Evolutionary Biologists Are Unaware of Their Own Arguments: Reappraising Nature‘s Prized “Gem,” Tiktaalik (Updated)

Links to our 9-Part Series Responding to Nature‘s Evolution Evangelism Packet: • Part 1: Evaluating Nature’s 2009 “15 Evolutionary Gems” Darwin-Evangelism Kit • Part 2: Microevolutionary Gems: Lizards, Fish, Snakes, and Clams • Part 3: Microevolutionary Gems: Bird-Sized Evolutionary Change • Part 4: Microevolutionary Gems: Flea and Guppy-Sized Evolutionary Change • Part 5: Microevolution Meets Microevolution • Part 6: Evolutionary “Gems” or “Narrative Gloss”? • Part 7: Muscling Past Homology Problems in Nature’s Vertebrate Skeleton “Evolutionary Gem” • Part 8: Of Whale and Feather Evolution: Two Macroevolutionary Lumps of Coal • Part 9 (This Article): Evolutionary Biologists Are Unaware of Their Own Arguments: Reappraising Nature‘s Prized “Gem,” Tiktaalik Download Our Full Response to the Packet as a PDF. The final Read More ›

Fact-Free Blogging About Teaching Evolution

How hard is it to understand what we’re not teaching intelligent design means? It means exactly that. Yet for some strange reason there are Darwinist bloggers who insist on passing on false information. Over at The Stir, Julie Marsh uses Stephen Hawking’s recent assertions that the natural laws of physics preclude any intelligent designer as a springboard to jump on the Texas State Board of Education for teaching intelligent design. News flash: they aren’t teaching intelligent design, and no board members have proposed such a thing. Even the Darwin loving Dallas Morning News has clearly reported the Texas State Board of Education’s position against teaching intelligent design. “Should “intelligent design” – the cousin of creationism – be taught in science Read More ›

Inconsistent Reasoning Governs Evolutionary Interpretations of Feathered Dinosaurs

Nature news is reporting another feathered dinosaur. The title of the Nature news article says, “Crested dinosaur pushes back dawn of feather.” This dinosaur is from around 130 mya, but feathers are already known from the bird Archaeopteryx around 150 mya. So how does it push back the origin of feathers? Their reasoning is that the feathers on this new species, dubbed Concavenator corcovatus, appear in a different lineage than the one that supposedly led to birds. Since “such structures [feathers] are unlikely to have evolved separately in both groups” they use evolutionary reasoning to infer that “the common ancestor of the two predatory dinosaur branches, ‘could have been feathered’.” This pushes the origin of feathers back to “Middle Jurassic Read More ›

NDM-1 Superbug the Result of Bad Policies, Not Compelling Evidence for Evolution’s Creative Powers

Recently, the media has been discussing the micro-evolution of a new antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria, dubbed the “NDM-1 superbug.” This seems to be a very sad case of one of those things that evolution is pretty good at doing — making small, incremental improvements upon an enzyme through a step-by step process. That, plus the tendency of bacteria to collect multiple antibiotic resistances, makes this gene a real problem. However, it by no means provides evidence for the ability of evolutionary processes to produce new functions within a cell. The problem is that antibiotics are frequently used — and abused. Beta-lactamases, the enzymes that degrade penicillin and penicillin-like antibiotics (they are all characterized by a “beta-lactam” ring) were around Read More ›

Implications of Genetic Convergent Evolution for Common Descent

In the previous post, I discussed a recent paper in Trends in Genetics, “Causes and evolutionary significance of genetic convergence,” which notes that that genetic convergence is not uncommon, even though only a “restricted number of substitutions” at the genetic level can create novel phenotypic traits. This data not only shows that functional genotypes are rare, but it also poses a much deeper problem for evolutionary thinking–one that challenges the very basis for constructing phylogenetic trees. The main assumption behind evolutionary trees is that functional genetic similarity implies inheritance from a common ancestor. But “convergent” genetic evolution shows that there are many instances where functional similarity is not the result of inheritance from a common ancestor. So when we find Read More ›