Does anyone recall the recent finding (2012) that most junk DNA probably isn’t junk after all? ENCODE ring a bell?
In late 2012, from Science, the magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
This week, 30 research papers, including six in Nature and additional papers published online by Science, sound the death knell for the idea that our DNA is mostly littered with useless bases. A decade-long project, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), has found that 80% of the human genome serves some purpose, biochemically speaking. Beyond defining proteins, the DNA bases highlighted by ENCODE specify landing spots for proteins that influence gene activity, strands of RNA with myriad roles, or simply places where chemical modifications serve to silence stretches of our chromosomes.
Apparently, biochemist and Darwin spear carrier Dan Graur , now of the University of Houston, still spearheads the drive against ENCODE’s 1 800-NON-JUNK findings.
Here, he announces, on slide 5,
“If ENCODE is right, then Evolution is wrong.”
But how can “Evolution” be right or wrong? Isn’t it just something that happens, or doesn’t?
Oh well, I guess the thought is, carry on regardless.
Actually, most Darwinists will just announce that the fact that there is very little junk DNA is completely consistent with their theory, just as a lot of junk DNA would have been completely consistent with it. As embryologist Jonathan Wells explains in The Myth of Junk DNA (2011), Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller, Oxford University zoologist Richard Dawkins, University of Chicago biologist Jerry A. Coyne, and University of California–Irvine biologist John C. Avise have all argued that most of our DNA is junk, and that this provides evidence for Darwinian evolution and against intelligent design.
In 1990, Richard Dawkins elegantly termed the non-coding DNA “a harmless but useless passenger, hitching a ride in the survival machines created by the other DNA” (Selfish Gene, p. 47). Carl Sagan opined (1992), “some, maybe even most, of the genetic instructions must be redundancies, stutters, and untranscribable nonsense. Again we glimpse deep imperfections at the heart of life.”
Or at the heart of Darwinism (if you are not a Darwinist, that is).
7 Replies to “Nothing makes sense in evolution except in the light of junk DNA?”
I’ve read some of Larry Moran’s comments on this topic, and I find them cogent enough that I am withholding judgment on how much DNA is junk until more evidence is in. ENCODE seems to be assuming that because something is biochemically functional, that therefore it is biologically functional. And that seems to be a fallacy.
That’s right, it is a fallacy. And that’s backed up by the fact that much of the genome isn’t strongly conserved. The sequences can vary without ill effect.
I see little in keiths statmentent to qualify it. Which sequences? How many sequences can be varied simultaneously without ill effect? How much can they be varied?
In a message transmitted over a communication channel, error correction coding is added to the message. Transmitted characters can be received in error without ill effect because of error correction. A certain amount of the error correction bits can be lost without ill effect. This has to be quantified. Error correction will begin to break down when a certain upper limit of characters are lost. This is what I mean by adding quantification to keiths post to make it meaningful. Just reads a little too cut and dry, you know, a bit like hands down absolute, case closed or something.
BTW when error correction breaks down, the receiver can notify the transmitter of this and the transmitter can allocate more bandwidth to error correction, i.e. send more redundant information in the form of error correction.
Or at the heart of Darwinism
Is hard to imagine a less Darwinian topic in evolutionary biology than the very strong evidence that most our genome is junk. I really IDers stop describing evolutionary biology in such a silly way.
WD400 – Yeah? Whats that strong evidence? – the same that was simply “assumed” by Richard Dawkin’s and Carl Sagan which is decades old. You many want to bone up on what encode has really found, not some old tired so-called “evidence” their is JUNK in our DNA –
Tom, you might want to look into what ENCODE actually reports not what some press releases said.
The evidence for junk includes the fact we are alive (if all of genome was functional the mutations we are each born with would be devastating), the onion test (the distribution of gnome sizes), the relationship between genome size and effective population size (and energetic niche), the lack of conservation of much of the genome within and between species….
Huh, I hadnt’ noticed this is 2 years old. Somewhat amazing that folks are still going as about ENCODE without (apparently) understanding its actual results. There’s really been enough time for people to learn about this 🙂