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Religious Ceremony Leads To Evolution of Cave Fish

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the works-both-ways dept.

Earth 233

An anonymous reader writes "A centuries-old religious ceremony of an indigenous people in southern Mexico has led to evolutionary changes in a local species of fish, say researchers at Texas A&M University. Apparently since before Columbus arrived, the Zoque people would venture each spring into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to beg the gods for bountiful rain. As part of the ritual, they released into the cave's waters a leaf-bound paste made of lime and the ground-up root of the barbasco plant, a natural fish toxin. The rest is worth reading, but the upshot is that the fish living in the cave waters eventually got wise, genetically speaking."

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233 comments

I predict (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145564)

that this thread will be characterized by civil discussion and insightful exchange of ideas, with little or no flamage

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145598)

I get that you're being sarcastic, but who exactly would be flaming in favor of anti-evolution? You may have noticed there are not a whole lot of young-earthers hanging out on Slashdot.

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145694)

There are actually, but they stay silent. Remember how very few Republicans existed on Slashdot for 2 whole years until after this week's U.S. midterm elections? And all of a sudden they outnumber everyone else. Well it's the same way with the creationists; occasionally you catch a glimpse of their numbers with the proper baiting.

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145764)

IMO you have selective memory.

Re:I predict (1, Flamebait)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146300)

Why hello there.
*takes the bait*

I will say that this is not a case of evolution in action, but adaptation (there is a difference; and yes, probably will get modded as flamebait, you evolutionists can't stand to be told you're wrong).

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146470)

Unless you're suggesting adaptation at the level of the individual, adaptation *is* an evolutionary process.

Re:I predict (1, Informative)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146572)

Whining about how you will be modded flamebait not because of the merits of your arguments, but rather because other people suck is flamebait.

Re:I predict (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146898)

STFU, you white trailer-trash piece of shit.

Re:I predict (3, Funny)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146310)

I am a young earth creationist, but have some manners. I don't flame. I don't even bother arguing with people who refuse to debate properly or examine the many sides of the argument. For those who believe in an old Earth and evolution (whichever version) by their own choice and after examining the issues, then good for them. Many people choose just to follow what they were taught in school and on TV. I have no time for these ignorant people who have not considered things for themselves. There are also young Earth creationists who have not examined the issues on both sides. Sheesh. Not fond of them either. I came to be a young Earth creationist through studying the arguments each way, studying as much of the evidence as I could (I continue to read up on new theories or discoveries) and then making the best decision that I could. I've noticed quite a few people here on /. who quietly support young Earth ideas. Sometimes they get flamed, but they all seem to be intelligent people who have considered what they believe and know why they believe it. Gotta respect that. Now I predict that no-one will flame me... Haha. Some chance.

Re:I predict (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146548)

I've noticed quite a few people here on /. who quietly support young Earth ideas.

How do you know people support those ideas when they're quiet about it?

Could you name a few of those ideas?

Re:I predict (2, Insightful)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146692)

At the risk of opening the proverbial can of worms, some of the basic ideas often associated with young Earth creationism that I've seen on /. would be; the idea that God created, the role of assumptions (worldview) in interpretation of evidence, unprovable assumptions in the application of some radiation dating methods and of course the idea that the Earth itself could be much younger that theorised. These are some basic ideas that I've read in comments on /.

Personally I don't have a problem with proper debate, so I don't mind if people disagree with me. I do prefer however that if people are going to try and argue with me they actually try and understand what they are arguing instead of just regurgitating what they saw on the Discovery Channel. On the other hand as someone with some years of theological study behind me, the usual anti-religion and anti-bible rants bore me to tears with their general lack of rational study or often even reasonable intelligence. Christians who argue without understanding also annoy me.

I think that whatever people choose to believe and whatever they choose to argue, they should actually do their best to know what they believe and WHY they believe it. Each person has a responsibility to choose, at least to some degree, their own destiny. Making an informed decision on what we believe to be true is a basic start to that end.

Re:I predict (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145844)

Speaking of science, I don't understand why straight people are so insecure about the natural superiority of gays. I mean, I get that they're uncomfortable with the fact that we're better than them. But let's face it: it's inevitable that one day we will reign over you as the supreme race, so all this huffing and puffing is just going to make it worse for you guys when that time comes.

