Denisovans and the species problem

| 225 Comments

A few weeks ago I blogged on the Denisovans, a new group of human relatives discovered through genetic analysis of two bones from Denisova in Siberia (Reich et al. 2010, Nature 468:1053). Fascinatingly, the Denisovans seem to have made about a 5% contribution to the genome of living Melanesians.

I mentioned that this new discovery did not seem compatible with a young-earth creationist framework, and awaited with interest a creationist explanation of the findings. Answers In Genesis (AIG) has now commented on the Denisovans. No explanation, merely a one-sentence handwaving solution:

Answers in Genesis Wrote:

But the most interesting twist (from the evolutionary perspective) is that modern humans from New Guinea have Denisovan DNA. While an evolutionary perspective interprets this as meaning that Guineans’ ancestors “interbred” with Denisovans, a biblical perspective interprets this as simply meaning that the descendants of one of the people groups leaving Babel eventually settled in what is now New Guinea.

It’s not clear what this even means. After all, their ‘biblical perspective’ had exactly the same interpretation (that the descendants of a group leaving Babel settled in New Guinea) even before we knew about the Denisovan genetic contribution. This ‘explanation’ fails to address a key point: how did the Denisovan genes get into Melanesians, if not by interbreeding with Denisovans?

And the above scenario doesn’t resolve any of the other problems with a young-earth framework.

Why is the Denisovan genome so different from all modern humans, if they were descended from the same eight people on the Ark? (The Denisovans would, presumably, have to be another group of people who left Babel, since Babel happens after the global flood in the Bible.) Why does Africa have the greatest genetic diversity in modern humans but no Neanderthal or Denisovan genes? Why are Neanderthal genes found in all non-Africans, but not in Africans? The genetic diversity of modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans is much greater than that of modern humans alone. How could there be so much genetic diversity so soon after disembArking from the Ark? How did all that extra genetic diversity disappear? Genes can disappear quickly in population bottlenecks, or slowly through random processes like genetic drift in stable populations, but it’s very unlikely for genes, let alone large numbers of genes, to disappear in a rapidly expanding population (and going from 8 to 7 billion in under 10000 years is definitely rapid expansion).

On to the question of what species the Denisovans should be assigned to.

Cautiously, and commendably IMO, the scientists declined to classify the Denisovans taxonomically, given that we know almost nothing about their anatomy. Answers in Genesis, of course, considers them all humans:

Answers in Genesis Wrote:

Writing for BBC News, Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, emphasizes that both Denisovans and Neanderthals belonged to our species, Homo sapiens. (Indeed, given the original definition of species as referring to organisms that could interbreed successfully, treating them as separate species doesn’t make sense. However, that definition is no longer observed.)

There’s a reason why scientists have struggled since before Darwin to define what a species is. It’s called the ‘species problem’, and it’s why so many species definitions and concepts have been proposed. Basically, the world is a complex, messy place. Scientists would love it if they could use AIG’s definition. They can’t and don’t, because it doesn’t work in the real world. It may be simple, but it’s also simple-minded. Do we really want to put lions and tigers in the same species? Dogs and wolves? The fact that lions and tigers can interbreed is less important to biologists than the fact they they differ in many other important ways. There are other problems. For example, AIG’s definition doesn’t handle cases where species A can interbreed with B, and B with C, but A can’t interbreed with C. It’s an inherently difficult problem that will probably never be fully solved because the complexity of life defies easy categorization.

225 Comments

Could someone please explain to me what “the Denisovans seem to have made about a 5% contribution to the genome of living Melanesians” means. I know I am doing something stupid, but I don’t know what. We’re 98 percent the same genome as Chimps, but Melanesians got 5 percent from Denisovans. Is that 5 percent of the 2 percent that makes us different from Chimps? It is obvious to me that the 98 percent and the 5 percent can’t be a percentage of the same thing, but I’d like to understand what I am missing here. Thanks in advance. Ron

Answers in Genesis Wrote: (Indeed, given the original definition of species as referring to organisms that could interbreed successfully, treating them as separate species doesn’t make sense. However, that definition is no longer observed.)

This statement from AIG is false (big surprise) on two fronts. First, typological species concepts long predated interbreeding criteria. Second, many biologists still use interbreeding criteria to distinguish species for many, if not most vertebrates. Leave it to the creationists to keep shoveling the manure.

