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Epigenetics explains Darwin’s finches?

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The prevailing theory for the molecular basis of evolution involves genetic mutations that ultimately generate the heritable phenotypic variation on which natural selection acts. However, epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of phenotypic variation may also play an important role in evolutionary change. A growing number of studies have demonstrated the presence of epigenetic inheritance in a variety of different organisms that can persist for hundreds of generations. The possibility that epigenetic changes can accumulate over longer periods of evolutionary time has seldom been tested empirically. This study was designed to compare epigenetic changes among several closely related species of Darwin’s finches, a well-known example of adaptive radiation. Erythrocyte DNA was obtained from five species of sympatric Darwin’s finches that vary in phylogenetic relatedness. Genome-wide alterations in genetic mutations using copy number variation (CNV) were compared with epigenetic alterations associated with differential DNA methylation regions (epimutations). Epimutations were more common than genetic CNV mutations among the five species; furthermore, the number of epimutations increased monotonically with phylogenetic distance. Interestingly, the number of genetic CNV mutations did not consistently increase with phylogenetic distance. The number, chromosomal locations, regional clustering, and lack of overlap of epimutations and genetic mutations suggest that epigenetic changes are distinct and that they correlate with the evolutionary history of Darwin’s finches. The potential functional significance of the epimutations was explored by comparing their locations on the genome to the location of evolutionarily important genes and cellular pathways in birds. Specific epimutations were associated with genes related to the bone morphogenic protein, toll receptor, and melanogenesis signaling pathways. Species-specific epimutations were significantly overrepresented in these pathways. As environmental factors are known to result in heritable changes in the epigenome, it is possible that epigenetic changes contribute to the molecular basis of the evolution of Darwin’s finches. (no paywall, go ahead and read it)

But what will all those textbook companies relying on court orders do? Adapt? Sue? Die?

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5 Replies to “Epigenetics explains Darwin’s finches?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Here are a few more facts on finches, and birds in general, that you are not likely to see in textbooks anytime soon:

    The Grants (who studied Darwin’s finches) made a long presentation at Stanford in 2009 on their work. It is available for all to see on the internet. In it they give the game away. All the so called Darwin finches can inner breed. Doesn’t happen much but it does happen and they have viable offspring that reproduce. Here is the link:

    Darwin’s Legacy | Lecture 5 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMcVY__T3Ho

    To save you some time. Start at about 109:00 and follow Rosemary for a few minutes till at least 112:00. Then go to 146:30 and listen to Peter. Before this is the inane prattle by two of Stanford’s finest who do not understand that the Grants are saying that the whole evolution thing is a crock.

    Darwin’s Finches Show Rule-Constrained Variation in Beak Shape – June 10, 2014
    Excerpt: A simple yet powerful mathematical rule controls beak development, Harvard scientists find, while simultaneously preventing beaks from evolving into something else.,,,
    We find in Darwin’s finches (and all songbirds) an internal system, controlled by a non-random developmental process. It is flexible enough to allow for variation, but powerful enough to constrain the beak to its basic form (a conical shape modulated by scaling and shear) so that the rest of the bird’s structures are not negatively affected. Beak development is controlled by a decay process that must operate at a particular rate. It’s all very precise, so much so that it could be modeled mathematically.,,,
    The very birds that have long been used as iconic examples of natural selection become, on closer examination, paragons of intelligent design.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....86581.html

    Darwin ‘Wrong’: Species Living Together Does Not Encourage Evolution – December 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution set out in the Origin of Species has been proven wrong by scientists studying ovenbirds.
    Researchers at Oxford University found that species living together do not evolve differently to avoid competing with one another for food and habitats – a theory put forward by Darwin 150 years ago.
    The ovenbird is one of the most diverse bird families in the world and researchers were looking to establish the processes causing them to evolve.
    Published in Nature, the research compared the beaks, legs and songs of 90% of ovenbird species.
    Findings showed that while the birds living together were consistently more different than those living apart, this was the result of age differences. Once the variation of age was accounted for, birds that live together were more similar than those living separately – directly contradicting Darwin’s view.
    The species that lived together had beaks and legs no more different than those living apart,,,
    ,,,there is no shortage of evidence for competition driving divergent evolution in some very young lineages. But we found no evidence that this process explains differences across a much larger sample of species.,,,
    He said that the reasons why birds living together appear to evolve less are “difficult to explain”,,,
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/darwi.....on-1429927

