This find challenges the hypothesis that all snakes living across the world today evolved from extreme burrowers, because the vision genes lost in scolecophidians are present in most other living snakes. The researchers say it would be extremely unlikely for such genetic deficiencies to have been reversed through evolution.
The thesis is that much evolution consists in dumping rather than adding complexity. Details, details. Subtraction is just addition with minus numbers, right? 😉 Would it be legal to teach Darwin Devolves in a U.S. school system?
The tongue-eating louse is the only known life form to completely replace an organ in another animal. The takehome point is that devolution (shedding independent characteristics in order to survive, perhaps symbiotically) leads the history of life forms down some strange paths.
Why were two-thirds of the tuskless babies females? “They also suspected that the relevant gene was dominant – meaning that a female needs only one altered gene to become tuskless — and that when passed to male embryos, it may short-circuit their development.”
In short, when researchers actually looked at reptile tooth history, it was hardly a simple evolution tale at all. It seems as if there are plans that life forms can access, perhaps within their genomes. But how do they trigger the needed changes, as opposed to just going extinct?
Isn’t it the case that a great deal of (lights and fanfare!) evolution we hear about is turning out to be devolution?
Behe: Like tusks to elephants, the proteins are presumably useful to the parasite, other things being equal. But when the environment changes and the proteins become a net drawback, the quickest evolutionary solution is to get rid of them. That’s an interesting fact of biology and can be medically important. However, it’s important to note that it’s just one more example of devolution — the beneficial loss of genetic information.
Throwing a horseshoe into the works of Darwinism, many life forms simply reduce their complexity in order to survive. Yes, natural selection works and is real but — because it depends on randomness — it doesn’t produce reliably complexity all by itself any more than winning a lottery ticket reliably produces wealth.
Well, it’s a good thing for “evolutionary theory” that it doesn’t “preclude” life forms becoming “simpler over geological time.” That’s called devolution and it is in fact very common.
If the authors could have predicted adaptation through loss-of-function mutations, why didn’t they let high school textbook authors and pop science presenters in on the secret?: Michael Behe is right: Darwin devolves. Evolution is mostly about devolution. Does that maybe make sense in a universe where entropy is growing? But where does it leave Darwin? At the bus stop after the last bus has left?
Remember, these same authors wrote a scathing review of Darwin Devolves in the journal Evolution. Now, somehow, they must hold their position of opposing Darwin Devolves, while presenting compelling evidence to support Darwin Devolves. Quite a conundrum!
One might ask: If things go downhill that way and “directionality and progress in evolution may be illusory,” what is the source of intelligent designs? An intelligence in or beyond nature? We’ll take either as an answer, to start a discussion.
At Quanta: “In the few years since botanists discovered this anomaly, scientists worldwide have tried with no more than limited success to figure out how mistletoes pull off this trick …”
Devolution, of which this is an example, may be more common than we suppose and will probably have precisely the effect of creating “exceptions” like this. Note that we are told, “they likely steal energy from their host using some type of proteins.” It makes sense that many devolved creatures are parasites. They can afford to throw away equipment if they are using the host’s toolbox anyway.
The thesis of Darwin Devolves is that most adaptation/evolution is due to loss of genes (devolution). The Quanta article seems to agree that loss of genes is a major means of the development of life.