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Grabbing at fish leaping, to explain how life forms transitioned from sea to land?

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According to Victoria Gill (“Leaping fish give evolution clue,” BBC Nature , 6 October 2011), researchers recently announced that at least six types of fish can launch themselves into the air from a solid surface, and concluded that “this was an evolutionary snapshot of the transition from living in water to inhabiting land” and that “many more of their ancient aquatic relatives might have invaded the land than had previously been thought.”

The difficulty is that jumping out of the water is not a big deal. The chief obstacle to living on land is acquiring oxygen from the air, which has usually been done by developing lungs. A researcher who wishes to help us understand how water-based life forms became land-based life forms must solve that problem, not mere trifles like the ability to leap into the air (and fall back down).

Astounding performance, but doesn’t amount to life in the air or on land. They still need water to breathe.

See also Tales of a fish who hates water (but that’s not all it takes).

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30 Replies to “Grabbing at fish leaping, to explain how life forms transitioned from sea to land?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Reminds me of this:

    Evolution Cartoon – Waiting For That Beneficial Mutation – video

    here are a few more ‘minor’ problems

    Hopeful monsters,’ transposons, and the Metazoan radiation:
    Excerpt: Viable mutations with major morphological or physiological effects are exceedingly rare and usually infertile; the chance of two identical rare mutant individuals arising in sufficient propinquity to produce offspring seems too small to consider as a significant evolutionary event. These problems of viable “hopeful monsters” render these explanations untenable.
    Paleobiologists Douglas Erwin and James Valentine

    …Advantageous anatomical mutations are never observed. The four-winged fruit fly is a case in point: The second set of wings lacks flight muscles, so the useless appendages interfere with flying and mating, and the mutant fly cannot survive long outside the laboratory. Similar mutations in other genes also produce various anatomical deformations, but they are harmful, too. In 1963, Harvard evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr wrote that the resulting mutants “are such evident freaks that these monsters can be designated only as ‘hopeless.’ They are so utterly unbalanced that they would not have the slightest chance of escaping elimination through natural selection.” –
    Jonathan Wells

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies (35 years of trying to force fruit flies to evolve in the laboratory fails, spectacularly) – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.,,, “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve,” said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.

    Mutations : when benefits level off – June 2011 – (Lenski’s e-coli after 50,000 generations)
    Excerpt: After having identified the first five beneficial mutations combined successively and spontaneously in the bacterial population, the scientists generated, from the ancestral bacterial strain, 32 mutant strains exhibiting all of the possible combinations of each of these five mutations. They then noted that the benefit linked to the simultaneous presence of five mutations was less than the sum of the individual benefits conferred by each mutation individually.

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video

    Dr. Stephen Meyer comments at the end of the preceding video,,,

    ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’ – Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)

    Truly a buzz kill for neo-Darwinists!!!

  2. 2
    ScottAndrews says:

    “Evolutionary snapshot.” Is that like a picture of someone growing? Do they even read what they write?

  3. 3
    Acipenser says:

    There are numerous species of fish that breathe air through a number of different mechanism up to and including using a lung to do so. You can also drown some of these species if you deprived them of access to air to breathe. Seems that the researchers are well aware of this ability in fish and that it is not the insurmountable problem some people assume it to be, e.g., fish must have water to obtain oxygen.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Acispencer you state:

    it is not the insurmountable problem some people assume it to be,

    Well OK, other than the fact that you have alluded to different types of fish that can also breathe air, what ACTUAL OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE do you have to prove that such a transition gills to lungs is ‘scientifically’ possible. Can you please point me to the paper that shows the origination of a single novel protein by Darwinian means, perhaps even a single novel gene?

  5. 5
    Acipenser says:

    What makes you think that gills evolved into lungs, or any of the other air-breathing structures, in fish?

  6. 6
    wd400 says:

    Is anyone saying gills evolved into lungs?

  7. 7
    News says:

    As we all recognize, the transition to land principally requires a consistently reliable means of breathing on land plus a reason why it can’t just return to the water. That – NOT the ability to hop around on land – is where the bar is set. Recently, we covered the leaping blenny here, a fish that lives around tidal pools, and keeps itself wet in order to breathe. While it doesn’t live in water, that’s a technicality under the circumstances. From the reports we’ve heard, it could not leave the tidal pool and survive.