Of course the reason for the “species problem” is that descent with modification is true. That is where species come from. That is why they are not nice neat packages the way that creationists want them to be. This is completely consistent with evolutionary theory.

It might be more appropriate to define species by genetic discontinuity, since genetic divergence is an inevitable consequence of reproductive isolation. This approach would also allow for the determination of levels of introgressive hybridization, which seems to be the case here.

Apparently, there was some interbreeding in the past of some Denisovans and some modern humans. Apparently some of these genes, which can be distinguished from the lineage they introgressed into due to the degree of genetic divergence, can still be found in some modern populations. That is where the 5% figure comes from. It doesn’t have anything to do with the divergence of humans from chimps, since they last shared a common ancestor before the split of modern humans and Denisovans.

It is obvious to me that the 98 percent and the 5 percent can’t be a percentage of the same thing, but I’d like to understand what I am missing here. Thanks in advance. Ron

Well, see, both the Denisovans and the Melanesians were slightly modified chimps (as are we). But they were slightly modified in different ways. Some of those differences got passed through interbreeding.

Ron Bear said:

Could someone please explain to me what “the Denisovans seem to have made about a 5% contribution to the genome of living Melanesians” means. I know I am doing something stupid, but I don’t know what. We’re 98 percent the same genome as Chimps, but Melanesians got 5 percent from Denisovans. Is that 5 percent of the 2 percent that makes us different from Chimps? It is obvious to me that the 98 percent and the 5 percent can’t be a percentage of the same thing, but I’d like to understand what I am missing here. Thanks in advance. Ron

They aren’t percentages of the same thing. Human genes differ from each other by about 0.1% (genes in Denisovans presumably differ a bit more from those in modern humans). The 5% figure is roughly the fraction of genes (loci) at which the small differences between different copies indicate that Melanesian copies are more similar to Denisovan copies than they are to copies in other humans.

We teach the various definitions of a species in our 100-level Bio course. I always thought that the viable-offspring definition was the consensus view since its the least arbitrary but then Neanderthals wouldnt be a separate species. I suspect that any other 2 organisms separated by the equivalent time/genetic distance/morphology would be considered the same species and its just our human bias that splits them into another species

Thanks for explaining. So Denisovans contributed roughly .05 percent of the entire genome of Melanesians. That makes it so that the math squares up on my original question. Also it makes sense to me that if someone is trying to determine how I am related to you or how either of us is related to a Denisovan, it wouldn’t make sense to look at the entire genomes. It makes sense to look at the differences between the genomes. Thanks, Ron

RodWl said: I always thought that the viable-offspring definition was the consensus view since its the least arbitrary but then Neanderthals wouldnt be a separate species.

That’s the trouble with species definitions. Not a one of them doesn’t encounter problems here and there. The viable-offspring definition is as arbitrary as any. How, for example, does it deal with cases in which male-A female-B crosses are viable but female-A male-B crosses are not? Or cases of simply reduced numbers of viabile offspring? Or, closer to my heart, how would it deal with the family Anatidae, which under the viability definition would be approximately a single species, there being known crosses between subfamilies and between most genera?

I suspect that any other 2 organisms separated by the equivalent time/genetic distance/morphology would be considered the same species and its just our human bias that splits them into another species

Sorry, but no. Simple genetic distance doesn’t make a species. Nor does morphology. We might make a guess on either basis, but the guess doesn’t have to correspond to reality. If there’s a consensus view (and there probably isn’t), the question to ask is whether the two populations would coalesce into one population if they were sympatric. Easy to answer for populations that actually are sympatric, harder for those that are allopatric.

Consider the example of the rosy finches (Leucosticte). They differ enough in plumage that it’s easy to tell them apart. They don’t differ at all genetically, so far as can be told, in that mtDNA haplotypes are randomly shared among populations. (Obviously, they must differ, just not at loci we’ve examined so far.) And their breeding ranges don’t overlap, though their winter ranges do. Anyway, the point is that they are genetically much less differentiated than Denisovans and modern humans, but we do call them good species.

I’ve talked with my local open air creationist preacher about the new finding about Denisovan (we have weekly coffee then screaming matches). After we got through all the BS about dating methods and sequencing his argument position was that of Magic Man done it. To quote: “If the fossils seem old it’s because god made them seem that way. If the DNA seems like it was sequenced it’s because god made it seem that way, not because it actually is that way”. That’s right. God, the great deceiver.

Your open air creationist is indulging in what has been called the “deceptive God blasphemy”.

