Cannibalistic tadpoles and matricidal worms dispute evolution

  1. A recent study identifies phenotypic plasticity as the ability of tadpoles to change how they look and act, and how their tissues function, in response to their environment. If the pond also contains fairy shrimp, some tadpoles turn into aggressive carnivores and sometimes, the carnivorous tadpole stage becomes entrenched – without the need for a dietary trigger. This plasticity has also been confirmed in lizards, roundworms, and yeast. When yeast is exposed to the herbicide paraquat, the yeast copes by eliminating some or all of the DNA in their mitochondria, the cells’energy-producing organelles.
  1. Some consider this a classic example of “plasticity-first evolution”. On the surface, the findings vindicate Lamarck. The plasticity those changeable tadpoles display is built into their genetic code. And when an “acquired” trait does become “permanent”, it is because of mutations that “fixed” the plastic trait – a process biologists call genetic assimilation.
  2. Since plasticity is a built-in trait of so many organisms, it has obviously been mistaken for “evolution”. “Permanent” claim is meaningless given all organisms populations are ever-changing. The main questions are “what are the limits of plasticity?” and “what happens over the very long time?” The evidence to date is very clear:
    a. Plasticity is a built-in widespread if not universal characteristic of organisms
    b. It is limited in scope to a few traits like color, behavior, and metabolism
    c. Plasticity is reversible rather than cumulative
    d. It is not divergent as toads, lizards, roundworms, yeast, etc. never turn into not-toads, not-lizards, and so on.
  3. This is a repackaging of the same stories sold as proof of “evolution”. Darwin’s finches, the peppered moth, antibiotic resistant bacteria and, why not, the tanning humans. Too bad all these not only do not diverge into new organisms, but they all have been shown to revert eventually when the stimulus is removed. Finches change back their beaks depending on environment and never turn into non-finches, the black moths reversed to white and never to not-moths, antibiotic resistance disappears from the population when we reduce the use of antibiotics (see NIH recommendation), and neither light-skinned Nordics, nor dark-skinned Mediterraneans turn into not-humans under any circumstance.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/cannibalistic-tadpoles-and-matricidal-worms-point-powerful-new-helper-evolution

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6418/988

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/reducing-antibiotic-prescriptions

267 thoughts on “Cannibalistic tadpoles and matricidal worms dispute evolution

  1. OMagain: So a single example demonstrates there are no such thing as purebred mice?

    Now what I said. Learn to read.

    Alan Fox: I bet you wouldn’t have looked in Galileo’s telescope either.

    What has Galileo to do with anything anything discussed here?

  2. Nonlin.org: Actually, they do. I distinctly recall an example of inbred lab mice losing their characteristic through mutation and thus becoming useless.

    My experience is with Drosophila fruit fly stocks. I distinctly recall having dozens of mutant stocks that have been propagated for decades without any reversal to the wildtype. The major threat to the integrity of mutant stocks is contamination, not mutation.

    What is delightful is that you now resort to genetic mutations as the mechanism of phenotypic reversal. What was the topic of the OP again?

  3. Corneel: My experience is with Drosophila fruit fly stocks. I distinctly recall having dozens of mutant stocks that have been propagated for decades without any reversal to the wildtype. The major threat to the integrity of mutant stocks is contamination, not mutation.

    Your experience does not cancel out other experiences, but one counterexample is enough to disprove a misguided categorical claim. “Reversal to the wildtype” in a controlled environment designed to prevent any such reversal? That’s not my claim.

    Corneel: What is delightful is that you now resort to genetic mutations as the mechanism of phenotypic reversal. What was the topic of the OP again?

    Again, there’s nothing special about genetic mutations. And most often, reversal happens when your special strain simply dies out. In human terms, freaks seldom have descendants. Perfect alignment with the OP as well as ‘regression to the mean’ and great counterargument to “divergence of character”.

  4. Nonlin.org: Again, there’s nothing special about genetic mutations. And most often, reversal happens when your special strain simply dies out. In human terms, freaks seldom have descendants.

    Heh, you invoke differential reproductive success? This comes awfully close to a description of natural selection.

  5. Corneel: Heh, you invoke differential reproductive success? This comes awfully close to a description of natural selection.

