Biomimicry Genetics speciation

More Salt in the Peppered Moth’s Wounds

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The entire history of Kettlewell’s Peppered Moth experiment is littered with problems: doctored photographs, wrong assumptions and slim evidence, followed by genetic analysis revealing that the protein exons coding for color were not changed, but, rather, a transposon (non-random) was inserted in an intron (“junk DNA”).

And now there’s this paper. It seems that the “Caterpillars of the peppered moth perceive color through their skin.”

From the Abstract:

We previously reported that slow colourchange in twig-mimicking caterpillars of the peppered moth (Biston betularia) is a response to achromatic and chromatic visual cues. Here we show that the perception of these cues, and the resulting phenotypic responses, does not require ocular vision. Caterpillars with completely obscured ocelli remained capable of enhancing their crypsis by changing colour and choosing to rest on colour-matching twigs. A suite of visual genes, expressed across the larval integument, likely plays a key role in the mechanism. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that extraocular colour sensing can mediate pigment-based colour change andbehaviour in an arthropod.

We now ask a simple question: if the caterpillar of the peppered moth can change its coloration independent of its eyes, can the adult form do this also?

One has to wonder: what is left of this “Icon of Evolution”?

Darwin’s finches hybridize, peppered moths can change coloration to match twig color, and the whole while there are Adriatic lizards that, in the lab—with its diet changed, grows cecal valves within two months.

Darwinism is on extremely thin ice.

42 Replies to “More Salt in the Peppered Moth’s Wounds

  1. 1
    PeterA says:

    PaV,

    this is very interesting. Thanks for the OP.

    Please, keep in mind that regardless of how messy this iconic textbook example has been found, it’s just micro-evolution.
    The butterflies remained butterflies, even if the example wouldn’t have been so discredited. It would have remained another “Darwin devolves” example.

  2. 2
    PeterA says:

    The case is so messed up that it may not qualify even as a ‘Darwin devolves” example. What a shame! 🙂

  3. 3
    Mimus says:

    We now ask a simple question: if the caterpillar of the peppered moth can change its coloration independent of its eyes, can the adult form do this also?

    No. For evidence, perhaps take your own first sentence that, among all that other rubbish, points to the fact the dark phenotype is a encoded by a single allele.

    It’s fascinating how the peppered moth story breaks the minds of creationists. This time to the point that forget what they wrote 5 minutes hence!

  4. 4
    PeterA says:

    Mimus,
    I admit that I did not understand your comment well.
    However, in the peppered moths story, the main actors apparently remained moths even after the alleged changes. The hottest debate isn’t on micro-evolution, which is just as described in Professor Behe’s book “Darwin devolves”. The hottest debate is on the Neo-Darwinian macro-evolutionary fairy tale, which includes the Galapagos finches as one of their main icons, a micro-evolution example that got grossly extrapolated to macro-evolution. The finches remained finches.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    The $64,000 dollar question is “How does blind watchmaker evolution account for caterpillars, moths and metamorphosis?”

  6. 6
    jawa says:

    ET,

    Sorry, but others are offering much more than your meager $64K. 🙂

    A couple of years ago someone offered $5M
    http://www.frontlinegenomics.c.....igin-life/

    A few months ago someone offered $10M !!!
    https://www.ft.com/content/dcb2ea12-83c8-11e9-9935-ad75bb96c849

    https://www.herox.com/evolution2.0

    Your $64K seem like petty cash in comparison.

    🙂

  7. 7
    jawa says:

    ET,

    Sorry, the second link in my previous message doesn’t work.
    A valid subscription is required in order to access the article

  8. 8
    martin_r says:

    Peppered moth … The icon of evolution 🙂
    And evolutionists got it all wrong again … ALL WRONG !!!! AGAIN !!!

    I came across very similar article like 2 years ago.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5691783/

    i bet, that an adult peppered moth can change its color too … and it does not happen by random mutations + natural selection.
    The ability to change skin / fur color is designed.

    Not to mention very advanced real-time color change / camouflage.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8xJ13pAZNw

    Even in 21st century, such an advanced real-time camouflage is an engineering SCI-FI.

