News speciation

Twice as many bird species in the world as formerly thought?

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Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)/bereta, fotolia

From ScienceDaily:

For the new work, Cracraft, Barrowclough, and their colleagues at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and the University of Washington examined a random sample of 200 bird species through the lens of morphology — the study of the physical characteristics like plumage pattern and color, which can be used to highlight birds with separate evolutionary histories. This method turned up, on average, nearly two different species for each of the 200 birds studied. This suggests that bird biodiversity is severely underestimated, and is likely closer to 18,000 species worldwide.

The researchers also surveyed existing genetic studies of birds, which revealed that there could be upwards of 20,000 species. But because the birds in this body of work were not selected randomly — and, in fact, many were likely chosen for study because they were already thought to have interesting genetic variation — this could be an overestimate. The authors argue that future taxonomy efforts in ornithology should be based on both methods. Paper. (public access) – George F. Barrowclough, Joel Cracraft, John Klicka, Robert M. Zink. How Many Kinds of Birds Are There and Why Does It Matter? PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (11): e0166307 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166307More.

But why are the species to be classified only by appearance (taxonomy)? If they can interbreed, how many of them are in fact hybrids? Would we not need genome mapping?

From the Abstract:

Using a sample of 200 species taken from a list of 9159 biological species determined primarily by morphological criteria, we applied a diagnostic, evolutionary species concept to a morphological and distributional data set that resulted in an estimate of 18,043 species of birds worldwide, with a 95% confidence interval of 15,845 to 20,470. In a second, independent analysis, we examined intraspecific genetic data from 437 traditional avian species, finding an average of 2.4 evolutionary units per species, which can be considered proxies for phylogenetic species.

What are “evolutionary units”? Have the species’ ability to hybridize and produce fertile offspring been tested?

One asks because, in general, the concept of speciation is currently a mess:

See also: Mystery species depicted in cave art is buffalo-cattle hybrid?

Cichlid speciation attributed to “plasticity” now

and

Nothing says “Darwin snob” like indifference to the mess that the entire concept of speciation is in.

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7 Replies to “Twice as many bird species in the world as formerly thought?

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    One asks because, in general, the concept of speciation is currently a mess:

    The only beef I would have with that comment is that “concept” should be “concepts”. Ultimately species concepts are a mess because species are a mess. The authors of this paper get their result by applying a phylogenetic species concept instead of a morphological species concept. Neither explicitly use ability to mate, so we could get a totally different answer that way.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Bob O’H at 1: The species are not a mess. The concepts, based in neo-Darwinism, are.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    A few related notes:

    Darwinists have no clue how speciation in birds, (or anything else), is accomplished. In fact, in a study on ovenbirds, Darwin was shown to be ‘wrong’:

    Darwin ‘Wrong’: Species Living Together Does Not Encourage Evolution – December 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution set out in the Origin of Species has been proven wrong by scientists studying ovenbirds.
    Researchers at Oxford University found that species living together do not evolve differently to avoid competing with one another for food and habitats – a theory put forward by Darwin 150 years ago.
    The ovenbird is one of the most diverse bird families in the world and researchers were looking to establish the processes causing them to evolve.
    Published in Nature, the research compared the beaks, legs and songs of 90% of ovenbird species.
    Findings showed that while the birds living together were consistently more different than those living apart, this was the result of age differences. Once the variation of age was accounted for, birds that live together were more similar than those living separately – directly contradicting Darwin’s view.
    The species that lived together had beaks and legs no more different than those living apart,,,
    ,,,there is no shortage of evidence for competition driving divergent evolution in some very young lineages. But we found no evidence that this process explains differences across a much larger sample of species.,,,
    He said that the reasons why birds living together appear to evolve less are “difficult to explain”,,,
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/darwi.....on-1429927

    Even Darwin’s iconic finches have failed to live up to their billing:

    Darwin’s finches not a good example of Darwinian evolution? – February 12, 2015
    Excerpt: The most extensive genetic study ever conducted of Darwin’s finches, from the Galapagos Islands, has revealed a messy family tree with a surprising level of interbreeding between species.
    It also suggests that changes in one particular gene triggered the wide variation seen in their beak shapes …
    The study also revealed a surprisingly large amount of “gene flow” between the branches of the family.
    This indicates that the species have continued to interbreed or hybridise, after diversifying when they first arrived on the islands.…
    “It’s been observed that the species of Darwin’s finches sometimes hybridise – Peter and Rosemary Grant have seen that during their fieldwork,” Prof Andersson told the BBC.
    “But it’s difficult to say what the long-term evolutionary significance of that is. What does it contribute?”
    What it contributes is that one would be hard pressed to show that there is any evolution going on, in the face of this much hybridization.,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Epigenetics and the Evolution of Darwin’s Finches – 2014
    Excerpt: The prevailing theory for the molecular basis of evolution (Neo-Darwinism) involves genetic mutations that ultimately generate the heritable phenotypic variation on which natural selection acts. However, epigenetic (Non-Darwinian) transgenerational inheritance of phenotypic variation may also play an important role in evolutionary change.,,,
    Genome-wide alterations in genetic mutations using copy number variation (CNV) were compared with epigenetic alterations associated with differential DNA methylation regions (epimutations). Epimutations were more common than genetic CNV mutations among the five species; furthermore, the number of epimutations increased monotonically with phylogenetic distance. Interestingly, the number of genetic CNV mutations did not consistently increase with phylogenetic distance.,,,
    http://gbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../1972.full

    Darwin’s Finches Show Rule-Constrained Variation in Beak Shape – June 10, 2014
    Excerpt: A simple yet powerful mathematical rule controls beak development, Harvard scientists find, while simultaneously preventing beaks from evolving into something else.,,,
    We find in Darwin’s finches (and all songbirds) an internal system, controlled by a non-random developmental process. It is flexible enough to allow for variation, but powerful enough to constrain the beak to its basic form (a conical shape modulated by scaling and shear) so that the rest of the bird’s structures are not negatively affected. Beak development is controlled by a decay process that must operate at a particular rate. It’s all very precise, so much so that it could be modeled mathematically.,,,
    The very birds that have long been used as iconic examples of natural selection become, on closer examination, paragons of intelligent design.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....86581.html

    Thus, contrary to what you may have been taught in high school textbooks, Darwin’s finches are vastly overblown as evidence for Darwinian evolution.

    Moreover, contrary to what is commonly believed, genetic evidence is far more problematic, for birds and in general, for Darwinists than they will, often, ever publicly admit.

    More Fossil-Molecule Contradictions: Now Even the Errors Have Errors – Cornelius Hunter – June 2014
    Excerpt: a new massive (phylogenetic) study shows that not only is the problem (for Darwinist) worse than previously thought, but the errors increase with those species that are supposed to have evolved more recently.,,,
    “Our results suggest that, for Aves (Birds), discord between molecular divergence estimates and the fossil record is pervasive across clades and of consistently higher magnitude for younger clades.”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....s-now.html

    Massive Genetic Study Confirms Birds Arose in “Big Bang”-Type of “Explosion” – Casey Luskin – December 12, 2014
    Excerpt: “The absence of a single gene tree identical to the avian species tree is consistent with studies in yeast, indicating that phylogenetic studies based on one or several genes, especially for rapid radiations, will probably be insufficient.”,,,
    When the researchers tried to build the new avian family tree, “we were shocked to find we couldn’t get a solid answer,” Jarvis recalls. As the consortium developed more sophisticated bioinformatics tools to analyze the genome data, they discovered that protein-coding genes by themselves were not the most reliable for building good trees. The non-coding regions within or between genes, called introns, gave better answers. And although the group had access to supercomputers, they still had to come up with a way to allocate the analysis to the machines’ many microprocessors. “It took 3 years to iron out the kinks,” Gilbert says.
    Luskin comments:
    “The fundamental problem is this: They are finding data that doesn’t fit a treelike pattern. But they aren’t going to reject common ancestry. They’re just going to appeal to ad hoc explanations whenever necessary to explain why the data doesn’t fit a tree.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92001.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

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    As with genetic evidence, the fossil record for birds, as with the fossil record overall, is also highly problematic for Darwinists,,,

    Donald Prothero: In evolution, stasis was general, gradualism rare, and that’s the consensus 40 years on – February 2012
    Excerpt: In four of the biggest climatic-vegetational events of the last 50 million years, the mammals and birds show no noticeable change in response to changing climates. No matter how many presentations I give where I show these data, no one (including myself) has a good explanation yet for such widespread stasis despite the obvious selective pressures of changing climate. Rather than answers, we have more questions—
    Donald Prothero – American paleontologist, geologist, and author who specializes in mammalian paleontology.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ars-later/

    When Dinosaurs Flew – February 4, 2014
    Excerpt: A study published online by PeerJ on Jan. 2 detailed the examination of a startlingly complete and pristine specimen of an ancient, dinosaur-era bird: Hongshanornis longicresta, which flapped throughout what is now China roughly 125 million years ago during the early Cretaceous Period.,,,
    “This isn’t a mode of flight we expected from Cretaceous birds,” Habib said, adding that its small size and overall shape are comparable to that of modern birds. “It was pretty much a Cretaceous starling with a larger tail like a mockingbird.”
    Transported to the modern world, it wouldn’t look like anything special to the casual observer, until a closer examination revealed claws at the end of the bird’s wings and tiny teeth in its beak.,,,
    http://dornsife.usc.edu/news/s.....aurs-flew/

