Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists question theory of ’evolutionary leaps’ between species

20.05.2005


Fossil Fish Challenge Gene Theory



New evidence from fossil fish, hundreds of millions of years old, casts doubt on current ideas about evolutionary theory.

The research, by palaeontologists Dr Philip Donoghue of the University of Bristol and Dr Mark Purnell of the University of Leicester, appears to have solved a scientific riddle by using the fossil record to explain evolutionary ‘leaps’ between species.


The scientists’ claim that these evolutionary ‘leaps’ are not real, but a consequence of ignoring the fossil record. When fossils are incorporated into the evolutionary tree, a very different picture emerges.

Dr Donoghue explained: “We consider the current picture - a view of living animals only - is seriously distorted. What appear to be evolutionary jumps are really just gaps in the evolutionary tree - dead branches that have fallen by the wayside. These branches are not ’missing links’, more like ‘missed’ links, and when we use the fossil record to put them back in place, the vertebrate evolutionary tree looks very different."

Dr Purnell added: “The new evidence, from examining ancient fossil fish, reveals that the ’jump’ between, for example, lampreys and sharks turns out to be nothing of the sort. The major changes in anatomy didn’t occur suddenly, as a result of a gene doubling; they took place over 70 million years or more, through a series of intermediate, but now extinct fossil fish.”

The findings will set them on a collision course with geneticists who argue that the evolution of humans and other vertebrates - animals with backbones - was driven by sudden changes in their genes.

This work, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and NESTA, challenges the scientific theory that jumps in evolution occurred at times when gene numbers increased in animals with backbones. The larger number of genes is believed to occur through gene ‘duplication’ and is thought to be the reason why humans and other vertebrates are more complex.

When geneticists look at which branches of the vertebrate family tree have duplicated genes and which don’t, it certainly seems that each duplication led to a sudden jump in evolution.

In the example of lampreys and sharks, one duplication event occurred sometime after the evolution of lampreys but before the evolution of sharks. Sure enough, lampreys are simple vertebrates lacking jaws, teeth and a bony skeleton, whereas sharks are much more complex animals.

Thus the evidence from living vertebrates suggests a neat pattern, with a close correspondence between gene doubling events and evolution. Indeed, the evidence seems so strong that hundreds of scientific research papers have been written about the genetics of this important evolutionary pattern.

Donoghue and Purnell disagree and have thrown down the gauntlet to geneticists, saying: "Fossil species may be long extinct, their genes having rotted away millions of years ago, but if geneticists want to say anything meaningful about evolution they must include fossils in the vertebrate family tree - they cannot simply ignore them".

Owen Gaffney | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nerc.ac.uk
http://www.nerc.ac.uk/insight/press/archive.asp?yr=2005

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Waste in the water – New purification techniques for healthier aquatic ecosystems
24.07.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht Plenty of habitat for bears in Europe
24.07.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Tiny Helpers that Clean Cells

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Algorithm provides early warning system for tracking groundwater contamination

14.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>