'Bin chicken' plays unique role in story of evolution

September 28, 2018, University of Queensland
'Bin chicken' plays unique role in story of evolution
(A) Empty and full pottery vessels from catacombs from Saqqara, Egypt (photo credit Sally Wasef), (B) mummified Sacred Ibis wrapped in cloth (photo credit Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), (C) a well-preserved example of an unwrapped Sacred Ibis mummy (the head and wings of the bird are clearly visible), and (D) a mummified Sacred Ibis dipped in resin. Credit: University of Queensland

A University of Queensland researcher has uncovered how a French scientist and ibis researcher conducted the first test of evolution more than 50 years before Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species.

UQ Centre for Policy Futures researcher Dr. Caitlin Curtis has found that the sacred ibis – a cousin of the Australian 'bin chicken' – became central to the history of when several mummified birds were taken from Egypt to France in 1798.

"The ibis mummies were taken by Napoleon's army to Paris, and played a surprising role in an early debate about evolution," Dr. Curtis said.

"Two naturalists, Georges Cuvier and Jean-Baptist Lamarck, disagreed about the significance of the mummified Egyptian sacred ibises.

"Cuvier took careful measurements and determined that no changes had happened when comparing the mummified birds against modern specimens.

"He went on to conclude that this was proof that species could not change over time, opposing the emerging evolutionary ideas of Lamarck."

But Lamarck disagreed, arguing not enough time had passed to see any differences, and that environmental conditions would also have had to change.

"This was significant at a time when evolution was not yet an idea," Dr. Curtis said.

"Cuvier was a prominent scientist who had a lot of voice and power within society, and he continued the debate through to Lamarck's death—even criticising Lamarck's belief in evolution at his eulogy – setting back the idea for decades."

Dr. Curtis said it was a striking example of a powerful – but incorrect—scientist controlling the debate.

"This story and the lessons from the sacred ibis are as relevant today as they were 200 years ago," she said.

"Confirmation bias, where researchers' work is negatively affected by pre-existing biases and ideas, is still an issue within the scientific community.

"This is a reminder that now, as much as ever, we need to be aware of confirmation bias, and the detrimental impact that dominant personalities can have on science."

Explore further: Behavior of parent organisms may influence genes passed on to next generation

More information: Caitlin Curtis et al. The Sacred Ibis debate: The first test of evolution, PLOS Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2005558

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julianpenrod
1 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2018
This is assuming that "evolution" is necessarily right and Cuvier was necessarily wrong.
There can be "confirmation bias" in someone seeing a situation and "concluding" it "proves" "evolution". So many are insisting that things like the speckled moth "prove" evolution. The key demonstration of "evolution" is the formation of a new species! But many things like that mutations supposedly are small, which means none of them will necessarily provide survival advantage enough to guarantee the creature continues to pass the mutation on. And nothing guarantees a creature with that mutation will develop another mutation that builds on it. And, too,that, if a creature is anew species, it must have come from parents that are a different species, and their siblings must be of the different species. Who, then, will it necessarily mate with the perpetuate the genome?
Eikka
not rated yet Sep 28, 2018
The key demonstration of "evolution" is the formation of a new species!


Google for HeLa cells

These are human cells, but now live outside of any human body as a separate organism as they have evolved to survive without, and much to the annoyance of researchers they tend to invade and contaminate other cell cultures in labs. It's estimated that some 50 tons of HeLa now exist in the world.

Who, then, will it necessarily mate with the perpetuate the genome?

Speciation in complex organisms usually involves splits in populations, not indviduals. Two populations of the same species get separated and evolve in different directions until they no longer will and can mate with each other.
rrwillsj
5 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2018
Or you wind up with such weird queer creatures as
"televangling loons"
"altright fairytails" "pomposingelectrical ununiversal throwbacks"
"gibberous trumpster simians"

A depressing litany of evolutionary failures.
Reg Mundy
not rated yet Sep 30, 2018
"Confirmation bias, where researchers' work is negatively affected by pre-existing biases and ideas, is still an issue within the scientific community.

"This is a reminder that now, as much as ever, we need to be aware of confirmation bias, and the detrimental impact that dominant personalities can have on science."

This is more true in physics than any other science. despite all the evidence that gravity theories are wrong, no one will seriously consider the alternatives to gravity, such as universal expansion being the basis of time.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Sep 30, 2018
Reg, do you claim that you have resolved the Paradox of the Flying Arrow?

When you have the time? Here is a suggestion of how can prove your conjecture with an empirical experiment.

You will fling yourself off a bery tall building. Since there is no gravity? You can never hit bottom.

You sure about this? Guess it's too late now to rethink your actions.

During the time of your fall, the universe expansion continuously moves the ground further away from you?

Seriously?

Oh boy. Yuchh! Look at that mess. Man, the coroner going to have to vacuum poor Reg up.

Well, back to the drawing board.

And no, this is not the most stupid idea in these comments.

That still belongs to the idiot who averred. That if he jumped off a cliff, while there was a Full Moon visible in the sky? The Moon's gravity would pull him up safely into the sky.

Come to think of it, he hasn't posted here recently. Maybe he's that guy waving at us from the Moon's surface?
Reg Mundy
not rated yet Sep 30, 2018
@rrwillsj
You are a bit silly, rwilli. You are typical of the sort of people who knee-jerk react without thinking things through. If you fling yourself off a "bery" tall building I guarantee that you will not fall towards the Earth. Unfortunately, the surface of the expanding Earth will rise and smash you instead.

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