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Evolutionary biologists say: Darwin’s tree of life “is wrong”

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From Britain’s Guardian:

Charles Darwin’s “tree of life”, which shows how species are related through evolutionary history, is wrong and needs to be replaced, according to leading scientists.

The great naturalist first sketched how species might evolve along branches of an imaginary tree in 1837, an idea that quickly came to symbolise the theory of evolution by natural selection.

But modern genetics has revealed that representing evolutionary history as a tree is misleading, with scientists saying a more realistic way to represent the origins and inter-relatedness of species would be an impenetrable thicket. Darwin himself also wrote about evolution and ecosystems as a “tangled bank”.

“We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality,” Eric Bapteste, an evolutionary biologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, told New Scientist magazine.

In 2009. Can readers name other fields where these things could have been said five years ago, and it made almost no difference to the protected status of the field?

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4 Replies to “Evolutionary biologists say: Darwin’s tree of life “is wrong”

  1. 1
    Andre says:

    “The tree of life is an artifact of some early scientific studies that aren’t really holding up…So there is not a tree of life.”

    Dr. Craig Venter

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Who can forget this moment:

    Dr. Craig Venter Denies Common Descent in front of Richard Dawkins! – video
    Quote from video…
    “I think the tree of life is an artifact of some early scientific studies that aren’t really holding up.”
    – Dr. Craig Venter, American Biologist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXrYhINutuI

    Casey Luskin wrote some articles on this topic last autumn and this winter:

    Logged Out – Scientists Can’t Find Darwin’s “Tree of Life” Anywhere in Nature by Casey Luskin – Winter 2013
    Excerpt: the (fossil) record shows that major groups of animals appeared abruptly, without direct evolutionary precursors.
    Because biogeography and fossils have failed to bolster common descent, many evolutionary scientists have turned to molecules—the nucleotide and amino acid sequences of genes and proteins—to establish a phylogenetic tree of life showing the evolutionary relationships between all living organisms.,,,
    Many papers have noted the prevalence of contradictory molecule-based phylogenetic trees. For instance:
    • A 1998 paper in Genome Research observed that “different proteins generate different phylogenetic tree[s].”6
    • A 2009 paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution acknowledged that “evolutionary trees from different genes often have conflicting branching patterns.”7
    • A 2013 paper in Trends in Genetics reported that “the more we learn about genomes the less tree-like we find their evolutionary history to be.”8
    Perhaps the most candid discussion of the problem came in a 2009 review article in New Scientist titled “Why Darwin Was Wrong about the Tree of Life.”9 The author quoted researcher Eric Bapteste explaining that “the holy grail was to build a tree of life,” but “today that project lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence.” According to the article, “many biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded.”,,,
    Syvanen succinctly summarized the problem: “We’ve just annihilated the tree of life. It’s not a tree any more, it’s a different topology entirely. What would Darwin have made of that?” ,,,
    “battles between molecules and morphology are being fought across the entire tree of life,” leaving readers with a stark assessment: “Evolutionary trees constructed by studying biological molecules often don’t resemble those drawn up from morphology.”10,,,
    A 2012 paper noted that “phylogenetic conflict is common, and [is] frequently the norm rather than the exception,” since “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.”12,,,
    http://www.salvomag.com/new/ar.....ed-out.php

    Shark Proteins Contradict the Standard Phylogeny of Vertebrates – Casey Luskin – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: there’s almost no dataset that can contradict (falsify) common descent. Every time you find that one trait predicts one phylogeny, and another trait predicts a conflicting phylogeny, you can effect a reconciliation by invoking at will more evolutionary steps of convergent loss or gain of traits, or invoking a host of other ad hoc explanations. In a worst case scenario, if genes were distributed in the most un-treelike manner imaginable, I suppose you could take all the known genes present in the most recent presumed common ancestor of that group, and then simply invoke losses (and gains) of genes to reconcile the observed distribution with a tree. –
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....80781.html

    Molecular Data Wreak Havoc on the Tree of Life – Casey Luskin – February 7, 2014
    Excerpt: Douglas Theobald claims in his “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution” that “well-determined phylogenetic trees inferred from the independent evidence of morphology and molecular sequences match with an extremely high degree of statistical significance.”
    In reality, however, the technical literature tells a different story. Studies of molecular homologies often fail to confirm evolutionary trees depicting the history of the animal phyla derived from studies of comparative anatomy. Instead, during the 1990s, early into the revolution in molecular genetics, many studies began to show that phylogenetic trees derived from anatomy and those derived from molecules often contradicted each other.
    Stephen Meyer – Darwin’s Doubt – (pp. 122-123)
    ,,,Moreover, when complex parts that are shared by different animals aren’t distributed in a treelike pattern, that wreaks havoc on the assumption of homology that’s used to build phylogenetic trees. In other words, this kind of extreme convergent evolution refutes the standard assumption that shared biological similarity (especially complex biological similarity like a brain and nervous system) implies inheritance from a common ancestor.
    If brains and nervous systems evolved multiple times, this undermines the main assumptions used in constructing phylogenetic trees, calling into question the very basis for inferring common ancestry.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....81981.html

    Casey Luskin also did a podcast on this topic (Evolution, You’re Drunk) last week:

    podcast – Molecular Data Wreak Havoc on (Darwin’s) Tree of Life – Casey Luskin – March 2014
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....7_31-07_00

