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.
Researchers: “To their surprise, the researchers discovered that the plants do not need a particularly large number of genes for carnivory. Instead, the three species studied are actually among the most gene-poor plants known. ” Yes, because – as Mike Behe says – Darwin Devolves.
Behe: Let me emphasize: the only result from the decades-long, 50,000-plus generation E. coli evolution experiment that even seemed at first blush like it had a bit of potential to yield a novel pathway in the bacterium has resulted instead in spectacular devolution.
What he is saying is precisely Behe’s point in Darwin Devolves. Cell evolution is mostly about destroying complex equipment that hinders immediate survival. (The question of how the equipment came to be so complex beforehand is separate from the question of what life forms actually do when they evolve.)
The trouble with Darwin Devolves is that it is likely to be both quite right and a big problem for schoolbook Darwinism. Just as it is much easier to—without thinking much—throw something out than fix or adapt it, life forms will far more likely randomly mutate by dumping complex equipment than by reengineering it. It’s not that life forms can’t develop complex new equipment. But such changes probably aren’t an instance of natural selection acting on random mutation. And in these times, that’s the controversial part: design in nature.
In Darwin Devolves, he explains how much evolution depends on breaking genes. He picks up the theme in this video series. In the case of wolves, we call the broken ones dogs.
So yunnanicus started out more complex and evolved to be LESS complex. Maybe Darwinism can explain that more easily than it can explain most evolution because we are looking at a loss of information.
That’s called devolution, when life forms simply junk complex equipment they never use. One wonders if there is any characteristic of live that some life form or other has not devolved to get rid of. But they will, of course, likely be parasites like salminicola.
This is a classic story of devolution, where an organism thrives by losing information, as Michael Behe explains in Darwin Devolves. Devolution is a form of evolution; it just isn’t glitzy.
But isn’t that the kind of thing the villain Michael Behe argues in Darwin Devolves?