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Darwin’s tree of life vs. real life: The curious case of the beefalo

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Never heard of a beefalo? Aw, don’t be shy.

It’s what happens when Buffalo bull meets Cow gal or versa vice. You probably don’t hang out in places like that, so to you it’s just a dinner entree.

This is a cross between genera, not species. 

Fertile hybrids of genus bos and genus bison, separated for many thousands of years, form the basis of an industry in Western North America. What does that mean for theories of how different species come to exist?

 Jane Harris-Zsovan of The Design of Life team says,

The existence of the beefalo and its cousins, the dzo and zubron, show us that – after millennia of separation – the gene pool of individuals in the genus bison and genus bos has not changed enough to make interbreeding impossible. And, in the case of European bison and American bison, there is debate as to whether speciation has fully occurred.
Clearly, the Darwinian theory of speciation by natural selection is not the whole story. Maybe it’s not the true story at all.

Go here for more.

Greetings again! I do see your point btw. And it is a very good point indeed. Unlettered and Ordinary
Greetings! bfast, when I say viable young I mean young that can reproduce, not stirile young. Meaning continuous reproduction. So if several Sub-wolf could mate say a golden retriever and Coyote it would be... What? A Golden Coyote or a Coyote Retriever. Just as any Dog can mate with any other dog to produce variations of dogs. Species then Variation of course all in latin. We are not talking about "mules" of different sorts. ie, ligers and such. In my suggestion a Liger is "NOT viable" so would not be included as a variation. Unlettered and Ordinary
A dog and a wolf are considered separate species, FWIW, the Smithsonian has reclassified the dog as Canis lupus familiaris, making it a subspecies of the wolf. tribune7
“We could do an experiment; we could put a Chihuahua in a pen with a wolf and see what would happen.” This sounds frivolous but does lead to a certain point. The Chihuahua and the wolf would presumably not be able to mate because of size differences. They have different allele frequencies that eventually code for their problematic sizes, and are thus reproductively isolated. But, they have the same genome; their genetic data bases match. If you artificially inseminated a wolf with Chihuahua sperm you would get viable canines. Any definition of species based on "not able to mate" or “reproductively isolated” is simply spurious when it comes to trying to explain the evolution of whole new genomes. One might object about using dogs as an example as their evolutionary environment is "not natural", but as alluded to in the posts above there are plenty of natural examples where the Darwinian mechanism is credited with creating new genomes where in fact no such thing has occurred. “Species” is a wiggly term with many definitions, and I think its very elasticity is part of the success of the Darwinian tale. StuartHarris
"We could do an experiment we could put a chihuahua in a pen with a wolf and see what whould happen." My guess is that the wolf would eat the chihuahua unless the wolf was well fed. What would a male wolf do to a female chihuahua in heat? That might make an interesting video for Youtube. jerry
Then every time we come across a species that can mate with another species and produce viable young we could re-classify them as the same species but different variations.
Oh if life were only this easy. I remember participating in a debate on ISCID's brainstorms. (The most active participants are the oft banned Dr. Davison, and Zachriel, I believe.) In this discussion Zachriel pointed out a number of anomalous phenomenon. In some cases the male of species A can mate witht the female of species B producing viable offspring, but the male of B cannot successfully mate w/ the female of A. In some cases, such as the horse and donkey, the offspring are usually, but not always sterile. In some cases species A can successfully mate with either species B or species C, but B and C cannot produce vable offspring. Numerous other variations on this theme exist. The simple net result is that a "if A can mate with B producing viable offspring" rule cannot be consistently applied. Speciation is not that simple. This is part of the reason I cannot buy into the theory that a separate creation happens for each species. I am quite convinced that true speciation can happen without the active influence of an intelligent designer. BTW, further discussions on ISCID's brainstorms wrt a recent hybrid of a grizzly and polar bear suggested that it takes a few hundred thousand years to produce full genetic separation of large mammals. That said, it is a bit thick to suggest that the bison and the cow belong in separate genera when they readily mate. bFast
Greetings! Really there are differences in natural selection and artificial selection. Chihuahuas probably would not exist in the wild among wolves. But as humans we preserve what nature would normally eliminate. We could do an experiment we could put a chihuahua in a pen with a wolf and see what whould happen. I am willing to speculate on the outcome. Darwinists like to present natural selection as artificial selection that we huamns do. The two are just not the same. They are two different procedures that have a similar outcome. The outcome is variation, but in the artificial process the variation would not likely survive in the natuaral setting. At least until a population of its own could be established. But let's take notes from bacteria cultures with mutations, even with an established population, the unchanged bacteria population eventually take over and eliminate the mutation population. There is an undertone of intelligence in the materialist dogma of natural selection that allows tham to make direct comparisons, to which are not really there. And not too long ago human races were classified as separate species now we are classified as one species. Try classifying human races as separate species now. I am willing to bet you would make swarms of enemies over night. The thing is human classification is the exception to the rule. Or rather in my view should be the rule when classifying organisms. It probably would be better to find a new way of classifying organisms to include variation. Oh, how about species then "variation?" Would this not work? Then every time we come across a species that can mate with another species and produce viable young we could re-classify them as the same species but different variations. Unlettered and Ordinary
