Wolves and Dogs

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    MARGARET

    It seems to me that the various types of wolves,
    dogs and doglike animals offer a perfect example of
    evolution. I think that most scientists would recognize
    dogs, woves and coyotes as separate species, for example.
    But their similarity suggests that they have a common
    ancestor. Creationists, on the other hand, have to argue
    that there is some barrier that prevents one type
    (i.e. kind) from turning into another. Of course they
    never define what a "kind" is exactly.

    Selective breeding has increased the variety of
    dogs. But what about the wolf to dog transition? Isn't
    this evolution? And if not, why not?

    What about coyotes and foxes? Do foxes and wolves have a
    common ancestor even though they are definitely two
    distinct species? In the dog world, where exactly would
    a creationist draw the impassable boundary?
     
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    HELEN

    Margaret, I think maybe you have the wrong idea of what creation science is all about. We know very well that variations happen. This type of "evolution" is not argued at all.

    Rather, I would submit that your very choice of examples is an excellent example of 'kind.' You are right that we don't have a good, solid definition of 'kind,' but please understand that standard taxonomy cannot define any taxonomic level, including species! So let's not fight about that. The point that creation science would make is that both biblically and empirically there appears to be a definite limit to how far variations can take a population.

    And sometimes that can be pretty far! Let's use dogs, wolves, and coyotes for an example. The variations we ourselves have bred dogs for are pretty disparate! Chihuahua to St. Bernard, though, they are all recognized as dogs. Wolves and coyotes are both recognized as canines. They all interbreed. This would be a classic point to indicate common origin, as you say. But that is as we say, too! Original populations, as created by God and described in Genesis 1, were obviously created with the genetic potential to vary. We can see that just from what we have seen regarding our own breeding programs with a number of animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, cattle, birds, etc. And yet we also seem to have definite ways to define "canine", "feline", "equine", "bovine", etc.

    Wo while we see the variation, we also seem to see the distinct breaks -- in fact this is what taxonomic classification is all about.

    Yes, speciation can and does happen. How frequently, and even what it is, is certainly a matter of debate, even among evolutionists. But the definition of a species perhaps being an isolated population is something that is fairly easy to replicate and test. One of the arguments is about whether speciation has actually occurred has to do with the willingness or unwillingness of two separate, but related, populations to interbreed.

    And yet, as you said, coyotes, wolves, and dogs are considered separate species. And yet they all cheerfully and frequently interbreed...

    So either we have to deny the standard idea of speciation or admit that it does not have anything to do with biblical 'kind.' I would suggest, along with a number of other creationists who have studied this (and continue to study this) that perhaps the 'kind' is a little more closely 'related' to the family or sub-family level in most cases.

    As far as foxes go, I don't know.

    Does our inability to isolate a strong, definite definition for 'kind' invalidate its reality? I would say the answer is 'no.' We can see evidence for something without absolute proof of it and work with the evidence and where it seems to be leading and that is not only good science, but standard science.

    Does science depend on definitions? No, again. An excellent example is gravity. We can all see what it does, but no one is positive about what it is. And yet we live with it and work with it every day in our own lives and in science.

    Evolution, as in the change from "bacteria to bears" is an entirely different story, however. All 'evidence' is either a claim to known variation, as you have presented, or conclusions regarding unrepeatable evidence (such as the fossil record) which are based on the presupposition that evolution happened in the first place. That makes the conclusion of evolution a circular argument.

    Creation looks at the record differently and therefore comes up with different explanations. This is not bad science, this is just not 'mainstream' science.

    Where do we draw the impassable boundaries? I don't know. That does not stop them from being there, however, and from our implicit recognition of them simply by the existence of a system of taxonimic classification in the very 'mainstream' science which denies they exist!
     
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    ROBERT RAPIER

    Margaret,

    That was a very timely post you made on dogs and wolves, because I ran across some information over the weekend related to this. I discovered that the genetic difference between dogs and wolves is about 1%, about the same difference as for humans and chimps. But the difference between wolves and coyotes is a whopping 6%! This is 6 times the genetic difference between humans and chimps. Assuming the standard 3 billion base pair mammalian genome, that means there are some 180 million base pair differences between the two. I also read from a separate source that chromosome numbers for canines range from 38 in the red fox all the way to 78 in dogs.

