How many different kinds of birds are there?

Once again I make an attempt to open the question of created kinds, or baramins, or whatever you want to call them: groups within which there is common descent but between which there is not. This is an opportunity for the creationists who frequent TSZ to school me on the subject.

I ask one simple question to begin the discussion: how many different kinds of birds are there? (It should be obvious why I chose birds, but the choice was, from a scientific standpoint, arbitrary.) As a followup, how can you tell? If there are indeed separately created kinds, I would think the divisions would be obvious. Would you agree, and why or why not? In any case, I’m not asking for precision; an answer within an order of magnitude will do.

Here’s my answer: 1; all birds belong to the same kind. In fact they form an infinitesimal fraction of a kind, since all life on earth is related. We have discussed the evidence many times here: nested hierarchy, etc. There are no joints at which kinds can easily be carved. How about you?

460 thoughts on “How many different kinds of birds are there?

  1. J-Mac:
    And what if some birds don’t seem to belong to the same kind? I’m sure Dr. Harshman has some unfounded excuses…

    If.

    Unlike avian birds that have hollow bones, ratites (flightless birds) have solid bones…

    You equate ratites with flightless birds, but in fact the majority of flightless species aren’t ratites, and flightlessness has arisen in dozens of families, mostly on oceanic islands. Ratites are of course avian birds, since “avian” means “bird”.

    Now what makes you think that some birds belong to different kinds? Apparently, any sort of difference. But which differences? How many kinds of birds are there?

    And of course ratites aren’t even a thing. Ratites achieved flightlessness independently at least 5 times, and tinamous, which fly, are within the group. See, for example, Harshman J., Braun E.L., Braun M.J., Huddleston C.J., Bowie R.C.K., Chojnowski J.L., Hackett S.J., Han K.-L., Kimball R.T., Marks B.D., Miglia K.J., Moore W.S., Reddy S., Sheldon F.H., Steadman D.W., Steppan S.J., Witt C.C., Yuri T. Phylogenomic evidence for multiple losses of flight in ratite birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2008; 105:13462-13467.

  2. colewd:
    TomMueller,

    The concept of created kinds says there is a limit to the variation that reproduction can generate and additional living diversity comes from creation.

    Do you have any evidence for such a limit? What is that limit?

    My suggestion is to search for the line of demarkation between reproductive variation and a created kind using genetic information.

    The two types of information I suggested using are DNA sequences and alternative splicing patterns to see if a point of demarkation can be discovered. Different proteins are generated from both DNA sequences and alternative splicing patterns.

    Some of these different proteins are used as transcription factors (proteins that initiate DNA transcription) which determine gene expression levels and may count for part of genetic diversity.

    None of that explains where there might be a demarcation. Alternative splicing, to the extent that it actually exists (which isn’t nearly as much as you imagine), can arise through evolution. DNA sequences can vary indefinitely through evolution. None of that requires creation, and there is no line of demarcation, as you implicitly admit by proposing multiple arbitrary limits on variation, 1% and 5%.

  3. John Harshman,

    Do you have any evidence for such a limit? What is that limit?

    A line appears where animals can no longer breed with each other or breeding results in sterile offspring.

    Do you have any evidence that this can be caused by reproduction alone?

    DNA sequences can vary indefinitely through evolution. None of that requires creation, and there is no line of demarcation, as you implicitly admit by proposing multiple arbitrary limits on variation, 1% and 5%.

    I said we don’t know where the line of demarkation is genetically.

    This is very different then saying there is no line of demarkation.

    Alternative splicing, to the extent that it actually exists (which isn’t nearly as much as you imagine), can arise through evolution.

    This is an assertion. Can you support this claim?

  4. John Harshman: Ratites achieved flightlessness independently at least 5 times

    5 times independently? Only?
    Why do you even bother to write an OP like that?
    Can’t you even see how ridiculous your claims are?
    I’m not going to ask about evidence because assuming evolution first , divergence, convergence and all this nonsense is not an evidence…

  5. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    A line appears where animals can no longer breed with each other or breeding results in sterile offspring.

    This is a different criterion, of interbreeding. What evidence do you have that different created kinds should not be able to interbreed (or, odder, should be able to interbreed but produce sterile offspring)? What evidence do you have that all species within a created kind should be able to interbreed? In other words, please support the validity of this criterion. I will also point out that there is a continuum of interbreeding or lack thereof, on which you can’t place a line of demarcation other than arbitrarily. Some hybrids have reduced fertility. Some have difference in fertility between sexes. Some have normal fertility but are just not considered attractive by potential mates. Some hybrids reach adulthood, others only an early embryonic stage. Continua, in other words, in all possible dimensions.

