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Convergent Evolution Upends Honeyeaters' Taxonomy

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the whole-new-family dept.

Biotech 186

grrlscientist writes in with a beautiful piece of science, beautifully explicated. The poignant bit is that the birds in question are all extinct. "Every once in awhile, I will read a scientific paper that astonishes and delights me so much that I can hardly wait to tell you all about it. Such is the situation with a newly published paper about the Hawai'ian Honeyeaters. In short, due to the remarkable power of convergent evolution, Hawai'ian Honeyeaters have thoroughly deceived taxonomists and ornithologists as to their true origin and identity for more than 200 years."

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yet another lame fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137653)

brought to you by a red headline

Question for grrlscientist: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137971)

My friend had a parrot but one time I fed it Alka-Seltzer and it felled down and fizzy stuff was coming out of its mouth and butt and it never got up again.

What happened?!

Re:Question for grrlscientist: (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138189)

What happened? You just posted a cut-and-paste troll, that's all.

Get a life. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137659)

Beautiful? Poignant? Delights? Are you sure you aren't a child molester?

Re:Get a life. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137923)

Nope, he's just gay. Maybe a gay nigger...

asdf (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137679)

nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger
first post and all that
hurr

Nothing New (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137683)

There have been debates over the taxonomy of odd creatures (with similarities to other known creatures) forever. Sometimes simple physical resemblence just doesn't really tell the tale. Of course, evolution producing similar looking/behaving birds is nothing new either (just look at how similar African parrots [wikipedia.org] and South American parrots [parrotparrot.com] are to one another).

The really great debates come when zoologists get into trying to classify an animal that looks like (or behaves like) two DIFFERENT known creatures. One of my personal favorites is the Red Panda [wikipedia.org] . The bottom of its body and claws look like a bear's (you can see it clearly in this picture [wikimedia.org] ) and it eats only bamboo, just like a Giant Panda. But the rest of it looks like a raccoon. This cute little furball finally had to be given its own unique family [wikipedia.org] , because no one was quite sure where to put the little bastard. And it's still debatable if it truly deserves its own family.

Re:Nothing New (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138737)

This, of course, is why most things ending in *ology aren't real science.

very curious (4, Insightful)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139857)

AC cowardly says...

This, of course, is why most things ending in *ology aren't real science.

I'd be very curious to know how you managed to decide that from an article and a comment about taxONOMY (i.e. the study and method of naming the taxa)...

Re:Nothing New (2, Funny)

timewasting (1230064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138847)

That's why DNA has become so useful for classification. Much like this new family of birds, it had to come from someplace. If it is so genetically dissimilar to everything else, than a new family is great.

If it's just a funny-looking giant-panda-family relative then it gets a different genus and we figure out how to save it. If it's a racoon-family relative we see how quickly we can hunt the thing into extinction.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137689)

Dylan
LAinhart
LEET HAXOR 1st postyed bitches

Similarly found in West Virginian coal miners (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137693)

This type of non-linear genetic branching is also found in some areas of the Appalachians.

Maliki liki Maka you crazy genetic rebels!

Re:Similarly found in West Virginian coal miners (0)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137805)

Racism is bad, but hating blue-skins is perfectly reasonable.

Re:Similarly found in West Virginian coal miners (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137849)

Racism is bad, but hating blue-skins is perfectly reasonable.

Predictive power of evolution! (1, Troll)

ChuckSchwab (813568) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137705)

Ah, nothing like the predictive power of evolution for ya! Despite the fact that it's basically just a theory at this point, it can be used to "prove" pretty much anything you want! The birds are the same? Evolution! They're not the same? Uh, convergent evolution. That's it!

A while ago there were two papers I remember, where one of them observed that women dress sexier when fertile, while another observed women walk sexier when *not* fertile. Ah, inconsistent results that need more study, right? Nope! Evolution explains BOTH of them! Everything's consistent with evolution!

It really is just a theory folks. How about some warnings for the textbooks?

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137785)

Bzzzt. Thanks for playing. Now go actually read real evolution textbooks and try to understand what it really is, and not keep using the strawman arguments your religious idiot fundies keep using.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137791)

Sounds like every economic theory I've ever read too.

When you let physicists define what 'scientific' means, you end up with unreachable standards.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137845)

Proposed text: "Evolution, like gravity, is just a theory. Please act accordingly."

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (-1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138073)

I believe there are laws of gravity, not just a theory. which has, by the way, been observed for quite a long time. Evolution has been a theory for not very long... yes, ancient peoples had ideas of it, but I don't think you'd see them as particularly similar except from a philosophical standpoint. Gravity has very seldomly been "philosophical." If it has, it ended when the philosopher got pushed off a cliff.

Instead of arguing from the "theory" side though, I'd rather say this - evolution is a theory, but the scientific community holds to it as if it WERE a law. In other words, they have decided that no other explanation should be allowed. Furthermore, textbooks are full of errors, as are college science classes, etc. My sister recently took a college level biology course and when briefly going over the presumed evolution of humans, known hoaxes were mentioned as proof. I guess that's not really a problem though, as long as the truth is taught, who cares what supports it? Or something?

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138127)

In a shameless reply to myself, I'd like to also add that the OP of this thread has an interesting point - seemingly contradictory evidence is claimed as supporting the same theory. Much like global warming. When your theory is defined such that it includes both sides of interpretation of any given piece of data, it is hard to argue against. (e.g., I heard on the news that it was getting colder and certain ice caps or something were growing, not shrinking, and that that is "exactly what is expected with global warming, because with something like global warming, the unexpected is going to occur." In other words, even though it SEEMS to contradict global warming, it really supports it, because this person's ideas about global warming are defined such that he has included any possible interpretation... or, perhaps it'd be better to say he has accepted global warming first and is trying to interpret the data to fit it afterwards. IMO, much of the theory of evolution is similar.