    I have never run across a Creationist who didn’t put coyotes and wolves into the same basic kind, so that means that under the Creationist scenario 180 million base pair differences accrued in about 4000 years (post Ark). Can you say hyper-evolution? If you followed the Haldane’s Dilemma thread, you saw that Fred Williams tried to make an issue out of the difficulty of fixing 40 million base pairs separating humans and chimps, over the course of several million years. The wolf/coyote data is just another line of evidence indicating that millions of base pair differences can accrue in a relatively brief amount of time.

    Sources: http://www.txtwriter.com/Onscience/Articles/familydog.html
    http://www.provet.co.uk/online/dogs/evolution%20of%20the%20dog.htm
     
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    JOHN PAUL

    Margaret, the debate isn’t about whether or not evolution, as in the change of allele frequency over time, occurs or not. The main point of the debate are:

    1. The starting point of the evolutionary process.
    2. The extent that process can take a population.
    3. The apparent direction.
    4. The mechanism.

    Using science Creationists are trying to define what were the Created Kinds:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/magazines/docs/v22n3_liger.asp

    http://www.creationresearch.org/crsq/articles/37/37_2/baraminology.htm


    But seeing that the theory of evolution is the reigning paradigm perhaps you could enlighten us as to exactly what was (were) the starting population(s) of organisms that just happened to have the ability to self-replicate.

    The difference between dogs and wolves are what Creationists call variations within a Created Kind as it is inferred dogs & wolves are descended from the same Kind.
     
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    DAVE COX

    John Paul wrote:

    I believe the correct answer here would be that the starting population was the originally created "DNA kind".
    That, in turn, makes the difference between amoebas and humans what Creationists call *variations within a created kind* as it is inferred that amoebas and humans are descended from the same kind. Therefore, all organisms are related by only microevolutionary mechanisms and no evolution occurs from one "kind" to another. Note that all organisms reproduce "after their own kind" as stated in Genesis, and all organisms are related by common ancestry as stated in ToE.

    I guess that would make macroevolution a moot concept.
    Everybody happy now?
     
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    JOHN PAUL

    Robert:
    I have never run across a Creationist who didn’t put coyotes and wolves into the same basic kind, so that means that under the Creationist scenario 180 million base pair differences accrued in about 4000 years (post Ark).


    John Paul:
    First we would have to determine the reason why Creationists would put coyotes & wolves into the same basic Kind, remembering that as humans we reserve the right to be incorrect. What has to be remembered about the organisms aboard the Ark is that many generations of evolution [i.e. variations within the Kind] had already taken place before the flood event, which I would put further back than 4000 years ago. What that means is the representative organisms would most likely have been as genetically diverse as possible. In this case a very wolf-like organism & a very coyote-like organism (that is if they were truly of the same kind). In the case of the genus Pan one very chimp-like organism & one very bonobo-like organism.

    In his book Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodmorappe discusses the effects of bottlenecks on genetic diversity in which the founders were chosen both at random and selected with the highest heterozygosity & (protein) polymorphism.

    From page 193:

    On the same page he references the following:

    Woodmorappe had just previously noted:
    As for Haldane’s Dilemma, I’m not sure if it can be applied to an intelligently designed genetic algorithm. One that senses and can react to environmental pressures population wide thus better assuring its survival (see Dr. Lee Spetner’s Non-Random Evolutionary Hypothesis). In populations with specific mating & birthing periods this would allow a beneficial adaptation to become fixed much sooner than any random process. By the time a random mutation comes around to get acted upon to even have a chance of survival it may be too late in scenarios with rapid climatic changes. If your population’s GA can’t react quick enough (or at all) you had better have the sense to try to live elsewhere or the intelligence to overcome adverse conditions.

    [ August 07, 2002, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    RICHARDC

    Helen wrote:

    Rather, I would submit that your very choice of examples is an excellent example of 'kind.' You are right that we don't have a good, solid definition of 'kind,' but please understand that standard taxonomy cannot define any taxonomic level, including species! So let's not fight about that. The point that creation science would make is that both biblically and empirically there appears to be a definite limit to how far variations can take a population.

    Helen, what empirical evidence shows that there is a “definite limit to how far variations can take a population”? And where exactly is this limit – how far can variation go within a kind? Turning to theory, can you cite any theoretical genetic barriers to macroevolution? Can you give an example of a physical constraint that would prevent a chimp-like animal from evolving into an animal that looks like a human over 7 million years or so, or that would prevent other examples of macroevolution that you dispute?

