Home » Evolution, Intelligent Design, Origin Of Life » This guy knows exactly what happened early in the history of life on Earth …

This guy knows exactly what happened early in the history of life on Earth …

File:Mitochondrion 186.jpg

mitochondrian (micrograph)/NIH

Except that he doesn’t. In “Slaves to evolution,” (ABC Science 06/09/2011) Bernie Hobbs explains it all for you:

Two billion-odd years ago, one of the most important meals in history took place. One bacterium swallowed another one. But instead of being digested, the swallowee survived. And it kept doing what it had always done: using oxygen to rip apart food molecules, and then using the energy released to make ATP. So the bacteria that did the swallowing suddenly had this little lump inside it that leaked ATP, which the swallower could use to power its own cellular reactions. It was a match made in thermodynamic heaven.

And this crazy hybrid was the great (x10n) grandmother cell that all eukaryotic cells evolved from. The mitochondria in your cells, mine and every plant, animal and fungi on the planet are descendents of that meal. It’s like slavery, but with benefits.

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Cyanobacteria can photosynthesise, so when a eukaryotic cell swallowed a cyanobacteria somewhere in the distant past, it suddenly had a lump inside it that could make food as long as the sun did shine. Not only that, the lump spat out oxygen at the same time — oxygen that the eukaryote’s now well-established mitochondrian could soak up to release energy. And it was a lovely green to-boot!

Okay, Bernie, so … we know it happened this way because …

There’s no single piece of killer evidence that proves the case for the bacterial origins of mitochondria and chloroplasts, …

He offers enough information to make his position (endosymbiosis, sometimes called symbiogenesis) sound quite reasonable and attractive, but not nearly enough to write it up as a historical narrative. There’s a lot of that about these days, and some of it may end up in the school system.

Here’s a salamander as an endosymbiont with an alga (in this case, we know it happened, and it produced  a benefit, but not a dramatic new suite of abilities), such as Bernie Hobbs would need. Here are reasons experts disagree, and here are Jonathan M’s comments. Albert de Roos is a respected critic of within the discipline as well. What unites them is that they don’t know exactly what happened, and can live with that fact while doing research.

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14 Responses to This guy knows exactly what happened early in the history of life on Earth …

  1. and they call it science???

  2. 2
    Elizabeth Liddle

    It’s a hypothesis.

    You can’t do science without hypotheses.

  3. 3
    Elizabeth Liddle

    And even though the gee-whiz journalism is annoying, the author does include this, in a box for emphasis:

    Where’s the evidence?

    There’s no single piece of killer evidence that proves the case for the bacterial origins of mitochondria and chloroplasts, but there’s no shortage of smoking guns.

    For starters, mitochondria and chloroplasts look a lot like bacteria — they’ve got a single circle of DNA, an inner membrane of the same type as a bacterial cell wall, they’re about the same size, and their genomes closely resemble those of Rickettsia and cyanobacteria. On top of that, they reproduce the same way bacteria do (by splitting in two), and not just when the cell does. And the cell can’t make a chloroplast or mitochondrian — if you remove them it doesn’t have the genes to build new ones.

    Not exactly case closed, but short of CCTV footage it’s compelling evidence.

  4. A competing hypothesis:

    Can evolution make things less complicated?

    Instead, the data suggest that eukaryote cells with all their bells and whistles are probably as ancient as bacteria and archaea, and may have even appeared first, with bacteria and archaea appearing later as stripped-down versions of eukaryotes, according to David Penny, a molecular biologist at Massey University in New Zealand.

    Penny, who worked on the research with Chuck Kurland of Sweden’s Lund University and Massey University’s L.J. Collins, acknowledged that the results might come as a surprise.

    “We do think there is a tendency to look at evolution as progressive,” he said. “We prefer to think of evolution as backwards, sideways, and occasionally forward.”

  5. 5
    Elizabeth Liddle

    No reason why it shouldn’t, if less complicated works better.

    It often does. I will someone would tell Bill Gates.

  6. notes:

    Bacteria Too Complex To Be Primitive Eukaryote Ancestors – July 2010
    Excerpt: “Bacteria have long been considered simple relatives of eukaryotes,” wrote Alan Wolfe for his colleagues at Loyola. “Obviously, this misperception must be modified…. There is a whole process going on that we have been blind to.”,,, For one thing, Forterre and Gribaldo revealed serious shortcomings with the popular “endosymbiosis” model – the idea that a prokaryote engulfed an archaea and gave rise to a symbiotic relationship that produced a eukaryote.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100712b

    Was our oldest ancestor a proton-powered rock?
    Excerpt: In particular, the detailed mechanics of DNA replication would have been quite different. It looks as if DNA replication evolved independently in bacteria and archaea,… Even more baffling, says Martin, neither the cell membranes nor the cell walls have any details in common.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....tml?page=1

    On The Non-Evidence For The Endosymbiotic Origin Of The Mitochondria – March 2011
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ochondria/

    An enormous gap exists between prokaryote (bacteria and cyanobacteria) cells and eukaryote (protists, plants and animals) type of cells. A crucial difference between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is the means they use to produce ATP (energy).
    http://www.trueorigin.org/atp.asp

    Powering the Cell: Mitochondria – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrS2uROUjK4

    Evolution vs ATP Synthase – Molecular Machine – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4012706

    The ATP Synthase Enzyme – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3KxU63gcF4

    =====================

    And in spite of the fact of finding molecular motors permeating the simplest of bacterial life, there are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of even one such motor or system.

