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Are blind cave fish breaking the laws of evolution?


Some seem to be in a tizzy about that, according to Michael Le Page at New Scientist:

We’ve found out why a Mexican cavefish has no eyes – and the surprising answer is likely to be seized upon by those who think the standard view of evolution needs revising.

It was assumed that these fish became blind because mutations disabled key genes involved in eye development. This has been shown to be the case for some other underground species that have lost their eyes.

But Aniket Gore of the US’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleagues haven’t found any disabling changes in the DNA sequences of eye development genes in the cavefish.

Instead, the genes have been switched off by the addition of chemical tags called methyl groups. This is what is known as an epigenetic, rather than genetic, change.

Shuker is suspicious of some efforts to promote the idea of an “extended evolutionary synthesis”. He thinks some people are trying sneak religious ideas back into evolutionary theory.

“They are trying to allow organisms to have agency not controlled by genes,” he says. More.

We know that the ducts need cleaning in the evolutionary biology building when people think there are laws of evolution, in a strict sense, and that the Big Worry is that if a claim for Darwinism is better explained by epigenetics, the proponents of epigenetics will sneak in religious ideas…

Note: Eva Jablonka is quoted as supporting an epigenetic interpretation.

See also: From Biology Direct: Darwinism, now thoroughly detached from its historical roots as a falsifiable theory, “must be abandoned” (The author sounds serious.)


Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!

Or like the transplanted lizards from one Adriatic island to another. Within 35 years, with a very small population size, all kinds of morphological and behavioral changes took place. No way was there enough time to arrive at these changes through mutations. Yet, we have the pan-selectionists--like Dawkins; and the mutationists, like Nei, and our friend wd400, who believe evolution is explained via mutation predominantly, and relegate NS to a minor role. Without NS, Darwinism is gone; without mutations, mutationism is gone. So, what's left? ID? NGE? PaV
Blind fish should have triggered the idea of epigenes a long time ago. I remember exploring a little cave in Oklahoma. The cave included a pool no larger than a backyard swimming pool. A miniature ecosystem included a dozen blind fish, some plants, snails and crawdads, probably nourished by bat guano. How did the fish get there? Maybe sloshed in when the nearby creek flooded? I didn't think about it at the time, but the NUMBER would make proper evolution impossible. With a dozen fish in a closed system, there's absolutely no way they could have tried out millions of mutations and sorted out the harmful ones to end up blind. polistra

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