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The ferns that evolution forgot: virtually unchanged after 180 million years!


Royal ferns haven’t undergone any significant changes since the Jurassic, according to a report by Pete Spotts in the Christian Science Monitor, titled, Fossil fern: not much to show for at least 180 million years of evolution (21 March 2014):

A newly described bit of fossil fern, reported in the current issue of the journal Science, marks the first time researchers can make direct comparisons at the level of individual plant cells and the chromosomes they contain.

It verifies that the genome of royal ferns has remained unchanged for at least the past 180 million years.

Royal ferns first emerged in the Southern Hemisphere more than 250 million years ago, researchers say. Fossil specimens dating to 220 million years ago show structural similarities with today’s species. In addition, information gleaned from today’s plants suggests that their genetic makeup has remained remarkably stable over geologic time.

Using three types of microscopes to analyze the newly described rhizome, Dr. McLoughlin and colleagues Benjamin Bomfluer and Vivi Vajda were able to image cells in a variety of developmental stages, as well as the fossil remains of the gel-like cytoplasm that filled the cells and the chromosomes that emerged in them. Features in the cells are virtually identical to those in living royal ferns, the team found, leading to the conclusion that they have remained evolutionarily dormant for most of their history on Earth.

A report from Lund University, titled, Unique Chromosomes Preserved in Swedish Fossil, describes the techniques that were used by researchers to identify cell nuclei, cell membranes and even chromosomes from ferns living 180 million years ago. The result? No observable change:

Researchers from Lund University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History have made a unique discovery in a well-preserved fern that lived 180 million years ago. Both undestroyed cell nuclei and individual chromosomes have been found in the plant fossil, thanks to its sudden burial in a volcanic eruption…

“The preservation happened so quickly that some cells have even been preserved during different stages of cell division”, said Vivi Vajda, Professor of Geology at Lund University.

Thanks to the circumstances of the fern’s sudden death, the sensitive components of the cells have been preserved. The researchers have found cell nuclei, cell membranes and even individual chromosomes. Such structures are extremely rare finds in fossils, observed Vivi Vajda…

Living representatives of this family are very similar in appearance to the Jurassic fossil, which suggests that only limited evolutionary change has taken place over the millennia. By comparing the size of the cell nuclei in the fossilised plant with its living relatives, the researchers have been able to show that the royal ferns have outstanding evolutionary stability.

An IFLScience report by Janet Fang, titled, Royal ferns are “living fossils,” unchanged since the Jurassic (March 21, 2014) spells out what this means at the genetic level:

Let’s step back for a minute. You might remember the various stages of mitosis (prophase, metaphase, and so on), but what we often forget is that about 90 percent of the time, cells are in interphase. That’s when it copies its chromosomes (which are kept within the nucleus) in preparation for cell division, or reproduction.

Using at least three different types of microscopy, a team led by Benjamin Bomfleur from the Swedish Museum of Natural History analyzed the fossil stem, measuring the dimensions of interphase nuclei in the fern’s fossilized pith (the core) and the cortical parenchyma cells (a type of unspecified cell that differentiates into other plant cell types).

They found that they match those of its living relativeO. cinnamomeum — very closely. The ancient Korsaröd fern has essentially the same number of chromosomes and DNA content in the Early Jurassic period as Osmundaceae ferns do today. Talk about evolutionary stasis.

This interpretation is confirmed by the authors of the study in Science, who described the genomes of the fossil ferns in an article titled, Fossilized Nuclei and Chromosomes Reveal 180 Million Years of Genomic Stasis in Royal Ferns by Benjamin Bomfleur et al. (Science, 21 March 2014: Vol. 343 no. 6177 pp. 1376-1377, DOI: 10.1126/science.1249884):

Rapidly permineralized fossils can provide exceptional insights into the evolution of life over geological time. Here, we present an exquisitely preserved, calcified stem of a royal fern (Osmundaceae) from Early Jurassic lahar deposits of Sweden in which authigenic mineral precipitation from hydrothermal brines occurred so rapidly that it preserved cytoplasm, cytosol granules, nuclei, and even chromosomes in various stages of cell division. Morphometric parameters of interphase nuclei match those of extant Osmundaceae, indicating that the genome size of these reputed “living fossils” has remained unchanged over at least 180 million years — a paramount example of evolutionary stasis.

