Home » Evolution » PNAS paper studies actual pattern of evolution, doesn’t pretend it’s somehow something else

PNAS paper studies actual pattern of evolution, doesn’t pretend it’s somehow something else

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It used to be the “trade secret of paleontology – that evolution never works the way Darwin said. Indeed, Darwinists may have invented the term “quote mining” – just for something to say in response to the fact that Steve Gould had admitted that, carelessly perhaps.

However, straw in the wind, a recent paper actually looks at the data without Darwin glasses. And guess what?

The million-year wait for macroevolutionary bursts

Josef C. Uyedaa,1, Thomas F. Hansenb, Stevan J. Arnolda, and Jason Pienaarc

July 22, 2011 (received for review October 11, 2010)

Abstract

We lack a comprehensive understanding of evolutionary pattern and process because short-term and long-term data have rarely been combined into a single analytical framework. Here we test alternative models of phenotypic evolution using a dataset of unprecedented size and temporal span (over 8,000 data points). The data are body-size measurements taken from historical studies, the fossil record, and among-species comparative data representing mammals, squamates, and birds. By analyzing this large dataset, we identify stochastic models that can explain evolutionary patterns on both short and long timescales and reveal a remarkably consistent pattern in the timing of divergence across taxonomic groups. Even though rapid, short-term evolution often occurs in intervals shorter than 1 Myr, the changes are constrained and do not accumulate over time. Over longer intervals (1–360 Myr), this pattern of bounded evolution yields to a pattern of increasing divergence with time. The best-fitting model to explain this pattern is a model that combines rare but substantial bursts of phenotypic change with bounded fluctuations on shorter timescales. We suggest that these rare bursts reflect permanent changes in adaptive zones, whereas the short-term fluctuations represent local variations in niche optima due to restricted environmental variation within a stable adaptive zone.

Studying the patterns and mechanisms of evolution can yield real information, but the first requirement for true knowledge is to stop defending Darwin.

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19 Responses to PNAS paper studies actual pattern of evolution, doesn’t pretend it’s somehow something else

  1. Yet again, you attack a straw man, and call it “Darwin”.

    Why should punctuated equilibrium pose a problem for evolutionary theory?

    Answer: it doesn’t. Darwin probably didn’t envisage fluctating rates of adaptation, but then he didn’t envisage genetics, or population genetics, either.

    What are these “Darwin glasses” you think scientists wear?

  2. BTW, I take it you haven’t read the paper? Or even to the end of the abstract?

    We suggest that these rare bursts reflect permanent changes in adaptive zones, whereas the short-term fluctuations represent local variations in niche optima due to restricted environmental variation within a stable adaptive zone.

    (my bold)

    It’s a Darwinian model!

  3. Reminds me of this:

    Evolution Cartoon – Waiting For That Beneficial Mutation
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4165228/

    So basically, beneath the mandatory ‘evolutionary gloss’ they threw on at the end, when they said,,,

    Even though rapid, short-term evolution often occurs in intervals shorter than 1 Myr, the changes are constrained and do not accumulate over time.

    ,,,they are admitting that micro-evolutionary events, of variation within ‘kind’,,,, the types of ‘information losing’ variations within ‘kind’ that neo-Darwinists continually try to claim as proof of macro-evolution,,, cannot be extrapolated to explain the origination of dramatically new body plans! Moreover, from Science Daily, we find a bit more honesty when they state:

    Not So Fast:,,,
    Excerpt: The exact cause of these long-term, persistent evolutionary changes is not certain. The scientists said that climate change, in itself, does not appear to be a driving force, because many species have remained substantially unchanged over time periods when climates changed dramatically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....154752.htm

    So beneath the mandatory evolutionary gloss, we have evidence that micro-evolutionary events cannot explain the origination of new body plans, and we have concession that, since many species remained substantially unchanged when climates have changed dramatically, they really have no known cause to explain ‘macro-evolutionary’ events; i.e. no known cause to explain the sudden appearance of new body plans they witness first hand in the fossil record.

  4. Oh, you mean the pinch of incense at the end to the Emperor Darwin? Yeah, we smelt it. And evaluated it just as you might expect.

  5. Q: What are these “Darwin glasses” you think scientists wear?

    A: The commitment to interpret any and all data only within an evolutionary framework. No other interpretations are allowed because we “know” evolution took place.

  6. Okay, so what you’re saying is this model of evolution is convincing to you. Congratulations?

  7. as to: ‘Okay, so what you’re saying is this model of evolution is convincing to you. Congratulations?’

    Sure it’s convincing to me! A evolutionary model with no discernible, or credible, underlying molecular mechanism to explain gradual change, is found to have no evidence of gradual change in the fossil record. Moreover despite dramatically changing environments, Natural Selection is shown to be powerless (once again) to create anything of significance. And yet, inexplicably, new species suddenly appear in the fossil record though the authors of the paper readily admit that they do not know the ‘exact cause’ for why they do. ,,, What in the world could anyone ask from a scientific theory that explains nothing of what is was suppose to explain in the first place?!?,,, My question is why will neo-Darwinists completely ignore this study as if it didn’t matter, and continue to pedal their pseudo-scientific tripe??

