Genetics News speciation

Could songbirds have borrowed DNA to fuel migration?

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Audubon’s warbler/UBC

A common songbird may have acquired genes from fellow migrating birds in order to travel greater distances, according to a University of British Columbia study published this week in the journal Evolution.

Evolutionary biologists have long been puzzled by research that indicates some Audubon’s warblers share the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers — a different species of songbird that migrates annually to the southeastern U.S., Central America and the Caribbean — even though they look dramatically different.

If so, genetics is not what we thought. Which sheds an askew light on what kids should be taught in school. How much do we really know that we want passed on as orthodoxy?

6 Replies to “Could songbirds have borrowed DNA to fuel migration?

  1. 1
    wd400 says:

    If so, genetics is not what we thought.

    What on earth are you talking about? There is no suggestion that anything other than normal genetics is going on here.

  2. 2
    wd400 says:

    I know the “news” desk excuses itself from rigour, but this is a particularly silly post. As I say, nothing in the paper or the press release suggests anything other than normal genetics is at play. Unless these posts are meant to document news’s own misunderstandings of science shouldn’t it be edited to represent the truth?

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    Evolutionary biologists have long been puzzled by research that indicates some Audubon’s warblers share the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers

    Obviously this data must have been due to convergent evolution and, once again, provides another incontrovertible demonstration of the incontrovertible potency of Darwinism! After all, the incontrovertible FACT of Evolution mandates steady, incremental improvements over vast amounts of time.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if biologists were allowed to present proposals other than Darwinism to account for this observation and still keep their jobs and their reputations?

    Or maybe, a whole new mechanism, let’s say “transfer viruses” needs to be proposed, which will promptly be merged and reconciled with Darwinism. The important point is that Transfer Viruses ™ do not need to actually be observed, but their existence is proved by necessity—the same as how the Oort cloud serves Cosmology.

    And myth has been saved once again . . .

  4. 4
    wd400 says:

    Here’s an idea, before you get in a huff about academic conspiracy theories and mystical forces, perhaps you should read the story.

    It’s not convergent evolution. Or a horizontal transfer. It’s plain old vertical descent.

  5. 5
    Querius says:

    Fine, but why did the presumably peer-reviewed journal, Evolution, make such a statement?

    Evolutionary biologists have long been puzzled by research that indicates some Audubon’s warblers share the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers

    It’s like an article saying that biologists have long been puzzled why birds lay eggs. I suppose that journals dedicated to evolution might be less critical about the stuff that they publish.

  6. 6
    wd400 says:

    That’s not in the Evolution paper, and Evolution don’t write press releases. The PR, and almist everything else on science daily, is a university press office pumping up their researcher’s (genuinely interesting) work.

    Still waiting to understand how this possibly means “genetics is not what we thought” – or for the author to correct the post to align with reality.

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