Correlation does imply causation? (3, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146602)

this thread will be characterized by civil discussion and insightful exchange of ideas

Sure, let's debate whether it's the religious ceremonies that cause evolution or vice versa

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145566)

What a neat story!

Religion causing evolution.... (4, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145586)

Boy thats an oxymoron.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (-1, Troll)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145604)

Hardly-- Did you pay attention to the discovery of the so called "Liberal gene"?

What would you say are the chances that the "Lack" of this gene stems from "Religious practices" in the human genome in the past? (Things like say-- Excommunication, and The inquisition?)

Just a random thought.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (3, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145666)

Reading the TFA, I'd say it mostly speculation.

The conclusion about the differences in reaction to the toxin is kind of speculative, as the research was done on fish, which was extracted from natural habitat, placed in stressful conditions, etc. Pinning this squarely on "evolution" and human influence is an interesting proposition, but that's it.

This is even more true of the "evolution" part of the article. The paper presents some statistical evidence that fish from different parts of the water body respond differently to introduction of the plant toxin, but it all ends there.

There is no information at all about whether this is a genetic or acquired trait; there is nothing on the supposed mechanisms of the said difference; nothing to suggest what the eventual genetic differences that account for this effect may be.

It is an interesting observation, maybe a cool hypothesis, but saying "ceremony leads to evolution" is certainly over-stretching it.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145890)

This is largely a straw man argument. It's not necessary to understand the biochemistry or the underlying mechanisms in order to deduce an evolutionary response, it's sufficient to note that the fish are more resistant to the leaf-throwing than those upstream. Darwin deduced the fact that evolution happens without biochemistry or knowledge of genetic differences.

And don't tell me that 'evolution is just a theory'. In science a theory describes a large number of observations with a simple, predictive model. Theories are falsifiable but not provable. Despite many attempts, evolution has not yet been scientifically falsified and it explains a multitude of observations really, really well - including this one.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145912)

There was huge environmental variation; this could easily have led to a difference in gene expression without genetic evolution being present IN THIS CASE.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (4, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145964)

It's not necessary to understand the biochemistry or the underlying mechanisms in order to deduce an evolutionary response, it's sufficient to note that the fish are more resistant to the leaf-throwing than those upstream.

Really? Even (unlike the Darwin's case) if there are other feasible explanations? Have you heard of, for instance, mithridization -- the ability of plants and animals to acquire partial immunity from acute poisoning if a low dosage is administered for a long time beforehand?

It is an acquired trait (not passed genetically) that can quite nicely explain this phenomenon and dispense with the need for evolution.

I didn't see anything in the article that would discount this possibility. Without understanding the biochemistry, claiming evolutionary response is just a hypothesis, especially in a small population like the one, discussed in the article.

Also, while you have modpoints, you obviously don't know what is a "strawman argument", go look it up ;)

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (2, Insightful)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146048)

I do have modpoints, but am resisting using them to point out two things.

Firstly, you are of course correct that without some understanding of the mechanism, any explanation based on Darwinian evolution is premature. For a start, it is a very short timescale, but who knows - we could speculate that some mutation in the active site of the enzyme that was targeted by this poison has rendered it ineffective.

Secondly, 'mithridization' refers to dosing yourself with small amounts of a poison until you build up an immunity. It has nothing to do with acquired characteristics (or epigenetics).

Oh, and yes it wasn't a straw man argument. SLASHDOTTERS: please do not use formal names for logical fallacies if you don't understand what they mean!

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146198)

Thanks for the support on logic fallacies, it isn't even amusing anymore when people throw in labels they've read in another thread instead of arguments.

'mithridization' refers to dosing yourself with small amounts of a poison until you build up an immunity. It has nothing to do with acquired characteristics (or epigenetics).

From what little biology I remember from school, the immunization that would result from mithridization would be precisely an acquired trait.

I could be wrong though.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (4, Informative)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146374)

Thanks for the support on logic fallacies, it isn't even amusing anymore when people throw in labels they've read in another thread instead of arguments

No problem. It annoys me as well. Especially "ad hominem".

From what little biology I remember from school, the immunization that would result from mithridization would be precisely an acquired trait.

