The argument against Behe’s characterization of the bacterial flagella as demonstrating “irreducible complexity” has been attacked by Nick Matzke and others on the grounds that the flagellar proteins have simply been “coopted” from already existing flagellar proteins.
A recently discovered organism found in “a little lake 30 kilometer south of Oslo in Norway” has caused a stir. An analysis of its genome has found that it has almost, if not completely, nothing in common with any known organisms. It is seen as a new ‘branch’ on the putative “Tree of Life.”
Quoting from the article:
When researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway compared its genes with all other known species in the world, they saw that the protozoan did not fit on any of the main branches of the tree of life. The protozoan is not a fungus, alga, parasite, plant or animal.
“We have found an unknown branch of the tree of life that lives in this lake. It is unique! So far we know of no other group of organisms that descend from closer to the roots of the tree of life than this species. It can be used as a telescope into the primordial micro-cosmos,” says an enthusiastic associate professor, Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi, head of the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo.
Nevertheless, we’re told in the Science Daily article that:
The protozoan from Ås has four flagella. The family it belongs to is somewhere between excavates, the oldest group with two flagella, and some amoebae, which is the oldest group with only one flagellum.
Now, although scientists have chosen (why?) to call this organism “The Protozoa,” it actually belongs at the base of all eukaryotes, which means that it is not really a “protozoa”, and hence likely does not share so-called “common descent” with bacteria.
The family tree of the protozoan from the lake near Ås starts at the root of the eukaryote species.
“The micro-organism is among the oldest, currently living eukaryote organisms we know of. It evolved around one billion years ago, plus or minus a few hundred million years. It gives us a better understanding of what early life on Earth looked like.,” Kamran says to the research magazine Apollon.
Remembering that this organism is: (1) not a protozoa (despite the name it’s been given—again, why this name?), (2) has four flagella, and (3) has no known genetic sequences that match up with any already known organisms(!!), then we have an instance of existing flagellum that can in no way–at least right now—be explained on the usual bases of “exaptation” and “cooption.” So, is this really “Irreducible Complexity”?
I think it makes a strong argument in its favor.