To the extent that some "examples" of evolution are still used even though they are silly, or hoaxes. In addition to previous example of the human example (that's a lot of the word 'example' in one paragraph), the moth thing in England was brought up, even though I'm pretty certain everyone agrees that no evolution occurred there, it was just a shift in population ratios.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (5, Insightful)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138409)

"Just" a shift in population ratios? Nice attempt to drive a wedge into the non-existent space between "micro-evolution" and "macro-evolution".
For the record:
Shift in population ratios = change in allele frequencies = evolution.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139555)

Shift in population ratios = change in allele frequencies = evolution.

Not sure about the Peppered Moth (I have a book on the subject to read over Christmas, and I'm not going to spoil the story now by checking it) ... but perhaps the GP meant a shift in the population ratios of two different species? In other words, two species of moth, one dark, one white, but no interbreeding between the two. Change in environment leads to the flourishing of one species and the reduction of the other. This isn't evolution.

(Not trying to support the GP or the OP here, btw. The idea of suggesting that convergent evolution (in which organisms adapts to their environment over time) somehow contradicts or negates divergent evolution (in which organisms adapts to their environment over time) is a little nonsensical! Honeyeaters and waxwings seems a rather tame example, though -- if you really want to blow your mind about the power of convergent evolution, try the development of the eye in cephalopods and vertebrates ...)

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138419)

It only seems to contradict global warming if you have only a superficial understanding of it. "Monotonic increase of temperature" was never a theory of global warming, so because a piece of data contradicts your understanding means nothing.

Also, the moth thing is more an example of natural selection than the evolution of a new trait. We've observed evolution in labs with flies and plants. Again, just because a layman's example and understanding doesn't seem to completely explain the theory, that doesn't mean that's all the understanding or explanation possible.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138583)

the moth thing in England was brought up, even though I'm pretty certain everyone agrees that no evolution occurred there, it was just a shift in population ratios

"A shift in population ratios" is evolution by definition. Look it up.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139753)

population ratios:

puddle of goo: 1
puddle of bacteria: 0

-> millions of years ->

puddle of goo: 0
puddle of bacteria: 1

look everyone! evolution!

MODS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138773)

Mod parent down, mod all other replies up (except this one). Parent is clearly FUD.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138191)

I'm sorry but both you and the grand parent are talking without understanding the words you are using.

Excuse me? "JUST" a theory? A theory is something with hard evidence. It is something only fools wont believe. The only way to say a theory is not real is to bring hard tangible proofs for your HYPOTHESIS.

Because when something is not yet a theory, when it is not yet seen as a FACT, we call that a HYPOTHESIS.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138265)

Hey, genius... a theory is a hypothesis:

theory:
6 a: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b: an unproved assumption : conjecture c: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (4, Informative)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138435)

You quoted from a non-scientific dictionary. Theory is misunderstood by people like you. In the context of science:

1. You make observations.

2. You make a hypothesis based on your observations.

3. You test you hypothesis to see if it holds its ground.

4. If the hypothesis survives the tests, it becomes a theory, if not it's back to square one.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138701)

You quoted from a non-scientific dictionary. Theory is misunderstood by people like you. In the context of science:

1. You make observations.

2. You make a hypothesis based on your observations.

3. You test you hypothesis to see if it holds its ground.

4. If the hypothesis survives the tests, it becomes a theory, if not it's back to square one.

Almost.

1 - 3 true

4. If the hypothesis survives the tests you publish your findings

5. Other scientists test your hypothesis and publish their results

6. If no valid faults or omissions are found by anyone you have a theory

If at any point your hypothesis fails to be upheld return to step two

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138833)

Yes, I didn't want to go in the details but you are right. People today are still testing the theory of gravity after all.

Well, I'm glad I proved I wasn't a flamebait :P

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138271)

Really? What exactly is gravity's mechanism? What is used to exert this force? Mass is the reason for it, but what about mass exerts a gravitational force?

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (0)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138567)

That's why there is a theory of gravity. But there's a law of gravity also. The law of gravity has been observed since the beginning of time, correct? What exactly causes gravity is still a mystery.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138719)

No, it's not a mystery, we've known for some time now that the cause of gravity is God. Represent.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (5, Informative)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139191)

Thank you for making this post. It's good to see that someone out there understands this basic concept. Although, as a sister post notes, we do have a pretty good idea as to the cause of gravity.

Law of gravity: Objects attract each other according to their mass and the square of the distance between them. (F = GMm/R^2)

Theory of gravity: Gravity is caused by the interaction of gravitons at the quantum level, making gravity one of the basic forces.

Notice that theories describe the how and why of things, laws make concrete facts about the way things are.

Neither scientific laws or scientific theories (not to be confused with traffic laws or layman's theories, which describe different things entirely) are above being revised. In the case of laws, becoming more precise as our instruments become more precise, for instance, I believe that the universal gravitational constant (G, above) has been changed at various times as we are able to get better measurements. Theories, are often refined, partially revised, or scrapped altogether, often, we will use different theories depending on the model we are using (once again, scientific model, not like a car model, or like a car in general, get your analogies away from me! ;-) ).