    As explained many times, “differential reproductive success” is trivial – we’re all different and some reproduce. So what? “Natural selection” on the other hand is nonsensical – you know where to find that info.

    Looks like you’re finally giving up – it’s about time. However, you (and others) need to acknowledge your position is untenable rather than simply going silent.

  6. Nonlin.org: As explained many times, “differential reproductive success” is trivial – we’re all different and some reproduce. So what?

    You tell me. You invoked it as one of the mechanisms responsible for regression to the mean. How can that be if differences in reproductive success are trivial?

    Nonlin.org: Looks like you’re finally giving up – it’s about time. However, you (and others) need to acknowledge your position is untenable rather than simply going silent.

    I might not be quite convinced yet, Nonlin 🙂

  7. Nonlin.org,

    I’ve ‘gone silent’ because I can’t be arsed with the weekly drive-by. I don’t monitor the thread minutely – Has he been yet? Has he been?

    As to positions being untenable, you are unfortunately hampered by not understanding what is said to you.

  8. Here’s Nonlin’s contention – the one to which opposition is ‘untenable’ – as far as I can make out:

    for any population P at time T with mean V for any chosen variable, there is no process that will result in future population P’ at time T’ where V’ /= V.

    That is patent nonsense.

  9. Nonlin.org: Looks like you’re finally giving up – it’s about time.

    Doesn’t look like that to me.

    However, you (and others) need to acknowledge your position is untenable rather than simply going silent.

    This is bordering on delusional. My impression is you have been wasting a lot of your time building very rickety straw men that aren’t worth pushing over. This is why your own blog is a wasteland and, I guess, why you feel the need to post elsewhere. I mean, you even get ignored at Uncommon Descent.

  10. Corneel: You tell me. You invoked it as one of the mechanisms responsible for regression to the mean. How can that be if differences in reproductive success are trivial?

    Regression to the mean is an observation. Being trivial, “differential reproductive success” is not an explanation of anything. You misunderstand if you think I invoke it.

    Corneel: I might not be quite convinced yet, Nonlin

    You will if intelligent enough and honestly looking for the truth.

  11. Allan Miller: for any population P at time T with mean V for any chosen variable, there is no process that will result in future population P’ at time T’ where V’ /= V.

    Never said any of that… whatever it means. Stick with actual quotes if you want to disagree.

    Allan Miller: I’ve ‘gone silent’ because I can’t be arsed with the weekly drive-by. I don’t monitor the thread minutely – Has he been yet? Has he been?

    Sorry about that. I do have other businesses to attend. And thinking independently takes more time than reciting the dogma – you should try it sometimes. It would be nice if TSZ had a notification system.

  12. Alan Fox: My impression is you have been wasting a lot of your time building very rickety straw men that aren’t worth pushing over. This is why your own blog is a wasteland and, I guess, why you feel the need to post elsewhere. I mean, you even get ignored at Uncommon Descent.

    Thousands of comments say otherwise – you do try to push over the “rickety straw men”, but CAN’T. Wasteland? How so? It’s not a commercial enterprise. Yes, it’s sad that many at UD are confused to the point of accepting some of the Darwinist nonsense. 150 years of brainwashing (actually many more) did leave deep scars on their brains.

    “Science” by consensus again? How long will you continue to fall for that?

  13. Is it that time of the month again?

    Nonlin.org: You misunderstand if you think I invoke it.

    No, I don’t. You did invoke it:

    And most often, reversal happens when your special strain simply dies out. In human terms, freaks seldom have descendants.

    If that isn’t differential reproductive succes, I don’t know what is.

    Nonlin.org: You will if intelligent enough and honestly looking for the truth.

    Promises, promises.

  14. Nonlin.org: “Science” by consensus again? How long will you continue to fall for that?

    Until people like you start living up to your bold claims.

  15. Corneel: If that isn’t differential reproductive succes, I don’t know what is.

    What you quote does not equate your claim:

    “You invoked it as one of the mechanisms responsible for regression to the mean”.

    Remember, we’re ALL different, yet some die out and others don’t. Your “mechanism” fails.

    Anyway, you’re way off course. Care to get back to this OP or at least to “regression to the mean disproves divergence of character”? Is that clear to you now?

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