Evolution versus “Intelligent Design”

| 102 Comments

Fish can hold breath for months

If you thought you were the champion of holding your breath under water as a kid, think again. Crucian carp, a fish closely related to the goldfish, can live months without oxygen, scientists have discovered.

“Anoxia related diseases are the major causes of death in the industrialized world,” said Goran Nilsson, a professor at University of Oslo. “Evolution has solved the problem of anoxic survival millions of years ago, something that medical science has struggled with for decades with limited success.”

While ‘Intelligent Design” failed to resolve onf of the major causes of death, evolution has been far ‘smarter’.

A9.13 The crucian carp – plain looking but truly extraordinary G.E. Nilsson (University of Oslo)

(Carassius carassius), a close relative to the goldfish (Carassius auratus), looks very much like any other temperate freshwater cyprinid. However, it has arguably one of the most extraordinary set of adaptations displayed by any vertebrate. It is exceptionally anoxia tolerant, surviving without any oxygen for days to months depending on temperature, and it is the only vertebrate able to survive anoxia while maintaining physical activity and full cardiac out put. For this animal, metabolic depression or “channel arrest” are not prerequisites for anoxic survival, effectively demolishing attempts to claim that there are general principles for how animals tolerate anoxia. The adaptations it displays to survive anoxia include the exotic ability to produce ethanol through a metabolic pathway that is supported by the largest glycogen store of any vertebrate. Moreover, to avoid being anoxic in the first place, it can remodel its gills to boost oxygen uptake and it is in the possession of hemoglobins with higher oxygen affinity than any other vertebrate hemoglobin. In addition to these extraordinary respiratory adaptations, the crucian carp is the only vertebrate known to be able to change its body morphology to avoid being predated – a mechanism induced by alarm substances sent out by fellow crucian carp when they are in the process of being eaten. So, next time you go out to search for extraordinary life forms, do not go by their looks.

Earlier research was published in Science Maintained Cardiac Pumping in Anoxic Crucian Carp by Jonathan A. W. Stecyk, Kåre-Olav Stensløkken, Anthony P. Farrell, Göran E. Nilsson, Science October 2004: Vol. 306. no. 5693, p. 77

and in Hypoxia induces adaptive and reversible gross morphological changes in crucian carp gills Jørund Sollid, Paula De Angelis, Kristian Gundersen and Göran E. Nilsson, The Journal of Experimental Biology 206, 3667-3673 (2003)

Other relevant links for this study

102 Comments

Exactly what was the evolutionary pressure which made it so vital for the Crucian Carp to be able to survive in anoxic environments? How is that useful to its particular evolutionary niche, at least any more so than any other fish?

Re “the exotic ability to produce ethanol through a metabolic pathway that is supported by the largest glycogen store of any vertebrate.”

So, it survives lack of oxygen by fermenting itself? ROFL

Henry

hmm. i wonder just how efficient this particular pathway is.

more efficient that extracting ethanol from corn, perhaps?

farming goldfish for the future.

Exactly what was the evolutionary pressure which made it so vital for the Crucian Carp to be able to survive in anoxic environments? How is that useful to its particular evolutionary niche, at least any more so than any other fish?

The Anoxic environment.

The Anoxic environment.

Perhaps then the question I should have asked would be: What might be an example of an environment or circumstance which is unusually anoxic and in which crucian carp would be likely to find themselves? Assume you are speaking to someone whose knowledge of fish ecology is relatively low.

I recall a line from Jurassic Park: “Life will find a way…”

This means that life, on this and other planets, need not strictly conform to our expectations and pre-conceived notions.

In many areas that experience periodic large-scale flooding, for example the amazon basin, the retreating water can leave fish stranded in pools that quickly become stagnant and anoxic.

In fact, many fish species in these areas have evolved responses to anoxic conditions that revolve around breathing air.

anoxic conditions also exist in many large lakes or bodies of water with poor circulation, very deep areas, or no overturn. Titicaca and the Black Sea come to mind.

anoxic conditions can also be seasonal; tied to the reproductive cycles of certain algae (yes, algae use oxygen at night), and many other things.

It’s not the anoxic conditions that are rare, it’s the specific metabolic response of this fish that is quite unusual.

I see, thanks.

… as to a guess as to competing selective pressures that might favor “holding your breath” over air-breathing, I would think this would be quite heavily favored in areas with lots of surface predators, like birds.

…come up to breathe and get yourself nailed by a bird.

stay down, and you don’t get munched.

in areas where air-breathers predominate, I would expect lots of cover, like the heavily forested and numerous pools in the amazon basin.

If pool are relatively isolated and open… well you get the idea.

