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I guess, ill make this here. My previous topic on morals condones the theory of evolution, and im sure there are many people here who would automatically reject my concepts just because i use evolution within the topic.

Also before i continue, if anyone here wants to argue against me, or try to refute my statements, i will only accept scientific published peer reviewed research.. Ths means no random youtube videos, no random websites designed by highschool students etc.

basic

So i would like to present a few things about the theory of evolution that, i imagine people may not be familiar with, just to put some ideas out there. If anyone would like to associate their concepts in faith with it, that would fine as well.

The basic theory of evolution, im sure most people have a general understanding of. It is defined by mutations within our DNA, which are manipulated by natural selection, and evolution occurs in communities.

One mght ask how people have come to the conclusion that this theory is true. Well, mutations within DNA are observable, so it is well established that living things do genetically change, and genetics manipulate the proteins that define our morphology (things like bone structure). And so it is known that beings will physically change over time, albeit very very slowly. Beyond that, the concept of natural selection is just survival of the fittest, and the fittest organisms proceed to the next generation of living things.

Just a few examples:

CCR5 mutation which promotes HIV resistance in humans

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8751444

LDL receptor protein mutation, and increased bone density in swedish families

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12015390

Nylonase phrame shift mutation

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6585807

Mutations within the Italian wall lizard which have brought about morphological changes

Vervust. B., Grbac. I., Damme. R., Differences in morphology, performance and behaviour between recently diverged populations of Podarcis sicula mirror differences in predation pressure, Nov 2007, Oikos, v. 116, p 1343-1352

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a little more in depth

A little more in depth, there are concepts regarding the fossil record. I personally do work quite a bit with the fossil record, and i will say, there is in fact a succession of fossils in the earth over time. What i mean by this is, in the past (450 million years ago), in ancient strata, all you will find are fish bones. then around 400 mya you find fish with legs and other sorts of amphibians. then around 300 mya you find reptiles, lizards and snakes etc. 200 mya you find large reptiles like dinosaurs and you find...reptiles with mammal traits. then around 150 mya you find mammals with reptile traits and you find reptiles with bird traits. then under 100 mya you find things like full mammals and full birds, and all living things prior.

And so, a succession of animals can be seen to change over time in the fossils.

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complex summation

Ok so, the things i have mentioned before are simple basics, most people are familiar with them, but the actual real reason scientists support the theory of evolution more extensively comes from things that i will mention below.

Now, the fossil record, if you track morphological changes in the fossil record, you can create something called a phylogenetic tree. This is basically your standard scientific tree of life. The way its made is, ~ If an organism contains trait X go to step five. If an organism does not contain trait X go to step 2.

Its kind of like an organised way of programing a tv :P, its the same method. I hope that makes sense.

So, basically, the trees that are made from studies like the fossil record, match the trees made from things like genetics, and comparative anatomy of living things, and ecologic studies etc etc. And so, it is known that there is factually a direct relationship between the fossil succession, and the genetics within all DNA based organisms.

More specifically, on the genetic phylogenetic tree, the tree is made in the same way that other trees are made, but its like... If the sequence AAB exists proceed to step five, if the sequence AAC exists, proceed to step 2. The tree is defined by differences created by mutations within the organism. With this said, its understood that, things arent simply similar in DNA just because theyve been created to look similar. Things are similar in DNA because genetically, the mutations and alterations of DNA have proceeded identically with the mutations of the fossil record and have created a tree that defines the traits that living things hold.

I hope this makes sense, im not exactly a professor, if anyone doesnt understand or has questions, feel free to ask.

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a little more advanced

The summation of studies and their relative phylogenetic trees is proof that there is a relationship between the fossil record and anatomy of living things and DNA. and how each has transitioned overtime, but just for a little more icing on the top, id like to talk a bit about enndogenous retroviruses.

Endogenous retroviruses are essentially, viruses that insert ultimately have their genetic makeup inserted into our DNA. When living things are attacked by these viruses, the genes that contain the DNA of the viruses, depending on what cells they attack within living things, can be passed on to our children. and our children pass it to their children etc etc, just like all DNA is passed on to our progeny. Ok so, now, if you think about, a family tree. That of a kin of people. distant cousins and second cousins and third cousins and second aunts and uncles etc etc, all will be on small distant branches of a family tree. Whereas parents, first brothers and sisters, will be on primary branches.

With that understanding, lets say i am attacked by an ERV. ok so now, my children will have the ERV signature within them. Now lets say one of my children are attacked by an ERV. now my grandchildren will have the ERV signiture of me, and my childrens ERV within them. so my grandchildren will have 2 signature, and my children will have 1 signature. and so on and so on. They add up over the generations.

Now, with this said, we can determine the relatedness of living things based on the number of ERV signatures they have within them. For example, i can tell my grandchildren are closer related to eachother than they are to me, because they have more ERVs.

This is a really really simple way of describing this, but it makes sense and its proven.

Now, how does this relate to evolution? Well, ERVs are found in living things, including humans and chimps and all sorts of mammals etc etc. So what does it mean? It means we share a common ancestor.