The most important distinction between laws and theories, is that laws can be proven: measure the gravitational pull between two masses, if it fits the formula, voila! Gravity still works as predicted, the aprocralypse is not upon us yet. Theories, however, can only be disproven, you can say, "Gravitons cannot be the cause of gravity, here is my evidence, which the theory doesn't explain," but you cannot say, "Here is my proof that gravitons cause gravity." (you can try to get proof, but at most you will have a very strong correlation, which, as every slashdotter is fond of pointing out, does not prove causation.

"But," you say, "that means that everything we know could be a lie!" To which I reply, "Yes, yes it does, but that is unlikely, because most theories that actually have a name, have been shown to correlate with the facts very, very consistently, and although this doesn't prove causation, it's a pretty good indication that most of science is true."

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139969)

That's why there is a theory of gravity. But there's a law of gravity also. The law of gravity has been observed since the beginning of time, correct? What exactly causes gravity is still a mystery.

So it's basically the same as Evolution, then (other than more being known about how Evolution actually works) ?

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138345)

I think you need to look up what "law" means in a scientific context. The only "Law" of gravity I'm familiar with is Newton's Law of Gravity, which is known to be inaccurate and has been supplanted (at the theoretical if not all practical levels) by Einstein's Theory of Relativity. So tell me how a law is something more than a theory again?

The scientific community is completely open to other explanations that have actual evidence behind them. Debate about evolution happens all the time, and is ongoing as further evidence is accumulated. Now if you mean that science hasn't embraced whatever non-evolutionary theory you think is being neglected, well that's probably because outside of some blogs there's little to no evidence for it. We've watched evolution* happen in controlled environments. If you've got anything resembling the tiniest fraction of the evidence for evolution, your theory would be considered. If it had as much evidence as evolution, you'd up-end biology (much like evolutionary theory up-ended it).

Lastly, am I supposed to be shocked or dismayed that a textbook contained an error? Scientific knowledge advances, things previously held to be true are corrected, and freshmen-level textbooks often lag behind. And is your argument really that a false "missing link" means that humans (as opposed to all the other life forms on the planet) didn't undergo evolution? That's not the "proof". It's a step in the family tree. Just because you incorrectly identified your grandmother does not mean you have no family tree.

* Deliberate trap for the "Well sure microevolution is observed fact, but that doesn't mean anything about macro" response. Feel free not to take the bait.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (-1, Troll)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138645)

am I supposed to be shocked or dismayed that a textbook contained an error?

Well, if you want me to take what is in the next textbook seriously, yeah. Or at least, if you want me to believe in evolution as firmly as most scientists believe it (and I attribute that to having no alternative that matches their religious views or social pressures).

As for micro evolution, I decline to take the bait. But I will say that the delineation between micro- and macro- evolution appears to come down to a philosophical, rather than observable, difference.

And, lastly, the evidence of evolution thing... refer back to the interpretation-of-evidence comments that I made. Data does not support this or that theory by simply existing. Data is interpreted into evidence. The question of whether or not evidence is being interpreted correctly appears to be a very poignant consideration in light of the numerous errors that have been latched on to in support of evolution.

As much as I'd like to get into a discussion about evidence for evolution or other theories and against evolution and other theories, I unfortunately don't have time nor is slashdot the best place anyways, hehe... so I'm constraining myself more to the philosophy of science side of things.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139057)

Well, if you want me to take what is in the next textbook seriously, yeah. Or at least, if you want me to believe in evolution as firmly as most scientists believe it (and I attribute that to having no alternative that matches their religious views or social pressures).

The first problem in that statement is you bring up "belief". Scientists do not "believe". They prove or disprove. They leave things like "belief" up to religion and philosophy. As for evolution, the vast, vast majority of scientists accept it as the predominant theory of how life evolves because of the data. In the 150 years since Darwin no one has come up with any real proof that it is wrong.

The question of whether or not evidence is being interpreted correctly appears to be a very poignant consideration in light of the numerous errors that have been latched on to in support of evolution.

Care to clarify what you mean by "numerous errors"? If you mean that over the years people have misclassified species, yes, that has happened. Based on observable data, a red panda was thought to be a panda. In light of advanced biochemical analysis and DNA, the red panda is actually more related to raccoons than bears.

Also be careful as to separate lack of adequate explanation to contradictory proof. For hundreds of years, Newton's theories of gravity could not explain why birds fly. A bird not flapping his wings should fall to the ground like the apple. How come they can glide? The issue isn't that Newton did understand gravity; the problem was no understood aerodynamics up until this century well enough to explain flight. Even with understanding of bird aerodynamics, insect flight could not be explained until the last decade or so. However, just because these two anomalies existed doesn't mean that scientists dismissed gravity.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139199)

The first problem in that statement is you bring up "belief". Scientists do not "believe".

I very much beg to differ there. If you think scientific "proof" doesn't include, at the very least, some amount of belief, I think you are very wrong. For example - if this or that was proven in science, makes it into a science book, and is proven wrong later... what would you call it? Was it proven? 100% sure? It was wrong, so it apparently wasn't actually 100% sure.

As for evolution, the vast, vast majority of scientists accept it as the predominant theory of how life evolves because of the data. In the 150 years since Darwin no one has come up with any real proof that it is wrong.

We can argue all we want about proof and get absolutely nowhere. Look at global warming. Both sides think it's proven.

