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More on Octopus RNA Editing — A Problem for Neo-Darwinism

Evolution News


Eric Metaxas at BreakPoint is one of our favorite popular commentators on evolution. In a broadcast, he takes note of our commentary here. As we noted last month, “Octopus Genetic Editing — Animals Defy Their Own Neo-Darwinism.”

From Metaxas on how “The Octopus Outsmarts Darwin Again”:

The Tel Aviv researchers found “tens of thousands” of such RNA recoding sites in cephalopods, allowing a creature like the octopus to essentially reprogram itself, adding “new riffs to its basic genetic blueprint.” In other words, these invertebrates don’t care that they didn’t inherit the smart genes. They make themselves smart, anyway.

Of course, an animal can’t be the author of its own intelligence, and this is not a process anyone believes cephalopods perform consciously. Rather, it is a marvelous piece of “adaptive programming” built-in to their biology.

Darwinists have tried to spin this feat as “a special kind of evolution.” But the folks at Evolution News cut through this nonsense and identify RNA editing for what it is: “non-evolution.”

“Neo-Darwinism did not make cephalopods what they are,” they write. “These highly intelligent and well-adapted animals edited their own genomes, so what possible need do they have for…blind, random, unguided” evolution?

This is also an emerging field of research, which means it’s possible, in theory, that other organisms make extensive use of RNA editing, and we’re just not aware of it, yet.

If, as one popular science website puts it, other creatures can “defy” the “central dogma” of genetics, the implications for Darwin’s “tree of life,” and his entire theory, are dire.

But if cephalopods and the complex information processing that makes them so unique are in fact the result of a Programmer — of a Designer — the waters of biology become far less inky.

A friend asks if this phenomenon is an example of Lamarckism, according to which organisms evolve by adapting to their environments and then passing on newly acquired characteristics to their offspring. We wouldn’t call it that, but we do call it a problem for neo-Darwinism. Among other reasons, that’s because it reveals that organisms need much more information than is provided by DNA sequences. Therefore, DNA mutations cannot provide sufficient raw materials for evolution.

This latest research is impressive, but RNA editing is not new. As Eric Metaxas smartly anticipates, there is indeed extensive RNA editing in other organisms, too — including humans.

Care for documentation? Find it here:

That would make the problem for Darwinism even more acute than Eric suggests.

Photo: Octopus tetricus (Gloomy Octopus), by Sylke Rohrlach (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Evolution News

Evolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues.



biologyDNAEric MetaxasEvolution NewsgeneticsNeo-DarwinismoctopusRNARNA editing