And not only that, the phylogenetic tree made from ERV traces, directly matches phylogenetic trees made in comparative anatomy, and the fossil record and ecologic studies etc.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16830071

ok so, this is rough start, obviously there is a lot more to say, but this i think is a good ice breaker for discussion.

Edited by iSilurian

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Please read the summary of the following bird, taken from Wikipedia, and the final paragraph in particular:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearded_Reedling

If it is possible for the organic composition of a species such as this to change from one state to another over the course of a season and back again to enable it to adapt to a changing environment, it is impossible to view this in terms of the natural selection process that you describe in paragraph 5 (bearing in mind that Darwin himself observed finches on the Galapagos and came to the conclusion that their differing beaks adapted themselves over time to their food resources on their particular island). While I cannot doubt the research which has been done into fossil records, my problem is that natural selection cannot be described as a universal theory explaining the origin of all species.

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Please read the summary of the following bird, taken from Wikipedia, and the final paragraph in particular:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearded_Reedling

If it is possible for the organic composition of a species such as this to change from one state to another over the course of a season and back again to enable it to adapt to a changing environment, it is impossible to view this in terms of the natural selection process that you describe in paragraph 5 (bearing in mind that Darwin himself observed finches on the Galapagos and came to the conclusion that their differing beaks adapted themselves over time to their food resources on their particular island). While I cannot doubt the research which has been done into fossil records, my problem is that natural selection cannot be described as a universal theory explaining the origin of all species.

It is not possible for such animals like...birds to morphologically evolve over the course of one season and then back. Im not sure where u have gotten this impression. The final paragraph states...

"its digestive system actually changing to cope with the very different seasonal diets."

That doesnt necessarily mean it changes every season, but rather it is simply changing to cope with the fact that its diet changes.

Also, on top of that, wiki doesnt cite its source for that exact statement, so we cant even confirm what it means. Lucky for you i use wiki a lot to find things so i am ok with reading it :P.

For all further posts, for anyone...its very important that, if you want to describe something and you want to understand it, you will need to provide its source. Wikipedia often is a nice website because often it does provide credible sources. But in cases like this, wikipedia has not stated its source. Its reasons like this that often people say wikipedia is not a crediible source. We cannot learn anything from a webste that doesnt describe its work. This includes youtube videos and websites designed by highschool students. We just dont know what the sources are, and thus we cant work with the material.

Edited by iSilurian

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Why can I not fly?

because organisms and DNA do not change toward a set goal.

as a matter of fact, in the fossil record, there is a thing that we call "random walks". Basically if you make an excel spreadsheet of... Time on your X axis and just as an example, length on the Y axis. And lets say we have 100 bivalve (clams) shells. Often what you will find is. The length (just for this example) over time will get larger, then smaller then larger then smaller etc etc.

Gene, H., May 2007, The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages, PNAS, v. 104, p. 18404-18408

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because organisms and DNA do not change toward a set goal.

as a matter of fact, in the fossil record, there is a thing that we call "random walks". Basically if you make an excel spreadsheet of... Time on your X axis and just as an example, length on the Y axis. And lets say we have 100 bivalve (clams) shells. Often what you will find is. The length (just for this example) over time will get larger, then smaller then larger then smaller etc etc.

Gene, H., May 2007, The relative importance of directional change, random walks, and stasis in the evolution of fossil lineages, PNAS, v. 104, p. 18404-18408

Ok maybe my question wasnt clear,

why had I not evolved to fly like birds? Why can birds fly and I cant?

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If your argument was true. Then say we left a paper with the word Mary written on it. Should not that word Mary eventually evolve into Brian or anything else? Human Dna and pencil composition is just names, all of them on their own can do nothing.

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It is not possible for such animals like...birds to morphologically evolve over the course of one season and then back. Im not sure where u have gotten this impression. The final paragraph states...

"its digestive system actually changing to cope with the very different seasonal diets."

That doesnt necessarily mean it changes every season, but rather it is simply changing to cope with the fact that its diet changes.

Also, on top of that, wiki doesnt cite its source for that exact statement, so we cant even confirm what it means. Lucky for you i use wiki a lot to find things so i am ok with reading it :P.

For all further posts, for anyone...its very important that, if you want to describe something and you want to understand it, you will need to provide its source. Wikipedia often is a nice website because often it does provide credible sources. But in cases like this, wikipedia has not stated its source. Its reasons like this that often people say wikipedia is not a crediible source. We cannot learn anything from a webste that doesnt describe its work. This includes youtube videos and websites designed by highschool students. We just dont know what the sources are, and thus we cant work with the material.

If you simply google "bearded reedling digestive system" this will give you a range of websites, including the BBC's own website, which replicate the information given by WIkipedia: "It eats reed aphids in summer, and reed seeds in winter, its digestive system actually changing to cope with the very different seasonal diets."

I didn't say the bird had evolved, my point was that the biological processes involved do not fit the definition of natural selection.

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Ok maybe my question wasnt clear,

why had I not evolved to fly like birds? Why can birds fly and I cant?

Because evolution works in the form of random walks as demonstrated in my last response.

