Fish Muscles

DpSUs made a temporary return on Tuesday for a short article by “Research Associate, Senior Lecturer and Science Writer” Frank Sherwin called Fish Sound-Making Muscles Show No Evolution.

Glaucosoma magnificum

The subject is a paper called An Intermediate in the evolution of superfast sonic muscles, published in the Frontiers in Zoology journal, and available free in full online. They say in their abstract:

Intermediate forms in the evolution of new adaptations such as transitions from water to land and the evolution of flight are often poorly understood. Similarly, the evolution of superfast sonic muscles in fishes, often considered the fastest muscles in vertebrates, has been a mystery because slow bladder movement does not generate sound. Slow muscles that stretch the swimbladder and then produce sound during recoil have recently been discovered in ophidiiform fishes. Here we describe the disturbance call (produced when fish are held) and sonic mechanism in an unrelated perciform pearl perch (Glaucosomatidae) that represents an intermediate condition in the evolution of super-fast sonic muscles.

Oh no – a transitional form! Something must be done…

In a study appearing in the November 29, 2011, issue of the journal Frontiers in Zoology, researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, the National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, and the Université de Liège in Belgium compared supposed minor structural changes in the fish to the unobserved (but assumed) macroevolution—one kind changing into another kind—of whales from terrestrial animals and birds from reptiles.

A news release by VCU used vague terms such as “appears,” “potential evolution,” and “potential steps” to make the questionable case for how these fast-muscles evolved, but the investigators presented no scientific answer.

The press release can be found here. What Mr Sherwin has apparently failed to grasp is that working out the precise evolutionary trajectory of the “superfast sonic muscles in fishes” was not the goal of the paper. Instead, they have found an organism “that represents an intermediate condition in the evolution of super-fast sonic muscles,” which would help towards the working out of the evolutionary pathway.

Whether these rapidly contracting muscles are found in fish, snakes, songbirds, or bats, superfast-muscle evolution is still a mystery. For example, in the case of courtship calls, these fish would have had to wait generations for their muscles to evolve before they could make the calls to find a mate and produce offspring. But how could they produce offspring and survive if they were still waiting for the features necessary to make those calls?

But what they’ve found are slow muscles that can also make noise – Sherwin’s objection is invalidated by the study.

Additionally, the fossil record doesn’t show a clear series of ophidiiform fishes progressing to perciform fishes, but instead indicates that fish have always been fish.

Who’s claiming that? And if fish have always been fish, then what is Haikouichthys?

And, although there are different types of slow and fast muscle systems, fast muscles show no evidence of having evolved.

What is “evidence of having evolved” to a creationist anyway? A signed note from the Creator: “I never touched this fish”?

These muscles, along with a host of other well-designed features, had to be in place at the same time in order for these fish to survive. And “well-designed” means that a Designer was responsible.

Ah, creationist logic. We’ll leave it there, at the finish.


In other news it’s been a rather slow Christmas for the ICR as predicted. Aside from this there have been no other DpSUs so far this week, although the January Acts & Facts is out.

There has been no That’s a Fact video for this week, and Science Essentials will apparently return on January 2 (Monday) – meanwhile I need to catch up on the latter.

In ICR news from the world beyond the web, and interesting story has come up of a Dr John Oller – who is a member of the ICR’s Technical Advisory Board and, in a textbook example of crank magnetism, is also an antivaxer – suing the University of Louisiana for discrimination based on his views on those subjects. His job, professor of cognitive disorders, runs much closer to the vaccination side (specifically the ‘mercury in vaccines cause autism’ thing) than to creationism, however it is the creationists who have more experience in such matters and the Alliance Defense Fund which is representing him (along with a local lawyer) is in the business of these creationist suits. It will be interesting to see where this goes, and if the Institute defends Dr Oller in any way, especially as they may not wish to associate with the antivax thing.

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