What are the implications for macroevolution?

In a recent post of mine, I drew readers’ attention to paleontologist Professor Donald Prothero (pictured above, courtesy of Wikipedia) who candidly admitted that he had absolutely no idea what makes living things stop evolving for millions of years, in an article titled, Stephen Jay Gould: Did He Bring Paleontology to the “High Table”? (Philosophy in Theory and Biology, Volume 1, December 2009). Writing as a paleontologist, Prothero expresses his frustration that “neontologists” – biologists who only study living things which are alive today – remain blissfully unaware of the fact that ecosystems can undergo drastic changes over the course of geological time, while the species comprising those ecosystems don’t undergo any evolutionary change at all. Prothero was utterly baffled as to why macroevolution grinds to a halt in these cases:

By the mid-1980s, a consensus had emerged within the paleontological community that nearly all metazoans [i.e. animals – VJT] (vertebrate and invertebrate, marine and terrestrial) show stasis and punctuated speciation through millions of years of geologic time and strata, with only minor possible examples of gradual anagenetic change in size (Geary 2009; Princehouse 2009; Hallam 2009; Jablonski 2000, 2008). That has been the accepted view of paleontologists for more than 20 years now.

Yet one would never know this by looking at the popular accounts of the debate written by non-paleontologists, who still think it is a controversial and unsettled question. Even more surprising is the lack of response, or complete misinterpretation of its implications, by evolutionary biologists. Since the famous battle at the 1980 macroevolution conference in Chicago, neontologists have persisted in misunderstanding the fundamental reasons why paleontologists regard punctuated equilibrium as important. Many have claimed that people like Simpson (1944) and others were thinking along the same lines, or that gradual change on the neontological time scale would look punctuated on a geologic time scale. They miss the point of the most important insight to emerge from the debate: the prevalence of stasis. Before 1972, paleontologists did try to overemphasize examples of gradual evolution, and they expected organisms to gradually change through geologic time, as they do on neontological time scales. But the overwhelming conclusion of the data collected since 1972 shows that gradual, slow, adaptive change to environments almost never occurs in the fossil record. The prevalence of stasis is still, in my mind, the biggest conundrum that paleontology has posed for evolutionary biology, especially when we can document whole faunas that show absolutely no change despite major changes in their environments (Prothero and Heaton 1996; Prothero 1999; Prothero et al. 2009). That fact alone rules out the “stabilizing selection” cop-out, such as the effort by Estes and Arnold (2007) to invoke stabilizing selection to explain stasis, with no mention of the fact that the fossil record shows much stasis in the face of climatic change. For years now paleontologists and neontologists alike have struggled to find (unsuccessfully, in my opinion) a good explanation for why virtually all organisms are static over millions of years despite huge differences in their adaptive regime. be good examples of short-term microevolutionary change, but they simply do not address what the fossil record has shown for over a century.

Professor Prothero proposed species sorting as a possible explanation for why one species will suddenly appear in a small population. Wikipedia defines the term as follows:

Species sorting is a theory which states that each species will eventually have its own ecological niche as two species cannot occupy the same niche for an unlimited amount of time without extinction. One will be more competitive than the other species. Therefore, if two species with the same niche were left in the same area, eventually one of the species would evolve and participate in resource partitioning.

Let’s go back to fossil ferns. As we’ve seen, they haven’t evolved for 180 million years. What was happening 180 million years ago? The supercontinent of Pangaea was breaking up into Laurasia and Gondwana. Volcanic activity was common. The first birds, lizards and therian mammals were appearing, and coralline algae appeared in the oceans for the first time. Clearly there were changes occurring. Which prompts me to ask: why don’t we see a diversification of niches, with new kinds of ferns evolving in those niches? Why do we observe stasis instead?

In my previous post, I concluded: if scientists currently lack an understanding of what makes macroevolution stop, then how can they possibly claim to understand what makes it go?

