Home » Genomics, Human evolution, Intelligent Design, News » Surely the flap between Zimmer and Luskin is really about common ancestry? Not just disputed chromosome 2 …

Surely the flap between Zimmer and Luskin is really about common ancestry? Not just disputed chromosome 2 …

In “What the Literature Says about Chromosomal Fusion and Why It Says It” (Evolution News & Views, July 24, 2012), Casey Luskin responds to the “fusion flap.”

“Fusion flap”?  (Okay, Humans have 23 chromo sets and chimps 24. Some researchers provide evidence that in humans, 2 fused at some point. Luskin and others dispute that evidence on its merits. But the main issue is the implications, does human chromosome 2 provide evidence of common human-chimp ancestry?)

Luskin offers,

All the recent yelling and shouting about the evidence for (or against) chromosomal fusion has distracted from the fact that in Science and Human Origins, my main argument about chromosomal fusion isn’t to question whether it took place. …

No, his main argument is that such an event does not necessarily demonstrate common ancestry.

Quoting a previous book,

Assuming that human chromosome 2 is fused as Collins claims it is, human chromosomal fusion merely shows that at some point within our lineage, two chromosomes became fused. Logically speaking, this evidence tells us nothing about whether our human lineage leads back to a common ancestor with apes. Nor does it tell us whether the earliest humans were somehow ape-like. (Science and Human Origins, p. 92)

So my main, or “key” point on this topic is that Carl Zimmer and others can present all the evidence for human chromosomal fusion they wish, and it still doesn’t tell us whether we share a common ancestor with apes. Unfortunately, this crucial point has been lost in Zimmer’s clamor over a citation he could have found if he’d just read the book.

Given that the real, underlying issue here is common ancestry as such, perhaps Luskin’s opponent, science writer Carl Zimmer, should address it more directly.

Luskin is surely correct in saying that the existence of a fusion event is not, by itself, good evidence. It needs to be considered in relation to other evidence.

For example, the fact that a friend has a key to a murder victim’s apartment is not evidence that he is the murderer. There may be no relationship between the key and the murder. Or the friend and the murder. There must be a long, convincing chain of other evidence before the key or the friend would assume a role in the story.

Luskin and Zimmer should discuss common ancestry directly. Probably with more profit to the reader. What would either side consider good evidence?

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20 Responses to Surely the flap between Zimmer and Luskin is really about common ancestry? Not just disputed chromosome 2 …

  1. What is to discuss? The correlation between the genetic functions of the two separate chromosomes in chimps with the corresponding parts of chromosome 2 in humans is evidence that supports common descent. The strength of the support for common descent is found in how closely the two gene sets are related.

    The fusion event is part of why and how the two lineages parted company and evolved into the two extant species we see today.

  2. timothya-

    The fusion has nothing to do with any alleged common ancestry between chimps and humans as it occurred in the human line. And genetic similarity is evidence for a common design or convergence.

    What your position does NOT have, and never will, is any evidence that any amount of genetic change can turn a knuckle-walker into an upright biped. No one knows if such a thing is even possible- it is untestable and therefor unscientific.

  3. Joe – please read for comprehension. You are actually agreeing with me. The fusion event provides no evidence of common descent.

    It is the correlation of gene structure and function in the separated chimp chromosomes to the corresponding gene structure and function in the fused human chromosome 2 the supports common descent.

    The fusion event happened during the separation of the two lineages. Perhaps future research on the rate of mutation will allow us to date when it happened.

  4. The common ancestor of chimps and humans probably didn’t knuckle walk – think you need a new line Joe.

  5. wd400:

    The common ancestor of chimps and humans probably didn’t knuckle walk

    So it was a full quadraped then? It sure as heck couldn’t have been an upright biped. Those didn’t exist yet…

  6. timothya:

    It is the correlation of gene structure and function in the separated chimp chromosomes to the corresponding gene structure and function in the fused human chromosome 2 the supports common descent.

    It also supports a common design and convergence. What the common descent model still lacks is any evidence that the transformations required are even possible.

  7. timothya at 1, You write, “The fusion event is part of why and how the two lineages parted company and evolved into the two extant species we see today.” Is it?

    You mean, we know Schmeazle done it because he has a key to Schmoe’s apartment …

    No, we don’t, really.

    The two sides in this contention are divided by different interpretations of a much larger body of evidence, which is really the issue.

