New species appear to arise from sudden changes

(—Folmer Bokma, researcher at Umeå University, explains that living species have a limited ability to adapt to the environment. His results suggest that species do not change gradually, as the modern evolutionary theory assumes, but suddenly when a new species arises.

Evolutionary stasis is an alternative scientific interpretation to the widely accepted Neo-Darwinism. It means that most species show little through history, instead, evolution occurs more abruptly and it can result in one species becoming two different species. The theory originated among who study fossils. They found that no intermediate forms of fossils exist. However, it is relatively difficult to determine the species of organisms.

"I have developed algorithms to discover how evolution stasis occurs among contemporary, existing species' characteristics, in groups of species that do not leave fossils," says Folmer Bokma, researcher at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, who was a guest speaker at the 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston on February 17th.

The method is based on that one first uses DNA to reconstruct the species' relationship to each other in the form of a family tree. Thereafter, one uses statistical techniques to reconstruct how the evolution of traits has been like, such as body size.

Folmer Bokma has analyzed various , such as the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and body size in birds and . His results suggest that species do not change gradually, as Neo-Darwinism predicted, but suddenly when a new species arises. This means that when the animals' environment changes, the species do not respond to adapt and can become extinct, even though there are more than enough genetic variations at the individual level to make adaption possible. This is the paradox.

"I believe that the explanation for the is that many features are designed primarily to each other within the species," says Folmer Bokma and further exemplifies what he means:

"Proteins in polar bears are not adapted to the temperature at the North Pole, but the body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius. Polar bears have the same body temperature as a camel in the desert, despite their differences in living environments. In order for body temperature to adjust, it requires many genetic changes simultaneously affecting all proteins in the right direction and it's very unlikely to happen. Therefore, species do not adapt their body temperature to their surroundings, but polar bears and camels have about the same body temperature as all other mammals. "

Evolution then becomes limited to the characteristics which are outside such complex of properties which are adapted to each other. Thus, get a thick white fur instead, which provides the isolation required for invariable high body temperature.

Folmer Bokma also discussed the extent to which this pattern is a general feature of complex systems that can be used in completely different contexts. A concrete example is the university that falls behind due to societal changes because they have created a complex regulatory framework that makes it impossible to change some routines without re-writing about half the regulations.

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Feb 19, 2013
I'd love to know what he proposes as the mechanism for the sudden changes he describes as the source of new species. I've also wondered how a slow change via adaptation could result in a new species unless the environment were stable for millions of years. My understanding is that the Earth environment has not been stable long enough for the vast number of successful mutations to have not only occurred, but to have done so in concert with all the right complementary mutations so that numerous novel and viable new species have arisen.

Feb 19, 2013
This is a great article for anyone (including myself) who has doubted the classical darwinian evolutionary theory, that slow changes over time can account for every variation in species, including completely new species with no evidence of an ancestor. There have been major holes in that theory since its inception and I'm glad someone is finally pointing this stuff.

Feb 19, 2013
Geesh...nothing new. Both models work depending on the environment. Good old Gould proposed it first. Slow change and fast speciation both happens. It only depends on how the environment changes.

That article doesn't have much new stuff.

And by the way..there are mammals who do change their bodytemperature.

Feb 19, 2013
Isn't this just punctuated equilibrium? Nothing new here. It certainly does not poke any holes in the theory of evolution. If anything, it might refine our understanding of some of the mechanisms involved for changes in some species.

Regarding the statement that no intermediate forms of fossils exist, that is a gross misunderstanding. EVERY fossil is a transitional fossil. The fact that we don't see every little stage of transition only speaks to the fact that fossilization is a rare event. Very few living things die in the right environment for fossilization to occur.

Feb 19, 2013
Polar bears have the same body temperature as a camel in the desert, despite their differences in living environments.

Camel's body temperature can rise way above what other warm blooded animals can tolerate and can fall below thus the statement regarding consistent body temperature among warm blooded animals is false.
"Their temperature ranges from 34 °C (93 °F) at dawn and steadily increases to 40 °C (104 °F) by sunset, before they cool off at night again."