The anaerobic production of ethanol in the carp could then be a deterrent to predation similar to poison arrow frogs, monarch butterflies etc. One fully ethanolized carp come to the surface, gets ingested by a bird, bad things happen to the bird (busted for flying while intoxicated?) and bird stays away from other carp.

OTOH, the bird might like the effects of ingesting the carp and…

One fully ethanolized carp come to the surface

why would it need to come to the surface?

sorry, I’m being deliberately “dry”

heh.

What makes you think evolution created this carp?

-YHWH

Our educations in science, that’s what.

On another note, anyone have a clue what’s up with EvoWiki?

“the bird might like the effects of ingesting the carp”

I guess reading papers such as “The adenosine receptor blocker aminophylline increases anoxic ethanol excretion in crucian carp.” ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/[…]opt=Abstract ) explains why we shouldn’t be carping full throttle about the methabolical benefits of this remarkable fish. It may lead to a hangover.

Uups.. metabolical. I write like a drunkard today. ;-)

Martin Wagner says his science education is why he thinks evolution created this carp.

I take this to say: “I am learned in science therefore evolution is true.”

Is that the consensus here?

Hey, YHWH. Does this sound familiar? “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

ps - got any actual reasons for thinking evolution didn’t? Or is just “God did it so shut up” as usual?

“I am learned in my theology so evolution is false.”

On the other hand, if that happened to be a serious question, then try reading the FAQs at TalkOrigins. All the answers are there.

Comment #95666

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 8, 2006 11:35 PM (e)

In many areas that experience periodic large-scale flooding, for example the amazon basin, the retreating water can leave fish stranded in pools that quickly become stagnant and anoxic.

In fact, many fish species in these areas have evolved responses to anoxic conditions that revolve around breathing air.

anoxic conditions also exist in many large lakes or bodies of water with poor circulation, very deep areas, or no overturn. Titicaca and the Black Sea come to mind.

anoxic conditions can also be seasonal; tied to the reproductive cycles of certain algae (yes, algae use oxygen at night), and many other things.

It’s not the anoxic conditions that are rare, it’s the specific metabolic response of this fish that is quite unusual.

Dang, one of the few biology concepts I’m actually decent with and someone beats me to the punch.

from YHWH: Martin Wagner says his science education is why he thinks evolution created this carp.

I take this to say: “I am learned in science therefore evolution is true.”

Is that the consensus here?

No, it is not. The consensus here is that, if you study evolutionary theory well enough that you really understand what it does and doesn’t predict, and if you look carefully at the biological world, you’ll see that the predictions of evolutionary theory have been borne out time and time again.

I’m not sure what Martin Wagner meant (of course), but that’s what “science education” means to me: knowing the theory and the facts well enough that you really can determine whether or not the two of ‘em fit together.

For instance, all of these adaptations to anoxia in the carp– in fact, every functional feature we see anywhere in biology, whether in this carp or in some other organism– serve to pass on the genes that encode those features. As you may be aware, that’s the only function that is favored by natural selection: to contribute to passing on one’s genes. The question that I think you have to answer is: why does every function of every living thing happen to be tailored to pass on an organism’s genes? Is it just coincidence that the features of living organisms have precisely the function which evolutionary theory predicts?

YHWH -

Ironically, your username is potentially quite disrespectful to a number of religious traditions. I use it with some misgivings.

Anyway, this deserves a response -

“I take this to say: “I am learned in science therefore evolution is true.””

It’s hard to know where to begin, since this indicates that, despite the decent grammar and spelling of your posts, you have no idea what science actually is.

Here’s a crude layman’s explanation. It’s all just my own thoughts, but compatible with what I know of the “philosophy of science”.

Science is what you get when you start by making certain very basic assumptions that are accepted across almost all belief systems - the physical world exists, the senses detect the physical world, other people exist and their opinions can be of value, and the type of thinking we call “logical” is of value in understanding the physical world, for example.

If you brake your car at red lights, you implicitly accept these assumptions. Of course, you could understand science even without accepting them - science describes what the physical world is like, to the best of our knowledge, under these assumptions.

Building from these implied assumptions, science uses objective observation and, where possible, experimentation, to test hypotheses about the physical world.

What our scientific educations tell us - and a formal scientific education is not really necessary for this - is that the evidence supporting the theory of evolution as the explanation for the diversity of cellular and post-cellular (ie viruses) life is overwhelming.

As with the rest of scientific reality, the theory of evolution, being neutral and evidence-based, can be and is accepted in the context of many religious traditions.