If you mean that over the years people have misclassified species, yes, that has happened.

misclassified != error? Hm. More specifically, though, I was referring to claims of this or that evolutionary discovery when it turns out it wasn't. Usually "missing link" discoveries, but others as well (different kinds of fish, this or that fossil thought to be something and turns out it is something else when a later, full one is found, the age of a fossil completely wrong based on one dating system and proven to be wrong when the same thing was found in something else with a known date, etc)

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (3, Informative)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139659)

For example - if this or that was proven in science, makes it into a science book, and is proven wrong later... what would you call it?

I'd call it not math. Math is the only place where you can prove things; everywhere else, you can only falsify things.

Look at global warming. Both sides think it's proven.

Ahh, but all the scientists are on the side that thinks it's happening and are arguing a bit over how much is due to us.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139723)

Ahh, but all the scientists are on the side that thinks it's happening and are arguing a bit over how much is due to us.

It appears that that depends on how the problem is defined.

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. (wikipedia)

That sounds ok. On the other hand, going to google's list of definitions for the term [google.com] , you get some rather interesting definitions, ranging from rise in temperature that "may be caused by greenhouse gases" to rise in temperature that IS caused by greenhouse gases (and they list them)... to one that says global warming IS "is the term given to the major consequence of the greenhouse effect."

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139973)

I fail to see how this is relevant - lots of people have pages on google, and it's been documented that the federal government itself has politicized the issue, editing a number of papers on the subject prior to publication. Regardless, I challenge you to find a group of scientists who dispute that Global Warming is happening and that we're a likely cause.

Fixing that for you (2, Informative)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139975)

The first problem in that statement is you bring up "belief". Scientists do not "believe". They disprove(refute) or they support .

There, fixed that for you. It's much more accurate this way. Science can never prove anything, because there will ALWAYS be factors that are not or cannot be observed.

I otherwise fully agree with you. I just wanted to clarify this, because people with little or no understanding of science or the scientific method (like the poster below) will jump on you for it.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139081)

Well, if you want me to take what is in the next textbook seriously, yeah. Or at least, if you want me to believe in evolution as firmly as most scientists believe it

And you should get beyond that textbook if you want me to take your skepticism as anything more than that of an a-priori prejudice. If you will not believe in anything for which there has existed errors, then you cannot believe in anything, including anything you yourself have reasoned about.

(and I attribute that to having no alternative that matches their religious views or social pressures).

You mean no alternative which stands up to scientific scrutiny. There were alternatives which were hotly debated between until there was sufficient evidence to throw one away. To this day there are hotly debated variations on the theory to evolution. Sorry but as much as the disbelieving like to talk about the "religion" of science, having a scientifically valid way of upending the "orthodoxy" is highly desired, since that's how you get your name in the history books. What do you think Charles Darwin was in his day if not, in your parlance, a "heretic"? Oh and no he isn't a "saint" or "prophet" now, since we've modified and corrected his theories just as we have Newton's.

As for micro evolution, I decline to take the bait. But I will say that the delineation between micro- and macro- evolution appears to come down to a philosophical, rather than observable, difference.

Good for you. There is no observable difference, which is why it's not considered a difference by biologists, and only part of the "philosophy" of deniers who think that's a way to drive a wedge between theory and observed fact. The "trap" involves showing how it is logically impossible to believe in one but not the other.

And, lastly, the evidence of evolution thing... refer back to the interpretation-of-evidence comments that I made. Data does not support this or that theory by simply existing. Data is interpreted into evidence. The question of whether or not evidence is being interpreted correctly appears to be a very poignant consideration in light of the numerous errors that have been latched on to in support of evolution.

Fair enough, though I have to warn you that it's very telling that you yourself latch onto the errors, as if that's the only support of evolution and without those data points, the whole edifice is called into question. There are mountains of evidence for evolution, much of it verified as well as anything in biology can be verified.

As much as I'd like to get into a discussion about evidence for evolution or other theories and against evolution and other theories, I unfortunately don't have time nor is slashdot the best place anyways, hehe... so I'm constraining myself more to the philosophy of science side of things.

Yes. If you actually had evidence for an alternative theory, /. is the last place you should post it. A scientific journal would be the ideal place, as it would be the start of your ascent into the history books. Of course when this doesn't happen, it's because the religious cabal rejected your "truth" for their own "religion", and not that your idea fails scientific rigor. It couldn't be that coming up with a better hypothesis is excruciatingly difficult because the current theory is very, very good. Oh no. That's impossible. It must be that you are Galileo and science is the Catholic Church.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (0, Troll)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139315)

Good for you. There is no observable difference, which is why it's not considered a difference by biologists, and only part of the "philosophy" of deniers who think that's a way to drive a wedge between theory and observed fact. The "trap" involves showing how it is logically impossible to believe in one but not the other.

As you no doubt know, that wasn't my point... as far as I know, there has not been any observed macro-evolution, thus the debate is less observation and more philosophy. And then, of course, we start arguing about what defines "micro" and "macro," what defines a "species," etc...

Of course when this doesn't happen, it's because the religious cabal rejected your "truth" for their own "religion", and not that your idea fails scientific rigor.

Actually, I might be slightly different from what you are expecting. Obviously you've guessed my position on evolution and probably on what Christianity calls 'special creation.' I actually do not object to what I believe in not being considered a scientific theory. It's not. I would argue that something, on the other hand, can be supported BY science and scientific observation and yet not be a scientific theory.

What I more object to is that 'science' has ruled out anything supernatural, and in doing so, has decided that everything can be explained without the supernatural. In other words, science has defined itself as dealing with the natural alone - ok, I can go with that so far - but has then decided that the natural alone can explain everything. Including origins, oftentimes (atheistic evolutionists appear to want to argue scientifically about the origin of matter, for example).

