Parthenogenesis

25 12 2010

We’ve looked at the basics of sex already, but now we’ll look at parthenogenesis – very fitting, as today (25 December) marks a prominent holiday in a brand of prominent mythology, Christianity, celebrating a human being (Vertebrata: Primates: Homo sapiens) born of a virgin birth ~2000 years ago. This, of course, is complete bullshit – humans have never been recorded as giving virgin births (I’d hardly call the Bible an authoritative book on anything) and it is indeed impossible for them to do it naturally.

We’ll start with some history and definitions. Parthenogenesis is a type of asexual reproduction and applies only to animals (the botanical counterpart is called apomixis; note that in this post, I will only be talking of animals, not plants, fungi, prokaryotes, bacteria, etc.). It was first discovered by Owen in his 1849 book/monograph “On parthenogenesis or the successive production of procreating animals from a single ovum”. As an aside, I want to go a bit into Owen’s work and legacy, and how parthenogenesis played into them. He is often viewed as being a creationist – this is false. He was a critic of natural selection, but he has always thought in terms of evolution. His observations on the cyclic parthenogenesis of aphids (see later) led him to believe that new species can arise within a few generations and not the eons of time that Darwin stressed. His hypotheses did not depend on external factors, such as natural selection, but on the potential inside the organism (developmental possibilities). This is, of course, wrong, and the fact that he infused his science with his own pantheistic religious beliefs did not help his legacy and has led to the view of him being a creationist. Just to make it clear, he did believe in evolution and a natural origin of species, but not in the way Darwin had expressed it.

Parthenogenesis literally means a virgin birth; in biological terms, it simply means that an unfertilised ovum will give rise to a fully-functioning adult. That’s the broadest definition, and the one we will be using in this post; keep in mind that in the narrowest sense, parthenogenesis implies unisexual populations of virgin females producing clones (as seen in some lizards). A species can be obligately parthenogenic (can’t reproduce sexually at all) or facultatively parthenogenic (has the ability to switch between sexual and parthenogenic reproduction). In all, there are about 2000 species recorded to reproduce at least facultatively parthenogenetically under natural conditions and many more definitely exist, but remain unobserved/unsampled.

Of the vertebrates, parthenogenesis has never been reported for mammals; bird eggs reported as being of parthenogenic origins never hatch. It’s only found in several unique fish, amphibians and lizards. In those, it is present due to polyploidy and hybridisation. At the cellular level, the difference between parthenogens and sexuals is that in the latter, meiosis is followed by fusion of a male and female gamete. In parthenogenesis, meiosis is changed so that only one particular set of chromosomes is transferred in a non-random fashion. Before going on to look at examples from the invertebrates, let’s examine the cytological underpinnings of parthenogenesis in vertebrates, just to see why the ‘Virgin’ Mary is a liar (or why Joseph is a gullible idiot).

The root problem of parthenogenesis in vertebrates is that haploid eggs are useless. The egg cell must either remain diploid (after undergoing meiosis!) or somehow be able to become diploid again by itself. This is achieved in several ways. The simplest way is to simply stop meiosis from happening. This is called apomixis, and the oocyte is then produced just by mitosis, skipping over recombination and segregation of chromosomes, leading to clones. Another way is to double the number of chromosomes before meiosis happens – so when the ploidy halves, the result is still a diploid oocyte. Again, clones are produced here because recombination and segregation take place between identical homologous chromosomes, not strange ones. The most common way to maintain diploid levels though is automixis. This is when meiosis occurs, and the resultant haploid oocyte either duplicates its genome (becoming diploid) or fusion with one of the polar bodies occurs. This way obviously does not produce clones.

Let’s look at mammals specifically. The non-existence of parthenogenic mammals can easily be explained. Simply said, we need a set of chromosomes from the male sperm in order for development to proceed. This can be proven by experiments done in rabbits. One thing that a germ cell doesn’t have is centrioles (they’re lost during gametogenesis). In the rabbit egg, centrioles are built anew – this requires no external input, and is one of the steps that kicks off embryonic cell divisions. Theoretically then, the lack of centrioles is not a limit to the egg cell and it should proceed alone with its development (as it would do in a hymenopteran egg that will become a male) – but it doesn’t. There are no parthenogenic rabbits, not even experimentally induced, because the chromosome from the sperm (and the genomic imprinting, i.e. that certain genes will not switch on unless paternal genes are present) is missing. This is an issue with mammals and not with the parthenogenic fish because mammals have an overabundance of a protein called mos. When absent, automixis occurs (it usually blocks cleavage formation in the oocyte, therefore when present, the oocyte can’t go through automixis). The point is that Mary could not have gotten pregnant without having had at least one sperm cell in her vagina. And I sincerely doubt the ‘Archangel’ gently placed one individual spermatozoon in there.

Just to make one thing clear: we can artificially induce parthenogenesis in mice by activating the egg, but the embryo will die and not grow to adulthood. Only the first few divisions will be achieved, until the lack of imprinting leads to abortion – experiments have shown that histones, the structures around which DNA is coiled, are lost, as the instructions on how to rebuild them are present in the sperm. Having said that, there is one case where a mouse adult has been developed parthenogenetically in the lab. What they did was basically simulate imprinting in the egg cell by simply transferring the relevant nuclear genes. I say simply, but this is an extremely difficult protocol and cannot yet be applied to anything other than lab mice. What it does show is that imprinting is absolutely crucial to mammalian embryonic development – and that this can only occur with the presence of a male nucleus. The case is pretty much closed: natural parthenogenesis in mammals is impossible, and Mary was a liar.

The best example of parthenogenesis is in the hymenopterans: any ant or bee or wasp male got there by parthenogenesis, since hymenopterans are haplodiploid (males come from unfertilised eggs, females from fertilised eggs). This ‘standard’ parthenogenesis is called arrhenotoky and is also found in all thrips (one of the reasons why they are such big pests: they can settle very quickly in a new environment, even if no males are around; this applies to all invasive species as well), and termite queens do it when founding a new colony. There are even more extreme types: worker ants of a couple of ant species can lay eggs which give rise to other females without fertilisation – parthenogenesis. Specifically, haplodiploid parthenogenesis is called thelytoky; a thelytokous population has no males. Although rare in ants, it did arise multiple times independently in other hymenopterans (for example in some honeybees, where workers will undergo thelytoky in the absence of a queen).

The reason why thelytoky is interesting is because of sex determination. For a hymenopteran to be female, the ovum must become diploid – hence why they are normally fertilised. The easiest way to explain thelytoky in hymenopterans (and keep in mind this is still a hypothesis in need of concrete proof) is to say that during or after meiosis (during oogenesis), two haploid nuclei fuse together, forming a diploid egg without need for sperm.

There is another form of parthenogenesis in hymenopterans, found only in some species of chalcidoids: paternal genome elimination (PGE), in which males develop from fertilised eggs, but lose the paternal genome at some point during development, becoming haploid again.