    We are looking at very advanced ENGINEERED bio-technology, i was wondering, when biologists (romantics) will finally get it.

  9. 9
    jawa says:

    Martin_r,

    Excellent commentary.

  10. 10
    Mimus says:

    Martin_R,

    I think you also missed PaV’s first sentence. The dark colour morph is known to be caused by a simple mendelian allele. We even know the allele was formed by a transposon.
    PeterA,
    I guess it’s true that moths did not, over the course of a few decades during the industrial revolution, turn into fish or gibbons.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    mimus:

    We even know the allele was formed by a transposon.

    Then it did NOT happen via blind and mindless processes. Thank you.

  12. 12
    Mimus says:

    Are you saying transposons have minds?

  13. 13
    PaV says:

    Mimus:

    No. For evidence, perhaps take your own first sentence that, among all that other rubbish, points to the fact the dark phenotype is a encoded by a single allele.

    What makes you think I forgot my first sentence? Why assume such a thing? Why not ponder what needs to be pondered instead of dismissing an opinion out of hand?

    This is the “Ivory Tower” mentality. We don’t subscribe to it here at UD.

    Now let me ask you some related questions: (1) Do you think that the caterpillar’s color change happened randomly? (2) How did the coloration change take place? (3) Did this coloration change in the caterpillar involve a “transposon”?

    As to your Materialist position–this all happened via a change to an “allele”: Indeed, a computer software changes only if the coding changes. But the question is: how did the coding change? Or, is there some kind of a subroutine placed in the program that allows the software to make directed changes itself?

    Telling us that an “allele” is involved, doesn’t tell us that Materialism is the cause of any change.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    mimus:

    Are you saying transposons have minds?

    More so than you, obviously. But I digress- transposons are part of the intelligent design of organisms’ ability to adapt and evolve.

  15. 15
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @Jawa #6

    Thanks for posting those links. I am happy to see that both P.Z. Myers and Jon Perry agree with me that Perry Marshall’s Evo 2.0 prize is a scam.

  16. 16
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    I am happy to see that both P.Z. Myers and Jon Perry agree with me that Perry Marshall’s Evo 2.0 prize is a scam.

    Anyone who says that is just a crybaby cowardly loser. Nice own goal.

    Notice how evos NEVER support their claim against Marshall?

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    @ your #5, ET:

    ‘The $64,000 dollar question is “How does blind watchmaker evolution account for caterpillars, moths and metamorphosis?”’
    Random things kind of bumping into each other in a random kind of way, ET? Or, perhaps, ‘propitiously randomly’….?

    I didn’t realise before that randomness could be so consistently, uniformly, propitious, as to randomly, purely by accident, create incredibly complex and sophisticated designs. Or as Professor Dawkins contends : the APPEARANCE of designs. (Poor, hapless empirical science, forever fated to deal with the appearnces of things, with that desperately elusive hall of mirrors we call the empirical world).

    Therefore, surely, in any definition of ‘randomness’, its most striking conceptual element is to be found in the natural world – as it relates to the appearance therein of a countless multitude of such designs. I expect to some of you will consider that that sounds somewhat oxymoronic, but I am sure it is simply a paradox, not counter-rational, but counter-intuitive. Isn’t that right, Richie?

  18. 18
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @ET #16

    I wrote Marshall telling him I might be interested in submitting a claim for his prize, back when it was only $1 million.

    He sent me a form to sign, which basically surrenders the rights to the entire submission to him. In other words, to even submit a claim to the prize, you sign over what could be your life’s work to him, to do with whatever he wants.

    Anyone who truly accomplished what Marshall is asking, would be much better off submitting it for a Nobel Prize. So, no intelligent person in their right mind would apply for Marshall’s prize. Only cranks and amateurs will apply.

    In the meantime, he has a nice publicity stunt for selling his book.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Pater:

    In other words, to even submit a claim to the prize, you sign over what could be your life’s work to him, to do with whatever he wants.

    You get 10.1 million dollars for that work, Pater.

    Anyone who truly accomplished what Marshall is asking, would be much better off submitting it for a Nobel Prize.

    You get paid less for that. But I am sure you would do that instead.

    So, no intelligent person in their right mind would apply for Marshall’s prize.

