How a Darwinist Explains “Living Fossils”

first_imgDarwinism is a flexible concept that must embrace a wide variety of observations, from apparently fast-evolving plants (see 10/12/2004 item on maize) to organisms that seem to remain unevolved for eons.2  Darwin himself saw this flexibility as a strength for his unifying concept of common descent; others criticized it as rationalization (i.e., a concept that can explain anything explains nothing).  Take the case of so-called “living fossils,” organisms whose modern counterparts are virtually identical to fossils sometimes hundreds of millions of years old.  If a land animal could evolve into a whale in 50 million years, for instance, why would a horseshoe crab show no change at all for 10 times as long, 500 million years? (see 06/21/2002 headline).  How can the fluidity of constant evolutionary change over time be reconciled with observations that many different kinds of creatures – trees, salamanders, ostracods, reptiles, insects and fish – have apparently not evolved at all?    This subject was recently tackled by Lee Hsiang Liow of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.  Examining fossil crinoids (branch-like echinoderms that attach to the seafloor, also called sea lilies and feather stars), Liow tested “Simpson’s Rule” of “the survival of the relatively unspecialized,” a rule George Gaylord Simpson proposed in 1944 as an explanation for living fossils and long-lived taxa.  Basically, it suggests that specialists evolve, but generalists persist.  Liow applied the rule to crinoids and published the results in American Naturalist.1  She studied 1,195 species, representing 752 genera, and concluded that long-lived crinoid genera seem relatively unspecialized, in accordance with Simpson’s Rule, but the reverse is true for higher taxa.  The conclusion seems to raise doubts about the utility of Darwinian explanations.Prolonged stasis in a world of change is a puzzling biological phenomenon.  Extremely long-lived or geologically long-ranging taxa have been a popular subject of discussion for paleontologists and neontologists alike ever since Darwin ([1859] 1964) coined the term “living fossils.”….Whether it is called bradytely, arrested evolution, morphological stasis, long-lived taxa or something else, or whether “living fossils” are dubbed paradoxical, relictual, primitive or specialized, the phenomenon of stasis has rarely been studied in a quantitative manner.  This Liow set out to correct, at least in the case of crinoid evolution.  The crinoid class is ideal for study because it span much of the geological column and contains many well-characterized examples, both fossil and living.  She compared samples and deduced a morphological average, then tried to determine if longevity was a function of “bizarreness.” Simpson implicitly took a comparative approach when he wrote about the “rule of the survival of the relatively unspecialized” (1944, p. 143).  He thought that unspecialized subgroups of a clade seem to persist for longer periods of geologic time but did not explicitly define “specialization.”  Here, I quantify specialization by comparing individual morphologies to a group mean; the closer a morphology is to a group mean, the less specialized it is.  I ask whether long-lived genera … in any given crinoid order occupy regions of morphospace that are random with respect to the mean morphology of that order.  Could survival be correlated with morphological bizarreness or a deviant morphology …?  Or would long-lived genera have morphologies close to the mean morphology…?The short answer is: Simpson seems to be right on one level.  “I find that the morphologies of long-lived crinoid genera are, in general, closer to mean morphologies than shorter-lived genera in the same order.”  But when higher taxonomic categories are examined, the rule fails:Similarly, but from a completely different conceptual perspective, I ask whether long-lived crinoid genera in any given crinoid higher taxon (e.g., suborder, order) occupy regions of morphospace that are random with respect to a basal morphology of that higher taxon.  I find that mean morphological distances of long-lived genera from basal morphologies are seldom distinct from those of their shorter-lived relatives.In other words, she found a contradiction in the trend between lower and higher taxonomic groups.  Part of the problem is the fuzziness of the evolutionary record:There is no available phylogenetic framework for comparing rates of character transformation in the global pool of fossil crinoids.  Likewise, there are no detailed samples of crinoid lineages in a stratigraphic column for investigating character reversals, convergence, or the lack thereof.Nevertheless, she found a way to compare features: “The morphological characters used here are not assumed to be strictly homologous but are assumed to reflect only general fossilizable morphology determined consistently within the crinoid bauplan [body plan].”  