  8. So in what sense are they not being worn by the authors of this paper?

  9. I hope you read the paper, cuz I didn’t get any of that from reading the abstract.

  10. It’s curious that in order to “identify stochastic models that can explain evolutionary patterns on both short and long timescales and reveal a remarkably consistent pattern in the timing of divergence across taxonomic groups,” they measured changes in body sizes within species. That wouldn’t be so underwhelming if the paper were about changes in body sizes.

  11. It’s not just a “pinch of incense”, News.

    The whole thing is a Darwinian model! It’s rather good, actually.

    But I think you must have misread it :)

  12. Semi OT; Casey Luskin has posted part 5 of 8 in his series to Venema: Should be interested for they have invited Venema to come defend his claim that Lenki’s e-coli clearly demonstrate the origin of new biological information:

    Richard Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiments with E. coli and the Origin of New Biological Information
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51051.html

  13. So basically you are telling me that since those guys cite evidence that is completely consistent with the Theistic model of creation, certainly not consistent with what Darwin originally envisioned, throw some evolutionary gloss on it and WA LAA this is magically transformed into evidence for neo-Darwinism. Man this is some kind of robust scientific theory you guys got there, no matter what evidence comes up it just can’t be falsified. Of course, some people, like me, would point out the obvious fact that any theory that explains any evidence without falsification is completely worthless as a scientific theory. But I’m sure you won’t let that bother you!

  14. Rare bursts? Unfortunately they are soooo rare they have only been “observed” in the imagination of evolutionists.

    And even more unfortunate is the reality that there isn’t any evidence that a prokaryote can “evolve” into something other than a prokaryote, meaning the current theory of evolution is a non-starter.

  15. Stripped of all quasi-scientific terminology which serves smoke in mirrors, modern theory of evolution asserts: A || NOT(A) -> TRUE.

    Whatever the evidence, the main formula is trivially satisfied. Unfortunately, the amount of information we can get from such theories is nil.

    When new evidence arrives that contradicts the scheme, A is adjusted to include the evidence. But the main formula remains invariably unshattered.

    It reminds me of a children’s trick. You are asked to secretly pick a number. Then they ask you to do a number of arithmetic operations resulting in your number disappering from the equation. They finally correctly “guess” what the result is. Magic!

  16. You should read the paper. Look at Figure 1. Do you see any gaps in the pattern? It’s all blended together. As for a molecular mechanism for gradual change? It’s called Quantitative Genetics. This paper is about body size changes. You don’t lose information when you change body sizes. You upregulate some enzymes, you downregulate some other ones, you change the timing of development with a few key loci, and body size changes. It can change a lot. It can be macroevolutionary. The data are in no way consistent with a creation model, but absolutely consistent with evolution. By the way, those bursts you think evolution can’t explain? Those bursts are a 30% change in body size, that takes a million years. Yet we see 10-20% changes in body size all the time. You think that 30% is hard to explain when 20% happens in just a few generations? The point is that EVOLUTION IS CAPABLE OF EVOLVING MUCH MORE THAN IT DOES. The reason it’s slow has something to do with the nature of selection, not that the mechanism is in any way incapable of explaining the pattern.

  17. You’ll also notice the rare burst model is barely different than a gradual model in terms of fit (see figure 3). Again, bursts of evolution where body size changes about 30% fairly rapidly is not exactly something that microevolution is having trouble explaining. Have you seen dogs? Have you seen how fast we can evolve body sizes through artificial selection? Why is this a problem?

  18. squamate,

    Have you seen dogs? Have you seen how fast we can evolve body sizes through artificial selection? Why is this a problem?

    If body size ever turned into full fledged wings on dogs you would have a point.

  19. So you don’t have a problem with the idea that evolution can change body sizes from shrew to a whale? You just have a problem with the evolution of wings? Just making sure I know where your boundaries are…I’d be pretty impressed if you accepted evolution were capable of that. After all, most differences between species are just differences in the relative sizes and timing of things…even a bat wing and our arms are just different in the relative sizes of the different bones…

    But seriously, I’m obviously responding to the claim that this paper supports creationism. It most clearly does not. “Joseph” took the term “rare bursts” out of context and insinuated it was something magical moment that evolution can’t explain. My response invalidated that claim. Those rare bursts were about rare bursts in body size, of about 30%, that accumulate (see Fig 1) to explain all the diversity of body sizes we see in the major clades of vertebrates (birds, mammals and squamates). You can move the goalposts if you want I suppose and ask me about wings, but it doesn’t address what this paper has to say about evolution vs. creationism and body size evolution.

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