We mentioned this yesterday in passing in the Leftovers but posted today is a piece by Carl Zimmer that got me thinking that anti-evolutionists might take this as evidence for their position. It’s not. The genome of the sea gooseberry has been analyzed and it’s weird. Strange Findings on Comb Jellies Uproot Animal Family Tree.
A close look at the nervous system of the gorgeously iridescent animal known as the comb jelly has led a team of scientists to propose a new evolutionary history: one for the comb jelly, and one for everybody else. “It’s a paradox,” said Leonid Moroz, a neurobiologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville and lead author of a paper in today’s Nature about the biology of the comb jelly nervous system. “These are animals with a complex nervous system, but they basically use a completely different chemical language” from every other animal. “You have to explain it one way or another.” The way Moroz explains it is with an evolutionary scenario—one that’s at odds with traditional accounts of animal evolution.
Moroz also says: “This paper proves, on a genomic basis, they’re truly aliens,” via ‘Aliens of Sea’ Provide New Insight Into Evolution – ABC News. These cases of unfortunate wording WILL be misconstrued. It does not mean that evolution is disproven or they are alien life. But for some, that is what they will read. Ctenophores (comb jellys) are among the most oldest forms of complex animal life – tracing back 550 million years. The findings show that the comb jelly are remarkably different in their genetic structure. But not COMPLETELY foreign. That is, the DNA building blocks are still there. It’s not like they don’t have DNA or a have an unexplanable genetic structure. The explanation still fits into the framework of evolution but it adds an interesting twist. It shows that parallel evolution occurred. (Evolution, descent with modification, STILL happened. We know this is how life on earth works. There is no doubt about it.) So, this find makes things more interesting but in no way is a threat to evolution or is evidence that some entity created life. It’s nature at work doing what it does best. Adapting. When speaking of evolution in this scientific sense, we are talking about the details of how the overall mechanism of decent is working. Creationists have already keyed into weird animals like the Sea Gooseberry (p 76) as examples of why evolution is not to be believed. I do wish scientists would be cognizant that the average reader does not have a solid understanding of biology and would choose their words more carefully. I don’t see any anti-science posts on it yet but I expect to. Jelly genome mystery : Nature News & Comment.