The Surprises Will Never Stop

Great catchupIn Circular RNAs Increase Cell Bio-Complexity (5 April 2013) Jeffrey Tomkins makes the arguement we’ve seen so many times even in the last week: something has been found to be biologically functional, therefore “bio-complexity” has increased, therefore design, therefore God.

The specifics are thus not hugely important. DNA can code for a variety of “RNAs” as well as just proteins – the function of these “circular RNAs” is apparently to act as a sponge for another RNA type, microRNAs. It doesn’t strike me as something that would be all that difficult to evolve, I have to say. Here’s a slightly more detailed summary, if you’re still interested. Continue reading

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Fibroblast growth factor 8

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Embryology Gene Control Confounds Evolution (15 April 2013) Jeffrey Tomkins talks at length about a Developmental Cell paper called “An Integrated Holo-Enhancer Unit Defines Tissue and Gene Specificity of the Fgf8 Regulatory Landscape.” No, I don’t know what that means either. Continue reading

Talking with Ants

Myrmica wheeleriFor the Friday DpSU Jeffrey Tomkins tells us that ‘Talking’ Ants Are Evidence for Creation. The subject is a paper in Current Biology called Ant Pupae Employ Acoustics to Communicate Social Status in Their Colony’s Hierarchy, about nearly-matured ant pupae communicating this fact to other ants via sound. Continue reading

A Cambrian Entoproct

Barentsa discretaThe Cambrian fossil Cotyledion has long been an enigma to classify, having been moved from phylum to phylum. The discovery of around 400 fossils has provided enough information for a new study to move it, with confidence, to the Entoprocta phylum. This is a group of small aquatic animals most notable for the position of their anus – a picture of another entoproct, Barentsa discreta, is to the right. Because they are small and entirely soft-bodied there is only one other confirmed fossil entoproct, from the Jurassic, and so Cotyledion tylodes significantly extends the period the group has existed for.

Jeffrey Tomkins has graced us with an article on this species, called Another Cambrian Discovery Discredits Evolution. His entire argument rests upon the premise that evolution must inexorably increase the complexity of all creatures over time. Continue reading

Ever More Complex

A new type of DNA sequencing technology has been developed and used to identify and characterize key regions of the genome called “enhancer” sequences. These are novel DNA features that were once thought to be a part of the so-called “junk DNA” regions of the genome. These key elements are now proven to be part of the indispensable and irreducibly complex design inherent to proper gene function for all types and categories of genes.

Jeff Tomkins’ New Technology Reveals More Genome Complexity is one of those articles that hits you with the nonsense almost from the beginning. Deconstructing that opening paragraph we find that the first sentence is perfectly accurate. There do exist in the genome regions, called enhancers, which promote the expression of the gene(s) they are associated with. Enhancers have been known for some time – they were even taught in my biology class last year, so they must be ancient – but a new paper in Science talks about a new method for identifying these regions. Continue reading

Anatomy of an Oyster Shell

Some Pacific oysters on a plateWe’re still on the same (4 October) edition of Nature today as we were on Friday, with Jeffrey Tomkins and Brian Thomas collaborating to produce Oyster Genome Confounds Mollusk Evolution.

Most evolutionists who study fossil mollusks believe these creatures evolved from a hypothetical ancestor that had no shell. How could nature, with no intelligent input, coax imagined soft-bodied ancestors to blindly construct the hard shells of oysters, which research now shows contain over 250 different proteins?

The paper is The oyster genome reveals stress adaptation and complexity of shell formation (open access; a Science Daily article can be found here), and does indeed mention that they “identified 259 shell proteins.” In their article Tomkins and Thomas take the popular “if it’s complex the it must be designed/can’t have evolved” line, with little further evidence offered. Let’s take a tour. Continue reading

The Lis1 Clutch

For Wednesday Brian Thomas writes Scientists Discover New Molecular Motor ‘Clutch’. The gist is that we have a protein, dynein, which is known to be regulated in some fashion by another protein, Lis1, and a new paper in Cell that describes how that works – you can find a pdf of the paper and some pretty pictures on the website of one of the authors. They describe the process as analogous in some way to a clutch, and you can see where this is going can’t you? Continue reading

Complexity and Design

YOM's cow (fair use; click through for full image)For their latest trick, Your Origins Matter has reprinted an article from another creationist website called Don’t have a cow, man!, subtitled “Cow’s unusual spots are putting evolutionists in a tight spot.” Needless to say, given that title, it’s from a different slice of the creationist sector of the internet than we are used to.

The article begins:

While doing some research on the Internet recently, we came across this photo of a cow bearing a detailed map of the world on its hide. Was the cow born with these markings or are the spots the handiwork of a skilled Photoshop artist?

The question is rhetorical, the authors of the article aren’t that stupid. Continue reading

Bacterial Simplification

I wonder – does the ICR have a google alert set up for “Richard Lenski,” or for “Morris”? Anyway, Brian Thomas’ April 30th article, New Theory: Evolution Goes Backward, comments on a paper called The Black Queen Hypothesis: Evolution of Dependencies through Adaptive Gene Loss, by J. Jeffrey Morris, Richard E. Lenski, and Erik R. Zinserc.

If you’re wondering, and can’t be bothered to click the link, here’s where the name comes from:

We present the Black Queen Hypothesis (BQH), a novel theory of reductive evolution that explains how selection leads to such dependencies; its name refers to the queen of spades in the game Hearts, where the usual strategy is to avoid taking this card. Gene loss can provide a selective advantage by conserving an organism’s limiting resources, provided the gene’s function is dispensable.

And so on. Read it all – it’s open access after all.

The question is, how much of that does a bacterium actually *need*? Continue reading