err… they will. 🙂

          • John,
            Maybe they used polymorphic adaptive algorithms.

            Remember, the evidence for evolution is the same for adaptation within a boundary.

            We speculate on evolution’s ability. We assume.

            Another possibility is that all life we discovered was placed here at once, and what is left now is what is left now. Large geo and external energy has wiped away most evidence.

            Don’t lecture me on evolution. Using its assumptions I can come to the same conclusions. I understand how the paradigm works and interprets evidence.

            I just happen to think that many possibilies can explain the same evidence. Any gotcha you may have has an alternative explanation.

          • Zoe,

            Please provide an alternate explanation besides evolution for why deleting a single nucleobase turns a sugar-eating bacterium into a nylon-eating bacterium. Thanks!

          • John,
            How do you know that’s true?
            Did someone delete a single nucleobase and turned a sugar-eating bacterium into a nylon-eating bacterium?

          • “Yes”

            “evolution observed in the wild and recreated in the lab.”

            So someone created the change in the lab, purposefully, and you think that’s evidence that it happens in the wild spontaneously? OKAY …

            This doesn’t disprove alien interference.

            It also doesn’t disprove that these bacteria ALWAYS had the ability to digest nylon before it was invented. The bacteria just needed a little taste of nylon.

            This does not prove evolution, but it does prove adaptation within boundaries.

            You need to provide evidence such that ONLY evolution can explain it.

            An animal’s ability to change its diet is not very compelling.

            Also, is there not a chemical explanation for behavior change? … that’s adaptation.

            Maybe I’ll start eating nylon if that’s all that’s around me to eat.

            I guess you’ll need to come up with a new species name for me …

            Gimme a break

          • After the deletion was observed in the wild, scientists recreated the deletion in the lab. Then they did the same thing with other sugar-eating bacteria.

            The mutation must have occurred countless times before the invention of nylon, but the bacteria with it always died. Bacteria could not possibly always have had this mutation, since they couldn’t have survived.

            Japanese scientists discovered the nylon-eating bacteria at a nylon factory, then compared their genomes to their ancestral bacteria. The new species’ genome differed by just one nucleobase.

            Similar instances of known mutations in the wild, reproducible in the lab, exist.

            Further, what alternative explanations besides the fact of evolution are there for all the horribly designed features in nature, of which humans suffer many?

            Please, get real!

          • “Japanese scientists discovered the nylon-eating bacteria at a nylon factory”

            Indeed. That’s not the wild.

            The chemicals of nylon factory made the change. The change can now be done in a lab.

            Evolution is random changes. There is nothing random about chemicals causing mutations.

            The ancestors might have been exposed to some limited amount of certain chemicals, then died when it ran out.

            You have no evidence of lack of altering chemicals.

            Can the nylon eating bacteria switch back to glucose? Then they lost a function. Not evolution, simply adaptation to what’s around. It could be inherent and within the realm of what bacteria can do.

            Some people can’t eat pork, others can’t cows. They’re the same species.

            Like I said, I can IMAGINE what you claim is true, knowing your premises. I just don’t think the evidence uniquely claims your meta-story.

          • Of course waste watere ponds are the wild. It’s not a lab.

            The chemicals didn’t make the change. A cosmic ray did, but even if it were chemicals, then it’s still mutation. As noted, scientists in labs have made the same mutation with radiation. Again, as noted, this mutation must have occurred countless times before in sugar-eating microbes, but was always fatal until nylon entered the environment.

            Yet again, the bacteria evovled from a single point mutation. They could not have existed before, since the nucleobase deletion rendders them incapable of sugar metabolism.

            You fail to understand “random”. It means that when or where a mutation might occur is more or less ransom, but that mutations will happen is a certainty, from all causes, not just passing cosmic rays.

            Not all mutations we might wish do happen, however. Humans and other African apes are still waiting for the mutation which allows orangutans’ maxillary sinuses to drain. The Idiotic Designer of us African apes put a hole in the top rather than the bottom of our sinuses, so that we must endure sinus infections from cold viruses. As humans have the flatest faces of all African apes, we suffer the worst.

            You have to ignore all reality to imagine that evolution doesn’t happen. Even Behe, the guy who concocted “Intelligent Design”, was forced to admit that fact under oath.

