Darwin’s Finches: What Evolved, the Birds or the Story?

first_imgImagine spending 40 years of your life promoting Darwinian evolution with Galapagos finches, only to find out on Darwin Day that the birds hybridize and cross-breed.It’s Darwin Day, in case anyone noticed. Charles Darwin’s birthday hasn’t quite become the global holiday some of his ardent devotees have wished. (It’s also Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in America.) What better way to remember Darwin than with a fresh look at his iconic finches from the Galapagos Islands?A new paper came out in Nature about Darwin’s finches, suspiciously timed for Darwin Day. It describes genome comparisons of 120 individual birds from various Galapagos islands and the mainland, comprising 15 species of finches. The results are hardly supportive of Darwin’s main theory of biological innovation by an unguided mechanism (more on that in a bit), but the mere mention of Darwin+finch is bound to give the reporters a high:DNA Reveals How Darwin’s Finches Evolved (National Geographic)Evolution of Darwin’s finches and their beaks (Science Daily)A gene that shaped the evolution of Darwin’s finches (Princeton press release)Genomes of Darwin’s finches may explain the shape of human faces (Science Magazine)The BBC News was slightly less celebratory with its headline, “Genomes reveal Darwin finches’ messy family tree.” Messy it is. Contrary to Darwin’s picture of speciation from a common ancestor, the genome data shows a lot of crossbreeding between the supposedly-separate species.Messy historyThe study also revealed a surprisingly large amount of “gene flow” between the branches of the family.This indicates that the species have continued to interbreed or hybridise, after diversifying when they first arrived on the islands.The researchers looked for genetic bases for diversification, and honed in on one gene named ALX1 that appears to be implicated in beak changes. It’s not completely responsible, the articles point out; it’s just one gene of several involved in beak formation. In humans, mutations to this gene are implicated in facial deformations such as cleft palate. It’s not giving humans any evolutionary advantage, in other words.Some scientists were surprised to find so much gene mixing. The BBC article continues:Other geneticists have expressed mixed reactions to the results. Dr Julia Day, from University College London, was impressed by the level of mixing reported between the finch species – which she said are “a textbook example of radiation“.She told the BBC: “The fact that they’re finding this hybridisation going on – this genetic mixing – it’s quite a seminal finding.“When you look at their results, you can see the trees are quite messy, in terms of the traditional species groupings.”Another was not surprised. The birds have wings, after all, and can fly between the islands. None of the articles mentioned that creationists are not surprised, either. They allow for variations in beak size and feather coloration, just like they see wide variations in dogs and cats. They just point out that the finches are still finches: beaks, wings, eyes and all. Nothing new, requiring new genetic information, has evolved. In fact, the variability in beaks is more pronounced when the finches interbreed, restoring the inherent variability in the ALX1 gene and other genes. This implies that some variants can become genetic dead ends; they lose genetic information.In short, nothing about Darwin’s finches distinguishes Darwinian evolution from young-earth creationism. Creationists are fully comfortable with “horizontal” genetic changes that do not add new information. The information for building beaks, eyes and wings are all present in each of these varieties.Most of the articles re-tell Darwin’s adventures on the Beagle, how he collected the finches, and used them to formulate his theory of natural selection. His theory of universal common ancestry, though, amounts to a huge extrapolation from limited data, and turns “horizontal” variation (as exemplified by animal breeders’ “artificial selection”) into “vertical” variation, for which there is no evidence.The articles also give prominence to Peter and Rosemary Grant, the Princeton pair that has spent 40 years researching the finches (see photo on Princeton press release). They found that drought favored birds with stronger beaks, but the variants reverted to the mean when rainy seasons returned. Nature quotes Peter speculating about what Darwin would think of the new genetic data (after getting a crash course in genetics). “I think he might wish to redraw that tree by making connections between some of the branches, representing the hybridization and gene exchange.” All in all, Grant counts this a Darwinian success story. “But then he would be delighted. The results are entirely consistent with his ideas.”What else could Mr. Grant say, after spending four decades trying to prove Darwin right? That it was all a waste of time?For Darwin Day (Feb. 12), get a copy of Darwin Day in America by John West (see this video trailer). It will really open your eyes to the damage wrought by this one man’s terrible idea that all the beauty and variety of the living world could be explained by struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest due to random variations and unguided natural processes. His chant should be, “Darwin lied, millions died”. Make that 100 million. Now, 155 years later, to find out that Charlie’s “Exhibit A” for natural selection shows no gain in complexity, should seethe in your brain.For earlier posts about the Grants, see 7/14/06, “Darwinism Confirmed! How? Finch Beaks Got Smaller!” and 1/05/11, “Never Say Die: Researchers Spend 37 Years Looking for Evolution in Darwin’s Finches.” Or, search on “Rosemary” in the search bar.Nothing is ever a complete failure. It can always serve as a bad example. (Visited 325 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Housing children in need