    Birds don’t “sacrifice” song for showy plumage, as Darwin thought – June 16, 2014
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-thought/

    More Fossil-Molecule Contradictions: Now Even the Errors Have Errors – Cornelius Hunter – June 2014
    Excerpt: a new massive (phylogenetic) study shows that not only is the problem (for Darwinist) worse than previously thought, but the errors increase with those species that are supposed to have evolved more recently.,,,
    “Our results suggest that, for Aves (Birds), discord between molecular divergence estimates and the fossil record is pervasive across clades and of consistently higher magnitude for younger clades.”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....s-now.html

    Darwin’s Legacy – Donald R. Prothero – February 2012
    Excerpt: In four of the biggest climatic-vegetational events of the last 50 million years, the mammals and birds show no noticeable change in response to changing climates. No matter how many presentations I give where I show these data, no one (including myself) has a good explanation yet for such widespread stasis despite the obvious selective pressures of changing climate.
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/12-02-15/#feature

    When Dinosaurs Flew – February 4, 2014
    Excerpt: A study published online by PeerJ on Jan. 2 detailed the examination of a startlingly complete and pristine specimen of an ancient, dinosaur-era bird: Hongshanornis longicresta, which flapped throughout what is now China roughly 125 million years ago during the early Cretaceous Period.,,,
    “This isn’t a mode of flight we expected from Cretaceous birds,” Habib said, adding that its small size and overall shape are comparable to that of modern birds. “It was pretty much a Cretaceous starling with a larger tail like a mockingbird.”
    Transported to the modern world, it wouldn’t look like anything special to the casual observer, until a closer examination revealed claws at the end of the bird’s wings and tiny teeth in its beak.,,,
    http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/s.....aurs-flew/

    Bird Evolution vs. The Actual Fossil Evidence – video and notes
    http://vimeo.com/30926629

    The Archaeoraptor Fraud of National Geographic Magazine (In 1999)
    Excerpt: “The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age—the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion.”
    – Storrs Olson curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History
    http://www.bible.ca/tracks/arc.....n-bird.htm

  2. 2
    Alicia Renard says:

    Excellent post and points by BA 77

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

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    Very interesting summary written by gpuccio:

    Indeed, what we see in research about cell differentiation and epigenomics is a growing mass of detailed knowledge (and believe me, it is really huge and daily growing) which seems to explain almost nothing.

    What is really difficult to catch is how all that complexity is controlled. Please note, at this level there is almost no discussion about how the complexity arose: we have really non idea of how it is implemented, and therefore any discussion about its origin is almost impossible.

    Now, there must be information which controls the flux. It is a fact that cellular differentiation happens, that it happens with very good order and in different ways in different species, different tissues, and so on. That cannot happen without a source of information. And yet, the only information that we understand clearly is then protein sequence information. Even the regulation of protein transcription at the level of promoters and enhancers by the transcription factor network is of astounding complexity.

    Please, look at this paper:

    Uncovering Enhancer Functions Using the ?-Globin Locus.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....004668.pdf

    In particular Fig. 2.

    And this is only to regulate the synthesis of alpha globin in red cells, a very straightforward differentiation task.

    So, I see that, say, 15 TFs are implied in regulating the synthesis of one protein, I want to know why, and what controls the 15 TFs, and what information guides that control. My general idea is that, unless we find some completely new model, information that guides a complex process, like differentiation, in a reliable, repetitive way must be written, in some way, somewhere.

    That’s what I want to know: where that information is written, how it is written, how does it work, and, last but not least, how did it originate?

    — gpuccio

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  4. 4
    Edward says:

    Adapt? Die? Sue? The textbook companies don’t have to do anything, the courts got their back.

  5. 5

    The Finch Beak Design software helps explain some of the very (known) basics of beak design control, while showing how epigenetic modules like these fit into the rest of the ID computer model:

    http://www.planetsourcecode.co.....8;lngWId=1

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