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Bird, tested and released, turned out to be a hybrid of three species

rare triple-hybrid warbler (Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, and Chestnut-sided Warbler)/Lowell Burket

From ScienceDaily:

Scientists have shown that a bird found in Pennsylvania is the offspring of a hybrid warbler mother and a warbler father from an entirely different genus — a combination never recorded before now and which resulted in a three-species hybrid bird. This finding has just been published in the journal Biology Letters.

“It’s extremely rare,” explains lead author and Cornell Lab of Ornithology postdoctoral associate David Toews. “The female is a Golden-winged/Blue-winged Warbler hybrid — also called a Brewster’s Warbler. She then mated with a Chestnut-sided Warbler and successfully reproduced.”

Well, if all we’ve heard about “species” and “speciation” is true, it shouldn’t just be extremely rare; it should be impossible.

Hybridization is common among Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers, and this has been of particular concern for Golden-winged Warblers which have declined dramatically in some populations. But hybridization has never been recorded between these species and Chestnut-sided Warblers. This kind of rare hybridization event may also occur more often in the declining warbler populations of Appalachia, because there is a smaller pool of mates from which to choose.

“That this hybridization occurred within a population of Golden-winged Warblers in significant decline suggests that females may be making the best of a bad situation,” says Toews. “It also tells us that wood-warblers in general have remained genetically compatible long after they evolved major differences in appearance.” Paper. (open access) – David P. L. Toews, Henry M. Streby, Lowell Burket, Scott A. Taylor. A wood-warbler produced through both interspecific and intergeneric hybridization. Biology Letters, 2018; 14 (11): 20180557 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0557 More.

If so, do the genetics of the group permit significant differences in appearance while retaining “insurance against extinction,” in that members remain compatible for mating purposes?

The researchers, having captured and released the bird, are planning to keep an eye on him to see if he finds a mate.

“It tells us that warblers in general appear to be reproductively compatible over millions of years of independent evolution,” Dave Toews, postdoctoral associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, told Gizmodo. “The things that really define them, their distinct colors and their songs, are likely mating barriers, and that they don’t interbreed because they can’t, but because they choose not to.”Ryan F. Mandelbaum, “DNA Testing Reveals Baffling Bird Is Three Species in One” at Gizmodo

As Ryan Mandelbaum philosophizes at Gizmodo, “Birds are just looking for love. Sometimes, if they can’t find the right mate, they’ve got to settle.”

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See also: It’s likely impossible to find out how many species there are

Addressing the speciation mess: View species as models?


A physicist looks at biology’s problem of “speciation” in humans

Cornell lab on warblers, generally:

vmahuna, you state,
I think that a whole lot of Biology should be put on hold while we spend a decade or so sorting out a USEFUL definition of “species”.
Since Darwinism is based on reductive materialism which holds all abstract notions of the mind are illusory, and since species is an abstract classification, then a USEFUL definition of “species” will forever be beyond the explanatory power of Darwinism. In other words, the entire idea of there being a distinct classes of species is a abstract, immaterial, concept that simply cannot be grounded within the Darwinian worldview:
Darwin, Design & Thomas Aquinas The Mythical Conflict Between Thomism & Intelligent Design by Logan Paul Gage Excerpt: First, the problem of essences. G. K. Chesterton once quipped that “evolution . . . does not especially deny the existence of God; what it does deny is the existence of man.” It might appear shocking, but in this one remark the ever-perspicacious Chesterton summarized a serious conflict between classical Christian philosophy and Darwinism. In Aristotelian and Thomistic thought, each particular organism belongs to a certain universal class of things. Each individual shares a particular nature—or essence—and acts according to its nature. Squirrels act squirrelly and cats catty. We know with certainty that a squirrel is a squirrel because a crucial feature of human reason is its ability to abstract the universal nature from our sense experience of particular organisms. Think about it: How is it that we are able to recognize different organisms as belonging to the same group? The Aristotelian provides a good answer: It is because species really exist—not as an abstraction in the sky, but they exist nonetheless. We recognize the squirrel’s form, which it shares with other members of its species, even though the particular matter of each squirrel differs. So each organism, each unified whole, consists of a material and immaterial part (form).,,, One way to see this form-matter dichotomy is as Aristotle’s solution to the ancient tension between change and permanence debated so vigorously in the pre-Socratic era. Heraclitus argued that reality is change. Everything constantly changes—like fire, which never stays the same from moment to moment. Philosophers like Parmenides (and Zeno of “Zeno’s paradoxes” fame) argued exactly the opposite; there is no change. Despite appearances, reality is permanent. How else could we have knowledge? If reality constantly changes, how can we know it? What is to be known? Aristotle solved this dilemma by postulating that while matter is constantly in flux—even now some somatic cells are leaving my body while others arrive—an organism’s form is stable. It is a fixed reality, and for this reason is a steady object of our knowledge. Organisms have an essence that can be grasped intellectually. Denial of True Species Enter Darwinism. Recall that Darwin sought to explain the origin of “species.” Yet as he pondered his theory, he realized that it destroyed species as a reality altogether. For Darwinism suggests that any matter can potentially morph into any other arrangement of matter without the aid of an organizing principle. He thought cells were like simple blobs of Jell-O, easily re-arrangeable. For Darwin, there is no immaterial, immutable form. In The Origin of Species he writes: “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, for convenience’s sake.” Statements like this should make card-carrying Thomists shudder.,,, The first conflict between Darwinism and Thomism, then, is the denial of true species or essences. For the Thomist, this denial is a grave error, because the essence of the individual (the species in the Aristotelian sense) is the true object of our knowledge. As philosopher Benjamin Wiker observes in Moral Darwinism, Darwin reduced species to “mere epiphenomena of matter in motion.” What we call a “dog,” in other words, is really just an arbitrary snapshot of the way things look at present. If we take the Darwinian view, Wiker suggests, there is no species “dog” but only a collection of individuals, connected in a long chain of changing shapes, which happen to resemble each other today but will not tomorrow. What About Man? Now we see Chesterton’s point. Man, the universal, does not really exist. According to the late Stanley Jaki, Chesterton detested Darwinism because “it abolishes forms and all that goes with them, including that deepest kind of ontological form which is the immortal human soul.” And if one does not believe in universals, there can be, by extension, no human nature—only a collection of somewhat similar individuals.,,, Implications for Bioethics This is not a mere abstract point. This dilemma is playing itself out in contemporary debates in bioethics. With whom are bioethicists like Leon Kass (neo-Aristotelian and former chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics) sparring today if not with thoroughgoing Darwinians like Princeton’s Peter Singer, who denies that humans, qua humans, have intrinsic dignity? Singer even calls those who prefer humans to other animals “speciesist,” which in his warped vocabulary is akin to racism.,,, If one must choose between saving an intelligent, fully developed pig or a Down syndrome baby, Singer thinks we should opt for the pig.,,, https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-037-f
Thus, to a Darwinist, the concept of species will forever be abstract and illusory,,, much like the abstract concepts of personhood and mathematics,,,
What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018 Excerpt: In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities. https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2018/04/16/what_does_it_mean_to_say_that_science_and_religion_conflict.html
Of related note:
The Representation Problem and the Immateriality of the Mind – Michael Egnor – February 5, 2018 Excerpt: Succinctly, mental representation of abstract thought presupposes abstract thought, and cannot explain it. It is on abstract thought that materialism, as a theory of mind, flounders. Abstract thought, classically understood as intellect and will, are inherently immaterial. Any representation in the brain of abstract thought (while it may exist) necessarily presupposes abstract thought itself, which must, by its nature, be an immaterial power of the mind. The human mind is a composite of material particular thought and immaterial abstract thought. Interestingly, modern neuroscience supports this view. Perception of particulars maps with precision to brain anatomy, but abstract thought is not mapped in the same way. Material powers of the brain are ordinarily necessary for exercise of abstract thought (e.g., you have to be awake to think about justice), but matter is not sufficient for abstract thought. Abstract thought is an immaterial power of the mind. https://evolutionnews.org/2018/02/the-representation-problem-and-the-immateriality-of-the-mind/
"Well, if all we’ve heard about “species” and “speciation” is true, it shouldn’t just be extremely rare; it should be impossible." Very much YES. I think that a whole lot of Biology should be put on hold while we spend a decade or so sorting out a USEFUL definition of "species". I get the idea that the SOLE purpose of recording new species is to enhance the careers of Biologists, which would be OK if no one attempted to draw MEANING from huge lists of "species". vmahuna

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