Is anything in biology , man, beast, plant, in millions etc of species evolving as we speak?

I say no but why do evolutionists?

This is a sly way to demonstrate how unlikely evolutionism is on a probability curve.when on thinks of the millions (billions?) of segregated populations in biology(species) then it should be a high, or respectable percentage, are evolving as we speak to create new populations with new bodyplans to survive in some niche. By high I mean millions, with a allowance for mere hundreds of thousands. YET I am confident there is none evolving today. further i suspect evolutionists would say there is none evolving today. WHY? If not today what about yesterday or 300 years ago? Why couldn’t creationists say its not happening today because it never happened? Its accurate sampling of todays non evolution for predicting none in the past!

i think the only hope (hope?) is if evolutionism said , under pE influence, that all biology today is in the stasis stage and just waiting for a sudden need to change, qickly done, then stasis again. Yet why would it be that stasis has been reached so perfectly today relative to the enormous claim of the need in the past for evolutionism?

Anyways i think creationists have a good point here but willing to be corrected.

391 thoughts on “Is anything in biology , man, beast, plant, in millions etc of species evolving as we speak?

  1. DNA_Jock: simple questions […] that cannot easily be answered via google-and-paste

    Heh, I noticed him accusing you of googling for answers. J-Mac assumes everybody plays the game his way and just cannot imagine that people actually know stuff.

  2. DNA_Jock:

    CharlieM asks Allan Miller:
    So why have sex in the first place

    Awesome question!
    Check out this thread, and the 55 page magnum opus linked therein. Although I understand Allan has an update on the way…

    Thanks for the reference. I’ve started reading it but it may take me some time combining that with trying to keep up with new posts. I’m enjoying this thread and don’t want to ignore criticisms, but, as every one of us know, it all takes time.

  3. Neil Rickert:

    CharlieM: An awareness of this requires us to see with our minds as a complement to seeing with our eyes.

    Seeing with your eyes is seeing with your mind.

    Before I get round to answering some previous posts I’ll give an immediate response to this as it won’t take me any time at all.

    Do you recognise (i.e. see) that there is a difference between visual sight and “seeing” as in understanding? Can you see the earth moving with your eyes? Babies have the same mechanisms of sight as adults, do they have the same understanding as adults?

  4. CharlieM,

    The only thing we’ve inherited from LUCA is in our genomes. Her cytoplasm, made from her genome, is long gone.

  5. Alan Fox: Perhaps it’s men that fixate on genomes as that’s all there is that gets passed on in a sperm cell.

    Nope. We fixate on genomes because that’s what survives the generational process. It’s what’s copied. It makes cytoplasm.

  6. J-Mac: What kind of answer would satisfy you?

    The truth.

    I thought people like you, adapa, and the like, are very critical of ID for not doing enough science in labs…
    So, the self-defeating idea of doing science only in labs only applies to evolutionary science, and not to ID?
    How convenient…

    Don’t be a hypocrite. I have only hinted at your lack of labwork because that is precisely the implicit criticism you just levelled at me. I’m not the one arguing that science is only done by people in white coats. The ‘lab’ subject only ever comes up when you bring it up, at least in our exchanges.

    So, you obviously missed the point because of your bias.

    No, I missed the point because you are an appalling communicator.

    So, I’d suggest, before you propose another of your speculative ideas, make sure it fits the criteria of a scientific theory; i.e. observation, prediction, reproduction by experiments…

    What, like ID you mean? LMAO.

  7. Allan Miller: What, like ID you mean? LMAO.

    Well, at least in his next post we can ask him what components of that are reproducible etc. Not that it’ll matter.

  8. DNA_Jock: Awesome question!
    Check out this thread, and the 55 page magnum opus linked therein. Although I understand Allan has an update on the way…

    Heh heh! Yep, still chewing the virtual pencil on that one. Though it may prove a bit ‘genome-centric’ for Charlie’s tastes. 🙂

  9. Allan Miller: Nope. We fixate on genomes because that’s what survives the generational process. It’s what’s copied. It makes cytoplasm.

    There was an attempt at facetiousness there though I was thinking of oocytes and mitochondria.

  10. CharlieM,

    Well, no. Individual people can be studied as units and corporations can be studied as units without reference to their employees. We can look at a cell as a single entity and we can look at an organism as a single entity without having to refer to what it is made up of.

    You seem to have missed the point (that’s the trouble with analogies …). You link evolution on the grand scale with development of a single body, because (inter alia) they are ‘made of cells’. But if we look at commerce on the grand scale and compare it with an individual company, we see significantly different behaviour. Within a single company, individuals cooperate. But companies compete.

    So it is with evolution, or ecosystems, making the appropriate entity swaps. You can’t simply export behaviours at one level to another, just because you fancy.