    Any intelligent person can see that 10.1 million > 1.x million.

    Look, Pater, whatever cowardly excuse works for you never having to find the science that supports your position’s claims.

  20. 20
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @ET
    Yep, you are exactly the sort of mark he is looking for.

  21. 21
    ET says:

    No Pater, I am not stupid enough to even attempt the challenge. The challenge is impossible to complete. It could never happen.

    Your entire position rests on impossible events. Congratulations on being so gullible.

  22. 22
    Mimus says:

    What makes you think I forgot my first sentence?

    Well, I guess I thought you would understand that a trait can’t be both the result of a simple mendelian allele (with codons unchanged but a transposon inserted into an intron….) and the result of plasticity (the adult form changing its colour a la the caterpillar). Perhaps I gave you too much credit.

  23. 23
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @ET
    I meant you are just the sort of person to buy into his “theory” and possibly buy his book.

    And thank you for acknowledging that the challenge is impossible to complete. What does that make the person offering it, but a con man with a hidden agenda.

  24. 24
    ET says:

    LoL! @ Pater- At least I am not so gullible to believe blind watchmaker evolution. Minds from the mindless via blind and mindless processes. Yeah, that’s brilliant.

    The challenge is impossible to complete and it proves the point- materialistic processes are incapable of producing the genetic code. It is an impossibility. He knows it. His investors know it. People like you, however, will remain in denial. But still life goes on

  25. 25
    jawa says:

    Pater Kimbridge @15:

    No problem. You’re very welcome! My pleasure.

    🙂

  26. 26
  27. 27
    PaV says:

    Mimus:

    Well, I guess I thought you would understand that a trait can’t be both the result of a simple mendelian allele (with codons unchanged but a transposon inserted into an intron….) and the result of plasticity (the adult form changing its colour a la the caterpillar). Perhaps I gave you too much credit.

    Who says this can’t happen? You? Your cronies?

    The caterpillar of the peppered moth inherits its “traits” in a Mendelian fashion, does it not? And, yet, it has the capacity to ‘tune itself’ to its environment–plasticity. This kind of “plasticity” no doubt involves gene regulation, and introns are known to be involved is said regulation. How do we not know that if we looked further that we would find that the mechanism the caterpillar uses also involves transposons as gene regulators? Has this been looked at?

    Now, where you go wrong is here: you presume that the “transposon inserted into [the] intron” happened randomly. We have no assurance. In fact, McClintock received her Nobel Prize in showing that transposons are inserted in a “non-random” fashion. And this once “junk DNA” is being found to be of great service to organisms. At Evolution and News, there’s an article about a just published paper lauding what ERV’s do, indicating that they perform “critical cellular functions,” this from that which was thought to be no more than viruses gone wrong.

    Don’t presume to know what has yet to be established. There’s a lot that remains to be discovered. But that which we are discovering day-by-day points inexorably to the failure of Darwinian and neo-Darwinian theory. Let’s put a stake through it now!

  28. 28
    Mimus says:

    The transposon allele causes the dark phenotype. If a moth has the allele it’s wings are sooty, if not then they are white. This is not a plastic response. That fact this is a simple mendelian trait was demonstrated decades ago, the study you referred to (finding the transposon) uncovered the molecular basis of that allele’s orign.

    All of this is high school biology and is probably required background knowledge for someone that wants to make proclamations about the state of evolutionary biology as a discipline. Very briefly over the new errors

    McClinktock was award the Nobel for the discovery of mobile elements, not for that fact they have non-random intergration. She used her nobel lecture to talk about the dynamic nature of transposable elements, but this is largely to do with the soma and not germline inheritience (with the exception of plants where the distinction is less clear cut).

    If the intergration of the transposon into the peppered moth gene is a programmed response and not a random event then it’s a pretty terrible program. All of the dark moths descent from a single transposon insertion, so this “program” occured only once.

    Transposable elements are of course co-opted into playing roles in their host’s biology. This is actually an areo of my research. However, the fact a few TEs serve their hosts’ interest does little to dent their over-all negative effects (which is why species go to such lengths to silence or even destroy these elements).