PaV and I and some others have been debating a similar idea in the last couple months on different threads. Here is part of a post I sent to someone on another site when one of the posters brought up the artificial selection of a pet fox and the extraordinary number of beetles in the world. "The currently accepted theory of the mechanism for evolution is called the modern synthesis. Now this theory was originally developed in the 1930's and 1940's to take care of many of the flaws in Darwin's arguments but before anything was known about DNA, a genome and all the information on how this genome might change. So the modern synthesis has been modified many times. But essentially it consists of two basic processes, (1) development of variation and (2) genetic mixing of alleles from one generation to the next. Within the second process is included the well known process of natural selection. However, to better understand the differences between these two processes it essential to introduce the concept of a gene pool. Here is the definition of gene pool from Wikipedia and it will suffice for here: "In population genetics, a gene pool is the complete set of unique alleles in a species or population. A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can survive bouts of intense selection. Meanwhile, low genetic diversity (see inbreeding and population bottlenecks) can cause reduced biological fitness and an increased chance of extinction." So lets look at our gene pool and the two basic processes of the modern synthesis. The variation process increases the set of unique alleles by modifying the gametes in organisms in the population. There are a multitude of different ways this is supposed to happen from a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism - a mutation to one nucleotide in a DNA sequence) to massive reorganizations of the genome of the gamete. There are several processes that will change the DNA sequences in the gametes from duplication, insertion, deleting, changing the order of nucleotides, introduction of retro viruses, etc. Let's just say there are a lot of processes proposed. But the gene pool has not been modified yet since all the changes are in the gametes only. Now once the gametes have been changed, the genetic processes will decide if these changes enter the gene pool or get rejected. If the change is harmful, then the organism may not be able to reproduce and the change has been eliminated and not entered the gene pool. If the change is neutral and has no effect on the organism then it may enter the gene pool and be accepted or rejected purely on a random chance basis. If a change is beneficial in some way in some environment then the percentage of organisms in a population having that gene will increase especially if the population or part of the population enters such an environment. This is simplified but essentially the basic process. If no changes to the gene pool ever take place can one have evolution. The answer is yes. Because within the gene pool is the potential for a lot of variation without the gene pool ever expanding. To give you an example, I will use your artificial selection process you described (wild feral fox turning into a friendly lap fox in 50 years of breeding). The cute friendly fox is available within the gene pool of the feral grey fox. And so is the chihuahua available within the gene pool of the wolf. If one saw the wolf and the chihuahua in the fossil record no one would say they are the same species but according to some definitions of species they are. The wolf and the chihuahua can mate and produce another variant. Now I do not know how the chihuahua could impregnate a wolf or vice versa but if it could there would be a viable offspring. Now is the gene pool of the chihuahua a wholly contained subset of the wolf. Probably not because in the process of artificial selection, some mutations probably took place for body size, hair length, shape etc. that was not in the wolf gene pool but which does not prevent them from breeding. That is how a lot of artificial breeding takes place, by preserving mutations but most is just a refinement of the gene pool to a smaller wholly contained subset so you get your friendly lap fox. Now rather than go on and on, I will cut it short and say that most of what passes as evolution is just refinements of the gene pool with the occasional small mutation. So the example of 60,000 beetles may be just slight variants of each other brought on by simple mutation events but mainly refinements of an original gene pool based on environmental pressures. This is indeed evolution but it is simple micro evolution and what one would have to do is isolate the gene pools of these beetles and see which allele differences represent real novelty in the species or just simple changes. An interesting research project but massive to do it well. There is little argument about the genetic half of the modern synthesis and while they do not understand how everything works in mixing up the alleles during reproduction, this side does not produce much that is new that isn't already in the genome or the gene pool. All (nearly all) the novelty is produced by the other process, namely variation generation. And Michael Behe's book cast severe doubt on just how much variation can arise through naturalistic processes. So most species arise through the genetic processes that are mostly straightforward and do not represent real novelty or much addition to the gene pool. And this type of evolution is micro evolution and not very controversial. It was within this uncontroversial area that Darwin provided all his examples on his trip on the Beagle. When a Darwinist invokes beetles and artificial selection, they are not appropriate examples. They are/may only be refinements of the gene pool and as such trivial. There may be some significant mutations but I guess that most are not and could be solved by examining the genomes. Essentially they are probably examples of devolution and I believe we should use this term more frequently. However, to support this hypothesis, 60,000 beetle or 2,000 cichlid genomes have to be mapped (or a substantial subset) and this is a daunting project." If bisons and cows come from the same gene pool, how many other so called species differences are not just devolution of gene pools. This could change our understanding of just what a species is and is one of the ID predictions that should be put forward to support Behe's Edge of Evolution. jerry
StuartHarris, are you telling me that if we junked Darwinism, we would havea more realistic understanding of the history of life? O'Leary
I think certain animals are simply misclassified in taxonomy. If a bison and a cow can mate and produce fertile offspring, then, for purposes of describing their evolution, they should be considered the same species. Our modern cattle are simply the result of millennia of selected breeding starting with bison ancestors. A dog and a wolf are considered separate species, but they shouldn't be since interbreeding them works fine. Arbitrary divisions of animals as separate species are often a Darwinian sleight of hand. E.g., the Galapagos finches that are defined as separate species because they look somewhat different are really nothing of the kind. They can and do interbreed and have fertile offspring. StuartHarris

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