          • Four additional instances of evolution observed on the genetic level:


            If evolution weren’t a fact, there could be no genetic engineering industry, no directed evolution drug discovery and no synthetic biology. Also no MRSA and other antibiotic resistant pathogen strains, and no need for new flu shots every season.

            The ability now to sequence genomes rapidly makes it possible to witness evolution in action at the molecular level, and to observe past evolutionary events. Key genetic innovations in human evolution are now visible in our genome. I could cite numerous examples, but since your mind is closed to reality, I won’t bother.

    • Most chimps also have white skin under all that black or brown hair, except for their face, hands and feet. And a short white beard on a mostly hairless face. Polar bears have black skin under a coat of short white hair and a second coat of translucent longer hair. One would think it was the other way around. The things you learn watching the wildlife TV shows when you can’t sleep in the middle of the night.

      • Humans evolved melanin-rich skin in Africa when we lost our body hair, in order to protect the naked skin from tropical sun. Then our out of Africa ancestors lost the melanin in order to maximize vitamin D production in higher latitudes. Those of our ancestors who stayed in the tropics outside of Africa kept the melanin.

        Polar bear hair transmits solar radiation to the skin, while providing protective coloration in an icy and snowy environment. Natural selection works its wonders.

        • Rudyard Kipling would be jealous.

          “And that is how the Polar Bear got its white fur, and how the Brit became genetically superior to the Indian. It happened Just So.”

  4. The Aldabra white-throated rail bird was declared extinct . . . almost 100,000 years ago.

    Let me guess, so said the Washingstone Post?

    Looks like their journalism was about as reliable then as it is now.

  5. I remember reading an article in the early 70’s about an area in (I think) Montana, or some state in the general area, where it was declared that there were no more deer, nobody had seen any there in years. So they fenced a square mile and rounded them up–there were over a hundred. It was the deer who had got smart, not the human hunters.

    This displays such an unfortunately normal quality of many humans, that if THEY haven’t seen anything it doesn’t exist, or if THEY haven’t witnessed something happening it has never happened before. I thought for some time that geologists were immune to such ridiculousness because we have studied billions of years of earth’s history….and then along came Naomi Oreskes…groan.

    But then, she never really practiced geology, just graduated in it from what I read; it didn’t work well for her after 3 years so she went whole-hog academic.

    Maybe our fraternity is okay after all? Oh, to have the survivability of the Lingula…

    • Allegedly, she worked, 1982-83, as a mining geologist for WMC (Western Mining Company) in outback South Australia, based in Adelaide, with a 1981 BS in Mining Geology from the Royal School of Mines of Imperial College, University of London. Then she returned to academe in 1984.

    • Len
      But deer can’t levitate or even fly. Surely hunters must have observed hoof prints!

      • You mean apart from Donner, Blitzen, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Dasher and Vixen – and occasionally Rudolf? There are numerous films about it – the consensus has spoken!

        • I have to admit that I don’t recall any mention of prints, it was too long ago. But I do remember the article and the implications drawn from it. An area not conducive to prints? Nobody hunting there because ‘everyone knew” (that ‘consensus’ again) that there were no deer there?

          I have a university colleague now retired who went on to wildlife management in SE BC north of the area in the report, maybe I can stir up some memories from him. I’ll try.

  6. Who wrote the paper declaring it extinct 100000yrs ago and how did the paper and the description “white throated” survive 100000 years?

    • Apparently the island disappeared below the waves around 100,000 years ago.
      No island, no sub-species.
      The island re-appeared and was recolonized by close cousins.
      They “decided” that as there were no local predators flying was no advantage so gave it up
      The species hasn’t come back to life. No coelocanth, Lazarus doesn’t get a look in.
      A near relative has emulated it.

      From Wikipedia…
      A fourth extinct flightless subspecies or descendant species is known from fossil remains on Aldabra, and anatomically was almost identical to the Aldabra rail. This subspecies was wiped out by rising sea levels during the Pleistocene, but the atoll was recolonized by the white-throated rail after it resurfaced; this population evolved in a very similar way to the extinct subspecies, eventually evolving into the modern Aldabra rail. This is one of the very few observed instances of iterative evolution, in which a distinct population is wiped out from an area but it is recolonized by members of the source population, who evolve in the same way as the extinct population.[4]

      • How did the island reappear in this age of sea levels rising?
        I watch TV and read the newspapers. The Maldive Islands should be gone by now.