I could be wrong though.

Ah, well it is acquired for the individual, but not for its children. As wikipedia says, drinking alcohol is a good example - the more you drink, the more of the detoxification machinery is made by the body, so the more drinks it takes to get you drunk. Your children won't benefit from this immunity, however.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146076)

Have you heard of, for instance, mithridization -- the ability of plants and animals to acquire partial immunity from acute poisoning if a low dosage is administered for a long time beforehand?

It is an acquired trait (not passed genetically) that can quite nicely explain this phenomenon and dispense with the need for evolution.

I didn't see anything in the article that would discount this possibility.

Apparently you didn't read until the third paragraph : "[...] has discovered that some of these fish have managed not only to develop a resistance to the plant’s powerful toxin, but also to pass on their tolerant genes to their offspring, enabling them to survive in the face of otherwise certain death for their non-evolved brethren." and then further on: "[...] Mollies able to tolerate the poisonous conditions survived and passed those traits to their offspring."

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (5, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146128)

Allow me to refer you to the REAL research paper, which says no such thing:

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/09/06/rsbl.2010.0663.full?sid=b26a2194-7a63-4bfc-acdd-b62460fffa9a [royalsocie...ishing.org]

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (3, Interesting)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146264)

Indeed the paper talks about a "potential effect on gene flow" ("Our findings reveal potential effects of an indigenous cultural practice on three distinct processes: (i) dynamics within affected populations, (ii) gene flow among populations, and (iii) adaptive trait divergence between affected and unaffected populations.") Scientists are nothing if not careful.

Still the fact that this is an annual event with a high dose poisening instead of gradual long term exposure makes mithridization unlikely (IMHO, not a biologist.) The paper says : "barbasco is deposited inside the cave about 100 m from the cave entrance, from where it is distributed downstream and outside of the cave." so the poison would be washed out.

I see the guy has some of these fish in his tanks [sulfide-life.info] so hopefully he'll do a follow-up with specimens from the different populations bred in captivity under controlled conditions.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34147078)

It should be fairly trivial to prove whether mithridatization (not mithridization) played any role. The lifespan of a molly is quite short and they stopped the ritual a few years ago. Any mollies that still show resistance could only have obtained it genetically.

In any event I somewhat doubt mithridatization plays a part since the ritual occurred once a year. Typically that would result in 2 to 3 dosings per molly. Mithridatization takes many more applications and appears to work with venoms, not all poisons.

Offtopic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146016)

Troll-moderation is in force out today... How can the parent be more on topic than by discussing the damned article?

Re:Offtopic? (0, Offtopic)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146082)

Agreed. Seems like a classic case of "This poster's opinion differs from mine, so he's offtopic". I also (partially) disagree with siddesu's take on this, but it is clearly ON topic.

Maybe you'll believe this guy... (2, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146122)

but saying "ceremony leads to evolution" is certainly over-stretching it.

Here is a similar story of humans pushing the natural selection of aquatic species in certain direction through religious ceremony. [youtube.com]
To paraphrase the conclusion in the video above - all this has nothing to do with what the fish might want, selection is imposed from the outside.

Re:Maybe you'll believe this guy... (3, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146182)

Apparently, the story in the video isn't true.

http://crustacea.nhm.org/people/martin/publications/pdf/103.pdf [nhm.org]

So, maybe I'll stick to my disbelief until I see clear evidence.

Re:Maybe you'll believe this guy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146658)

Ha, good find!

I've always wondered about this one. Too bad here on slashdot the junk link you reply to will get the better moderation.

Well, watching a 5 minute video is much easier than reading a 5 page paper.

Re:Maybe you'll believe this guy... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146750)

Not sure what that article is trying to point out.
Of course crabs already have such structures, and of course there is a biological purpose to them.

And pointing out that there are other species that have similar appearance - and then saying the following...

