Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity
Max-Planck-Institut for Plant Breeding Research, Carl-von-LinnÃƒÂ©-weg 10
50829 Cologne, Germany
In spite of an enormous amount of genetic flux in plants and animals, the basic genetic processes and major molecular traits are believed to have persisted essentially unchanged for more than three-and-a-half billion years, and the molecular mechanisms of animal ontogenesis for more than one billion years. Moreover, systematics is based on virtually constant characters in space and time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ otherwise this important branch of biology would not be possible. Additionally, the fossil record displays a regular pattern of abrupt appearances of new life forms (instead of their arrival by innumerable small steps in a Darwinian manner), followed by the constancy of higher systematic characters often from the genus level upwards, in many cases succeeded by an equally abrupt disappearance of the major life forms, which have died out after different periods of time. As the doyen of the synthetic theory, Ernst Mayr of Harvard, has just recently admitted, this constancy (stasis) of life forms in the face of tremendously dynamic genomes is one of the greatest problems of contemporary evolutionary biology and demands an explanation. In agreement with several researchers, I refer to arguments and facts supporting the view that irreducible complexity (Behe) in combination with specified complexity (Dembski) characterize basic biological systems and that these hypotheses might point to a non-gradualistic solution of the problem.
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