    • Thanks for the link, but had to stop at ‘evolutionary significant unit’. I remember when Craig Moritz dreamed up that dodge. I’ll try again after some wine when I will be more in the frame of mind of those long ago discussions at the faculty club.

      • ESU owes to O. A. Ryder, TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, July 1986.

        Species conservation and systematics : the dilemma of subspecies

        • Yes, I remembered it was TREE. Maybe Craig was just promoting it – the politics of rock wallaby subspecies and reptile morphs was getting very hairy in Australia at the time. I gave up on the rail paper though. Much ado about nothing? Loss of flight and advantages of the usual increase in body size on islands for the smaller vertebrates seems like a reasonable evolutionary trap and it will be repeated as long as there are islands and flying colonists.

          It was interesting, though, in that it got me thinking about the origin of flight – I hadn’t really considered predator escape as a strong evolutionary force, but for ground living proto-birds, maybe. Now every time a brown quail makes me jump when it bolts I will wonder about that. Maybe trees and gliding had nothing to do with it.

          • Evolution of dinosaurian flight has had both trees-down and ground-up advocates for a long time. The answer is probably both, but which hypothesis is correct for the lineage leading to modern birds remains controversial.

            The last common ancestor of modern birds and its closest kin was however arboreal.

  7. If some catastrophe in the Galapagos were to wipe out all flightless cormorants there, it wouldn’t take long for their relatives to fly over from South America, recormorantate the islands and soon re-evolve flightlessness, the better to fish, there being no terrestrial predators to stress or vex them.

    • Same goes of course for the flightless birds of Hawaii, although there the ancestral species which arrived were more hit and miss, given the greater distance from continents.

      This flightless ibis of Greater Maui would have had a good shot at being recreated by new blown off course voyagers from the Americas, but for the arrival of humans and the split-up of Maui Nui into its present islands:

      David, wonder how Maui Nui, with its seven shield volcanoes compares with the ancient “world’s biggest” such feature in the eastern Hawaiian chain? Greater Maui was about 40% bigger than the present Big Island, with its five volcanoes.

      Then of course there’s the giant nene goose of the Big Island, the flightless variant descended from errant Canada geese. Smaller, flying relatives survived the invasion of humans and our accompanying ground predators. It too would reemerge in the absence of such voracious megaavesvores.

  8. In the light of this re-appearance of an extinct declared species, all those sightings of Tasmanian Tigers and Big Feet may not turn out to be so mistaken after all. There could be hope for the Moa in New Zealand too.

    • Sorry, but I don’t hold out much hope for moa resurrection. Moas don’t have any close living flying relatives. Their nearest flying relatives are the tinamous of South America, very remote indeed. Moas had been flightless for so long that, uniquely, they lost their wing bones entirely.

  9. All flightless birds can either swim or are fast runners – so there is NO EXCUSE for rising sea levels to have made this bird extinct other than something ate it.

    Now I will make a prediction – some “scientist” somewhere will insist that humans encroached on it’s territories 100,000 years ago and hunted it to extinction. Apparently only humans are capable of hunting things to extinction – all other creatures are endowed with sacred knowledge to stop eating a species before it becomes extinct. We ate the mammoths, we ate the cave bears, we ate the sabre tooth kitties, and I am guessing climate scientists believe we ate the dinosaurs as well.

    So here is an alternative theory – the birds went “extinct” because it became too cold, and only now during a warming event did they decide it was warm enough to reemerge from the primordial ooze. (Actually a gene pool is a kind of primordial ooze!)

    • Please read linked paper upon which the article is based. The original flightless birds, and most other animals on the low-lying islands, were wiped out in a catastrophe. In this case, humans weren’t to blame, unlike so many other islands and continents.

      • Are you sure? Sea levels were rising before humans discovered fossil fuels? Say it ain’t so!