  11. Alan Fox: There was an attempt at facetiousness there though I was thinking of oocytes and mitochondria.

    Heh, fair do’s! 😃

  12. CharlieM: Yes they need to explain how we get from variation about a mean, keeping organisms in tune with their environment, to jumps in novel complexity.

    My understanding is that evolution is particularly impacted by changes in the environment. As long as this is stable there won’t be a lot of ‘novel complexity’ that gives significant advantages over what the organisms already have (although drift will ensure that there will still be ongoing change). However, drastic changes in the environment provide particular opportunities for ‘novel complexity’ to come to the fore.

    You can see this happening right after the major extinction events in geological history. For instance mammals saw very rapid divergence after the dinosaurs were killed off at the end of the Cretaceous.

    But how do you explain findings such as the locations of fossils which would suggest that creatures such as dinosaurs or pterosaurs appeared at specific timesand then subsequently disappeared?

    You are asking a YEC…

    If gradual macro evolution is happening we are not going to see it in the time span available to us. Similarly we cannot tell that the moon is moving relative to the visible planets just by looking at them in the course of a single night.

    An awareness of this requires us to see with our minds as a complement to seeing with our eyes.

    Yes I think you are correct. I would not be surprised if evolution actually picks up the pace in the fast changing global climate + mass extinction world we find ourselves in nowadays. Even so, it is unlikely to be fast enough to show up clear new species in a human life time (if there will be any humans left to observe things in the first place, of course)

  13. CharlieM: Parthenogenesis enables all of the genetic material to be passed on without external contamination. Genes are faithfully passed on from parent to offspring. Introducing a second source of genetic material, no matter how similar it is to the genome of the female, is interfering with the mother’s ability to pass faithful copies to the next generation.

    Reductionism to the rescue! I don’t think sex is ‘for’ organisms – kind of the other way round …

    As you say the introduction of sex involves greatly increased complexity. Both partners are required to have very their own very sophisticated, complex processes. And equally important, they must coordinate with each other at every level. In animals there is the level of individual behaviour, attraction and instincts, the level of matching sexual organs, the cellular level of sperm and egg, and the genetic level of matching chromosomes.

    Yes, these must arise gradually, and (in gendered organisms) in complementary fashion. You wouldn’t start from here.

    And all this to achieve something that we are told is unwanted by the genes. They lose the guarantee of being faithfully copied.

    Most genes can’t do anything about it, even imputing Dawkinsian ‘desires’ to them. Also, the Selfish Gene stance depends upon recombination, a feature of sex. It’s a common error to assume that ‘selfishness’ in that sense is a property of genetic loci rather than recombinant linkage units – an error I’ve seen made by some pretty big names. Mutating to abandon recombination immediately snuffs out the gene’s ability to be a ‘selfish gene’- a paradox. Selfish gene thinking is only valid inside sexual populations.

    As far as faithfully passing on genomes cloning is more accurate than sexual reproduction.

    If ‘the genome’ had any say in the matter … reductionism to the rescue again! Every gene still gets copied, even if the genomes get shuffled. No individual gene is ‘bothered’ about the genes that lie around it, generally.

  14. When I see the question of how many species are currently evolving, I sort of distinguish between allele frequency changes from one generation to the next (which I associate more with drift, one flavor of evolution) and speciation, which I think of as a trend in which one allele pattern is becoming more prevalent in one part of a population than in another.

    I have read (and maybe partially understood!) that in the absence of any branching events, a population can over time have a sort of “Brownian motion” around some general phenotype, though if there is any stochastic trend, the entire population can change in some directional way (changing size, color, etc.) And that this is qualitatively different from a branching event where the sharing of mutations between subpopulations stops either suddenly or gradually. In that case, the result is two distinct populations growing ever more distant with each generation.

    What I don’t know is how quickly a sympatric speciation occurs. If a complete branching (no sharing of mutations at all) requires long enough, I suppose it would be difficult to point to species in the process of splitting in two. Maybe someone with more knowledge can help here.

  15. CharlieM,

    First things first. Are you or anyone saying modrn biology is or is not evolving as we speak? As a YEC we don’t see sudden apearances of any creatures. the fossil record is not a record but only a episode of deposition. Just a snapshot unrelated to real history.
    Indeed evolution should be observable with a generation , if it was true, as to simply see a new population increasing from a few individuals who have a new bodyplan that is useful to survive a new niche. Macroevolution or micro evolution should be obvious before ones eyes.
    My thread here was that this is not happening or show it folks. SO on a probability curve this would be unlikely if evolutionism was a true mechanism for the origin of species.
    THEN i give them thier last hope about stasis and PE. Yet this is embarrassing too.
    many evolutionists commented some post on my thread but proved to me to have no answer about a clear question. Evolutionism is dying out just from mere intellectual analysis alone.

  16. Robert Byers:

    First things first. Are you or anyone saying modrn biology is or is not evolving as we speak?

