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Tree of life has complexity at its roots

A new find has shocked scientists who didn’t imagine the earliest critter could be so complex. “This was a complete shocker,” said study team member Casey Dunn of Brown University in Rhode Island. “So shocking that we initially thought something had gone very wrong.”

 

“Our data reinforce several previously identified clades that split deeply in the animal tree, unambiguously resolving multiple long-standing issues. We find strong support for the placement of ctenophores (comb jellies) as the earliest diverging extant multicellular animals. A single origin of spiral cleavage (with subsequent losses) is inferred from well-supported nodes. A diminishing number of lineages remain recalcitrant to placement on the tree.

The spiral cleavage programme, a complex and highly stereotyped mode of early embryonic development, is present in at least Annelida, Entoprocta, Mollusca, Nemertea and Platyhelminthes. If corroborated by further analyses this would have major implications for early animal evolution, indicating either that sponges have been greatly simplified, or that the complex morphology of ctenophores has arisen independently from that of other metazoans.”

Casey W. Dunn et al Nature Vol 452  10 April 2008 p745  (thanks bFast)

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35 Responses to Tree of life has complexity at its roots

  1. One thing I found particularly interesting about this paper is its title “Broad phylogenomic sampling improves resolution of the animal tree of life”. I missed noticing the paper at all, when as usual I was fishing in Nature index, for ID relevant papers.

    Considering the contents, it is an extremely tame title. Why is that?

  2. Considering the contents, it is an extremely tame title. Why is that?

    Good question. A one-cent answer could perhaps be: “To avoid that some interested guy does actually find how much new research add more and more arguments to those silly believers in ID …”

  3. OFF-TOPIC

    That more interesting title is here:

    Missing Link Found

    It does also deserve a topic to be opened about!

  4. tb (tuburculosis??)

    This is an an interesting find. Doesn’t say anything very profound about evolution, however.

    Interesting the Bible of all sources, informs the modern reader that the serpent originally had legs. Which is a startling claim from ancient man.

  5. However, ID is a secular science. So am more ID friendly inference from this inference was that snakes originally had legs.

    Like that frog who had lungs but then lost them because it breathed through it’s skin.

    Then again, whoever the designer is, maybe it does control speciation and microevolution.

  6. I am a little confused. There is no fossil for this animal. They only have current DNA of existing animals but their computer programs puts the animal in the pre Cambrian.

    What is the logic behind this? Does all this thinking take place in the land of Oz or is any of it down to earth?

  7. Jerry:

    Sounds like you are right — this begins to look just a little circular.

    Where’s the fossil?

    [As in, actual eyeball mark 1-able, rocks -- even with questionably projected dates!]

    GEM of TKI

  8. Well you know, I have been corresponding with ID advocate Steve Fuller http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.....emologist)

    who will be featured in expelled and he talks about how there are basically tow distinct ways of patching together evolutionary theory. One is with fossils and morphological supposition and the other way is with DNA and DNA suppositions. Both ways involve lots of speculation and both ways as you would imagine end up coming into conflict with one another, producing different results.

    But my point is this. Neither way is going to be that close to what really happened. There are way to manny unknowns in a thoery that requires billions of intermediates.

    With the fossils you have the advantage of looking at morphological traits and using them to help you produce the big picture. With the DNA way you have the sort of mathematical deduction that will get you closer to “the only possible answers.” But, like global warming science and the fact that apes and humans share so many genes, the bottom line is “close is no cigar.” Humans aren’t directly related to modern apes afterall; they are supposedly related to another ancient ansester that both phyla share.

    You cant prove common ancestry by stringing mathematical deductions together, just like you cant prove global warming by putting mathematical deductions together. You need “the fossil evidence in evolutionary theory to support the tree of life picture” (and the correct one) just as in climatology you need “the physical temperature readings” to justify the synthetic mathematical models that propose man made global warming.

    Last year, incidentally, it cooled, but that wont kill off the global warming theory even though it is clear evidence agaist it. Like wise if we don’t find a lot of evidence for common ancestry and a Darwinian tree of life that wont kill off that theory either. The point is this “both theories need to be weighed as the current evidence describes them. The Darwinists always say that to disprove evolution “all” you need to do is find “the body of a man inside the mouth of a T-rex.” But as I pointed out with the global warming theory that is not all that you need to do. All that you need to do is show that the theory isn’t cutting it and then the theory should loose its level of merrit and prestige.
    Take the “man in the jaws of a T-rex claim. This would be the equvilent of my saying to a global warming alarmist “all you need to do to prove you theory is wait until an entire polar ice cap melts. No we dont need extreme silver bullets in science. Sceince is almost always about weighing the evidence.