Of the parthenogenic animals, most are facultatively so: they can either undergo sexual or asexual reproduction as they please. The factors that influence the decision are numerous. One pattern that is very clear in these organisms is that parthenogenesis has a geographic distribution; this was first realised by Vandel in 1928 (“La parthénogénèse géographique: contribution a l’étude biologique et cytologique de la parthénogénèse naturelle”). The parthenogenic populations of a species tend to occur at high altitudes, high latitudes and on the geographical edges of a species’ range. This is easily explainable: parthenogenesis, as a form of asexual reproduction, doesn’t have the two-fold cost of producing males, therefore it allows for more rapid settling in new and/or extreme habitats (where extremeness is measured relative to that species’s specific attributes); natural selection takes care of keeping the gene pool successful. This seems simple now, but it took some time to realise it: White, in his 1973 book “Animal Cytology and Evolution”, had this to say about geographical parthenogenesis: “It is not entirely clear, however, how forms whose genetic system must be very inflexible manage to become adapted to new environments when they do get transported to them: the apparent ecological versatility in space seems to be at variance with their lack of ecological versatility in time.”  Sexual reproduction is more ideal for environments where there are plenty of biotic interactions – there are virtually no parthenogens in the tropics, for example – because the genetic variation is needed to stay ahead of the curve (think of the Red Queen). In the Arctic, many species are parthenogenic, simply because mating requires too much energy.

To look at this geographical aspect of parthenogenesis, we’ll use phasmids (stick insects). Parthenogenesis is widespread among them (it evolved independently in each lineage, not an ancestral state; for example, there are 21 species of Timema, and parthenogenesis evolved independently five times in the genus), with some being obligately parthenogenic. Parthenogenesis in them is related to hybridisation and polypoidy: some stick insects can have up to 100 chromosomes! This sexual freedom is one of the reasons for their success: a single female phasmid egg can potentially give rise to a new successful population in a new environment, even if it is far away. For example, there are is an all-female population of phasmids on the Scilly Isles, UK. It is not endemic – it was brought there by humans. From New Zealand. And they are now extremely successful – the fact that they’re all female means they are also parthenogenic. In New Zealand itself, one phasmid species is descended from a tiny population. After the last glaciations, parthenogenesis allowed this population to expand its range, leading to the situation now: it dominates New Zealand and even has a colony on a nearby island. Staying in Australia, parthenogenesis is the reason why there are many species inhabiting the Australian continent, despite it being mostly an arid wasteland – the aridisation occurred fairly recently in the Pleistocene. The unique thing about the place is that there have been large changes in climatic conditions, and this is reflected by the parthenogenic populations there, many of which went extinct, only to be replaced by other parthenogens. What we see nowadays is really just a snapshot of a very dynamically changing biome.

Other facultative parthenogens include aphids. For example, the pea aphid undergoes sexual reproduction only once in autumn and parthenogenesis from early spring to the autumn. When such a clear temporal pattern is present, we refer to the species as a cyclical parthenogen (another name is heterogony). In the case of the pea aphid, the environmental conditions (shorter days and colder temperatures) induces the development of sexuparae – females that give birth to males and females. The presence of males is the odd thing here, and they’re formed by an extra mini-meiosis of the egg cell. Aphid sex is XX/X0 (female/male) – this extra meiosis basically produces an extra egg that is missing one chromosome (the second X fails to attach to the spindle and is lost), and thus will be male. The sexual forms will then mate and produce eggs that are tolerant to cold, as to be able to survive in winter. The first generation animals are called fundatrices, and will then only reproduce parthenogenetically (the aphids from early spring to autumn are therefore all clones), producing between 3 to 15 generations until the next autumn. Note these different types of aphid are morphologically variable, even though they belong to the same species (one of the reasons why Owen refused the long time scale required by natural selection: he thought that every year, a new species of aphid was born, so to speak). Another interesting note about aphids is their so-called ability of ‘telescoping generations‘, where the parthenogenic embryos in the female will already have their own offspring developing inside them (like those Russian dolls). This is another reason why aphids are so widespread and successful: even though they are clones, the successive generations are already exposed to the conditions that await them. This cyclical parthenogenesis in aphids is ancient: aphids are ~200 Ma and Cretaceous fossils already have somewhat reduced ovipositors, implying that sex already had a smaller role even back then.

Other cyclical parthenogens include cladocerans and monogonont rotifers. At the cellular level, they incredible control over meiosis – this can be seen directly from the genome, where there are duplications in the genes involved in meiosis and the cell cycle. This genomic repertoire is needed to have this kind of reproductive variability.

A small jump into theory is suitable here. These aphids, and all other facultative parthenogens, exhibit occasional sex. Theoretically, it is assumed that the two-fold cost of sex is dependent on the frequency that sex happens: obligately sexual species reproduce only sexually and thus must pay the full cost. However, those who rarely have sex get the best of both worlds: when needed, they can double their population number quickly, and then get the benefit of genetic variation by having sex once. This was first realised (theoretically) by Sewall Wright in a 1939 paper called “Statistical genetics in relation to evolution”.

Another trend obvious in cyclic parthenogens is that they switch to sexual reproduction when resources become limited. For example, water fleas will reproduce at fast rates parthenogenetically until their food source becomes depleted, at which point they mate sexually, producing varied offspring that can colonise other areas. The same is true for the aphids.

There are cases where parthenogenesis occurs, but also needs sperm to proceed. For example, the planarian Schmidtea polychroa. Planarians are hermaphrodites that undergo internal fertilisation (on a related note, sexual reproduction is hilarious in them: they fight and whoever loses must get pregnant) – but no self-fertilisation. In S. polychroa, whether an individual is sexual or not depends on the ploidy level: diploids are sexual, polyploids (tri- to pentaploid) are parthenogenic. Regardless of their sexual type though, they mate and exchange sperm. Without the sperm, there will be no initial zygotic divisions and the embryo will not develop. The reason why we call it parthenogenic is because in terms of genetic contribution, there is nothing from the father: paternal alleles always disintegrate or are thrown out. This type of parthenogenesis is variably called sperm-dependent parthenogenesis (biologists are not a creative bunch), pseudogamy or gynogenesis. And it’s worth mentioning that the occurrence of sexual and parthenogenic forms is also geographically dependent: S. polychroa is a European species, and south of the Alps are exclusively sexual populations, whereas parthenogens occur everywhere else.

Another variant of parthenogenesis is hybridogenesis, which occurs in some fish and amphibians. Here, haploid oocytes are produced and fertilised by the sperm. The male contribution persists for one generation only, since the next batch of eggs will delete the paternal chromosomes during meiosis, resulting in the exclusive retention of the maternal genome. However, what must be kept in mind is that accidents can always happen and some male genes can always leak through. The observant among you will realise that there is a problem with these reproduction types: a clonal population consisting solely of females will eventually go extinct, since there are no males available to provide sperm. In fact, these species are not fertilised by males of the same species, but of a different, closely-related sexual species with which they coexist. The parthenogenic females compete for those males as normal.

So far, all our examples have been of parthenogenesis that evolved specifically in a particular lineage. There are cases when a lineage may be forced to reproduce parthenogenetically by parasitism. These parasites are intracellular bacteria living in the reproductive tissues of their hosts (invertebrates, especially arthropods). They not only cause thelytokous parthenogenesis, but can also lead to feminisation of males and may even kill male eggs. The reason is that they are transferred maternally through the oocyte’s cytoplasm. Males are useless to them, so in order to survive, they need to make sure that the population is heavily female-biased. The most well-known of these parasites is Wolbachia, a type of Gram-negative Rickettsiales bacterium that infects hymenopterans and other haplodiploids; it’s estimated that 16% of all insect species are infected with Wolbachia. It has become so deeply entrenched in its hosts that in some cases, the host is unable to reproduce if it is removed. Cytologically, it has several ways of working. It can prevent haploidy by making sure mitosis fails to separate chromosomes during the first anaphase. Alternatively, mitosis proceeds, but in the second prophase, two mitotic nuclei are fused together, bringing diploidy back. Other examples include Cardinium and several Flavobacteria in arthropods, or Xiphinematobacter in Xiphinema nematodes. Keep in mind that these parasites are generally benign, not virulent and do not affect the physiology of their arthropod hosts.