There is a good bit of species criteria discussion on the “Why Evolution is True” blog, centered on how many elephant species. I’ve studied interspecies hybridization some, and have just been reading a manuscript about why two sister species hybridize here, but not there, and what it all means. I suspect the large majority of sexually reproducing biparental animal species are well isolated genetically out in nature. Instances of interspecies hybridization are, I think, relatively rare and therefore interesting as a situation which tests the theory of species being genetically isolated.

Cautiously, and commendably IMO, the scientists declined to classify the Denisovans taxonomically, given that we know almost nothing about their anatomy.

That is what I’d really like to see. What do the Denisovans look like? A few skulls would be nice.

Presumably they would look vaguely like sapiens sapiens and sapiens neaderthal but the details are anyone’s guess right now.

IIRC, one of the artifacts they found in the same cave was a bracelet. A group that can survive in Siberia and make jewelry doesn’t sound too dumb.

This is basic Creation Science! There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Twelve thousand years old. But I actually asked this guy, “OK, dinosaur fossils– how does that fit into your scheme of life? What’s the deal?” He goes:

–“God put those here to test our faith.”
–“I think God put you here to test my faith, dude. I think I’ve figured this out.”

Does that– That’s what this guy said. Does that bother anyone here? The idea that God might be @#$%ing with our heads? Anyone have trouble sleeping restfully with that thought in their head? God’s running around burying fossils: “Ho ho! We’ll see who believes in me now, ha ha! I’m a prankster God. I am killing me, ho ho ho!”
You know? You die, you go to St. Peter:

“Did you believe in dinosaurs?”
“Well, yeah. There were fossils everywhere. (trapdoor opens)
Aaaaarhhh!”
“You #$@@$#in’ idiot! Flying lizards? You’re a moron. God was %$#%#in’ with you!”
“It seemed so plausible, aaaaaahh!”
“Enjoy the lake of fire, @#$@er!”

— Bill Hicks

You don’t see the “test our faith” trope very often these days, probably because of the obvious theological problems. Then again, the story of Abraham and Isaac would seem to argue in favor of such a god. Not to mention that in the Eden story, the snake was telling the truth and god was lying about the tree.

JF:

Human genes differ from each other by about 0.1%

http://www.sciencedaily.com/release[…]04072204.htm. (from 2007)

While the SNP events outnumbered the non-SNP variants, the latter class involved a larger portion (74%) of the variable component of Dr. Venter’s genome. This data suggests that human-to-human variation is much greater than the 0.1% difference found in earlier genome sequencing projects. The new estimate based on this data is that genomes between individuals have at least 0.5% total genetic variation (or are 99.5% similar) The researchers suggest that much more research needs to be done on these non-SNP variants to better understand their role in individual genomics.

genome.gov:

Genetic Variation Program Overview Most of any one person’s DNA, about 99.5 percent, is exactly the same as any unrelated person’s DNA. Differences in the sequence of DNA among individuals are called genetic variation.

FYI. The 0.1% difference is from older estimates. From whole genome sequencing, it is now given as 0.5%, 15 million bp different.

Which isn’t all that much less than human chimpanzee given as 98 or 99%. This has always implied (IMO) that which sequences are different and why is more important than the absolute numbers.

Raven, not that I doubt you, but can you give a citation for that estimate, and does it use the same index of similarity as the human-chimp figure of 1.3%, based on site differences in aligned sequences?

Raven, not that I doubt you, but can you give a citation for that estimate, and does it use the same index of similarity as the human-chimp figure of 1.3%, based on site differences in aligned sequences?

Ummm, I did. There is a link in that post to the sciencedaily.com article from 2007 at the top of the box. Typing a few keywords in google including “99.5%” will bring up the info from genome.gov.

AFAIK, the human human and human chimpanzee differences use the same type of sequence analysis.

I’m not a practicing Biologist, so I can safely say that I don’t think species exist. Within a genera (or possibly a larger group, thanks John), it’s just a continum.

Humans like to be able to put things into neat boxes, but clines just don’t allow organisms to fit into neat little boxes. They have to be really big boxes, and then what’s the point of putting them into boxes.

Jim Thomerson said:

Your open air creationist is indulging in what has been called the “deceptive God blasphemy”.

