Evolution Icon Evolution

A Theory in Crisis: Darwinian Anomalies Accumulate


Darwin Day, February 12, is just a week from today! To help celebrate, here are a few recent findings that contradict Darwinism. The key word is recent. Listing all of them for the last 160 years would require a large book. A theory can only survive as many anomalies as Darwinism has if it is supported by a highly desired foundational ideology.

Bird Beaks

The rotund, colorful beak of the puffin accompanies this headline from the University of Bristol: “Bird beaks did not adapt to food types as previously thought.”  Haven’t we all been taught that bird beaks adapt to the food source by natural selection? Aren’t Darwin’s finches the classic example?

The observation that Galapagos finch species possessed different beak shapes to obtain different foods was central to the theory of evolution by natural selection, and it has been assumed that this form-function relationship holds true across all species of bird. 

However, a new study published in the journal Evolution suggests the beaks of birds are not as adapted to the food types they feed on as it is generally believed. [Emphasis added.]

It’s not that there is no linkage, but “The connection between beak shapes and feeding ecology in birds was much weaker and more complex than we expected,” one of the researchers confessed. Truth is, birds use their beaks for many functions besides just picking food — essentially, everything. Linking beak shape solely to feeding behavior is simplistic. How could such a myth survive for so long? Answer: by assumption, without empirical rigor. Another on the team says, “This is, to our knowledge, the first approach to test a long-standing principle in biology: that the beak shape and function of birds is tightly linked to their feeding ecologies.” What took them so long?

Genome Periodicity

Neo-Darwinism places most of the credit for all genetic change on mutations acted on by natural selection. But scientists at Barcelona’s Institute for Research in Biomedicine found the “mysterious periodicity of the genome” is actually a trail left by DNA repair processes. Contrary to assumptions, natural selection had nothing to do with it. “The explanation given has been that natural selection would favor the appearance of A/T bases as these bases would provide the DNA structure with a greater degree of flexibility, thus allowing it to wind around histones to form nucleosomes.” 

Scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have found an explanation for a periodicity in the sequence of the genomes of all eukaryotes, from yeast to humans. The results published in the journal Cell offer an alternative explanation to the one based on natural selection, which has been accepted by the scientific community to date.

The researchers demonstrate that DNA damage and repair processes can play a role in the generation of sequence periodicity in the genomes of eukaryotic organisms. These processes are influenced by the orientation of the DNA structure when this molecule is packaged inside the cell nucleus, thus favoring a certain composition with a periodic nature in eukaryotic genomes.

This sounds more like design, because DNA repair is a highly efficient and intricate system for maintaining genome integrity, and because “the structure of the DNA packaged inside the nucleosome favours the appearance of regions that are prone to damage and to repair.” Thus, mutations converting C/G into A/T pairs tend to occur at 10-base-pair intervals.

Functional Junk

Many neo-Darwinists expected junk to pile up in the genome over time. Here’s another case where that assumption led scientists astray, where they failed until recently to see a reason for “non-coding” transcripts of DNA in open reading frames (ORFs), which had been falsely classed as junk (without function). This is from Nature, “The translation of non-canonical open reading frames controls mucosal immunity.”

Although the idea that such non-canonical ORFs can encode functional proteins is controversial, we identify a range of short and non-ATG-initiated ORFs that can generate stable and spatially distinct proteins. Notably, we show that the translation of a new ORF ‘hidden’ within the long non-coding RNA Aw112010 is essential for the orchestration of mucosal immunity during both bacterial infection and colitis. This work expands our interpretation of the protein-coding genome and demonstrates that proteinaceous products generated from non-canonical ORFs are crucial for the immune response in vivo. We therefore propose that the misannotation of non-canonical ORF-containing genes as non-coding RNAs may obscure the essential role of a multitude of previously undiscovered protein-coding genes in immunity and disease.

A summary of this paper on Phys.org warns that by mistakenly classing stretches of DNA as non-coding, scientists are missing out on important functions that could lead to cures for disease:

The findings suggest many more protein-coding genes and functions may be discovered. “A large portion of important protein-coding genes have been missed by virtue of their annotation,” said first author Ruaidhri Jackson. Without vetting and identifying these genes, “we can’t fully understand the protein-coding genome or adequately screen genes for health and disease purposes.”

Sharing Genes

Hybrids should be sterile. New functions should evolve through speciation by natural selection. Tell that to researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who, according to Phys.org, were surprised to find that a gene jumped between two species of fruit fly. While they call it a “selfish gene” seeking to propagate itself, this process has the potential to share genetic information through hybridization, bypassing the neo-Darwinism mechanism.

“What this suggests is that, sometime in the past, there was a hybridization event,” said [Colin] Meiklejohn, assistant professor of biological sciences at Nebraska. “And (the gene) jumped in, like, yesterday, in terms of evolutionary time. It was super-recent. So that was a surprise. We didn’t know that this thing had … moved between species.”

Extreme Convergence

Parrots are birds; humans are mammals. Any similarities should be distant and simple, but New Scientist says, without overturning Darwinian belief, that “Parrots are clever because their brains evolved the same way as ours.” Among the astonishing facts that stretch neo-Darwinism to the breaking point are striking genetic similarities that, to attribute to evolution, would require independent emergence by chance. Not only that, they never evolved after that. This is not following the evidence; it is jamming the conclusion into contrary evidence.

It’s a surprise in the sense that these animals are so different from humans, but it’s also satisfying in that you might predict that since they evolved similar traits, they have some similar mechanisms,” says Claudio Mello at the Oregon Health & Science University. Parrots can produce complex vocalisations and they’re highly social, a lot like humans.

To learn more how these birds’ brains develop, Mello and his team compared the genome of the blue-fronted Amazon parrot with that of 30 other birds. They found that regions of the parrot genome that regulate when and how genes for brain development are turned on are the same as those found in humans. These so-called ultra-conserved elements evolved in both species at different times, but with similar results.

Early Emergence and Stasis

The age of a marine organism just tripled. According to news from Friedrich–Alexander University, German and Australian paleontologists found a kind of red algae far earlier in the fossil record than expected:

Coralline red algae have existed for 130 million years, in other words since the Cretaceous Period, the time of the dinosaurs. At least this was the established view of palaeontologists all over the world until now. However, this classification will now have to be revised after fossils discovered by researchers at GeoZentrum Nordbayern at FAU in conjunction with researchers at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, prove that coralline red algae existed as far back as 430 million years ago.

The discovery made by FAU palaeontologists Dr. Sebastian Teichert, Prof. Dr. Axel Munnecke and their Australian colleague Dr. William Woelkerling has far-reaching consequences. ‘Our finds mean that we must now look at the fossil record in a completely new way’, explains Dr. Sebastian Teichert. Up to now, a higher age for coralline red algae was thought to be so unlikely that fossils found in layers of rock older than the Cretaceous Period were not even considered as coralline red algae simply due to their age. 

As these few samples show, Darwinism led science astray by assumption, not by observation. Repeatedly, evolutionists impose their view of the world and how complex traits emerge and progress over time onto biology as a dogma. But when they actually look in detail at organisms, they are surprised. Enough anomalies can kill a paradigm, even if it survives for over a century by the willful belief of an entrenched ideology.

Photo: Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica), by Sergio Martínez-Nebreda and Paula Medina-García/University of Bristol, via EurekAlert!