In addition to parasitic parthenogenesis, toxicity in the environment can also make animals reproduce parthenogenetically – although it must be said that this has never been conclusively observed in the wild (i.e. discounting other factors that may have caused parthenogenesis), but has been done many times in the lab, as far back as Jacques Loeb’s experiments on sea urchins in the late 19th Century. He found that toxins like UV light, ammonia, chlorine, acids, alkalis and alcohols can cause sea urchin eggs to start developing, with no need for sperm. The way this works is by messing with the egg membrane, reducing its surface tension. This kicks off a chain reaction (usually started by sperm) and causes embryonic growth.

Parthenogenesis has occasionally been cited as being proof of Dollo’s Law – the concept of the irreversability of evolution (introduced by Dollo in a 1893 essay, “Les lois de l’évolution”). Before we can decide that though, we need to look at how parthenogenesis actually evolved: the ancestors of parthenogens are always sexual species. What does the transition look like (besides the already-mentioned infection-induced parthenogenesis)? The most elegant transitional type is tychoparthenogenesis, where unfertilised eggs will accidentally produce an adult. Accidentally, because this happens due to errors in meiosis resulting in diploid instead of haploid oocytes (so they count as being automatically fertilised, basically). Where females are the homogametic species (e.g. XX, not XY), this will result in a female adult. The only problem with this hypothesis is that even though we can artificially increase the success rate of tychoparthenogenesis, in nature the success rate is extremely low – so how would tychoparthenogenic populations survive against much more successful sexuals? The only reasonable solution is to say that many females will fail to find a mate and thus will only reproduce tychoparthenogenetically, eventually leading to female-only populations.

One clear pattern that can be highlighted in this context is the positive correlation between flightlessness in insects and parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is rare in beetles, except in the weevils. Same with Lepidoptera and bagworm moths; it is almost non-existent in the odonates, the best fliers of the animal world; stick insects, on the other hand, are flightless and many of them are parthenogenic. A possible explanation for these observations is that in the less-mobile taxa, there will be more failure than success in mating – females and males will not be able to reach other – and this then plays into the tychoparthenogenesis model outlined above.

If you try to make a list of parthenogenic animals, what you will notice is that parthenogens occur most often in single species (for example, only one species of decapod crustacean, the marbled crayfish, is parthenogenic), not at high taxonomic levels, hinting that parthenogenesis is an evolutionarily short-lived strategy. The exceptions to this include the bdelloid rotifers, darwinulid ostracods or oribatid mites, where parthenogenesis has been maintained for geologically significant amounts of time (e.g. the oribatid mites: ~100 Ma!). Other examples of ancient asexuals can be found within the beetles, aphids, walkingsticks (e.g. in Timema, the sister group to the rest of the phasmids, some asexual lineages have been dated at ~2 Ma) and brine shrimp (e.g. Artemia).

One possible consequence of widespread parthenogenesis is vestigialisation of traits that are sexually selected for – things like mating songs or display structures. For example, parthenogenic crickets cannot recognise the mating call of their sexual ancestor. One must be careful though: something like hearing is crucial to an insect. The parthenogenic cricket may not be as highly tuned as its sexual counterparts (e.g. they have less auditory receptor cells), but it still has functioning hearing organs because it has to watch out for predators (in this case, ultrasound emitting bats).

Nonetheless, vestigialisation of sexual characters is constantly threatening for parthenogens because of Muller’s Ratchet. In 1949, Muller proposed that if selection pressure on a trait is removed, random mutations will degrade the trait down until positive selection can be established again. A perfect example of this principle, applied to parthenogenesis and sexual characters, can be seen in mating behaviours, which often don’t have any use other than sex. In fruit flies, it has a genetic basis (based on many genes). The good thing about fruit flies is that they are common lab animals and thus always cultured. Some are facultatively parthenogenic, and this parthenogenesis can be artifically selected for. In 1961, such a strain was set up specifically for this purpose. In 1971, the females of this strain were put with males. Some mated, many didn’t – but they still recognised the behaviour. In 1981, they could not mate at all. Genetic tests showed that this was because there had been too many mutations affecting those genes – sexual behaviour had essentially become vestigialised (and this was the first real proof of Muller’s Ratchet).

Just to summarise, here’s a list of constraints that prevent the evolution of parthenogenesis. The largest problem, known from the vertebrates, is how to activate the egg – it’s usually frozen in the metaphase II part of the cell cycle and needs sperm to activate it. The fact that the centriole is not inherited and must be built anew could also be a limiting factor. The sex determination system is important, as parthenogenesis requires a heavily female-biased sex ratio. In mammals, genomic imprinting by the sperm is critical to starting fetal development.

Parthenogenesis occurs in less-mobile taxa, the relation being that these have trouble finding mates, and parthenogenic taxa are often derived by hybridisation and polyploidy. It is favoured by taxa living in borderline habitats, where they can use the energy that would have been allocated for mating to more useful tasks, as well as allowing a quick population increase – this is also the reason why invasive insect species and pests are parthenogenic.

For a thought experiment, think of the implications of parthenogenesis on species concepts (are parthenogens really new species, for example? How can we detect them?), keeping in mind hybrid and suture zones. As a starting point, you could consider this fact: in ancient lakes, where there are many endemics, none of the endemics occur in families where parthenogenesis is common. Be sure to be sitting down and that you eat lots of sugar before, as this will require a lot of brain power ;)

As a small addendum, not really important but that does involve parthenogenesis, I want to mention the most complex life cycle known in the insects: that of Micromalthus, a very rare archostematan beetle. They live and feed on decaying wood. The larva-like female gives birth parthenogenetically to live female young. These are active, with long legs and hair. They then metamorphose to the second instar, which is legless, and this type persists until pupation. Under some conditions, the females will parthenogenetically lay a single large egg, though. Out of this egg comes a thick, C-shaped legless larva. This is a haploid male and once it grows to adulthood, it will eat its mother. Even more intriguingly, a female might sometimes produce both the egg and the live young at the same time. The evolution of the life cycle is hypothesised as having something to do with endosymbiotic bacteria: the beetles need them to digest the wood, and they, like Wolbachia, may screw around with the reproductive system.

As an other addendum, I want to bring up the marbled crayfish. It is a parthenogenic decapod crustacean that is now gaining much popularity in epigenetics and especially cancer research: it can live on a single food pellet for 3 years. It has a generation time of 6 months and produced 400 eggs per batch. These eggs are, of course, genetically identical to their mother. It can be brought up in a single microplate, so no housing conditions are needed. Each egg can be grown separately. It is thus perfect for precise experimentation, and the genetical identicness due to parthenogenesis also allows for extremely ideal experimental procedures.

