The Tree of Life may be a bush

Tree of life
The Tree Of Life based on completely sequenced genomes. Image: Wikimedia Commons

New species evolve whenever a lineage splits off into several. Because of this, the kinship between species is often described in terms of a 'tree of life", where every branch constitutes a species. Now, researchers at Uppsala University have found that evolution is more complex than this model would have it, and that the tree is actually more akin to a bush.

Less than a year ago, a consortium of some hundred researchers reported that the relationship between all major bird clades had been mapped out by analysing the complete of around 50 . This included the exact order in which the various lineages had diverged.

Since then, two of the members of the consortium, Alexander Suh and Hans Ellegren at the Uppsala University Evolutionary Biology Centre, have expanded upon this model by analysing the avian genome through a new method, which hinges on so-called 'jumping genes". Their results paint a partially contrasting picture of the kinship between the various .

"We can see that the very rapid rate at which various bird species started evolving once the dinosaurs went extinct, i.e. around 65 million years ago, meant that the genome failed to split into separate lineages during the process of speciation", Hans Ellegren says.

This is because evolution moved quickly, and many species arose in quick succession. When this happens, different parts of the genome can tell disparate tales of the kinship between the . The phenomenon has previously been explained theoretically and is a result of the genetic variation passing from one species to another. If new species then continue to evolve quickly, random chance can end up determining which original genetic variants end up in each lineage. The phenomenon is called incomplete lineage sorting.

"Previously, the difficulty resided in finding instances of incomplete lineage sorting far back in time", Hans Ellegren says. "Therefore, it's been unknown if this phenomenon has affected evolution to any appreciable extent".

By using the jumping genes, or so-called retrotransposed elements, the Uppsala researchers have found that, for instance, a cuckoo can be more closely related to a hummingbird than a pigeon in a certain part of its genome, while the opposite holds true in another part. The study found numerous examples to corroborate the existence of the phenomenon.

This is one of the first cases in evolutionary research where researchers have been able to document and quantify incomplete lineage sorting far back in time. It is likely a far more common occurrence than previously thought.

"The more complex kinship patterns that result from this mean that the Tree of Life should often be understood as a Bush of Life", Alexander Suh and Hans Ellegren say.

The results will be published in the leading research journal PLoS Biology. The authors and their study are also featured in the leading editorial.

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Aug 18, 2015
What really throws a wrench into this whole schema is the fact that "species" is not clearly defined nor is there a broad consensus on what a species really is. It's a "movable feast", where the definition keeps changing to suit the point of view of the particular researcher. Species in plants are far different than species in animals. Google "the species problem" to get a good perspective on this. If humans were categorized using the same criteria as are used for plants, we'd have many species of humans on the planet now! Besides all that, different taxonomists argue for differing classifications of species and genera, leading to many opportunities for new publications, but little else of value, IMHO.

Aug 18, 2015
Also remember that the foundation of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin's book, is entitled "On the Origin of Species", not "On the Origin of All Life". Perhaps evolutionists don't like the idea of God because they don't want competition. After all, if you define and describe it, doesn't that mean you created it?

Aug 18, 2015
"species" is not clearly defined nor is there a broad consensus on what a species really is
true. this is the argument that kohl and the rest of the religious tend to gravitate towards, using the lack of definition as a springboard for religious doubt

ignore verkle (and Ren82, jvk, etc), they are simply promoting their religion and attempting to create distrust through doubt

Be it a bush or a tree, the intermediate species in such a lineage have never been found. We just have individual species
this lie has already been demonstrated false to you in the past, repeating it doesn't make it true
Can someone please help me understand the ridiculous first sentence of this article
probably not, because you've already made up your mind that your religion is more "true" or real than actual provable science
but if you are really looking for answers, start here: http://myxo.css.m...dex.html

Aug 18, 2015
The tree of life as everything else in the mithology of the evolution is fictional. All life forms are emerged simultaniously at breif peroid of time and scientifi research confirm this undeniable fact. Do not exist physical mechanism for self organization of matter into more complex functional structures. It makes an impression the lack of authors with with alternative viewpoint on the site. This is not typical for the true science but for other genres.