Professor Moran responds

That kind of argument didn’t impress Professor Larry Moran, over at the Sandwalk. In a post titled, What do Intelligent Design Creationists really think about macroevolution? (March 20, 2014), he replied that evolution still continues at the genetic level in a population, even during long periods of apparent stasis when evolution ceases to occur at the morphological level:

You can’t stop evolution. The rate at which large populations change from one morphological form to another can be very slow but that does not mean they aren’t changing in diversity as new alleles increase in frequency and old ones are lost. From time to time, new morphological variants may become fixed in the population and evolution becomes visible in the fossil record. These types of change are more likely to occur during speciation events when the new daughter population (species) is quite small and rapid fixation of rare alleles is more likely. That’s what punctuated equilbirium is all about.

There’s no great mystery here. I think I understand what’s going on. Evolutionary biologists argue about whether punctuated equilibria describes a very common mode of macroevolutionary change or one that’s very rare but none of them think that changes in the allele frequencies of a population comes to a grinding halt during periods of stasis.

By now, I think we can see why this reply won’t wash. As we’ve seen, the evidence available indicates that not only the morphology, but also the genome of royal ferns has remained unchanged (as far as scientists can tell) for a period of 180 million years. Let’s look at the relevant quotes from the science reports again:

the genome size of these reputed “living fossils” has remained unchanged over at least 180 million years — a paramount example of evolutionary stasis.

The ancient Korsaröd fern has essentially the same number of chromosomes and DNA content in the Early Jurassic period as Osmundaceae ferns do today. Talk about evolutionary stasis.

It verifies that the genome of royal ferns has remained unchanged for at least the past 180 million years

Features in the cells are virtually identical to those in living royal ferns, the team found, leading to the conclusion that they have remained evolutionarily dormant for most of their history on Earth.

So again I ask: why the 180-million-year genetic stasis?

I’ll let Professor Moran have the last word:

I hope I’m not being unkind if I suggest that Vincent Torely (sic) is the one who doesn’t understand what’s going on. He is an IDiot, after all.

Someone appears to believe in an awful lot of invisible evolution.

