New evolutionary research disproves living missing link theories

Feb 10, 2011

Evolution is not a steady march towards ever more sophisticated beings and therefore the search for the living "missing links" is pointless, according to findings published by a team of researchers led by Dr. Hervé Philippe of the Université de Montréal's Department of Biochemistry.

"Aristotle was the first to classify organisms – from the least to the most sophisticated. Darwin's theory of evolution continued this idea, with the concept of a hierarchy of evolution. This way of thinking has led researchers and skeptics alike to look for less sophisticated ancestors in order to prove or disprove evolution," Philippe explained. "What we now know is that evolution does not happen in a single direction – when people talk about a missing link, they're generally excluding the possibility of more sophisticated ancestors."

The researchers compared the genomes of two kinds of marine worms with simple morphology – Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha – with those of other animals. They demonstrated that their previous position at the base of the bilateral symmetry animal group – that includes insects, mollusks and vertebrates – was inaccurate. "Instead, we determined that Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha are closely related to the complex deuterostomes, which is a major lineage containing sea urchins, humans and sharks," Philippe said. "I've put them in that order intentionally because it seems strange, which demonstrates our tendency to always put organisms in order of complexity." The findings mean that the worms had evolved from a more sophisticated ancestor through major simplifications.

"We did already know that most parasitic organisms had evolved to be less sophisticated than their ancestors – they lost certain abilities that they no longer needed. The independently living Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha do not fall in this category," Philippe said. The research is a striking example for the important role of secondary simplification in and is part of 20 year project that is nearing completion.

The findings were published in Nature on February 10, 2011.

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LariAnn
4.8 / 5 (20) Feb 10, 2011
Part of the difficulty in this is the idea of "sophistication". Adaptation is not about sophistication, but about fitness for the current environmental conditions. If simpler makes survival more certain, then simpler is the way things will go. So what this article actually shows is that ranking organisms according to "sophistication" is an unscientific way of organizing them!!
SteveL
3.3 / 5 (6) Feb 10, 2011
It's called the Theory of Evolution for a reason. While it's the best thing going to explain how species change over time, it's still a work in progress. We will continue to learn and as we do we will acquire a better understanding of how this dynamic process worked and works.

Also, the title seems a bit misleading. This research doesn't appear to disprove missing link theories, only that species can devolve as well as evolve - or that evolution can proceed in more than one direction. The only way to "disprove" a missing link theory is to have the complete species historical record - and that would in effect nullify the need for such a theory because the links would no longer be missing.
Moebius
4.8 / 5 (17) Feb 10, 2011
There is actually no such thing as devolution, it just may seem that it is from our biased point of view where we judge what is better or worse by our standards. Nature doesn't care about our standards. The fittest to survive may be a simpler lifeform rather than a more complex one. Our species seems to be evolving a smaller jaw and thus the crowded teeth. To us it may a be more attractive evolution, to a neanderthal it might seem a less functional devolution. It is all evolution.
PS3
2.5 / 5 (8) Feb 10, 2011
Human less sophisticated now because they less hairy.
Parsec
5 / 5 (9) Feb 10, 2011
Human less sophisticated now because they less hairy.

I would bet u r one hairy sob!

Seriously tho, the human skin is much more sophisticated that our primate ancestors, having evolved to facilitate long distance running and survival in hot savanna conditions. We not only have less hair, but vast changes in the number, placement, and sophistication of our sweat glands.
PS3
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 10, 2011
Human less sophisticated now because they less hairy.

I would bet u r one hairy sob!

Seriously tho, the human skin is much more sophisticated that our primate ancestors, having evolved to facilitate long distance running and survival in hot savanna conditions. We not only have less hair, but vast changes in the number, placement, and sophistication of our sweat glands.


I mean the living hairy ones.People in the cold region that hunt seal are not hairy.So they more sophisticated by the mere fact they produce more hair.

im asian practically hairless unlike the euro monkey.
Djincs
1 / 5 (8) Feb 10, 2011
euro monkey
Are you shure about who is the monkey?
You are short, your limbs are like underdeveloped child, and your head is like a sunflower, oh yes and we can actually open our eyes wide, something impossible for you!
Your number makes you strong, as individuals euro monkey will bust your ass....
JRDarby
5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2011
Djincs, I'm pretty sure s/he was making a joke. Either way, don't waste time getting upset about it.
PS3
1 / 5 (11) Feb 10, 2011
euro monkey
Are you shure about who is the monkey?
You are short, your limbs are like underdeveloped child, and your head is like a sunflower, oh yes and we can actually open our eyes wide, something impossible for you!
Your number makes you strong, as individuals euro monkey will bust your ass....

i think smart guys left africa for asia and murderers/stupid from there exiled to euroland,thus china having the longest civilization ever.
Djincs
2.6 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2011
euro monkey
Are you shure about who is the monkey?
You are short, your limbs are like underdeveloped child, and your head is like a sunflower, oh yes and we can actually open our eyes wide, something impossible for you!
Your number makes you strong, as individuals euro monkey will bust your ass....

i think smart guys left africa for asia and murderers/stupid from there exiled to euroland,thus china having the longest civilization ever.