    Scientific fields do change as more is learned, but biological evolution requires reproduction. You can’t crossbreed biology with football and get offspring, though both fields change over time.

    As a YEC we don’t see sudden apearances of any creatures. the fossil record is not a record but only a episode of deposition. Just a snapshot unrelated to real history.

    Nobody sees sudden appearances of any creature, since that does not happen. I agree the fossil record is a sequence of snapshots, much like a move is made of still frames. But like a movie, snapshots viewed in sequence tell a story.

    Indeed evolution should be observable with a generation , if it was true, as to simply see a new population increasing from a few individuals who have a new bodyplan that is useful to survive a new niche. Macroevolution or micro evolution should be obvious before ones eyes.

    But what if something you believe “should be” true doesn’t happen to be true? A biologist would probably say that evolution “should be” observable only over a very large number of generations. For larger organisms, this might require millions of years. As a rule of thumb, if you see the change in a single generation, you’re NOT seeing evolution, which simply doesn’t work that way.

    My thread here was that this is not happening or show it folks. SO on a probability curve this would be unlikely if evolutionism was a true mechanism for the origin of species.
    THEN i give them thier last hope about stasis and PE. Yet this is embarrassing too.
    many evolutionists commented some post on my thread but proved to me to have no answer about a clear question. Evolutionism is dying out just from mere intellectual analysis alone.

    Your argument suffers from a faulty premise. First you make a wildly false statement about evolution. Next, you (correctly) point out that evolution does not fit this false statement. Finally, you conclude that evolution is false, rather than your premise. As an analogy, it’s like saying that heavier than air flight entails people walking on Mars. Nobody is walking on Mars. Therefore, heavier than air flight is impossible. And people have spent years pointing to airplanes, but your argument ignores all airplanes and stays on Mars.

  17. Flint: What I don’t know is how quickly a sympatric speciation occurs. If a complete branching (no sharing of mutations at all) requires long enough, I suppose it would be difficult to point to species in the process of splitting in two. Maybe someone with more knowledge can help here.

    There is quite some variation, but there are many examples known where the process is rapid enough for us to say to, yes, these species are likely to be in the process of speciation. The text-book example of sympatric speciation is Rhagoletis pomonella, the hawthorn/apple maggot fly sibling-species complex. It is a recent split, initiated by North American hawthorn flies shifting to the newly introduced domesticated apples as a host fruit about 2 centuries ago. The flies tend to mate on their respective host fruits, which results in assortative mating. This is important for sympatric speciation to succeed: if the incipient species would continue to mingle, any divergence will be lost.

    It is easy to distinguish the incipient species using genetic markers, but they are still interfertile and a low level of hybridizition still occurs in the wild. That will suffice for any dyed-in-the-wool creationist to deny that these are two incipient species. The time it will take to establish complete post-zygotic isolation (meaning no interfertility, or incapability to make fertile offspring) is highly variable, but is guaranteed to take longer than one human life-time.

  18. Robert Byers: Evolutionism is dying out just from mere intellectual analysis alone.

    I too suspect that your intellectual tour de force may have persuaded many people on the fence to take the right side in this debate.

  19. Allan Miller:
    CharlieM,

    It seems an inevitable consequence, to me. Evolution produced humans, complex organisms which don’t just pop into complex existence in a heartbeat, but develop, iteratively. That’s what the evolutionary process produces, a series of developmental processes. So the complex thing is a product both of that evolutionary process and of that development process. How could it be otherwise? Try to imagine an evolutionary process that led to complex organisms whose complexity did not also develop.

    So are we agreed that the biosphere is a self-regulation unit with a purported lifespan up until now of billions of years? And at one level the parts which make up the whole are individual short-lived organisms? Like individual waves, each moving a short way up the beach as the tide comes in on its longer rhythm.

    What we disagree on is the nature of the overall process, of the living biosphere. Is it Progressing blindly or is it leading somewhere? It is easy to see the inherent direction in individual lives because we are constantly witnessing their coming into being, development and end. We can see the entire process from the outside. But in the case of the biosphere we can only witness the briefest of moments from within the process. The beginning is beyond the reach of any direct evidence and the end is yet to come. We stand at the tiniest of portions within the process. And from this position we can only speculate about the greater whole.

    You come up with answers that satisfy you. The problem is that I don’t see matter as being primal so the answers that satisfy you, don’t satisfy me. But as long as we enjoy arguing our positions and we think we are getting something from it, then I’ll happily continue. No doubt I’ll learn a lot from looking into what you say about the evolution of sex.

    I’m sure you don’t expect to change my mind just as I don’t expect to change your’s. But at least we can try to understand each other’s position.

    You could take any multicellular organism and say the same thing. The fruiting body of a fungus is the end product of an evolutionary process and a developmental process. But the evolutionary process wouldn’t have led to the fruiting body other than via the developmental process, iterated and tuned.