Blind watchmaker evolution can't even explain the existence of ferns... Joe
At what point does the overwhelming occurrence of stasis in the fossil record work against the Darwinian narrative?
Never. You see, evolution just is changes in gene frequencies, and that is always taking place. Mung
At what point does the overwhelming occurrence of stasis in the fossil record work against the Darwinian narrative? More recent examples of stasis: http://crev.info/2014/03/fossil-facts-and-fantasies/ Here is the wrap up of the article:
There are facts (the fossils as observed), and there are narratives into which they are forced. Learn to keep them apart.
There is nothing about any of these “brute fact” fossils that serves the Darwin narrative; indeed, they militate against it. Early complexity (e.g., the ostracod), extraordinary stasis (the fern), and the strange mixtures of fossils (tar pits), are not what Darwin would have predicted. The millions-of-years dates become increasingly absurd when you think of organisms that Darwin claimed would be in a continuously fluid state of evolution turn out to be identical to their living counterparts for hundreds of millions of years. Add to that the exceptional preservation of many of these fossils after tens or hundreds of millions of years. How can you believe such things? If we had not been indoctrinated into the moyboy lingo for so long, such notions would appear incredible. Philosophically, time becomes the evolutionists’ closet, as big as a warehouse, in which to hide their skeletons. Shubin still doesn’t mention the tetrapod trackways that precede his fishapod. Let him find a Cambrian-explosion fish with a skull. Bring it on. That will hurt the Darwin narrative even more. There’s an inverse relationship going on, you see: as the Cambrian explodes, Darwinism implodes. tjguy
OT: Dr. Fuz Rana - the Cambrian Explosion - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rexwLVCjzc#t=270 bornagain77
Everybody, iD too, is drawing biological conclusions from biological data points, fossils, that only have meaning AFTER the geological deposition of the fossil is accepted. There is nO BIOLOGY going on here folks. YEC says so. this dumb plant is no different then the rest. just the dumb relative was found in a deposition event called the flood. it should be a CLUE that there was no change, very unlikely if evolution is doing its glory, because there is such thing as changes from selection on mutations from bugs to buffalos. Evolution is not true and will not be found to be true upon smarter investigation. A prediction. Robert Byers
“I concluded: if scientists currently lack an understanding of what makes macroevolution stop, then how can they possibly claim to understand what makes it go?”
Sure it's easy for macroevolution to stop. All you need is for one of these mechanisms to stop: 1. Reproduction 2. Natural selection 3. Death 4. Mutations 5. Environmental change The Darwinists that I've talked to in the past choose 5, that the environment inexplicably (and magically) stops changing for millions of years. The (circular) argument is that this is what "musta" happened. Lately, I've noticed a move toward 4, that the mutation rate remains constant, but the changes that were caused "musta" been morphologically invisible. More magic. Again, Darwinism can be used to explain anything, but reliably predicts nothing. -Q Querius
Jon Garvey:
The obviously conclusion to be drawn if genomic evolution has been continuing unabated for 180m years without significant change in morphology is that genetic change has precious little to do with form – and form was the issue that evolution was invoked to explain.
The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought: Roots of Evo-Devo Mung
Allen MacNeill:
The neo-darwinian theory of evolution (also called the “modern synthesis”) isn’t based on chromosome morphology, it’s based on changes in allele frequencies in populations over time. These ferns aren’t the only organisms that have apparently gone through immensely long periods of evolutionary stasis.
And some times gene frequencies in populations just don't change. Is that what you mean by stasis? Or is it that sometimes evolution happens, and sometimes it doesn't. Or is it that sometimes gene frequencies change and you can tell because, well, things seem to have changed. But if sometimes things don't seem to have changed, evolution still took place because gene frequencies always change. Evolution happens. Except when it doesn't. And this is a fact, Fact, FACT? Mung
"I concluded: if scientists currently lack an understanding of what makes macroevolution stop, then how can they possibly claim to understand what makes it go?" But at the end of the day, what changes? You admitted macroevolution when you agreed for the common descent of apes and man! The only logical thing you can say is "Yes, it happens. Yes, I believe it happened, but so far we don't have all the ins and outs figured out" HD
Allen: Don't you think Moran is talking mostly about neutral genetic drift (NGD)? With a known mutation rate within genomes, nothing can stop this. Yet, of course, the critical notion is that these are "neutral" mutations. One would expect that if they are truly neutral, then they could change all they like, and for aeons of time, and morphology is not going to change. In this sense, Moran can say that "alleles" have changed over time, and be factual; yet, in terms even of "microevolution" this is of almost no import whatsoever. I would interpret vjtorley's point about how the environment ferns lived in must have changed quite a lot over this much geological time in view of all of this NGD: according to the adherents of NGD + NS, molecular mutations should have provided the impetus for NS to take hold of some of the 'neutral drift' and then adapt them to their new environment. I think this incredible find---imagine, looking at 180 million year-old chromosomes!!---should severely undermine the confidence that adherents of the NGD+NS school of evolutionary biology have in their hypothesis. PaV