Also, the fossil history was determined from location in the geological column, both first and last appearance (see 05/21/2004 headline), and when dealing with fossils, the classification into genus and species is not always clear cut.  Geological history adds to the confusion:Just as in previous analyses when genera are grouped according to orders, genera in each period are mostly short lived.  However, rarefied samples of shorter-lived genera through each period inform us that the long-lived taxa can be more, less, or equally deviant compared with shorter-lived taxa of an equivalent sample size (table C2).    Genera that are extremely long lived within each order are also more likely … than other genera in the database to have passed through one or more mass extinctions even though passing through mass extinctions does not necessarily ensure persistence.I.e., the longer you live, the more dangers you have faced, but facing dangers doesn’t make you Supercrinoid.  She claims, nevertheless, that “the likelihood of the occurrence of ‘living fossils’ or long-lived taxa increases with time,” a truism given the evolutionary and geological-time assumptions.    Liow addresses more factors that confuse the picture and could bias the results, such as taxonomic lumping, limited range of some species, the tendency for long-lived species to swamp short-lived ones, “issues of stratigraphic resolution of age dating,” and disagreement over how to define a “long-lived” taxon.  This discussion seems intended to cushion the next paragraph, the conclusions.  Before opening the curtain, she cautions, “In summary, longevity is relative and dependent on taxonomic inclusiveness.  These important axioms are often neglected in articles that address extreme persistence or morphological conservatism.”    Conclusion time.  What can be claimed based on this detailed analysis of crinoids?“First, most taxa (genera and families) are short lived and ‘average”…. which implies that experiments in morphology are usually not long lived.”  This seems to suggest Mother Nature is a bumbling tinkerer.“Second, long-lived genera within orders are often less morphologically deviant or less specialized than expected when compared with rarefied samples of corresponding shorter-lived genera.”  This was apparently a big surprise.  “In other words, long-lived genera are not only not unusual, some are unusually average!” (exclamation in the original).“Third, patterns of morphological deviations from basal morphologies versus durations are unclear.”  Enough said.Fourth, there appears to be an increase in long-lived groups through time, but this appears to be an artifact of the assumptions of phylogeny and geologic ages.“Fifth, taxonomic ranks and inclusiveness of higher taxa are critical factors when discussing longevity because identities of long-lived taxa may dramatically change according to these factors.”  This suggests that previous investigators failed to see the big picture.“Last, identities of long-lived taxa may change with respect to which definitions of longevity are used.  This may or may not (as was the case for this article) change conclusions being drawn on long-lived taxa.”  This seems to say that conclusions are a function of definitions, not data.She lists a few suggestions that have been offered for why some species persist.  Maybe “extinctions are not biologically random,” for instance.  Overall, though, she is confident that “Based on the results of the current study, I rule out the idea that long-lived genera are morphologically deviant or unusual when compared within the realm of an order.”  This seems to say, “Simpson was wrong” at higher taxonomic levels.    What are more instructive in this paper are the zingers in the last paragraph:There are of course many unanswered questions.  This study focused on persistence, but there is no available information on actual rate of character evolution.  Do long-lived taxa experience rapid rates of character reversals or zig-zag evolution (Henningsmoen 1957), such that apparent persistence is only a sampling artifact, or does persistence necessarily mean slow change or cryptic change (Knowlton 2000)?  …. To remain similar enough to an ancestor so a lineage retains a single taxonomic identity requires whole chains of more or less identical events (Gingerich 2001), but what causes these identical developmental events to occur generation after generation?  What relative proportions do ecology, biogeography, morphology, and phylogenetic inertia contribute to longevity?  Patterns and statistical correlations do not imply causation; tests using techniques from fields ranging from paleontology and phylogenetics to molecular biology and genetics need to be designed to investigate the existence and workings of mechanisms that promote longevity.Go to the top of the paper.  