Convergent evolution Intelligent Design

What is the true significance of convergent evolution?

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A century or so ago, British anatomist St. George Mivart noted that Darwin’s theory of evolution “does not harmonize with closely similar structures of diverse origin” (convergent evolution). There is more evidence for Mivart’s doubts now than ever.

According to current Darwinian evolutionary theory, each gain in information is the result of a great many tiny, modest gains in fitness over millions or billions of years, due to natural selection acting on random mutations. The resulting solutions should then follow inheritance laws, in the sense that the more similar life forms are according to biological classifications, the more similar their genome map should be.

That just did not work out. Different species can have surprisingly similar genes. For example, kangaroos are marsupial mammals, not placentals. Yet their genes are close to humans. Researchers: “We thought they’d be completely scrambled, but they’re not.”

Kangaroos? Shark and human proteins, meanwhile, are also “stunningly similar.” Indeed, sharks are genetically closer to humans than they are to aquarium zebrafish. Researchers: “We were very surprised… “

Sharks? But does all this not raise a serious question? The popular science literature claims that a near identity between the human and chimpanzee genome is irrefutable evidence of common descent. Why then do we hear so little about any of these findings, which muddy the waters? Why are science writers not even curious? More.

See also: Evolution: The fossils speak, but hardly with one voice

and

Talk to the Fossils: Let’s see what they say back

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17 Replies to “What is the true significance of convergent evolution?

  1. 1
    sean samis says:

    Convergence is not all that mysterious. Evolution works randomly, but the optimal solution in nature to any particular challenge is not a random thing; it’s often quite specific. Hence the fact that predators tend to look a lot alike.

    This fact holds at every point in biology where there is an optimal solution (or a set of optimal solutions) to a problem. It’s not shocking that proteins performing some basic function have an optimal form. When different species evolve a need for the same function, convergence in the form of the protein is not bizarre.

    The snippet about human and kangaroo genomes being so similar is another that’s overplayed; humans and kangaroos have a shared ancestor, and have similar basic biological needs. Evolution may tend to scramble some things, but the imperatives of survival will tend to preserve well-adapted solutions. Since most of our genome serves basic biological needs, it’s unsurprising that it does not vary much among mammals and their close relative marsupials.

    As for the “popular science literature”, it is only a couple of steps removed from gossip writing; claims in the popular literature should never be confused with statements in the primary, technical journals. The tendency to breathless excitement and Surprising! Discovery! is expected; that’s how authors fish for readers. A story about a banal or wholly expected discovery draws few readers.

    sean s.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    Well, yeah, and then there’s echo location in bats (which appeared POOF! without any predecessor) being different than echo location in whales.

    It ain’t “convergent evolution” unless you assume that Evolution itself exists. If you assume nothing and look at the facts, you would simply wonder why 2 or more different groups of animals or plants with very similar characteristics exist at all. I mean, why DID Chevrolet design the Camaro when they already had the Corvette? At least when Porsche did the 928 it was entirely different than the 911.

  3. 3
    ppolish says:

    Convergent Evolution is significant because it shows that evolution is guided and purposeful.

    Why is guided purposeful significant? Not sure. Maybe it is insignificant. In that case, nevermind:)

  4. 4
    Mapou says:

    sean samis:

    Convergence is not all that mysterious. Evolution works randomly, but the optimal solution in nature to any particular challenge is not a random thing; it’s often quite specific. Hence the fact that predators tend to look a lot alike.

    This fact holds at every point in biology where there is an optimal solution (or a set of optimal solutions) to a problem. It’s not shocking that proteins performing some basic function have an optimal form. When different species evolve a need for the same function, convergence in the form of the protein is not bizarre.

    Anybody who knows anything about optimizing systems will tell you that they all suffer from the same fatal flaws. Optimizers invariably get stuck in a local maxima or minima. In addition to this, genetic algorithms based on RM+NS suffer from another equally fatal flaw: as soon as we increase the number of variables above toy applications, the combinatorial explosion kills them dead. This is the reason that GAs are not used in anything serious.

    Now, consider the genome with its thousands of genes and millions of base pairs. This creates a search space so huge that a computer trillions upon trillions of times the size of the universe doing RM+NS in parallel would be no more useful than a Commodore 64 from the last century.

    And you people want us to believe this crap is responsible for the wide diversity of life one Earth? This is insulting. You are either stupid or you need to brush up on some simple math.

  5. 5
    goodusername says:

    For example, kangaroos are marsupial mammals, not placentals. Yet their genes are close to humans.

