Who stole Darwin’s Tree of Life?
|November 26, 2013||Posted by News under News, Tree of life|
Hey, don’t look at us, we saw the Firewood Supply, Inc. truck in the vicinity, but we didn’t call them.
You’ll be surprised to learn who did …
The latest Salvo is out and features a piece by Casey Luskin on the fate of the Ol’ Deadwood:
The Best Proof of Macroevolution?
The project was first conceived in the 1960s, soon after the genetic code was uncovered. Two pioneering scientists, Linus Pauling and Emile Zuckerkandl, boldly predicted that phylogenetic trees based upon molecular data would confirm expectations of common descent already held by evolutionary biologists who studied morphology (i.e., the physical traits of organisms). They declared, “If the two phylogenic trees are mostly in agreement with respect to the topology of branching, the best available single proof of the reality of macro-evolution would be furnished.”
Note, this was the task they set themselves.
Hoping to validate Pauling and Zuckerkandl’s prediction, biologists set themselves to the task of sequencing genes from all manner of living organisms. Technologies were refined, genomes were sequenced, and new discoveries were made. One revolutionary discovery was made in the 1990s, when it was realized that the “five kingdoms” view of life, taught to many previous generations of students, was incomplete. Examination of the gene sequences of living organisms revealed instead that they fell into three basic domains: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya.
Not a big deal that, but …
About the same time, another discovery was made that confounded evolutionary biologists who studied genes: they found that the three domains of life could not be resolved into a tree-like pattern. This led the prominent biochemist W. Ford Doolittle to famously lament: “Molecular phylogenists will have failed to find the ‘true tree,’ not because their methods are inadequate or because they have chosen the wrong genes, but because the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree.” He later acknowledged, “It is as if we have failed at the task that Darwin set for us: delineating the unique structure of the tree of life.”
Note, he said it, we didn’t, and then it just got buried, perhaps reappearing in publicly funded textbooks as if nothing whatever has happened. More.
Be advised, the deadfall Tree of Life may not prompt serious thought among the tenured. If you think otherwise, you might wish to revisit the “junk DNA” controversy.
See the serious lengths to which people will go to deny that major voices for Darwin ever thought that masses of junk DNA in our genomes was evidence for their theory (544 comments to date, on a post that merely referenced a UD post).
But we can meanwhile benefit from still more deadwood clearance, to get a look at the live stuff.