    The problem with the notion of “kinds” is that creationists do not seem to have any scientific way to determine which organisms belong to which kinds.

    The reason that defining “species” is problematic boils down to the fact that species are not fixed, unchanging entities. This is what we should expect if all organisms are related by common descent with gradual modification and this process of descent with gradual modification is still going on today.

    Helen:
    Evolution, as in the change from "bacteria to bears" is an entirely different story, however. All 'evidence' is either a claim to known variation, as you have presented, or conclusions regarding unrepeatable evidence (such as the fossil record) which are based on the presupposition that evolution happened in the first place. That makes the conclusion of evolution a circular argument.

    But the observations that constitute most of the evidence for macroevolution are repeatable: you can go to museums and see the fossils, you can read the papers that describe the observations and check them for yourself, and so on.

    Here is a very small part of the evidence for macroevolution:

    We can make a hypothetical family tree of canid family members based on their physical appearance (morphology); for example, we can group the 35 or so canid species into “small wolves,” “large wolves,” red fox-like canids, etc., on the basis of their morphology, and assume that the species within each group are more closely related to each other than to species in other groups. We can also independently construct another hypothetical family tree on the basis of molecular evidence, i.e., DNA sequences and numbers of chromosomes. (Strictly speaking, these could be two[\i] new trees, one based on chromosome number and length and the chromosomal position of genes, the other based on sequence identity.)

    Guess what -- the two independently constructed family trees are virtually identical. This is exactly what we would expect to find if there is one true phylogenetic (family) tree for the canids and if they are all related by descent with gradual modification.

    This pattern of the two matching phylogenetic trees, the morphological and the molecular trees, is found among living things as a whole to a very high degree of statistical significance. Further, all species can be arranged into a “nested hierarchy” according to their characteristics: we don’t find feathered mammals or birds with hair, for example. A nested hierarchy has the same abstract structure as a family tree (assuming no incest!) and is similar to the standard outline format; this is why the Linnaean taxonomic system, constructed by a creationist, is still in use – it is a nested hierarchy.

    How do you explain these observations, if not by common descent? And at what point in the reasoning was the conclusion assumed, to produce a circular argument?

    Helen:
    Where do we draw the impassable boundaries? I don't know. That does not stop them from being there, however, and from our implicit recognition of them simply by the existence of a system of taxonimic classification in the very 'mainstream' science which denies they exist!

    We classify organisms into species because species in general are reproductively isolated from one other; it has nothing to do with any supposed impassable boundaries to variation. We also classify organisms because of our human need to impose order on the vast array of biological phenomena. But the difficulties and complexities we encounter in taxonomic classification, recognized by evolutionists and creationists alike, are what we would expect to find if all organisms are related by common descent with gradual modification. We would expect to find groups that shade into one another gradually. And indeed we find, for example, fossils that have characters diagnostic of birds and other characters diagnostic of dinosaurs (such as Archaeopteryx), whereas on the creationist account everything should be classifiable neatly into its proper “kind.”
     
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    HELEN

    Helen, what empirical evidence shows that there is a “definite limit to how far variations can take a population”?

    Any breeding program in the book.

    And where exactly is this limit – how far can variation go within a kind? Turning to theory, can you cite any theoretical genetic barriers to macroevolution? Can you give an example of a physical constraint that would prevent a chimp-like animal from evolving into an animal that looks like a human over 7 million years or so, or that would prevent other examples of macroevolution that you dispute?

    After reading some recent material, I can tell you where I think the research should head on this – look at the ‘silent’ sections of the DNA. We know that the same proteins are used in various life forms. So it is obviously not a matter of the kind or type of proteins used. However the evidence of the impassable barrier may well be in the timing codons and the other regulatory mechanisms that may well be incorporated into what we used to call “junk DNA”, which is also the part of the genome which shows the greatest differences between different sorts (used that word on purpose!) of plants and animals.