PS: I am aware that there are three other hypotheses concerning Mary’s Virgin Birth. The first, and most obvious to anyone with a brain, is that it’s metaphorical – for what, I can’t tell (it’s that mysterious virginity = purity thing the religious are obsessed with; it’s also got some crap to do with humility and the servitude of Mary, devoting her life to God and her husband, like any good woman should [Yeah, I don't get it either, I'm just repeating what I was told]); I have not used this in the main text because it is boring. The second hypothesis is that Mary was lying but out of necessity because she was raped – I have ommitted this from the main text due to personal revulsion at the implication that several hundred million people find anything holy in the rape of an underage woman. The third hypothesis, and a rather likely one, is that Jesus, being the pathological egomaniac that he was (cf. any cult leader), made up the story – I have ommitted this from the main text because it’s his supposed birthday and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. I am a nice guy, after all.

Further Reading:
Lost Sex, a 2009 multi-author volume edited by Schön, Martens and van Dijk (Publisher: Springer) is exclusively dedicated to parthenogenesis. While I did not have the time to read all of it, the one chapter I consulted was excellent and if it is indicative of the rest of the book, then I fully recommend it!

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40 responses

19 07 2011
shax

Very good summary. Lost Sex is a good book.

30 10 2011
Quora

What are some of Marc Srour’s favorite posts on his Teaching Biology blog?…

This really does my natural humility no good… These are my top 10 posts (I count post series as one :P). The two posts on the Steinheim snails. It’s a translation and simplification of the very first term paper I wrote at uni, and IMO it’s still on…

31 10 2011
Quora

How does parthenogenesis work?…

When you simplify it, there’s only one difference between a parthenogen and a sexual: the latter’s sex cells undergo meiosis and then fusion of the male and female gametes to regain diploidy. There are several ways to theoretically circumvent this: m…

24 12 2011
Christmas Special: Celestial Navigation « Teaching Biology

[...] already lampooned the idea of a virgin birth last year, and while folk stories abound at this time of the year because of the Solstice, [...]

13 05 2012
Evolutionary Biology: Is a virgin birth theoretically possible? - Quora

[...] happen in mammals, but it's not uncommon in reptiles. Some boring biological details:http://bioteaching.wordpress.com… It's very unlikely to spontaneously evolve in humans. The idea of creating a clone of a woman, [...]

15 07 2012
Alexander Shah

” His hypotheses did not depend on external factors, such as natural selection, but on the potential inside the organism (developmental possibilities). This is, of course, wrong, and the fact that he infused his science with his own pantheistic religious beliefs did not help his legacy and has led to the view of him being a creationist. ”

- this is truly an example of the kind of preposterous arrogant notion-mills of the academic stoa. On what basis does this anonymous nincompoop who learnt a thing or two about science can claim “internal development is of course wrong” !? Everything we know and experience about life comes from the strong internal forces at work in every entity, endowing individual with power. In fact, the malthusian parvenu Darwin himself was an outright creationist and his apostle Huxley used outright lies to spread the falsified doctrine of Natural Selection.

15 07 2012
Alexander Shah

Of course, biological references to religion, as even Darwin should have known, are out of place in the study of Biology, because their realms are different, one the physical, the other, the metaphysical sphere. Only an ignoramus bordering on idiocy would show-off by mixing up the two in his learned expostulations like the fellow in this blog who is hellbent on impressing with mere misfit cleverness.

15 07 2012
Anonymous

Alexander Shah must be a philosophy student.

15 07 2012
Papzy Kyriacos

Alexander Shah calls people ignoramus while he supports the existence of a metaphysical realm without a single shred of evidence.

Good job Alexander. What’s next on the list? Zombies learning alchemy and turning water into wine?

15 07 2012
Marc

Alexander:

Whether I am a nincompoop, I cannot say – I’m too biased to be judging myself. However, I certainly am not anonymous. In fact, at the top of the page is a tab called “ABOUT ME AND THIS BLOG” in bright letters. Notice the first two words. In there, you will find a thorough self-biography, including my full name, my place of work, and a link to my Quora profile where some of the answers include my entire life story. So I most definitely am not anonymous. And, while I am a humble person, I must stress that I’m a working zoologist and palaeontologist, so I do know more than a “thing or two about science”.

You, on the other hand, seem to be a festering turd of a moron, as evidenced by your ignorant statements that natural selection has been falsified (hint: it hasn’t. See this other post: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/natural-selection/), that Darwin was a creationist (what his true religious views were are unknown, but he explicitly was *not* a creationist; see here for a discussion on his religious views: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/charles-darwin/), and that Huxley was his “apostle” (Huxley and Darwin disagreed on a few fronts, actually. Doesn’t sound very apostle-like to me).

Now, as for your poppycock about endowment of individuals with power. If you mean metabolism, then I guess that’s okay – but that has very little relation to macroevolution, which is the topic at hand here. If you want to go all Lamarckian on me, then read the post about natural selection I linked to above, which has a basic takedown of Lamarckianism.

As for mixing biology and religion together, I agree that they shouldn’t be mixed. But when religion explicitly steps on the domain of science (as when making claims about human virgin births, or about resurrection, or whatever), then science has a duty to spank religion so it stays within its metaphysical sphere, where it can bullshit all it wants. Reality is science’s domain, and if religion wants to have a piece, it’s welcome – but if historical precedence is anything to go by, it won’t stand a chance. See here for a discussion of why science will win hands-down: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/the-scientific-method-exemplified-by-palaeontology/

15 07 2012
Alexander Shah

All this brouhaha that you poured out in lieu of a response (since you have no inward means wherewith to intelligently respond in a self-disciplined manner given that you are a living proof of the shallow nature of your doctrine, since any doctrine always follows its human type like a curse) on the basis of a thing or two you swallowed up thoughtlessly from the potpourri of information meted out to the assembly-line students of the mass-consumption Anglo-Saxon Academia – is unseemly. The volume of information is never an apt substitute for its lack of quality.

Your long response above has fittingly remonstrated just how true-to-type shallow British-style thought-wanker you are Mr. Srour (a man with a rubbish surname) who substitutes own indignation for true meaning, who is so ill-informed as to never cogitate critically of himself or of his own postulates, which are characteristically expressed as self-evident ideas grounded in nothing more than vacuous but powerful (as in effective) British notions, the groundwork for the British diseases of thought that have plagued Western education since the victory of journalistic science set-up by the ridiculous Mr. Darwin, the father of British racism which gave birth, among other things, to the Hitler-brand of Nazism, and Soviet Bolshevism, the hysterical return-to-nature of the demeaning, monkey-like “youthful” Hippiism of the 1960′s complete with all the inglorious perversions known and unknown to proper men of Culture, is fermenting still in that insalubrious island offshore Europe where some sort of darwinian favoured race-experiment goes on to his day at the expense of happiness, at the expense of truth, at the expense of the dignity of living.

Darwin’s disciple, that ambitious little intellectual monkey Huxley, who, just like you Srour (gosh! who punished you with a name as ghastly as that!?) suffered from the incurable condition best characterized by the enormous, incredibly expanding extent of his presumptuous ego that served to make-up for the lack of intellectual and spiritual substance in the man. That is how he could convince the gullible British public through false studies that a Chimp has the same brain as Man. He completely removed the analysis, the observation, the actual scientific methods from Biology of Man’s Origins and replaced it by something unrelated in actual fact, but related only as a result of lifelong mental masturbation that was accepted because it was so fashionably modern (‘Natural Selection Over Untold Eons On The Basis of Purely Environmental Conditioning’ – here I could term his theory better than he!). haha ….

