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Detailed bat and dolphin convergence in echolocation

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Bats and dolphins were found to use independently develop echolocation using the same genes. And get this:

Joe Parker, also at Queen Mary, University of London, compared the bat genetic sequences to those from more than a dozen other mammals, including the bottlenose dolphin. He focused on the 2300 genes that exist in single copies in all the bats, the dolphin, and at least five other mammals. He evaluated how similar each gene was to its counterparts in various bats and the dolphin. The analysis revealed that 200 genes had independently changed in the same ways, Parker, Rossiter and their colleagues report today in Nature. Several of the genes are involved in hearing, but the others have no clear link to echolocation so far; some genes with shared changes are important for vision, but most have functions that are unknown.

And what about the effect of all this convergence on unquestionable assumptions about common descent?

No family trees are entirely safe from these misleading effects, Castoe says. “And we currently have no way to deal with this.” Elizabeth Pennisi, “Bats and Dolphins Evolved Echolocation in Same Way” at Science

… sound of whistling…

See also: Move over, mammals. Spiders provide milk for their young too.


Evolution appears to converge on goals—but in Darwinian terms, is that possible?

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10 Replies to “Detailed bat and dolphin convergence in echolocation

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    “we currently have no way to deal with this”

    Ah, come on. So the Designer reused some parts of the Corvette to make the Camaro. How friggin’ obvious has this gotta get? The animals are not (closely) related, but they share some internal parts. Ya want to SERIOUSLY argue that this happened “by accident”??

    Once you accept that the systems and subsystems are designed, all the little problems go away. Then you can just sit there and marvel at the ingenuity.

    But for me, the amazing part is that both bats and dolphins appeared POOF!, without ancestors. And the original production models were good enough to last 30 MILLION years without the need for any significant redesign. And THAT is, ah, “super-human”: no human can design a system that works like that.

  2. 2
    es58 says:

    If this is a science then it seems there should be a way to calculate the probability of 200 genes going through the same mutations to get a sense of how likely this is.
    Does anyone think bats and dolphins live in singular enough environments to experience similar selection pressures? And do the other dolphins that don’t have these features live under different conditions making them less likely to acquire them than the bats

  3. 3
    PeterA says:


    “If this is a science then it seems there should be a way to calculate the probability of 200 genes going through the same mutations to get a sense of how likely this is.”

    “to get a sense of how likely this is” ?

    Hey, very likely, isn’t it? 😉

    C’mon, gimme a break.

    “independently changed in the same ways”?

    Wow! Is that “luck” or what?

    Had those bat/dolphin genes gambled in LV, all the casinos would have gone completely bankrupt in one night.

    And that’s very likely.

    Yeah, right.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    If odds are 1 in 100 per gene, odds of 200 are 1 in 10^20000. Just to give a quick insight on chains of independent things. This points to code library and re-use.

  5. 5
    Jammer says:

    “It happened, therefor, the probability of it happening is 1.
    Nothing to see here, folks.”


  6. 6
    martin_r says:

    Biologists invented a word for it – it is called ‘convergent evolution’ – the independent origin of the same / similar features.

    Another miracles are:

    Myrmecochory – seed dispersal by ants – 147 independent origins !!!!


    C4 photosynthesis – 61 independent origins

    There are tons of other examples …

  7. 7
    Pearlman says:

    ‘One common designer/creator is attested to by ‘convergent evolution’ ‘

  8. 8
    Mimus says:

    This paper is five years old, turns out this is about the rate of convergence you’d expect by chance, rather than something tuning both lineages to echolocation.

  9. 9
    FourFaces says:

    The odds of any genetic sequence appearing by chance is 1 in 4^N, where N is the number of base pairs in the sequence. In other words, Darwinian evolution is a Himalayan-size mountain of bovine excrement.

  10. 10
    Mimus says:

    Why is one the numerator there?

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