    Do you have any evidence that this can be caused by reproduction alone?

    I don’t know what “by reproduction alone” means. Do you refer to natural mutation? There is certainly much evidence of reproductive incompatibility arising in laboratory experiments. Hey, isn’t that what you call science?

    I said we don’t know where the line of demarkation is genetically.

    Isn’t that suspicious? Shouldn’t it be obvious? If there were kinds, wouldn’t we expect a discontinuity in genetic distance, so that there is a certain maximum level within kinds and a much greater minimum level between them (and no greater distance between kinds that biologists consider closely related than those they consider distantly related)?

    This is very different then saying there is no line of demarkation.

    Yes, as I have pointed out. But if you can’t tell where the line is, that’s evidence that there isn’t one. You certainly have no evidence that there is one, do you?

    This is an assertion.Can you support this claim?

    Simple logic. Alternative splicing, where it exists, relies on signals present in the DNA sequence. Change the signals, i.e. introduce a new one, and you change the splicing. And of course changing the signals means changing the sequence, which means mutation. Mutation happens. QED. Hey, you aren’t still confusing common descent with mechanisms of mutation, are you?

  6. J-Mac: 5 times independently? Only?

    No, not only. At least. And that’s in ratites. It’s happened hundreds of times in other groups, in fact over 700 times in Rallidae alone.

    Why do you even bother to write an OP like that?
    Can’t you even see how ridiculous your claims are?

    I bother because I want an answer to my question, which you still haven’t managed to provide. I can’t see how ridiculous my claims are until you point out why they’re ridiculous. Please try extra hard to be coherent.

    I’m not going to ask about evidence becauseassuming evolution first , divergence, convergence and all this nonsense is not an evidence…

    I asked you to be coherent.

  7. John Harshman,

    I will also point out that there is a continuum of interbreeding or lack thereof, on which you can’t place a line of demarcation other than arbitrarily.

    Sure we can. We know that horses cannot breed with flies. Clear line of demarkation. The point you make that hybrids are not a clear line is good but that can be set aside while clear lines of demarkation are drawn.

    Isn’t that suspicious? Shouldn’t it be obvious? If there were kinds, wouldn’t we expect a discontinuity in genetic distance, so that there is a certain maximum level within kinds and a much greater minimum level between them (and no greater distance between kinds that biologists consider closely related than those they consider distantly related)?

    Clear lines of demarkation exist in alternative splicing data.

    Simple logic. Alternative splicing, where it exists, relies on signals present in the DNA sequence.

    The answer is we don’t know where the signals come from. The idea that mutation can change alternative splicing signals and create new species is unsupported.

     Spliceosome-data.pdf

  8. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Sure we can.We know that horses cannot breed with flies.Clear line of demarkation.The point you make that hybrids are not a clear line is good but that can be set aside while clear lines of demarkation are drawn.

    A line of demarcation between horses and flies is useless. It’s like saying there is a clear line of demarcation between red and blue. No, there isn’t. There’s a continuum between red and blue, which passes through orange, yellow, and green, and there’s no point at which you can see here is where red stops and blue begins. It’s the same with horses and flies: horses aren’t flies, but there’s no sharp line with horses on one side and flies on the other. They’re in different areas of the continuous tree of Metazoa, that’s all. The only difference between that continuum and the spectrum is that much of the continuity is in the past.
    Clear lines of demarkation exist in alternative splicing data.

    The answer is we don’t know where the signals come from.The idea that mutation can change alternative splicing signals and create new species is unsupported.

    Not true. In many cases of known, functional alternative splicing (as opposed to the random errors that make up most of your claims), the signals are well known. One that’s prominent in birds is cmyc; feel free to look at the literature on it. But again you’re indulging in word salad. Nobody every said that changes in alternative splicing signals result in new species.

    I also see that you ignore most of what I ask you. The fact that you can’t come up with a coherent response should be a good clue to you that there are no separate kinds.

  9. J-Mac: Can’t you even see how ridiculous your claims are?

    Whereas, of course, your claims have no possibility of ridicule inherent in them. Must be why you don’t make them.

    What’s the origin of anything at all according to J-Mac? Quantum god diddit. Just goddidit for the 21st century.

  10. colewd,
    Can’t you see there’s a fundamental difference between mutations not being demonstrated to be capable of creating new species and an invisible man did it?

