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Why is devolution counterintuitive?

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devolved chordate/Universidad de Barcelona

From ScienceDaily:

Thinking of gene loss as an evolution force is a counterintuitive idea, for it is easier to think that only when we gain something -genes in this case- can we evolve. However the new work by these authors, who are members of the Research Group on Evolution and Development (EVO-DEVO) of the UB, paints the vision of gene loss as a great potential process of genetic change and evolutionary adaption.

According to Professor Ricard Albalat, “it has been shown that the possibility of losing genes is linked to the lifestyle of the species. Parasites, for instance, show a greater tendency of gene loss because since they re-use their host’s resources, lots of their genes become dispensable and end up disappearing. Species with lots of redundant genes such as the vertebrates and lots of plant species and yeasts which have doubled their genome, have also suffered from gene loss over the course of evolution.

“Interestingly -says Albalat- the massive gene losses are not always linked to radical morphological changes in the affected organism’s body plan. The chordate Oikopleura dioica, for example, despite losing lots of genes -some are essential to the embryo development and design of the phylum body plan- maintains a typical body plan with organs and structures (heart, brain, thyroids, etc.) which can be considered to be homologues to the vertebrates’. However, this contradiction, which we have defined as “inverse paradox” of EvoDevo, is still very difficult to explain.”More. Paper. (paywall) – Linda Koch. Complex disease: A global view of regulatory networks. Nature Reviews Genetics, 2016; 17 (5): 252 DOI: 10.1038/nrg.2016.36

The “counterintuitive” nature of devolution is best seen as an instance of Darwinian thought blight. Of course a life form might improve its survival chances by shedding useless machinery! For the same reasons, a company might improve its survival chances by shedding the Manual Typewriter division.

The problem is that, while losing genes (devolution) is evolution, it’s not a magic-based explanation for how complex plans come into existence by accident—and that is the only claim that much interests the current Darwinian lot who dominate evolutionary biology.

This is a fascinating example of why their hegemony is starting to break up, no matter what efforts to save it.

See also: Devolution: Getting back to the simple life:

Didier Raoult, the discoverer of giant Marseillevirus said, provocatively, in 2009, “The idea of a common ancestor makes no sense in the light of viruses. That was Darwin’s idea, but he was clearly wrong.” Raoult, also the discoverer of the mimivirus (2003), considered “the most productive and influential microbiologist in France” according to Science, published a pop science book in 2011 that “flat-out declares that Darwin’s theory of evolution is wrong.”

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