So again I ask: why the 180-million-year genetic stasis?
Maybe they aren't 180 years old to begin with. When I participated on the blog with Allen Design class in 2006, I was not very vocal about my suspicion the fossil record was young. Allen MacNeill's class inspired me so much to learn more, I went back to school, so I'm indebted to him for inspiring me to study more science. The process made me a little more comfortable in reading science literature. Also during that time, there have been several developments: 1. more evidence of C14 in supposedly ancient fossils 2. DNA half life now established at 521 years (btw, fern chromosomes are made of DNA) 3. fast stratification of geological layers established by researchers such as University of Colorado turbidity studies 4. even geologists tell me fossil layers must be laid down quickly as a matter of principle 5. there is no requirement YEC be true to assert that fossil time of death was recent 6. I found out many geological "eras" are side by side, layers missing, some in the wrong order. This not bode well for the narrative the layers built up over time! 7. I reviewed amino acid polymer studies, and the persistence of any soft tissue is dubious, and Schwitzer and Armitage work on dino soft tissue tells me something is wrong. 7 years ago in posting to Allen MacNeill's blog, I felt the case against the fossil record's old age was incredibly weak. I no longer feel that way. The ferns and other living fossils are great evidence that maybe we're interpreting the geological layers wrongly to begin with. HYPOTHESIS: are there any fossil fern seedlings or plant seedling that have any chance of getting regrown. If the sequence divergence is minimal (say on the order of mitochondrial eve), then that is further proof the fossils are young. Sorry to throw that in, but I'm not citing theology at all, but trying to establish time-of-death as a detective would, and I don't think the fossil fern's time of death was 180,000,000 years ago. Unfortunately it's a bit intolerable for each side to declare, "we don't know for sure," but if we were impartial judges we'd have to admit a little of what we believe to be true is driven by an element of faith, not pure empiricism. scordova
Supplemental note:
HOW BIOLOGISTS LOST SIGHT OF THE MEANING OF LIFE — AND ARE NOW STARING IT IN THE FACE – Stephen L. Talbott – May 2012 Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,, Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling… and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained. The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?” The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary. http://www.netfuture.org/2012/May1012_184.html#2 One Body - animation - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDMLq6eqEM4 Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized – video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70 Mathematician Alexander Tsiaras on Human Development: "It's a Mystery, It's Magic, It's Divinity" - March 2012 Excerpt: 'The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us. It's a mystery, it's magic, it's divinity.' http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/03/mathematician_a057741.html Introduction to Cells - Anatomy - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFuEo2ccTPA Human Anatomy - Impressive Transparent Visualization - Fearfully and Wonderfully Made - video http://vimeo.com/26011909
Verse and Music:
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video) http://www.vevo.com/watch/evanescence/the-other-side-lyric-video/USWV41200024?source=instantsearch
Jon Garvey
"if only there were a theory of form"
Amen! If only Darwinists would stop chasing their tail in a circle with the false materialistic belief that form is reducible to the linear sequences of DNA, and sidetracking the whole origins discussion in the process, then perhaps some real scientific progress can be made on this most interesting of questions.
Not Junk After All—Conclusion – August 29, 2013 Excerpt: Many scientists have pointed out that the relationship between the genome and the organism — the genotype-phenotype mapping — cannot be reduced to a genetic program encoded in DNA sequences. Atlan and Koppel wrote in 1990 that advances in artificial intelligence showed that cellular operations are not controlled by a linear sequence of instructions in DNA but by a “distributed multilayer network” [150]. According to Denton and his co-workers, protein folding appears to involve formal causes that transcend material mechanisms [151], and according to Sternberg this is even more evident at higher levels of the genotype-phenotype mapping [152]. https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/junk-dna/open-mike-cornell-obi-conference-chapter-11-not-junk-after-all-conclusion/ The Types: A Persistent Structuralist Challenge to Darwinian Pan-Selectionism – Michael J. Denton – 2013 Excerpt: Cell form ,,,Karsenti comments that despite the attraction of the (genetic) blueprint model there are no “simple linear chains of causal events that link genes to phenotypes” [77: p. 255]. And wherever there is no simple linear causal chain linking genes with phenotypes,,,—at any level in the organic hierarchy, from cells to body plans—the resulting form is bound to be to a degree epigenetic and emergent, and cannot be inferred from even the most exhaustive analysis of the genes.,,, To this author’s knowledge, to date the form of no individual cell has been shown to be specified in detail in a genomic blueprint. As mentioned above, between genes and mature cell form there is a complex hierarchy of self-organization and emergent phenomena, rendering cell form profoundly epigenetic. http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2013.3/BIO-C.2013.3 An Electric Face: A Rendering Worth a Thousand Falsifications – video - September 2011 Excerpt: The video suggests that bioelectric signals presage the morphological development of the face. It also, in an instant, gives a peak at the phenomenal processes at work in biology. As the lead researcher said, “It’s a jaw dropper.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VULjzX__OM