If your argument was true. Then say we left a paper with the word Mary written on it. Should not that word Mary eventually evolve into Brian or anything else? Human Dna and pencil composition is just names, all of them on their own can do nothing.

a piece of paper with ink on it is far different from DNA, and DNA isnt just names. each grouping of DNA has specific traits that build specific proteins within the body. These proteins are what build us. a piece of paper doesnt do that :P.

If you simply google "bearded reedling digestive system" this will give you a range of websites, including the BBC's own website, which replicate the information given by WIkipedia: "It eats reed aphids in summer, and reed seeds in winter, its digestive system actually changing to cope with the very different seasonal diets."

I didn't say the bird had evolved, my point was that the biological processes involved do not fit the definition of natural selection.

Im sorry, i dont understand where the conflict here is Shamoun. If you could explain more specifically where the conflict is, i would appreciate it.

Please read the summary of the following bird, taken from Wikipedia, and the final paragraph in particular:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearded_Reedling

If it is possible for the organic composition of a species such as this to change from one state to another over the course of a season and back again to enable it to adapt to a changing environment, it is impossible to view this in terms of the natural selection process that you describe in paragraph 5 (bearing in mind that Darwin himself observed finches on the Galapagos and came to the conclusion that their differing beaks adapted themselves over time to their food resources on their particular island). While I cannot doubt the research which has been done into fossil records, my problem is that natural selection cannot be described as a universal theory explaining the origin of all species.

Also Shamoun, there is artificial selection. Things like...humans deciding what animals will interbreed. We have created the great variety of dogs that exist today because we have chosen what traits to pass on in a gene lineage within dogs among other things. Now think about...what if instead of you and i picking what dogs will breed and what traits will pass on over 10 thousand years, we let nature decide over the course of 500 million years.

Edited by iSilurian

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Here is a video, for those who may be interested on, how evolution works, with a bit more detail. Also, its a multiple part series. So if youre interested in natural selection, there is a video, or if youre interested in mutations, there is another video for you etc.

Its made by a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from UNC, it gives a nice overview and there are nice diagrams and picture which make understanding it easier.

Edited by iSilurian

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bismillah.gifsalam.gif

Often times people throw abiogenesis in with evolution. The concept of evolution is not really an issue in Islam. We believe in god morphing creatures such as human beings into other animals such as pigs (hence the anatomical similarity between the two) and some prominent Islamic scholars have even went as far as to described evolution (I will post an example below). Before I begin I would like to state that I am not a biologist or even a uni student, rather I am a teenager who has limited knowledge in the subject (in comparison to an older person).

The reason I don't believe in evolution alone is simple. Let's say that an animal evolves and acquires some extra tissue, this tissue will later on become the brain. This animal has this tissue, but the tissue is not beneficial in anyway yet, therefore this animal currently does not have the upper hand. In fact the mutation that may be beneficial in the future (for a descendant) but may even pose as a disadvantage to the animal at the time. Apart from this what if this animal does survive and mate, what are the odds that this mutation will not be masked. If this animal successfully does mate, they may have to wait millenniums for that mutation to mutate again into something beneficial, while this is happening the animal does not have any upper hand to make them more likely to survive. What is the guarantee that this small mutation will even remain in the gene pool? The hardy-weinberg principle obviously doesn't apply to it.

A question

One mutation at a time, approximately how many mutations do you think it would take for a brain of human caliber to exist.

Second one is for my curiosity

How did multicellular organisms begin.

Here is the Islamic scholar that spoke about a concept similar to evolution.

All the credit goes to The Persian Shah (post #11)

Thanks shah, lord knows how many times I have brought this up.

Biology

Tusi wrote extensively on biology and is one of the early pioneers of biological evolution in scientific thought. He begins his theory of evolution with the universe once consisting of equal and similar elements, which themselves consist of elementary particles. According to Tusi, internal contradictions began appearing, and as a result, some substances began developing faster and differently from other substances. He then explains how the elements evolved into minerals, then plants, then animals, and then humans. Tusi then goes on to explain how hereditary variability was an important factor for biological evolution of living things:[8]

"The organisms that can gain the new features faster are more variable. As a result, they gain advantages over other creatures. [...] The bodies are changing as a result of the internal and external interactions."

Tusi discusses how organisms are able to adapt to their environments:[8]

"Look at the world of animals and birds. They have all that is necessary for defense, protection and daily life, including strengths, courage and appropriate tools [organs] [...] Some of these organs are real weapons, [...] For example, horns-spear, teeth and claws-knife and needle, feet and hoofs-cudgel. The thorns and needles of some animals are similar to arrows. [...] Animals that have no other means of defense (as the gazelle and fox) protect themselves with the help of flight and cunning. [...] Some of them, for example, bees, ants and some bird species, have united in communities in order to protect themselves and help each other."

Tusi recognized three types of living things: plants, animals, and humans. He wrote:[8]

"Animals are higher than plants, because they are able to move consciously, go after food, find and eat useful things. [...] There are many differences between the animal and plant species, [...] First of all, the animal kingdom is more complicated. Besides, reason is the most beneficial feature of animals. Owing to reason, they can learn new things and adopt new, non-inherent abilities. For example, the trained horse or hunting falcon...is at a higher point of development in the animal world. The first steps of human perfection begin from here."

