Evolution


The central dogma of molecular biology, as proposed in 1970 by Francis Crick and James Watson, holds that genetic information is transferred from DNA to functional proteins by way of messenger RNA (mRNA). This suggests that mRNA has but a single role, that being to encode for proteins.

Now, a cancer genetics team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) suggests there is much more to RNA than meets the eye.

In a study appearing in the June 24, 2010 issue of Nature, the authors describe a new regulatory role for RNA — independent of their protein-coding function – that relies on their ability to communicate with one another. Of potentially even greater significance, because this new function also holds true for thousands of noncoding RNAs, the discovery dramatically increases the known pool of functional genetic information…

“Because this new function does not depend on the blueprint that RNAs harbor in their protein-encoding nucleotide sequence, the discovery additionally holds true for the thousands of noncoding RNA molecules in the cell,” explains senior author Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of Research at the BIDMC Cancer Center and George C. Reisman Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.”This means that not only have we discovered a new language for mRNA, but we have also translated the previously unknown language of up to 17,000 pseudogenes and at least 10,000 long non-coding (lnc) RNAs. Consequently, we now know the function of an estimated 30,000 new entities, offering a novel dimension by which cellular and tumor biology can be regulated, and effectively doubling the size of the functional genome.”…

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National Geographic recently published an article on a statistical study by biochemist Douglas Theobald, which attempts to give proof of universal common descent by looking at the odds of producing certain identical genes in all species given the starting positions of universal common descent, multiple ancestry, and creationism. National geographic titles it’s article, “All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds: Creationism called ‘absolutely horrible hypothesis’—statistically speaking.” The study quotes the odds of Creationism being correct as 1 in 10 to the 6,000th power.

Answers in Genesis has a rather succinct response:

The argument against multiple, unique origins of different life-forms, as stated by National Geographic News, is that “[i]f life arose from multiple species—each with a different set of proteins—many more mutations would have been required” and that “it’s highly unlikely that the protein groups would have independently evolved into such similar DNA sequences.” However, those claims obviously presuppose an evolutionary perspective—i.e., that similarity but separate origin could have only occurred via chance processes…

The obvious flaw with Theobald’s conclusions, as we pointed out, is that he assumes protein similarity must have come about either by common ancestry or by the process of evolutionary convergence. Creationists adopt neither view, however, because there is a better view available: common design. Even amid the chasm of differences between various organisms, fundamental similarities make sense in light of a single Designer who re-used many of the basic biological mechanisms throughout life.

How difficult it is for natural selection to converge the genomes of multiple species has little to do with whether Creationism is correct or incorrect. Creationists aren’t the ones who are arguing for genomic convergences, Darwinists are. As a software designer, I find it difficult to understand how or why anyone would argue that similar code sequences in different species in any way eliminates the design argument. Most coders use the same classes in multiple projects – it is the intelligent thing to do. To assume that the Creator of all life must have done otherwise and that any design similarities would need to be due to evolutionary convergence is itself an “absolutely horrible hypothesis”.

May 06, 2010 — It’s sometimes difficult to assess the impact of a scientific paper when it is first published, but one that came out on the cover of Nature today has potential to equal the discovery of the genetic code.  The leading science journal reported the discovery of a second genetic code – the “code within the code” – that has just been cracked by molecular biologists and computer scientists.  Moreover, they used information technology – not evolutionary theory – to figure it out.

The new code is called the Splicing Code.  It lives embedded within the DNA.  It directs the primary genetic code, in very complex but now predictable ways, how and when to assemble genes and regulatory elements.  Cracking this code-within-a-code is helping elucidate several long-standing mysteries about genetics that emerged from the Human Genome Project: Why are there only 20,000 genes for an organism as complex as a human being? (Scientists had expected far more.)  Why are genes broken up into segments (called exons), separated by non-coding elements (called introns), and then spliced together after transcription?  And why are genes turned on in some cells and tissues, but not in others?  For two decades molecular biologists have been trying to figure out the mechanisms of genetic regulation.  This important paper represents a milestone in understanding what goes on.  It doesn’t answer all the questions, but it shows that an inner code exists – a communication system that can be deciphered so clearly, that the scientists could predict what the genome would do in certain situations with uncanny accuracy.

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by Jeffrey Tomkins, Ph.D., & Brian Thomas, M.S.

A recent high-profile article in the journal Nature released the results of a study with implications that shocked the scientific community because they contradict long-held claims of human-chimp DNA similarity. A previous Acts & Facts article showed that much of the research surrounding the often touted claims of 98 percent (or higher) DNA similarity between chimps and humans has been based on flawed and biased research. The problem is that the similarity has been uncertain because no one has performed an unbiased and comprehensive DNA similarity study until now. And the results are not good news for the story of human evolution…

In the 2005 chimpanzee genome project and resulting Nature journal publication, the sequence contigs were not assembled and oriented based on a map of the chimpanzee genome, but rather on a map of the human genome. Given the fact that the chimpanzee genome is at least 10 percent larger overall than the human genome, this method of assembly was not only biased toward an evolutionary presupposition of human-chimp similarity, but was also inherently flawed…

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Interesting, though not really surprising:

National Geographic News (October 9, 2009) – Many dinosaurs may be facing a new kind of extinction—a controversial theory suggests as many as a third of all known dinosaur species never existed in the first place.

That’s because young dinosaurs didn’t look like Mini-Me versions of their parents, according to new analyses by paleontologists Mark Goodwin, University of California, Berkeley, and Jack Horner, of Montana State University.

Instead, like birds and some other living animals, the juveniles went through dramatic physical changes during adulthood.

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Creation Evolution Headlines reported on new evidence that calls the popular bird-dinosaur evolution story into question. ScienceDaily has a fascinating post on the evidence, which is well worth reading in full. Here’s an excerpt:

ScienceDaily (June 9, 2009) — Researchers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental new discovery about how birds breathe and have a lung capacity that allows for flight – and the finding means it’s unlikely that birds descended from any known theropod dinosaurs.

The conclusions add to other evolving evidence that may finally force many paleontologists to reconsider their long-held belief that modern birds are the direct descendants of ancient, meat-eating dinosaurs, OSU researchers say.

“It’s really kind of amazing that after centuries of studying birds and flight we still didn’t understand a basic aspect of bird biology,” said John Ruben, an OSU professor of zoology. “This discovery probably means that birds evolved on a parallel path alongside dinosaurs, starting that process before most dinosaur species even existed.”

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April 30, 2009 — It’s official: soft tissue, including blood vessel proteins and structures resembling cells, have been recovered from dinosaur bone.  Mary Schweitzer’s amazing claim in 2005 (03/24/2005) was subsequently disputed as possible contamination from biofilms (07/30/2008).  Now, Schweitzer and her team took exceptional precautions to avoid contamination by excavating hadrosaur bone from sandstone said to be 80 million years old.  A short description of her findings, and a picture of the tissue, was announced today by New Scientist.  The paper followed shortly after in the May 1 issue of Science.1 A press release from Schweitzer’s institution, North Carolina State University, says that the preservation of soft tissue in this duck-billed dinosaur fossil was even better than the material from the T. rex bone analyzed in 2005.

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