Infinite loop.1Lee Hsiang Liow, “A Test of Simpson’s ‘Rule of the Survival of the Relatively Unspecialized’ Using Fossil Crinoids,” The American Naturalist 2004, Vol. 164, pp. 431-443, University of Chicago, 0003-0147/2004/16404-40222.2For examples, see previous headlines about coelacanth fish, pine trees, horseshoe crabs, tuatara reptiles, salamanders, bacteria, protozoa and termites, and butterflies.Every word of this long paper was scrutinized for a hint, somewhere, of an explanation for living fossils.  It was like taking a long, hard hike with a confused guide and at the end of the day finding yourself right back where you started, and on top of that, finding out that your destination was much farther off than you first expected.  Nothing in this paper was any help to the Darwinites.  Simpson’s Rule was tested and found wanting.  The number of variables outnumbered the constants, and the validity of any formula was questionable to begin with.  There is no reason to suspect that fragile little sea lilies would outlive dinosaurs through mass extinctions, and there was nothing within the known diversity of crinoid classes to predict why some would last long and others would disappear quickly.    This is not to pick on Dr. Liow.  After all, she meant well and tried to be scientifically rigorous, at least more so than predecessors who relied on comparative rather than quantitative methods.  She did her homework and referred to all the prior literature on this subject.  And she is, after all, an expert, being on the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.  But in the end, it didn’t matter; the doubts swamped the claims.  Just when we were about to give her credit for finding at least half a trend, she let loose with a barrage of major questions that cast doubt on the validity of any evolutionary explanation for living fossils.  Notice also that her subject was not a minor matter.  The debate about stasis is a major issue that bears on the very heart of evolutionary theory.  If the Darwin Party cannot explain how things change or how things stay the same, then they cannot explain anything.    Notice what she admitted in that last paragraph: there is no available information on actual rate of character evolution, she said, and she’s not restricting that statement to crinoids.  In lieu of explanations, she tosses out alternative plot lines and made-up concepts, like “zig-zag evolution” and “cryptic change” and other head-scratchers, then unloads a dump truck load of devastating statements that say, in effect, that Darwinists don’t know anything.  She just hopes that some day, somebody else will figure it out.  From our experience, this paper was not an isolated case.  The more in depth evolutionary theorists try to support their hunches with evidence, the more trouble they find.    Evolutionary explanations are like hot potatoes.  The Darwin Party brags about how many players are in the game and how many potatoes are being tossed around, but there is no potato anyone wants to hold onto and eat.  Dr. Liow held it long enough to decide that, “yes, it is hot,” then tossed it to someone else.  This game goes on and on in the literature while Eugenie Scott and the other Darwinite salespeople speak of this frenetic activity as if a healthy meal of science is being cooked up.  We’re tired of waiting.  When do we get served, and how do we know the spuds are even palatable?  The ones we have glimpsed so far are pretty gross.  No amount of heat will fix a rotten potato.(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Home Affairs issues more than 1m smart ID cards

first_imgThe smart ID card and the new passport were introduced by Home Affairs in 2013 as part of Home Affairs’ modernisation programme.The Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor ceremoniously presented the following people with the very first Smart ID cards produced in SA: Defendants of the 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial Ahmed Kathrada, Nelson Mandela, Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni. (Image: WhosWho)Brand South Africa reporterMore than one million smart ID cards have been issued to South Africans in less than a year and the Department of Home Affairs says it is confident that it will reach its target of 1.6-million by the end of the 2014/15 financial year.Mkuseli Apleni, the department’s director general, said at a media briefing on Wednesday that the department was making “good progress” in replacing its outdated systems with new and secure technologies.Of the 403 Home Affairs offices, 110 are equipped with the necessary system for processing smart ID cards and new passports, Apleni said. The department plans to increase this to 140 offices by March.Modernisation“Our task is to ensure progressively that the over 38-million citizens with green ID books convert to the smart ID cards by the time this process concludes.” Smart ID cards are being issued free of charge to 16 year olds as well as to citizens older than 60.The smart ID card and the new passport were introduced by Home Affairs in 2013 as part of Home Affairs’ modernisation programme. The new ID card and passport have strong security features, which significantly reduce the chances of fraud.The new system has also improved delivery time for IDs, the department said. While it used to take 54 days for an applicant to get an ID book, it now takes less than 10 days.