    “There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system only a variety of wishful speculations. It is remarkable that Darwinism is accepted as a satisfactory explanation of such a vast subject.”
    James Shapiro – Molecular Biologist

    The following expert doesn’t even hide his very unscientific preconceived philosophical bias against intelligent design,,,

    ‘We should reject, as a matter of principle, the substitution of intelligent design for the dialogue of chance and necessity,,,

    Yet at the same time the same expert readily admits that neo-Darwinism has ZERO evidence for the chance and necessity of material processes producing any cellular system whatsoever,,,

    ,,,we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.’
    Franklin M. Harold,* 2001. The way of the cell: molecules, organisms and the order of life, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 205.
    *Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Colorado State University, USA

    Michael Behe – No Scientific Literature For Evolution of Any Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5302950/

    “The response I have received from repeating Behe’s claim about the evolutionary literature, which simply brings out the point being made implicitly by many others, such as Chris Dutton and so on, is that I obviously have not read the right books. There are, I am sure, evolutionists who have described how the transitions in question could have occurred.” And he continues, “When I ask in which books I can find these discussions, however, I either get no answer or else some titles that, upon examination, do not, in fact, contain the promised accounts. That such accounts exist seems to be something that is widely known, but I have yet to encounter anyone who knows where they exist.”
    David Ray Griffin – retired professor of philosophy of religion and theology

  7. Elizabeth Liddle:

    No reason why it shouldn’t, if less complicated works better.

    Yet in another thread you were claiming that evolution could only be towards greater complexity.

    Isn’t it just wonderful how flexible and untestable and lacking in predictive power it all is.

  8. So the bacteria that did the swallowing suddenly had this little lump inside it that leaked ATP, which the swallower could use to power its own cellular reactions.

    Because the bacteria that did the swallowing didn’t use ATP before?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....iphosphate

  9. 9
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    No reason why it shouldn’t, if less complicated works better.

    Yet in another thread you were claiming that evolution could only be towards greater complexity.

    Isn’t it just wonderful how flexible and untestable and lacking in predictive power it all is.

    Well, you might go back and re-read my other post. I hope I was clear, but I may not have been.

    I think I was though.

    Let me have a go anyway:

    If the simplest lifeform was very simple, the only direction in which it could vary would be in the direction of greater complexity, right? (you can’t get simpler than simplest).

    But you could stay simple, if simple worked.

    So there could well be, still living, very simple organisms.

    Once more complex organisms arise, there is now room for variance in both directions – more complex; less complex.

    Mean complexity must increase, but the complexity of any given lineage can go both up and down. Or stay in the same place.

    The theory predicts relatively gradual increases in diversity, and sudden decreases, when if whole lineages are wiped out.

    The increases in diversity can include both increases and decreases in complexity.

  10. “The increases in diversity can include both increases and decreases in complexity.”

    Precisely. Because there is no basis for actually determining one way or another. There is no actual, precise, calculable way to determine what is expected to occur. Que sera sera.

    Nothing is more adaptive than evolutionary theory itself . . .

  11. 11
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Yes, there are lots of testable predictions arising from evolutionary theory, but it does not, clearly, predict everything, and some things that it does predict are also predicted by alternative hypotheses.

    That’s the way science works.

    But it is certainly not the case that “increase in complexity” is a prediction of evolutionary theory.

    Adaptation to the current environment, however, is. In some cases this might involve simplification (for example losing a no longer needed organ/function) and in other case it might involve additional complexity (gaining a function).

    Adaptation is the prediction, not the gain or loss of complexity.

  12. Adaptation is the prediction, not the gain or loss of complexity.

    Actually, no. The prediction is if non-adapted the species will die out. Not that it will magically become adapted.

    Also not to be confused with a prediction of the origin of adaptations, for that is another thing entirely.

    IOW, it doesn’t predict what it’s supposed to explain, the appearance of design.

  13. No, it’s called FAITH!

  14. What wording is there in the article suggesting that it is a hypothesis?
    Consider the disclaimer at the end:

    Not exactly case closed, but short of CCTV footage it’s compelling evidence.

    Not exactly case closed? Implying what – almost closed? Implying that there is a case to be opened or closed?

    Short of CCTV footage it’s compelling evidence? I’m pretty sure that there’s a level of certainty (or two or three) between CCTV footage and baseless made-up stories.

    If this is a hypothesis then why is it dressed up as a conclusion? Maybe it’s time for someone to give Bernie the ‘how science works’ talk.

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