    At least with mutations we have some idea about them, they are tractable, we can propose experiments. We can observe.

    Whereas you reject that in favour of what, exactly? An invisible man, just a different one to J-Mac’s? How does that make any sense at all?

    I hope there is a god because when you die he’ll fucking tell you wtf dude, of course uncountable mutations and other things you seem to have a selective blindspot about over billions of years could do it. .

  11. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Sure we can.We know that horses cannot breed with flies.Clear line of demarkation.

    The arctic isn’t the tropics. Where’s the line of demarcation?

    The point you make that hybrids are not a clear line is good but that can be set aside while clear lines of demarkation are drawn.

    So you can tell the arctic from the tropics. What does that tell you?

    Clear lines of demarkation exist in alternative splicing data.

    Yes, if alternative splicing differs, it differs. That’s as informative as the fact that a mutation makes a different DNA strand than existed previously.

    The answer is we don’t know where the signals come from.

    Maybe from the spirit realm.

    The idea that mutation can change alternative splicing signals and create new species is unsupported.

    Well, except for the existence of mutations and the evidence in DNA that mutations have accumulated, differently in different lines that diverged from a common ancestor, some apparently under positive selective pressure. You can ignore the evidence, of course, but how is that different from flat earthers ignoring spherical earth evidence?

    Glen Davidson

  12. John Harshman,

    A line of demarcation between horses and flies is useless. It’s like saying there is a clear line of demarcation between red and blue. No, there isn’t. There’s a continuum between red and blue, which passes through orange, yellow, and green, and there’s no point at which you can see here is where red stops and blue begins. It’s the same with horses and flies: horses aren’t flies, but there’s no sharp line with horses on one side and flies on the other. They’re in different areas of the continuous tree of Metazoa, that’s all. The only difference between that continuum and the spectrum is that much of the continuity is in the past.
    Clear lines of demarkation exist in alternative splicing data.

    Thats not we are observing relative animal types and interbreeding. There are clear lines of demarkation that can be drawn of animals that cannot interbreed. Your continuum of breeding does not exist. Between a cat and a dog there is a clear line of demarkation and they are both mammals.

    Not true. In many cases of known, functional alternative splicing (as opposed to the random errors that make up most of your claims), the signals are well known. One that’s prominent in birds is cmyc; feel free to look at the literature on it. But again you’re indulging in word salad. Nobody every said that changes in alternative splicing signals result in new species.

    Please support your claim here.

    I also see that you ignore most of what I ask you. The fact that you can’t come up with a coherent response should be a good clue to you that there are no separate kinds.

    I answered all the questions you had that i considered to be coherent. You are failing to support your claims especially that you have a clue where the splicing codes come from why don’t you start there.

  13. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Thats not we are observing relative animal types and interbreeding.There are clear lines of demarkation that can be drawn of animals that cannot interbreed.Your continuum of breeding does not exist.Between a cat and a dog there is a clear line of demarkation and they are both mammals.

    All I ask here is that you reread what you write at least once to determine if it makes sense. In the paragraph above, it doesn’t. I can’t respond sensibly to word salad.

    Please support your claim here.

    Sorry, what claim? Can you find any of the literature on cmyc 1 and cmyc 2?

    I answered all the questions you had that i considered to be coherent.

    You’re just mirroring my criticisms of you there; I don’t think you can be serious.

    You are failing to support your claims especially that you have a clue where the splicing codes come from why don’t you start there.

    The splicing codes are a digression. Again you are confusing the origin of mutations (changes in DNA sequences that allow for differences in splicing) with the question of common descent, which is what kinds are about. Assuming for the moment that alternative splicing can’t evolve naturally, how is that an indication that two species with different splicing are different created kinds?

  14. OMagain,

    I think he is going to tell you: Dude when you learned about DNA sequences and then exon sequences and then amino acid sequences are what drives the cell wasn’t it time to realize they live in almost infinite mathematical space and drop the mutation “did it” concept.

  15. John Harshman,

    Sorry, what claim? Can you find any of the literature on cmyc 1 and cmyc 2?

    You’re making the claim, provide a citation.

    The splicing codes are a digression. Again you are confusing the origin of mutations (changes in DNA sequences that allow for differences in splicing) with the question of common descent, which is what kinds are about. Assuming for the moment that alternative splicing can’t evolve naturally, how is that an indication that two species with different splicing are different created kinds?