This is not
to say that these structures are unaffected by select
i o n . ~ h aer~e a s subject to evolutionary pressures
as any other feature of a crab. The point here is that
these ridges and grooves occur in nearly all members
of the crab family Dorippidae, whether they
live near Japan or not. As pointed out by the great
Japanese carcinologist Tune Sakai, there are at least
17 different species of crabs in two families in the
Indo-West Pacific that are similar enough to be
called Heikegani by local residents, and there are
many related species from other far off waters that
bear a likeness to a human face. Many Asian countries
have vernacular names to account for the similarity
of such crabs to a human face, such as the
Chinese name Kuei Lien Hsieh (Ghost or Demon
faced crab), and in several countries the crabs play a
prominent role in local folklore, sometimes being
considered sacred, with the face representing that
of a deceased relative.

What is the point of the article?
"I don't agree with your theory but here's some more evidence to support it."

And the "coupe-de-gras" argument only makes you suspect that the author went to Imperial Stormtrooper school of logic - he's missing the point entirely.

Furthermore,
and most damning to the myth of reincarnated
samurai warriors, the fisherman who make their
living from the Sea of Japan do not eat any of these
crabs.

EXACTLY! They don't eat them!
They are PUTTING THEM BACK IN THE WATER IF CAUGHT.

Humans don't eat much gorilla or chimpanzee either. But their hands sure as hell make great ashtrays.
Nor do we eat much tiger. Well.. except his dick.
Damn nearly got the biggest motherfucking land-living predator nearly extinct cause we felt it was "good sport" to hunt it down and kill it.
In fact, there ain't no species on this planet that we didn't try to kill.

And then there are these crabs we put back in the water if we happen to catch them accidentally - based on their looks.

And with all those photos (5-page article, 3 pages of photos) you would think that they could have found one that points out how fossilized crabs "predating man's appearance on earth" look exactly the same as the ones "under dead samurai protection".
Instead, we are shown photos of present day crabs that "are similar to, but less distinct than".

 
 
But I guess you can't really get as much publicity by yelling "The well-known evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley (grandson of the more famous T. H. Huxley, who was known as Charles Darwin's "bulldog" for his adamant support of Darwin's then-controversial ideas about natural selection, and brother of the novelist Aldous Huxley AND Carl Sagan WERE RIGHT!" - as you can by yelling that they were wrong.

So, maybe I'll stick to my disbelief until I see clear evidence.

Well... Shit son.
How d'ya get that much belief in that article then?

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146634)

Yeah, a much more likely factor for this is that the gods has probably moved to the other side of the pond and hence only notice the gifts over there and brings back plenty of fish for the people to feed on until the crops are ready.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145736)

Technically it's more Ironic than Oxymoronic.

Generally Irony applies to (but is not limited to) a cause-and-effect sequence while an Oxymoron applies to a single noun-clause.

/grammar Nazism

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145792)

Boy thats an oxymoron.

Not really. It would be ironic if it was some fundie Christian ritual leading to the evolution, but as it was all do to some pagans, it's not so ironic -- but rather amusing in any case.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (0, Troll)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146124)

Er -- do you assume that fundamentalist Christianity is the only religion there is?

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146156)

The article states that they did the ceremony during eastertime _before_ Columbus arrived, so they must have been very bright to know it was easter time since nobody had told them about it yet.

Easter is a pagan ritual (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146378)

Easter is the spring ceremony in many Northern hemisphere pagan religions.

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146614)

It does.

Muslims only want to.. uhm, scrap that, are supposed to only marry Muslims (or atleast the women? Or something such?)

For everyone else of us there's always the option to not breed with another religious being. And hence try to evolve into a world without them.

Sadly considering the amount of religious people the odds may be in favor of the opposite reaction.

Personally I don't have to care for or live by any such rules or ideas. It's meaningless, avid Slashdot reader as I am and for a whole bunch of other reasons breeding and evolving is out of the question for me.

More Muslims, less me. Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

Re:Religion causing evolution.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34147044)

More like... Academia causing confusion.

Repeat after me: ADAPTATION IS NOT EVOLUTION (in any meaningful sense)

Speaking of fish, this is a red herring.

Humans have evolved too (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145612)

We used to all be niggers until a few thousand years after getting out of Africa.

Unuseful Definition (3, Insightful)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145614)

So, this isn't considered to be "selective breeding" why now?

Re:Unuseful Definition (5, Insightful)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145660)

The difference is the method of selection: In one case, humans are altering the environment of a species, resulting in evolutionary changes.

