Don’t be fooled by that fluttery exterior. Inside is a vicious worm, devouring theories as if they were leaves on a plant. From ScienceDaily:
An international team of researchers analyzed the genomes of 20 butterfly species and discovered a surprisingly high amount of gene flow among them — even between species that are distantly related. The findings, published in the journal Science, challenge conventional views about species and point to hybridization as a key process in the emergence of biological diversity.
Different species of passion vine butterflies (Heliconius) have similar color patterns that serve as warnings to predators. Scientists have previously found that one reason for their similarity is that they actually share parts of their DNA, thanks to hybridization that occurred at some point in their ancestry. The new findings suggest that this process of DNA sharing is far more common than previously thought.
To understand how butterflies pass genes to other species by hybridizing, a process known as introgression, the researchers analyzed new genome assemblies of 20 Heliconius butterfly species.
“DNA sharing had been shown in closely related species, but we wanted to probe deeper into the phylogenetic tree,” said senior author James Mallet, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in Residence and Associate of Population Genetics in the Museum of Comparative Zoology. “What we found is really astonishing: introgression even among species that are distantly related. “Species” are simply not what we thought they were, and now we have the data to show it. The evolutionary tree of butterflies is a complete morass of inter-connectedness — every bit of the butterfly genome seems to have a different tree.” Paper. paywall – Nathaniel B. Edelman, Paul B. Frandsen, Michael Miyagi, Bernardo Clavijo, John Davey, Rebecca B. Dikow, Gonzalo García-Accinelli, Steven M. Van Belleghem, Nick Patterson, Daniel E. Neafsey, Richard Challis, Sujai Kumar, Gilson R. P. Moreira, Camilo Salazar, Mathieu Chouteau, Brian A. Counterman, Riccardo Papa, Mark Blaxter, Robert D. Reed, Kanchon K. Dasmahapatra, Marcus Kronforst, Mathieu Joron, Chris D. Jiggins, W. Owen McMillan, Federica Di Palma, Andrew J. Blumberg, John Wakeley, David Jaffe, James Mallet. Genomic architecture and introgression shape a butterfly radiation. Science, 2019; 366 (6465): 594 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw2090 More.
Darwin’s PR firm could not be reached for comment.
No, but seriously, if “‘species’ are simply not what we thought they were,” as the researchers’ media release reads, all those carefully thought-out explanations of the neo-Darwinian origin of various butterfly traits must compete with “a complete morass of inter-connectedness.”
Darwinism is dying and people are wisely refraining from spelling that out. Things just didn’t happen the way the Darwin lobby claims.
See also: “Confounding”: Moths And Butterflies Predate Flowering Plants By Millions Of Years
Single Gene Flip, Not Darwinism, Explains Butterfly Mimicry But It’s Not Clear Why The Butterflies Bother
Convergent Evolution: Speciation In Butterflies An Unusually Tough Mess
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