    The fruiting body is both the end product and the beginning of new life. Life cycles on.

    Similarly, if we are to believe consensus opinion, the end point of dinosaurs was the beginning of the life of modern birds. Theropods (as a group) gave birth to birds (as a group). Life cycles on at all levels. Cells live and die, organisms live and die, species live and die, the biosphere lives and it will die. As above, so below.

    It seems both trivial and inevitable, and tells us nothing about evolution or development that we didn’t already know.

    Sometimes the things that seem most trivial, if we meditate on them, open up a whole new understanding. We may think we know, but how much do we really know?

  20. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Surely anyone who believes in such a thing as a LUCA would conclude that all life after that point is related through heredity. As all body cells are related to the zygote through heredity.

    I’m not sure I’ve done anything other than agree with that.

    So you agree that in this respect the whole is reflected in the parts? Looking at each level we can have a both a LUCO and a LUCC. (Last universal common organism and last universal common cell.) “To see a world in a grain of sand” The whole mirrored in the parts.

    So, your somatic cells have given up their continued existence in favour of germ cells? The only value you see in your life is reproduction?

    Whoah, there. Where do you get such ideas? It is absurd to turn an observation on biology into a value judgement. I’ve just taken the dog for a walk in the mountains, had a splendid day in the snow, bantered with my kids on Messenger, listened to some great tunes on the way home, had a beer and a nice tea. Tomorrow we’re meeting up to take my 90 year old auntie for lunch … but yeah, the dog and my auntie and my kids and me – our somas are there to propagate the germline, in the grand scheme of things. Doesn’t mean I don’t care.

    That was an exaggeration on my part. It’s just the impression I get from thinking about the logical consequences of your materialistic reductionist, gene centred view. I’m glad you see beyond the genome to the value in living a good life. Thoughts and actions matter more than genes.

    You say separate organisms don’t always play nice. Do you think that all body cells appear to “play nice” if we are just looking in at narrow processes without consideration for the wider picture. There are body cells being pushed out, killled off and scavenged constantly all to maintain the body.

    They all contain the same genome. They don’t mind a bit. This is a crucial distinction. Relatedness of the soma is the reason it hangs together.

    But our body cells do not all hang together. Millions of our body cells die each day. Roughly 200 million red blood cells die daily. We lose tens of thousands of skin cells every minute. It is not the material that hangs together it is the form. As Goethe said, “We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden”. And all hardening leads to death. But it only by way of the hardening processes, whether in form or in substance, that physical life becomes possible. From the largest ecosystem to the smallest cell, life needs death.

    Lions may be detrimental to the health of individual herbivores, but are they detrimental to the health of the herds as a whole?

    Depends how you measure things. The human race could do with a few ‘lions’. Fancy doing a bit of light culling, for the good of the species?

    What we see as the selfish acts of a lion benefits the local biome and what some see as the insertion of selfish transposons in the genome of a peppered moth benefits the population as a whole. Look at the bigger picture. Equivalent processes at many levels.

    Because it stimulates us into asking questions and legitimate science thrives by its participants asking questions and searching for answers.

    I don’t see you as searching for answers so much as proselytising.

    Maybe I just participate here for my own selfish pleasure. Selfishly gathering knowledge because I like to know stuff. Maybe we don’t see the bigger picture.

  21. CharlieM: So are we agreed that the biosphere is a self-regulation unit with a purported lifespan up until now of billions of years?

    No, we aren’t. The biosphere is composed of units that possess a degree of self-regulation – those that do not tend not to reproduce. But the idea that the biosphere itself is a ‘self-regulation unit’ is pure Lovelockian hokum.

    What we disagree on is …

    That. We disagree on that, so any attempt to extend it is doomed.

    You come up with answers that satisfy you. The problem is that I don’t see matter as being primal so the answers that satisfy you, don’t satisfy me.

    Whether or not matter is ‘primal’ is not quite the issue. Both individuals and the biosphere are made of matter, indisputably. But an individual’s development appears not to require anything outside the material. It coheres because related cells stick together. You would impart something ‘development-like’ to the biosphere as a whole. Yet those individuals don’t cohere, and they aren’t related in the way a soma is, so your connection lacks a rationale – so you invent one. I can see a rationale for bodily coherence and division of labour, but that rationale disappears on the broader scale, to be replaced by something you made up.

    No doubt I’ll learn a lot from looking into what you say about the evolution of sex.

    I’m not so sure you will, if you persist in an ‘anti-reductionist’ stance.

    The fruiting body is both the end product and the beginning of new life. Life cycles on.

    Life cycles, indeed. Typically, scattering haploid spores in all directions to commence the construction of new ‘individuals’, a process with no analogue in wider evolution.