Modernity is not synonymous with value, quality or truth, that is the lesson of Darwinism.

15 07 2012
Alexander Shah

It always amuses me to read in Darwin’s ‘Origin..’ the extensive descriptions of ant life, which are completely unrelated, and in fact – contrarian in nature – to the central idea of his theory. What amuses me even more – is the discovery of the fact that he himself was nothing other than a nearly wasteful by-product of his environment, intellectually, socially, politically, academically, which would account for the vindictive, envious and ambitious nature of a through-and-through parvenu that Charles Darwin had had.

Only congenital morons could find something inspiring in a grim, drab and jejune theoretical attempt at abstracting evolution from the streams of everyday life that Darwin and Huxley presented, and only the Victorian British intellectual coelenterates would promulgate a set of half-baked notions into a theory then placed at the center of the science of living forms which Biology is. Even Haeckel, Hugo de Vries, in fact all the serious observers of life, could not go along with it in the package delivered by Huxley.

Palaeontology has long ago refuted Darwin’s theory, but his so-called ‘theory of evolution’ is maintained in academic circles much like the Idee fixe’ of the Marxist theory of Surplus Value of Labor was maintained against all odds throughout the academic circles in the East for almost a century (and which still lingers in the undeveloped minds of leftists to-day). Just because Moscow swore by this theory at the pain of death, did not prevent the intelligentsia from moving on.

So just because you foam at the mouth about the Victorian British taste for evolution Mr. Marc, need not impress anyone that it is right.

15 07 2012
Papzy Kyriacos

Tell us about Vygotsky. We can’t tell what school idea you come from. There is no evidence at all that you support the eastern soviet model. I salut you though in the ability to put so many words together without making sense at all.

15 07 2012
Marc

The only thing you have right in your rant there is that I have a shitty surname (but that’s not a fact, it’s an opinion). Blame it on my parents. Let’s do this in point form.

1) You don’t like my response? I sent you links to more information, those links containing references to original studies to back up all my statements. You don’t like how science works, with the whole citation and referral system? Too bad. Think up of something better and implement it.

2) Darwin as father of racism/eugenics. This is completely wrong. If you read any of Darwin’s works (or even just my Darwin post that I linked to you above), you’ll see that compared to his contemporaries, he was far ahead in terms of racial equality. He wasn’t by any means perfect and he did retain some Victorian snobbishness, but those are just the products of his culture. As for eugenics, that has *never* had anything to do with evolution, but with genetics. Their obsession was achieving genetic purity, to get rid of “genetic impurities”. If you knew anything about the history of science, you’d know that Darwin had no clue about genetics; you’d also know that the fathers of eugenics had severe misconceptions about evolution and natural selection. Also, how can Darwin be an inspiration to nazism when Hitler banned all of Darwin’s works? Either logic isn’t your strong point, or you’re just an uninformed idiot.

3) I don’t know what hippies have to do with Darwinism. I agree they were a dreadful movement for environmentalism, for I see absolutely no relation with evolution. *shrugs*

4) There are no race experiments happening these days. If you know of any, please send your information to the UN or Amnesty International, not to a virtually unknown blog.

5) Your last paragraph, fat, fallacies, and ad homs trimmed away, basically boils down to: “I don’t accept morphological homologies as valid evidence of natural selection.” Well, that’s a valid hypothesis. If you had read my natural selection post, which you clearly haven’t, you would learn that homologies and adaptations are never, ever proposed out of the blue. They’re always supported by evidence. For the case of humans as apes (not monkeys), not only are human brains very, very similar to the brains of other apes (barring human specialisations), their evolution can be traced indirectly through the fossil record, we have behavioural and cultural evidences, genetic evidence, and molecular evidence that human brains are more closely related to ape brains than the brains of other mammals. Huxley realised only the first of these (the morphological aspect), and combined it with the studies of overall morphology to induce that humans and chimps are closely related. This is the essence of scientific inquiry: hypothesis, evidence gathering, falsifiable proposition. Something which you’re obviously not familiar with.

6) “Modernity is not synonymous with value, quality or truth, that is the lesson of Darwinism.” That’s not the lesson of Darwinism. Darwinism has no say at all about modernity, civilisation, or culture. Darwinism is merely a proposition about how natural selection works (some of it now falsified, some of it confirmed, some of it still under argument by biologists). If anything, it’s the lesson of anthropology and common sense, as well as personal experience; after all, here you are, a person in the 21st century communicating with me through two of the greatest inventions ever done by science (computer and the Internet), and still manage to deny what is one of the central tenets of biology. So although you live in a modern society, you obviously have no regard for truth.

7) I’m an entomologist. Please tell me more about how ants defy evolutionary biology. Seriously, I’m looking forward to this.

8) “Even Haeckel, Hugo de Vries, in fact all the serious observers of life, could not go along with it in the package delivered by Huxley.” Of course they couldn’t. You see, a critical part of being a scientist is to question everything. Why are you surprised, then, that the leading biologists of the time would question each other’s works? Are you really that much of an idiot?

9) Palaeontology has supported Darwin’s work. In fact, palaeontology is nowadays one of the leading disciplines providing evidence for evolution unobtainable through other means. Look here at the evolution of whales, for example: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/the-tertiary-birds-whales-humans-and-climate-change/ This is clear evidence for evolution (look up the Uhen (2010) paper I cited for all the details, I can send you the PDF if you can’t access it), and brought only by palaeontology, nothing else.

16 07 2012
Alexander Shah

It is now clear that your role in life, if it is to be useful, is one of technical execution of mundane tasks of your profession, NEVER an analysis of the results thereof! You are merely a shallow pedant who is good at using information available to everyone, lacking any originality in thought.

The problem with you Mr. Marc is that you are not only insufficiently informed, but also suffering from that deceptive hubris that allows lies to propagate in academic circles merely on the strength of lackeyism, of complacent mediocrity so useful to shallow notions quickly dressed-up to look as ideas, which you yourself are such a poster boy for.

The path from Darwin to Hitler is as straight as the path from Marx to Lenin, and even the very title of the seminal book by that pathetic mediocrity impressed by malthusian statistics known as ‘Charles Darwin’, whom the great Sir Richard Owen turned into intellectual minced meat in every discourse. Any analysis of the fallacy of of ‘Natural Selection’ (a cheap shot across the bow made possible by the cheesy borrowing from others, such as ) resulted in the defeat of Darwin’s ideas on scientific merit.

It is a plain fact of keen insight (regarding which no academic credentials are necessary even) that the i the world it is understood that the true origin of species is unknown, and even the simple fact that no one can observe the formation of a new species ought to put the issue of ‘infallibility of evolution according to pseudo-scientific creationists like Dawkins, Mr. Marc here, etc.’ to rest.

The brains of Chimps and Humans are NOT the same, if only because of their vast difference in size, and also [less importantly] shape. As a sidenote, Hippocampus Minor is well-neigh rudimentary, hardly even homologous with that of Man’s equivalent. Any proper analysis of Darwin would st once reveal that his theory is a bastardization of ideas of others, such as the ideas of the discredited Malthus, (who impressed Marx too) and 18th/19th century British economists.

