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A new example of evolution going backwards?

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male Osedax/Greg Rous

e From ScienceDaily:

Examining bone worms collected at 700 meters (2,296 feet) depth by an MBARI remotely operated vehicle, Rouse observed a surprising new type of Osedax species. Females of the new species are roughly the same size as their previously studied relatives, but males are tens of thousands of times larger than those of other Osedax worms, and are roughly the same size as the females.

“This discovery was very unexpected,” said Rouse. “It’s the first known example of such a dramatic evolutionary reversal from dwarf males.”

“Evolutionary reversals to ancestral states are very rare in the animal kingdom,” noted coauthor Vrijenhoek. “This case is exceptional because the genes for producing full-sized adult males should have deteriorated over time due to disuse. But apparently the genes are still there.”

At one time, it was classic evolution doctrine, known as “Dollo’s law,” that traits once lost could never be regained:

Well, no one told the life forms about it, and frogs, snapdragons, and snakes, among other, apparently broke it with impunity, so that the “law” is in the process of being retired.*

We actually don’t know how rare reversal is. People do not look for what they are persuaded doesn’t exist or expect what they are persuaded doesn’t happen.

Along those lines, consider: Horizontal gene transfer goes big time, turns out it is happening, not just to microbes: “It likewise happens to genes that belong to animals, fungi and plants, collectively known as eukaryotes because they boast nuclei in their cells. ”

Which evolution pundit predicted that?

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One Reply to “A new example of evolution going backwards?

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    “Evolutionary reversals to ancestral states are very rare in the animal kingdom,” noted coauthor Vrijenhoek. “This case is exceptional because the genes for producing full-sized adult males should have deteriorated over time due to disuse. But apparently the genes are still there.”

    This ties into my last opening post. Traditional neo-Darwinism assumes that with sufficient time, unused genes disappear. Yet, here, we see, they hold on. Neo-Darwinism/evolution is supposed to be all about “changing gene frequencies,” but, it is very clear now that, minimally, in at least some members of the population, the gene is not lost, and so is, so to speak, recoverable. It’s possible that there are many such variants still present on the genome but not “coding,” since they’ve been suppressed (this would be the case if almost the entire population retained former genes [“alleles”] which have been ‘turned-off.’) WGA—i.e., more accurate and inexpensive WGA–will eventually give us this information. But we can already glimpse what the likely results will be. Rethinking will be required.

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