Tusi then explains how humans evolved from advanced animals:[8]

"Such humans [probably anthropoid apes] live in the Western Sudan and other distant corners of the world. They are close to animals by their habits, deeds and behavior. [...] The human has features that distinguish him from other creatures, but he has other features that unite him with the animal world, vegetable kingdom or even with the inanimate bodies. [...] Before [the creation of humans], all differences between organisms were of the natural origin. The next step will be associated with spiritual perfection, will, observation and knowledge. [...] All these facts prove that the human being is placed on the middle step of the evolutionary stairway. According to his inherent nature, the human is related to the lower beings, and only with the help of his will can he reach the higher development level."

Here is a video, for those who may be interested on, how evolution works, with a bit more detail. Also, its a multiple part series. So if youre interested in natural selection, there is a video, or if youre interested in mutations, there is another video for you etc.

Its made by a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from UNC, it gives a nice overview and there are nice diagrams and picture which make understanding it easier.

bismillah.gifsalam.gif

Thank you very much!

I will definitely watch this once I finish all my assignments and exams are done with.

Edited by ShiaSoldier@2007

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bismillah.gifsalam.gif

Often times people throw abiogenesis in with evolution. The concept of evolution is not really an issue in Islam. We believe in god morphing creatures such as human beings into other animals such as pigs (hence the anatomical similarity between the two) and some prominent Islamic scholars have even went as far as to described evolution (I will post an example below). Before I begin I would like to state that I am not a biologist or even a uni student, rather I am a teenager who has limited knowledge in the subject (in comparison to an older person).

The reason I don't believe in evolution alone is simple. Let's say that an animal evolves and acquires some extra tissue, this tissue will later on become the brain. This animal has this tissue, but the tissue is not beneficial in anyway yet, therefore this animal currently does not have the upper hand. In fact the mutation that may be beneficial in the future (for a descendant) but may even pose as a disadvantage to the animal at the time. Apart from this what if this animal does survive and mate, what are the odds that this mutation will not be masked. If this animal successfully does mate, they may have to wait millenniums for that mutation to mutate again into something beneficial, while this is happening the animal does not have any upper hand to make them more likely to survive. What is the guarantee that this small mutation will even remain in the gene pool? The hardy-weinberg principle obviously doesn't apply to it.

studies of abiogenesis are on a totally different playing field than that of evolutionary studies. Outside of that, for your statement. Evolution occurs in communities, and youre correct when you state that, some beneficial mutations may not give organisms a blatent upper hand, and in some cases the mutations may even be detrimental. Lets say for example, one family of humans may have feet that are shaped in a certain way, it very well could make no difference to the humans survival if his or her feet are shaped slightly differently. The mutation could remain within the genepool of an organism for generations and really it wouldnt necessarily matter. Whether or not the mutation is masked over generations i believe would have to relate to what kind of mutation it is and how it effects the organisms population.

Aside from that though, also, there are mutations that do impact the organisms ability to survive, and those are going to be the ones that are driven to consume communities the quickest. For example, darwins finches as earlier mentioned. Yes there are changes that will go unnoticed, but there are changes that will make a difference as well.

you said the reason you do not believe in evolution is because, some beneficial mutations go unnoticed and may not benefit an organism at that time, but what about the mutations that are presented and do make a difference?

A question

One mutation at a time, approximately how many mutations do you think it would take for a brain to exist.

It depends on what your starting point is, also im not the right person to ask that question, but if you give me a starting point, i can probably ask some people and find out a rough estimate. In order to have a brain, the brain itself needs other parts of the body to develop. Things like standing upright, and developing a complex nervous system. I recall reading studies that related humans, standing upright on 2 feet, to the size and effectiveness of our brain. Ill have to look more into that. But also, are we talking about how many mutations does it take for a human brain to exist? or the brain of a lizard? Thats a very broad question.

How did multicellular organisms begin.

Thats a very good question that i hear quite often, from my understanding, it is said that prokaryotes had endosymbiotic relations that promoted multicellular life. If you really want to go into the details of this specific subject we can but it will take time, as i will have to talk to more experienced biologists prior to returning certain answers for things.

Here is the Islamic scholar that spoke about a concept similar to evolution.

All the credit goes to The Persian Shah (post #11)

Thanks shah, lord knows how many times I have brought this up.

Biology

Tusi wrote extensively on biology and is one of the early pioneers of biological evolution in scientific thought. He begins his theory of evolution with the universe once consisting of equal and similar elements, which themselves consist of elementary particles. According to Tusi, internal contradictions began appearing, and as a result, some substances began developing faster and differently from other substances. He then explains how the elements evolved into minerals, then plants, then animals, and then humans. Tusi then goes on to explain how hereditary variability was an important factor for biological evolution of living things:[8]

"The organisms that can gain the new features faster are more variable. As a result, they gain advantages over other creatures. [...] The bodies are changing as a result of the internal and external interactions."