    Here was another fairly recent study on microRNAs that was also very surprising for Darwinists:

    Phylogeny: Rewriting evolution – Tiny molecules called microRNAs are tearing apart traditional ideas about the animal family tree. – Elie Dolgin – 27 June 2012
    Excerpt: “I’ve looked at thousands of microRNA genes, and I can’t find a single example that would support the traditional tree,” he says. “…they give a totally different tree from what everyone else wants.” (Phylogeny: Rewriting evolution, Nature 486,460–462, 28 June 2012) (molecular palaeobiologist – Kevin Peterson)
    Mark Springer, (a molecular phylogeneticist working in DNA states),,, “There have to be other explanations,” he says.
    Peterson and his team are now going back to mammalian genomes to investigate why DNA and microRNAs give such different evolutionary trajectories. “What we know at this stage is that we do have a very serious incongruence,” says Davide Pisani, a phylogeneticist at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, who is collaborating on the project. “It looks like either the mammal microRNAs evolved in a totally different way or the traditional topology is wrong.
    http://www.nature.com/news/phy.....on-1.10885

    micro-RNAs and Non-Falsifiable Phylogenetic Trees – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qv-i4pY6_MU

    Cornelius Hunter wrote about the severely incongruent yeast studies last summer:

    Here Are Those Incongruent Trees From the Yeast Genome – Case Study – Cornelius Hunter – June 2013
    Excerpt: We recently reported on a study of 1,070 genes and how they contradicted each other in a couple dozen yeast species. Specifically, evolutionists computed the evolutionary tree, using all 1,070 genes, showing how the different yeast species are related. This tree that uses all 1,070 genes is called the concatenation tree. They then repeated the computation 1,070 times, for each gene taken individually. Not only did none of the 1,070 trees match the concatenation tree, they also failed to show even a single match between themselves. In other words, out of the 1,071 trees, there were zero matches. Yet one of the fundamental predictions of evolution is that different features should generally agree. It was “a bit shocking” for evolutionists, as one explained: “We are trying to figure out the phylogenetic relationships of 1.8 million species and can’t even sort out 20 yeast.”
    In fact, as the figure above shows, the individual gene trees did not converge toward the concatenation tree. Evolutionary theory does not expect all the trees to be identical, but it does expect them to be consistently similar. They should mostly be identical or close to the concatenation tree, with a few at farther distances from the concatenation tree. Evolutionists have clearly and consistently claimed this consilience as an essential prediction.
    But instead, on a normalized scale from zero to one (where zero means the trees are identical), the gene trees were mostly around 0.4 from the concatenation tree with a huge gap in between. There were no trees anywhere close to the concatenation tree. This figure is a statistically significant, stark falsification of a highly acclaimed evolutionary prediction.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....-from.html

    That Yeast Study is a Good Example of How Evolutionary Theory Works – Cornelius Hunter – June 2013
    Excerpt:,,, The evolutionists tried to fix the problem with all kinds of strategies. They removed parts of genes from the analysis, they removed a few genes that might have been outliers, they removed a few of the yeast species, they restricted the analysis to certain genes that agreed on parts of the evolutionary tree, they restricted the analysis to only those genes thought to be slowly evolving, and they tried restricting the gene comparisons to only certain parts of the gene.
    These various strategies each have their own rationale. That rationale may be dubious, but at least there is some underlying reasoning. Yet none of these strategies worked. In fact they sometimes exacerbated the incongruence problem. What the evolutionists finally had to do, simply put, was to select the subset of the genes or of the problem that gave the right evolutionary answer. They described those genes as having “strong phylogenetic signal.”
    And how do we know that these genes have strong phylogenetic signal. Because they give the right answer.
    This is an example of a classic tendency in science known as confirmation bias.,,,
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....f-how.html

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    And then, as if that was not enough to give the most rabid Darwinian fundamentalist doubts, there are those enigmatic ORFan genes, comprising somewhere around 10 to 33% of a genome (nobody really has a firm number yet), that just seem to pop out of nowhere:

    Genes from nowhere: Orphans with a surprising story – 16 January 2013 – Helen Pilcher
    Excerpt: When biologists began sequencing genomes they discovered up to a third of genes in each species seemed to have no parents or family of any kind. Nevertheless, some of these “orphan genes” are high achievers (are just as essential as ‘old’ genes),,,
    But where do they come from? With no obvious ancestry, it was as if these genes appeared out of nowhere, but that couldn’t be true. Everyone assumed that as we learned more, we would discover what had happened to their families. But we haven’t-quite the opposite, in fact.,,,
    The upshot is that the chances of random mutations turning a bit of junk DNA into a new gene seem infinitesmally small. As the French biologist Francois Jacob wrote 35 years ago, “the probability that a functional protein would appear de novo by random association of amino acids is practically zero”.,,,
    Orphan genes have since been found in every genome sequenced to date, from mosquito to man, roundworm to rat, and their numbers are still growing.
    http://ccsb.dfci.harvard.edu/w.....n_2013.pdf

    Orphan Genes (And the peer reviewed ‘non-answer’ from Darwinists) – lifepsy video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zz6vio_LhY

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    Gosh, I wonder whether wd400 is reading any of these announcements! This is devastating! 😉

    -Q

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