Aug 18, 2015
All life forms are emerged simultaniously at breif peroid of time and scientifi research confirm this undeniable fact
so you can link that study and show where it was validated elsewhere, using reputable sources, of course?

Aug 18, 2015
Verkle would never be able to follow a trail of bread crumbs because he would insist that every space be filled.

Aug 18, 2015

You already lost the debate.

There is no debate. Your argument is based on your fundamentalist religious beliefs completely divorced from science. Case closed.

Aug 19, 2015
viet, so funny that you are trying to debate, yet claiming at the same time that there is no debate. Your logic is false, your statements are wrong, and your eyes are blind.

The blind will lead the blind into the ditch.

You still don't get it. You keep bringing a book of myths to refute scientific evidence. Do you see the problem? That was rhetorical, of course you don't, it is a measure of your stupidity.

Aug 19, 2015
To Coventry with all your tired arguments about religion versus science! If the religious and the objective materialists would get down and dirty with the Quantum Erasure Experiment they would all melt into an amorphous blob.

No matter. My mind was screaming hybridization while reading the article. Hybridization causes branches of the tree to graft different branches together.

I mean if you think that you are a Real Swinger, you have got nothing on the birds, bees and especially the microbes. They are real Party Animals and will exchange genes as easily as glances.

BTW it doesn't pay to look too closely under the figleaf with regard your own heritage.

For Loki's sake drop this in amongst the pages of your favourite religious text.

Aug 19, 2015
Don't feed the trolls guys.

Aug 19, 2015
Bah humbug to Verkle. All your posts show you to be blinded by faith. Your faith in that silly book has led you into the ditch.

My view, which I acknowledge to presently be not mainstream, is:
Hybridization had been long neglected by science as a generator of new species.
Evolution has learned that the way to transfer genes in bulk between species, even not ideally closely related species, is to try it. You never know your luck in a big party.
And, the tree (or bush) of life as it has been called, should really be renamed the web of life. Yes, only a small percentage of cross species matings will give a viable offspring, and only a few of those may be fertile. Then backcross to stability.
Even with those long odds, it will be much easier to steal a segment of DNA from another species than take the trouble to develop the code from scratch. That is the benefit of open source DNA.
Maybe the wasp and the orchid were at that party.

Aug 19, 2015
A little mundane sensationalism. Incomplete lineage sorting is nothing new, alone, unexpected or a problem mechanism in speciation as much as discovering and describing it.

Aug 19, 2015
Crackpots can't touch this: "Evolution is a cornerstone of modern science, accepted as one of the most reliably established of all facts and theories of science, based on evidence not just from the biological sciences, but also from anthropology, psychology, astrophysics, chemistry, geology, physics, mathematics, and other scientific disciplines, as well as behavioral and social sciences."

[ https://en.wikipe...volution ]

That is why they falsely insist there is "a debate" when the scientific debate stopped nearly a century ago (see that link); all other contenders to understand nature (which religion obviously isn't) lost.

@ Eaggleton: "If the religious and the objective materialists would get down and dirty".

And a pox on the philosopher's house. That is, like religion, a meaningless pursuit when it comes to understand reality. Science won!

Aug 19, 2015
The tree of life as everything else in the mithology of the evolution is fictional
Lies lies lies. God hates liars as he reserves the exclusive right to lie in his book about most everything.

The ironic thing is, if verkle were to know what the typical researcher knows he would have to accept evolution.

But this will never happen as his god teaches him to reject any evidence which contradicts gods sacred teachings.

Rejecting evidence is commonly referred to as 'domestication'. Dogs are configured to reject evidence in favor of direction from their masters no matter how silly it may seem.