It is clear that Charles Darwin only carried his theory across the globe on the strength of the expanse of the British Empire, her ships and her monopoly of information, which together controlled most of the means of communication, set the modes of thought, patterns of thinking and fashion, and virtually invented the journalistic type, splendidly shallow clever man of the cities, nothing more. It was a case of the rest of the world (most of which was academically uneducated) admiring the success of an unfamiliar insular nation within which the lowest of the possible scientific mentalities prevailed, which, incidentally, also must account for the disastrous history of Britain in the 20th century and her fall down to the subaltern levels of shame, disgrace and failure. It is as much a ‘failed nation’ today [if not more] as all those foreign state entities the British Press deemed as such.

It is not enough for a nation to consider herself a mere sum of clever men and call it a day, as the dysfunctional society on the island is finding out.

16 07 2012
Alexander Shah

you write:

“For the case of humans as apes (not monkeys), not only are human brains very, very similar to the brains of other apes (barring human specialisations), their evolution can be traced indirectly through the fossil record, we have behavioural and cultural evidences, genetic evidence, and molecular evidence that human brains are more closely related to ape brains than the brains of other mammals. Huxley realised only the first of these…. ”

Fossil record reveals no intermediate and ENVIRONMENT-UNFIT species which would have been popping up in the enormous, disgraceful and ugly chaos of dog-eat-dog anarchy in Nature expected for ‘Theory of [Darwin's] Evolution’ to be true. And you are a true-to-reality, veritable -idiot- for stating here so brazenly that brain morphology for Man-Ape cerebral equivalency notion CAN be supported by fossil record (since no actual brain can ever be recovered from such source, only a poor anatomical impression thereof) but also because the much smaller, down to less than 20 index of phrenological measurements in these ape-like fossils with small brain cavities (ex post facto classified) reveal NO relation to Man (genus Homo) let alone the one required for a sort of proof of Man-Ape cerebral equivalency !!

And for your information, Huxley did not realize anything except an opening for himself, a nobody in the realm of original thought, to make a name and give vent to his own inner resentments against true authorities in Science.

Huxley’s unhealthy fixation with Descartes (all intellectual lilliputians have fixation of this sort, always set on one name that sparked their curiosity or subdued their inferiority complexes, Hitler too had his literary fixation, Houston Stewart Chamberlain) which allowed him the error of separation of consciousness from Nature, which landed him in an oblivion from the state of actuality. He could never conceive of the fact that Nature exists independent of perception, which is understandably the flaw in thought of all journalists [even 'scientific' ones], busybody men who exist in virtue of a system of misinformation of the public for ulterior purposes. He believed his own lies because he stood at the relative beginning of a socio-political process. All beginnings are marked by a sort of idealism.

Terrence Deacon published a study on brain development. In it he clearly and logically (unlike Darwin and Huxley whose celebrated works are manifesting a marked lack of intellectual consistency and rigour required of ultimate questions-search) expostulates his essential finding, namely, that ‘human encephalization exhibits an ontogenetic transformation NOT FOUND IN OTHER MAMMALIAN GROUPS’ fully justuifying thereby the separate classification of Man by the great Sir Richard Owen.

John Eisenberg has applied regression analysis to completely disprove the Man-Ape brain equivalency hubris of that pretentious wart Huxley who dared to take on Sir Richard without as much as the dirty rags wrapped around his waist like those that covered the private parts of Jesus on the Cross when he faced-off God on Golgotha.

Meanwhile your fellow nincompoop Huxley continued wandering down the gray corridors of his labyrinth of imaginary evolution trying to cope with that nagging dualism that he and Darwin encased in theory, to come up with a nihilistic conclusion worthy of a lunatic, for so lost he was on a quest leading nowhere (‘minds are mere epiphenomena of our brains with no true causal powers’, Huxley, 1874).

But no one apparently called out the king to tell everyone that he has no clothes.

16 07 2012
Alexander Shah

..true Science ought never to serve as a refuge for pedestrian reasoners.. those drab and jejune reckoners like you Marc, who so vividly correspond to those chess players who use their fingers to point out and touch squares on the chess board whither they project their shallow move combinations..

16 07 2012
Marc

Gawd, what a fuckwit >.< Note form again, I can't possibly take on your masses of verbal diarrhea without a dam (in the form of a numbered list).

1) You neglect that the subject at hand (the veracity of natural selection) is so extremely basic that my own thoughts on the subject are moot. When you dispute that the Earth is round, there's no point in discussing geodesy. Same thing here. And in any case, the blog is called Teaching Biology. I'd be a horrible teacher if I injected my personal opinions all over the place. If you do want original thoughts and research, go to my Petridish project and help support it. Here's some original thinking underlying the project: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/cyprus-as-an-open-evolutionary-lab/

2) Dude. There have been challenges to natural selection and to Darwinism. Some of these have borne fruit, some have not. None of those from the 19th century and from the first half of the 20th century are those that had any effect. If you knew your history of biology, you'd know this. The real challenges to Darwinism came about during the crafting and repercussions of the Modern Synthesis, and during the palaeobiological revolutions. The complaints of Owen, of Fabre, and whoever else you want to bring up were effectively demolished eventually (Fabre's observations were the ones that took the longest, they were very good objections).

3) Actually, the Origin was such a success because it managed to distill many facts into a coherent, readable whole, to support a hypothesis that turned out to be true. While British success undoubtably played a role in helping popularise the idea (and it allowed him to even go on the Beagle voyage and amass his data), the Origin succeeded because it was a spectacular book that took academia (European and American) by storm.

4) Nobody, and I mean nobody, has ever said that the brains of humans and apes are the same. Learn how to read (preferably a biology book so you stop wasting my time with this kindergarden crap). What is known is a *degree of similarity* not seen between the brains of humans and other mammals. The great expansion in size is the human autapomorphy, as are the various expanded lobes in humans, but if you compare the brains of humans, chimps, rats, and sheep, you'll see that the brains of humans are most close to chimps, then to rats, then to sheep. This is also corroborated by all other lines of evidence, hence we can say that humans are closely related to chimps. This is elementary stuff, and if you don't understand it, you have no place commenting any further. Even the scientists you fetishise understood this.

16 07 2012
Alexander

“I have nothing to do with the origin of the primary mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself.” LOL [so, mental powers hover in aether, unrelated to the brain morphology. Huxley thinks because he is only and the great Sir Richard Owen's little Azteks are not retarded because of their arrested brain growth]. How special !

- Charles Darwin, the glorified son of nobody of British science (on page 207 of his seminal work of materialistic racism titled “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”)

17 07 2012
Alexander

Listen, nincompoop. You are full of pompous rubbish – because you consider your own tenets of knowledge to be beyond criticism. This makes you an intellectual idiot, a caricature of where the normal intellect must reside in order to be valuable to science. No wonder that your own biography reveals nothing worth mentioning, just a garden-variety regurgitation of information that cycles through your head like an assembly line of parts, in the manner of a computerized device.

You Mr. Srour should be ashamed of your arrogance, which has no intellectual justification, only a basis in a spiritual attitude so pathetic as to be an adequate individual reflection of the social morass of your country.

17 07 2012
Alexander

You blathered this:

“You neglect that the subject at hand (the veracity of natural selection) is so extremely basic that my own thoughts on the subject are moot.”