  29. 29
    PaV says:

    Mimus:

    The transposon allele causes the dark phenotype. If a moth has the allele it’s wings are sooty, if not then they are white. This is not a plastic response.

    As the soot producing factories of England were cleaned, and the air freshened, the dark form of the moth shifted to its lighter form. However, biologists noted that this shift occurred so quickly that neo-Darwinian explanations were thrown into doubt. It was thought that this reversion was the result of ‘induction’: which, of course, is plasticity. (cf: The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms: Darwinian Biology’s Grand Narrative of Triumph and the Subversion of Religion.
    BY Robert F. Shedinger; Chapter 5)

    Let me share something with you:

    7| CONCLUSIONS

    How individuals and populations maximize theirperformance when facing environmental heterogeneity is of great interest to ecology and evolutionary biology. However, it is still taken for granted that variation for adaptive evolution is generated randomly. Although reflected in opinions of the role of mutation in evolution (which itself can be nonrandom), this view of a random process has perhaps subconsciously pervaded our views of phenotypic plasticity as a provider of variation. This could especially be the case given that plasticity is usually defined as a property of the genotype and is prevalent within our concepts of CGV and the selective process inferred for the evolution of adaptive plasticity. However, a more development?based view recognizes the associated complexities involved with plasticity and why it may not generate variation in a random manner. For example, the developmental systems responsible for plasticity can reflect past evolutionary history and, in turn, limit the available responses to environmental inputs. Further, the evolution of adaptive plasticity may be associated with intermittent periods of selection and phenotypic expression. Adaptive plasticity also has the potential to be “stored”within developmental systems for considerable periods and re-emerge in ways that produce biased phenotypic variation, which then guides the initiation of further evolution when environmental conditions change (e.g., the flexible stem). Thus, we should strongly consider the role of plasticity in both initiating and acting as a harbor for developmental bias.

    REVIEW–Does phenotypic plasticity initiate developmental bias?2019 Evolution & Development—-Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Evolution & Development.)

    Directed mutations. Natural Genetic Engineering (Shapiro)

  30. 30
    Bob O'H says:

    As the soot producing factories of England were cleaned, and the air freshened, the dark form of the moth shifted to its lighter form. However, biologists noted that this shift occurred so quickly that neo-Darwinian explanations were thrown into doubt.

    Really? Can you give a citation for that, preferably one that’s not about Rensch, Goldschmidt and the Cambrian Explosion.

  31. 31
    Mimus says:

    As the soot producing factories of England were cleaned, and the air freshened, the dark form of the moth shifted to its lighter form. However, biologists noted that this shift occurred so quickly that neo-Darwinian explanations were thrown into doubt. It was thought that this reversion was the result of ‘induction’: which, of course, is plasticity

    Induction is not plasticity, it was the idea that chemicals could produce particualr mutations in the germline. Some biologists did indeed question whether the rate of evolution observed in the peppered moths could be achieved by Darwinian selection. They were proved wrong. In the 1930s. Searching wildly for a justification and finding something 9 decades out of date might be a record even for uncommon descent…

  32. 32
    PaV says:

    Bob O’H:

    You can read, “Of Moth and Men,” by Cooper (?)

    Mimus:

    Experiments are now throwing into question, if not completely overturning, genetic dogma regarding induction. Isn’t that experiment 70 years old?

  33. 33
    Mimus says:

    Experiments are now throwing into question, if not completely overturning, genetic dogma regarding induction

    No they aren’t. Even if they were, the dark phenotype would remain a simple autosomal dominant trait encoded by a transposon integration.

  34. 34
    ET says:

    mimus- the whole problem is you don’t have a mechanism capable of producing moths nor the pigmentation genes. As for transposons- they carry within their sequence the coding for two of the proteins required for them to move around. Again, out of the reach of blind and mindless processes.

  35. 35
    Mimus says:

    I disagree, but even if that were true it wouldn’t save PaV at all. As ever, the only thing creationists manage to salvage from the peppered moth story is the idea the changes seen are trivial. But if that’s the case I’m left wondering while creationists tie themselves in such knots to deny the simple facts of the case.