It must be that you are Galileo and science is the Catholic Church.

Interestingly, creationists are often compared the other way around... Science is Galileo and the Catholic Church is the Christian Church. Most people make no distinction between evangelical Christians and Catholics, simply because the claim the same title, "Christian."

Semantics aside, I simply make these two claims. Let's see if Slashdot can handle the html.

  • Science has come to be defined as dealing solely with the natural.
  • Scientists have decided that science should be able to explain anything, and that anything non-natural is in the realm of belief, and cannot be even supported by science
  • When it comes to origin, then, science either claims it is the only one that CAN have the answer, or that the answer must entirely be based on belief and cannot be supported by science in any way.

There are some other outworkings of this, IMO, which directly affect evolution - e.g., evolution is accepted as being true because scientific evidence supports it, and scientific evidence that could point to a, shall we say, "supernatural" explanation (creation) is disregarded on the premise that the theory it supports (creation) is not a scientific theory.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139333)

Two claims? I also can't count. Oops.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138423)

You clearly possess the tools to grasp the point I was making, but you are ignoring it.

Gravity is a fact. Our explanations as to the mechanism behind gravity are merely theories (and really only hypotheses at this point).

Similarly, evolution is a fact. Our definitions and explanations of the mechanism of evolution are a theory, and a work in progress.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

sedman (210394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138867)

Similarly, evolution is a fact. Our definitions and explanations of the mechanism of evolution are a theory, and a work in progress.

While I am willing to agree with you when it comes to micro evolution (we have observed it and use it all the time). Calling macro evolution a fact when it has not ever been observed is a different use of the word fact than I'm familiar with.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139235)

define "macro-evolution" please.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139873)

Macro-evolution is the observed result of changed caused by evolution over a long period, whereas micro-evolution is the observed result of change caused by evolution over a much shorter one. They're both examples of evolution. In fact, they're they're the same thing; only differing in the intervals between observations.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (4, Informative)

jythie (914043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138533)

The Law of Gravitation and the Theory of Gravity are two related but different things.

The Law of Gravitation is (like most laws) is an equation describing the effect of gravity and nothing else.
 
The Theory of Gravity goes over gravities existence (or not) and how it actually works.
 
Theories can never become Laws (and Laws were never Theories) because they are two fundamentally different concepts within science.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138629)

My sister recently took a college level biology course and when briefly going over the presumed evolution of humans, known hoaxes were mentioned as proof.

[[citation needed]] Textbook title and authors, edition, page numbers, excerpts. Your claim is a very common bit of creationist propaganda, and such claims tend rather strongly to fall apart under close examination.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139019)

So you are saying that old text books that have become outdated are never used in classes?

It happens. I'm not sure about in college classes where you generally have to buy your own books for every class, but some high schools may have some older books still in use.

Likewise, I have seen shows on the Discovery channel and it's networks, that would say one thing about scientific item, then the next show would say something else. Or one would talk about a hoax, and the next would cite the hoax as a source.

It happens. Doesn't mean that I'm a creationist looking to undermine something, I'm just saying that old books and shows may not have the right information, and they can still be in circulation.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138789)

In other words, they have decided that no other explanation should be allowed. Furthermore, textbooks are full of errors, as are college science classes, etc. My sister recently took a college level biology course and when briefly going over the presumed evolution of humans, known hoaxes were mentioned as proof.

Well, I just finished teaching a college level biology course. Every college level biology instructor has their own style and, until we replace in-person lectures with a single set of instructional videos prepared by the federal government, that's just something you're going to have to deal with.

For example, my approach to "teaching evolution" was to emphasize three basic ideas.

First, "evolution" can refer to a lot of different (but slightly related) things. On one hand, evolution can refer to a general tendency for a population to adapt to its environment over successive generations. On the other hand, evolution can refer to the history of life on earth even including speculation about the earliest origins of self-replicating molecular systems.

Second, while "scientific proof" is fundamentally based on factual observation and certain forms of logical reasoning, the question of what it means to "prove" something scientifically is complex and may be a matter of degree. Consider, for example, the question of whether the earth is round or flat. In modern times, the "roundness" of the earth is a matter of direct observation (thanks to various space programs). In the time of Columbus, there was overwhelming indirect evidence that the earth was round (from navigation) but no space craft for direct observation. Finally, before navigation, it may have made the most sense to assume that the earth was round (despite personal experience that it was flat) but there wasn't even much indirect evidence. Putting it all together, the degree of scientific proof for "evolution" depends on which aspect of evolution is being referred to. For certain aspects of evolution there are still, most likely, entire "continents" of knowledge waiting to be discovered.

Third, it is populations rather than individuals that evolve and there are deep questions as whether an individual should try to "help" their population evolve and what, if anything, an individual who was so inclined could do to "help" their population evolve.

Basically, evolution is a huge complex topic that is still an active area of research and my goal as an instructor was to get my students to take a slightly more nuanced view of evolution than is portrayed in the popular media. In particular, I wanted to expose them to some of the deep questions in evolution: not as final answers but as actual questions - questions that they might even someday choose to investigate as scientists.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138843)

No gravity, like evolution, are scientific theories. Gravity is currently defined in part by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity which superseded Newton's theories. Some would argue that gravity is more incomplete than evolution because the mathematics of gravity break down at the subatomic level. While gravity can predict things like black holes, it cannot predict what happens inside the black hole.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Informative)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139025)

It seems that you have been poorly educated about evolution, as was I, so I got up off my arse and actually looked into both sides.