Selective breeding involves just that, selecting the traits you want in the animal and then breeding only animals with those traits. Selecting what you breed.

  The environmental alteration version doesn't involve any conscious desire for selection; any meddling that alters survival and breeding rates is good enough. These people aren't purposefully poisoning the water to select the fish in the river that are hardest to poison.

Re:Unuseful Definition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145838)

Ah no.. you mean perhaps no difference between selective breeding and natural selection... natural selection != evolution.

Re:Unuseful Definition (1, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145894)

Natural selection is half of the evolution. The other half is mutation creating new traits.
It's all there is to it. Create new traits randomly, retain desired/remove undesired ones by natural selection, repeat.

This was not Selective, breeding for Evolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146356)

None was doing the "selecting" of traits to try to promote into the next generation. The same religion could just as well dumped another chemical or even excrement into the murky pools that would've resulted otherwise. Evolution is about slow and gradual changes to the environment that ALLOWS the creatures to adapt as opposed to all the bullshit science that asserts Evolution as being one giant leap in response to an environmental catastrophe.

The only thing this article proves is that the gods are pro-Choice but they let the evolving children make "the choice."

Re:Unuseful Definition (2, Interesting)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146576)

I'm confused... how is selective breeding not evolution?

Hell, I'd even call it is Darwinian evolution where human selection is part of the environment.

Re:Unuseful Definition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146772)

Selective breeding is evolution, it just doesn't satisfy the "natural" part of "evolution by natural selection" because humans are choosing the breeders rather than the creatures themselves. So, it's "evolution by artificial selection", but still evolution.

Re:Unuseful Definition (4, Funny)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145710)

So, this isn't considered to be "selective breeding" why now?

If you've been hoping to breed fish by throwing fish toxin in the water, trust me... you're doing it wrong.

Re:Unuseful Definition (4, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145722)

Basically, there's no difference in mechanism between selective breeding and evolution. It's just a difference in intent. The idea is that the people weren't specifically breeding the fish in the same way that people specifically bred cows and wheat and whatnot. In any case, the organisms most suited to their (human influenced) environment reproduced most successfully.

Re:Unuseful Definition (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145930)

The idea is that the people weren't specifically breeding the fish in the same way that people specifically bred cows and wheat and whatnot.

So, you are saying that instead of selective breeding, this was indiscriminate breeding...

But they're still the same species fish, right? (-1, Flamebait)

toygeek (473120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145628)

So they developed a resistance to the toxin. Big whoop. They're still fish. The same species even. That's not evolution, its adaptation. Now, if they grew legs to get out of the cave, that's evolution. TFA said that the natives "inadvertently kick-started the evolutionary process of natural selection..." Since when is evolution and natural selection the same thing?

If this is all it takes to declare evolution, then automagically adjusting sunglasses evolve every time you go from a bright to dark environment.

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (1)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145638)

If the new fish were either unable or unwilling to breed with the fish without the adaptation then it would be evolution in progress, but the article fails to mention.

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (5, Insightful)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145684)

I'd say that the new fish were indeed unable to breed with the fish without the adaptation, as those fish were dead

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (3, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146008)

It's one rock-fall blocking the river away from that happening. Population isolation happens.

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145640)

You're assuming any evolution is a macro evolution. You're mistaken.

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145734)

Is there a difference between adaptation and micro-evolution?

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (2, Insightful)

jihema (558787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145646)

Evolution does not have to be visible to naked eye. Developing resistance to a toxin is evolution, because the trait is passed to the offspring.

Re:But they're still the same species fish, right? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145770)

Uh.....you do realize that natural selection is the process that drives evolution, right? That was kind of the point of Origin of Species

That won't happen to us (1)

Musically_ut (1054312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145630)

Whatever.

Now I am off to make some religious offerings to my Roach killer.

Re:That won't happen to us (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146884)

Whatever.

Now I am off to make some religious offerings to my Roach killer.

Big mistake if those roaches were made in God's image.

Already known (2, Interesting)

jihema (558787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145658)

It was already known that evolution by natural selection could be triggered by human activity. Industrial melanism (e.g. the Peppered Moth) is a famous example.