    “Their genes are close to humans” compared to what? Compared to plants? I’d bet yes. But are their genes closer to humans than to, say, wallabies? I’d bet no.

    Kangaroos? Shark and human proteins, meanwhile, are also “stunningly similar.” Indeed, sharks are genetically closer to humans than they are to aquarium zebrafish. Researchers: “We were very surprised… “

    As has been pointed out other times you posted this, sharks are equally related to humans and zebrafish.

    If you don’t believe me, go to timetree.org, and compare sharks to homo sapiens, and then sharks to zebrafish, and you’ll get the exact same results.

    Therefore, if you took any random chunk of shark dna or protein, and compared it humans and zebrafish, I’d expect that sometimes it would be closer to humans and sometimes closer to zebrafish.

    That’s exactly what they found.

    (I don’t know where you got that “sharks are genetically closer to humans than they are to aquarium zebrafish”, but it is indeed possible.)

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    Convergent evo does not prove evo took place.
    Convergent evolution claims is deadly failure of evo biology. if you think about it.
    Evolution needs mutations to advance . Coming up with the same results is impossible. Darwin stressed how evolution concept demanded a path that was crazy wild.
    if there was a common design, on main points, and real other mechanisms for bio change then there would be predicted like results/looks to like needs.
    its hard enough to make anything with selection on mutation much less make it several times the same way in different critters etc.

    by the way lets remember classification is based on traits.
    i say marsupials are placentals who changed a wee bit upon migrating to some areas in a post flood world.
    thats the simple reason they look like their cousins with placenta. no big deal.

    If people say physics limits options it changes nothing about math probabilities.

  7. 7
    ppolish says:

    OT…,google “e coli expirement” and you get a bunch of links to Richard Lenski’s useless “long term expirement”. But THIS recent expirement is pretty darn cool:
    http://www.nature.com/news/ene.....ds-1.17957

  8. 8
    tjguy says:

    Convergence is one of many problems for evolutionary theory. I take issue though with the author’s opinion/interpretation of the problem here:

    Convergent evolution is evidence that evolution can happen. But the Darwinian model does not seem to be the right one. The life forms appear to be converging on a common goal.

    She claims that convergence is evidence that evolution can happen. I don’t understand that claim. It falsifies what is supposed to happen so couldn’t it just as easily be evidence that evolution DID NOT happen?

    Is she a believer in common descent?

    I think convergence falsifies common descent. That is a valid interpretation of the data as well, is it not?

    Her interpretation of the data reminds me of the Big Bang interpretation of many. There are a lot of unsolved problems with the Big Bang and a lot of very specific parameters which had to be just right/finely tuned in order for it to happen.

    Why do we take this as evidence of God’s intervention when it might also be seen as evidence that the Big Bang has been falsified? Obviously it cannot work scientifically – UNLESS God intervened. So the question is, “Did He intervene?” How can we know really?

    I see only two possible answers.

    1) No, He didn’t intervene. The discrepancies falsify the Big Bang. (This view holds the Big Bang did NOT occur.)

    OR

    2) Yes, He did intervene. That is the only way the Big Bang could have happened. (This view accepts the Big Bang as a scientific fact – in spite of the accompanying problems)

    Convergence: Same thing here. Two possible interpretations:

    1) Convergence is evidence against common descent. The evolutionary hypothesis is falsified.

    OR

    2) As this author says, convergence is seen as evidence for evolution, but not for Neo-Darwinian evolution. I suspect she would say it is only evidence for evolution guided by an Intelligent Designer or evidence of a front loaded system. (As I read it, this view accepts common descent but perhaps there are some who reject common descent and still hold to it. I am not sure on that.)

    Personally, I am not sure how one could validate/test/falsify either of these interpretations. Again, for me, either interpretation/conclusion seems possible from the data. Normally, it would seem to me, that negative data would falsify the hypothesis. Why some feel it is scientific and necessary to rescue the hypothesis by adding an unverifiable story is a mystery to me.

    Darwinists do this when they make up just so stories and ad hoc explanations that they cannot test or verify to explain the problems. I think IDers do the same thing when they appeal to a front loaded system or to the intervention of an Intelligent Designer to explain data that could otherwise falsify evolution.

    I apologize if I stepped on anyone’s toes. I’m glad we can discuss opposing viewpoints here. Creationists, of course, cannot do any better from a “scientific” point of view. We too use special pleading. Believing the Bible to be an accurate source of knowledge about the past, we appeal to miracles such as the creation week(which was filled with them), the flood, the Tower of Babel, and the other miracles in the Bible to help explain what we see.

