left biblioblography: THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: OF SPECIATION, SPECIOUSNESS, AND SHEER SOPHISTRY

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: OF SPECIATION, SPECIOUSNESS, AND SHEER SOPHISTRY

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. “
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

Quite often, evolutionists are ‘treated’ to this bit of skullduggery, in various formats, in summation:

”12. Nobody has ever seen a new species evolve.

Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr's Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations--sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organisms isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists therefore usually use organisms' physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.
Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection--for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits--and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William R. Rice of the University of New Mexico and George W. Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.“

Or, more commonly, the witless comment: “If man evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkies?”

The above sentence proves that there still are. They’re just hairless, and they’re just parroting the alpha baboon. This is known as the Devolution fallacy, more specifically that we are the high point of evolution (Here’s a great article about ‘devolution’).


Let’s first define species and subspecies:

From the Britannica:

“Subdivision of biological classification composed of related organisms that share common characteristics and can interbreed. Organisms are grouped into species according to their outer similarities, but more important in classifying organisms that reproduce sexually is their ability to interbreed successfully. To be members of the same species, individuals must be able to mate and produce viable offspring. Because genetic variations originate in individuals, who then pass on their variations only within the species, it is at the species level that evolution takes place (see speciation). The international system of binomial nomenclature assigns new species a two-part name.”

For subspecies:

”Subspecies: a taxonomic subdivision of a species. A group of organisms whose behavior and/or genetically encoded morphological and physiological characteristics differ from those of other members of their species. Members of different subspecies of the same species are potentially capable of breeding with each other and of producing fertile offspring. However, animals of different species may not interbreed even if there is no geographical impediment. Differences in appearance and behavior often prevent members of different species from recognizing each other as potential sex partners. This is especially true for animals with complicated sexual rituals. Members of different species are either incapable of reproducing, or will produce infertile offspring.”

Let’s define speciation, shall we?

The dictionary says this: “The evolutionary formation of new biological species, usually by the division of a single species into two or more genetically distinct ones.”

Before the creationist shouts “Ah-HAH!”, there’s more to it.

First, what makes a species distinct? The image that springs to mind is some wild variation, such as the Neanderthal. The automatic assumption is that there will be some visually distinct separation point. This is a common misperception. What sets a species apart from another?

The Wiki entry says this:

”Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. There are four modes of natural speciation, based on the extent to which speciating populations are geographically isolated from one another: allopatric, peripatric, parapatric, and sympatric. Speciation may also be induced artificially, through animal husbandry or laboratory experiments.”

So first we have allopatric speciation.

“Allopatric speciation, also known as geographic speciation, occurs when populations physically isolated by an extrinsic barrier evolve intrinsic (genetic) reproductive isolation such that if the barrier between the populations breaks down, individuals of the two populations can no longer interbreed. Although there is some debate about the frequency of other types of speciation (such as sympatric speciation and parapatric speciation), all evolutionary biologists agree that allopatry is a common way that new species arise.”

Example: Darwin’s finches

“Geographically isolated and without competition from similar species, these finches developed distinctive anatomy (particularly beak size and shape) and behaviors, with each species exploiting a unique feeding niche.”

Then we have peripatric speciation:

“Peripatric speciation is a form of speciation, the formation of new species through evolution. In this form, new species are formed in isolated peripheral populations; this is similar to allopatric speciation in that populations are isolated and prevented from exchanging genes. However, peripatric speciation, unlike allopatric speciation, proposes that one of the populations is much smaller than the other.
Peripatric speciation was originally proposed by Ernst Mayr, and is related to the concept of a Founder effect, since small populations often undergo bottlenecks. Genetic drift is often proposed to play a significant role in peripatric speciation.”

Observed instances:
Ring species
The Larus gulls form a ring species around the North Pole, The Ensatina salamanders, which form a ring round the Central Valley in California, The Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides), around the Himalayas, The grass Anthoxanthum has been known to undergo parapatric speciation in such cases as mine contamination of an area.

Then we have sympatric speciation:
“Speciation that occurs without geographic isolation of a population.”

Observed instances:
Polyploidy is observed in many plant species: wheat, Salsify or goatsbeard, Cichlids of Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi

Then there’s Reinforcement:
“Reinforcement is the process by which natural selection increases reproductive isolation.
Reinforcement may occur after two populations of the same species are separated and then come back into contact. If their reproductive isolation was complete, then they will have already developed into two separate incompatible species. If their reproductive isolation is incomplete, then further mating between the populations will produce hybrids, which may or may not be fertile. If the hybrids are infertile, or fertile but less fit than their ancestors, then there will be no further reproductive isolation and speciation has essentially occurred (e.g., as in horses and donkeys.) If the hybrid ofspring are more fit than their ancestors, then the populations will merge back into the same species within the area they are in contact.”

Then, for the topper, we have Artificial speciation
“New species have been created by domesticated animal husbandry, but the initial dates and methods of the initiation of such species are not clear. For example, domestic sheep were created by hybridisation, and no longer produce viable offspring with Ovis orientalis, one species from which they are descended.(Cattle on the other hand, can be considered the same species as several varieties of wild ox, gaur, yak, etc., as they willingly and readily reproduce, producing fertile offspring, with several related "other" species.”

So the next time some daft ID-iot starts in with this specious nonsense, demand a definition of terms.

In short, speciation has INDEED been observed, on multiple levels, from the obvious to the sublime.

As for equal time for ‘creation science’, well, let’s end this with a laugh (Courtesy of The Atheist Alliance):

“Repealing the Law Of Gravity LINCOLN, NE. Today legislators in the Nebraska State Senate have begun debate on a controversial measure to forbid the teaching of gravity in all institutions accepting state funds. Wilburt F. Harsheill, co-chair of the Religious Freedom Union of America, testified before the Senate Education Sub-Committee that "gravity is just one of many possible explanations why water flows downhill. To eliminate the possibility of Divine Intervention is an affront to the millions of church-goers in our country." In a long and impassioned presentation Harsheill went on to assert that "the secular humanists in charge of education policy in our nation have no explanation for the Ascension of Christ or Old Faithful and that students should be exposed to all sides equally."

Till the next post, then.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

8 comments:

Vile Blasphemer said...

Nicely done, KA.

Krystalline Apostate said...

VB:
You hereby have my permission to smack any of your theist trolls w/this info. ;)

beepbeepitsme said...

RE KA

Oh dear, you defined words, and thereby defined the argument. How dare you! How can believers play "fuzzy woo woo language" if you are specific?

If you continue to do this, people will be forced to argue on common ground!

Shame on you ;)

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
If you continue to do this, people will be forced to argue on common ground!
"Oh no! A level playing field!" cried the theist, aghast.
Hehehehe.

say no to christ said...

Ka

That was a lot of good info. I usually revert back to what I know about canine species and how they evolved, but you covered it all. Good job and I just might take your info to use. :)

Amy

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Here is a good modern day evolution tale developing in Beep Beep Land.

I've heard that originals can't mate with the new "improved" ones anymore, but couldn't find confirmation yet.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Here I am, Uncy Relucty!
Your proof!
I'm the -original- shaved monkey!
Heehheh...
By the by, drop me a letter.

Krystalline Apostate said...

HMDK:
I'm the -original- shaved monkey!
You did spring to mind after the post, to be sure.
By the by, drop me a letter.
I certainly shall, but am increasingly busy. I will soon, bet on it.