    The splicing frequency differences between species show a clear delineation of potential kinds and may very well correlate with an inability to interbreed.

  16. colewd: You’re making the claim, provide a citation.

    Turns out not to be so easy. I run into paywalls when searching for reviews.

    The splicing frequency differences between species show a clear delineation of potential kinds and may very well correlate with an inability to interbreed.

    Can you support that? Can you restate it in a way that makes sense? Either or both would be helpful.

  17. John Harshman,

    Can you support that? Can you restate it in a way that makes sense? Either or both would be helpful.

    Yes, it starts with the paper I sent you on alternative splicing a few years ago. I am out for the rest of the day will try to get it to you tonight.

  18. Bill

    Before Wasting effort and bandwidth, I want to ask you a hypothetical question which requires a direct answer,before proceeding to exevate a further response to your predictable request for references:

    We all agree donkeys and horses are the same kind; so proceeding on that basis:

    1- if you were presented with proof positive that quantitative measures of genomic differences between horses and donkeys are greater than the 1% observed between Chimpanzees and Humans

    and

    2- if the qualitative genomic differences you cite as distinguishing Chimpanzees and Humans as different kinds ( lncRNAs, indels, translocations etc) were shown to actually ALL occur with EVEN GREATER FREQUENCY among naturally occurring populations of mice and even Equidae…

    Would you then concede defeat, hypothetically speaking?

    Given your track record – my next question is “Why Not?!”

  19. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Yes, it starts with the paper I sent you on alternative splicing a few years ago.I am out for the rest of the day will try to get it to you tonight.

    I don’t know what paper you’re talking about, and even if I did, how would it support your claims?

  20. colewd:
    I think he is going to tell you:Dude when you learned about DNA sequences and then exon sequences and then amino acid sequences are what drives the cell wasn’t it time to realize they live in almost infinite mathematical space and drop the mutation “did it” concept.

    No DNA sequence lives in “almost infinite mathematical space” Bill. That’s an incoherent concept. Each DNA sequence is finite. So obviously so that they fit within the cells that carry them.

    Also, we went through this. It’s not “mutation did it,” it’s “evolutionary processes did it.” If you learn anything today, try and make it “there’s a very long and wide history of life that has accumulated enormous amounts of successful sequences that are an immense and rich resource for evolution to keep going on.”

    Once you understand that, you’d be able to refute your objections all by yourself.

  21. colewd:

    almost infinite mathematical space

    I crack up every time Bill says that.

    Bill, do you know why I’m laughing?

  22. Corneel: And what did they do to deserve this?

    Anyway, that is exactly the point, isn’t it? Why are snakes not of the lizard kind? Phylogenetic analysis places snakes within lizards. Also, Why don’t blind snakes belong to a separate kind? Wouldn’t you agree that, if even legless lizards don’t qualify, these critters certainly don’t belong to the same kind as the serpent that deceived Eve?

    Oh. for these creatures leglessness is positive. for snakes it was negative relative to their original state.

    I don’t agree there is a LIZARD kind in nature. thats a invention of men. Not God.
    Snakes are a kind. being blind is iirrelevant and common in many creartures due to need to survive in some places.
    Its about gods created kinds.
    then looking within kinds one can see/try to to judge where nature change a kind into types.
    so birds are a clue relative to the bible and snakes.

  23. Entropy,

    No DNA sequence lives in “almost infinite mathematical space” Bill. That’s an incoherent concept. Each DNA sequence is finite. So obviously so that they fit within the cells that carry them.

    It may be incoherent from your perspective. I consider a sequence with 4^3.2 billion possible arrangements almost infinite. Its one of the largest numbers I can think of that has any connection to reality.

    “there’s a very long and wide history of life that has accumulated enormous amounts of successful sequences that are an immense and rich resource for evolution to keep going on.”

    Thats fine. What caused them to consistently gain genetic information over the last 3.5 billion years instead of losing genetic information?

  24. TomMueller,

    1- if you were presented with proof positive that quantitative measures of genomic differences between horses and donkeys are greater than the 1% observed between Chimpanzees and Humans

    Do you understand that DNA is only one piece of the story. What do understand about alternative splicing?

  25. John Harshman: Nobody said that. The point is that if speciation is a gradual process, which it generally is, there will be many ambiguous cases in which it will be difficult to decide if a given group of individuals is one species or two. Would you disagree?