    We recognize that what we can truly know about the past/about history is limited. There are certain things we may never be able to truly know or explain scientifically – like how the flood happened because we just don’t have enough information about it in the Bible, but that is just the way it is. Creationists, IDers, and Materialists all have the same problem/limitations when it comes to history.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    a few related notes:

    Podcast: Casey Luskin on How Convergent Evolution Turns the Logic of Common Ancestry on Its Head – 2015
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95481.html

    Problem 7: Convergent Evolution Challenges Darwinism and Destroys the Logic Behind Common Ancestry – Casey Luskin February 9, 2015
    Excerpt: Whenever evolutionary biologists are forced to appeal to convergent evolution, it reflects a breakdown in the main assumption, and an inability to fit the data to a treelike pattern. Examples of this abound in the literature,,,,
    Biochemist and Darwin-skeptic Fazale Rana reviewed the technical literature and documented over 100 reported cases of convergent genetic evolution.126 Each case shows an example where biological similarity — even at the genetic level — is not the result of inheritance from a common ancestor. So what does this do to the main assumption of tree-building that biological similarity implies inheritance from a common ancestor? With so many exceptions to the rule, one has to wonder if the rule itself holds merit.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91161.html

    Theory of Convergent Evolution Analyzed – May 11, 2015
    Excerpt: Casey Luskin has argued that Darwinians appeal to convergence in order to have it both ways: basically, “biological similarity implies common ancestry, except when it doesn’t.” The authors of this new paper do not respond to that charge specifically, but they go further than most Darwinians by not just asserting convergence occurred, but by offering evolutionary mechanisms that might produce it. ,,,
    The authors have not shown that their auxiliary hypotheses rescue convergent evolution, nor have they identified any evolutionary mechanism to account for fast swimmers with caudal fins swimming right alongside slow swimmers with undulating fins in the exact same watery environment. Every proposal has exceptions; where is that quantitative argument, exactly?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95951.html

    “Despite its complexity, C4 photosynthesis is one of the best examples of ‘convergent evolution’, having evolved more than 50 times in at least 18 plant families (Sage 2004; Conway Morris 2006).”
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/.....9.full.pdf

    “The reason evolutionary biologists believe in “40 known independent eye evolutions” isn’t because they’ve reconstructed those evolutionary pathways, but because eyes don’t assume a treelike pattern on the famous Darwinian “tree of life.” Darwinists are accordingly forced, again and again, to invoke convergent “independent” evolution of eyes to explain why eyes are distributed in such a non-tree-like fashion.
    This is hardly evidence against ID. In fact the appearance of eyes within widely disparate groups speaks eloquently of common design. Eyes are a problem, all right — for Darwinism.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....83441.html

    Convergent evolution seen in hundreds of genes – Erika Check Hayden – 04 September 2013
    Excerpt: “These results imply that convergent molecular evolution is much more widespread than previously recognized,” says molecular phylogeneticist Frédéric Delsuc at the The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the University of Montpellier in France, who was not involved in the study. What is more, he adds, the genes involved are not just the few, obvious ones known to be directly involved in a trait but a broader array of genes that are involved in the same regulatory networks.
    http://www.nature.com/news/con.....es-1.13679

    Eardrum evolved independently in mammals, reptiles and birds – 04/22/2015
    Excerpt: Researchers,, have determined that the eardrum evolved independently in mammals and diapsids—the taxonomic group that includes reptiles and birds.,, the work shows that the mammalian eardrum depends on lower jaw formation, while that of diapsids develops from the upper jaw. Significantly, the researchers used techniques borrowed from developmental biology to answer a question that has intrigued paleontologists for years.,,
    They noted that in mammals, the eardrum attaches to the tympanic ring—a bone derived from the lower jaw, but that in diapsids it attaches to the quadrate—an upper jawbone.,,
    While scientists still do not know how or why the primary jaw junction shifted upwards in mammals, the study shows that the middle ear developed after this shift and must therefore have occurred independently after mammal and diapsid lineages diverged from their common ancestor.
    http://www.sciguru.org/newsite.....-and-birds