    News for the Birds – May 7, 2014
    Excerpt: Yanornis is called an ancestor of birds, but PhysOrg reported on April 18 that a fossil found in China shows that “the digestive system of the ancestors to modern birds was essentially modern in all aspects.”,,,
    But if it was already “essentially modern” in the ancestors, and already integrated with the flight systems, where is the time for natural selection to have supposedly produced it?
    http://crev.info/2014/05/news-for-the-birds-2/

    “The whole notion of feathered dinosaurs is a myth that has been created by ideologues bent on perpetuating the birds-are-dinosaurs theory in the face of all contrary evidence”
    – Storrs Olson – curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

    The hype about feathered dinosaurs in the exhibit currently on display at the National Geographic Society is even worse, and makes the spurious claim that there is strong evidence that a wide variety of carnivorous dinosaurs had feathers. A model of the undisputed dinosaur Deinonychus and illustrations of baby tyrannosaurs are shown clad in feathers, all of which is simply imaginary and has no place outside of science fiction.
    – Storrs Olson

    Bird Evolution vs. The Actual Evidence – video (11:42 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/OZhtj06kmXY?t=704

    The Archaeoraptor Fraud of National Geographic Magazine (In 1999)
    Excerpt: “The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age—the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion.”
    – Storrs Olson curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History

    As to genetics vs. morphology

    Bones, molecules…or both? – Gura – 2000
    Excerpt: Evolutionary trees constructed by studying biological molecules often don’t resemble those drawn up from morphology. Can the two ever be reconciled?,,, When biologists talk of the ‘evolution wars’, they usually mean the ongoing battle for supremacy in American schoolrooms between Darwinists and their creationist opponents. But the phrase could also be applied to a debate that is raging (between Darwinists) within systematics.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....230a0.html

    “Incongruence between phylogenies derived from morphological versus molecular analyses, and between trees based on different subsets of molecular sequences has become pervasive as datasets have expanded rapidly in both characters and species.”
    (Liliana M. Dávalos, Andrea L. Cirranello, Jonathan H. Geisler, and Nancy B. Simmons, “Understanding phylogenetic incongruence: lessons from phyllostomid bats,” Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, Vol. 87:991-1024 (2012).)

    More Upsets for Darwin – January, 2012
    Excerpt: “The discrepancy between plots of the diversity of taxa through time as inferred from molecular phylogenies and those based on counts documented by the fossil record has long been troubling,”
    http://crev.info/2012/01/more-upsets-for-darwin/

    Congruence Between Molecular and Morphological Phylogenies – Colin Patterson
    Excerpt: “As morphologists with high hopes of molecular systematics, we end this survey with our hopes dampened. Congruence between molecular phylogenies is as elusive as it is in morphology and as it is between molecules and morphology.”
    http://www.arn.org/docs/odesig.....ler171.htm

    “That molecular evidence typically squares with morphological patterns is a view held by many biologists, but interestingly, by relatively few systematists. Most of the latter know that the two lines of evidence may often be incongruent.”
    (Masami Hasegawa, Jun Adachi, Michel C. Milinkovitch, “Novel Phylogeny of Whales Supported by Total Molecular Evidence,” Journal of Molecular Evolution, Vol. 44, pgs. S117-S120)

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, as if all of the preceding evidence was not bad enough for Darwin’s theory, “Phylogenetic systematics” itself, by assuming the conclusion of evolution into its premises, has been shamelessly abused by Darwinists to infer relationships that never existed. This non-scientific abuse by Darwinists was made particularly clear when Meyer’s book on the Cambrian Explosion, “Darwin’s Doubt”, came out:

    A Graduate Student (Nick Matzke) Writes – David Berlinski July 9, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74221.html
    A One-Man Clade – David Berlinski – July 18, 2013
    Excerpt: The relationship between cladistics and Darwin’s theory of evolution is thus one of independent origin but convergent confusion. “Phylogenetic systematics,” the entomologist Michael Schmitt remarks, “relies on the theory of evolution.” To the extent that the theory of evolution relies on phylogenetic systematics, the disciplines resemble two biologists dropped from a great height and clutching at one another in mid-air.
    Tight fit, major fail.7
    No wonder that Schmidt is eager to affirm that “phylogenetics does not claim to prove or explain evolution whatsoever.”8 If this is so, a skeptic might be excused for asking what it does prove or might explain?
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74601.html