In the unlikely event that you want to learn something rather than indulge in narcissistic posturing (and I make this cynical statement based partly on past experience with internet creationists, and hope you will prove me wrong), this well-know web site provides some basic information about the theory of evolution.

http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html

Like any web site for the general public, it is merely a beginning for anyone with a serious interest in any aspect of biomedical science.

Additionally, their red blood cell hemoglobin, which transports oxygen, can bind oxygen to itself more strongly than in any other vertebrate.

That’s only part of the equation. Hemoglobin needs to beind oxygen strongly in the gills, but be able to release it in other tissue. It’s a tricky balancing act, and mechanisms have arisen to influence the balance.

I write this from Norway but not from the University of Oslo. The crucian carp is actually a fairly common fish in Europe and also in Asia. In Swedish (my native tongue) it even has a name of its own, “ruda” with no obvious meaning, indicating that the name is old. In other Germanic languages it is known as karusse (Norwegian and Danish) and Karrausche (German). These names are the same as the scientific name Carussia given by Linnaeus in 1758, the starting year of modern animal systematics.

Among the known feats of the crucian carp is to go hibernating in the bottom mud of shallow lakes and ponds where the water may freeze completely. It survives as long as the mud doesn’t freeze.

It is not generally eaten in Western Europe, supposedly because it has too many small bones, and according to one Swedish Internet site, because its meat tastes mud. In Sweden this is also said about other carp fish which are eaten in Central and Eastern Europe.

The crucian carp is said to grow at a moderate speed. I would guess it has to use a lot of energy to keep up its anoxic survival kit.

Semi-related.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933[…]0906,00.html

One-Eyed Kitten to Be Centerpiece of Creationism Museum

jason Wrote:

One-Eyed Kitten to Be Centerpiece of Creationism Museum

Looks like the creationists have another expert on evolutionary biology on their side …

“My question is this. Are there really positive mutations?

“All I can see are neutral or negative,” said Adolfi, a REAL ESTATE AGENT from Granby, N.Y.

corkscrew Wrote:

nylonbug

But from the nylon point of view, that’s a negative mutation!

The real estate agent has answers for everything, trust me.

I doubt that it will be a means of making ethanol more efficient than making it from corn. For one thing you have to feed the fish and it has to make glycogen. Plants make carbohydrate using solar energy. You can’t get much cheaper than that.

There may be some niffty enzymes, but we really need better ones that break down cellulose and not glycogen. Once you get it down to glucose you’d have to find some means to keep the intermediates from being shunted off to other metabolic pathways to make ethanol production more efficient.

Hypoxic survival strategies in two fishes: extreme anoxia tolerance in the North European crucian carp and natural hypoxic preconditioning in a coral-reef shark.

From the conclusion: In contrast to anoxia-tolerant turtles, the crucian carp remains active during anoxia, albeit at a reduced level. In the crucian carp, the brain electrical activity is at least maintained to a degree that allows continued activity, although some senses are temporarily tuned down. A key adaptation allowing a continued high level of glycolysis in crucian carp is the production and excretion of ethanol as the glycolytic end-product, thereby avoiding lactate self-poisoning. Like the turtle, the crucian carp shows an adenosine-mediated increase in brain blood flow, but this is sustained throughout the anoxic period and brain glycolysis is upregulated rather than downregulated. Instead of relying on reduced neuronal ion permeability during anoxia, a modulated release of GABA and adenosine may function to suppress various neural functions in the anoxic crucian carp brain. While the anoxic GABA release is much smaller and more variable in the crucian carp brain than in the turtle brain, a massive GABA release may be used by the crucian carp as a second line of defence for neurons suffering energy deficiency. By maintaining activity during anoxia, the crucian carp could be able to seek out oxygen rather than having to wait for it to arrive — the only option for the comatose turtle. One immediate lesson to be learnt from the hypoxia-tolerant epaulette shark is that adjustments such as an increased haematocrit, elevated blood [glucose] or a rise in brain blood flow, which other vertebrates display in response to hypoxia, are not always needed for anoxic survival. At least, the epaulette shark can do without such responses. The physiological mechanisms conferring protection in the epaulette shark must be multi-phase.

From: Design vs. Descent: A Contest of Predictions Table 1. Ways Designers Act When Designing (3) ‘Re-use parts’ over-and-over in different types of organisms (design upon a common blueprint). Table 2. Predictions of Intelligent Design (3) Genes and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms.29 29.For a brief discussion of this matter, see Wells, J., Icons of Evolution pg. 60 (Regnery 2000) or Icons Still Standing by Casey Luskin in the “Homology in Vertebrate Limbs” subsection.