    Evolutionarily Unrelated Animals Use Geomagnetic Navigation – January 19, 2015
    Excerpt: baby turtles, with their tiny brains, must have the ability to memorize the natal signatures of odors and magnetic field properties at birth, then recall those memories years later as large adults. (Sea turtles return about every two years to lay eggs.)
    That would be a conundrum enough to explain by unguided processes like natural selection. But then, adding to the difficulty for Darwinism, similar abilities are found in distantly related animals like fish, birds, and mammals. Even if a Darwinian could show a possible line of descent from fish to mammal, the abilities involved would have been lost and regained multiple times, because not all fish, birds, and mammals use magnetic navigation. Given the complexities of the sensory systems involved, this would represent a case of “convergent evolution” on steroids. If the origin of this capability in one type of animal is highly implausible by mutation and selection, how about four times or more?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92791.html

    Newly Discovered Convergent Genetic Evolution Between Bird and Human Vocalization Poses a Severe Challenge to Common Ancestry – Casey Luskin – December 15, 2014
    Excerpt: “We’ve known for many years that the singing behavior of birds is similar to speech in humans — not identical, but similar -,,, “But we didn’t know whether or not those features were the same because the genes were also the same.”
    “Now scientists do know, and the answer is yes — birds and humans use essentially the same genes to speak.”,,,
    “there is a consistent set of just over 50 genes,,,”
    “These changes were not found in the brains of birds that do not have vocal learning and of non-human primates that do not speak,”
    So certain birds and humans use the same genes for vocalization — but those genetic abilities are absent in non-human primates and birds without vocal learning? If not derived from a common ancestor, as they clearly were not, how did the genes get there? This kind of extreme convergent genetic evolution points strongly to intelligent design.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92041.html

    In fact as O’Leary pointed out in her article, Simon Conway Morris has a website documenting hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of ‘convergence’:

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Despite its complexity, C4 photosynthesis is one of the best examples of ‘convergent evolution’, having evolved more than 50 times in at least 18 plant families (Sage 2004; Conway Morris 2006).”

    Personally, considering its extreme integrated complexity being dealt with, I would like to see Darwinists honestly address the origin of photosynthesis just once, much less 50 different times, and admit the severe problem this poses for Darwinian gradualism:

    The 10 Step Glycolysis Pathway In ATP Production: An Overview – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Kn6BVGqKd8

    At the 14:00 minute mark of the following video, Chris Ashcraft, PhD – molecular biology, gives us an overview of the Citric Acid Cycle, which is, after the 10 step Glycolysis Pathway, also involved in ATP production:

    Evolution vs ATP Synthase – Chris Ashcraft – video – citric acid cycle at 14:00 minute mark
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rUV4CSs0HzI#t=746

    The Citric Acid Cycle: An Overview – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6vQKrRjQcQ

    “There is no question about photosynthesis being Irreducibly Complex. But it’s worse than that from an evolutionary perspective. There are 17 enzymes alone involved in the synthesis of chlorophyll. Are we to believe that all intermediates had selective value? Not when some of them form triplet states that have the same effect as free radicals like O2. In addition if chlorophyll evolved before antenna proteins, whose function is to bind chlorophyll, then chlorophyll would be toxic to cells. Yet the binding function explains the selective value of antenna proteins. Why would such proteins evolve prior to chlorophyll? and if they did not, how would cells survive chlorophyll until they did?” Uncommon Descent Blogger

    Evolutionary biology: Out of thin air John F. Allen & William Martin:
    The measure of the problem is here: “Oxygenetic photosynthesis involves about 100 proteins that are highly ordered within the photosynthetic membranes of the cell.”
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....5610a.html

    Enzymes and protein complexes needed in photosynthesis – with graphs
    http://elshamah.heavenforum.or.....hesis#2527

    Of note: anoxygenic (without oxygen) photosynthesis is even more of a complex chemical pathway than oxygenic photosynthesis is:

    “Remarkably, the biosynthetic routes needed to make the key molecular component of anoxygenic photosynthesis are more complex than the pathways that produce the corresponding component required for the oxygenic form.”;
    Early Life Remains Complex By Fazale R. Rana (FACTS for FAITH Issue 7, 2001)

    In what I find to be a very fascinating discovery, it is found that photosynthetic life, which is an absolutely vital link that all higher life on earth is dependent on for food and oxygen, uses ‘non-local’ quantum mechanical principles to accomplish photosynthesis.