    We know there can be quite a bit of variation within a kind just by looking a dogs, or goldfish, etc. The genetic barriers appear to be there, however, whether or not we have found them. As far as chimp to human evolution, even though the differences may seem subtle at times, they are definite, even just considering the physical aspects. However in addition, there is a giant gulf that I don’t think evolution could ever bridge between chimp and human in terms of awareness, ways of thinking, and appreciation of things like beauty. The differences are immense and for the most part have little or nothing to do with DNA. And that would mean they also have nothing to do with any possible evolutionary scenario apart from something totally imaginary which does not take the physical realities into account.

    The problem with the notion of “kinds” is that creationists do not seem to have any scientific way to determine which organisms belong to which kinds.

    I think that hybridization is one very good way of at least beginning a check. And I know that there are some interesting results coming out of some bariminology studies where molecular genetics are concerned, especially when ‘hot spots’ are taken into account and removed from the picture…

    On the other hand, if you would care to tell me how to determine which organisms belong to which kingdoms, even, I’d appreciate it. In my own lifetime new kingdoms have been added to the taxonomic system simply because there are a number of organisms which do seem to defy the simple ‘plant/animal’ delineation.

    Another way of saying it is that our ability to understand something does not determine its reality.

    The reason that defining “species” is problematic boils down to the fact that species are not fixed, unchanging entities. This is what we should expect if all organisms are related by common descent with gradual modification and this process of descent with gradual modification is still going on today.

    I’m afraid speciation has nothing to do with common descent in its gross form. You can speciate frogs, or mice, or flies all day long with artificial selection to make it quicker, but that will never tell you what non-frog or non-mouse or non-fly the species might have come from originally. Descent with modification has to indicate entirely new forms and functions in the long run and we have NO evidence that would help us understand that this actually happened aside from imaginary stories and interpretations of fossils which can change with the wind, and often do. Species are simply variations of existing kinds, usually separated geographically and in terms of breeding preferences. Small genetic pools will often result in some characteristics being a trademark of a certain population. That’s all. It has nothing to do with any further ‘descent with modification.’

    But the observations that constitute most of the evidence for macroevolution are repeatable: you can go to museums and see the fossils, you can read the papers that describe the observations and check them for yourself, and so on.

    I’m afraid that is not scientific repeatability. The repeatability that is indicated by the scientific method is one that produces the same results, not the same interpretations of the same data over and over again. Results are what happens when the whole process of formation is repeated. We cannot repeat anything in terms of macroevolution – especially that interpreted into the fossil record.

    In your canine hypothetical situation, you started with a known population and split it from there. That is not doing anything in the way of evolution, only speciation, which is quite different.

    But the difficulties and complexities we encounter in taxonomic classification, recognized by evolutionists and creationists alike, are what we would expect to find if all organisms are related by common descent with gradual modification.

    We would expect to find the same, actually. Only we don’t have to resort to ‘convergent evolution’ and other made-up stories to try to explain what we see in nature!

    We would expect to find groups that shade into one another gradually. And indeed we find, for example, fossils that have characters diagnostic of birds and other characters diagnostic of dinosaurs (such as Archaeopteryx), whereas on the creationist account everything should be classifiable neatly into its proper “kind.”

    All ‘shading’ is imaginary, I’m afraid, in terms of the fossil record. If you want good evidence of that, consider that well over 95% of all fossils are of marine varieties. And yet there is almost never a claim regarding this ‘shading’ between one sort of thing and another! Evolutionists zero in on the areas where imagination has the most free reign – where there is the least physical data. Consider that, please…

    Nor do I agree with you about everything being classified neatly into its proper kind where creation is concerned. We don’t know just as much as you don’t know in terms of data. Like you, we can make educated guesses based on that data and our presuppositions, but that’s about all. Both sides have to admit that what we know compared to what we would like to know is pretty miniscule, and quit criticizing the other side for knowing just as little as we know!
     
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    JEFF

    Does this mean Breeders can exhaust variation after several generations ?

    How many generations ?

    Once this "limit" is reached, do all offspring cease becoming variations of the parents' genes and become genetic duplicates ? Which set of genes do they duplicate ?

    If not, then how do you know a limit was even reached ?

    Speciation may require thousands of generations for enough small changes to accumulate.

    Once again, please identify and explain the empirical evidence that suggests the existence of this alleged barrier that prevents small genetic changes from accumulating and resulting in new species or even new taxonomic groups.
     
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    HELEN

    Jeff, I can read your impatience with my reply in your response, and I think if you think about it you will understand what I was referring to.