Try not to think , it is not working.
Caliban
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2011
thus china having the longest civilization ever.


What? You may wish to re-examine the record before making that claim ever again.

In all seriosness, though, They perhaps should have made the distinction between "Specialization" and "Sophistication". Evolving in order to more effectively exploit an ecological niche frequently leads to an apparent simplification of structure. This is where they could have used "specialization". Organisms that exploit broader, more complex niche(s), tend to evolve more complex morphologies, or, in author's usage, "sophistication".
jscroft
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2011
It's interesting that we think about an evolutionary "tree," in the graph-theoretical sense, where branches either branch or terminate. One wonders if branches ever RECOMBINE... species may differentiate by crossing the threshold that prevents them from interbreeding, and then re-cross the threshold with subtly different traits.

I don't know if this happens. But if it DOES happen--even if just on the margin, just in the immediate vicinity of the differentiation process--it seems that the potential for feedback-driven, very large evolutionary jumps may be highly magnified.

Or not. Anybody actually know one way or the other?
soulman
5 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2011
Crap! I gave PS3's second post a 5 by mistake! Should have been a 1 - grrr.
soulman
5 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2011
It's interesting that we think about an evolutionary "tree," in the graph-theoretical sense, where branches either branch or terminate.

The traditional 'tree of life' is an outdated concept and gives an incomplete picture of life's evolution. For example, it cannot account for horizontal gene transfer. The tree of life is really more similar to a web.
SteveL
5 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2011
Purely from an observer's perspective I have noticed that any time someone represents a race or gender as being better than another, there are always examples conveniently provided to prove the opposite is the actual truth.

PS3: Not only is your premise completely baseless, but even your own statements are illogically conflicting: "People in the cold region that hunt seal are not hairy.So they more sophisticated by the mere fact they produce more hair." You may consider the possibility of only posting when sober.
Beard
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2011
if we camed from monkeys, whycome there still be monkeys!?
PS3
1 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2011


PS3: Not only is your premise completely baseless, but even your own statements are illogically conflicting: "People in the cold region that hunt seal are not hairy.So they more sophisticated by the mere fact they produce more hair." You may consider the possibility of only posting when sober.

i meant the hairy euro.so dont be mad they have high tech hair pores.But it seems not from cold but closer to monkey.

Johannes414
1.3 / 5 (14) Feb 12, 2011
Darwin wrote in his origin of species that if no missing links could be found, his theory would be falsified. Indeed now it is. Molecules to man evolution has never happened. All we see are very limited changes in existing taxa, but they remain in essence the same animal.

The only type of evolution happening in organisms is gradual decay. Genetic information is lost or switched off through mutations. That is why bacteria develop antibiotic resistence and worms become blind. Darwinian evolution on the other hand needs new information forming by chance, and that never happens.

Unfortunately our young people today think that evolution is a fact. Evolution is not a fact. Computers, flu shots and rockets are facts - evolution is just a speculation about what might have happened millions of years ago, with nobody there to observe.

Macro evolution is neither observable nor testable, and therefore does not constitute real science.
Justavian
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 12, 2011
Macro evolution is neither observable nor testable, and therefore does not constitute real science.


Actually, it's both. I don't suspect that reason and evidence will change your mind, since you arrived at your conclusions without either. But i'll continue anyway...

First of all, go google "instances of speciation". You'll find plenty of lists that document observed speciation. Maybe that's not enough, and you'll suggest that you need to see a cat turn into a mammoth with bat wings or some other ridiculous straw man that would actually disprove evolution.

As to untestable - consider this example. A scientist says "These two species seem to be related. Based on their morphological differences, i estimate that they are separated by 5 million years. Let's see if the genetic evidence and fossil evidence confirm that." How many times has someone found genetic evidence that contradicts the fossil evidence? NEVER.
Justavian
4.4 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2011
The only type of evolution happening in organisms is gradual decay.