“The new cards are printed immediately at the Government Printing Works. That is why we are able to send you text messages promptly, informing you your cards are ready for collection. Do collect them,” said Apleni.ChallengesApleni said the smart ID cards could only be issued at offices which have the Live Capture system.Citizens are opting to apply for the new smart ID card rather than the green ID book, resulting in long queues at some offices, he said.The Live Capture system moves away from paper forms and manual fingerprinting. But because it is online, “even the size of the bandwidth poses another challenge”, he said. Alpeni said the offices are able to operate even when they are offline.“In the design of the system, we have the offline mode so that our offices should still be operational even when power is down, although as a temporary measure. Load shedding may impact on client service, but we have made provision for such eventualities,” he said.Apleni said the modernisation programme would transform the manner in which Home Affairs rendered public services in all their offices, including at South Africa’s ports of entry.He said there was also an automated application process in place for the Dispensation for Zimbabwean Permits, “through which they are normalising the stay of Zimbabwean nationals who were in the country illegally”.Speeding upAccording to the department, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will soon announce measures to address the current network challenges.Home Affairs is in discussions, through the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, with the South African State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Telkom to upgrade office bandwidth and put measures in place to prevent cable theft in metropolitan areas.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Hulu Announces Monthly Subscription, Support for iPhone/iPad; Still Ad Supported

first_imgTags:#Video Services#web Related Posts This announcement comes hot on the heels of Fox Interactive Media’s foray into mobile video with its on-demand service Bitbop. Fox has an exclusive deal with RIM to bring mobile video to BlackBerry users, but with Hulu’s broad sweep of the Apple mobile device platform, the going will likely get tough for Bitbop. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Hulu is keeping the ads and is instead providing subscribers with the ability to watch shows on a plethora of media platforms. Free iOS 4.0 apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad will let users of those devices catch shows on the go via Wi-Fi and 3G, and Internet-enabled TVs and BluRay players will bring the experience into the living room. Hulu also says PlayStation 3 users will have access to its content “soon,” and Xbox 360 fans will see Hulu in their dashboards in “early 2011.” Plus subscribers are also provided with an HD 720p stream for all shows.Right now, Hulu Plus is taking requests for preview invites and is surveying users on how they digest their media. Upon requesting an invitation, users will be asked what mobile devices they own, what their Internet connection is and what additional set-top boxes and gaming consoles they use. There is no mention of whether support for the Nintendo Wii is coming, or whether Hulu itself will launch a set-top box. With all the support for these various devices, a Hulu box seems unlikely at this time. chris cameroncenter_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting The rumors about a paid subscription service coming to Hulu have turned out to be true, as the online video hub has announced Hulu Plus – a premium service that will give users access to more content on more platforms for a monthly fee. For $9.99, subscribers will be able to access full seasons of shows on, on apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, on Internet-enabled TVs and BluRay players, and on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gaming consoles. UPDATE: The Hulu Plus app is now available in the AppStore to download on iOS 4.0 devices. You can watch some free previews, but full episodes obviously require an account in the trial program. Check out the screenshots below! Hulu is expressing that Hulu Plus is not a replacement for its home page. Non-subscribers will still get the same new content at the same time, but subscribers can access a deeper back-catalog of shows. Hulu users hoping for an ad-free version of the site will be disappointed to learn that despite the $9.99 price tag, Hulu Plus will still feature ads during shows.“Hulu Plus is a new, revolutionary ad-supported subscription product that is incremental and complementary to the existing Hulu service,” the company said in its blog today. “For almost all of the current broadcast shows on our service, Hulu Plus offers the full season. Every single episode of the current season will be available, not just a handful of trailing episodes.” A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Frustrations mount for CJ Perez, Columbian as losses start to pile up

