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Is “species” an empty concept now?

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one of studied species/Mark-Oliver Rödel et. al.

In “One bat species turns out to be seven” (as a result of genetic analysis), readers were urged, “Don’t forget how much of the whole concept of a ‘species’ is obscured and vitiated by the hunt for observed Darwinian speciation.” A recent article seems to make that point quite nicely by accident.

From ScienceDaily:

Due to the fact that, when external characters are used, only size is useful to distinguish these frogs the scientists employed additional characters to determine species affiliations. One the one hand, they used genetics, and, on the other, advertisement calls of different populations. Male frogs have to attract their females via species specific calls, so call characteristics (e.g. duration, frequency) reliably tell whether animals belong to one or several species.

The two sets of populations have been previously declared as belonging to the same species based on morphological, meaning external, similarities. With their work the researchers from Berlin proved their expectations right, and revealing they were in fact working with four and not two species: two different sets of one large and one small specie, which live in West and Central Africa respectively.

In order to facilitate other researchers the verification of these results, not only genetic but also acoustic data are publicly available and the latter can be downloaded from the animal sound archive of the Museum für Naturkunde.

Species are the basis for all biological questions. Therefore, they are not only important for taxonomists but also a reference parameter for physiologists, ecologists or conservationists. Thus it is of central importance to be able to distinguish whether animals of two different populations belong to one or two distinct species. A clear showcase is an example, which was examined in a recent publication by zoologist from Berlin and Geneva.

So species are the basis for all biological questions but we actually can’t tell how many there are. (It gets way worse than that, but that’s a tale for another day.)

For now, early in my many years’ investigation into the issues around evolution, I ran into a pleasant, friendly Christian Darwinist, of the sort who would hang out at BioLogos today. He allowed me to know that taxonomists (people who classify species) could be divided into “lumpers” and “splitters,” laughing about the fact that depending on which the taxonomist was, there could be ten times as many species.

I said nothing, but wasn’t laughing. Species, I learned, can be classified by calls, by genetics, by body shape, by whether they interbreed and produce fertile offspring, or any combo of the above. …

What if we applied the same approach to chemistry? To deciding what an element is? Some will insist that elements are, by their nature, simpler than life forms. True, of course, but that’s only part of the story.

We could start by asking whether the concept of a “species” is on the wrong track. Maybe the world is so fuzzy below the level of the genus (and bound to stay that way because it is the locus of change) that another approach to classification should be sought.

That won’t happen soon. The chronic itch, punctuated by moments of uproar (call it the Darwin’s finches syndrome), to find good evidence for explicitly Darwinian methods of speciation likely vitiates any attempt to create at least some order. The current chaos is pleasant and comfortable because it multiplies the instances in which one can point and shriek, See! See! Darwin at work!

And  hear chants of Aha! and see all the pom poms waving in the science media — We have found an instance of natural selection acting on random mutation producing a new species. Look, look, the females of this group will not mate any more with the males of that group, so inevitably, over time …. .

And these cries are periodically drowned out by Darwin’s trolls bawling that there are innumerable observed instances of Darwinian speciation, not that they can cite many that are not under fire. But it doesn’t really matter.

Darwinism’s chief role is to create enough smoke and noise to prevent most people from drawing the correct conclusion: The precise locus where it is to be proven – speciation – is itself in need of serious and searching question.

– O’Leary for News

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Tree frog calls (not necessarily species studied, just general idea)

OT: Ancient shrimp-like animals had 'modern' hearts and blood vessels - April 7, 2014 Excerpt: An international team,, has discovered the earliest known cardiovascular system, and the first to clearly show a sophisticated system complete with heart and blood vessels, in fossilized remains of an extinct marine creature that lived over half a billion years ago. The finding,, shows that even the earliest creatures had internal organizational systems that strongly resemble those found in their modern descendants.,,, The 3-inch-long fossil was entombed in fine dustlike particles – now preserved as fine-grain mudstone - during the Cambrian Period 520 million years ago in what today is the Yunnan province in China. http://phys.org/news/2014-04-ancient-shrimp-like-animals-modern-hearts.html bornagain77
Robert, to which "kind" do bats belong, and how do you know? Mung
There are no species. All there is IS kinds. Everything else is change within kinds. From any mechanism. Originally there were so many differences within kinds, after the flood, that today they only can say there are species because of extinction and poverty of environment. otherwise there would be thousands od species as they score it. Robert Byers
As one species evolves into another species is there any point in between at which it is not a species? Mung
Heck there has been one organism that has been classified as 2 different species- the Axolotl. It could reproduce without reaching its adult form. It had been stymied by the lack of iodine in its waters. But put in the right environment it realizes its full developmental plan. Joe
In Jewish law (relating to a prohibition against mating two different species), two animals are considered to be the same specifies if they can produce viable, fertile offspring together. This seems to me to be a reasonable, objective definition of species. conceptualinertia
Darwin's finches are all the same species. They come into contact, interbreed from time to time and produce fertile offspring. So what if their beak shapes are a little different and they tend to live on different islands? How come a Great Dane and a Chihuahua are considered the same species? Physically they are reproductivley isolated. I guess through artificial insemination they could produce fertile offspring. How come a wolf (canis lupus) and a Labrador retriever (canis familiaris) are considered to be two separate species? They will happily hump and create fertile offspring. Long ago East Asian people were considered by Europeans to be a separate species. (Darwin thought this). That's a racist idea now. My family is a Eurasian mix of people and we happily hump and create fertile offspring. Darwin's explanation for evolution rests on the concept of "species", a word that has no real definition whatsoever. StuartHarris
...two different sets of one large and one small specie...
- specie is a separate word that means coin money, not the singular version of species. species - Wiktionary
Design predicates intelligence. Period. No 'ifs or 'buts' about it. Their 'ifs and buts' are always tolerated, as if the matter was one of opinion. Our team are like liberal school-teachers, giving prizes to everyone on Sports Day. It's insane. But... When a lunatic carries a gun, he has to be deferred to in some wee measure, in order eventually get him into a straight-jacket. And yes, ppolish, Dawkins' conceding that everything in the universe must, in fact, have been designed by an intelligence, by downplaying it as merely an 'appearance of having been designed', must be one of the most hilarious gaffs ever made in any kind of public debate. 'Empirical: Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic' - Oxford Dictionaries. I mean they are fanatical about empirical evidence,* when it suits their own curiously muddle-headed purposes. Although it is always in connection with the conclusions of the theists on matters where metaphysics and physics are mutually supportive, particularly, with the conclusions of Christians - but inimical to their own evasive, 'meat-head' contortions, where Evolution is concerned. However, while I have on a number of occasions and at various venues mocked their haplessness in confusing counter-intuition with the counter-rationality of a priori paradoxes, mysteries, I was again reminded of just how sad they are, in their determination to outwardly comply with Einstein's strictures concerning the proper pursuit of scientific knowledge and understanding. Here is what Einstein said about the intuition and reason: 'The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.' Imagine transposing 'intuition' for 'reason', so brazenly. Of course, Academia hasn't changed in that regard one iota, because like footballers and their supporters, being reflections of their society, post-Cristian academics have kept abreast of this zeitgeist with awe-inspirng fidelity. Axel
Look Darwinists, Design does not HAVE to mean God. Design can arise from Natural Teleological sources. But denying Design, or calling it the "appearance of Design", is no longer viable. ppolish
Are specific mating calls the appearance of design or the real thing? I'm going with real thing. Rational, logical, occams razor-like. ppolish
Are you a human or a chimp? Or are you happy to lump the two together? I think there is probably something to this species idea... (Oh,and what's Darwinian speciation?) wd400

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