Tusi discusses how organisms are able to adapt to their environments:[8]

"Look at the world of animals and birds. They have all that is necessary for defense, protection and daily life, including strengths, courage and appropriate tools [organs] [...] Some of these organs are real weapons, [...] For example, horns-spear, teeth and claws-knife and needle, feet and hoofs-cudgel. The thorns and needles of some animals are similar to arrows. [...] Animals that have no other means of defense (as the gazelle and fox) protect themselves with the help of flight and cunning. [...] Some of them, for example, bees, ants and some bird species, have united in communities in order to protect themselves and help each other."

Tusi recognized three types of living things: plants, animals, and humans. He wrote:[8]

"Animals are higher than plants, because they are able to move consciously, go after food, find and eat useful things. [...] There are many differences between the animal and plant species, [...] First of all, the animal kingdom is more complicated. Besides, reason is the most beneficial feature of animals. Owing to reason, they can learn new things and adopt new, non-inherent abilities. For example, the trained horse or hunting falcon...is at a higher point of development in the animal world. The first steps of human perfection begin from here."

Tusi then explains how humans evolved from advanced animals:[8]

"Such humans [probably anthropoid apes] live in the Western Sudan and other distant corners of the world. They are close to animals by their habits, deeds and behavior. [...] The human has features that distinguish him from other creatures, but he has other features that unite him with the animal world, vegetable kingdom or even with the inanimate bodies. [...] Before [the creation of humans], all differences between organisms were of the natural origin. The next step will be associated with spiritual perfection, will, observation and knowledge. [...] All these facts prove that the human being is placed on the middle step of the evolutionary stairway. According to his inherent nature, the human is related to the lower beings, and only with the help of his will can he reach the higher development level."

As for this, i would not agree that humans evolved from minerals, although i guess if you believe in abiogenesis, i could see that as being an interesting way of wording it. Aside from that, very interesting input, and thanks.

Edited by iSilurian

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Guest Stefan

If you simply google "bearded reedling digestive system" this will give you a range of websites, including the BBC's own website, which replicate the information given by WIkipedia: "It eats reed aphids in summer, and reed seeds in winter, its digestive system actually changing to cope with the very different seasonal diets."

Yes, the BBC website copied that information about that bird's digestive system from Wikipedia, and said so very clearly.

There are other (less serious) websites which say the same thing, but none of them offers any sort of clarification about how the digestive system changes.

It could be true, but, if you want to claim that the existence of this bird is not a result of natural selection, you need to offer more details backed by serious sources.

There are animals which change with the season, for example, the arctic fox which changes its fur to a fur of a different color, from white to brown.It's a result of natural selection, it helps the fox hide.

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The following documentary is by far the best I have seen with regards to the beginning of life.

(If anyone is interested)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lyC-CSvCOo

*

Thats a good video. Just to add onto that, Snowball earth, from my understanding was the result of, planetary conditions caused by the presence and rifting of Rodinia (the super continent present at the time), and the rifting of Rodinia created a massive amount of new shallow marine environments for organisms like the ediacara biota (those guys that are 600 million years old) to thrive in. After the ediacara biota, then u have the follow up of the Cambrian explosion.

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Because evolution works in the form of random walks as demonstrated in my last response.

a piece of paper with ink on it is far different from DNA, and DNA isnt just names. each grouping of DNA has specific traits that build specific proteins within the body. These proteins are what build us. a piece of paper doesnt do that :P.

Im sorry, i dont understand where the conflict here is Shamoun. If you could explain more specifically where the conflict is, i would appreciate it.

Also Shamoun, there is artificial selection. Things like...humans deciding what animals will interbreed. We have created the great variety of dogs that exist today because we have chosen what traits to pass on in a gene lineage within dogs among other things. Now think about...what if instead of you and i picking what dogs will breed and what traits will pass on over 10 thousand years, we let nature decide over the course of 500 million years.

If I can express it another way, my problem is with the concept of "survival". Let us assume there was an ancestor of the reedling without the present bird's ability to diversify its diet and that it was only able to eat reed aphids. Surely that bird's primary survival instinct would have been to migrate (as reedlings are in principle able to do but nevertheless do not) to more temperate zones during the winter where its food sources would be available? It would therefore be curious to argue that as a matter of survival it was necessary for such a bird to develop a completely different digestive tract to enable it to remain sedentary when it was already capable of migration.

If natural selection/survival of the fittest is a process of incremental improvement and adaptation, it is difficult to explain such a remarkable leap in the case of the reedling.

I am interested by your comment that in artificial selection, nature is left to decide, because this seems to remove any requirement for survival. Instead of an internal process of struggle, we have changes imposed externally to allow a species to continue. I'm not sure whether you are positing the existence of God but I'm sure you'll elaborate.

In any event, the argument for artificial selection is not convincing in the case of the reedling because of the evidence that it is a distinct species with no close relatives. I'm sorry to refer to wikipedia again but the section on reedlings under passerines is worth looking at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passerine

Anyway, thank you for opening an interesting discussion.