There is a good bit of species criteria discussion on the “Why Evolution is True” blog, centered on how many elephant species. I’ve studied interspecies hybridization some, and have just been reading a manuscript about why two sister species hybridize here, but not there, and what it all means. I suspect the large majority of sexually reproducing biparental animal species are well isolated genetically out in nature. Instances of interspecies hybridization are, I think, relatively rare and therefore interesting as a situation which tests the theory of species being genetically isolated.

You may well be right about the ‘large majority’ of species being well isolated (most of our animal species are arthropods, and I don’t have much of a feel for them). But there are a few groups that really make the problem stand out. John Harshman mentioned the Anatidae, I can only guess he’s scared to mention the Laridae. Trying to sort out the taxonomy of the LWHG (Large, white-headed gulls) seems to be a true nightmare. Hybridization is actually very common in places and in some populations, to the extent that the majority of birds in some locales are considered to be interspecies hybrids. (The entire coast of Washington state, for example.) Yet we can clearly diagnose many of these same species when they wander to other locations. (Well, maybe not as clearly as we’d like to think.)

I think that the Anatidae includes a couple of cases that indicate how much historical biases can get in the way of our classification, specifically the Hawaiian Duck and the American Black Duck. Both have historically been considered full species, and both are in the process of being ‘genetically swamped’ by Mallards. I’m not sure if there is a valid argument for maintaining their species status, other than conservation concerns.

Excuse me for the shameless self-promotion. But I think the evidence that modern humans population derrive genes from Neanderthal and Denisnovans is a really good way to edge into the species problem.

As others have said, the difficulty we find in drawing a bright white line between species is actually a prediction of descent with modification and something of a problem for creationists who want to separate our species from the rest of creation.

david winter said:

As others have said, the difficulty we find in drawing a bright white line between species is actually a prediction of descent with modification and something of a problem for creationists who want to separate our species from the rest of creation.

I guess ID/creationists just have to accept the fact that bread dough can’t turn into bread and cake batter can’t turn into a cake.

OgreMK5, I’m a retired fish alpha taxonomist. I spent my career identifying fish species and considering their relationships at the generic and family levels. This includes describing new species and genera, and producing keys for species identification. My experience does not support your idea that species ordinarily form continua.

Mike Elzinga said: I guess ID/creationists just have to accept the fact that bread dough can’t turn into bread and cake batter can’t turn into a cake.

Oh, but those are the product of an Intelligent Baker.

I am not a biologist so I can give you no insight into what a species is. But why do you want to introduce a term for a quality that you cannot define? Compare it with the concept of aether, we did away with this, once we understood what was actually happening, without any pain.

We have known what was actually happening in biology for even longer. Darwin drew his ‘I think’ tree and we have never looked back.

If we could zoom in on the tree so as to see individual creatures, we would find that each twig consisted of myriads of little lives which intersect and branch while remaining part of the twig. Sometimes the twig will bifurcate and the two parts go their separate ways. Highly magnified, it may not be possible to tell exactly where the separation occurred or where it became irrevocable (where no lives are able to cross from one to another or, if they do, fail to produce fertile offspring).

Knowing what we do, is it sensible to try to cut some slice out of a branch of the tree and say that this is a particular ‘species’?

mrg said:

Mike Elzinga said: I guess ID/creationists just have to accept the fact that bread dough can’t turn into bread and cake batter can’t turn into a cake.

Oh, but those are the product of an Intelligent Baker.

Not when I do it. :-)

Alan Barnard said: Knowing what we do, is it sensible to try to cut some slice out of a branch of the tree and say that this is a particular ‘species’?

Yes. Are cats and dogs different species? Unambiguously. How about housecats and caracals? That’s more ambiguous.

Are German and French different languages? Unambiguously. Are French and Walloons different languages? That’s more ambiguous.

We define different colors, but anyone looking at a color wheel might have some difficulty determining where one begins and another leaves off. The concept of a species is not so different in concept than the concept of a color, and I don’t see that it would be useful to abandon either concept simply because they are ambiguous. The real world is like that.

Mike Elzinga said:

mrg said:

Mike Elzinga said: I guess ID/creationists just have to accept the fact that bread dough can’t turn into bread and cake batter can’t turn into a cake.

Oh, but those are the product of an Intelligent Baker.

Not when I do it. :-)

I can sympathize. When we get to a certain age, it’s difficult to make things rise any more.

mrg said:

Mike Elzinga said:

mrg said:

Mike Elzinga said: I guess ID/creationists just have to accept the fact that bread dough can’t turn into bread and cake batter can’t turn into a cake.