  8. 8
    wd400 says:

    Well, I was replying to BA’s specific point about gills evolving to lungs.

    But more generally, the fact there are fish with lungs does see sort of relevant, no?

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    What makes you think that gills evolved into lungs, or any of the other air-breathing structures, in fish?

    Actually I don’t think anything evolved into anything beyond ‘top down’ variation ‘within kind’, but to counter YOUR CLAIM that EVERYTHING evolved ‘bottom up’, what makes you think that even a single novel gene or protein can be found by Darwinian mechanisms?

  10. 10
    Acipenser says:

    So you at least realize that the demand for observational evidence of the plausability of gills evolving into lungs is at best a ridiculous request since no one postulates that pathway for any of the air-breathing structures in fish.

    Lungs, and obligate air-breathing, in fish is quite relevant to the transition to living on land.

  11. 11
    Acipenser says:

    I don’t know about the ‘plus a reason why it can’t return to the water’ considering all of the amphibians around that spend the majority of their life on land but must return to water to reproduce. Seems to me to be a arbitrary constraint which is contrary to what is observed in the real world.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    So you at least realize that neo-Darwinists cannot even meet the minimal amount of ‘observational evidence’ required to establish that a single novel gene and/or protein arose by purely neo-Darwinian mechanisms in life??? Thus the question you should be asking yourself, (which of course you will refuse to do) is why in blue blazes do you take seriously a hypothesis, which has ZERO observation evidence going for it???

  13. 13
    Acipenser says:

    Not at all, BA77. I am not sure why you are trying to derail the subject of air-breathing in fish and the transition to land problem but you are and I’m not interested in your rhetorical musings. Perhaps if you can stay on topic we can continue the conversation but the details of air-breathing in fish has generated some visceral response in you to change the subject before it even got off the ground.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    funny you should accuse me a derailing the subject when the very subject under discussion is the feasibility of this seemingly ‘minor’ transition, from water breathing to air breathing creature, by purely neo-Darwinian mechanisms! Perhaps you feel comfortable drawing imaginary lines between different types of life forms without ever concretely establishing that it is even scientifically possible in the first place, but as for myself, until you have actually demonstrated a viable mechanism, for whatever transition you are trying to postulate, you are merely propagandizing for your chosen religion of materialistic atheism, and are certainly not practicing science as it is meant to be! For example,,,

    Searching for ‘The ‘Edge Of Evolution’, What can neo-Darwinism really do???

  15. 15
    Acipenser says:

    It’s not an accusation it is an observation that you wish to derail the thread. In any conversation conserning the transition from water to living on land a discussion of the various mechanisms of air-breathing is essential. As well is the historical evidence for the development of said air-breathing structures. With limited, or no, knowledge of these air-breathing mechanisms having a conversation of any detail is impossible.

    If you are unaware (and apparently you are given your first demand of gills—>lung evolution)of what these structures are, how they developed, and in what species, alive and extinct, these structures are found you are not in any position to judge any of the evidence for this line of development. In order to practice/discuss the science you need to understand the details of the subject which you do not.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Hmmm, its seems readily apparent to me that it is you that wishes to ‘derail the discussion’ simply in light of the fact that you personally know that you have ZERO observational evidence that the transition in question is even scientifically possible in the first place. Thus you are doing your level, derailing, best to downplay the foundational importance of direct observational evidence in science that let’s us know precisely if the feasibility of what you wish to propose is true. Moreover you do this solely so that you may rely upon the imagination of people to make the non-existent Darwinian transition. A non-existent Darwinian transition that you are trying to protect from falsification of what we know from direct observation of not being remotely possible!!!

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Speaking of ‘not remotely possible’, Dr. Behe offers a non-technical rewrite of his last article that highlights the extreme constraint on neo-Darwinian evolution to produce even a ‘minor’ transition in a single functional protein:

    The English Translation of “New Work by Thornton’s Group”
    Michael Behe October 7, 2011

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Acipenser, This following outrageous statement, is a typical sample of what your ‘above falsification’ brand of pseudo-science produces:

    Lungfish Provides Insight to Life On Land: ‘Humans Are Just Modified Fish’ – Oct. 4, 2011
    “Humans are just modified fish,” said Professor Currie.