    Similarly, if we are to believe consensus opinion, the end point of dinosaurs was the beginning of the life of modern birds.

    Urgh! No, not at all the same, or even ‘similar’.

  22. CharlieM: Me: I’m not sure I’ve done anything other than agree with that.

    Charlie: So you agree that in this respect the whole is reflected in the parts?

    No, I agree that both individuals and the wider biosphere they comprise are constructed from cellular replication.

    It’s just the impression I get from thinking about the logical consequences of your materialistic reductionist, gene centred view.

    Like I always say, the theory of evolution is not a manifesto.

    Me: They all contain the same genome. They don’t mind a bit. This is a crucial distinction. Relatedness of the soma is the reason it hangs together.

    Charlie: But our body cells do not all hang together. Millions of our body cells die […]

    Ahem … They all contain the same genome. They don’t mind a bit. This is a crucial distinction. Relatedness of the soma is the reason it hangs together.

    It’s not the material that hangs together it is the form.

    It is the block of cells possessed of the same genotype. Turnover does not negate that.

    What we see as the selfish acts of a lion benefits the local biome

    Purely incidentally. What would you suggest to improve our biome in similar fashion? A bit of eugenics? Hunger games?

    and what some see as the insertion of selfish transposons in the genome of a peppered moth benefits the population as a whole. Look at the bigger picture. Equivalent processes at many levels.

    For every transposon ‘domesticated’ I could show you a few hundred that cause damage. Like mutation, transposition is a percentage game.

  23. Allan Miller: For every transposon ‘domesticated’ I could show you a few hundred that cause damage. Like mutation, transposition is a percentage game.

    See. now you’ve set me off thinking. I was slowly working my way through posts I had still to answer and then I read this. I like to have a good think before I give most of my replies so I’ll get round to answering this post in more detail when I get round to it.

    But the path it has set me thinking on begins with the first question I asked myself: Don’t all transposons, every single one of them, cause damage in some respect? That will no doubt lead to a series of other questions… I know that damaging or breaking things can have benefits. In what way? You see I can’t stop thinking about it. But I’ve other things to think about so I’ll do my best to put it out of my mind for now and get back to it later 🙂

  24. J-Mac:
    Me: the truth
    J-mac: What’s that, according to you?

    In accord with an actual state of affairs vis à vis your ID lab work. I’m going for ‘none’. Which is fine, that’s how much lab time I’ve put in on sex evolution.

  25. Corneel: There is quite some variation, but there are many examples known where the process is rapid enough for us to say to, yes, these species are likely to be in the process of speciation.

    Thank you Corneel.

  26. Flint,

    I didn’t make a false premise. it was a question that one could google. Everybody would ask this. Yet i pressed the point .
    You didn’t answer either! Yor right because it was no or your not sure. if it was yes everyone would trump it on the housetops.

    PE techs its not millions of years but anyways why would it take many generations? For a new population to get going it must be different from the parent population enough to justify it being a new population. so it must have a slight bodyplan change and a niche for this. I see no reson why evolution should not be obvious in one generation if its true. Only over time does the evolution continue and make bodyplan changes very apparent.
    PE taught it was not shown in the fossil record there was evolution over time. instead by leaps so leapy they were missed by the fossilization process.
    I think i have a innovative criticism and might help greatly debunk a peculiar enduring error.

  27. DNA_Jock: CharlieM: So why mention genes at all?

    To help those members of the BBC audience who do not understand what “heritability” entails towards understanding how the study relates to evolution. It is evidently a problem. And this is the recurring challenge of science journalism: making the science simple enough that non-scientists will be able to understand it, whilst avoiding saying things that doofi will mis-interpret.
    As I said, it is a “great example of the dangers of relying on secondary sources”.

    That’s fair enough. You make a good point.

    But I would still say that in the case of the red deer on Rùm the environmental forces are driving the changes in behaviour and the changes in the gene pool.

    IMO evolution is like an automatic flight control system. There are two aspects to this. There is a flight stabilisation system which adjusts the aircraft for local perturbations and also the autopilot can be programmed to follow a specific route to its destination. What we can see in populations such as these deer is equivalent to the former, evolution on the larger scale is equivalent to the latter.

    It is a journey in which physical processes within organisms develop in such a way as to eventually become conscious processes within organisms. And for this to happen life needs to become separate from its environment. Living systems develop such attributes as mobility and multicellularity Sexual reproduction assists in the differentiation of individual organisms. Sense organs and sophisticated communication systems make their appearance.. Meanwhile the earthly environment which consists of inanimate matter is reconstituted by the excretions of the more primal living forms. This changing environment allows the later living forms to develop and progress. The primal living forms can be thought of as the vital organs of the higher forms. They needed to be in place and performing their function in order to allow consciousness to make its appearance.

