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Crow “species” turn out to be merely “in the process of speciation”

Carrion crows
crow/CCO Public Domain

But notice how the story is told in such a way as to pretend that some type of Darwinism is happening when maybe it isn’t. Darwin’s Potemkin village?

Once upon a time, all European crows looked alike:

Carrion crows and hooded crows are almost indistinguishable genetically, and hybrid offspring are fertile. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologists now show that the two forms have remained distinct largely owing to the dominant role of plumage color in mate choice.

Crows have divided Europe between them. Western Europe is the realm of the soot-black carrion crow, while the eastern half of the continent is home to the hooded crow, with its grayish black plumage. The boundary between the two populations—or more precisely, the hybrid zone where the two meet—is only 20 to 50 km wide, and in Germany, it essentially follows the course of the River Elbe. This is the only stretch of territory in which both of these species are found and successfully mate with each other. The plumage of the fertile offspring of these pairings is intermediate in color between those of their parents. The sharp demarcation between the two populations, however, clearly indicates that gene flow across the hybrid zone is restricted, which implies that hybrids are at a selective disadvantage.

But now, wait for it:

“Defining speciation as the buildup of reproductive isolation, carrion crows and hooded crows are in the process of speciation,” says LMU evolutionary biologist Jochen Wolf. He and his research team have now analyzed the genetic basis for the division of European crows into two populations. Indeed, the results of the study demonstrate that the old saying “birds of a feather flock together” really does apply in this instance: The only genes that differ significantly between the two variants are those involved in determining the color of the plumage. This suggests that each form preferentially mates with partners of the same color as themselves. The new findings appear in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. Ludwig Maximilian, “Researchers study corvid speciation in restricted zone where crow hybrids thrive” at Phys.org

In short, they are not separate species; they are “in the process of speciation,” which means that the process could be reversed at any time. Or maybe was never really happening.

The natural changes that would cause the populations to remingle might not even be very significant.

This story raises a question: If it weren’t for Darwin and On the Origin of Species, would it be easier to develop a system that makes better sense of these ecology-driven changes in life forms? You’d think, these days, ecology would be treated as a more important factor in what we see.

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See also: Is the Australian wild dog, the dingo, really a “unique species”? They want to protect the dingo, mainly for Australian cultural reasons. Fine. Why not just admit that instead of cooking up some nonsense about “speciation”?

Carrion crows
crow/CCO Public Domain
Bob (and weave) O'Hara takes umbrage to Andrew stating "Sounds like a whole lotta sub-not accomplishing anything." Bob (and weave) tries to turn the tables and asks, "can you support that assertion by reviewing the work in evolutionary ecology & behavioural ecology, and showing that nothing is being accomplished?" But since Bob (and weave) has ZERO examples showing where unguided material processes can create even a single gene and/or protein, then it is simply preposterous for Bob to presuppose that unguided material processes are responsible for ecologies or behaviors in the first place. Much less presupposing that anything of any real significance can ever be had from "evolutionary ecology & behavioural ecology" where unguided material processes are apparently presupposed to be true from the outset by Bob. In short, Bob lives in a imaginary evolutionary castle in the air that has no foundation.
Darwin vs. Microbes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntxc4X9Zt-I The Microbial Engines That Drive Earth’s Biogeochemical Cycles - Falkowski 2008 Excerpt: Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides. - Paul G. Falkowski - Professor Geological Sciences - Rutgers https://tos.org/oceanography/assets/docs/22-2_falkowski.pdf Geobiologist Noffke Reports Signs of Life that Are 3.48 Billion Years Old - 11/11/13 Excerpt: the mats woven of tiny microbes we see today covering tidal flats were also present as life was beginning on Earth. The mats, which are colonies of cyanobacteria, can cause unusual textures and formations in the sand beneath them. Noffke has identified 17 main groups of such textures caused by present-day microbial mats, and has found corresponding structures in geological formations dating back through the ages. http://www.odu.edu/about/odu-publications/insideodu/2013/11/11/topstory1 Interdependent biogeochemical complexity involved in ancient 'Microbial Mats', i.e. 'terraforming' the ancient earth so that it would eventually become hospitable for higher creatures such as man,,, Biologically mediated cycles for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and iron – image of interdependent ‘biogeochemical’ web http://www.sciencemag.org/content/320/5879/1034/F2.large.jpg
Dr. Ross points out that the extremely long amount of time it took to prepare a suitable place for technologically advanced humans to exist in this universe, for the relatively short period of time that we can exist on this planet, is actually a point of evidence that argues strongly for Theism:
Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency. Moreover the physical and biological conditions necessary to support an intelligent civilized species do not last indefinitely. They are subject to continuous change: the Sun continues to brighten, Earth’s rotation period lengthens, Earth’s plate tectonic activity declines, and Earth’s atmospheric composition varies. In just 10 million years or less, Earth will lose its ability to sustain human life. In fact, this estimate of the human habitability time window may be grossly optimistic. In all likelihood, a nearby supernova eruption, a climatic perturbation, a social or environmental upheaval, or the genetic accumulation of negative mutations will doom the species to extinction sometime sooner than twenty thousand years from now. http://christiangodblog.blogspot.com/2006_12_01_archive.html Life and Earth History Reveal God's Miraculous Preparation for Humans - Hugh Ross, PhD – video (2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Y496NYnm8
Related note:
The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis – Michael J. Denton – February 25, 2013 Summary (page 11) Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves. These include the thermal properties of water, its low viscosity, the gaseous nature of oxygen and CO2 at ambient temperatures, the inertness of oxygen at ambient temperatures, and the bicarbonate buffer, with its anomalous pKa value and the elegant means of acid-base regulation it provides for air-breathing organisms. Some of their properties are irrelevant to other classes of organisms or even maladaptive. It is very hard to believe there could be a similar suite of fitness for advanced carbon-based life forms. If carbon-based life is all there is, as seems likely, then the design of any active complex terrestrial being would have to closely resemble our own. Indeed the suite of properties of water, oxygen, and CO2 together impose such severe constraints on the design and functioning of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems that their design, even down to the details of capillary and alveolar structure can be inferred from first principles. For complex beings of high metabolic rate, the designs actualized in complex Terran forms are all that can be. There are no alternative physiological designs in the domain of carbon-based life that can achieve the high metabolic activity manifest in man and other higher organisms. http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2013.1/BIO-C.2013.1
Bob O'H, I said 'sounds like'. Now, if you want to clear up my misapprehension of evolutionary ecology & behavioural ecology, you are welcome to submit some examples of what you think are accomplishments in these areas. Andrew asauber
Asauber - can you support that assertion by reviewing the work in evolutionary ecology & behavioural ecology, and showing that nothing is being accomplished? My guess is you won't. Bob O'H
"There’s a whole sub-field called evolutionary ecology" "there’s a sub-field for that too" Sounds like a whole lotta sub-not accomplishing anything. Andrew asauber
This story raises a question: If it weren’t for Darwin and On the Origin of Species, would it be easier to develop a system that makes better sense of these ecology-driven changes in life forms? You’d think, these days, ecology would be treated as a more important factor in what we see.
It is. There's a whole sub-field called evolutionary ecology. I'm not sure where it ties into the crows, though: what's described is behavioural. Don't worry, there's a sub-field for that too. Bob O'H

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