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How things have changed! Even Darwin’s Finches’ defenders are spooked

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Remember the iconic Darwin’s finches rattling through the textbooks, proving Darwinism? Well,

Few beside historians know about the crisis of evolution in the late 19th century continuing into the early 20th century. At the time, most intellectuals had been convinced of evolution in some form, but critics of Darwin’s natural selection were many. Neil Thomas writes about that period in his new book, Taking Leave of Darwin. Even before Darwin died in 1882, he was feeling the pressure of critics against his theory and was relying more on the Lamarckian notions he had tried to supplant. Doubts about natural selection increased well after the rediscovery of Mendel’s laws of heredity. Finally in the 1930s the “Neo-Darwinists” breathed a sigh of relief when they found a way to incorporate Mendelism. Their relief led to strong confidence in Darwinian evolution that roared into overconfidence at the Darwin Centennial and still reigns today. New findings are unraveling that confidence.

More scientists are realizing that organisms have other ways to inherit traits. In 2017, some of those methods were introduced here. Last month, Emily Reeves categorized some of the sources of genetic change. In her table, “random copy errors” and “chemically induced mutagenesis” were only two of them. At the CELS conference in June, engineers and biologists mooted some cutting-edge ideas of internal reprogramming by organisms enabling them to adapt to changing environments. That almost sounds Lamarckian: if an organism can “learn” adaptations and pass them on, is that “inheritance of acquired characteristics” due to “use and disuse”? Whatever it is, it is not unguided variation in the sense Darwin taught. Any process that shares existing information is also anti-Darwinian. That includes horizontal gene transfer (HGT), hybridization and introgression.

Evolution News, “Non-Mendelian Inheritance Undermines Neo-Darwinism” at Evolution News and Science Today (August 13, 2021)

More remarkable yet:

Of all things, Darwin’s finches are coming up for debate again. Lifetime finchologists Peter and Rosemary Grant just published a paper in PNAS that conjures up “Morphological ghosts of introgression in Darwin’s finch populations.” The ghosts spooked them.

The ghost of hybridization is scaring them into changing their view of finch evolution by natural selection. The information on beak size from an extinct species apparently is showing up in some living species. This can only be due to information-sharing between the islands. If this happens in one of the most famous icons of evolution, where else is it occurring?

Evolution News, “Non-Mendelian Inheritance Undermines Neo-Darwinism” at Evolution News and Science Today (August 13, 2021)

If even Peter and Rosemary Grant must adapt, something is changing for sure… Specifically Darwinian speciation of Darwin’s finches was their claim to fame.

And don’t miss the Borg:Nature reports that “Massive DNA ‘Borg’ structures perplex scientists.” These unexpected structures appear to be a library of information accessible to microbes.”

This is a great time to be a recovering Darwinist. The world is much more interesting than that.

See also: Darwin’s finches, not a typical example of evolution at all

and

What we learned when we talked to the fossils

9 Replies to “How things have changed! Even Darwin’s Finches’ defenders are spooked

  1. 1
    Fasteddious says:

    Darwin’s Finches: one of the earliest examples of micro-evolution. Now seen as simple reversible variations among populations of essentially the same species, given inter-group reproduction. Not much to see at all, and certainly not evidence for macroevolution.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    If even Peter and Rosemary Grant must adapt, something is changing for sure… Specifically Darwinian speciation of Darwin’s finches was their claim to fame.

    Not true. They said it took 32 million years before the finches could no longer inner breed.

    They pointed out that the changes observed in the finches were epigenetic and not genetic. They admitted this in 2009.

    Any process that shares existing information is also anti-Darwinian. That includes horizontal gene transfer (HGT), hybridization and introgression.

    Also not true. These are sources of variation but whether hybridization or introgression are between different species is debatable because the lack of any concrete definition of a species. The Darwinian process is

    (1) mutation/variation – HGT is variation
    (2) inheritance
    (3) natural selection.

    All the above happens but only leads to trivial differences between species over time.

  3. 3
    Querius says:

    It’s my understanding that the variation in the beak shapes of Darwin’s finches is due to epigenetic switches that manifest the advantageous trait in the very next generation. Genetic variability is crucial for their survival in changing climates.

    It’s also my understanding that many other species have a reduced genetic diversity to the point of a substantially increased risk of extinction as a result.

    -Q

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    This can only be due to information-sharing between the islands. If this happens in one of the most famous icons of evolution, where else is it occurring?

    We know house sparrows do the same thing. Ans we know how they do it. They use this amazing mechanism called flight.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Now Bob O’H is relegated to quote mining. And he is supposed to be a bright spot for evos.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Any process that shares existing information is also anti-Darwinian. That includes horizontal gene transfer (HGT), hybridization and introgression.

    And then, it’s always great to have some comedy relief in the comments where we’re assured that HGT is due to flight. Haha.

    To be assured by a Darwinist that flight also presumably evolved due to flight is actually about par for the course in their support for an obsolete racist 19th century idea now promoted as “fact.”

    -Q

  7. 7
    Bob O'H says:

    Querius – I wasn’t responding to that comment, was I? I was explicitly responding to the comment about information sharing between islands. You know, the bit I highlighted.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    Earthy to Bob O’H- you explicitly quote mined the OP and then commented on your quote mine. Also the point of the finch evolution was supposed to be that they were allegedly ISOLATED populations.

  9. 9
    Querius says:

    ET @8,

    Also the point of the finch evolution was supposed to be that they were allegedly ISOLATED populations.

    Good question!

    -Q

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