first_imgFor her commitment to helping children in need, Mercy Senyatsi (on the right) has been chosen as a Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador“I was told that I was a miracle baby; both my parents and doctors were not sure that I would live long and it was only through the mercy of God that I lived,” says Mercy Senyatsi, a life orientation teacher at Dr. A.M.S Makunyane Secondary School in Polokwane, Limpopo. She’s put her miraculous life to great use.Senyatsi comes from a family of teachers, which inspired her now 37-year long career, and her opening her home to students in need. Throughout her career Senyatsi says she has been touched by the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children. She is living up to her name, bringing mercy and hope into the lives of those who most desperately need it.“Originally, I was inspired by my late parents who raised and tutored many children, irrespective of their family background,” she says.Senyatsi currently has a young woman living with her; she’s been with her for the past six years, and in that time her grades have improved, along with her confidence. After throwing her young charge a 21st birthday party, covered in the local Polokwane Express, she received an invite to a Brand South Africa event – the Sowetan Dialogues – in which positive South Africans discuss how to move the country forward to prosperity.At the event Senyatsi talked about what it takes to be part of the Rainbow Nation and being a responsible African and global citizen. For her commitment to helping children in need, she is now a Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador.Senyatsi says, “My initial decision to actually doing something about assisting the children in need came to me when I was teaching at Thagaetala High School. I had initially only looked out for the girl students. The two girls who I started out with were Josephine and Eunice, although Josephine went on to stay with a lovely neighbour of mine.”The two children lived with both families throughout their schooling years; “They lived with us until they matriculated.”After Eunice left, Senyatsi moved to Seshego, Polokwane, and transferred to Makunyane Secondary; but for the first few years here she did not take in any students, as she was “just getting settled and also adjusting to the new environment”.“However”, she says, “I believe that if something is in you, it will always show, so yet again, I found myself being drawn to the young girls at school who seemed to be in need.“As someone who is passionate about her profession, I have realised that these kids who are termed ‘problematic’ were actually crying out for help of some sort.“Because I could not assist all of them, I chose the one whom I felt was most in need and that I could perhaps assist her condition by taking her in,” says Senyatsi.Senyatsi certainly lives up to the values she holds dear; “I have espoused a philosophy that my house is not just mine alone, but a home for the destitute as well. I have housed several girls in my house over the years. Today, as we speak, they are better persons in our community.”PLAY YOUR PARTMercy Senyatsi is a Good Samaritan South Africans can easily emulate; to assist her with feeding and clothing her young charges, email her at mercykind2@gmail.com.last_img read more