Evolution is fact. To deny that is the same as denying genetic mutation, and that certain mutations would be better suited for survival in the enviroment they exist in. That is after all, what evolution by natural selection is all about.

Yes, there have been mistakes by individual scientists, such as with Nebraska man. Scientists should ideally publicize their mistakes (but as humans themselves they're not likely to promote their own mistakes). Part of what drives science forward is falsification, weeding out the incorrect stuff.

If the textbook that your sister was reading was full of known mistakes and hoaxes, then it's either a crap text book, or it's a creationist text book that presents how species come into being, that is through evolution via natural selection, by only showing mistakes, and not showing the over-whelming evidence in favour of the fact that all life on this planet is related.

It's also not just fossils that back up the fact of evolution, it's also the mountains of genetic data that we have. It all fits together.

No decent scientist, even the Christian ones like Francis Collins, rejects the fact of evolution.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139607)

I believe there are laws of gravity

All that means is that we observe that 'things fall'. We know how hard due to the theory of gravity, but the mechanics are still a mystery.

Evolution has been a theory for not very long... yes, ancient peoples had ideas of it, but I don't think you'd see them as particularly similar except from a philosophical standpoint.

Darwin isn't that much younger than Newton; anyway, evolution has laws in the same way that gravity does: creatures give birth to similar creatures, isolation + time = new species, and so on.

Instead of arguing from the "theory" side though, I'd rather say this - evolution is a theory, but the scientific community holds to it as if it WERE a law

You don't know what you're talking about. There's nothing past theory - that's as far as you get. If you want to replace evolution, you have to find something that explains all that evolution does and more and it has to last for a while. that will take some time.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1)

Grumpendorfer (22994) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138273)

A "theory" is one of those not-quite-precise-enough words of which people may hold reasonably different definitions. We should just call it the "Axiom of Evolution" -- that will keep the philosophers happy. People can choose different sets of axioms, just be prepared to see where they lead.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (1, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138377)

You bastard! I wanted 22994.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Funny)

Grumpendorfer (22994) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138873)

It's really a nice number. You may be aware of its factors (2*11497)... Yes, it's quite pleasant here. Thanks for inquiring and have a pleasant day. ~~G

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138539)

Except that axioms, by definition, are not subject to modification based on observations. Theories are. Which is why scientists aren't called "natural philosophers" any more, and why the scientific approach to the world is so useful.

Re:Predictive power of evolution! (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138097)

The birds are the same? Evolution! They're not the same? Uh, convergent evolution. That's it!

Well what would you call it when two species that are not closely related end up developing the same features?

It really is just a theory folks. How about some warnings for the textbooks?

Oh, right, this is another of those "argumentation through lack of understanding" things. Of course you aren't going to know what any of these words (like "theory") actually mean. My bad. As you were.

Damn.. (1)

DecimalThree (524862) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137723)

and I was looking forward to something about the birds AND the bees.

Evolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137737)

A cat with six toes is still a cat.

Who is this grrlscientist? (2, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137749)

The link to the name is to a newer entry in the blog in question, which is not surprisingly hers.

Her slashdot page is here [slashdot.org] . I see no comments, I wish she would join more discussions, her journals are interesting enough.

Where'd all these girls come from lately, anyway? It's as if all these women were wondering where to get a man who wouldn't be too scary, and then "oh wow, I know a place where there's lots and lots of guys and they're all scared of US! Too bad they're all nerds, but you can't have everything..."

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (2, Informative)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137813)

Too bad they're all nerds, but you can't have everything..."

I'm a geek you insensitive clod.
A world of difference there is.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138861)

> I'm a geek you insensitive clod.
> A world of difference there is.

So, bit off any good live chicken heads, lately?

Or do you just get by shoving sharp objects into your flesh?

Personally, I would not proclaim myself a carnival freak, but that is everyone's personal decision.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139479)

Oh please, we had this discussion about 10 years ago.

Geek- 1) one who eats (computer) bugs for a living. One who fulfills all the dreariest negative stereotypes about hackers: An asocial, malodorous, pasty-faced, monomaniac with all the personality of a cheese grater. Cannot be used by outsiders without implied insult to all hackers; compare black on black vs white on black usage of "nigger". A computer geek may be either a fundamentally clueless individual or a proto-hacker in larval stage. Also called turbo nerd, turbo geek. See also propeller head, clustergeeking, geek out, wannabe, terminal junkie, spod, weenie. 2) Some self-described computer geeks use this term in a positive sense and protest sense.

--Eric S Raymond, The new hacker's dictionary, third edition.

From the book that also contains this:

For Rob (CmdrTaco) Malda
And Jeff (Hemos) Bates.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137847)

Hadn't you heard? All of the eHarmony rejects get automatically redirected here. The Taco is trying to help us nerds out. Fortunately, you don't have to be a sociopath to be rejected; it just means you don't fit their mold.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137969)

I'm a sociopath who *also* doesn't fit the mold, you insensitive clod!

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (2, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137949)

How do you know that "she" isn't really a "he"? We're posting on the internet after all, where that 23 year-old hot chick who's all over you in the chat rooms is really a 47 year-old obese man living in his mother's basement.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (5, Funny)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138023)

The Internet: where Men are Men, Women are Men, and 14 Year Old Girls are FBI Agents.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (2, Funny)

Lifthrasir (646067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138711)

The Internet: where Men are Men, Women are Men, and 14 Year Old Girls are FBI Agents.