Re:Already known (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145712)

The Peppered Moth is a famous example, but a dreadful one. There are several problems with Kettlewell's experiment [wikipedia.org], many of which are pointed out here: Second Thoughts about Peppered Moths [arn.org]

Re:Already known (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145796)

I remember a simulation of the moth thing in middle school as one of those cut-and-dried science-class activities, and not getting the usual answer. Teacher was OK with that, gave an "it happens; doesn't *always* work" response, but +1 Interesting on your link.

Pagan (1)

mauhiz (1751522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145676)

Blasphemy!
A pagan cult leads to the pagan idea of Evolution. Such heresy would never have happened if those people were Christian! We sent Cortez a little bit too late.

--
The Church

Deja vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145680)

Deja vu, anyone?

Wait? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145690)

So your telling me that nature actually learned to adapt to man?

You mean we may not be killing off the planet by living?

Tomorrow's Sarah Palin Tweet Today! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145742)

OMG Todd just told me R taxes paid 4 "scientists" 2 poison/torture fishes! Y? 2 so-call "proove" evilution. G-d knoes bettr. End DOE now!

Re:Tomorrow's Sarah Palin Tweet Today! (0, Troll)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145790)

Looking at http://twitter.com/sarahpalinusa [twitter.com], the grammar is better than that, but I can actually feel some of the crazy.
Admittedly, at 137 characters, that's mainly creative get-under-limit work, but I probably would have rewritten the message by the time i started doing that much character-cutting (though that's just me)

"Todd just told me our taxes paid for poisoning+torture of fishes, to try to "prove" evilution. G-d knows better! End DOE now!"
char(125)

Re:Tomorrow's Sarah Palin Tweet Today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145936)

I just woke up and spent the past 3 minutes trying to find both variations of these until i read the titles.
Damn it, /., damn it.

I'm going back to bed.

Toxic sulfur environment (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145824)

How can they be sure that any changes that have occurred are from the ceremonial poisoning and not the much longer exposure to the natural toxic sulfur environment. Seems to be a lot of attention grabbing assumptions and theories.

Creationist Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145840)

I can just hear them saying "but thats microevolution not macroevolution"..

Clarification: Selection not modification (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145852)

It would be cool to see the expected "random mutation + natural selection" process, but actually the article is a little less exciting - it says that the fish who had already been resistant in the first place survived better than others and multiplied, which I would call "natural selection". In other words, this is not the place to discuss "micro- versus macro-evolution" or "new traits" :o)

From TFA: "Mollies able to tolerate the poisonous conditions survived and passed those traits to their offspring..."

Re:Clarification: Selection not modification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146002)

Uh... hello? This is how evolution works. Step 1) Trait occurs from mutation Step 2) Trait is selected for Step 3) Profit.

The point (1, Troll)

Msdose (867833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145878)

Similar behavior by the native peoples drove half the large species in North and South America to extinction. Sort of hard to see how this could be labeled evolution.

Re:The point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145978)

Those species failed to evolve.

Re:The point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34145984)

I think you're unfairly downplaying the hard work and effort those fishes have put into this.
What have you evolved resistance towards lately?

Re:The point (3, Informative)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146064)

Basically, it's labelled "evolution" when something succeeds in adapting to the change but "extinction" when it doesn't. Often, it's the pace of change which makes the difference.

If, for example, the now-extinct North American camels developed random mutations (or had a latent genetic ability) that allowed one of them to, say, start climbing giant redwoods and breeding before being eaten by their human predators, then you'd possibly have American Tree Camels today.

Random chance + selective pressure + sufficient time = evolution. The article indicates that it wasn't a continuous pressure either, which probably helped speed things up. e.g.

Year one: 99% of fish die, 1% survive & spend the next 364 days breeding resistant offspring...
Year 500 or so: 50% die, 50% survive & spend the next 364 days breeding more resistant offspring...
Current times: 10% die, 90% survive & spend the next 364 days breeding very resistant offspring...

It's not so uncommon really; the 'religious' aspect is merely a teaser giving the atheist fundies something to tease the creationist fundies with. For instance, I'm involved with researching pest insects that have developed high-level resistance to fumigants that have only been in use since WWII. In some cases, visible morphological and behavioural changes have resulted. If that ain't evolution I don't know what is, and I'm sure that if people had ritual rather than practical reasons for gassing silos we could be having the same discussion about bugs...