    Cladistics Made Easy: Why an Arcane Field of Study Fails to Upset Steve Meyer’s Argument for Intelligent Design
    Stephen Meyer – Responding to Critics: Matzke Part 1 – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY2B76JbMQ4&list=PLR8eQzfCOiS3oq-5NkSrGIIfCcpaKkOhT&index=11

    Of supplemental note: Here is a detailed refutation, by Casey Luskin, to TalkOrigins severely misleading site on the claimed evidence for observed macro-evolution (speciation);

    Specious Speciation: The Myth of Observed Large-Scale Evolutionary Change – Casey Luskin – January 2012 – article
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....55281.html

    Here is part 2 of a podcast exposing the Talk Origin’s speciation FAQ as a ‘literature bluff’

    Talk Origins Speciation FAQ, pt. 2: Lack of Evidence for Big Claims – Casey Luskin – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....9_41-08_00

    Related note:

    A Critique of Douglas Theobald’s – “29 Evidences for Macroevolution” by Ashby Camp
    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1b.asp

    Verse:

    Psalm 50:10-11
    “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. “I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    News @ 2 – if species are not a mess, please enlighten us all, and explain how we should classify individuals into species cleanly. This would be a huge advance for biology and systematics.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    “explain how we should classify individuals into species cleanly.”

    Stop trying to fit everything into a Darwinian narrative would be a huge step in the right direction.

    Taxonomic nested hierarchies don’t support Darwinism – May 14, 2013
    Excerpt: Taxonomic nested hierarchies don’t support Darwinism or common descent, actually the opposite. Michael Denton convincingly argued that nested hierarchies can be used to argue against macro evolution.,,,
    In sum, the nested hierarchies in taxonomy don’t need Darwinism, in fact, Darwinism distorts the ability to actually see the nested hierarchies, and finally nested hierarchies based on taxonomy are evidence against Darwinism.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....darwinism/

    Gradual evolution would expect a smooth blending of defining characteristics which would ruin any objective nested hierarchy.

    Dr. Arthur Jones, who did his Ph.D. thesis in biology on cichlids, (fish), comments

    “For all the diversity of species, I found the cichlids to be an unmistakably natural group, a created kind. The more I worked with these fish the clearer my recognition of “cichlidness” became and the more distinct they seemed from all the “similar” fishes I studied. Conversations at conferences and literature searches confirmed that this was the common experience of experts in every area of systematic biology. Distinct kinds really are there and the experts know it to be so. – On a wider canvas, fossils provided no comfort to evolutionists. All fish, living and fossil, belong to distinct kinds; “links” are decidedly missing.”
    Dr. Arthur Jones – did his Ph.D. thesis in biology on cichlids – Fish, Fossils and Evolution – Cichlids at 29:00 minute mark (many examples of repeated morphology in cichlids) – video
    http://edinburghcreationgroup.org/video/14

    Cichlid speciation attributed to “plasticity” – December 7, 2016
    Excerpt: There is increasing evidence that phenotypic plasticity can promote population divergence by facilitating phenotypic diversification and, eventually, genetic divergence. When a ‘plastic’ population colonizes a new habitat, it has the possibility to occupy multiple niches by expressing several distinct phenotypes. These initially reflect the population’s plastic range but may later become genetically fixed by selection via the process of ‘genetic assimilation’ (GA). Through this process multiple specialized sister lineages can arise that share a common plastic ancestor – the ‘flexible stem’,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....icity-now/

    A. L. Hughes’s New Non-Darwinian Mechanism of Adaption Was Discovered and Published in Detail by an ID Geneticist 25 Years Ago – Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig – December 2011
    Excerpt: The original species had a greater genetic potential to adapt to all possible environments. In the course of time this broad capacity for adaptation has been steadily reduced in the respective habitats by the accumulation of slightly deleterious alleles (as well as total losses of genetic functions redundant for a habitat), with the exception, of course, of that part which was necessary for coping with a species’ particular environment….By mutative reduction of the genetic potential, modifications became “heritable”. — As strange as it may at first sound, however, this has nothing to do with the inheritance of acquired characteristics. For the characteristics were not acquired evolutionarily, but existed from the very beginning due to the greater adaptability. In many species only the genetic functions necessary for coping with the corresponding environment have been preserved from this adaptability potential. The “remainder” has been lost by mutations (accumulation of slightly disadvantageous alleles) — in the formation of secondary species.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....53881.html

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