    We are here, and are able to consciously experience life, to see ourselves as individuals, only by the grace of the primal life forms.

  28. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: LUCA is not a genome, it is an organism. People get fixated on genomes.

    Perhaps it’s men that fixate on genomes…

    Perhaps. We’re always fixating on the reproductive process :).

    A man approaches his partner. Head of penis pushes into vagina. Semen enters the uterus. Sperm approaches the ovum. Head of sperm cell pushes into the ovum. Compare the glans with the head of a sperm. The whole reflected in the parts. But unlike the sperm, luckily for us, the penis lives to love another day 😉 😉

    …as that’s all there is that gets passed on in a sperm cell.

    Not quite all.

    From Heritable sperm chromatin epigenetics: a break to remember

    Sperm chromatin not only has a unique structure to condense and protect the paternal DNA in transit, but also provides epigenetic information that supports embryonic development. Most of the unique sperm nuclear architecture is formed during the sweeping postmeiotic chromatin remodeling events in spermiogenesis, where the majority of nucleosomes are removed and replaced by protamines. The remaining histones and other chromatin proteins are located in structurally and transcriptionally relevant positions in the genome and carry diverse post-translational modifications relevant to the control of embryonic gene expression.

    And of course spermatogenesis in itself is a very carefully orchestrated sphisticated process.

    How mammals pack their sperm: a variant matter

    Spermatogenesis is a unique example of rearrangements of genome packaging to ensure fertilization. After meiosis, spermatids undergo drastic morphological changes, perhaps the most dramatic ones occurring in their nuclei, including the transition into a protamine-packaged genome…
    Expression of many histone variants in a highly regulated manner is one of the hallmarks of spermatogenesis…

    .
    Mammalian spermatogenesis is an example of orchestration of myriad cellular processes all directed toward creating cells that are able to leave the host organism to create a new life. The morphological changes after the formation of spermatids and their elongation, cytoplasmic eviction, and acrosome formation are paralleled by remarkable nuclear rearrangements resulting in a genome packaging unlike any other. It is perhaps due to such exquisite timing and variety of players—fromchromatin remodelers to histone modifications—governing spermiogenesis that this process still evokes many open questions. Now, the work by Montellier et al. (2013) contributes significantly to our understanding of the highly precise molecular events necessary for the formation of competent spermatozoa. Most interestingly, this study underscores the plasticity and resourcefulness of germ cells, which employ available backup mechanisms such as programmed nucleosome disruption by histone PTMs in the absence of the factor of choice. As the formation of mature and competent sperm cells is essential for species propagation, perhaps it should not come as a surprise that evolution installed fail-safe checkpoints to ensure that spermatogenesis reaches completion with the highest efficiency possible.

    And of course nothing would come of this without a compatible process of oogenesis

  29. CharlieM: Not quite all.

    What I was alluding to was that the oocyte provides the cytoplasm and initial set of cell machinery (notably mitochondria) and the sperm brings just packaged chromosomes.

  30. Alan Fox: What I was alluding to was that the oocyte provides the cytoplasm and initial set of cell machinery (notably mitochondria) and the sperm brings just packaged chromosomes.

    Yes I know. But when I see comments like that I like to see what research has turned up on the processes involved. And this opens up opportunities to explore further. I’m not doing it for the sake of argument.

    Looking at this process in particular, it seems to be sensible that because the cytoplasm has all the necessary constituents required for growth the sperm has no need to bring it. It’s like the egg says to the sperm, “when you come to stay there’s no need to bring excess baggage, I have everything you need here. Just bring yourself.”

    A close look at what has been discovered so far about what is involved from meiosis to fertilisation reveals intricate networks of coordinated activity. And that’s from what we do know, and it is just one narrow aspect of life. Everywhere we look it’s the same story.

  31. CharlieM:A close look at what has been discovered so far about what is involved from meiosis to fertilisation reveals intricate networks of coordinated activity. And that’sfrom what we do know, and it is just one narrow aspect of life. Everywhere we look it’s the same story.

    So how did it get like that, mechanistically? No intellectual curiosity in that regard?

  32. Corneel:

    CharlieM: But how did the TE get there? Did it jump or was it pushed? 🙂

    Class II transposons encode an enzyme that actively excises and re-integrates the transposable element. So I think it is fair to say it jumped* . Of course, it needs the host machinery for transcription and translation, but so do many indisputable parasites like viruses.

    But what causes the gene that encodes the enzyme to switch on? We end up chasing our tail. nothing but convoluted networks.

    Stephen Talbott began a project on biology and to go with it he gave a list of relevant headings on the subject of gene regulation here. He has accumulated a massive amount of data on the subject and it gives a good example of the breadth of the various processes and complexes involved in regulation

    * Just like J-Mac, I would advise you to not leave me guessing at what it is you want to say. I interpreted “jumping” and “pushing” as meaning the insertion event usually benefits the element itself or its host, respectively.

