Recent Genetic Research Shows Chimps More Distant From Humans, Neanderthals Closer

Research published in Nature over the past few months is showing a much greater genetic distance between humans and chimps than previously thought, while revealing a closer one between humans and Neanderthals. A Nature paper from January, 2010 titled, “Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure and gene content,” found that Y chromosomes in humans and chimps “differ radically in sequence structure and gene content,” showing “extraordinary divergence” where “wholesale renovation is the paramount theme.” Of course, the paper attributes these dramatic genetic changes to “rapid evolution during the past 6 million years.” One of the scientists behind the study was quoted in a Nature news article stating, “It looks like there’s been a dramatic renovation or reinvention Read More ›

My Speciation Is Full of Eels

An old Monty Python sketch about a mistranslated Hungarian-to-English phrasebook made infamous the line, “My hovercraft is full of eels.” Today, evolutionary biologists are puzzled about something equally bizarre: why are eels so full of speciation? One biologist recently said on ScienceDaily, “How can you have seven species of the same fish eating the same thing and, quite literally, living under the same rock?” Under evolutionary biology, one would expect to find some mechanism–perhaps a geographic barrier like a large expanse of open ocean–responsible for the reproductive isolation that generated the new “species.” Instead, they found this: To find out the biologists looked at selected mitochondrial and nuclear genes and asked whether there were unique alleles (variants) of these genes Read More ›

Ida’s Bust Maroons Retroactive Confessions of Ignorance about Primate Evolution

As I’ve discussed before, it’s often only when evolutionists think they have found some “missing link” that they feel safe enough to admit how little they actually knew about the alleged evolutionary transition in question. What happens when the link goes bust–as we’ve recently discussed is the case with Ida? We’re left with lots of admissions of ignorance about evolution and no links to fill the now-exposed gap. This is why Colin Tudge’s book about Ida, The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor (Little Brown & Co, 2009), is so intriguing. He thought he had a missing link to explain the early evolution of primates on the line that supposedly led to humans, so the book is filled with would-be retroactive Read More ›

“Hype and Over-Interpretation” Causing Family Feud Over New Hominid Fossil (Updated)

Long ago a wise king solved an interfamily dispute with a simple solution: split the baby. Now paleoanthropologists are fighting–with little resolution in sight–about how to interpret newly discovered hominid fossils, which comprise about 130 bones from multiple individuals. Focused on a single juvenile specimen, the debate is over whether the fossils represent human evolutionary ancestors, just a new species that split off and went extinct, or another previously known species of little significance to human evolution. While many news articles are touting the fossil as a human ancestor or even a “missing link” (see, for example, AOL news or the London Telegraph), what’s encouraging is a couple sources in the mainstream media (though just a couple) are functioning like Read More ›

William Dembski, Robert Marks, and the Evolutionary Informatics Lab Take on Dawkins’ “WEASEL” Simulation in New Peer-Reviewed Paper

A new peer-reviewed paper continues the work published by William Dembski, Robert Marks, and others affiliated with the Evolutionary Informatics Lab. (Check out their new revamped website at EvoInfo.org.) The authors argue that Richard Dawkins’ “METHINKSITISLIKEAWEASEL” evolutionary algorithm starts off with large amounts of active information–information intelligently inserted by the programmer to aid the search. This paper covers all of the known claims of operation of the WEASEL algorithm and shows that in all cases, active information is used. Dawkins’ algorithm can best be understood as using a “Hamming Oracle” as follows: “When a sequence of letters is presented to a Hamming oracle, the oracle responds with the Hamming distance equal to the number of letter mismatches in the sequence.” Read More ›