    • Not even “climate scientists” (TM) think that humans ate the dinosaurs, except for some of the many bird species which we have indeed wiped out. Au contraire, they prefer to argue that man-made extinctions were the result of “climate change” of some ill-defined kind or another.

        • dodo
          carolina parakeet
          passenger pigeon
          great auk
          praire pigeon
          various moa
          elephant bird
          stephens island wren
          tippy the parakeet, whose cage didn’t get cleaned often enuf
          & tasmanian emu (maybe)

          • Thanks for saving me the trouble. I’ll add giant flightless nene goose of the Big Island and flightless ibis of Maui Nui, and numerous Indian Ocean island species besides the dodo. The list is long, aided by the dogs, rats, cats, etc which we brought with us.

        • Here are 53 and counting just from New Zealand in the past 800 years, since human arrival, of which 15 since AD 1850:

          On Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific, same thing after people landed.

          The best known man-made avian extinctions on Madagascar are the elephant birds, with four to seven species in two genera. Four species are usually accepted in the genus Aepyornis today, but the validity of some is disputed, with numerous authors treating them all in just one species, A. maximus. Up to three species are generally included in Mullerornis. And that’s just one island in the Indian Ocean. On smaller islands, the losses were even greater.

          I could go on to the Atlantic, where the devastation wasn’t limited just to the great auk.

    • Genomes contain both primordial and novel elements. Evolution preserves the essential bits, while generating coding for new traits, processes and structures.

      • My rock band has been named Primordial Ooze for many years, although we never TM-ed it, and never recorded a single song, nor gave a performance in public, and the band members change frequently. The name, however, has been rock solid. Which is also a good name for a band.

  10. I’m not too surprised. A Plasticine bird may have trouble flying, but it should be able to re-model itself.

  11. Whatever happened to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker that may have been encountered in Arkansas about 15 years ago? Thought extirpated in US but likely still extant in Cuba.

    • Debatable whether the probably extinct mainland Noth American and probably extant Caribbean subspecies are distinct enough to be considered separate species.

  12. The “Junk DNA” that used to be touted as the best evidence for evolution, has turned out to contain a lot of data informing a species how they can reconfigure themselves within certain limits. For example, Darwin’s Finches can regularly un-evolve, and then re-evolve their beak shapes over a few generations. I.e. pre-programmed evolution without having to rely on impossible odds with genetic mutation.

    • Junk DNA in general wasn’t cited as evidence of evolution. Sequences within it however can only be explained via the fact of evolution. Re-evolution isn’t “pre-programmed”, but a response to the environmental changes.

      There is still lots of every genome with no known function, and much known not to serve any purpose, ie “junk”. But it can in future be used, if mutated, possibly to evolve new functions. Some non-coding DNA sequences, ie not “genes” coding for proteins, does play an important role, such as controlling for how long a gene is expressed.

      That novel genetic sequences evolve is incontrovertible, an observation of nature, ie a scientific fact.

      I don’t know how anyone today can possibly deny the reality of evolution via mutation and other sources of genetic diversity. It’s visible every day in every way, evewrywhere, not least in disease pathogens. We can imitate nature and engineer new genetic material, creating in the lab what nature does in the wild.

      Evolution is a consequence of reproduction, and one of the characteristics of all living things, and some generally considered not quite living, ie replicants such as viruses, viroids, transposons, plasmids, etc, which inhabit the space between complex organic chemical building blocks of life and living organisms.

      • “Evolution is a consequence of reproduction.”

        Wow, you are really out there.

        The better a population is able to reproduce, the more stable it is as a species. It is surviving the proverbial “evolutionary pressure,” and the gene pool remains homogeneous by mixing and mingling across generations. And, the less chance a mutation has of getting more popular in the gene pool.

        Your maxim says that the more reproduction there is, the more evolution there is.

        • If you imagine that reality is out there, then yeah. You fail to understand evolution.

          Evolution can and does work more rapidly in large populations. More reproduction allows more mutations to be tried out and selected for or against under the conditions of that generation.

          Natural selection preserves essential sequences, but also allows new ones to increase in a population, if adaptive. This should be obvious. How can it not happen?

          Mutations from point subtitutions, duplications or deletions of a single nucleobase to whole genome duplication or multiplication provide ample new genetic material upon which evolution may work.