  19. 19
    Acipenser says:

    If the transition in question is your proposed gill—->lung evolution than I’d readily concede that that proposition is ridiculous and anyone who would even suggest such a pathway knows absolutely nothing of air-breathing in fish.

    If the transition in question is the move from water to land I’d be happy to discuss the specifics of air-breathing mechanisms in fish but unfortunately I can’t do that with you because, apparently, you don’t know anything about the subject matter. You appear to have no idea of any of the mechanisms involved in air-breathing by fish so any discussion addressing the question if these modifications are ‘major’ or ‘minor’ is impossible because of this lack of knowledge on your part.

    If you honestly wish to discuss air-breathing in fish pick a mechanism/structure and we can discuss that specific aspect. If your not up to the task that is also fine but bluff, bluster, and rudeness aren’t going to get you bery far in any discussion of the subject matter.

  20. 20
    Acipenser says:

    I’d be happy to discuss this piece of research with you but I doubt you’ve read the paper let alone anything beyond the title of the media release of the research. I remember how badly it went last time you and I tried to discuss a article published in the literature and the difficulty you had discerning which numbers represented the sample size (n) with those that represented the data. But I’d be willing to try again, nonetheless.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Well perhaps instead of bluff, bluster, rudeness, and rhetoric, (which I personally find to be overflowing on your part) we can get past all this name calling (which really has nothing whatsoever to do with the science at hand anyway) and that you can just go ahead and cite the direct physical evidence that ACTUALLY DEMONSTRATES that purely neo-Darwinian processes can generate even a single novel functional gene and/or protein. Or do you think that such a ‘trivial’ demonstration is not of foundational scientific importance to the claim you would like to make???

    Evolution vs. Functional Proteins – Doug Axe – Video

    Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds: Doug Axe:
    Excerpt: The prevalence of low-level function in four such experiments indicates that roughly one in 10^64 signature-consistent sequences forms a working domain. Combined with the estimated prevalence of plausible hydropathic patterns (for any fold) and of relevant folds for particular functions, this implies the overall prevalence of sequences performing a specific function by any domain-sized fold may be as low as 1 in 10^77, adding to the body of evidence that functional folds require highly extraordinary sequences.

    Correcting Four Misconceptions about my 2004 Article in JMB — May 4th, 2011 by Douglas Axe

    ID Scientist Douglas Axe Responds to His Critics – June 2011 – Audio Podcast

    Doug Axe Knows His Work Better Than Steve Matheson
    Excerpt: Regardless of how the trials are performed, the answer ends up being at least half of the total number of password possibilities, which is the staggering figure of 10^77 (written out as 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000). Armed with this calculation, you should be very confident in your skepticism, because a 1 in 10^77 chance of success is, for all practical purposes, no chance of success. My experimentally based estimate of the rarity of functional proteins produced that same figure, making these likewise apparently beyond the reach of chance.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    Acipenser, so basically, in your dismissal of my understanding of the ‘finer details’ of this sequence comparison paper, which I admit I am not interested in the Darwinian tea-leaf reading of genes of this paper, (seen enough deception from that angle already thank you!) you do not disagree with this statement ‘“Humans are just modified fish,”??? Glad to know you are so accepting of that which has no demonstrated mechanism!!!

  23. 23
    Acipenser says:

    Why don’t we just discuss the topic of the thread: the transition from water to land and the prerequisite development of air-breathing in fish?

    As I told you bluff and bluster won’t get this conversation far nor will trying to change/derail the thread. I decided to address the issue of this transition and air-breathing in fish but, alas, no one wishes too engage the topic for whatever reason.

  24. 24
    Acipenser says:

    Look, BA77, I know you didn’t read the article you posted a link too so there is no need for you to post comments that keep demonstrating this simple fact.

    If you wish to discuss the aspects of the journal article, that the media release referred to, as well as the context of the comment that’s fine. I’m ready, willing, and able! That will, of course, require you to actually read, and understand, the article itself.

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    And exactly why is ACTUALLY DEMONSTRATING what you say can be done not important for you in concretely establishing, for everyone to see, that it ACTUALLY CAN BE DONE??? i.e. Why must you rely solely on the imagination of people to fill in the gaps in place of hard empirical science??? Are you not genuinely interested in finding whether or not what you claim is true is actually even feasible as far as reality itself is concerned???