They have been been selected for this irrational behavior over the course of 1000s of generations. They are effectively insane.

So is verkle.

He thinks god gave him senses to experience and a brain to think, only to demand that verkle reject what they tell him.

Aug 20, 2015
@Torbjorn. Science has always suffered from as much hubris as religion. It an excellent tool in the toolbox but it has to be used appropriately. It should not be given to blanishments of Certainty and declarative statements because then it loses its charm and power.
For instance. I am certain that you feel on firm ground declaring that there is no aether.
Have you read these results?
(Please don't tell Albert)

Aug 20, 2015
My view, which I acknowledge to presently be not mainstream, is:
Hybridization had been long neglected by science as a generator of new species.
I've never met anyone who was in favor of humans mating with chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, or orangutans before.

Mind you, I'm not sure I disagree. Hybrid vigor and like that. But I bet you get a bunch of animal rights activists and other religionists upset over it. Not that that's necessarily bad. Then there's the superman nuts, starting of course with the Nazis. There are genetic if not eugenic questions involved here to go along with all the other stuff various nutjob factions will hate on you for.

More power to you; it's a question that needs to be asked.

Aug 20, 2015
Stop knocking the National Socialists with their breeding program. There is strong evidence that humans are as susceptible to genetic pressure as is a verity of wheat.

As for "hybrid vigour", that is a heap of cods wallop. The most mixed breed of dog on this planet lives on Mauritius. It is not a super dog. It is a cur. And they all look identical.
This is in line with Darwin's pigeon breeding experiment, where he cross bred all the super pigeons. Fantails, tumblers, racing, squab etc. He did not end up with an incredible super pigeon. He ended up with a plain old banded rock pigeon.

This is the logic of a 5 year old, that if he mixes up all the pretty colours of his rainbow palette he will achieve artistic glory.

Continence in everything. And yes, your breeding is important.

Aug 22, 2015

(Please don't tell Albert)

From wikipedia :

"However, journalist John Horgan, a friend of Wertheim's, reported that "When [Wertheim] attended an NPA meeting... it reminded her of an experiment in which three schizophrenic patients, each of whom believed he was Christ, were introduced to each other... Each concluded that the others were crazy. Watching presenters at the NPA meeting, Wertheim comments, was like 'watching thirty Jesus Christs.'"

This is the group that keeps DeWitte's ravings online in a seemingly 'legit' database. LOL

Aug 22, 2015
well so was newtonian physics "such theory couldn't be refuted"

such theory is a complete picture of the physical world and the bodies move
for starters, it has NOT been refuted, only refined to be more accurate
for the most part, we still use Newtonian physics to put shuttles, rockets, etc into orbit and even out to planets... the reason we don't use GR etc is simply because the objects we are sending are NOT speeding around in any meaningful way (except perhaps to us). Newtonian physics is still alive and well, and the foundation you learn as you take physics 101 in college/high school

evolution is not being threatened by "bio-molecular biologists of today"... in fact, it is being proven as well as reinforced. like any good theory in science, it simply accepts what is and adjusts to include information that was NOT available when originated (like the knowledge of DNA, etc)

Aug 22, 2015
evolution does sound like a religion

her followers are always adapting new contractory findings to fit their beliefs
no, you are confusing the acceptance of facts in a scientific theory because of your lack of formal education of the scientific method. no one is "adapting contradictory findings".

the scientific method: https://en.wikipe...c_method

also note this graphic: https://en.wikipe...c_method#/media/File:The_Scientific_Method_as_an_Ongoing_Process.svg

notice the center bubble in the graphic? Refine, alter expand or reject!
Those are the key words in the scientific method. they're why we REJECTED the aether theory but accepted GR/SR (that and the validated experimentation which prove GR/SR and refute/debunk aether)
this is how science works!

the problem is: too many people don't learn the scientific method and then try to understand it with no comprehension

Aug 22, 2015

so you ignore the fact that neodarwinism was proved to be wrong again and again?