    If the fusion case turns out not to be so good, would you consider that an argument against common ancestry?

  8. Isnt common descent the most probable and straightforward answer based on human common sense. The common design argument depends on new species poofing into existence with no parents.This would have to happen millions of times in the past. Do we assume this is how biology comes into existence or is natural birth more likely.

  9. Smiddyone,

    The common descent model ultimately rests on one thing: life poofing into existence. How’s that any different?

  10. “The common descent model ultimately rests on one thing: life poofing into existence. How’s that any different?”

    It’s different since the chemical origin of life would have come from elements already existing on earth.There was a actual physical process that led to the first life forms.The design model has no natural process other to say,”one day there were no mammals, the next day there were.” Multiply by two per species times all species on earth ever.

  11. And what were those physical processes again?

  12. The building blocks of life occur naturally in the earths record. Scientists don’t know how lifeforms formed, and they may never know.There is a trail of evidence going from simple forms to more complex.It’s not hard to deduce that there was a process. I still find it much more convincing than poofism, or storkism or whatever.

  13. IP: See what I mean about reasoning in circles? The sort of issues implied in the chem evo origin of encapsulated, metabolising automata with von Neumann self replicators are discussed here on. This is not an issue for hand waving or just so stories. A serious, sophisticated challenge this, and that is just the root of the darwinist tree of life. Think about the different embryological algorithms and development mechanisms to support branching to the body plans (which is supposed to have happened by slow, chance-driven incremental steps of variation, fixed in pops by being advantageous for reproduction, all the way)! KF

  14. TimothyA:

    The fusion event happened during the separation of the two lineages. Perhaps future research on the rate of mutation will allow us to date when it happened.

    Tell me Timothy, how would you be able to distinguish a radically high mutation rate, taking place out of nowhere, and happening in the twinkle of geological time, from the intervention of an intelligent agent?

  15. Common design does not require every species- extent and extinct- to be designed separately. Descent with modification is still OK, just limited to the design parameters. And design does not = poofing.

    But anyway I would say that one common design- or a design based on one standard- is more parsimonious than millions of just-so magical mystery mutations.

  16. Common design may not need poofing but lack of common descent would. Unless there is a third way other than birth from an existing parent or getting zapped in.

  17. Common design may not need poofing but lack of common descent would.

    No, just because you can spew it doesn’t make it so.

    My car didn’t have any parents does that mean it poofed into existence?

    If someone genetically engineers a living organism does taht eman it poofed into existence?

    Do you really think that your inability to think means something?

  18. Joe: “But anyway I would say that one common design- or a design based on one standard- is more parsimonious than millions of just-so magical mystery mutations.”

    Evolution is precisely ‘millions of just-so magical mystery mutations’. Take up HGT and Retrovirii before disagreeing too strongly.

    timothya: “… is evidence that supports common descent.”

    Flag thrown for Affirming the Consequent. You have two choices of Not Even Thinking available here. You can take Affirming the Consequent in that the existence of the consequent proves the antecedent. Or you can either take Raven’s Paradox and state that the failure to find the consequent proves that this proves that the antecedent that doesn’t exist proves the consequent that doesn’t either. Which is simply Affirming the Counterfactual Consequent. Both are mouth-breathing lackwit garbage that are necessary for stating ‘evidence of [insert random boggled nonsense here] proves unprovable thing’ as a portion of your metaphysical narcissism.

    Please do not do this.

  19. My car didn’t have any parents does that mean it poofed into existence?
    Hilarious! I never have seen a car give birth, and I’ve never seen a new being materialize before my very eyes.

  20. This is too funny- I have a real live one on my hands, someone named Kevin R McCarthy, and the sad part is he has something to do with writing educational stuff. But anyway Kevin posted:

    And no, only your strawman version of evolution requires that there must be a human (of some type) with 47 chromosomes between modern humans (with 46) and the rest of our lineage (with 48). And even further, if you knew jack shit about chromosomes, you should know why that is one of the dumbest statements ever out of your mouth.

    So I explained to Kevin that the evolutionary version has the fusion occuring in a gamete which changed that gamete’s chromosome count from 24 to 23. Then that 23 had to team up with a 24. 23 + 24 = 47

    Did Kevin understand any of that and apologize? No, he just doesn’t understand and prattles on anyway.

    The sad part is not one evo has stepped forward to correct him. Not even Zimmer and he posted his diatribe there trying to correct me- LoL!

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