Oh, but those are the product of an Intelligent Baker.

Not when I do it. :-)

I can sympathize. When we get to a certain age, it’s difficult to make things rise any more.

Ah; Viagara instead of yeast in the bread dough! I hadn’t thought of that.

Mike Elzinga said: Ah; Viagara instead of yeast in the bread dough! I hadn’t thought of that.

I was thinking of several rejoinders to that, but they tend to accelerate the descent of the conversation rapidly.

Jim Thomerson said:

OgreMK5, I’m a retired fish alpha taxonomist. I spent my career identifying fish species and considering their relationships at the generic and family levels. This includes describing new species and genera, and producing keys for species identification. My experience does not support your idea that species ordinarily form continua.

Just out of curiosity, did that include cichlids?

And you Malchus seem incapable of doing anything but hurtling insults at me. Have yet to read one substantial contribution you have tried to make with regards to either sedimentology geology or evolutionary biology in reply to my comments in this thread.

The existence of morphological stasis in the fossil record is something that invertebrate paleontologists in the 19th Century recognized. However, it wasn’t until the advent of the Modern Synthesis that we had a younger generation of inverebrate paleobiologists like Eldredge, Gould, Stanley and others, who opted to gain insights from the Modern Synthesis into explaining patterns such as morphological stasis that they were seeing in the fossil record (Though in this case, paleobiology came late to the “game” so to speak, and it was only due to the “Young Turks” like those I have cited.).

As for myself, I was never really interested in determining which mode of speciation was responsible for punctuated equilibrium. Instead, what I found of interest was the long-term persistence of morphologically identical taxa over time, especially the long-term survival of taxa existing in the same, or similar, enviroments, which have been the subject of extensive research by some University of Chicago paleobiologists and their former students.

John Kwok said:

1) No, if you have very patchy environments which foster reproductive isolation, you would still see speciation occurring. During times of normal, background extinction, those taxa that have broader larval dispersal, would be those least resistant to extinction (and the ones most likely to exhibit long-term evolutionary stasis). i would also suspect that given their broader geographic ranges, it would be hard to separate out cryptic species if they exist within.

No to what? I fail to see the relevance of brooding vs. planktonic larvae to anything we’ve been talking about.

2) Instead of arguing with me over the prevalence of evolutionary stasis, at least amongst marine metazoans, dig it up in the literature. That literature does exist. Again I’m not your online library resource.

I’m not arguing with you over the prevalence of evolutionary stasis. I’m arguing with you about our ability to recognize splitting events in the fossil record. (I also question whether the case for stasis as a dominant phenomenon has been adequately made, but that isn’t what we’ve been discussing here.) It’s amazing to me that after all this time you still don’t know what we’re arguing about.

And John, I’m not disputing that there are cryptic species have been present in the history of life prior to the Recent. But all we have for the last five hundred forty-three odd million years is a fossil record based on hard-part shelly invertebrates, and I have to use that data, nothing else, to support the prevalence of morphological stasis at least amongst Marine metazoa.

We aren’t arguing about morphological stasis. Are you on drugs? (Not out of the question, given your cold.)

If you want a relatively recent example of some kind of long-term stasis, may I suggest looking at the work published by Derek Briggs and his team (I don’t think he’s the lead author BTW) that was published last spring in Nature on the discovery of a Burgess Shale-like fauna in Early Ordovician strata from North Africa. It’s evidence like that I base my conclusions, not what Eldredge, Gould, Futuyma or Pigliucci have said.

I recall the paper. But are the morphospecies in that fauna the same morphospecies as those in the Burgess? That, I don’t recall. What percentage of described species are common between faunas? Genera don’t count; stasis is a phenomenon within morphospecies. But again, we aren’t arguing about stasis and never have been. Remember that.

1) I do in the sense that those taxa that are geographically more broadly distributed - as a result of their laval dispersal strategies - would be the ones most likely to exhibit prolonged morphological stasis.

2) I think we can recognize splitting events in marine Metazoans. Where we can’t recognize them obviously is in terrestrial environments since these aren’t nearly as well-preserved as nearshore marine ones.

3) No, I believe they are not the same species, but instead, belong to the same clades as the Burgess Shale ones. If you want relevant examples, I suggest you look at Brett et al.’s work for starters. And now you seem to accept morphological stasis as a reality, when for the longest time you were questioning its existence.

