“The Brain defects caused by Zika virus ‘could set evolution back 2 million years’ scientists claim” was the leading story in the UKs Daily Mirror in February. Since then, the global spread of Zika virus, a previously known as a rare virus, continues as a leading headline story – for good reasons. As CNN reports, “This is the first time a mosquito has been found to cause congenital birth defects.”
The New England Journal of Medicine published the article entitled “Zika virus and Birth Defects — Reviewing the Evidence for Causality” on April 13, written by a team headed by Sonja Rasmussen at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Rasmussen, “sufficient evidence has accumulated to infer a causal relationship between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other severe brain anomalies.” Since Zika infections are associated with congenital defects, the Zika virus is set to test the holy grail of evolution – natural selection.
J. Craig Venter, best known for being the first to sequence the human genome in 2000, is recognized as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century. Ten years after his important accomplishment, Venter was credited for successfully recreating “the first synthetic species” in 2010 – named Mycoplasma laboratorium.
In his relentless pursuit to “understand the molecular and biological function of every gene in a cell,” Venter released the latest findings discovered in his genetics research laboratory in Southern California. The paper, entitled “Design and Synthesis of a Minimal Bacterial Genome,” was published on March 25, 2016 in the journal Science. The findings have emerged as a new genomic evolution nightmare for Craig Venter.
R2D2, short for Artoo-Detoo, is best known as the fictional robotic character in the Star Wars universe series created by George Lucas. Inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in 2003, R2D2 has since been included in the Smithsonian Institution list of 101 Objects that Made America. R2D2 is the good guy; the favorite character of George Lucas – known for always saving the day at least once in every film.
In the realm of biology however, the R2d2 gene is a Darth Vader villain terrorizing Darwin’s once popular theory. R2d2’s newly recognized function was published on February 15 in a paper in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution by leading investigator Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena (pictured below), professor of genetics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. With a stealthy title, “R2d2 drives selfish sweeps in the house mouse,” R2d2 disses Darwin with scientific evidence.
The theory of evolution comes with standard equipment that includes Charles Darwin’s concept of races. The complete title of his most popular book, The Origin of Species (1859), includes the phrase the “Preservation of Favoured Races.”
How “races” might relate to humans was clarified a few years later in Darwin’s The Descent of Man (1871). As Darwin explains, “The sole objective of this work is to consider… the value of the differences between the so-called races of man.” Racism has scarred the theory of evolution. The latest attempt to remove racism was published this month in the journal of Science by geneticist and leading author Michael Yudell of Drexel University, Philadelphia, in the paper entitled “Taking Race Out of Human Genetics.”
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The status of evolution as a science is verging closer to extinction following a work shop in Germany last month. The essence and definition of science was on center stage at this historical convening of the leading physicists and philosophers of science last month. The meeting convened in the Romanesque-style Ludwig Maximilian University lecture hall. Science writer Natalie Wolchover covered the story for Quanta Magazine entitled “A Fight for the Soul of Science” and later reprinted by on TheAtlantic.com entitled “Physicists and Philosophers Hold Peace Talks.”
The fundamentals of physics currently face a critical problem, explained Nobel laureate David Gross to the three-day work shop attendees – a watershed moment for science. Wolchover explained, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Specifically, at stake is whether the new concepts in emerging in physics – specifically, the string and multiverse concepts – is true science or just a philosophy. The pivotal issue centers on whether empirical evidence is still required to establish a scientific theory. Since science standards apply across the spectrum of the natural sciences, the outcome also determines the evolution’s science status.
Natural selection, sometimes known as the opium of the evolutionary biologists, has long been envisioned as the driving mechanism of biological evolution. “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” by Charles Darwin was the first publication to popularize natural selection. In the words of twentieth century evolutionary biologist Niles Eldredge, “A century and a half ago, Charles Darwin offered the world a single, simple scientific explanation for the diversity of life on Earth: evolution by natural selection.”
Scientific evidence, however, continues to challenge the importance of natural selection in evolution. Eugenie Scott, recipient of the 2012 Richard Dawkins Award, in Evolution vs Creation (2013) hedges on the “single, simple” role of natural selection: “The main—but not the only—mechanism of biological evolution is natural selection” New evidence discovered in a human genetics study underscoring why, in the end, natural selection unfriends Darwin. Read the rest of this entry »
Evolution paradigms increasingly struggle to survive under the crushing weight of new scientific evidence. “Think of a deck of cards,” said Dan Larremore in an interview with Quanta Magazine science writer Veronique Greenwood. “Now, take a pair of scissors and chop the 52 cards into chunks. Throw them in the air. Card confetti rains down, so the pieces are nowhere near where they started. Now tape them into 52 new cards, each one a mosaic of the original cards. After 48 hours, repeat.”
Plasmodium falciparium, the species that causes malaria in humans, uses this complex type of process to evade human immune system detection. This is the world’s most dangerous malaria parasite, causing 600,000 deaths every year and killing more children under the age of 5 than any other infectious disease on our planet. Greenwood’s card story is a malarial evolution nightmare – the var genes.
Nothing is simple in biology. Monica Young and Paul Hebert of the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Canada, have found within the amino acid sequences of eight legged critters, known as arachnids, an evolution bug.
In one of the largest invertebrate amino acid sequences studies to date, Young and Hebert, found highly variable patterns of amino acid sequences in the hemeprotein known as cytochrome C between species. None of Charles Darwin’s continuous “successive, slight” evolutionary changes in more than 4,000 species of arachnids studied were found. The paper, published in the highly respected journal PLoS ONE, August, 2015, demonstrates the persistent bug in the theory of evolution – no common ancestor. Continue Reading
New Evolution Dilemma
A new and unanticipated evolution dilemma now follows the wake of a massive new microbe discovery. Using a new technique, the number of known bacteria has been “bolstered by almost 50 percent,” according to a new article by Kevin Hartnett published in QuantaMagazine.org and re-printed in ScientificAmerica.com.
With a series of successively smaller porous filters, the University of California Banfield Group at Berkley, discovered a massive number of tiny “bacteria representing > 35 phyla… that consistently distinguished these organisms from other bacteria.” Travis Bedel’s illustration displays the magnitude of the discovery. These newly discovered ultra-small microorganisms, however, accentuates the long-standing dilemma between the theory of evolution and the scientific evidence. Continue Reading
Sharks, No Evolutionary Forerunner
Sharks get a bad rap. With only a cartilaginous skeleton, sharks were once thought to be the primitive evolutionary forerunner of the fish originating more than 400 million years ago during the Paleozoic Era―yet, somehow surviving unchanged. Sharks suffer from misconceived stereotyping as dangerous indiscriminate killers surviving purely by unintelligent deadly instinct.
A new study on the migratory patterns of the tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, published in Nature, however, further dispels these misconceptions. For the first time using satellite-tracking technology, an international research team lead by James Lea of the Guy Harvey Research Institute in Florida, documents the previously unknown extraordinary long-distance annual movements of the tiger shark between completely different types of environments in the Atlantic Ocean. Tiger sharks prove to be no evolutionary forerunner of the fish. Continue Reading