Ape DNA, An Evolution Conundrum

The “Insights into hominid evolution from the gorilla genome sequence” report, published by the British journal Nature this last week, stands as a historical milestone in the study of human origins.

The report from a research team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute headed by Aylwyn Scally stems from the completed gorilla genome sequence project;  the last genus of the living great apes to have its genome decoded. The findings have entrenched the evolution industry into a theoretical conundrum.

Rather than demonstrating a sequence of chimpanzee to human genetic changes, the evidence demonstrate that much of the human genome more closely resembles the gorilla than it does the chimpanzee genome.

For the first time, scientists have been able to compare the genomes of all four living great apes: humans, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. The evolution industry anticipated that the DNA information would clarify competing theories on the origin of humans.

After studying more than 11,000 genes in search for the genetic changes critically important to evolution, however, the expected clarification was not found. While humans and chimpanzees are genetically closest to each other, the Wellcome the team found many places where this is not the case: 15% of the human genome is closer to the gorilla genome than it is to chimpanzee, and 15% of the chimpanzee genome is closer to the gorilla than human.

Overall, the human genome is 1.37% different from the chimp’s; 1.75% different from the gorilla’s; and 3.4% different from the orangutan’s. Most perplexing, according to Scally is that “some of our functional biology is more gorillalike than chimplike”.

In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin theorized that evolution “by means of natural selection” occurs through “slight, successive changes”. Extending Darwin’s theory into the realm of twentieth-century genetics (neo-Darwinism), in 1983 evolutionary biologist Douglas J. Futuyma declared that “By far the most important way in which chance influences evolution is the process of mutation. Mutation is, ultimately, the source of new genetic variations, and without genetic variation, there cannot be genetic change. Mutation is therefore necessary for evolution.”

The evolution industry aligned with this genetic version of evolution through mutation. According Italian geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti,

It seemed as though life could be disassembled and reassembled like a child’s blocks. Some people then placed their faith in the omnipotence of biology and the prospect—it seemed only a matter of time—of being able to put life together and change it in a test tube.

The Wellcome study, however, clearly demonstrates that “slight, successive” process of genetic mutations do not exist even within the four known living great apes.

This is not good news for the evolution industry. In a disparate attempt to address the problem, the researchers resorted to ascribing an earlier time of divergence, 7 to 10 million years rather than 4.5 million years, along with promoting variable speed mutation rates to account for the genetic disparity−multiple molecular clock rates in the same species.

Ajit Varki of the University of California, San Diego, and specialist advisor to the Human Gene Nomenclature Committee who was not involved in the study, stood away from drawing any politically incorrect conclusions, simply stated:  “This information is, of course, of great interest to many investigators.” What Varki did not say is that the Wellcome evidence supports the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.

National Public Radio (NPR) entitled their article on the Wellcome discovery “Gorilla Genome Sheds Light On Human Evolution.  “Sheds new light” is an evolution industry euphemism for things didn’t work-out the way we hoped and some new light must be found –e.g., the old theory is not working.

Surprisingly, Dave Mosher writing for the National Geographic was actually more to the point in the article entitled “Gorillas More Related to People Than Thought”, said  –

Another surprising result is that part of the gorilla genome is at odds with the current structure of the great ape evolutionary tree. For example, instead of gorillas being most similar to chimps and then humans in that portion of the DNA, the branches flip to humans being most similar to gorillas and then chimps.

Actually, the demise of any genetic-based Tree of Life has been expected for more than a decade. Sermonti noted in 1999 –

One spur to research on mutations was the hope that an accumulation of these might lead to a new species. But this never happened… Displaying the table of the genetic code as though it demonstrated the unveiling of life’s interlocking puzzle is a mistaken enterprise.

In the words of Sermonti, “Science has taken on the great wager … and lost.” The genetic evidence is now clear. H. Frederik Nijhout of Duke University places the role of genes into perspective –

The only strictly correct view of the function of genes is that they supply cells, and ultimately organisms, with chemical materials.

Contrary to the expectations of neo-Darwinism during the twentieth century, hope for finding evidence for evolution in genetics is now nearly exhausted.

The evidence from the Wellcome study further highlights why the concept of evolution is in crisis without even an identifiable theory. Evolution was once a theory in crisis, now evolution is in crisis without a theory.

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Darwin, Then and Now is a journey through the most amazing story in the history of science - the history of evolution. The book encapsulates who Darwin was, what he said, and what scientists have discovered since the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.

With over 1,000 references, Darwin Then and Now is a historical chronicle of the rise and fall of the once popular theory of biological evolution.