Obviously, you are predisposed to having a ready excuse for yourself no matter what. This is that bleached facade of Albion that can be anything to anyone as long as he pays well. Just because you admittedly are weak on fundamental of your scientific field, need not excuse you from your ignorance, which is significant. The so-called “veracity” of Natural Selection is not basic, but a tenet of faith, because no one has ever observed species in the process of creation. NO ONE! Natural Selection is not a fact, but a tenet of faith, a shallow faith reflective of the journalistic approach to scientific-research – something you epitomize rather wall by the recalcitrant and self-justified nature of your confidence in abstractions.

Just because England has had success in raising livestock and artificially rearing adaptations of species, breeding stocks for their traits (which never resulted in a specie-change) need not imply anything of the sort happening in Nature. Ay proper investigation of Nature must start on the basis of professional detective groundwork – not on the basis of glorified stupidity and journalism the way of Charles Darwin and his inferior book on species. The king has no clothes.

17 07 2012
Alexander

2) “The complaints of Owen, of Fabre, and whoever else you want to bring up were effectively demolished eventually (Fabre’s observations were the ones that took the longest, they were very good objections).”

HAHA ! “The complaints of Owen” ! – Complaints? What complaints ? The man was the center of Nature-investigation, and Darwin with his gay lover/friend Huxley were the naggers, the complainers, the outsiders who wished to break down the gates of proper analytical science working on actual specimens (and not working on mental masturbation) so as to make a name for themselves on the basis of brutal Victorian English economics. Just because English economics worked for a time and was at its peak during their lifetime, absolutely IS NOT sufficient reason for altering the picture of Nature to make it resemble the success of British methods (which are near the end historically in our lifetime, anyhow). This cheap application of malthusian and labor theory of value/Marxian economics to Biology of Darwin and Huxley (using just the mind-body dualism philosophy of Descartes, but not his ideas on evolution) is going to be looked at with derision and contempt by the scientists of the future (As it already has been quite effectively destroyed on the metaphysical, philosophical, anatomical AND LOGICAL basis by Owen in his extensive official review/commentary on ‘Origin of [Favourable] Species’ in the year of its publication).

For your information, Palaeontology has already destroyed Darwin’s method of Evolution by ‘Natural Selection’ (it hardly even measures up to the criteria of ‘theory’) thanks to the clear lack of fossil evidence of “intermediate species” (those that reveal mechanistic traits appropriate for a mechanical effects of environment on an amorphous body in constant transition). Moreover, Owen’s point about the prevalence of original organisms, nay, their dominance, drives a stake through the heart of ‘Natural Selection’ mechanism because Darwin could not explain how come the original living material whence all life on Earth supposedly sprang should be still out there everywhere (Protozoa, unicellular organisms, etc.) right alongside the superior organisms that had arisen therefrom !? If ‘Natural Selection’ is a law than it has to work on all, and if not – then it is not a law – but merely a figment of bad imagination fit for British pretenders – too many of whom have been polluting the scientific thought in the past century merely because they can.

17 07 2012
Marc

I don’t even know why I bother. Do you realise that I’m a palaeontologist? I realise it’s an argument from authority, but do you really lack so much self-awareness that you can spout such obvious bullshit without flinching? I’ve met the likes of you before, and I know how this works. No matter how much I write, you will keep up the same ignorant tack, so I’m just going to stop.

I linked you to a post about how natural selection works, with all sorts of evidences for it, from all areas of biology (including palaeontology). Here it is again: http://bioteaching.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/natural-selection/. Please read it, and come back with specific objections, preferably ones that aren’t over a century old, because, seriously, nobody actually follows Darwin’s conception of natural selection all that closely anymore (this is how I could tell you’re not a biologist from your very first comment).

17 07 2012
Alexander

3) The Origin was only a success WITH THE IGNORANT PUBLIC which enjoyed the easy and flowery literary style of Darwin’s narrative – and certainly not at all with the scientific core of his work-book, which was small, like the solid little core of Jupiter in relation to all the fluff of glorious atmosphere around it, and based on no serious investigation of Nature (too much of which was uncritically disseminated by the printing press all over the English-Speaking World at the time [infecting racist thought with idiotic notions such as “Negro is a transitional type to Ape” .. and of course, the man of Albion stood at the top of the scale, with other Whites below him, “naturally”…it was a case of English Messianism transposed to Biology…but all this was possible, in part, still thanks to the lack of universal education in Britain and America – something that could not pass on the Continent, in the superior academic systems of education in Germany, France, on the continent in general, where acceptance was wanting). Moreover, even Darwin’s “Origin” itself offers plenty of ammo against his central tenet. For example, the sophisticated social structure of COOPERATIVE ants in Darwin’s own descriptions – stands in NO relation to ‘Natural Selection’ especially because it proves that fully formed and totally fit organisms COEXIST in creative and spectacular ways – namely – there is no ‘struggle’ for existence at work among them at all. And in fact, it stands as a litemotif indictment of ‘Natural Selection’. This alone should have been enough to prove to a thinking public the incongruity of Darwin’s thought-bloatware.

And Huxley was so stupid as to believe that ‘limited scope of science makes science entirely irrelevant to the humanities and not in conflict with any form of theology’ (haha!) Now, that is a reductionism par excellence, unfortunately fit for the undeveloped and inexpert mind of the public where taste and not fact with concomitant logic predominate. That is why journalism is such a great shortcut escape to success by inferior or mediocre minds, as there is always a ready democratic appeal to inferior authorities. It was this pressure of nascent journalistic means that made a challenge to established, expert science inevitable.

17 07 2012
Alexander

I checked that link. Thanks.

Why should Melanism of Moth (which is a minor change – in no wise does it prove that ANY species-change tendency is at work here) represent a metamorphosis induced by external influences – and not by the forces from within the body of the insect in question? Adaptability of organisms is not the same as ‘Natural Selection’. ‘Natural Selection’ is a figment of imagination in the thought of a very poor scientific observer (the one who does not measure up even remotely TO THE HIGH CRITERIA OF SCIENTIFIC OBSERVATION OF OWEN). After all, Chameleon changes colors to suit himself in accordance with the environment or the threat but this is no proof of “Natural Selection” as a mechanical adaptation of body to pressures of the environment leading to complete specie-jump, a specie-metamorphosis, as Darwin and you would have it. Aztek Darwin promulgated the idea that most if not all species are provisional types, when Owen was documenting everywhere the resilient power of internal development of bodies of species that stood in no direct relation to environmental pressures, but even resisted environmental pressures too. All specie samples Paleontology finds in deposits are fully fit for life in their environment. This notion that life merely kow-tows mechanistically before any change in circumstances is fallacious.

There is no evidence of any UNFIT species that were abandoned or changed because they started-off as unfit, unable to cope with the demands of their everyday existence. If environment drastically changes, species either die-off or die eventually due to their being at the end of their life-spans. Another nonsense notion, is the apparent idea that all species would live forever as long as environment does not change.

Adaptation is not a result of “Natural Selection” but a result of the body’s intelligent ability to morph around challenging circumstances with minor changes. There is absolutely nothing here that demonstrates any anatomical change of species.

Did you find one ? Of course not.

If anything, this. such as the moth’s colors in the industrial revolution, change is reflective of the forces within the body that virtually artistically react to changes around them (since the aspect of Beauty is never lost to Nature).