Eden may host Ind-Eng match if ICC members agree, hints Pawar

first_imgThe Eden Gardens in Kolkata.A day after International Cricket Council stripped Kolkata of the India-England World Cup tie on February 27, its president Sharad Pawar on Friday hinted that Eden Gardens may still host the match if the member countries agree to it.Pawar confirmed that BCCI President Shashank Manohar wrote a letter to him requesting to give another deadline of February 7 to complete work at the Eden Gardens and said he has asked ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat to initiate talks with England and other member countries whether they agree to it.He said the ICC will take a decision only after January 30 whether the match will be held in Bangalore or in Kolkata as scheduled earlier.”I have asked the CEO Haroon Lorgat to submit a report on January 30 after talks with ICC member countries, especially England, whether they agree to give more time till February 7 to complete work at the Eden Gardens,” Pawar said at the sidelines of a function at the Indian Institute of Pulses Research here.”We will take a decision after January 30 whether the India-England World Cup will be held in Bangalore or it will be held in Kolkata,” said Pawar, who is also Union Agriculture Minister.Pawar said that an ICC Committee had doubts over the readiness of Eden Gardens on time to host the February 27 match and that was the reason why the decision to strip the stadium of the tie was taken.”An ICC team had inspected all the World Cup venues. This team had found that a stadium each in Mumbai (Wankhede) and Sri Lanka would be ready on time. But it had doubts over the readiness of Eden Gardens to host the February 27 match. So the ICC Committee took the decision to take the match away from Kolkata,” he said.advertisementCricket Association of Bengal President Jagmohan Dalmiya on Thursday appealed to the ICC through the Indian Cricket Board to extend the deadline for completion of work at Eden Gardens till February 7.The ICC chief said that he has asked his CEO to speak to all the member countries, especially with England, because lots of cricket fans from other nations will come to India to watch the World Cup and they will have to book hotels and tickets in advance. “If they (cricket fans) are not given enough time they may face problems. Especially from England, there will be lots of fans coming to watch the India-England match and that was why I have asked Lorgat to speak to them,” Pawar said.”He (Lorgat) will submit the report to me on January 30 and then a decision on the BCCI’s appeal not to take away the match from Kolkata will be taken,” he said.Asked about his opinion on the concern raised at some quarters that players are suffering from injuries because of too much of cricket, Pawar said, “If any player is injured or he feels tired, he is allowed to take rest and new and young players are given chance to play.”Cricket is loved so much by the people that they are ready to come out and watch. In any case, the issue will have to be dealt by the cricket boards of each country and not by the ICC,” he said.On any steps taken by the ICC to deal with match-fixing and betting during the World Cup, Pawar said, “The ICC has nothing much to do about this. The police of the venue city and the host Board will have to tackle it. Betting is banned in countries like India and Pakistan.”-With PTI inputslast_img read more

The Wilmington Insider For June 29 2018

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below is a round-up of what’s going on in Wilmington on Friday, June 29, 2018:Happening Today:Weather: Sunny, with a high near 88. Northwest wind 3 to 6 mph.Fun On The Fourth: The Wilmington Fun on the Fourth begins tonight! The schedule, courtesy of the Fourth of July Committee’s website, is below:Dinner6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Rotary Club, $8 (BBQ – Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Cookies, Lemonade, Water)Entertainment5:00 PM – 10:00 PM Carnival7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Performance by “Brandy!” (sponsored by Rotary)Events6:00 PM Horseshoes (First Round) (Participants must sign a Consent Form. Under 18 signed by a parent.)6:00 PM 3 on 3 Basketball – Age Categories: [16 & 17 (6:00 PM)]; [18 & up (6:30 PM)]; [40 & over (7:00 PM)]6:30 PM Road Race (Participants must sign a Consent Form. Under 18 must be signed by a parent.)7:30 PM Blueberry Pie Eating Contest (Participants must sign a Release of Liability Form. Under 18 signed by a parent.)At The Library: Toddler Dance Party at 10am. Needleworkers from 10am to noon. Drop-In Rock Band from 3pm to 4pm. [Learn more and register HERE.]At The Senior Center: Video Exercise at 10am. Sewing Class at 10am. Special Exercise at 11am. Bingo at 1pm. Cards at 1:30pm. [Learn more HERE.]In The Community: The Town Beach is open today. Lifeguards are on duty from 10am to 8pm. Admission is FREE for residents. Proof of residency is required. Learn more HERE.Live Music: Pacific Grove (211 Lowell Street) is hosting karaoke with Winnell Entertainment beginning at 8pm.(NOTE: What did I miss? Let me know by commenting below, commenting on the Facebook page, or emailing wilmingtonapple@gmail.com. I may be able to update this post.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Related5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Wednesday, July 3, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Friday, July 5, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”FUN ON THE FOURTH: What To Expect On Wednesday, July 3In “Community”last_img read more