. . . who are also men.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (5, Interesting)

grrlscientist (1127371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138007)

Ah, thanks for the kind invitation to join your discussions. i wish i had more time to do so, but alas, i have only a few hours per day of internet access, so i spend most of that time looking for papers to write about and answering emails as well as publishing my essays and images. but i will try to make more of an effort to comment here now and again!

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138213)

Posts like this is why girls hide. The assumption that because they are a girl online, they want a man, or need a man, or are attracted to men. There is more to life than that. I know that to some, finding the hookup for the evening is all that life is about, but to some science and all that crap is interesting, and having a discussion about it without all the sex stuff, not that there is anything wrong with sex, it an interesting evening in itself. Especially when followed, intermingled, or otherwise combine with sex, with a partner of your choice, with opposite persuasion or not.

I mean really, this is a cool article about a cool finding, and look, we are already degenerating to out base selves and fighting over and defending the one girl left online. This really sucks. No wonder YouTube had to get rid of all the cool content. It was overshadowing all the intelletual stuff like open university that they wanted to promote so they could be considered ligit.

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139127)

If your opinion of sex is no better than that, I suppose you've been doing it wrong.

I mean, even without a partner it should be better than that!

-Peter

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

dwye (1127395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139251)

What's the matter? Can't find your spin-complementary particle, so none of us can, either?

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (4, Funny)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138881)

Where'd all these girls come from lately, anyway?

We've come to be your new estrogen-based overlords, and we're offering free iPods to the first 100 people who welcome us.*

Could...not....resist....the...estrogen! (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139079)

I for one, welcome our new estrogen-based overlords!

Re:Who is this grrlscientist? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138889)

"Where'd all these girls come from lately, anyway?"

Just because someone doesn't advertise their gender, why would you assume they are male? Do you believe that you can tell from their comments?

The author... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26137775)


The author is obviously a Godless, Satanist, anti-Christian, elitist, feminist, nazi, communist pinko!

Don't turn your backs on Jesus! Quit reading "science" and "facts" All the answers you need are in this dusty Iron age book!

Why still depend on observation? (4, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137853)

I realize that in this case (being dead for 200 years) it is more difficult, but why don't they _just_ use DNA sequencing to determine the classification of animals?

Observation (of both behaviour and appearance) is influenced by the observer and is variable. Two people never see the same thing the same way. Ask a man and wife what colour the living-room couch is and you will get two different answers! =)

The DNA sequence will never lie, and that sequence will tell us FAR more about common evolutionary traits then our eyeballs will.

Re:Why still depend on observation? (5, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137957)

The answer is two-fold: money, and existing taxonomies are mostly correct.

Biologists have limited resources, so comprehensive reassessment of the entire tree of life based on genetic analysis is going to get done bit by bit over a long time, and we know we're pretty safe going with what we've got in the meantime.

And while enough genetic analysis has been done to confirm traditional taxonomy on quite a few species, it is only the cases where there is a disagreement that it makes the news. In all the other cases they agree, so traditional taxonomy is left intact.

There are a few dramatic cases like this one, though. There are a couple of species of lizard in the Yucatan that have an extra cervical vertebrae that turn out to have independently evolved that way (I prefer the term "independent evolution" rather than "convergent evolution", as the latter may confuse laypeople into thinking that distinct species have somehow become one.)

In those cases, genetic taxonomy wins, but they are always going to be in the minority.

Re:Why still depend on observation? (1)

spribyl (175893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138179)

Never mind that you have to actually get a sample of the creature to test. While it is possible to extract DNA from feces it is difficult to say whos it is, the DNA and feces. Usually, you need to catch the thing, this is of course hard for rare creatures and it may also incure the rath of the endagered speices act.

Re:Why still depend on observation? (2, Informative)

saforrest (184929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138289)

While it is possible to extract DNA from feces it is difficult to say whos it is, the DNA and feces.

Well, that's not completely true... you can tell the difference between, say, a cat and a bird. So unless you have a cat that has eaten another cat, this should work for you.

Usually, you need to catch the thing, this is of course hard for rare creatures and it may also incure the rath of the endagered speices act.

Um, no. All you need is a blood sample, and as watching any popular-science nature show will how you, scientists are certainly allowed to take samples from and monitor the populations of endangered species.

Hypocrisy of the Oligarchs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139977)

What I find interesting is that we apparently have enough money and ENERGY to waste running laboratories that research extinct species, but all those same scientists are gonna moan and wail if I say, "Let's drill in the ANWR." Where do they think the power comes from for running lights, computers, DNA sequencing machines, microscopes, etc...? Let alone MAKING lights, computers, DNA sequencing machines, microscopes, etc...

For instance, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a new "energy efficient" facility that spends nearly 1.2 MILLION dollars JUST ON UTILITIES per year. Well, if we assume 8 cents per kilowatt hour (approximately what I pay for my home), then we're looking at about 15,000,000 kilowatt hours used in JUST THIS ONE FACILITY. I googled "15000000 kilowatt hours"... guess what I came up with? This: http://www.lipower.org/newscenter/pr/2004/jan29.reap.html

That's right, the Long Island Power Authority spent $355 MILLION in order to save that exact amount of energy.

Now, I just bring up this one lab as an example of what labs in general cost in energy. This was an energy efficient lab, but there are TONS of labs out there that aren't nearly as energy efficient and so consume a LOT more energy.

You can't drive your SUV and you've gotta scrimp and save energy everywhere, but we can run a big power sucking lab for 10 years to find out if some obscure side branch of bird is related to another obscure side branch of bird.

