New evolutionary research disproves living missing link theories

New research suggests that looking for the elusive missing link is somewhat pointless as evolution is not always a forward step in sophistication – Deskarati

“Aristotle was the first to classify organisms – from the least to the most sophisticated. Darwin’s theory of evolution continued this idea, with the concept of a hierarchy of evolution. This way of thinking has led researchers and sceptics alike to look for less sophisticated ancestors in order to prove or disprove evolution,” Dr. Hervé Philippe of the Université de Montréal’s Department of Biochemistry explained. “What we now know is that evolution does not happen in a single direction – when people talk about a missing link, they’re generally excluding the possibility of more sophisticated ancestors.”

The researchers compared the genomes of two kinds of marine worms with simple morphology – Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha – with those of other animals. They demonstrated that their previous position at the base of the bilateral symmetry animal group – that includes insects, mollusks and vertebrates – was inaccurate. “Instead, we determined that Xenoturbellida and Acoelomorpha are closely related to the complex deuterostomes, which is a major lineage containing sea urchins, humans and sharks,” Philippe said. “I’ve put them in that order intentionally because it seems strange, which demonstrates our tendency to always put organisms in order of complexity.” The findings mean that the worms had evolved from a more sophisticated ancestor through major simplifications.

via New evolutionary research disproves living missing link theories.

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One Response to New evolutionary research disproves living missing link theories

  1. alfy says:

    Gosh, I groan inwardly when I read this sort of stuff. It was a commonplace of comparative zoology for many years, that a “simple” organism may be simple because it is a primitive survival, or it may be simple because it has undergone simplification in evolving from more complex ancestors. It is not always easy for evolutionary biologists to tell which is which, without a lot of careful comparative work.

    For example, among insects wingless silverfish are primitively simple, whereas wingless fleas have evolved from winged ancestors. In mammals, hedgehogs are relatively simple and have not evolved from more complex ancestors. In plants, the grasses appear to be simple but they are actually highly evolved, whereas the Magnolias have primitively simple flowers.

    The statement from Dr Herve Phillipe “what we NOW know,” is patent nonsense. We have known that evolution may take “regressive trends” for most of the twentieth century. It seems clear that as a biochemist he does not seem to know much about comparative evolution. The work on worms is in a common pattern where we find that our previous assumptions about a “simple” group have to be radically revised. The work is in an honourable tradition but, I’m afraid it is not exactly earth-shattering.

    I have to wonder what exactly they are teaching biology students nowadays when they seem so ignorant of the historical development of their subject. Essentially they are re-inventing the wheel. This man is a university teacher, for heaven’s sake.

    Repeating an old maxim to Jim, recently. Whenever you read the phrase, “missing link” in an article, don’t read any further; it will be bunkum.

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