    Furthermore, you don’t need 100 years of freezing weather to prove global warming wrong nor 100 years or increasingly hot weather to prove it right. The levels of falsification ad proof in thses examples far too ridiculously high.

    Finnally as with common ansestry- you dont need every fossil to prove that theory right, you also dont need a man in the jaws of a T-rex to make it implausible. The geological record will speak for iteslf. A few ape like or man like ansesters is not enough. Anyone with a critical conscinece who isn’t overly credulous would expect a poponderance of evidence- both in the past with the fossils and in the present with lab expierments and observations in the wild. Once again common ansestry may be true but it is obvious that they dont play the evidence game fair and judicously. If it supports the theory its “more proof” if it doesnt, well it is either hidden explained away ignored or they write a prismispory note “we dont know but we will.” In a court of law this line of defense is worthless… “I dont know how my DNA got on the gun when I was 5,000 miles away…. but give me enough time and I’ll figure it out!”

    If common ancestry is true, and there is evidence for it, you still need to apply this falsification critique that is “by degrees.” You don’t need to demolish a theory to critique it. Other mechanisms of DE for example NS and RM should especially be judged just like global warming by degree per event of evidence. Did the finches actually evolve? If so chalk one up for the mechanisms and theory of DE- If not then it counts AGAINST the theory, chalk one up against it or for the creation model or w/e. We are talking here about a huge matrix of information that’s needed to come to a true and honest conclusion about nature.

    If it cools one year that is evidence against global warming. If it warms one month- evidence for it. If lab tests fail to support a Darwinian process that is evidence against DE.

    In politics you don’t just give a state to a candidate that is polling the highest even if it is say be 11 or 12 points. Remember Obama was up 11 and 12 points in New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton and Hillary won by 3 or 4! How many points is DE up with .000005 of the fossils in?

    Another very important philosophical point; Evolutionists are “very tricky” in boxing in creationists and ID advocates by using this line particularly as it applies to common ancestry among other things- “what else could have happened!? What else do you have to replace the theory with?!”

    This is a misnomer. Say you take the opinion that all the phyla appear in their already designed and evolved states. You DO have a historical regress problem no doubt. That is where did they come from? But you see this is the exact question that the Darwinists forbid our side from asking. If we ask “where did the laws come from that produced your NS/RM system of evolution? They just take the 5th and even worse say that “that question isn’t scientific!”

    Well, I suppose we can all say that man just appeared here on the earth 6000 years ago fully in tact. And don’t ask me how to explain it because that’s not scientific. Under the creation model anything before day 6 is a “first cause” and any explanation of the forming of the earth is “a religious question.”

    After all what else could have happened? What do you have to replace creation theory with? Where did the laws governing your common descent come from? Oh! I see they were just always there. Well maybe so were all the various phyla.

    Creationist!

  9. 9

    Funny lookin’ tree, that is.

  10. Point is, both ways, creation and evolution you run into the historical regress problem. In creation you run into it immediately and in evolution you hit it at the first cause.

    But here is the interesting point. Under evolution you need a lot more physical steps for the theory to work while under creation it happens in one fell swoop.

    Between evolution and creation, if you apply Occam’s razor simply and only from the perspective of universal regress – all other evidences omitted…. creation wins as the better “scientific” theory. Hands down.

  11. “all other evidences omitted”

    That is a biggie!!!!

  12. DeepDesign, no not “Tuberculosis”. I found the link through an athiest irc chan and it was flaged, (creationist nightmare) to bad only 4 people attended the channel :). Funny thing is: if you watch the movie there, they don’t even know if the end of the fossil belongs to the snake, or belongs to a lizzard laying nearby :).

  13. tb

    ID is not Creationism. I tend to use alot of Creationist terms for which I apologize.

  14. Idnet, thanks for posting this. I found this article and suggested it needed a thread 3 time, but noone with thread creation rights seemed to care.

    I just love it when complexity, or lack of it, shows a fundimentally different pattern than NDE predicts.

    Jerry:

    What is the logic behind this? Does all this thinking take place in the land of Oz or is any of it down to earth?