John Kwok said:

1) I do in the sense that those taxa that are geographically more broadly distributed - as a result of their laval dispersal strategies - would be the ones most likely to exhibit prolonged morphological stasis.

And even what I wrote (above) may not be true with taxa possessing plantonic larvae if there are reproductive isolating mechanisms such as long-term changes in the direction and intensity of currents like the Gulf Stream, for example, changes in water temperature that may or may not be due to changes in currents, or the erection of unexpected barriers due to, for example, an extremely active period of volcanism that could create barriers such as islands or isthmuses which would result in dividing one widespread population into two.

John Kwok said:

1) I do in the sense that those taxa that are geographically more broadly distributed - as a result of their laval dispersal strategies - would be the ones most likely to exhibit prolonged morphological stasis.

You do what? And I repeat that we are not arguing about stasis, and also my question of whether you are on drugs.

2) I think we can recognize splitting events in marine Metazoans. Where we can’t recognize them obviously is in terrestrial environments since these aren’t nearly as well-preserved as nearshore marine ones.

What does quality of preservation have to do with it, and why do you think we can recognize splitting events in marine metazoans?

3) No, I believe they are not the same species, but instead, belong to the same clades as the Burgess Shale ones. If you want relevant examples, I suggest you look at Brett et al.’s work for starters. And now you seem to accept morphological stasis as a reality, when for the longest time you were questioning its existence.

If they don’t belong to the same species, that isn’t stasis, at least by the definition of PE. Clades can encompass any desired amount of differentiation. Of course they belong to the same clades. All life belongs to the same clades. It isn’t that I doubt the reality of stasis. What I doubt is its ubiquity. And I repeat that that has never been what we were arguing about. I continue to marvel at your inability to understand this simple fact.

John Harshman said: Or, if your cold and your novel are too pressing, just stop responding.

Kount Kwokula has remarkable recuperative powers. Would they were accompanied with other capabilities not, unfortunately, in evidence.

Kwok, my point is mote basic: I am not responding to your sedimentary points because they are not relevant to the point that Harshman is making. He is right - you really don’t have any idea what the discussion is about. No one is disputing morphological stasis. No one. But it’s in any way relevant to Harshman’s point.

Kwok, if you’re that confused and distracted, you should simply admit your error and stop arguing from authority on a point you don’t even understand.

John Kwok said:

And you Malchus seem incapable of doing anything but hurtling insults at me. Have yet to read one substantial contribution you have tried to make with regards to either sedimentology geology or evolutionary biology in reply to my comments in this thread.

The existence of morphological stasis in the fossil record is something that invertebrate paleontologists in the 19th Century recognized. However, it wasn’t until the advent of the Modern Synthesis that we had a younger generation of inverebrate paleobiologists like Eldredge, Gould, Stanley and others, who opted to gain insights from the Modern Synthesis into explaining patterns such as morphological stasis that they were seeing in the fossil record (Though in this case, paleobiology came late to the “game” so to speak, and it was only due to the “Young Turks” like those I have cited.).

As for myself, I was never really interested in determining which mode of speciation was responsible for punctuated equilibrium. Instead, what I found of interest was the long-term persistence of morphologically identical taxa over time, especially the long-term survival of taxa existing in the same, or similar, enviroments, which have been the subject of extensive research by some University of Chicago paleobiologists and their former students.

Kwok, you were never an invertebrate paleobiologist. As I recall, you took a few courses in the field. Exaggerating your accomplishments wins you no points here.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

No, actually you haven’t. It’s becoming fairly clear that you simply don’t understand the problem. You might try learning something about evolutionary biology, John, before jumping to an incorrect position on a point like this. I realize that biology isn’t your field - computer programming, I believe is your area - but really. Evolutionary biology isn’t that complicated.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

And I might add that your counter-point does not actually address Harshman’s argument. Apparently you are unable to do so.

It does Malchus but you are simply too dense to realize it. I suggest you delve into the literature and learn something about stratigraphy and sedimentology. As for not addressing Harshman’s points, that’s baloney. I have, but he doesn’t like my answers.

You’re absolutely right, evolutionary biology isn’t complicated at all. What is complicated however, are the perspectives of a neontologist (Harshman) who has worked only with vertebrates and a former invertebrate paleobiologist (yours truly).