  36. 36
    PaV says:

    Mimus:

    But if that’s the case I’m left wondering while creationists tie themselves in such knots to deny the simple facts of the case.

    What are the simple facts? Light moths became dark–rather quickly from historical records. Coal plants were cleaned up. Then, dark moths became light–again, rather quickly from what eyewitnesses report. The gene responsible for this color change was identified and genetic analysis showed that the difference in the “allele” (a word that comes from over a hundred years ago) had changed, with a transposon now inserted in an intron. Transposons are known to “jump” in non-random ways.

    Is this the neo-Darwinian picture of phenotypic change that is normally envisioned? No. What’s envisioned is an “allele” (and more specifically those parts of the ‘allele’ that actually code for the functional protein involved, that is, the exons) slowly changes from generation through SNP, simple nucleotide changes. After enough generations, that is, mutations, some particular form is now ‘dark’ and with the phenotypic advantage so bestowed in the current environment, begins to differentially increase its “allele frequency.” Eventually, the great majority of moths are dark.

    But here we have a transposon that is inserted in a non-random way (not like SNP’s) and is inserted not in the exon portion but the intron portion–you know, the “junk DNA” portion of the “allele.” These are NOT neo-Darwinian expectations—-though you can pretend that they are.

    Under the given circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that some form of “induction” is the more likely cause of the melanic change.

  37. 37
    Mimus says:

    I guess you’ve given up defending the op.

    It’s not true that transposon integration is non random with respect to fitness.

    If this was a programmed change then why did it only happen in one moth (which subsequently passed the new allele on)? Strange program.

  38. 38
    ET says:

    mimus:

    It’s not true that transposon integration is non random with respect to fitness.

    Meaningless diatribe. Evolution claims that mutations are random as in happenstance events. They are alleged to be accidents, errors or mistakes. Only wishful thinking says that transposons arose via blind and mindless processes and tat they do what they do just by chance.

    If this was a programmed change then why did it only happen in one moth (which subsequently passed the new allele on)?

    A- No one knows if that is what happened. And B- VARIETY is the spice of life.

  39. 39
    PaV says:

    Mimus:

    “In this study, we were able to see that there is actually more jumping gene action going on than might have been expected from previous studies,” said Dr. Kuhlman, whose team performed the in vivo experiments. “What’s more, we learned that the rates at which these genes jump depend sensitively on how the cells are growing—if there is food available for the cells to grow, for example. In other words, jumping gene activation isn’t entirely random, it’s dependent on environmental feedback.”

    How did you infer such a conclusion from what I wrote?

    Just found <a href="this today:

    “In this study, we were able to see that there is actually more jumping gene action going on than might have been expected from previous studies,” said Dr. Kuhlman, whose team performed the in vivo experiments. “What’s more, we learned that the rates at which these genes jump depend sensitively on how the cells are growing—if there is food available for the cells to grow, for example. In other words, jumping gene activation isn’t entirely random, it’s dependent on environmental feedback.”

    Case closed!

  40. 40
    Mimus says:

    It’s not true that transposon integration is non-random with respect to fitness. That is, transposons produce lots of selective neutral alleles, quote a few damaging ones and very very few benificial ones. The study you are quoting finds the that transpson excision (and therefore presumably integration) is not random with repsect to time and cell cycle. This is well known (in vertebrates most exision happens very arly in development because that’s when chromatin is open, for instance). In the case of this study the reason for differences in transposition rate is exceedingly prosaic. As cells grow and divide less (stationaary phase) they accumulate the transposase protein so the transposition happens more frequently. Quote a long way from a programmed response to generate specific alelles, I would think!

  41. 41
    ET says:

    mimus:

    It’s not true that transposon integration is non-random with respect to fitness.

    With respect to fitness is meaningless in a debate on whether of not transposons are directed or accidental.

    Transposons contain within their coding sequence the code for two of the proteins it needs to be a transposon. Please tell us how blind and mindless processes could possibly have pulled that off.

  42. 42
    hnorman42 says:

    Although I’m happy to see the peppered moth (the insect) in the news again I don’t think this has much to do with the Kettlewell experiment that has sort of become synoymous. Kettlewell’s experiment was about how traits are propagated, not how they come to be in the first place.

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