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Yes, the BBC website copied that information about that bird's digestive system from Wikipedia, and said so very clearly.

There are other (less serious) websites which say the same thing, but none of them offers any sort of clarification about how the digestive system changes.

It could be true, but, if you want to claim that the existence of this bird is not a result of natural selection, you need to offer more details backed by serious sources.

There are animals which change with the season, for example, the arctic fox which changes its fur to a fur of a different color, from white to brown.It's a result of natural selection, it helps the fox hide.

Please refer to my post above. I'm attempting to argue the case from logic and I am saying there needs at least to be a better explanation for the existence of species like this than calling it "survival of the fittest."

I referred to birds for a good reason, which is that unlike the arctic fox or the chameleon, they are able to alter their environment by migration and are not bound to a particular locality. Even if it were correct to describe what happens to the fox as natural selection, it would not be accurate to do this for the reedling.

On a passing note, if Darwin was correct about his finches and that the size of their beaks depended on natural selection, Darwin seems to speculate in Voyage of the Beagle that it was unnecessary for their (few) ancestors to migrate because there were limited food sources available to them:

"Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends".

Edited by shamoun

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If I can express it another way, my problem is with the concept of "survival". Let us assume there was an ancestor of the reedling without the present bird's ability to diversify its diet and that it was only able to eat reed aphids. Surely that bird's primary survival instinct would have been to migrate (as reedlings are in principle able to do but nevertheless do not) to more temperate zones during the winter where its food sources would be available? It would therefore be curious to argue that as a matter of survival it was necessary for such a bird to develop a completely different digestive tract to enable it to remain sedentary when it was already capable of migration.

If natural selection/survival of the fittest is a process of incremental improvement and adaptation, it is difficult to explain such a remarkable leap in the case of the reedling.

I am interested by your comment that in artificial selection, nature is left to decide, because this seems to remove any requirement for survival. Instead of an internal process of struggle, we have changes imposed externally to allow a species to continue. I'm not sure whether you are positing the existence of God but I'm sure you'll elaborate.

In any event, the argument for artificial selection is not convincing in the case of the reedling because of the evidence that it is a distinct species with no close relatives. I'm sorry to refer to wikipedia again but the section on reedlings under passerines is worth looking at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passerine

Anyway, thank you for opening an interesting discussion.

So the first issue is, right off the bat, we assume that this ancestor can only eat reed aphids and nothing else. I would say that this is probably not true. Then you take that as reason to believe that it would migrate. I would argue that the bird did not need to develop a completely different digestive track, but rather a more efficient one in order to remain comfortably sedentary in its environment.

I would assume that, the birds ancestor was able to survive in the winter environment prior to the newfound adaptations that it is acquiring. With that said, the ancestor probably did have a source of food prior to its adaptations, and didnt migrate. Just because an animal isnt fully adapted to an environment doesnt mean that it cant live within that environment. For example, darwins finches again. They migrate to different environments, and those environments cause the birds to change their morphology. Which is what is happening with the bearded reedling. This is how evolution happens, populations are subjected to change due to environmental stresses.

The problem here is we dont know anything about the bird or its ancestors. If you would like, i could look into it.

The bearded reedling isnt making any remarkable leap, its actually changing very similarly to many other species that can be seen doing the same thing. Including other bird species. You should look into something called "ring speciation". Watch the videos i posted before about how evolution works, it talks about these things, and if you look into the related videos section, you will find numerous videos about various ways that speciation occurs. A great amount of observed speciation and evolution occurs when animals move into environments and they change to better suit that particular environment just like the bearded reedling.

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I dont understand what your next points are. youre going to have to explain more clearly what the conflict is. For example..."I am interested by your comment that in artificial selection, nature is left to decide, because this seems to remove any requirement for survival. "

Nature isnt left to decide with artificial selection. In artificial selection, we the people decide on what animals breed and which dont, and we see clear results of variation of dogs. Now you can compare that to natural selection of environmental stresses selecting what types of animals breed, and also take into account 500 million years of natural selection. And you have a logical answer as to how things have slowly changed over time.

ok so, both points im still having trouble understanding. Your first point doesnt state where the conflict is and its based on hypothetical concepts which i would imagine arent even the case. Is your conflict with how the mutations occur? is your conflict with the environmental stresses? etc etc. And it doesnt help that we dont know anything about the birds youre talking about to begin with. Where is the actual conflict? Also, instead of giving me hypothetical concepts, if you want, i can help find data on these birds or other things. But i need to know exactly what youre trying to figure out.

Edited by iSilurian

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So the first issue is, right off the bat, we assume that this ancestor can only eat reed aphids and nothing else. I would say that this is probably not true. Then you take that as reason to believe that it would migrate. I would argue that the bird did not need to develop a completely different digestive track, but rather a more efficient one in order to remain comfortably sedentary in its environment.

I would assume that, the birds ancestor was able to survive in the winter environment prior to the newfound adaptations that it is acquiring. With that said, the ancestor probably did have a source of food prior to its adaptations, and didnt migrate. Just because an animal isnt fully adapted to an environment doesnt mean that it cant live within that environment. For example, darwins finches again. They migrate to different environments, and those environments cause the birds to change their morphology. Which is what is happening with the bearded reedling. This is how evolution happens, populations are subjected to change due to environmental stresses.