    Jerry, have you ever watched “The Antiques Roadshow”? On the show, these guys show some of the techniques used for determining whether a work is ancient or new. For instance, when analyzing a piece of furnature, they will look at the saw cuts. If the cuts are straigh, especially if they have kinda criss-crossed lines, then they were made “old school”, with a handsaw. If they are arked, and even, they were made with a powered rotary saw. The finish is similarly examined. If the finish contains modern chemistry, it isn’t “old”. The nails and screws show simimilar marks of “modernity”. Each of the processes involved leaves its mark of “old” vs. “new”.

    The same class of techniques works when analyzing DNA. Some DNA is just “old school” and others “modern”. If the sponge uses a bunch of DNA techniques that are relatively “modern” compared to the jelly, and if no marks are going the other way, then the logical conclusion is that the sponge came into existance after the jelly.

    This is not mystical. Its just the application of logic to the situation.

    When the scientists find evidence that is not predicted by their theory, they probably have good reason to believe the evidence; otherwise they would just go with their theory, wouldn’t they.

  15. tb:

    I found the link through an athiest irc chan and it was flaged, (creationist nightmare) to bad only 4 people attended the channel :).

    This may be a creationist nightmare, but it isn’t an IDers nightmare. Many IDers expect the evidence of common descent.

    Funny thing is: if you watch the movie there, they don’t even know if the end of the fossil belongs to the snake, or belongs to a lizzard laying nearby :).

    Oooh, we just missed a brush with death. What if the next snake fossil is a little bit less ambiguous. It’ll still be just as much of a creationist’s nightmare. If common descent is true, and I believe it is, such will be found.

  16. kairos:
    “A one-cent answer could perhaps be: ‘To avoid that some interested guy does actually find how much new research add more and more arguments to those silly believers in ID …’”

    …especially in the midst of a movie craze…

  17. “If corroborated by further analyses this would have major implications for early animal evolution,….”

    Gee, I wonder how the Darwinian framework will be able to assimilate a complex and sufficiently fit animal that apparently has no immediate precursor.

    The article answers:

    “…indicating either that sponges have been greatly simplified, or that the complex morphology of ctenophores has arisen independently from that of other metazoans.”

    Darwin would be proud.

  18. 18
    sagebrush gardener

    Googling for…

    evolution “more complex than expected”

    …returns 3,760 results. So much for “predictive power”!

  19. 19
    sagebrush gardener

    PS – I also Googled for…

    evolution “less complex than expected”

    It returns 9 results. :)

  20. Googling for

    danish “more complex than expected”

    …returns 986 results. So much for “pastry power”!

  21. From the title of the article at the link.

    Shock: First Animal on Earth Was Surprisingly Complex
    [ my italics ]

    When are they going to learn how to spell irreducibly?

  22. Christmas Frost, “a man in the jaws of a T-rex” is not a possibility except in YEC. ID does not equal YEC. YEC do hold to the idea that design is real and can be detected.

    As far as I am aware, ID does not hold any one particular view about the time frame of design implimentation.

  23. “evolution is not necessarily just a march towards increased complexity,” Dunn said.

    Maybe evolution is NEVER a march to complexity.

    “Unfortunately, we don’t have fossils of the oldest comb jelly,” Dunn said. “Therefore, there is no way to date the earliest jelly and determine when it diverged.”

    here

  24. idnet.com.au:

    “evolution is not necessarily just a march towards increased complexity,” Dunn said.

    Maybe evolution is NEVER a march to complexity.

    See: “1st Rule Of Evolution: Strive For Complexity” (http://www.scienceagogo.com/ne....._sys.shtml)

    Hmmm, ‘seems that evolution is a march towards increased complexity — though this isn’t predicted by NDE. It is well predicted by the front-loading hypothesis, however. It is actually the expectation of virtually all variants of ID.

  25. bFast, I don’t see that the two statements are mutually exclusive. If the second rule of evolution is something other then to strive for complexity then evolution is not necessarily just a march towards increased complexity. And sure, maybe sometimes evolution is NEVER a march to complexity.

    It is actually the expectation of virtually all variants of ID.

    As it’s the exception that proves the rule I’d be interested to hear about the varients of ID that do not expect/predict this development? Care to indulge me here?

  26. 26
    sagebrush gardener

    RichardFry:

    So much for “pastry power”!

    May I humbly suggest, as one in need of this lesson myself, that it may be more profitable to engage one’s best efforts in the pursuit of clarity of thought rather than cleverness.

    First, the results returned by your “danish” search overwhelmingly refer not to pastry but to the nation of Denmark.