    What I want to say is that we should be asking ourselves questions. We probably won’t come up with fully satisfactory answers, but in the searching we will see just what’s involved in living processes. We will get an inkling of how everything fits together.

    I’m not trying to provide you with answers, you need to do that for yourself. I may not be able to give you the answers but I can give you my questions.

  33. CharlieM: It’s like the egg says to the sperm, “when you come to stay there’s no need to bring excess baggage, I have everything you need here. Just bring yourself.”

    “Better yet: Bugger off. I don’t need you!”

  34. Allan Miller:
    CharlieM,

    The only thing we’ve inherited from LUCA is in our genomes. Her cytoplasm, made from her genome, is long gone.

    What we inherit is functional cell along with its cellular processes. My DNA will be vastly different from our LUCA’s DNA, but I will have inherited her ability to clone cells. Materials come and go but processes remain.

  35. CharlieM: But what causes the gene that encodes the enzyme to switch on? We end up chasing our tail. nothing but convoluted networks.

    When I still worked in a Drosophila lab, you occasionally had to make crosses between different stocks. In certain combinations, this resulted in hybrid dysgenesis, where in the best cases you got unexpectedly high mutation rates and in the worst cases no offspring could be obtained from the cross at all. This phenomenon results from the disastrous massive mobilization of genomic copies of the P element.

    Most very old stocks are of the M cytotype, which means they have no P-elements. This indicates that in the beginning of the 20th century, when stock collection began, P-elements were rare in fruitfly populations. In the late 1970s and early 1980s many researchers started reporting hybrid dysgenesis, and nowadays strains of the P cytotype, that carry both P-elements and their repressors, are ubiquitous. That means that in the course of a century, the entire global population of D. melanogaster was invaded by P-element transposons.

    Now imagine something similar occurring in humans. Does that sound like gene regulation or does it sound like a pandemic?

  36. Robert Byers

    Flint,
    I didn’t make a false premise. it was a question that one could google. Everybody would ask this. Yet i pressed the point .
    You didn’t answer either!

    Denying the truth doesn’t make it untrue. You claimed that evolution should be visible often in a single generation, and certainly after 5000 years in cats or monkeys. This claim is flagrantly, wildly false. One would expect to see much change in these cases only after millions of years.

    THEN, you said that because evolutionary changes you would accept are not seen in this tiny increment of time, therefore evolution doesn’t happen! You are looking at a snapshot and denying that motion happens!

    Now, people not bound to religious nonsense would understand that if their premise leads to a conclusion that is demonstrably false, the problem lies with the premise, not the conclusion. But I suspect you work backwards: You start with a conclusion your faith requires, and you manufacture premises necessary to support your false beliefs. In doing so, you certainly seem to fool yourself, but you aren’t fooling anyone whose eyes are open.

    If I wanted to insist motion doesn’t happen, I would probably introduce as my ONLY evidence a few snapshots, challenge anyone to see motion in them, and then claim I’ve proved my case. While (of course) rejecting all claims that snapshots don’t capture motion as “not answering” the challenge. Dishonest of me, of course, but my faith wouldn’t let me ever see that.

  37. CharlieM: What we inherit is functional cell along with its cellular processes.

    Wrong. We inherit a genotype. How did ‘the cell’ get passed down from LUCA? Everything in it that isn’t imported is made from genes. Even the ‘import control’ is made from genes.

    Genotype makes phenotype.

    I’m not saying gene-centrism is the only way to look at a cell, or even evolution, but your insistence that it’s only to be viewed as an ‘inherited system’ is starting to look dogmatic.

  38. DNA-centrism makes sense of a number of phenomena – transposons, homing endonucleases, supernumerary chromosomes, drag, drive, karyotype distributions in mammalia, imprinting effects, ‘cytoplasmic’ sterility … and, if I may be so bold, sex.

  39. Allan Miller:
    CharlieM,

    Well, no. Individual people can be studied as units and corporations can be studied as units without reference to their employees. We can look at a cell as a single entity and we can look at an organism as a single entity without having to refer to what it is made up of.

    You seem to have missed the point (that’s the trouble with analogies …). You link evolution on the grand scale with development of a single body, because (inter alia) they are ‘made of cells’.

    No It is not because they are ‘made of cells’. The fact that all living systems are made of cells points to the unity. But we can observe the diversity within that unity, which is what I am doing. Think about the early earth and evolutionary beginnings, there was no difference between the individual organism and a single cell. Let me stress that the cell was the whole organism. Organisms multiplied and diversified. Now there are very many different types of organisms and classes of organisms on the planet (evolution). You started life as a single cell. These cells multiplied and diversified. Now ther are many different types of cell, organs and tissues in your body (individual development). The whole (A biosphere composed of organisms) reflected in the parts (A body composed of cells).