The problem here is we dont know anything about the bird or its ancestors. If you would like, i could look into it.

The bearded reedling isnt making any remarkable leap, its actually changing very similarly to many other species that can be seen doing the same thing. Including other bird species. You should look into something called "ring speciation". Watch the videos i posted before about how evolution works, it talks about these things, and if you look into the related videos section, you will find numerous videos about various ways that speciation occurs. A great amount of observed speciation and evolution occurs when animals move into environments and they change to better suit that particular environment just like the bearded reedling.

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I dont understand what your next points are. youre going to have to explain more clearly what the conflict is. For example..."I am interested by your comment that in artificial selection, nature is left to decide, because this seems to remove any requirement for survival. "

Nature isnt left to decide with artificial selection. In artificial selection, we the people decide on what animals breed and which dont, and we see clear results of variation of dogs. Now you can compare that to natural selection of environmental stresses selecting what types of animals breed, and also take into account 500 million years of natural selection. And you have a logical answer as to how things have slowly changed over time.

ok so, both points im still having trouble understanding. Your first point doesnt state where the conflict is and its based on hypothetical concepts which i would imagine arent even the case. Is your conflict with how the mutations occur? is your conflict with the environmental stresses? etc etc. And it doesnt help that we dont know anything about the birds youre talking about to begin with. Where is the actual conflict? Also, instead of giving me hypothetical concepts, if you want, i can help find data on these birds or other things. But i need to know exactly what youre trying to figure out.

Yes this was merely a hypothetical example given to show the difficulties involved as I see them in explaining the reedling as a consequence of natural selection processes. I'm not saying there was such an ancestor and I don't know enough myself about the bird's history. I would however be very keen to hear about the examples of other birds that are doing the same thing like you suggest.

My problem remains that if, as you say, "This is how evolution happens, populations are subjected to change due to environmental stresses" birds need not subject themselves to these stresses because of the availability to them of migration (if by environmental stresses you mean seasonal changes rather than catastrophic events). I do not therefore follow the previous sentence where you say that migrating to different environments causes birds to change their morphology because the stresses which you say later give rise to evolutionary processes are precisely what birds seek to avoid by migration. Your argument in this paragraph appears contradictory to me.

In short, my question is if the reedling was not compelled to remain in its environment, how does natural selection explain the development of its unique dietary abilities? It is not enough to speculate that it was able to "rough it through winter" like you suggest, firstly because we have no evidence that it had adequate food resources in that period and secondly, the wikipedia article I referred to initially states that it does migrate in periods of unseasonal and extreme cold.

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sign onto the live chat if u can, itll make figuring out your position easier if we can talk in real time, if you can.

Yes this was merely a hypothetical example given to show the difficulties involved as I see them in explaining the reedling as a consequence of natural selection processes. I'm not saying there was such an ancestor and I don't know enough myself about the bird's history. I would however be very keen to hear about the examples of other birds that are doing the same thing like you suggest.

Ok, well youre absolutly right in showing that the reedling and its adaptatiions are indeed a consequence of natural selection. Natural selection in part is defined by the environments of organisms. So if you agree that the environment is manipulatiing the succession of mutations and the expression of genes, then i would agree. Im not sure if you would agree with this. For more examples of birds, or animals in general that are undergoing changes with their environment. Above in my very first post, i mentioned

Mutations within the Italian wall lizard which have brought about morphological changes

Vervust. B., Grbac. I., Damme. R., Differences in morphology, performance and behaviour between recently diverged populations of Podarcis sicula mirror differences in predation pressure, Nov 2007, Oikos, v. 116, p 1343-1352

There is a wikipage related to it too. In regards to birds other exampls are Petroica multicolor and Mayr bird fauna peripatric speciation, There are many examples of speciation of birds, reptiles, mainily of insects/arthropods (because their generations are shorter). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation#Sympatric <<<check this out, you can see how the various types of splits are classified and each type of speciation has a few examples listed below it. If you have a question about any specific one, feel free to ask.

My problem remains that if, as you say, "This is how evolution happens, populations are subjected to change due to environmental stresses" birds need not subject themselves to these stresses because of the availability to them of migration (if by environmental stresses you mean seasonal changes rather than catastrophic events). I do not therefore follow the previous sentence where you say that migrating to different environments causes birds to change their morphology because the stresses which you say later give rise to evolutionary processes are precisely what birds seek to avoid by migration. Your argument in this paragraph appears contradictory to me.

Ah yes, when i say "environmental stresses" i mean far more than just seasonal changes. Also though, aside from environmental stresses, there are things like genetic drift which cause all living things to slowly change regarless. All animals are subject to environmental stresses, whether they are seasonal, or predation stresses, or sex based stresses etc. The birds are going to change regardless, the reason they do not migrate most likely is because it benefits them to not migrate, regardless of their dietary changes. For example, lets say im a fish, its going to be difficult for me to live in a hostile environment such as the land, but if land provides benefits for me, such as food, safety from predation, or a safe place to lay my eggs, then regardless of the hostility of the environment, it will benefit me to live in that particular region. Once i am in that region, then i am subjected to the natural selective stresses.