Exactly, like the bacteria evolving to eat nylon, or the genetic mutations that make some humans almost immune to HIV, or the mutations that make some people immune to heart disease, or the mutations that bestow an extra cone in the eyes of some women that allows them to see colors the rest of us can't see. Yeah, that's all basically decay.

You obviously know nothing about evolution. Maybe do a bit of unbiased studying to see if you can more effectively counter our blatantly false claims. You'll find that you can't. Because evolution is a fact.
Justavian
3.8 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2011
It is a fact that evolution happens; that biodiversity and complexity does increase, that both occur naturally only by evolutionary means.

It is a fact that alleles vary with increasing distinction in reproductive populations and that these are accelerated in genetically isolated groups.

It is a fact that natural selection, sexual selection, and genetic drift have all been proven to have predictable effect in guiding this variance.

It is a fact that significant beneficial mutations do occur and are inherited by descendant groups, and that multiple independent sets of biological markers exist to trace these lineages backwards over many generations.

It is a fact that birds are a subset of dinosaurs the same way humans are a subset of apes, primates, eutherian mammals, and vertebrate deuterostome animals.

Justavian
3.8 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2011
It is a fact that the collective genome of all animals has been traced to its most basal form, and that those forms are also indicated by comparative morphology, physiology, and embryological development.

It is a fact that everything on earth has definite relatives either living nearby or evident in the fossil record.

It is a fact that the fossil record holds hundreds of definitely transitional species even according to it’s strictest definition, and that both microevolution and macroevolution have been directly-observed.

Evolution is a fact!

-Aron Ra, Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism
Johannes414
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 12, 2011
Hi Aron,

"and that both microevolution and macroevolution have been directly-observed"

Can you give me the best example of macro-evolution that scientists have been able to directly observe?
Johannes414
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2011
"It is a fact that birds are a subset of dinosaurs "

This is is hardly an accepted fact, even among evolutionists. Most consider the dino to bird hypothesis contoversial and the evidence sketchy at best. Many problems exist:

- reptiles and birds are very distinct
- its is not clear how scales can turn into feathers
- no mechanism to change a reptilian lung into an avian lung
- no true dinosaurs with feathers have been found (Archaeoraptor liaoningensis was a fraud)
- true bird Archaeopteryx dated 20 million years before the alledged feathered dinosaurs
- unknown origin of flight

The real fact here is that dinosaurs are extinct, and birds are here today. No solid evidence exists that a reptile ever developed scales into feathers and grew the functions necessary for flight.
soulman
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2011
^ Troll bait.
Musashi
5 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2011
Can you give me the best example of macro-evolution that scientists have been able to directly observe?


Hasn't it already been observed on some species how, after some time, a group of individuals cannot breed with another group with the same ancestry? That's "macro-evolution" by definition, if I understand it, and it HAS been observed. Can't be bothered to find it now, but I'm sure you can find it if you try.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 13, 2011
euro monkey
Are you shure about who is the monkey?
You are short, your limbs are like underdeveloped child, and your head is like a sunflower, oh yes and we can actually open our eyes wide, something impossible for you!
Your number makes you strong, as individuals euro monkey will bust your ass....

i think smart guys left africa for asia and murderers/stupid from there exiled to euroland,thus china having the longest civilization ever.
What utter nonsense from you two. PS3 and Dj, cut the crap. The difference between your individual gemones would fit on a floppy disk.
Can you give me the best example of macro-evolution that scientists have been able to directly observe?
Just watch his youtube channel.
htp://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa
Justavian
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2011
I should mention that *I* am not Aron Ra - i was trying to indicate that i was quoting him by putting the title of his video series in at the end. I just think he frames this theory vs fact point very well - in a way that most textbooks and reference material do not.
Johannes414
1 / 5 (6) Feb 13, 2011
Hasn't it already been observed on some species how, after some time, a group of individuals cannot breed with another group with the same ancestry?


The identification of new species does not always respect that rule. Some quite distinct species are able to interbreed (like a killer whale and a dolphin), while some very similar looking species (like red and grey wolf) have lost the ability to interbreed in the wild. The rather arbitrary species-level is probably too narrow a definition to really distinguish different kinds of animals.

That's "macro-evolution" by definition, if I understand it, and it HAS been observed.


No, macro-evolution according to Darwin is not the same as simple speciation. Its the development of entirely new organisms and functions (phenotypes) out of existing ones.

Can't be bothered to find it now, but I'm sure you can find it if you try.


I have asked for the best example you can give?
Justavian
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2011
Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution,[2] which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population.


At or above the species level. New species are examples of macro evolution. How about you try to define what a "kind" is. What's an "entirely new organism"? Science deniers love to use the term "kind" without actually setting any specifics, because they know they're not going to accept evidence even if it's produced - so its easier to stay vague.

