Anthropocene Magazine, that is. (For all you Under rocks out there, the “Anthropocene” is the era we are said to be living in, dominated by humans, the way the Jurassic was dominated by tyrannosaurs, etc.)
But now, get this:
Darwinian theory is based on the idea that heredity flows vertically, parent to offspring, and that life’s history has branched like a tree. Now we know otherwise: that the ‘tree’ of life isn’t that simple. David Quammen, “Blurring Life’s Boundaries” at Anthropocene
It gets worse. He goes on to say:
One of the most disorienting results of these developments is a new challenge to the concept of “species.” Biologists have long recognized that the boundaries of one species may blur into another—by the process of hybridism, for instance. And the notion of species is especially insecure in the realm of bacteria and archaea. But the discovery that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has occurred naturally, many times, even in the lineages of animals and plants, has brought the categorical reality of a species into greater question than ever. That’s even true for us humans—we are composite individuals, mosaics.
It’s not just that—as you may have read in magazine articles—your human body contains at least as many bacterial cells as it does human cells. (This doesn’t even count all the nonbacterial microbes—the virus particles, fungal cells, archaea, and other teeny passengers inhabiting our guts, mouths, nostrils, and other bodily surfaces.) That’s the microbiome. Each of us is an ecosystem.
I’m talking about something else, a bigger and more shocking discovery that has come from the revolution in a field called molecular phylogenetics. (That phrase sounds fancy and technical, but it means merely the use of molecular information, such as DNA or RNA sequences, in discerning how one creature is related to another.) The discovery was that sizeable chunks of the genomes of all kinds of animals, including us, have been acquired by horizontal transfer from bacteria or other alien species.David Quammen, “Blurring Life’s Boundaries” at Anthropocene
and much more. Where’s Darwin’s caregiver? Should we ring the bell?
Now, David Quammen … That name rings a bell. Oh yes, the author of The Tangled Tree:A Radical New History of Life, about the role of epigenetics.
It gets really interesting when the anti-Darwinists are not creationists. Will they be more vicious?
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See also: Jerry Coyne Continues To Be Unhappy Over David Quammen’s Book On Carl Woese
The real issue, of course, is the way horizontal gene transfer turns Darwin’s fabled Tree of Life into confetti.
See also: Jerry Coyne minimizes the significance of horizontal gene transfer
At New York Times: Darwin skeptic Carl Woese “effectively founded a new branch of science”