Of related interest to bioelectric signals presaging morphological development, it is interesting to note that both photon and phonon modes exist for electromagnetic waves in the cell:
The Real Bioinformatics Revolution – Proteins and Nucleic Acids ‘Singing’ to One Another? Excerpt: the molecules send out specific frequencies of electromagnetic waves which not only enable them to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ each other, as both photon and phonon modes exist for electromagnetic waves, but also to influence each other at a distance and become ineluctably drawn to each other if vibrating out of phase (in a complementary way).,,, More than 1,000 proteins from over 30 functional groups have been analysed. Remarkably, the results showed that proteins with the same biological function share a single frequency peak while there is no significant peak in common for proteins with different functions; furthermore the characteristic peak frequency differs for different biological functions.,,, The same results were obtained when regulatory DNA sequences were analysed. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/TheRealBioinformaticsRevolution.php
The relationship between photons and phonons is described here:
Photons and Phonons Excerpt: You see, the primary Planck-Law (E=hf) is metaphysical and independent on the inertia distribution of the solid states.,,, Both, photon and phonon carry massequivalent energy m=E/c2=hf/c2. The matter-light interaction so is rendered electromagnetically noninertial for the photon and becomes acoustically inertial for the phonons; both however subject to Bose-Einstein stochastic wave mechanics incorporative the Planck-Law.,, Where, how and why does E=hf correctly and experimentally verifiably describe the quantum mechanics of energy propagation?,,, http://www.tonyb.freeyellow.com/id135.html Phonon Excerpt: In physics, a phonon,, represents an excited state in the quantum mechanical quantization of the modes of vibrations,, The name phonon,, translates as sound or voice because long-wavelength phonons give rise to sound. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonon
The reason this is interesting to explaining 'form' in the cell (and in the body plans of higher organisms) is that there is known to be a deep connection between sound (phonons) and 3-dimensional structure:
The Deep Connection Between Sound & 3-dimensional structure – Evan Grant – Allosphere – video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4672092
Will this all pan out scientifically as to giving us a coherent explanation of 'form'? Well it is hard to tell where it will all lead. But one thing is certain, this 'phonon/photon' avenue of research is certainly far more promising in providing us with coherent answers than the blind alley that Darwinists dogmatically insist on staying in. bornagain77
The obviously conclusion to be drawn if genomic evolution has been continuing unabated for 180m years without significant change in morphology is that genetic change has precious little to do with form - and form was the issue that evolution was invoked to explain. Darwin, of course, knew nothing of genes, and would probably have cared even less if he thought it had no impact on the origin of species. If genetic change in one case is associated with obvious speciation over a few million years (eg chimp to human), and in another case not, over 180 million years, then something other than genetic change is responsible for morphological change. This would seem to be a welcome answer to why morphological and genetic trees so often disagree: they may be completely (or mainly) independent of each other, so it's predicted by the theory - if only there were a theory of form. Jon Garvey
semi related: (Ancient) Cave bacteria resistant to antibiotics - April 2012 Excerpt: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cut off from the outside world for more than four million years have been found in a deep cave. The discovery is surprising because drug resistance is widely believed to be the result of too much treatment.,,, “Our study shows that antibiotic resistance is hard-wired into bacteria. It could be billions of years old, but we have only been trying to understand it for the last 70 years,” said Dr Gerry Wright, from McMaster University in Canada, who has analysed the microbes. http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/cave-bacteria-resistant-to-antibiotics-1-2229183# bornagain77
As to genetic sequences staying remarkably stable over extremely long periods of time, It is interesting to note the evidence we now have from bacteria:
The Paradox of the "Ancient" (250 Million Year Old) Bacterium Which Contains "Modern" Protein-Coding Genes: “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/19/9/1637
These following studies, by Dr. Cano on ancient bacteria, preceded Dr. Vreeland's work:
“Raul J. Cano and Monica K. Borucki discovered the bacteria preserved within the abdomens of insects encased in pieces of amber. In the last 4 years, they have revived more than 1,000 types of bacteria and microorganisms — some dating back as far as 135 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs.,,, In October 2000, another research group used many of the techniques developed by Cano’s lab to revive 250-million-year-old bacteria from spores trapped in salt crystals. With this additional evidence, it now seems that the “impossible” is true.” http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=281961 Revival and identification of bacterial spores in 25- to 40-million-year-old Dominican amber Dr. Cano and his former graduate student Dr. Monica K. Borucki said that they had found slight but significant differences between the DNA of the ancient, 25-40 million year old amber-sealed Bacillus sphaericus and that of its modern counterpart,(thus ruling out that it is a modern contaminant, yet at the same time the change is not nearly as great as evolution would predict) http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/268/5213/1060
Dr. Cano's work on ancient bacteria came in for intense scrutiny since it did not conform to Darwinian predictions. Yet Dr. Cano has been vindicated:
“After the onslaught of publicity and worldwide attention (and scrutiny) after the publication of our discovery in Science, there have been, as expected, a considerable number of challenges to our claims, but in this case, the scientific method has smiled on us. There have been at least three independent verifications of the isolation of a living microorganism from amber." Raúl Cano http://www.microbeworld.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=388:raul-cano-career-profile&catid=75:career-profiles&Itemid=219
In reply to a personal e-mail from myself, Dr. Cano commented on the 'Fitness Test' I had asked him about:
Dr. Cano stated: "We performed such a test, a long time ago, using a panel of substrates (the old gram positive biolog panel) on B. sphaericus. From the results we surmised that the putative "ancient" B. sphaericus isolate was capable of utilizing a broader scope of substrates. Additionally, we looked at the fatty acid profile and here, again, the profiles were similar but more diverse in the amber isolate.": Fitness test which compared ancient bacteria to its modern day descendants, RJ Cano and MK Borucki
Thus, the most solid evidence available for the most ancient DNA scientists are able to find does not support evolution happening on the molecular level of bacteria. In fact, according to the fitness test of Dr. Cano, the change witnessed in bacteria conforms to the exact opposite, Genetic Entropy; a loss of functional information/complexity, since fewer substrates and fatty acids are utilized by the modern strains. Considering the intricate level of protein machinery it takes to utilize individual molecules within a substrate, we are talking an impressive loss of protein complexity, and thus loss of functional information, from the ancient amber sealed bacteria. Related notes:
Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? - The 'Fitness Test' - video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248 The consequences of genetic drift for bacterial genome complexity - Howard Ochman - 2009 Excerpt: The increased availability of sequenced bacterial genomes allows application of an alternative estimator of drift, the genome-wide ratio of replacement to silent substitutions in protein-coding sequences. This ratio, which reflects the action of purifying selection across the entire genome, shows a strong inverse relationship with genome size, indicating that drift promotes genome reduction in bacteria. http://genome.cshlp.org/content/early/2009/06/05/gr.091785.109 Static evolution: is pond scum the same now as billions of years ago? Excerpt: But what intrigues (paleo-biologist) J. William Schopf most is lack of change. Schopf was struck 30 years ago by the apparent similarities between some 1-billion-year-old fossils of blue-green bacteria and their modern microbial counterparts. "They surprisingly looked exactly like modern species," Schopf recalls. Now, after comparing data from throughout the world, Schopf and others have concluded that modern pond scum differs little from the ancient blue-greens. "This similarity in morphology is widespread among fossils of [varying] times," says Schopf. As evidence, he cites the 3,000 such fossils found; http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Static+evolution%3A+is+pond+scum+the+same+now+as+billions+of+years+ago%3F-a014909330 Geobiologist Noffke Reports Signs of Life that Are 3.48 Billion Years Old - 11/11/13 Excerpt: the mats woven of tiny microbes we see today covering tidal flats were also present as life was beginning on Earth. The mats, which are colonies of cyanobacteria, can cause unusual textures and formations in the sand beneath them. Noffke has identified 17 main groups of such textures caused by present-day microbial mats, and has found corresponding structures in geological formations dating back through the ages. http://www.odu.edu/about/odu-publications/insideodu/2013/11/11/topstory1
There still isn't any microevolutionary events that can be extrapolated into macroevolution. Evolutionism is a bust. Joe
Two points I'd like to mention:
The “modern synthesis” does not predict (nor does it rule out) evolutionary stasis, a pattern empirically observable in the fossil record.
If a theory related with historical science cannot predict (or maybe it's better to say "explain") a historical pattern, could it be called a successful (so successful that it would be the ONLY theory taught in texbooks!) theory? Furthermore, if stasis is not ruled out, then what is ruled out (in terms of macroevolution) in modern synthesis? Any falsification possible other than humans in the era of dinosaurs?
macroevolution must follow different rules than microevolution... Unless, of course, you’ve already made up your mind
Is the word "must" in the first sentence a result of a scientific hypothesis, or metaphysical belief as a result of someone's already made up his mind? CuriousCat
Allen MacNeill, You write:
Observing that the appearance of the chromosomes, or even the chromosome number, is the same in the ferns over millions of years says nothing whatsoever about the actual genetic content of the chromosomes.