Just what this site needs, another creationist troll with sh*t for brains.

Aug 22, 2015
If anyone has a need to puke catch JVK (with john Hew) at:


Aug 23, 2015
...neodarwinism was proved to be wrong...
lets talk specifics
Following the development, from about 1937 to 1950, of the modern evolutionary synthesis, now generally referred to as the synthetic view of evolution or the modern synthesis, the term neo-Darwinian is often used to refer to contemporary evolutionary theory

This in NO WAY proves evolution (the THEORY) wrong, and i am arguing that evolution is correct, not semantic historical arguments. you can argue the semantics if you want. i don't care
by the way the scientific method can change ...
1-the method can only be improved to remove the subjective aspect of (say) philosophy, not changed to accept subjectivity, which is against the tenets of the method

2-nothing is eternal. change is inevitable

3-philosophy may have spawned the scientific method, but that doesn't mean they're the same thing

Aug 23, 2015
so far this method works and it is this method that is questioning the darwinist method you silly boy!
another thing, you should read the WHOLE section here: https://en.wikipe...ynthesis

so, for you to make the claim that neo darwinism is somehow definitive of the modern Theory of Evolution simply means that you are intentionally lying and producing a false argument (strawman) in order to undermine it. this is stupidity at it's most blatant

Also, i am likely older than you and definitely more educated, so stuff your "silly boy" remarks back into your ad hominem bag and talk science

you've not produced anything but a semantic argument that, despite it being used by SOME people discussing evolution, IS WRONG from the outset

is there specific evolution science that you can refute? By all means, try... and make sure you use reputable journal links as evidence


Aug 24, 2015
Changes in species occur as a result of change in DNA. Changes in DNA occur from multiple reasons. Radiation. Integration of micro organisms (bacteria, viruses) within an organisms cells - in my opinion this is the most prevalent culprit. Natural selection, and cross-specie hybridization. Given enough thought this list could potentially expand indefinitely. And yes, God, should a Creator exist, would have the potential to alter Its creations. This could be achieved directly, or indirectly by utilizing free will and natural selection as a means of evaluating experimental results. If reality is a simulation God would most likely not interfere to preserve experimental purity. If reality is Gods playground God would actively engage and make alterations directly (although would stay hidden, as to not ruin fun for Itself).

Aug 24, 2015
Good Lord! Can they not drop it and move on to better things? The foundations of Objective Materialism are being challenged by the Quantum Erasure Experiment and we blather on about history.
There is no History. It is made up on the fly to support the observed reality.
The Bible bashers say that the world was created 4000 years ago, give or take an hour or two. Bad news. There is no history.
The Objective Materialists say it was created 14 billion years ago.
Bad news. There is no history. No past. Our rather, the past is backloaded to support your reality.
Any other interpretation is faith based philosophy, unsupported by the evidence.

Aug 24, 2015

Ironhorse, do be a dear and give us your links. Otherwise it is just another vacuous assertion.
BTW Do you know what schizophrenia is?
If you do could you please inform the psychiatrists. They haven't a clue. And if you don't know would you please not use the word.
Your fly is undone.

Aug 24, 2015
There is no history.
The Objective Materialists say it was created 14 billion years ago.
Bad news. There is no history. No past. Our rather, the past is backloaded to support your reality.
Any other interpretation is faith based philosophy, unsupported by the evidence.

Simple macro observation will tell you otherwise. At best this is a gateway to multiple universe theory, where everything happens simultaneously, but split apart from each other by a micro-slice of the quantum realm. And then when looking at things in the quantum realm, shockingly there's a little leakage. It may be that there's no way to 100% predict the outcome of any action because there are an infinity of things that might influence that outcome (chaos theory), but that doesn't invalidate things as never happening. You can't say the Holocaust didn't happen because it didn't in another reality. We have an objective narrative that remains consistent after the fact.

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