A new study is out trying to find the LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor). Needless to say, things got even worse for those who place their belief in Darwinian thinking.
Because the Concluding Remarks section is so devastating, I’m blockquoting the whole thing:
Our work furnishes a new variable for the assessment of protein family evolution which compliments previous approaches based on
conserved presence and phylogenetic topology. Using phylogenetic tree based approaches of the type used here, only limited information can be
gained about the LUCA, leaving specific details on physiology largely speculative. Analysis of proteins such as the reverse gyrase, hydrogenase, and nitrogenase discussed here and elsewhere (Boyd et al., 2011a, b; Catchpole and Forterre, 2019) does not support the conclusion of
a thermophilic, nitrogen fixing and hydrogen utilizing LUCA (Weiss et al., 2016).
The evolutionary signal of proteins involved in cellular informational processes appears different than those involved in metabolism, and it could be that the modularity of energy metabolism is in part responsible for an erosion of signal in this latter category. Many of the protein families involved in transcription and protein synthesis do not appear to display inter-domain modularity (consistent with the complexity hypothesis; (Jain et al., 1999)). Their low split values and broad taxonomic distribution are suggestive of their presence in the LUCA, and their small intra:interdomain phylogenetic distance ratios may reflect high early evolutionary temperatures.
It may be beneficial to integrate protein structure information to better estimate phylogenetic distances. In addition, orthologous groups identified by new methods can be usefully referenced and compared to results from other studies. For example, the nearly universal trees (NUTs) are a set of conserved protein families with variable degrees of domain separation
(Puigbo et al., 2010; Puigbo et al., 2009). Going further, employing recent phylogenetic methods such as reconciling gene trees with species trees
(Altenhoff and Dessimoz, 2012; Hellmuth, 2017) may aid in overcoming problems associated with limited gene distribution among taxa (Charlebois
and Doolittle, 2004), however this is dependent on the availability of reliable species trees. In an effort to integrate molecular data into an Earth history context, geochemical data can give further clues about the environmental conditions on early Earth, allowing for phylogenetic-geochemical calibrations to be made, e.g. (Shih et al., 2017;
Wolfe and Fournier, 2018).
Altogether, analyses integrating data from multiple dimensions might
refine the concept of, and the evolutionary scenario suggested by the statistical tree of life (STOL) (Doolittle and Brunet, 2016; O’Malley
and Koonin, 2011; Puigbo et al., 2009). The physiology of the LUCA remains largely unconstrained. A remaining challenge is to understand the evolutionary distance, and molecular differences between the LUCA and
the forms of life which came before it (CornishBowden and C´ardenas, 2017; Gogarten and Deamer, 2016).
In other words, they’re stuck. No fitness landscapes show up that can lead them backwards in time. So, the fossil record disproves Darwinian assumptions, and genetic histories disprove Darwinian assumptions (i.e., the “differences” were there from the beginning). Will Darwinians give up? No chance!