    The ambiguity is due to taxonomy being a human construct. It’s not a proof of gradualism. Since organisms to not come with tree of life place cards, not just species classification but also taxonomy in general is more or less arbitrary as shown by grouping issues and the frequent revisions to its structure.
    Darwin admitted in his “Origin of Species” : “I look at the term species, as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other.” (p52) and “We shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combination made for convenience.” (p485)
    “When he wrote ‘Darwin’s Missing Evidence’, H. B. D. Kettlewell was right to think that the fossil record cannot possibly be evidence for evolution – after all, fossils do not come with proof of link to other existing or fossilized organisms. For one to see a link, one must presuppose a link, rendering the whole argument a classic example of circular logic. But is the peppered moth experiment any better?” http://nonlin.org/missing-evidence/
    How come the moth was not supposed to be “speciation” when it meant to support Darwin? What was it then?
    “Neanderthals are considered either a distinct species, Homo neanderthalensis,[15][16][17] or more rarely[18] a subspecies of Homo sapiens” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal . Is that everywhere enough for you?
    If vertical gradualism, then horizontal gradualism too unless you have a very good reason – and don’t give me “they just conveniently died”. What we see instead is distinct families with limited variations within the family and strong demarcation lines from family to family. Because gradualism fails – face it, gradualism was just a Darwin brain fart based on nothing. And Mendel cancelled that until the shotgun marriage aka “synthesis”.

    On another note, are you controlling this site? Commenting is very awkward. Besides I tried to post something and it was shot down. Yes, I am looking for smart adversaries that have decently strong arguments – you might be a rare one.

  26. John Harshman,

    I don’t know what paper you’re talking about, and even if I did, how would it support your claims?

    It shows an increasing commonality from frogs, chickens,mice, and great apes (chimps) to human alternative splicing patterns all of which cannot interbreed. Clear genetic differences that correlate with breeding demarkation. The biggest difference being the great ape to human transition. The greatest change in overall splicing activity is from the great apes cerebellum (chimps) to the human cerebellum.

  27. colewd:
    It may be incoherent from your perspective.I consider a sequence with 4^3.2 billion possible arrangements almost infinite.Its one of the largest numbers I can think of that has any connection to reality.

    That we can conceive of that enormous amounts of sequences doesn’t mean that each sequence carries “lives” in such a space Bill.

    colewd:
    Thats fine. What caused them to consistently gain genetic information over the last 3.5 billion years instead of losing genetic information?

    I already told you: evolutionary processes. Things like purifying and positive selection. Each neutral and semi-neutral mutation is a new piece of information Bill. Even if tiny. Each molecular rearrangement is a new piece of information. Even if still tiny. There’s much more, but let that suffice for the time being. Now think things like those on a larger time and space scale, and there you have it.

  28. John Harshman: They’re “races” (remember that ambiguity of species) that diverged from modern humans 500,000 years ago, which seems like a problem for you. Also, the ancestors of chimpanzees and humans interbred occasionally for a few million years after the split, and there are a few parts of the human genome that reflect that too. If you believe the data on neandertals and denisovans, why don’t you believe the similar data on humans and chimps?

    Hey, do you think we could talk about birds?

    What’s your evidence for chimps and humans? If evolved, created, evolved under guidance, or whatever scenario, the DNA will match just because the bodies match better than with others.

    Neanderthals and Sapiens mating is of course provisional. Let’s not take it as dogma.

    Sorry, not a bird expert.

  29. John Harshman: Those are some very silly arguments. Try making some of them here and see.

    Feel free to reply there. Disqus works much better.
    Looking forward to your un-silly arguments.

  30. Adapa: Because we have 150+ years’ worth of consilient positive evidence from dozens of different scientific disciplines which supports the idea.

    What is the magic barrier which makes it impossible for one “kind” to evolve into another “kind”?

    Actually, peel the onion and your “consilient positive evidence” will disappear.

    No magical barrier. Just no evidence of awesome stuff popping into existence for no reason and without a designer. But we do have plenty of proof that good designers make great stuff.

  31. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    It shows an increasing commonality from frogs, chickens,mice, and great apes (chimps) to human alternative splicing patterns all of which cannot interbreed. Clear genetic differences that correlate with breeding demarkation.The biggest difference being the great ape to human transition.The greatest change in overall splicing activity is from the great apes cerebellum (chimps) to the human cerebellum.

    I’m fairly confident you have garbled something here, but even if you haven’t, I once again ask how it supports your claim of separate kinds.

  32. Nonlin.org: Feel free to reply there. Disqus works much better.
    Looking forward to your un-silly arguments.

    Sorry, but I have no interest in your web site.

