Evolution of Complexity Recreated

Vastet
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Evolution of Complexity Recreated

ScienceDaily (Jan. 8, 2012)— Much of what living cells do is carried out by "molecular machines" -- physical complexes of specialized proteins working together to carry out some biological function. How the minute steps of evolution produced these constructions has long puzzled scientists, and provided a favorite target for creationists.
In a study published early online on January 8, in Nature, a team of scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Oregon demonstrate how just a few small, high-probability mutations increased the complexity of a molecular machine more than 800 million years ago. By biochemically resurrecting ancient genes and testing their functions in modern organisms, the researchers showed that a new component was incorporated into the machine due to selective losses of function rather than the sudden appearance of new capabilities.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120108143559.htm

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Vastet
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Maybe I should've come up

Maybe I should've come up with a more interesting title. This is huge people! Every time a creationist spouts off about new information, link here to completely refute them.

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Atheistextremist
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Wonderful post

 

I love the idea that reverse engineering the genome will unpick life's history. Awesome stuff. 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


ex-minister
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I get enough to understand

I get enough to understand this is important. I have some questions.

How did they "biochemically resurrect ancient genes" ?

How ancient is ancient? Was it soft material which is quite rare? Did they only do computer simulations?

How would you use this in talking to a Christian with limited scientific understanding? (I have this friend ... )

Is the start of the discussion, life is too complex to just have happened, irreducible complexity? How do you explain that a copy error, a protein function lost actually increased complexity? I don't think a fundamentalist would read the article or take the time to understand it.

 

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Vastet
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I'll do my best. 1:

I'll do my best.

1: Ressurection is a misleading term. Most if not all genes are still present in the DNA of living beings today, though they aren't dominant. Newer genes override the older genes "commands". But isolating the older genes from the newer genes allows the older genes to express themselves uninterrupted.

2/3/4: Without access to the actual study, instead of simply a report on it, I can't definitively answer this.
But I'd suspect the time period being examined to be either approximately 500ma ago or approximately 3.5ba ago, the two biggest question-mark periods in the evolution of life.
I doubt it is based on the fossil record, but rather on living organisms. Most likely bacteria and other simple life forms that have little reason or ability to evolve so significantly as to lose the oldest genes in their DNA.
I suspect it was all simulated, due to time constraints.

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Vastet
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5: A theist with no

5: A theist with no scientific understanding of evolution will likely be unaffected by this study. Or a brick hitting them in the face.

However, theists who can and do factor mathematics and science into their debates will have no problem understanding the implications. And laymen with basic knowledge of evolution and biology should also be able to understand the implications.

They did make reference to a metaphor to explain it in a way for the layman to understand it easier, since the results are certainly counter-intuitive:

Quote:
Just as in society, complexity increases when individuals and institutions forget how to be generalists and come to depend on specialists with increasingly narrow capacities.

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This is a good article, and

This is a good article, and it refutes the good ole "irreducible complexity".  It was always a little puzzling while logically unsound, but this makes sense in an odd kind of way.  Basically, the creationist claim is that evolution could not have produced certain biological systems at the molecular level because removal of any one part would render the system non functional.

wikipedia wrote:

Biochemistry professor Michael Behe, the originator of the term irreducible complexity, defines an irreducibly complex system as one "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning"

This article provides another solution to the puzzle.  You may have an irreducibly complex system if you start with a different system that is not irreducible and work your way down by disabling genes.  By disabling parts of the original system, you increase complexity and change function.  Thus the end result is a system that seemingly came out of the blue, and could not have been originated by working from the ground up, so to speak.  I hope that sheds some light on the issue.

 

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ex-minister wrote:I get

ex-minister wrote:

I get enough to understand this is important. I have some questions.

How did they "biochemically resurrect ancient genes" ?

My guess is that they "undid" genetic drift by looking at DNA sequences that differ by a small (like one or two) number of base pairs.

If I were looking to see what "ancient genes" looked like, that's where I'd start.

Fortunately, I hate biology.  So I don't care if I'm right.  Even if the teaser Vastet poster is very interesting.  And I'll go read the referenced link anyway.  Because I'm an addict.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."