I see your point, of course. But I find it remarkable that one report on the discovery, from a well-regarded source (Christian Science Monitor) stated that "the genome of royal ferns has remained unchanged for at least the past 180 million years," while another report (IFLScience) said that the fern "has essentially the same number of chromosomes and DNA content." No scientist has called them out on it, to date. There should be a way to test the proposition that DNA is continually evolving. All authorities agree that traces of DNA can survive for a few hundred thousand years. It should be possible for scientists to isolate some Ice Age DNA from a species of organism that has remained morphologically identical over millions of years, and compare it with that of its modern descendants. Then we'd know if there had been a change. I substantially agree with your last paragraph. If there is a natural mechanism for macroevolution, then the sooner we know about it, the better. And while I might poke fun at Larry Moran's claim that he understands macroevolution, I would never claim to be certain that it cannot occur. I find Dr. Kozulic's arguments persuasive mathematically, but an argument is only as good as its premises. vjtorley
Answer: Natural Selection! Real selection resists change. Darwin's idea of selection is not what really happens in nature. I hate to throw this in, but if one assumes Darwin's tree-of-life model vs. the creationist orchard model one will get these sorts of anomalies. The orchard model assumes modest variation over time of the same basic kind. If one assumes macroevolution, one will of necessity start circularly reasoning mutation rates and strained mechanisms to explain transitions that absolutely never occurred to begin with. Living fossils are testament to the general immutability of the basic kind. A question I have posed to evolutionists is how do you get functional transitionals for vital organs. If one believes God made the first life based on considerations of OOL, then the question is, did the creator evolve the diversity of life from one first life or make separate special creations (a term Darwin used, and exactly the question Darwin raised in his famous book). Not even YECs agree where the boundaries of common descent are and what are exactly the created kinds, but at some point its not the issue of fixation and population genetics, its the issue of the evolution of vital parts without the transitionals being lethal or selected against. I have my strong personal opinions, but if we were impartial dispassionate judges, perhaps a good answer is "it's too early to say for sure, gather more evidence and follow where it leads." That's a tad intolerable for both sides of the debate, but for Larry Moran, saying "maybe" is definitely intolerable. Years ago, I was eager to "win" the debate for my side. Nowadays, I decided it's just better to let the data keep coming in. What's an example of just letting the data settle the case? IDists and I have argued against the RNA world, well look who finally took the side of the IDists along with a picture a soup can that puts a big "X" through Stanley Miller's prebiotic soup: http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2014/03/bye-bye-rna-world.html Is Moran now joining the boat that Jonathan Wells was harshly and unfairly persecuted for regarding OOL? Moran has already dissed selectionism, claims he would actually agree with the Discovery Institute's 700 scientists, but well, he'll always insist IDists are wrong, even if means he must endorse multiverse ideas like Koonin's. scordova
Observing that the appearance of the chromosomes, or even the chromosome number, is the same in the ferns over millions of years says nothing whatsoever about the actual genetic content of the chromosomes. The neo-darwinian theory of evolution (also called the "modern synthesis") isn't based on chromosome morphology, it's based on changes in allele frequencies in populations over time. These ferns aren't the only organisms that have apparently gone through immensely long periods of evolutionary stasis. Horseshoe crabs have changed very little since they first show up in the fossil record in rocks dated to over 400 million years ago. However, the lack of significant phenotypic change says little or nothing about any underlying genetic changes that may or may not have happened in horseshoe crabs, royal ferns, dragonflies, coelocanths, or any of the other so-called "living fossils." That said, I would like to echo Donald Prothero's point, cited above: the "modern synthesis" does not predict – indeed, it does not address – evolutionary stasis. This is because the "modern synthesis" was almost exclusively concerned with microevolutionary changes, primarily those flowing from the theoretical work in population genetics pioneered by R. A. Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane, and Sewall Wright. The only major work from the "modern synthesis" that addressed macroevolution was G. G. Simpson's Tempo and Mode in Evolution, in which he argued that the paleontological record is generally consistent with the theoretical predictions formulated by Fisher, Haldane, and Wright. The upshot: the "modern synthesis" does not predict (nor does it rule out) evolutionary stasis, a pattern empirically observable in the fossil record. Ergo, macroevolution must follow different rules than microevolution. Won't it be fascinating to do the empirical investigations and theoretical modeling to figure out what those rules are? Unless, of course, you've already made up your mind... Allen_MacNeill
I am so tired of the, "you don't understand" quip our good friends use. I enjoyed the article thank you Dr Torley. Andre

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