  33. Nonlin.org, to John:

    On another note, are you controlling this site? Commenting is very awkward. Besides I tried to post something and it was shot down.

    John doesn’t control the site. If you want OP privileges, make your request in the Moderation Issues thread. The moderators can help you out.

    However, most discussions take place in the comment threads, so you should get used to that. It isn’t very awkward, contrary to your assessment.

  34. John Harshman,

    , I once again ask how it supports your claim of separate kinds.

    Animals that cannot interbreed are evidence of separate kinds. We add to this genetic changes that when compared to humans show clear differences between the animals that cannot interbreed.

    The genetic differences are driven by changes in splicing codes. New codes, again, are evidence of creation. Mutation is a very poor explanation for the change observed in the splicing codes.

    All this being said it does not take out creation through a common descent process but if the kinds are created through a common descent process they are still created kinds.

  35. Nonlin.org: The ambiguity is due to taxonomy being a human construct. It’s not a proof of gradualism.

    I’d just like to say at the start that putting sentences in bold doesn’t make them more convincing. We aren’t talking about gradualism, if you even know what that term refers to. Nor is taxonomy a human construct. Some species are unambiguous, while others are not, and relationships among species are generally clear.

    Since organisms to not come with tree of life place cards, not just species classification but also taxonomy in general is more or less arbitrary as shown by grouping issues and the frequent revisions to its structure.

    This is not a subject you know much about. They do in fact come with place cards, i.e. their genomes. Revisions have mostly resulted from having direct access to genomes (DNA sequencing) when we previously didn’t. And there haven’t been all that many of those revisions compared to the totality of the tree.

    Darwin admitted in his “Origin of Species” : “I look at the term species, as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other.” (p52)and “We shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combination made for convenience.” (p485)

    Typical creationist quote mine. Darwin was talking about the arbitrary nature of ranks, not of relationships.

    How come the moth was not supposed to be “speciation” when it meant to support Darwin? What was it then?

    So you don’t know what “speciation” means either, eh? Speciation is the evolution of reproductive isolation between two populations. Industrial melanism is an example of natural selection, not speciation.

    “Neanderthals are considered either a distinct species, Homo neanderthalensis,[15][16][17] or more rarely[18] a subspecies of Homo sapiens” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal . Is that everywhere enough for you?

    You will note that there is disagreement even in the one source you cite here. It’s really hard to tell.

    If vertical gradualism, then horizontal gradualism too unless you have a very good reason – and don’t give me “they just conveniently died”.

    You need a reason why there should be a horizontal continuum if there’s a vertical one. I can’t see one. The reason for the absence of what you call horizontal gradualism is that once populations evolve reproductive isolation, they diverge over time, but a single population doesn’t diverge from itself. Extinction just increases this divergence by eliminating close relatives.

    What we see instead is distinct families with limited variations within the family and strong demarcation lines from family to family. Because gradualism fails – face it, gradualism was just a Darwin brain fart based on nothing. And Mendel cancelled that until the shotgun marriage aka “synthesis”.

    You are very, very confused. No, we don’t see those distinct families. “Family” is one of those arbitrary ranks you seem to be talking about at the top. What we actually see are more and more inclusive clades from tip to root of the tree, some of which we arbitrarily label “family”. There is no more discontinuity at the “family” level than at any other.

    On another note, are you controlling this site?

    Nope.

  36. Nonlin.org: No magical barrier. Just no evidence of awesome stuff popping into existence for no reason

    Well, fortunately nobody thinks that’s the case except for those creationist nut-jobs who think that a magical being did just that.

    Nonlin.org: and without a designer. But we do have plenty of proof that good designers make great stuff.

    Really? Do you have any examples of designers who designed anything without the enormous resources they gather from nature? No? Any designers who are independent of the nature they live in? No?

    Hum. So, you’re proposing a designer who designed nature based on designers who could do nothing without that very nature that supports them? Doesn’t that put the cart before the horse? Since designers need a nature that supports them, then wouldn’t your proposed designers need another nature to support them? Wouldn’t that go on forever? Wouldn’t that mean that it’s much easier, and intellectually honest, to accept that nature is first, designers much later? That designers are products of nature, rather than nature the product of designers?

  37. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    Animals that cannot interbreed are evidence of separate kinds.

    Why?

    We add to this genetic changes that when compared to humans show clear differences between the animals that cannot interbreed.

    It isn’t clear what you mean by that.

    The genetic differences are driven by changes in splicing codes.