And yes, I'm an "Anonymous Coward". I'd rather not get vilified because I dare to question the hypocrisy of ecologists.

Re:Why still depend on observation? (5, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138471)

Another poster, who is probably a biologist, gave two very good answers to your question; as a bioinformatician, I'll give a third. You're right that DNA doesn't lie, but we can have a damn hard time figuring out what it's trying to tell us. There is no universally agreed-upon method for reconstructing phylogenetic trees from sequence data -- Google on "phylogenetic algorithm" to see the enormous number of methods that people have come up with, and what an active area of research this continues to be. Also, the Linnaean taxonomic system, obviously, was not designed with modern genetics in mind, and trying to shoehorn phylogenetic data into this system (which is pretty much what everybody does, even if they're not happy about it) can lead to bizarre results. Until we have what everyone agrees is really a gold standard method for reconstructing ancestral trees, this is the way it's going to be.

Re:Why still depend on observation? (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138941)

There is no universally agreed-upon method for reconstructing phylogenetic trees from sequence data

And after reading a paper about how most arthropods may actually hybrids between two or more original animals, I completely gave up on that idea. Some people think that an insect and its larvae were originally two separate animals. So on which branch of the tree do you place the hybrid ?

Re:Why still depend on observation? (1)

tigerhawkvok (1010669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138713)

A sizeable part of it is that without a collection of defining morphological characteristics, how do you classify extinct organisms with no genetic data available?

A good cladistic uses both genetic and morphological data for the most data points.

Re:Why still depend on observation? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138835)

Ask a man and wife what colour the living-room couch is and you will get two different answers! =)

Yes, but in that case, at least we'll know which of them is right (unless the other wants to sleep on said couch that night).

Re:Why still depend on observation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139925)

Ask a man and wife what colour the living-room couch is and you will get two different answers! =)

That's because men know that "peach" is a fruit, not a color. :)

Nice Bit of Research (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26137907)

Nice blog reporting on a nifty bit of biological research. In the last forty years we have seen a change from constructing phylogenetic trees based on phenotype to constructing them based on genotype. This has resulted in a number of nice surprises like this. Good to see Mayr's hypothesis about these birds borne out.

How can you think about birds? Pay attention! (0, Offtopic)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138019)

Forget about those concepts of evolution and those widdle cutey birds, because you're COVERED WITH SCORPIONS? Covvverrrred with scorpions! [ytmnd.com]

You will now do my bidding. Give me all your lunch money!

convergent evolution examples (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138209)

I was always impressed by the similarities between sharks, dolphins, and icthyosaurs. Similarly, there's a phenomenal similarity between the flying reptiles such as the pterodactyls and bats with finger bones modified with flaps of skin to make wings. There's also the similarities between various species of gliding tree mammals, the flying squirrels and lemurs and the like. One can also talk of amazing developments with marsupials which had armored herbivores similar to a rhino and carnivores like a leopard-form. (and let's not forget that a Triceratops is built awfully similar to a rhino down to the armored hide, horns, and heavy, stocky legs.) All of these from obviously unrelated lines of descent converging on similar forms to satisfy ecological niches. If I recall correctly, there's also a type of fish that developed a false-placenta for live-birthed young -- it's not a true placenta because it isn't a placental animal but it serves the same purpose. I believe this fish was in the extended shark family.

The other thing that really amazes me is how the theory of evolution makes certain predictions that you'll simply not see contradicted. For example, there's the general rule that animals will adapt existing limbs for various purposes so you might see a rodent develop forelimbs into wings but you will not see a rodent sprout brand new wings from its back while retaining the previous four limbs. Even the weirdest body parts you can find can be seen to be modifications, not wholly new structures sprung forth from nothing. You won't see a bird suddenly come with three eyes or an elephant with a cyclopean eye or a cat with eight legs like a spider (barring genetic defects that will be unable to reproduce).

What's also amazing is how the lines between species get blurry. The old definition is that two populations are split as a species when they cannot interbred and create viable offspring. But we've seen from zoos that populations that don't mix in the wild can produce viable offspring such as ligers, tygons, then there's the blonde grizzlies that are a hybrid of grizzly and polar bear that did occur in the wild... All of these animals come from common ancestors if you go back far enough and it makes you wonder just how freely genes could be traded back and forth with the right technology and a proper understanding of genetics.

Re:convergent evolution examples (5, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26139319)

My favorite example is the Naked Mole Rat. It lives in Africa in underground, and it is a kind of rat. However, as far as mammals go, it's very weird.

First of all, it's completely cold blooded. It cannot regulate its temperature at all. It's also blind and hairless. They have a queen that gives birth , and the others are workers in various castes, such as tunnel-maintainers, guards, or nurses.

So convergent evolution also happens in social structures, not just physiology.

Tastes like chicken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26138373)

Hawaiian birds are wimpy and cannot compete with other species.

Something about stats I think... (4, Funny)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26138489)

Maximum likelihood phylogram constructed from analysis of up to 421 nucleotide sites of b-fibrinogen introns 5 and 7 combined. At nodes are Bayesian posterior probabilities and ML bootstrap values (100 repetitions).

There are two kind of people in the world...the kind that thinks the new Day the Earth Stood Still is science fiction, and the kind that thinks it would have been if Klaatu had said to Barnhardt something like that.

So, if I understand the article... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26139193)

it would be reasonble that, given Ninjas and Pirates are both active in the same space, i.e. on the Internet, then over time, we're going to see their populations converge into some type of hybrid hooked-hand peg-legged metal star thrower with stealth parrots on their shoulders?

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