    Uncovering Quantum Secret in Photosynthesis – June 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Photosynthetic organisms, such as plants and some bacteria, have mastered this process: In less than a couple of trillionths of a second, 95 percent of the sunlight they absorb is whisked away to drive the metabolic reactions that provide them with energy. The efficiency of photovoltaic cells currently on the market is around 20 percent.,,,
    Van Hulst and his group have evaluated the energy transport pathways of separate individual but chemically identical, antenna proteins, and have shown that each protein uses a distinct pathway. The most surprising discovery was that the transport paths within single proteins can vary over time due to changes in the environmental conditions, apparently adapting for optimal efficiency. “These results show that coherence, a genuine quantum effect of superposition of states, is responsible for maintaining high levels of transport efficiency in biological systems, even while they adapt their energy transport pathways due to environmental influences” says van Hulst.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142932.htm

    of note: Beyond space and time quantum non-locality is completely antithetical to the reductive materialism upon which neo-Darwinism is built:

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
    Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world.,,
    The underlying problem is this: there are correlations in nature that require a causal explanation but for which no physical explanation is in principle possible. Furthermore, the nonlocalizability of field quanta entails that these entities, whatever they are, fail the criterion of material individuality. So, paradoxically and ironically, the most fundamental constituents and relations of the material world cannot, in principle, be understood in terms of material substances. Since there must be some explanation for these things, the correct explanation will have to be one which is non-physical – and this is plainly incompatible with any and all varieties of materialism.
    http://www.4truth.net/fourtrut.....8589952939

    “[while a number of philosophical ideas] may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics, …materialism is not.”
    Eugene Wigner
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video playlist
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL1mr9ZTZb3TViAqtowpvZy5PZpn-MoSK_&v=4C5pq7W5yRM

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    goodusername

    As has been pointed out other times you posted this, sharks are equally related to humans and zebrafish.

    The extent of the similarity is why the researchers were surprised. That’s the point.

  12. 12
    sean samis says:

    Mapou @4

    Anybody who knows anything about optimizing systems will tell you that they all suffer from the same fatal flaws. Optimizers invariably get stuck in a local maxima or minima.

    If an entire creature is optimized in a stable environment, this would be possible, it may even happen on occasion, but neither of those requisites are usually met. Parts of creatures are optimized, but not the entire creature; and their environment is never stable. This prevents dead-end equilibria in most cases.

    Parts of a system can optimize without trapping the entire system in any local maxima/minima.

    This creates a search space so huge that …

    Unfortunately for you, evolution does not use a computer, it just does what it does. If you tried to simulate the creation of a snow flake, it would take longer and consume vastly more energy than it does in real life.

    sean s.

  13. 13
    sean samis says:

    Silver Asiatic @11

    The extent of the similarity is why the researchers were surprised. That’s the point.

    The question to ask is “why were they so surprised?” Did they have anything more than a “gut feeling” of what they’d find? I bet not.

    That’s one of the thrills of doing science: you get surprised every now and then. Creationists just don’t get that.

    sean s.

  14. 14
    ppolish says:

    “it just does what it does”

    Lol. Evolution does what it does. And doesn’t what it doesn’t. It might and it might not.

    Sean, that is awfully lazy. Very lazy thinking. HTFU please.

  15. 15
    ppolish says:

    Convergent Evolution in H.sapien:
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/west-.....nd-1513030

    Prenatal and postnatal hormone change the phenotype in the same way. That is a case of ID, not a case of taller Pygmy’s being eaten or bumping their heads on low hanging branches.

    ID is cool science.

  16. 16
    tjguy says:

    Sean says:

    “That’s one of the thrills of doing science: you get surprised every now and then.” Creationists just don’t get that.

    Now and then, Sean?

    It’s far more prevalent than that. In fact, it is the rule rather than the exception for evolutionists!

    Surprised at the complexity, at the design, at the efficiency, at the technology, at the beauty, at the data that doesn’t fit theory, etc.

    But does any of it really matter in the end?

    NOPE! Evolution just cannot be falsified. It is so fluid that it can be adjusted to make any anomaly somehow fit the story. Or if it can’t, it is just ignored.

    Sean says again:

    “it just does what it does”

    Now we’re talking!! Now we are really getting scientific!

    You hit the nail on the head. That is EXACTLY what evolutionists believe!

    Crev.info refers to this as the “Stuff happens Law”. It’s so true!

    ppolish: “Evolution does what it does. And doesn’t what it doesn’t. It might and it might not.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more! So true!!!

  17. 17
    ppolish says:

    Evolution is everywhere. It put every single hair on your head and is responsible for your deepest secrets. Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love are it’s creations. Be honest & strong and you will be among the selected. Amen.

    Goodness me – Charles Darwin created a religious cult.

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