Re:The point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146688)

Which holi(holy?)day did they opt not to breed on?

Or were years a day shorter around year 500? ;)

Re:Article's stupid conclusion (2, Interesting)

kalachakraa (1935622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146204)

Yet that's the main point Rosenthal, one of the authors, is trying to make: "We tend to have this wonderful Pocahontas idea that before Europeans came in, everything was pristine and in harmony" but no such thing as "pristine" wilderness because humans have been radically changing their environment since forever. Therefore climate change alarmists and other environmental loudmouths moaning about species loss and soil degradation should just shut the fuck up. (And leave the thinking to Biology PhD.'s.) This is reductionist - it's called the Fallacy of Division. Specific changes to the environment, like loss of large prey animals, while doubtlessly catastrophic for the existing humans, was for the existing biosphere probably just a blip in a normally flexible dynamic (arguments for "keystone species" aside.) What INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY has done might appear to be just the same thing just a lot bigger. However because the environment (and life in general) is an emergent system and not just the sum of it's parts, you cannot scale up and down this way and expect to make intelligent decisions. Further, the "pristine wilderness" that the author ridicules is itself an emergent property of a functioning biosphere. Most people who spend enough time in those few parts of the world that haven't been deeply degraded by humans can feel it, and feel it's absence, despite not yet having tools that would specifically measure what we're feeling. That feeling of pure wilderness is certainly not just some lame projection of human society's materialist-moralist-sexist "Untouched and Pure" valuation of virginal young daughters. That's just an anthropomorphism, and Rosenthal's just calling Nature a slut. Asshole.

Now we know the true reason for global warming (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34145980)

From the article:

"Since before the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, the Zoque people of southern Mexico would venture each year during the Easter season deep into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to implore their deities for a bountiful rain season."

And later:

"Ironically, it was the last ceremony ever held, as the Zoques ended the practice that year due to political pressure from the government, which sought to preserve the cave as a hotbed for tourism and potential revenue."

So they stopped doing ceremonies for the weather gods. This is surely not the only case. So people stop worshipping weather gods, and the climate goes wild. Coincidence? Unlikely! So now we have proof: Global warming is man-made, by neglecting weather ceremonies!

Re:Now we know the true reason for global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34146058)

Sounds like the government is stupid to stop the ceremonys instead of just taking admission (eh, tourist tax) from the tourists that wants to watch this important ceremony.

What? (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146552)

Why do science journals insist that they somehow can't be taken seriously if they use pictures? Would it kill them to show us the fish, the cave, or the people doing this? Anything but a TL;DR block of text.

At least the story was interesting....this time.

Re:What? (1)

node_chomsky (1830014) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146712)

I don't think any style book used in natural science has very clear provisions on how you would include such a thing. Most authors are so intimidated by the process of getting published, that they do not want to risk including content that may get it rejected (it is hard to argue the scientific merit of a photograph, it usually involves a lot of metadata that wouldn't be available to a field biologist post-hoc). I often drop some of my best sentences in an article, simply because they have a slight chance of being misinterpreted as off-topic or unscientific. Unfortunately journals are not in any way meant to be entertaining, which makes research boring but easier to carry out because of the distilled nature of the information.

Re:What? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146902)

I don't think any style book used in natural science has very clear provisions on how you would include such a thing. Most authors are so intimidated by the process of getting published, that they do not want to risk including content that may get it rejected (it is hard to argue the scientific merit of a photograph, it usually involves a lot of metadata that wouldn't be available to a field biologist post-hoc). I often drop some of my best sentences in an article, simply because they have a slight chance of being misinterpreted as off-topic or unscientific. Unfortunately journals are not in any way meant to be entertaining, which makes research boring but easier to carry out because of the distilled nature of the information.

So, what you're saying is that journals take the fun out of science.

Someone please explain to me... (1)

Jorgandar (450573) | more than 3 years ago | (#34146894)

...why Christians deny evolution? Does God command us to turn off our brains? (you would hope not...) Does this concept, if proven true, contradict something in the bible so directly that it would prove Christianity is false? What's the deal? Why are they so scared of this?

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