I find the following sentence highly revealing of the true state of where you come from:

“I only mention this because there is a popular trope of dismissing the peppered moth example based on Kettlewell’s faults, while ->conveniently ignoring the massive amounts of research<- vindicating his hypothesis that have been done since then."

Certainly, your world is full of ignorance and "ignoring" what is inconvenient to a notion, to a taboo or to a personal preference. So much for the power of your science.

In what way is this proof of veracity of "Natural Selection" – other than by wistful thought of which you have superabundance of, I would like to know! Yes ?

17 07 2012
Alexander

“The reason why we need to define adaptations before anything else is because they are the end result of natural selection. The animal pictured above is a nudibranch, a relative of the snails that has no shell. One of the main purposes of the snail shell is to provide protection from predators. But here’s a very colourful animal out in the open without any apparent defences – how did this evolve? This particular species feeds on sea anemones. While feeding, it takes in the stinging cells, but instead of digesting them, it incorporates them into its body. When a predator wants to chomp on it, it will be stung and it will get a good dose of poison. The gaudy coloration is a memorable warning to predators, so they’ll recognise the species and won’t go near it again.”

- Come on fellow, you don’t seriously think you actually know the purpose behind either this magnificent work of natural living art [or its traits] that you just reduced and knocked down to some sort of utilitarian seafloor fester, crawling about, preoccupied with food and serving as a final deathrow meal to predators ? Where do you English pretenders derive this self-evident hubris of holier-than-thou recidivists of Nature ? How can you allow yourself the inexpert and immature naivety to impugn purposes into living things you neither know the origin of nor the outcome to ? How can you allow your own logical suppositions resulting from scientific materialism of the British mentality to continue to color your vision ? Do you not get bored with your own obtuse approach ?

You continue with:

“This is how we interpret it in biology today. However, before Darwin’s formalisation of natural selection in his extended abstract, The Origin of Species, another theory was the norm: the argument from design, exemplified by William Paley‘s watchmaker analogy, taken from his seminal book, Natural Theology. It’s nothing more than the intelligent design argument.”

How limited of you ! You should have been better educated than that – certainly your hubris (you spread yourself too thinly) is an obstacle to your understanding of life. Paley was maybe an authority in some British pub, pew or a bohemian club (what’s the difference?), but nowhere in hell was he the appropriate authority for alternatives to the cheap and cheesy Darwinian thesis of evolution.

If you were, as you admit yourself, better grounded in the ideological foundations of Evolution and Biology – you would understand that alternatives to Darwin hold the venerable names of Brown, Bojanus, Rudolphi, Cuvier, Ehrenberg, Herold, Koelliker, Siebold, Owen, Goethe, etc. etc. Even the great Linnaeus stated something essential in this context of purposes in nature – that your ilk ignores: CLASSIS ET ORDO EST SAPIENTIAE, SPECIES NATURAE OPUS.

Owen has proved that in the cases of certain species where evidence permitted examination over long periods of time, such as corals, “facts then furnish as evidence as we can obtain in any branch of physical enquiry, that some, at least, of the species of animals now existing, have been in existence over 30,000 years, and have NOT undergone THE SLIGHTEST CHANGE during the whole period.”

It has nothing to do with God-The-Watchmaker strawman hypothesis.

18 07 2012
Alexander Shah

(by the way, that quote was from “On The Anatomy of Vertebrates”, a meticulous scientific work by Owen, incomparably far superior to Darwin’s puny “Origin of …”)

22 07 2012
Alexander Shah

Leading Nazis revealed in their writings that Darwin’s theory and publications had a major influence upon Nazi race policies. Hitler believed that the human gene pool could be improved by using selective breeding similar to how farmers breed superior cattle strains. In the formulation of their racial policies, Hitler’s government relied heavily upon Darwinism, especially the elaborations by Spencer.

The very heart of Darwinism is the belief that evolution proceeds by the differential survival of the fittest or superior individuals. This requires differences among a species, which in time become great enough so that those individuals that possess advantageous features — the fittest — are more apt to survive. Although the process of raciation may begin with slight differences, differential survival rates in time produce distinct races by a process called speciation, meaning the development of a new species.

It is obvious that the core of the entire theory of evolution by Darwin and his cohorts to this day represents a mere psychological reflection of the times and the people for whom such an idea is everyday reality and a mode of worthy living (and who can doubt that the Irish Potato Famine happened because the laissez-faire British government made no effort to intervene and prevent it?).

13 09 2012
Wolbachia: The Ubiquitous Male-Killing, Feminising Parasite « Teaching Biology

[...] mentioned Wolbachia in my parthenogenesis post; here I will talk about it in more detail, because it’s a really cool parasite, as well as in [...]

3 11 2012
Ajim Joseph

Please i want to know more about parthenogenesis in human

20 11 2012
Nik

Great article!
BTW don’t know if this came up yet but the Virgin Mary is the result of a Greek word being mistranslated.

12 01 2013
Gilberto F G

When you reference Virgin Mary giving birth of a son as, “This, of course, is complete bullshit – humans have never been recorded as giving virgin births.” The first part of your statement is ludricous since is indicates a total lack of knowledge of the subject matter as relayed in the New Testament. Remember, that early man always thought that the Earth of the center of the Universe. Then that concept was discarded by prominent scientific schools of thought. But if we understand Einstein and the theory of relativity, we are the center of the Universe, and concurrently at the edge as well.

We accept the Big Bang and string theory as serious discussion topic, along with many schools in the scientific community of life generated from inanimate subtances neucliotides ((guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine.) But, creatinism and the existence of God is not discussed in “modern” scientific academia as an a prospective part of the origin of the Universe. Give me a break!

By the way, the Virgin Mary was, acording to Holy Scriptures (St. Mathew 1:18) “was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

20 01 2013
Papers of the Week: Jan 14-Jan 20 2013 « Teaching Biology

[...] wrote about parthenogenesis here. This paper reviews thelytoky in eusocial Hymenoptera, a strange form of reproduction in which [...]

29 06 2013
fleamags

This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared
your web site in my social networks!

1 07 2013
Carnival of Evolution #61: Crustie Lovin’ Edition | Teaching Biology

[…] explored in his classic 1975 book, Sex and Evolution. One of the related themes in that book was parthenogenesis and its evolution and maintenance, and the Darwinulidae are a very useful model system in the […]

24 07 2013
Indefinite Blog Hiatus | Teaching Biology

[…] Parthenogenesis […]

17 08 2013
Boris Borcic

I’d heard it proposed – and it makes sense – that the virginity of Mary emerged from the translation of an equivalent to “nulliparous” or “nubile”.

BTW, I really think disputes with Creationists should be led by transposing the discussion to language evolution. Lots of fun tactics possible.

7 11 2013
Weekly Research: February 14-20, 2011 | Teaching Biology

[…] to 5n. There is no doubt that this polyploidy is a reason behind parthenogenesis; as I explained in my parthenogenesis post though, there is also another factor commonly causing parthenogenesis: biogeography. It’s […]

7 11 2013
Easter Day Special: Regeneration! | Teaching Biology

[…] was requested to complete the Holy Duo of Christian myths, having already taken care of Christmas. Easter is the other holiest of holidays in Christianity, celebrating the death and resurrection of […]

13 02 2014
Anonymous

You my sir are a horrible person for not believing in the Lord have fun In hell!

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