    Here are a few ‘minor’ concerns that you seem to find not worth considering in the case you are trying to establish:

    Could Chance Arrange the Code for (Just) One Gene?
    “our minds cannot grasp such an extremely small probability as that involved in the accidental arranging of even one gene (10^-236).”

    Leading Darwin Defender Admits Darwinism’s Most “Detailed Explanation” of a Gene Doesn’t Even Tell What Function’s Being Selected – Casey Luskin – October 5, 2011
    Excerpt: …You just admitted that the most “detailed explanation” for the evolution of a gene represents a case where:

    *they don’t even know the precise function of the gene,
    *and thus don’t know what exactly what function was being selected,
    *and thus don’t know if there are steps that require multiple mutations to produce an advantage,
    *and thus haven’t even begun to show that the gene can evolve in a step-by-step fashion,
    *and thus don’t know that there are sufficient probabilistic resources to produce the gene by gene duplication+mutation+selection.

    In effect, you have just admitted that Darwinian explanations for the origin of genes are incredibly detail-poor.

    Signature In The Cell – Review
    Excerpt: Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created.

    The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds – Douglas Axe – 2010
    Excerpt Pg. 11: “Based on analysis of the genomes of 447 bacterial species, the projected number of different domain structures per species averages 991. Comparing this to the number of pathways by which metabolic processes are carried out, which is around 263 for E. coli, provides a rough figure of three or four new domain folds being needed, on average, for every new metabolic pathway. In order to accomplish this successfully, an evolutionary search would need to be capable of locating sequences that amount to anything from one in 10^159 to one in 10^308 possibilities, something the neo-Darwinian model falls short of by a very wide margin.”

    The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds – Douglas Axe, Jay Richards – audio

    Waiting Longer for Two Mutations – Michael J. Behe
    Excerpt: Citing malaria literature sources (White 2004) I had noted that the de novo appearance of chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was an event of probability of 1 in 10^20. I then wrote that ‘for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would have to wait 100 million times 10 million years’ (1 quadrillion years)(Behe 2007) (because that is the extrapolated time that it would take to produce 10^20 humans). Durrett and Schmidt (2008, p. 1507) retort that my number ‘is 5 million times larger than the calculation we have just given’ using their model (which nonetheless “using their model” gives a prohibitively long waiting time of 216 million years). Their criticism compares apples to oranges. My figure of 10^20 is an empirical statistic from the literature; it is not, as their calculation is, a theoretical estimate from a population genetics model.


    Kutless – Tonight

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    So Acipenser, OH please do enlighten me of the exact context of the comment; ‘“Humans are just modified fish,” , and please do enlighten to me why you needed to add the disclaimer ‘the context of the comment’,,, does he or does he not believe humans evolved from fish?

  27. 27
    Acipenser says:

    BA77, I’ve told you before I’m more than willing to discuss air-breathing in fish and the mechanisms involved in this process. Since you know nothing about the subject matter you desperately try and derail the thread.

    Sorry, not interested in your off topic derailment but if you wish to post something that is related to the topic we can have a conversation concerning your concern about the adaptations being ‘minor’ or ‘major’.

  28. 28
    Acipenser says:

    In order to ‘enlighten’ you to the context of the comment you would have to read the article and even the media link you posted. I needed to add the disclaimer because it was blatantly obvious you had not even read your media link let alone the subsequent paper the media article referred to. If you had read those articles you would not need to ask the question you ask.

    Why don’t you just read the links you post and discuss the issues surrounding them?

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Acipenser, I don’t blame you, them numbers ain’t pretty at all to the determined atheist who wants to ‘tell stories’ instead of practice science,,.,,, Oh well at least I feel comfortable that I’ve established you have no basis for your claims. Thus I’ll give you the parting shot to insult my intelligence once again.

  30. 30
    Acipenser says:

    The only thing you’ve established is that you know little to nothing about air-breathing in fish and every onlooker realizes this clearly made point. It is really funny, in a sad sort of way, that without even addressing/understanding any of the mechanisms of air-breathing in fishes you’ve declared them to be impossibly large steps for evolution to accomplish. The arrogance of ignorance statement comes to mind.

    If you actually want to discuss the science behind air-breathing in fish and water to land transition I’m ready for the conversation. Doesn’t appear that you are prepared to have that conversation at this point in time.

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