first_imgMOST READ Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting After a 2-1 start into the PBA Philippine Cup, including a stunning 124-118 win over defending champion San Miguel, Columbian has started to crumble and lost three straight to a 2-4 record.The Dyip’s latest loss was against undermanned Alaska, 94-72, Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena and the mounting losses are not sitting well with Perez.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hosting ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss View comments SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next The Dyip failed to exploit the Aces’ depleted lineup that had no Vic Manuel, Kevin Racal, JVee Casio, and Simon Enciso and was stuck in a tough bind practically since the start of the game.Columbian not only shot poorly from the field, 25-of-68, but was also as horrendous in the free throw line missing 23 of its freebies for a 14-of-37 clip.Alaska, meanwhile, ran circles around the Dyip’s defense scoring on a 39-of-90 rate.“It’s frustrating especially when we’re missing free throws,” said Perez who had 15 points and five rebounds. “We missed more than 20 and I think that was one of the factors why Alaska made some leeway.”ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants SPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption charges“It’s just frustrating,” said Perez, the top overall pick of the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, in Filipino. “ We just have to face it because that’s the game of basketball.”“We will win, we will lose and we just have to regroup and focus on what we have to do. We’ll look into what we did wrong and where we lacked as a team. Of course effort, we always have to give effort.” As Gilas tries to gather players for practice, Andray Blatche gets used to new system Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war MANILA, Philippines—Honeymoon’s over for CJ Perez.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woeslast_img read more

Alpha Boys’ School To Benefit From Sale Of Posters

first_img The IRPC 2013 exhibition, which will run for one week at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, D.C., was officially opened to the public on November 14. The Alpha Boys’ School music department will benefit from the sale of posters that were entered in the second International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC). The International Reggae Poster Contest was established as a global platform to shine a powerful beam on the positive impact of reggae music and to present a bold vision. Story Highlights The Alpha Boys’ School music department will benefit from the sale of posters that were entered in the second International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC).The IRPC 2013  exhibition, which will run for one week at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington, D.C., was officially opened to the public on  November 14.Founder of the IRPC, Mr. Michael Thompson said that Alpha Boys’ School is a Jamaican success story which has contributed significantly to Jamaica’s musical legacy.“This academy for underprivileged youth, located in the heart of Kingston and founded in 1880 by the Sisters of Mercy Order, has produced some of the most notable legends in the history of Jamaican music.  Some of these legends include Don Drummond of the Skatalites, top Rocksteady singer, Desmond Dekker and Yellowman, one of dancehall’s first superstars,” he said.Mr. Thompson noted that this year’s competition received 1,100 submissions from 78 countries worldwide.  He said this  has  exceeded expectations and shows that Reggae music has touched the hearts and minds of music lovers the world over.  Poster winners were selected from among 363 finalists.The International Reggae Poster Contest was established as a global platform to shine a powerful beam on the positive impact of reggae music and to present a bold vision.Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Stephen Vasciannie, in declaring the exhibition open, lauded the founders of the IRPC.  The competition, he said, gives participants from around the world the opportunity to infuse art with Reggae music.He said the exhibition now on display at the embassy brings to the forefront how far Reggae music has gone around the world and highlights the reason why  “we are proud of our culture.”The Ambassador also commended the IRPC for dedicating proceeds from the exhibition to the Alpha Boys’ School music department, which he said, will go far to help nurture and produce more outstanding musicians.last_img read more