    We have bred, in the last few hundred years, an enormous variety of dogs. And yet, with all the breeding, intentional and mutt-caused, there has never been any variation away from canine. Same with horses and equine, cattle and bovine, cats and feline, etc. That is what I was referring to. We can breed for variation but the basic kind stays.

    Then you asked an interesting question about whether or not variation can be exhausted. I think so, yes. I cannot tell you how many generations it would take (and it might well vary significantly with different species), but we see this happening in the wild as well as in breeding programs. There comes a time when it seems the ?over-speciation? problem emerges and a dead end is reached. This is often what we seem to be seeing in endangered species. The one I refer to the most often here is the spotted owl of the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. It has become so specifically adapted to that one environment that it is not producing any offspring which have enough variation to live outside of that environment. This would bring up the question in my mind as to the real effect of natural selection ? perhaps what it deletes from the population?s genome really cannot be replaced or substituted.

    In domestic breeding we can see the example in dogs quite easily. There comes a time in a breeding program where inbreeding has finished producing what it can in terms of positive variations and what we get is, instead, things like hip dysplasia in German shepherds, deafness in Dalmatians, etc.

    Then you asked if, when this limit seems to be reached, we see only genetic duplicates. Not that I have seen, no, simply because there is still the sexual recombining of genetic material in each generation so that small variations exist. Dalmatians, for instance, are more prized if both eyes are surrounded by black or liver colored spots. But look at what a minor variation this is! We are down to the placement of the coloring and not any real variation in the dog itself.

    As long as there is sexual reproduction, however, I think the offspring will always show individual markings at the least. This is why we can identify zebras by their stripe patterns, the penguins of South Africa by their ?bib freckles? and so on. But the more speciated and inbred the population, the closer to clones the offspring seem to get, yes. What follows seems to be, from what we have seen, only harmful mutations and very minor variations in physical appearance, such as the placement of stripes or spots.

    Finally, you asked if there was actual evidence that small genetic changes could not accumulate to large phenotype changes, thus changing one sort of thing, through large amounts of time, into another.

    Genetically, we have no indication at all that this can actually happen. What we see in bacteria and other one-celled asexually reproducing organisms is primarily variation through mutations at ?hot spots.? These hot spots, as they are called, show more rapid rates of mutation than other areas of the genome. However the mutations tend to go back and forth, and are not linear. Nor do they build on one another to produce anything new. You mentioned thousands of generations. We have been working with E.coli for over a hundred years now. That amounts to more than 2 ½ million generations linearly (not counting ?cousins? in a horizontal counting), and there has been NO building of mutations one upon another to produce anything even slightly departing from what we know and identify as E.coli. Now, if we can?t do this in that many generations, how on earth are you going to get from fish to man when the generation times are greater ? up to fourteen or fifteen years in the case of man and probably not a lot less in terms of his supposed ancestors!?

    In multicellular animals we also do not see mutations building on one another to produce anything at all. So it is not a matter of needing to prove that it can?t happen as simply showing that this scenario of mutations building on one another has never been seen to happen even with 20 minute generation span prokaryotes! There is NO empirical evidence for it happening at all. So I would have to ask YOU to show me where it has been shown to happen empirically (in other words, not as a matter of ?interpretation? of the fossil record.).

    In the meantime, please keep in mind that a simple mutation is the least of what is needed for any sort of decent change that is not simply the crippling of some genetic expression that already exists. The mutation must be integrated successfully into an already functioning genome, the correct timing mechanisms for expression must be in place, the cell must know what to do with the new protein, and there must exist supporting structures of some kind for that protein to integrate into.

    Mutations can, singly, cripple enormous numbers of genetic expressions if they are in the more sensitive places. That is because it is quite rare for one gene to determine one trait (I am not aware of it happening at all, but that does not mean it doesn?t). Traits are normally determined by an interaction among various genes and the timing involved. So while you can cripple or change a trait due to one gene change, you cannot supply a new trait from just one gene change. It is far, far more complicated than that. However, evolutionarily, it is necessary that any individual changes be maintained in a population, either by being unexpressed and somehow surviving sexual recombining, or by being favourably expressed and thus being selected for.

    Quite simply, it is a process without any empirical genetic evidence that it is possible.

    Yet evolution depends on it.
     

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