    No they aren’t. Why would you imagine such a thing?

    New codes, again, are evidence of creation. Mutation is a very poor explanation for the change observed in the splicing codes.

    Can you support this claim?

    All this being said it does not take out creation through a common descent process but if the kinds are created through a common descent process they are still created kinds.

    No they aren’t. Didn’t you see the definition of “kind” in the OP?

  38. Nonlin.org: What’s your evidence for chimps and humans? If evolved, created, evolved under guidance, or whatever scenario, the DNA will match just because the bodies match better than with others.

    Common creationist misunderstanding. Similar morphology does not in fact correlate very well with similar genomes. For one thing, most of your genome is junk that has no effect on your morphology. Now, the evidence for chimp-ancestor and human-ancestor interbreeding several million years ago is a set of sequences in the human genome that are anomalously similar to sequences in the chimp genome. See Patterson N., Richter D. J., Gnerre S., Lander E. S. & Reich D. 2006. Genetic evidence for complex speciation of humans and chimpanzees. Nature 441:1103–1108, doi:10.1038/nature04789. But the evidence is controversial: Presgraves D. C. & Yi S. V. 2009. Doubts about complex speciation between humans and chimpanzees. Trends Ecol. Evol. 24:533-540, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2009.04.007.

    Neanderthals and Sapiens mating is of course provisional. Let’s not take it as dogma.

    Hey, remember that you’re the person claiming that they’re races of a single species.

    Sorry, not a bird expert.

    Come now, sir. Not being an expert hasn’t prevented you from pontificating on all these other subjects you know nothing about. How many kinds of birds are there?

  39. Entropy,

    . Each neutral and semi-neutral mutation is a new piece of information Bill. Even if tiny. Each molecular rearrangement is a new piece of information. Even if still tiny. There’s much more, but let that suffice for the time being. Now think things like those on a larger time and space scale, and there you have it.

    It could be new information by extreme serendipity but almost certainly it will be part of a new set of nucleotides, or amino acids that will break down the information into noise.

    What would happen if you started to make single number random changes to the direct dial names on you cell phone. A single change may cause it to call someone else you know but after a second change, short of extreme serendipity, it will start its journey to non function (no single friends number).

  40. John Harshman: If.

    You equate ratites with flightless birds, but in fact the majority of flightless species aren’t ratites, and flightlessness has arisen in dozens of families, mostly on oceanic islands. Ratites are of course avian birds, since “avian” means “bird”.

    Now what makes you think that some birds belong to different kinds? Apparently, any sort of difference. But which differences? How many kinds of birds are there?

    And of course ratites aren’t even a thing. Ratites achieved flightlessness independently at least 5 times, and tinamous, which fly, are within the group. See, for example, Harshman J., Braun E.L., Braun M.J., Huddleston C.J., Bowie R.C.K., Chojnowski J.L., Hackett S.J., Han K.-L., Kimball R.T., Marks B.D., Miglia K.J., Moore W.S., Reddy S., Sheldon F.H., Steadman D.W., Steppan S.J., Witt C.C., Yuri T. Phylogenomic evidence for multiple losses of flight in ratite birds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2008;105:13462-13467.

    Indeed flightlessness arose many many times on oceanic islands. fossil and living. i read about this once where they could examine remains from great depths of dirt etc and so deduce the islands history.
    It made many creationist points as I saw it.
    Flightlessness is a trivial reaction of birds who are satisfied living on these islands.
    Its easy for them.
    In fact I suggest flightlessness was very common before the flood and is in fact what happened to ground birds everywhere. So I conclude that , what are called dinosaurs rapters theropds etc, are in fact just giant flightless ground birds.
    Not they are reptiles/dinos who show birds are originally reptiles/dinos.
    They were just flightless ground birds.
    Classification errors as usual.

    To know how many kinds of created birds is impossible.
    We only know that birds are not a kind.
    The ark had doves/crows on it. They were taken on board as kinds.
    Its possible KINDS is not fixed but I tend to think it is.
    Just variety within kinds.

  41. Entropy: Really? Do you have any examples of designers who designed anything without the enormous resources they gather from nature? No? Any designers who are independent of the nature they live in? No?

    Hum. So, you’re proposing a designer who designed nature based on designers who could do nothing without that very nature that supports them? Doesn’t that put the cart before the horse? Since designers need a nature that supports them, then wouldn’t your proposed designers need another nature to support them? Wouldn’t that go on forever? Wouldn’t that mean that it’s much easier, and intellectually honest, to accept that nature is first, designers much later? That designers are products of nature, rather than nature the product of designers?