    Furthermore there is no school of thought of which I am aware that claims any correlation or explanatory power vis a vis the nation of Denmark and complexity. The proximity of these words on a number of web pages is mere coincidence.

    However, Darwinism does make strong claims regarding the supposed increase in complexity of organisms over time through the process of evolution. The results of my Google search illustrate a couple of points. First, that highly complex organisms existed much earlier than evolutionary theory predicts. Second, the more we learn of the natural world the more complex it appears and the less plausible it becomes that such complexity could have been produced by evolutionary processes. Both of these, in my opinion, indicate a failure of evolutionary theory.

  27. RichardFry, “As it’s the exception that proves the rule I’d be interested to hear about the varients of ID that do not expect/predict this development? Care to indulge me here?”

    YEC is a variant of ID, yet it doesn’t expect any heierarchy of growth at all — just poof. Well, there is some expectation of an increase in varieties of the animals after the flood, but no sense that the increase is “advancement”.

  28. bFast

    If we use the word “evolution” to mean changes over time, then it is evident that complexity has increased over time. If we use the word as a mechanism for the change ie RM and NS, then I suspect it never leads to increased specified complexity.

  29. idnet.com.au:

    “evolution is not necessarily just a march towards increased complexity,” Dunn said.

    He is on to something. Look how much evolution explains with regard to the bacterial flagellum.

  30. ID.net says,

    “Christmas Frost, “a man in the jaws of a T-rex” is not a possibility except in YEC. ID does not equal YEC. YEC do hold to the idea that design is real and can be detected.

    As far as I am aware, ID does not hold any one particular view about the time frame of design implementation.”

    Good job, that is my birthday, “12-25-85″ Christmas day of 85. I know, but the other side, when asked what would invalidate their theory, they always use that example or something like “human bones found in the Cambrian.” To invalidate DE we don’t need to go that far especially over here on the ID side and neither do the YECs either.

    All you have to do is show that the mechanisms for Darwinian evolution are wanting or that spontaneous creation, that is “phyla that have no long tedious evolutionary history” is a reasonable or better interpretation of the evidence then a historical explanatory lineage of billions of intermediate ancestors and forms— what is known as common descent.

    As I pointed out and I thought it important, on both sides, Darwinism and creationism, you have the inexorable problem of universal historical regress. Creationists face it right off the bat. They say no common ancestry so then how did the life forms get there without any long chain of evolution? But on the other side with Darwinism you have the same EXACT problem. Ok, everything is connected over billions of years, but, where did the laws come from that make this chain of common descent and ancestry possible. Where did the first life come from!? What allowed for the universe to be fine tuned just enough to support its development over billions of years in this extremely complex system of Darwinian Evolution?

    Neither said can support their theory! Both are incomplete.

    But here is the most amusing part. The evolutionists say to the creationists in particular “well your side is not a theory because it explains nothing and is just religion.” But, their side is just as lost. In fact, Darwinian common ancestry requires an enormous plethroa of animal intermediate species. So many that obviously given that they both share the creation problem of the universal historical regress, creationism is actually more scientific if we go by Occam’s razor. It doesn’t require the absolutely necessary billions of interlinking transitional forms.

    And this is worthy of some note.

    Period.

  31. To Allen_MacNeill, In an earlier post I suggested to you a third scenario that your dichotomy did not cover.

    “What if there is more “downhill” to evolution than even your friend supposed?”

    This was written four days before the current thread “Tree of life has complexity at its roots” was started (although this is far from the first case of “more complex than we expected”).

    Suppose we consider a front-loaded ID scenario, one that designs and builds in sufficient information, complexity and control such that it can adapt flexibly through subsequent undirected processes.

    I’m wondering if you would agree that the kind of empirical evidence we would expect from such a scenario would be that we observe that the “Tree of life has complexity at its roots”? Would you also agree that, if intelligence is required to get things started, we should find that attempts to explain the origin of the original language, information, specified complexity, control mechanisms, etc. as the result of undirected processes should ultimately fail?

    Put another way, I would be interested in your thoughts on how one should approach the empirical evidence to evaluate that hypothesis.

    Since some would reject that hypothesis from an ideological objection (regardless of the empirical evidence), how should others who reject ideological prejudice approach the matter? Specifically, what would you find relevant and potentially persuasive to you?

  32. ID.net said,

    “YEC do hold to the idea that design is real and can be detected.”

