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At Nature: Researcher smashes conventional evolution doctrine about insect egg shapes

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She has cracked a long-standing conundrum about insect eggs.

Whereas most researchers work with only a handful of well-studied animals, such as fruit flies and mice, Extavour’s success comes from her penchant for less-ubiquitous lab critters, such as sand fleas and crickets. Typical model organisms harbour just a fraction of the diversity found in nature, so alongside the usual suspects, she examines a wide range of animals that help to reveal which genetic tools evolution most commonly uses.…

The researchers looked for connections between egg shapes and sizes and many insect features, including where the insects lay their eggs and the time it takes for a fertilized egg to turn into a larva. The analysis revealed a surprise: the evolution of egg shape and size depends largely on where the eggs are laid. Eggs laid in water are often small and spherical; those deposited into the body of another animal are also small, but tend to be oddly shaped.

The findings challenge old assumptions that relate egg size to adult body size, says Laura Lavine, an insect physiologist and evolutionary biologist at Washington State University in Pullman. Many scientists assumed that those size relations were the “end of the story”, Lavine says. “Now the story starts from this study,” she says. Understanding how eggs change depending on the environment could reveal some of the major constraints on how animals grow and evolve, Lavine says.

Giorgia Guglielmi, “The biologist using insect eggs to overturn evolutionary doctrine” at Nature

Studies of eggs from nearly 7000 insect species, showed that no traditional theory about what governs egg size held water:

“The eggs reflect the local ecological conditions that the eggs themselves are living in, much more than anything about the other life stages,” Woods says.

Thus, earlier ideas explaining egg size and shape based on their correlations to traits like developmental time and adult size appear to be incorrect. Big adults don’t always come from big eggs; nor does egg size correlate with development time. Insects have life cycles with four life stages (egg, larva, pupa, adult), each with its own ecology, and each is subject to different selective pressures, Woods explains. “Their data support the idea that the stages may be less connected to one another than we thought, and that shows up in the data as the evolution of the egg stage in relation to its own proximate environments rather than in relation to other stuff happening in other parts of the life cycle. That’s just super cool,” Woods says.

Viviane Callier, “Ecology, Not Physics, Explains Diversity of Insect Eggs” at The Scientist

The new findings almost put the egg in charge of its own shape, not what anyone expected to hear. But also note this:

One of the key things Extavour says was critical in their analysis was to take the phylogenetic relationships of the insects into account using sophisticated statistical methods, because otherwise one could be led to incorrect conclusions. For instance, many beetles tend to have round eggs, so similarities between beetle species are explained by their evolutionary relatedness, not ecology. Only because the researchers chose features such as endoparasitism and aquatic egg laying, which have evolved independently many times, and because they had complete information about the insect evolutionary tree that allowed them to control for the relatedness, were they able to find the pattern that the egg’s environment predicted its size and shape.

Viviane Callier, “Ecology, Not Physics, Explains Diversity of Insect Eggs” at The Scientist

Darwinians don’t like ecology much but they had better get used to it.

Is Extavour the new Lynn Margulis?

See also: Darwinism is taking a beating in the Anthropocene It gets really interesting when the anti-Darwinists are not creationists but fronting various neglected ideas like epigenetics. Will they be more vicious?

5 Replies to “At Nature: Researcher smashes conventional evolution doctrine about insect egg shapes

  1. 1
    Mimus says:

    Darwinians don’t like ecology much

    Where do you get these ideas from?

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I saw this story posted elsewhere and the title was click-bait. I asked myself before clicking … Did Nature really say that?
    “The biologist using insect eggs to overturn evolutionary doctrine”.
    Wow – explosive. Evolutionary doctrine. Overturned. That is tasty candy for a IDer. This has to be Big.

    So, I read. Hmmmmm. Nothing much here. But ok. I get it. Cassandra Extavour is permitted to “overturn evolution”. In fact, she has to revolutionize something, so why not the sacred doctrine of evolution?

    She has also emerged as a champion for diversity and inclusivity, having experienced racism and prejudice as a gay black woman in science.

    If she simply believed evolutionary doctrine and followed it as it has been preached, that wouldn’t be very good. She has to revolutionize society. “Gay woman promotes evolution”… ok, so what? However, “gay woman overturns evolutionary doctrine”? Ok, wow. She stood up to the powerful Darwinian white men.

    All of that said, it’s all very safe. Nature can allow some minor “overturning of doctrine”. The sacred theory remains safe. There’s enough wiggle room for gay women to overturn some things, and the Doctrine is not challenged.

    The analysis revealed a surprise: the evolution of egg shape and size depends largely on where the eggs are laid.

    I think that’s typical of “evolutionary theory”. The theory proclaims that “we will observe some things in nature”. And here we have it! Eggs are different depending on where they are laid. That’s exactly as the theory proposed, although a bit different from what we thought before. But evolution remains confirmed. “We observed something, and we will tell you what we saw”. How much more predictive could we want it to be?

    Extavour wants to understand how single-celled entities blossomed into multicellular organisms during evolution, and how the intricate bodies of such organisms can develop from cells that all have the same genetic blueprint. “I have never heard of a problem that I thought was more interesting than that,” she says.

    Wait. That’s a “problem”? You don’t know how single-celled entities “blossomed” into multicellular organisms?

    Understanding how eggs change depending on the environment could reveal some of the major constraints on how animals grow and evolve, Lavine says.

    That is great to know. This finding could do something. Or, it could not do anything.

  3. 3
    News says:

    But now, Silver Asiatic at 2, to the extent that nature permits itself such rhetoric, it is digging a grave for Darwinism, surely. Perhaps they know what they must do but they prefer it to die by some other hands than the ones they obviously hate?

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    News

    Perhaps they know what they must do but they prefer it to die by some other hands than the ones they obviously hate?

    That’s a great insight. Eventually, it becomes obvious to them. Someone is going to do what has to be done. But they simply cannot allow it to be done by the ones they hate. So, they start with a trial balloon. They have a lot of honor, prestige and historical importance to confer on the “revolutionary” who “first sounded the death-knoll for evolution”. So, they have to be the ones who proclaim it is dead, not us. But more, it can’t merely be any old scientist. Find a “ground-breaker” who challenges society’s norms. So the gay woman comes in. After this, it will be a scramble and fight for someone to claim, “no, I knew it was dead a long time ago”.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Admirably put, Silver Asiatic at 4! If they can’t be right, they can at least be Woke. All readers, stay tuned. Greater wonders will unfold.

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