          Other processes, such as recombination and HGT, provide further genetic variation. Evolution cannot not happen. Evolution in the wild can be recreated in the lab. It’s simply a scientific fact, like gravitation.

        • PS: Also don’t know what you mean by stable. That a large population doesn’t evolve or go extinct? Obviously not the case. Please see passenger pigeon, Great auk and (almost) American bison extinctions. OTOH, small populations of local species can remain similar over millions of years, if their environment doesn’t change much. See tarsiers and Australian lungfish.

      • “Junk DNA in general wasn’t cited as evidence of evolution.”

        What are you saying? In the 1960s, it was discovered that the overwhelming majority of a species’ genome did not code proteins (citation below). Soon after, the HARK was announced that these genes must be evolutionary baggage: no mechanism or pressure to lose them, and they just follow along at each meiosis and mitosis.

        The fact that a gene had so much non-functional baggage was brightly touted as more confirmation of evolution.

        In the late 1970s, the roles of some of this non-protein coding DNA was getting discovered and published. After a while, a new assumption emerged: there may be some junk DNA, but a lot if it is used – just not to code amino acid after amino acid.

        But it took a while for this idea to get worked up. Too late for me, and others of a “certain age,” who heard loud and clear that junk DNA was a vestige, and was a further proof of evolution.

        When criticized that the doom-and-gloom of Global Warming sounded familiar – but was the second verse of the Global Cooling scare, the Global Warming franchise declared that the supposed “Global Cooling” meme was minor, and short-lived.

        Then, Global Warming skeptics dug into their memory banks, and the research archives, and revealed that, yes, “Global Cooling” was a Thing.

        Featured in Newsweek, NatGeo, and profiled by Nova – withe the oh-so-dramatic Leonard Nimoy. And, the government commissioned RAND to carry out a series of assessments of the impact of this Global Cooling prediction.

        Now, you will tell us – who heard that Junk DNA proved evolution – that we did not hear what we heard.

        Um, OK.

        • What relevance have your global warming comments? Evolution is a fact. CACA is a falsified hypothesis.

          Your link from 1968 doesn’t say what you claim. That our genomes contain massive amounts of inclusions from viruses, bacteria and other organisms is just what would be expected. Same goes for the many broken genes that are our own.

          As a college biology student in 1969-73, the “discovery” of “junk DNA” threatened creationists. Now you claim that it supports that false religious doctrine?

          That much junk DNA would be functional is what evolutionary theory predicted, subsequently confirmed. The hypothesis that corn, for instance, would differ from its wild ancestor teosinte only in control sequences, not proteins, has now been shown to be the case.

          But even protein-coding sequences, ie “genes”, can become non-functional, as with our vitamin C gene, and that of our closest relatives, tarsiers, monkeys and other apes.

          You’ve been lied to. If you want to try to “disprove” the fact of evolution, please try to invent your own arguments, rather than regurgitating the mendacity of professional liars and blasphemers.

    • Our Neanderthal genes are a mixed bag, but could indeed come in handy during the next glacial advance. However by then, our descendants will probably be in control of our evolution.

  13. Maybe it wasn’t extinct at all. Maybe it was hiding out in a nearby Motel 6. What is the burden of proof for declaring something extinct?

    • Cube
      The burden of proof is not unlike proving that Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t exist. If one were to be captured, it would be definitive proof of the existence; failing that, the best you can do is cite the improbability of it existing based on the level of effort and amount of time spent trying, and failing, to find one.

      • The likelihood of no collected remains is almost definitive proof against them, given the size of the bones involved.

        • Thomas
          Again, it is an issue of probability. One could argue that the creatures are so rare, and their habitat so remote, that it is improbable that bones would be discovered before being consumed by rodents. Logically, it is impossible to ‘prove’ a negative proposition.

    • No, but it would be possible genetically to engineer a chickenosaurus, ie a chicken with its surviving non-avian dinosaur genes turned back on. Or more accurately, with its avian control genes switched off.

      Thus the chicken would grow teeth, finger claws and a long, bony tail. Its stance would resemble that of a generic maniraptoran dinosaur rather than an avian.