Sensex falls 202 points on renewed fears over US Fed rate hike

first_imgThe S&P BSE Sensex extended losses for the fourth consecutive session on Thursday, falling 202 points amid fresh hints of interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve in December.The Sensex closed at 26,838 points, down 0.75 percent, while the 50-share Nifty fell 59 points, or 0.73 percent, to end at 8,111.Earlier on Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve had indicated that it remained on track to raise lending rates for the first time in more than seven years.”The FOMC left the door ajar. If markets don’t tighten financial conditions for them, if the US data remain firm, if global events don’t scare them and if the sun shines every day, the Fed will raise rates at their December meeting,” said Societe Generale in a note.The expiry of October derivative contracts in the Futures & Options (F&O) segment also weighed on market sentiments.”The push by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to increase the minimum lot size from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh led to lower market-wide rollovers, which stood at 74 percent as against the one-year average of 82 percent. With retail participation likely to drop in the F&O segment, we expect wild gyrations to continue in the next few weeks,” said Amar Ambani, Head of Research at IIFL.Among the BSE sectoral indices, Power, Bankex and Capital Goods were the top losers, while Auto and Consumer Durable indices remained supported.Shares of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries ended 0.4 percent higher after its telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm said it would “raise Rs 3,000 crore by issuing secured redeemable non-convertible debentures on private placement basis,” the Business Standard reported.Sun Pharma shares were down 2.3 percent after the company said it has started recalling a million boxes of Loratadine, an anti-allergic drug, from the US market after the tablets were found to be ‘super potent’ and ‘out of specification’.Hero Motocorp stock prices gained 0.2 percent on the expectations of over 20 percent growth in its sales in October due to high demand during the festive season.Yes Bank shares closed nearly 2 percent after the bank announced a forecast beating profit growth of 26.5 percent for the second quarter in the current fiscal year.”The bank’s asset quality performance has held up well so far. Going forward, we have factored higher provisions and slippages given the bank’s corporate exposure to metals and EPC. Even after factoring the higher provisions and slippages, we expect Yes Bank to deliver a CAGR of 20.2 percent in earnings for FY2015-17E. Currently, the stock trades at 1.9x FY2017E ABV. We maintain BUY rating on the stock,” said Vaibhav Agrawal, Vice-President of Research- Banking at Angel Broking.Share prices of domestic search engine Just Dial closed over 11 percent lower despite a surge in its profit by a little over 47 percent in the September quarter.”A total of 34 stocks registered a fresh 52-week high in trades today, while 19 stocks touched a new 52-week low on the NSE,” IIFL said in a note.On the commodities front, gold prices fell sharply by Rs 190 to Rs 27,075 per 10 grams on the back of renewed expectations over increase in interest rates by the US central bank. The yellow metal prices came under pressure amid a strengthening US dollar. Silver prices rose marginally by Rs 15 to Rs 37,365 per kg.last_img read more

Khaleda verdict certified copy in reasonable time Law minister

first_imgAnisul HuqLaw minister Anisul Huq on Friday denied the allegation that the authorities are deliberately making delay in issuing the certified copy of the verdict that sentenced the country’s main opposition leader Khaleda Zia to jail.“Khaleda Zia’s lawyers are lying. They will get the copy within a timeframe which is reasonable for typing the 632-page verdict. It will not be delayed even by one minute and the government won’t interfere in it,” said the law minister while talking to newsmen in Brahmanbaria.The verdict was handed down on 8 February and there were rumours that Khaleda Zia might be shown arrested in a few other cases.The minister said Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia has been shown arrested in no other cases. “And she won’t be shown arrest in any more cases.”Also a ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) man, the minister visited Brahmanbaria to join programmes there organised by local AL and its front organisations, apart from paying final tributes to the district’s Akhaura upazila AL member Obaidul Haque.last_img read more