Hibernation is another example of body temperature adaptation:
"Hibernation refers to a season of heterothermy that is characterized by low body temperature,.."

...and why is Gould's name and 'Punctuated Evolution' become taboo?? Or are these people pretending to have discovered it?

Feb 19, 2013
A thermoregulatory change caused by substitution of alanine for valine appears to result in nutrient-dependent intranuclear interactions and changes in de novo protein synthesis required for additional receptor-mediated changes in intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression. The downstream epigenetic effects of the nutrient-dependent changes result in sexual selection for pheromone production associated with genetically predisposed phenotypic expression and classically conditioned hormone-organized and hormone-activated behaviors in vertebrate and invertebrate species. The thermoregulatory mechanisms are conserved in species from microbes to man, as is required for adaptive evolution via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction. One need only think in terms of biological facts instead of about mutations theory to understand nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution and species diversity. You may start thinking NOW! Please.

Feb 20, 2013
The challenge I see in a new species of any sexually reproducing species is that the new species must start with a male and a female.
If it was a mutation then the male and female would likely be siblings.
Or do two similar species create a new one, like a donkey and horse? Most mules are sterile but not all.

Feb 21, 2013
Nothing new here, old ideas repackaged and again not as successful as evolutionary theory in predicting what is seen. And a mischaracterization of the fossil record, we do have many series with intermediate forms in horses, whales et cetera.

Already Muller predicted interlocking complexity in the 30s on evolutionary ground, so Bokma's stealth creationism can't outcompete it. And the former ideas of stasis have been shown by molecular phylogenies to be wrong, species series _look_ like stasis. In itself an unexplained phenomena, but a rejection under test of Bokma.

Feb 21, 2013
@LariAnn: Your understanding is wrong. Biologists claim there is enough time. Read Coyne Why Evolution is True for example.

@Mikeqwer: It is not a great article since it isn't helpful. Biology still stands, and it is more helpful to read what we know and try to understand that than indulge in what isn't.

What "major holes" is there in biology? No biologist claims there are such. Large areas uncovered of course as in all science, but no fundamental issues as in all hard sciences today.

@JVK: "nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution"? There is no such thing, AFAIK. Of course there are signaling and niche construction already among bacteria et cetera, but they are hardly called pheromones. Nor do they predict all of evolution, you can evolve different species on islands sufficiently separated to have no signaling in between.

Feb 25, 2013

"The challenge I see in a new species of any sexually reproducing species is that the new species must start with a male and a female. If it was a mutation then the male and female would likely be siblings."

Yes the male and female would likely be siblings. It happens all the time in nature. Paritcularly in hard times when the population is throttled.

"Or do two similar species create a new one, like a donkey and horse? Most mules are sterile but not all."

A species doesn't suddenly appear as an offspring that is a different species from it's parents. Even in the scenario above it would be 100s of generations in which changes occur fairly rapidly by evolutionary terms and over time the would no longer be able to mate with animals from 100 generations ago. The idea of reapid and gradual and rapid change is relative.

Look up the QualiaSoup channel on YouTube and check his Evolution video.

Feb 25, 2013
I'm not really all that happy with this EITHER "slow evolution" OR "fast evolution" approach. There are factors which favor either.

Predator-prey relationships would be one which favors evolutionary change in one timeframe (e.g. just be a tiny bit better at sprinting and you have a huge evolutionary advantage because you'll be either more succesful hunting or more less likely to be caught).
Sudden climate changes would favor adaptation in another timeframe.

And in archaeological findings you find several examples of cycles.
Example: armor vs. teeth vs. more armor (and less mobility) vs. bigger teeth - to the point of hindering mobility in the predator as in the case of sabretooth then again LESS armor in favor of now sufficient mobility, which leads to smaller teeth and more speed for the predator and round we go again.

Climate change on the other hand opens up entirely new niches (and closes down some) which should favor speciation over slow adaptation.

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