      While closely related to maniraptorans, tyrannosaurs retained traits lost or modified in the line leading to birds. Consider for instance the arms, relatively reduced in tyrannosaurs, but long in birds and most other maniraptorans. Plus lots of other differences, variations on the basic coelurosaur and theropod bauplan.

  14. “Hat tip to Mrs. Middleton…”

    You mean… someone has to put up with you in person?? Oh the humanity! 😉

  15. Someone mentioned “debunking” a theory. Nasty word that and rather offensive to the protagonist of the theory. It is a word beloved of the skeptical science lot and up there with “denier”
    You may refute my hypothsis query it negate it but please dont debunk it or i might think you did not even consider its validity

    • Perfectly correct term for the preposterous, ludicrous speculation of aquatic ape ancestors of humans.

  16. Wot? Rising sealevel a hundred thousand years ago? Those Cro Magnon fellows must have had a lot to answer for.

  17. Conservationists worried about extinction already 100,000 years ago. Some things never change…

  18. Well, for example, since the polar bear is just a coloration variety of the a brown bear, if the Arctic were to go completely ice-free there would be no advantage to a pure white coat (in fact, white might be a disadvantage) and over enough time, it might be selected out and returned to a brown coat (to help it blend in with its background and be less visible to prey). Scientists these days tend to mark varieties of the same species as different species. Today they might mark a Yorkshire terrier and a great Dane as different species of dogs. We see that a lot in California where they use some minor local color variation of some rodent to declare an “endangered species” to block development when it isn’t a separate species at all.

    • crosspatch
      You said, :… since the polar bear is just a coloration variety of the a brown bear, …” Close, but no ‘seegar.’
      The two species can breed and produce viable offspring, often a test for species, but they have evolved notable physical differences that are adaptations to their typical environments.

      • There are several definitions of different species, the biological concept refers to whether the two populations can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, by that definition polar bears and brown bears are not different species. By the ecological speciation concept they are separate species.

    • Polar bears wouldn’t go extinct or re-evolve into brown bears as long as there is landfast ice in the spring on which ringed seals den. White would also help them hunt harp seals on ice floes in summer.

      They also have many more specialized adaptations besides coat color. They’re still evolving further adaptations. Modern bears’ teeth are noticeably different from their ancestors’.

  19. David ==> Much of this paper is scientific speculation based on a few single bones. Nevertheless, the island involved was totally submerged — possible several times “340 000 YBP, with possibly two others at
    240 000 and 200 000 YBP”. The bird is on the atoll today, and is flightless. They BELIEVE the bird must have been extinct (locally — on this particular atoll) because the atoll was under water for extended periods, several hundred thousand years ago.

    The logic goes like this: flightless bird (assumed flightless, as there are no actual records from 300,00 years ago) based on fossil humerus bones. Island underwater, flightless birds must have perished. Fast forward to the present, flightless birds found on atoll.

    Based on misguided ideas of Darwinian eveolution, the flightless bird MUST HAVE re-evolved.

  20. I thought the response to the link was hilarious, given that it is tl esquire
    “The request could not be satisfied.”
    Poor request, it goes home frustrated.

  21. A nice biological curiosity. If one is embarrassed to quote from Esquire, there is an article on the same story from the Smithsonian Institute:

    At first sight this re-evolution of a bird appears to break (or refute) Dollo’s law of evolution, that evolution can’t go backwards to revisit previous forms:

    Dollo’s law of irreversibility (also known as Dollo’s law and Dollo’s principle), proposed in 1893[1] by Belgian paleontologist Louis Dollo states that, “an organism never returns exactly to a former state, even if it finds itself placed in conditions of existence identical to those in which it has previously lived … it always keeps some trace of the intermediate stages through which it has passed.”[2]

    However I think there is a way out of this problem for Dollo’s law. With the Aldabra rail we don’t see a bird evolving from the rail into something else, then back to the flightless rail. Instead, the bird goes extinct from flooding, then it’s original evolution from still-living relatives is repeated when these relatives again fly to the island, and again find that they can safely unevolve flight. The arrow of evolutionary time is not being reversed (as would refute Dollo’s law). Instead it is just re-running. Again forward in time, not backward. Evolution has discovered a franchise.

Comments are closed.