Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The tuatara (Sphendon punctatus), Allan WIlson, and the age of stuff uncoupled.

Greetings today to all.

Executive summary:
Evolutionists try to undermine the creation-proving power of "living fossils" and "living dinosaurs" by saying the animal you see is "decoupled" from underlying genetics. The genes just keep a-changin' while the critters just stay the same. Understand that the fatal weakness of the argument continues to be in the ill-founded assumption of millions and millions of years for fossil ages.

So here we go today:

Dynamic genotype, stasis in phenotype ????

I first met Professor Dr. Allan Wilson when I attended a lecture he gave at Oregon State University around maybe 1990 when he lectured on mitochondrial DNA and the "discovery of Eve", mother of all living. He explained that, as mtDNA comes pretty much all through the mother, it is clear that all humans living today come from the same mother. He explained away the creation implication merely by waving his hands and saying that we have all come from the "lucky mother." All the other evolving mothers were genetically "unlucky" since their mtDNA suffered extinction in the natural course of things, just as folks could suffer family name extinction in a place like Pitcairn Island, of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame.

Well, I know a bit about statistics and random processes. I was (and I am) absolutely sure Dr. Wilson was bluffing and blowing smoke since such extinction would surely not occur in a population model with an expanding and spreading population in which subsequent generations are geographically and culturally and linguistically isolated from each other and from the remnants of the original population. But that was not my major, so I leave the grunt work to another to do the proof. But if you argue with this, I dare ya to crunch the numbers. And make sure your assumptions are reasonable or the Undertaker's gonna come getcha.

So again today I met Dr. Wilson, so to speak.

I just saw today that a New Zealand lizard-like creature, the tuatara (Sphendon punctatus if you are into Latin), is the fastest-known evolving animal - a "living dinosaur."

Well, if you know me, you know I had to stop and take a look.

First, because when I hear stuff like "living dinosaur" and "living fossils," it is usually in a creationist context. Why? As we continue to point out, stasis (NOT continual change) is a major characteristic of the fossil record and continues to reaffirm the creation view of origins. In particular, stasis supports the Biblical view in which the Creator God of the Universe created living things to reproduce after their own kinds, which is in fact a working definition of stasis in species. See:

And of course I wondered how they came to this "fastest evolving" conclusion about the NZ critter. I especially was curious to see how they measured the rates of evolution, since DNA is not considered to survive in natural environments for more than 10,000 years absolutely positively tops.

I first saw about the tuatara on LiveScience on Yahoo! News:

Now LiveScience said,
"It is the only surviving member of a reptilian order Sphehodontia that lived alongside early dinosaurs and separated from other reptiles 200 million years ago in the Upper Triassic period. To make the estimate of evolutionary speed, researchers recovered DNA sequences from the bones of ancient tuatara. The team found that although tuatara have remained largely unchanged physically over very long periods of evolution, they are evolving - at a DNA level - faster than any other animal yet examined."

The plot thickened. Saying "bones of ancient tuatara" did not tell me how old "ancient" really meant. And this paragraph seemed to imply that the evolutionary rate was actually measured over the 200 million years mentioned. That really had me curious since no one has come public (that I have seen) with DNA evaluation even for the 70-million year-old Montana T-Rex fossil with stretchy-squishy material announced a couple of years ago. Much less for 200 million-year-old DNA. I mean, who would even attempt such a measurement?

So I looked further and found:

Here the plot really thickened but then clarified. It seems that the research was done by Dr. David Lambert at the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution in New Zealand, which appears associated with Massey University. The Massey U. article said:

"In a study of New Zealand’s “living dinosaur” the tuatara, evolutionary biologist Professor David Lambert and a team from the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution have recovered DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequences from the bones of ancient tuatara up to 8000 years old. They found that although tuatara, have remained largely physically unchanged over very long periods of evolution, they are evolving - at a DNA level - faster than any other animal yet examined. "

So they measured DNA changes over a period of as much as 8,000 years (if you wish to accept that number) up to the present time. But what about the 200 million years? Here is where it begins to clarify.

“Of course we would have expected that the tuatara, which does everything slowly – they grow slowly, reproduce slowly and have a very slow metabolism – would have evolved slowly. In fact, at the DNA level, they evolve extremely quickly, which supports a hypothesis proposed by the evolutionary biologist Allan Wilson, who suggested that the rate of molecular evolution was uncoupled from the rate of morphological evolution.” ... "Allan Wilson, who died of leukaemia in 1991, was a pioneer of molecular evolution. His ideas were controversial when introduced 40 years ago, but this new research supports them."

It is interesting that the results as published seem to support very keenly Allan Wilson's idea of uncoupled molecular evolution and morphological evolution. Why? Because if you EXTRAPOLATE the DNA rate of change measured over 8000 years out to the ASSUMED 200 million years, you would get lots and lots and lots of genetic change (genotype change). But the critter today still looks pretty much the same as fossils (morphological stasis). What does this "uncoupled" idea mean? It means the DNA (genotype) keeps changing and changing while the physical creature that you see with organs and limbs and whatnot all intact (phenotype) seems to change very little. You can see why such an idea would be controversial. On the face of it is illogical and would not be predicted.

But if you are an ardent Darwinian given enough time, the illogical magically becomes logical and the unthinkable becomes politically correct dogma. How is that? Because the 8,000 years (while maybe not precise from my view but OK for this discussion) has a measured rate. The 200 million years is grasped in a death grip of fanatical factophobic Darwinists who absolutely refuse to consider a much lower number for the age of the earth and the age of fossils seen.

And especially if you are working at the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution , you are going to be happy to get a result that supports Dr. Wilson's decoupling theory. Even if you have to assume ages that fly in the face of logic and observation. So it goes in science sometimes, I guess.

If you go with the alternate (and reasonable) hypothesis that phenotype change should be closely coupled with genotypic change, the observed "living dinosaur" (stasis) provides strong evidence of relatively young fossils, not fossils 200 million years old.

It seems what we really have is a decoupling of researchers' minds from any possibility that the Bible record of a recent creation could be credible. But if this is new to any of you reading this, just go Google "Bible Apologetics" and you will find that the Bible record over and over again has been shown to be credible. I tried it and found: plus another 578,000 links.

It is surely time to undo the decoupling of science from the Bible.

And it seems one more vote for a recent age of living things.

Respectfully submitted,



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