    But if we look at commerce on the grand scale and compare it with an individual company, we see significantly different behaviour. Within a single company, individuals cooperate. But companies compete.

    If you think that all individuals cooperate within a company and that all companies compete, then you are not looking at reality.

    So it is with evolution, or ecosystems, making the appropriate entity swaps. You can’t simply export behaviours at one level to another, just because you fancy..

    What I am doing is making comparisons between what is observed without attaching any pet theory to it. What does DNA tell us? It tells us that all life is a unity.

    Organisms are nested within that unity. Ravens are nested within birds and so on up to the unified definition of life. We are nested within mammals and so on up to the unified definition of life.

    Now we can observe individual creatures and study them as whole entities. How do Purkinje cells fit within the individual human being? (The word ‘individual’ itself tells us that we are treating the subject as a unity). These cells are nested within the cerebellum, which lies within the nervous system, which lies within the individual.

    If you want to reduce it down even further that’s okay. We can observe cells as a unity. We can examine individual cells. Within this unity we have organelles. Within organelles we have the nucleus. Within the nucleus we have genetic material. The whole (A body composed of cells) reflected in the parts (A cell full of molecular complexes).

    And so we observe hierarchies within hierarchies. As above so below. The whole reflected in the parts

  40. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: What we inherit is functional cell along with its cellular processes.

    Wrong. We inherit a genotype. How did ‘the cell’ get passed down from LUCA?

    Going by what we actually observe, a very long series of highly orchestrated cell divisions and recombination events produces all the descendent cells.

  41. Neil Rickert:
    CharlieM,

    I think you missed the point of my earlier comment.

    To say that A implies B is not at all the same as saying that B implies A.My comment was in one direction only.

    And you missed my point. Seeing with the mind goes way beyond seeing with the eyes. It is one thing to see, it is another thing to make sense of what we see. This is a distinction your comment failed to convey.

  42. faded_Glory:

    CharlieM: Yes they need to explain how we get from variation about a mean, keeping organisms in tune with their environment, to jumps in novel complexity.

    My understanding is that evolution is particularly impacted by changes in the environment. As long as this is stable there won’t be a lot of ‘novel complexity’ that gives significant advantages over what the organisms already have (although drift will ensure that there will still be ongoing change). However, drastic changes in the environment provide particular opportunities for ‘novel complexity’ to come to the fore.

    So by this logic there was nothing to see before eyes appeared in the course of evolution. Nothing to manipulate before hands appeared. It’s a two way process. Life changes the environment and the environment changes life.

    You can see this happening right after the major extinction events in geological history. For instance mammals saw very rapid divergence after the dinosaurs were killed off at the end of the Cretaceous.

    And we can also see a trend. Life forms steadily emancipating themselves from their environment. From eggs being laid into the surrounding environment to mammals shielding their growing embryos from the environment. Internal temperature control is a step away from having to rely on an external heat source. Dinosaurs had too tight a connection with their environment to survive the amount of change that took place.

  43. CharlieM: Yes, it is a case of evolution in action, and no, it cannot be said to have been caused by a single gene.
    This is a great example of the dangers of relying on secondary sources, and journalists in general, even ones as good as the BBC.
    The PLOS article by Bonnett et al shows how much of the change in parturition date is directly due to the warmer weather (phenotypic plasticity), and how much of the change is heritable (the result of evolution acting on the deer population).
    It’s based on statistics; I did not find any publication describing which genes are involved.

    CharlieM: So why mention genes at all?

    Evolution in action when evolution is assumed…

    The role of selection and evolution in changing parturition date in a red deer population

    “Abstract
    Changing environmental conditions cause changes in the distributions of phenotypic traits in natural populations. However, determining the mechanisms responsible for these changes—and, in particular, the relative contributions of phenotypic plasticity versus evolutionary responses—is difficult. To our knowledge, no study has yet reported evidence that evolutionary change underlies the most widely reported phenotypic response to climate change: the advancement of breeding times. In a wild population of red deer, average parturition date has advanced by nearly 2 weeks in 4 decades. Here, we quantify the contribution of plastic, demographic, and genetic components to this change. In particular, we quantify the role of direct phenotypic plasticity in response to increasing temperatures and the role of changes in the population structure. Importantly, we show that adaptive evolution likely played a role in the shift towards earlier parturition dates. The observed rate of evolution was consistent with a response to selection and was less likely to be due to genetic drift. Our study provides a rare example of observed rates of genetic change being consistent with theoretical predictions, although the consistency would not have been detected with a solely phenotypic analysis. It also provides, to our knowledge, the first evidence of both evolution and phenotypic plasticity contributing to advances in phenology in a changing climate.

    Why stop there?
    Why not the evolution of poo from bullets to pancakes among the red deer population by natural selection?

    Here are examples:

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