News Origin Of Life

Latest! “Biological mishap” 600 mya changed everything!

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choanoflagellate, closest cousin to multicellulars/Fairclough, Creative Commons

From Washington Post:

Startling new finding: 600 million years ago, a biological mishap changed everything

Zounds. Most mishaps don’t change everything by introducing vast new realms of complexity. As in: Bill Gates stumbled in his garage one day, and behold, Windows!

In a paper published in the open-access journal eLife this week, researchers say they have pinpointed what may well be one of evolution’s greatest copy mess-ups yet: the mutation that allowed our ancient protozoa predecessors to evolve into complex, multi-cellular organisms. Thanks to this mutation — which was not solely responsible for the leap out of single-cellular life, but without which you, your dog and every creature large enough to be seen without a microscope might not be around — cells were able to communicate with one another and work together.

So it is not “solely responsible” but essential.

Incredibly, in the world of evolutionary biology, all it took was one tiny tweak, one gene, and complex life as we know it was born.

Wait! The guy just said it “wasn’t solely responsible.” One wonders how many other essential characteristics were working together at the same time, many as yet unidentified.

A single mutation that repurposed a certain type of protein. Instead of working as enzymes (proteins that facilitate reactions inside the cell) the proteins were now what’s known as an interaction domain. … Every example of cells collaborating that has arisen since — from the trilobites of 500 million years ago to the dinosaurs, woolly mammoths and you — probably relied on it or some other similar mutation. More.

So it is one of the essentials for known instances of multicellular life forms, but not the “one tiny tweak.”

File with: These days, hype rises in science journals, like yeast in dough

TLS5.jpgFor more plausible news on the origins front, see Suzan Mazur’s The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing “the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin”

and The Enigma of Information

See also: Is there a good reason to believe that life’s origin must be a fully natural event?

and

Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?

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