    That is certainly not a universal truth. YEC simply think that basically the earth is about 6000 years old and the universe was created 6 modern days. Its a literal biblical interpretation of creation or evolution of the universe (evolution being defined as change over time). They can certainly belief that the complexity in DNA or in the cell warrants a design inference. Even an atheist can believe in the theory of ID. Dogmatic atheists excluded because their religion is the destruction of divine faith of any kind and ID supports many divine faiths.

    I was not conflating ID and creation except for in the general sense that both cannot be reconciled with a methodologically materialistic interpretation of Darwinian Evolution.

    And now I would like to comment on a topic of recent interest in many of the posts that I have been reading.

    Natural laws seem to have a special almost agnositic but at least desitic leaning relationship with interpretation of empirical sceince. Certinaly natural laws have been used to strengthen the argument for God and they definetly do dont do anything to negate God’s existence. But where do natural laws sit in regards to ID.

    I recently was corrosponding via email with Mike Behe on the sub ject of natural law and ID and this is what I and he said…

    Me:

    Dear Mike, I was wondering how you think about the issue of natural law. I know that Bill Dembski for example says that life could not have evolved or arisen even with natural laws acting. Now aside from the obvious possibility that natural laws “could” have been designed- that is a sort of designed universe from the start that would go well with front loading– do your calculations regarding the improbability of life evolving via simple natural selection and random mutation take the position that the laws themselves are doing the design work or do you take the position (like Dembski seems to do) that even with “necessity” containing all the laws of physics and the known universe that there “still” isn’t even enough resources left for life’s design?

    Obviously no one says “the natural law of life arising”- and so are there enough laws left – if you add them to time, chance and necessity and random mutation- to get life or is there still some room for special design needed?

    Mike’s response :

    Hi, Ed. I don’t think natural “laws” can contain enough information in them to do the design work, if by “law” one means a short, mathematical description of some phenomena, like Newton’s laws or Maxwell’s equations. I think that in addition to laws much information has to be added, perhaps in the form of initial conditions, or by some other way. Best wishes.

    Mike

    The laws of Newton, Keplar, Einstein, Maxwell and the like are mrerly beautifully simplified formulations of what nature is actually doing. Nothing in any of these will give you life by necessity. You would need a sting theory or Mach theory with elvendy zillion dimentions to get a proof by physical necessity for DE.

    Laws will only get you so far and as we learned from Godel, will never get you all the way there. Obviously some form of nature brought about the universe and all of its complexity but, where it all came from and how you can get specified complexity out of nothing is at the end of the day, outside of sceinces reach. Even the Darwinist will say as much- they just take the initiative of eliminating intelligence from of the mix a priori.

  33. idnet.com.au:

    If we use the word “evolution” to mean changes over time, then it is evident that complexity has increased over time. If we use the word as a mechanism for the change ie RM and NS, then I suspect it never leads to increased specified complexity.

    Yes, ID is an evolutionary theory. The paper I sited provides evidence that evolution has a direction — complexity. This finding is contrary to the prediction of neo-Darwinism, and is consistent with the prediction of ID.

    Frost22585:

    That is certainly not a universal truth. YEC simply think that basically the earth is about 6000 years old and the universe was created 6 modern days.

    However, the YEC community points to “scientific evidence” all of the time. Certainly if life came to being in all of its glory about 6000 years ago, it did so because it was designed. The YEC strong assumption is that the 6000 years ago scenerio can be validated by evidence. Idnet.com.au, statement, “YEC do hold to the idea that design is real and can be detected” is absolutely correct.

  34. Bfast, thank you for correcting me. Obviously I knew this. I thought the statement read “do not” because some YEC may not like ID while I thought it an obvious fact that ID is not limited to YEC.

    I have no idea why I thought it read “do not” other than that and except that Id.net seemed to be implying that I was conflating YEC with ID- which I was not trying to do at all- as I know the differences well. The reason why I used them both (YEC and ID) was because I was talking about the fossil record and DE and such and wanted to exemplify the detractors from common ancestry with a real example- YEC. If you go back and read my posts obviously I was focusing on the differences between DE and ID with also a focus on special creation or special design which is the opposing view to common ancestry. I think that nowhere in the posts will you find a direct illogical contradiction or conflation between ID and YEC.

    I might add, just to convolute things even more- people can believe in special creation or design and not be a YEC.

  35. [...] the ink is dry on the revision of the tree of life, giving comb jellies pride of place near the base , we now need to redraw the tree [...]

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