We have 2 species of fish and 1 reptile which have mechanisms with similarities but significant physiological differences in adapting to hypoxia. In design apologetics, hypoxia was not considered environmental feature that allowed a single type of fix, rather low oxygen levels required organisms be designed with a variety of different mechanisms. Or alternatively, the design needed fixing.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

nylonbug

I never really though about it in this context before, but DNA decoding is exactly analogous to what we do in electrical engineering when we have to parse out the data from a serial stream of 1’s and 0’s.

We have the exact same framing error problem all the time whenever we loose our count in a bit stream, say, from clock skews or a burst of noise.

The basic problem is that there’s no obvious difference between the intended stream and the wrongly framed stream. To the hardware, data is data, whether meaningful to the application or not.

Since we fancy ourselves as - dare I say the words - intelligent designers, we overcome this problem by using carefully chosen, unambiguous, data or by adding extra framing and error correction information so we can automatically recover from errors.

It’s odd that some people are looking at that one-eyed kitten as evidence of intelligent design because, to me at least, it doesn’t seem like his gene transcription hardware was well engineered at all.

If we mere mortals can figure out a self-checking data stream, it’s funny that a designer of, um, somewhat more intelligence, didn’t come up with something a bit more robust.

About “gravlax” which I called a delicious fermented salmon dish, something some of you Americans thought was funny:

Eating gravlax requires about the same amount of bravery as eating yoghurt, a fermented dish which is known and eaten also in the United States.

Going outside Scandinavia, is there anyone who knows of “fermented black beans” used in some Cantonese food. They are not for beginners. I have got some from my Hong Kong-born daughter-in-law. A problem if you want to try them is that they are cheap and are sold in packages of about 1 kg. About a table-spoon is enough each time.

It’s interesting to see different fish meals from diverse cultures.

However, I don’t understand the persisting insistence to call fermented fish “rotted”. If there are any rotten food products out there, I probably wouldn’t want to eat them.

BTW, surströmming fermentation gives a distinct smell and taste, but while the smell is quite bad the taste is nice and spicy. The vodka is good for dissociating smell and taste, or to brave the first chew for the uninitiated.

Just be careful to open the can under water. Especially since the can is pressurised after the fermentation, so you wouldn’t want to get smelly fish juice over your clothes. That *is* a rotten experience. :-)

Oh, I forgot to relate my favorite anecdote about surströmming!

When a student, I come in contact with US students doing summer schools here. One in that group related the mistake of buying a surströmming can by relying on the fish depicted on the label like any tuna can.

He claimed he wasn’t deterred by the smell but proceeded to fry them in a pan. Fermented fish has much of the structural integrity removed. His fishes shrunk quickly to mere residues…

As usual, microbes are ahead of the curve.

Undersea Microbes Active But Living On The Slow Side

Deeply buried ocean sediments may house populations of tiny organisms that have extremely low maintenance energy needs and population turnover rates of anywhere from 200 to 2,000 years, according to an international team of researchers. …

“Fermented black beans” are basically what give soy sauce its flavor. Soy sauce is sort of just fermented black-bean juice (with some other stuff added). Nothing gross about them!

regarding fermented fish sauce(s)- my favorite is that most exotic of fermented fish sauces- Worcestershire-yup good ol’ Lea and Perrin’s - main ingredient - fermented anchovies!

Well, this seems to be the preserved fish thread, so perhaps someone here will be familiar with what I’m asking about.

When I was in Iceland some 25 years ago, I was introduced to a snack which was a kind of dried fish, pale in color, and somewhat fishy-smelling, but not obnoxiously so. When I’d break pieces off, it was kind of a cross between flaky and fibrous. I haven’t thought about it since then, and I’ve long since forgotten the name my host taught me for it.

Do Icelanders eat lutefisk, and is that what this description sounds like, or is this not enough information to go on?

Thanks!

not lutefisk, but that’s as far as i could go to help you on that one.

try the link to the “fishy foods” i posted earlier. it might be there.

When I was in Iceland some 25 years ago, I was introduced to a snack which was a kind of dried fish, pale in color, and somewhat fishy-smelling, but not obnoxiously so. When I’d break pieces off, it was kind of a cross between flaky and fibrous. I haven’t thought about it since then, and I’ve long since forgotten the name my host taught me for it.

Sounds like something we in RSA call “bokkoms” - dried fish (mallet)

Dry fish is eaten as a snack also in Northern Norway. I think it is just dried cod - the raw material for making lutefisk - which has been cut and probably hammered to make it softer.

I have tried both the Norwegian and the Icelandic variety but it was many years ago. As far as I remember the taste was the same. When you start chewing it feels like cardboard but it is easy to become addicted.

But how many of those fish dishes taste like chicken?

I’ve managed to save up roughly $24238 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 8, 2006 7:25 PM.

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