Innovative solution to the evolution of form proposed

Sep 27, 2010
Vertebrae formation. 'The origin of the vertebrate skeleton', International Journal of Astrobiology. Credit: Pivar (2010)

A new paper published in the International Journal of Astrobiology is providing a unique account of the origin of forms in plant and animal body plans. The model is not based on genetic code or natural selection, and could provide new insights into the origin and evolution of life on our planet.

The has published "The Origin of the Vertebrate Skeleton," submitted by Synthetic Life Lab of New York City. The paper describes the hypothetical construction of a toroidal bilayer patterned with rows and columns representing molecular elements. The model is depicted in sequential animations to produce the general configuration of the human skeleton and the shapes of the component bones, the result of ten years of research in the quest for a mechanistic, geometric account of the origin of the forms of the plant and animal body plan.

Synthetic Life Lab, under the direction of Stuart Pivar, began its investigation with the study of the known configuration of the as a phospholipid bilayer. Experimental models fabricated of PVC film led to hypothetical constructions based on configurations predicted by the inwardly directed expansion of a bilayer surface constrained within an outer fixed spherical envelope. The paper describes the steps leading to a toroidal bilayer, mimicking the vertebrate egg. The rotation of the interior surface of the bilayer with respect to the outer surface produced a model of the generation of the archetypal vertebrate skeleton, including the subsurface implantation of one or two chords, in of the notochord and nerve chord. Cortical rotation, the first stage after fertilization in observed embryology, is consistent with this theoretical model.

How life originated and evolved is arguably the greatest unsolved problem facing science. Thousands of scientists and scores of organizations and scientific journals are dedicated to discovering the mechanisms underlying this mystery. In the peer-reviewed journal’s letter of acceptance the reviewer states, " . . . the article should be published, so that as many scientists as possible can participate in the discussion on this new important subject.” Simon Mitton, prominent Cambridge scientist and IJA editor-in-chief, calls it “a groundbreaking concept.”

Mt. Holyoke paleontologist Mark McMenamin has called the discovery “a seismic event in science.” The model is based neither on a nor on natural selection, thus contradicting the orthodox Synthetic paradigm that has dominated evolutionary biology for seven decades. Nevertheless, this model offers an alternative naturalistic theory that can account for the origin of form without recourse to any form of creationism or supernatural intervention. If it should gain widespread acceptance, this model would negate the creationist argument that science has no theory for the origin of complex life.

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More information: journals.cambridge.org/repo_A787SZ4p

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gopher65
4.8 / 5 (5) Sep 27, 2010
I'll note that contrary to what the article implies, evolution is not the study of the *start* of life, but rather it is what happens after any self-replicating system is already in motion (including synthetic biology or mechanical self-replicating systems). The Theory of Evolution is completely unrelated to abiogenesis, which is part of what this confusing article is talking about.

As for the part of this artible that isn't talking about abiogenesis, did anyone out there seriously think that a PROCEDURALLY GENERATED body form (which all body forms are, of course) wasn't being influenced by the patterns that arise in the molecular soups that they form in? I take it as self evident that basic structures *must* follow certain patterns, with the patterns being determined by the exact mix of molecules that the structures are made of, and grow in.

How is this anything new? Or is the article misleading, and the new bit is additional evidence that supports this idea?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2010
This is an explanation of the constructs found at the molecular level, and how such constructs play into the protein constructs within the human body.

This abstract borders on word salad.
Pyle
3 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2010
I didn't get protein out of this at all. Not that this hypothesis couldn't be extended to include protein constructs.

This sounds like a development along the lines of Wolfram's theory of everything. Nature filling the potential patterns and the most well suited surviving and moving forward or something like that.
sstritt
2 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2010
a possible explanation for why ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny?
tj10
1 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2010
This shows that Darwinists are really scratching the bottom. It shows how empty and powerless evolution is when it comes to big problems like the origin of body plans.

What about the fact that the vast majority of life forms are unicellular & invertebrate?
What about muscles, nerves, and organs?
Why the diversity of body plans that show up so vividly in the Cambrian Explosion?

Mr. Pivlar cannot solve the body plan problem by simply claiming it all has to do with the egg. That just removes the problem to the egg and we now have to explain why the egg is so packed full of design. It is like claiming to have solved the origin of life problem by saying life came from outer space. How ridiculous!

Not even non-scientist type people are so dumb that they cannot see the sleight of hand he is trying to pull here. It will be interesting to see whether this takes hold or not. Just the fact that he had the guts to publish this shows the desperate condition of current evolutionary theory.