No theory of evolution allows for one animal to change into another - at least not in the way you seem to want us to show you. But we've definitely seen macro evolution. You want to set some limit on evolution, but not one shred of evidence has ever been produced to show that this might be true.
Justavian
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
No, macro-evolution according to Darwin is not the same as simple speciation.[q/]

You realize, of course, that there's been 150 years of research that has added to what Darwin set the foundations for, right? And you realize, of course, that what Darwin personally thought is actually irrelevant - the only thing that matters is evidence.

On our side, we have cosmology, chemistry, physics, geology, paleontology, anthropology, biology, and genetics. Evidence from each of those areas of study cross confirms what we've found in the others in regard to dates and mechanisms of evolution. We have a framework that is internally and externally consistent, from which we may make testable predictions as i previously mentioned. It is falsifiable (fossil bunnies in the precambrian, for example), and buttressed by more evidence than we have for any other theory.

Your objections are standard creationist nonsense. There is no debate in the scientific world. Evolution is a fact.
Johannes414
1 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2011
Justavian,

If you have the whole framework of science on your side, why do you have trouble providing one clear example of macroevolution observed by scientists?

Just repeating the words "evolution is a fact" doesnt make it any more true you know. Proof is what science is all about. Blind belief in Darwin or Gould is more akin to religion.
kaasinees
3 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2011
There was a russian study that breeded wolves, they (naturally) selected the kind wolves from the mean ones and breeded with those. The result was that the wolves were changing color and shapes, they kinda started looking like dogs. This is called evolution, adaptation to your immediate environment.
Wether the morphology is mutational or intentional i do not know, but that is not the issue in evolution, it is natural selection.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2011
If you have the whole framework of science on your side, why do you have trouble providing one clear example of macroevolution observed by scientists?
The reason why this is difficult is because macroevolution isn't a real term. It is creationist nonsense to draw an arbitrary dividing line between what constitutes phenotypical change and.... phenotypical change.

You want a few examples, define "macroevolution".
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2011
Darwin wrote in his origin of species that if no missing links could be found, his theory would be falsified. Indeed now it is.
False. So called missing links have been found and at least one VERY obvious example exists today.

Flying squirrels.
Molecules to man evolution has never happened.
There is no evidence that statement.
All we see are very limited changes in existing taxa, but they remain in essence the same animal.
You mean YOU see that. Scientists don't. Scientists see species change in the lab and in the field and fossils show species changing. Bats have two branches only they INVERSE branches. One group came, best present guess, from rodents but they definitely did not come from the same source as fruit bats which are very clearly from primates. They are essentially flying monkeys. Except for adaptations for flight they are primates. Yet they are bats thus they CHANGED KIND. Even by your definition.

More
Ethelred
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 17, 2011
The only type of evolution happening in organisms is gradual decay. Genetic information is lost or switched off through mutations.
Or turned on or created by gene duplication and then the duplicate EVOLVES to do something else.
Darwinian evolution on the other hand needs new information forming by chance, and that never happens.
That is FALSE. Mutations are random selection is NOT. The information comes from the ENVIRONMENT through the process of natural selection.
Unfortunately our young people today think that evolution is a fact.
Unfortunately that too is false. Most Americans have been brainwashed by ignorant people like you and simply don't know the truth.
Evolution is not a fact.
It IS a fact. It is also a theory. There is no scientific doubt at all that evolution occurs.

More
Ethelred
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 17, 2011
Computers, flu shots and rockets are facts - evolution is just a speculation about what might have happened millions of years ago, with nobody there to observe.
It happens TODAY. It HAS been observed and FOSSILS are ample evidence that it went on in the past.
Macro evolution is neither observable nor testable, and therefore does not constitute real science.
It has been observed. It is real science. And you really do tell a lot of lies based on you knowing exactly nothing about the subject. You didn't even make up the lies. You simply repeat them.

Ethelred
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2011
No, macro-evolution according to Darwin is not the same as simple speciation.
He never used that term, he never even used the term 'macro' so your claim is false.
Its the development of entirely new organisms and functions (phenotypes) out of existing ones.
I think that bats cover that quite well. Flying squirrels as well. Of course nylon eating bacteria fit it an that was mentioned already.
If you have the whole framework of science on your side, why do you have trouble providing one clear example of macroevolution observed by scientists?
Because he isn't experienced enough.

Flying squirrels.

So where is the evidence for the Flood and when did it occur?

I answered your question so lets see you answer mine.

Ethelred