    Just wanted to say I hadn’t heard that particular response to the design argument before. Dunno if it’s original, but it’s new to me. So thanks.

  42. John, to Nonlin.org:

    Come now, sir. Not being an expert hasn’t prevented you from pontificating on all these other subjects you know nothing about. How many kinds of birds are there?

    This is a total fantasy, but wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of foolproof, cheating-proof way of verifying a commenter’s basic competence in evolutionary biology? An “EB score”, let’s call it.

    So when someone like Bill, J-Mac, or Nonlin.org showed up here, we could say “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Come back when your EB score is above 8.5.”

    Like I said, it’s a fantasy. But it sure would be nice.

  43. John Harshman,

    Animals that cannot interbreed are evidence of separate kinds.

    Why?

    There is no other explanation of their origin based on observation since there is a genetic barrier between these animals and other species.

    We add to this genetic changes that when compared to humans show clear differences between the animals that cannot interbreed.

    It isn’t clear what you mean by that.

    The splicing data compares specific species exon alternative splicing data with human exon splicing data. The human data is compared to chimps, orangoutangs, mice, possums, chickens, lizards and frogs. The comparative data between these animals that cannot interbreed is clearly different with greatest difference between chimps and humans.

    The genetic differences are driven by changes in splicing codes.

    No they aren’t. Why would you imagine such a thing?

    This is a conclusion by this UT paper and an MIT paper on the same subject. I agree that your skepticism is warranted but you should not discount their conclusion as the data in the paper that supports this is compelling. Both papers show how alternative splicing patterns in specific tissues vary from animal to animal. From MIT article:

    “The core things that make a heart a heart are mostly determined by a heart-specific gene expression signature. But the core things that make a mouse a mouse may disproportionately derive from splicing patterns that differ from those of rats or other mammals” says Chris Burge, an MIT professor of biology and biological engineering,

    New codes, again, are evidence of creation. Mutation is a very poor explanation for the change observed in the splicing codes.

    Can you support this claim?

    This is supported by the extreme cancer risk caused by alternative splicing errors. I will try to pull some references.

    All this being said it does not take out creation through a common descent process but if the kinds are created through a common descent process they are still created kinds.

    No they aren’t. Didn’t you see the definition of “kind” in the OP?

    There is an extreme demarkation between species as a result of reproduction only and species created by intelligent genetic intervention, however that intervention is provided.

  44. keiths:
    John, to Nonlin.org:

    This is a total fantasy, but wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of foolproof, cheating-proof way of verifying a commenter’s basic competence in evolutionary biology?An “EB score”, let’s call it.

    So when someone like Bill, J-Mac, or Nonlin.org showed up here, we could say “You don’t know what you’re talking about.Come back when your EB score is above 8.5.”

    Like I said, it’s a fantasy.But it sure would be nice.

    8.5 my arse!. I’d be amazed if any of those three made it past 2.

  45. colewd:
    John Harshman,

    There is no other explanation of their origin based on observation since there is a genetic barrier between these animals and other species.

    That’s just a restatement of your claim, not an argument. If it’s your claim that inability to interbreed can’t evolve between originally connected populations, how do you account for the evidence that it has, particularly the existence of all those intermediate states of partial isolation?

    The splicing data compares specific species exon alternative splicing data with human exon splicing data.The human data is compared to chimps, orangoutangs, mice, possums, chickens, lizards and frogs.The comparative data between these animals that cannot interbreed is clearly different with greatest difference between chimps and humans.

    Still don’t understand what that means or why it’s evidence of separate kinds.

    This is a conclusion by this UT paper and an MIT paper on the same subject.I agree that your skepticism is warranted but you should not discount their conclusion as the data in the paper that supports this is compelling.Both papers show how alternative splicing patterns in specific tissues vary from animal to animal.From MIT article:

    That quote says nothing like what you claimed it said. You can’t write, you can’t read, what can you do?

    This is supported by the extreme cancer risk caused by alternative splicing errors. I will try to pull some references.

    Even if this last claim is true, how does it support your other claims? Please think before typing.

    There is an extreme demarkation between species as a result of reproduction only and species created by intelligent genetic intervention, however that intervention is provided.

    Even if true (and you can’t back it up) how is that relevant to the question of separate kinds? Intelligent genetic intervention doesn’t result in new created kinds, just changes to existing kinds.

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