By CARL ZIMMER Published: January 2, 2014
Excerpt: Traditionally, ecologists argued that all the species in a tropical forest could coexist through specialization to their physical environment. Some species might be able to live in deep shade, for example, while others could gain minerals beyond the reach of other plants.
But this explanation has fallen out of favor in recent years. “There just aren’t enough different ways to take advantage of light or nutrients or water,” Dr. Coley said. “There must be something else going on.”
My comment: Actually, Dr. Coley is telling us that the mutation-initiated natural selection, which supposedly enabled specialization, fell out of favor because it had no explanatory power in the context of evolutionary theory. But some people still don’t know what’s going on. Ecologists who understand molecular biology have always known that the number of mutations required to take advantage of ecological differences makes the theory of mutation-driven evolution impossible to support with experimental evidence. Yesterday, I mentioned that fact in the context of the upcoming meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting abstracts:
In the 385 pages of abstracts,
1) a search for “mutation” returns 30 entries (some people never learn)
2) a search for “amino acid” returns 31 entries (some people have learned)
3) a search for “natural selection” returns 18 entries (hardly anyone believes in that ridiculous theory)
Today, as we see here, even Zimmer acknowledges that mathematical models of population genetics based on mutations (30 entries) and natural selection are now considered somewhat ridiculous. Added to the fact that no experimental evidence has ever supported the idea of natural selection (18 entries) for phenotypic expression, the apparent diversity of species refutes the theory that others simply accepted as an explanation for species diversification.
Rarely do we learn that a theory has refuted itself, and this self-refutation of mutation-driven evolution attests to how ridiculous the theory always was. Others may wonder why it took so long for the theory to refute itself, or why my refutation of mutation-initiated natural selection was not accepted when I published Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model. Now, my model of ecological adaptations via amino acid (31 entries) substitutions makes it appear that many evolutionary biologists still have no understanding of the basic principles of biology or levels of biological organization required to link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of species from microbes to man.
The problem for some evolutionary biologists is that even Zimmer, a science journalist, is beginning to understand what they apparently could not understand. Can they continue to confuse him? What other sources of information does he have? Obviously, evolutionary theorists thought they could tell him anything, and that he would tell others how we evolved. Theorists could always count on Carl for that, until now. Now, he’ s clarifying the fact that their theory has refuted itself (e.g., by quoting an expert).
Excerpt 2: “…when scientists capture insects from plants to study their counterdefenses, they face the unknown all over again. “Almost every single one of them is a new species,” Dr. Fine said. The biggest obstacle to understanding the diversity of tropical rain forests, it turns out, is that very diversity.
My comment: Framed by the intrigue of tropical rain forests, we were led to the snake-centric theory of human brain evolution for visual acuity and specificity, which enabled our monkey ancestors living in the trees to avoid predation by snakes. Now Carl tells us about experts on insects and plants who seem to have missed how ecological variation leads to nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled development in the larva to caterpillar to moth stages of reproductive maturation in Manduca sexta. Is every species a new species with nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations that vary from birth to death? Or does every organism show how it has adapted via amino acid substitutions that determine the variety of its cell types during different stages of life. How many species are there? How many adaptations within a given species? Will Zimmer find new experts who can speak intelligently about this?
Three days ago, I wrote: Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled developmental staging and life history changes in a moth species: Manduca sexta, takes us from the ridiculous example of what some of us were taught to believe was mutation-initiated natural selection by bird predation in the peppered moth. We now have another accurate representation of ecological adaptations during the natural history of invertebrates, which is exemplified in all species.
Kumar, Sagar, Pandit, Steppuhn & Baldwin. 2013. Natural history-driven, plant-mediated RNAi-based study reveals CYP6B46’s role in a nicotine-mediated antipredator herbivore defense.
Clearly, there is no need to risk the perils of our monkey ancestors in tropical rain forests infested with primate-eating snakes to find examples of how and why species diversify. Similarly, there was never any need for fawn-colored moths to escape the pollution that supposedly caused them to mutate into peppered moths so that they could avoid bird predation. Merely avoiding predation is not how evolution works. Predator-driven natural selection was just a simple-minded theory of how evolution might work if one species mutated into another species. Now, the biological facts about the natural history of species diversity can be examined virtually anywhere, because species diversity is known to be nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled.
Virtually any researcher who studies any species can simply feed it something different and observe the result. Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled alternative splicings will eventually result in the amino acid substitutions and diversification of cell types that are used to identify the individuals of all species. Feed a mammal something containing plenty of methyl groups, and replicate what happens in the Agouti mouse. (Do not tell anyone you are waiting for your version of the Agouti mouse to mutate into a human; they may call you a “Theorist.”)
Ecological variation enables ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction in the tropical rain forest and everywhere else. Now that evolutionary theory has refuted itself, together we can rediscover the holy grail of evolutionary biology: the de novo creation of receptors that enable nutrient-dependent amino acid substitutions and niche construction that is controlled by the physiology of reproduction. Let’s go boldly where every man and woman before us has already gone via the de novo creation of their olfactory receptor genes.