In the case of the bearded reed, yes, the environment did have somewhat hostile dietary traits, but regardless, the birds benefit more from surviving in the environment that promotes natural change. And so, its not the environment that is causing the changes per say, its the mutations causing the changes and that is ever occurring, The environment, hostile or not, just capitalizes and promotes certain changes.

In short, my question is if the reedling was not compelled to remain in its environment, how does natural selection explain the development of its unique dietary abilities? It is not enough to speculate that it was able to "rough it through winter" like you suggest, firstly because we have no evidence that it had adequate food resources in that period and secondly, the wikipedia article I referred to initially states that it does migrate in periods of unseasonal and extreme cold.

If the reedling is in an environment in which an adaptative trait benefits the organism, then that benefit will become dominant within a population. Im trying to explain the situation, but the problem is neither of us know anything about this bird. You said that we have no evidence that the bird had adequate food resources in the winter, and with that, i will ask you have you actually looked into studies of this bird? How do you know this? and then you mention the wiki article which seems unrelated to the subject.

Ill look around for some info on these birds. Its honestly difficult to have a discussion about the evolution of a bird when we dont know anything about its origins. :P

Edited by iSilurian

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Here, ill try explaining this in a way that it sounds like youre saying.

It sounds to me like youre saying

If the bird had the option of migrating or not migrating. It chose not to migrate because there was no environmental stress, thus if there is not environmental stress, there is no natural selection. Is this what youre saying?

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Here, ill try explaining this in a way that it sounds like youre saying.

It sounds to me like youre saying

If the bird had the option of migrating or not migrating. It chose not to migrate because there was no environmental stress, thus if there is not environmental stress, there is no natural selection. Is this what youre saying?

That is what I'm saying about the present bird because of its unique dietary abilities. My problem is imagining what sort of specimen could have preceded it (if anything) and whether natural selection can apply at all to examples like this.

By coincidence, I've been reading today about the effect of protein flaws on cell mutation in a recent BBC website article, which suggests that complexity may not just occur because of adaptation. If this is correct then the reedling's complexity might have had nothing to do with its environment. However, I don't want to continue this speculation without further inquiry.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13445951

This is why I find Richard Dawkins intellectually dishonest when he says things like "it is time we rejected the theory of evolution and accept evolution as a fact" because all he is really saying is he cannot provide an adequate account of evolution. Given articles like the above, I'd like to ask him what facts about evolution are we expected to accept?

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That is what I'm saying about the present bird because of its unique dietary abilities. My problem is imagining what sort of specimen could have preceded it (if anything) and whether natural selection can apply at all to examples like this.

By coincidence, I've been reading today about the effect of protein flaws on cell mutation in a recent BBC website article, which suggests that complexity may not just occur because of adaptation. If this is correct then the reedling's complexity might have had nothing to do with its environment. However, I don't want to continue this speculation without further inquiry.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13445951

This is why I find Richard Dawkins intellectually dishonest when he says things like "it is time we rejected the theory of evolution and accept evolution as a fact" because all he is really saying is he cannot provide an adequate account of evolution. Given articles like the above, I'd like to ask him what facts about evolution are we expected to accept?

Well, if u think about it, the ancestor could have been one that migrated, or it could have been one that for whatever reason stuck it out in the environment. I would not be one to believe that the bird simply appeared in thin air :P, for that would go against everything i have stated in prior posts, including the first.

About your second part, this is a very nice article, thankyou for sharing it. The article does support natural selection, "Natural selection is a theory with no equal in terms of its power to explain how organisms and populations survive through the ages; random mutations that are helpful to an organism are maintained while harmful ones are bred out."

Likewise though, theyre absolutly right in suggesting that natural selection and mutations are NOT absolutely the only components of evolution, and i would agree with this.

Basically, our DNA sequences for proteins and those proteins develop our morphology, but if the proteins work in other ways in addition to being sequenced by DNA, then we would add these components to the theory of evolution. And this is why evolution is considered a theory, because components of it, and further additional information, and data is always being added to it every day. And Richard dawkins im sure supports these news articles too, because they arent weakening evolution as it may appear to some. In fact, theyre supportive additions to the theory. Thus making the theory arguably more factual.

Its news articles like this that actually are the reason that guys like Dawkins do say the theory of evolution is fact, because even the article itself, only makes sense in light of biological development over time, ie the theory of evolution. And if you think about it, the article isnt saying "evolution didnt happen", its actually saying "evolution did happen, and this concept of protein alterations, could indeed be why it did happen, along side natural selection and mutations.

This is good stuff, and i guarantee you, the people who performed the research and got it published for the BBC, i guarantee, theyre evolutionary biologists adding to the theory.

Again, thankyou for the article, this is a brilliant example that demonstrates the power of "scientific theories" and how they work and how theyre built upon.

Edited by iSilurian

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