Malchus said:

Kwok, you were never an invertebrate paleobiologist. As I recall, you took a few courses in the field. Exaggerating your accomplishments wins you no points here.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

No, actually you haven’t. It’s becoming fairly clear that you simply don’t understand the problem. You might try learning something about evolutionary biology, John, before jumping to an incorrect position on a point like this. I realize that biology isn’t your field - computer programming, I believe is your area - but really. Evolutionary biology isn’t that complicated.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

And I might add that your counter-point does not actually address Harshman’s argument. Apparently you are unable to do so.

It does Malchus but you are simply too dense to realize it. I suggest you delve into the literature and learn something about stratigraphy and sedimentology. As for not addressing Harshman’s points, that’s baloney. I have, but he doesn’t like my answers.

You’re absolutely right, evolutionary biology isn’t complicated at all. What is complicated however, are the perspectives of a neontologist (Harshman) who has worked only with vertebrates and a former invertebrate paleobiologist (yours truly).

I have a master’s degree in which my specialty was invertebrate paleobiology and I reviewed several manuscripts that were published in several notable scientific journals. That’s more than I can say about you. You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m trying to shake off a very, very bad cold.

I propose Ben’s Law:

“Given enough time, every conversation which includes John Kwok will eventually become about John Kwok.”

ben said:[SNIP}

“Eventually”?

mrg said:

ben said:[SNIP}

“Eventually”?

I also propose Trombley’s Corollary* to Ben’s Law:

“Any conversation which includes John Kwok, regardless of duration, is already thought by John Kwok to be about John Kwok.”

—–

*Named after Mike Trombley, former major league baseball pitcher and 1985 Western Massachusetts high school football Superbowl-winning quarterback who happens to have been a classmate of mine at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham Massachusetts (also home, incidentally, to the Friendly’s ice cream corporation) and who I sat next to in Advanced Writing class in 12th grade, often helping the good-natured but not overly bright Mr Trombley with classwork, which direct and meaningful relationship is the reason I named the corollary after him instead of former Notre Dame and San Francisco 49ers quarterback, three-time Super Bowl MVP and NFL hall of famer Joe Montana, to whom (with his lovely wife and children at his side) I once served a peach-flavored Snapple iced tea, for which he generously allowed me to keep the seventy cents change on the $1.30 purchase, or after Far Rockaway, Queens (which I have never visited, though I have been a few times to Manhattan, home of, gosh, so many famous people that I could namedrop for hours were I not motivated to condense this current thought into the most compact and efficient communication possible) native Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and member of the Rogers Commission (which investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger which, incidentally, occurred on my first day of college at the prestigious University of Massachusetts where my wife happens to have once attended an Education class with current NBA star and 2007 NBA defensive player of the year Marcus Camby) who seems to have been a really interesting person who I never met or had anything to do with but I am dropping his name here just because and if you have a problem with that you owe me a new set of snow tires and a pair of those little hydraulic cylinders that hold the back hatch open on my 1999 Saab 9-3 (base model) with 145,000 (mostly highway) miles, a persistent check engine light and an annoying body squeak when you go over bumps in cold weather, really a nice car but a little over-engineered and expensive to fix, it’s probably just a matter of time before something breaks which in a Ford or Toyota would be an affordable repair but in the Saab would be too expensive to be worth it.

LOL!

In other words, you admit that you were never an invertebrate paleobiologist. You were merely a student - it wasn’t even the subject of your masters.

And you’ve no idea what my field is. Really, Kwok, grow up.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

Kwok, you were never an invertebrate paleobiologist. As I recall, you took a few courses in the field. Exaggerating your accomplishments wins you no points here.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

No, actually you haven’t. It’s becoming fairly clear that you simply don’t understand the problem. You might try learning something about evolutionary biology, John, before jumping to an incorrect position on a point like this. I realize that biology isn’t your field - computer programming, I believe is your area - but really. Evolutionary biology isn’t that complicated.

John Kwok said:

Malchus said:

And I might add that your counter-point does not actually address Harshman’s argument. Apparently you are unable to do so.

It does Malchus but you are simply too dense to realize it. I suggest you delve into the literature and learn something about stratigraphy and sedimentology. As for not addressing Harshman’s points, that’s baloney. I have, but he doesn’t like my answers.

You’re absolutely right, evolutionary biology isn’t complicated at all. What is complicated however, are the perspectives of a neontologist (Harshman) who has worked only with vertebrates and a former invertebrate paleobiologist (yours truly).

I have a master’s degree in which my specialty was invertebrate paleobiology and I reviewed several manuscripts that were published in several notable scientific journals. That’s more than I can say about you. You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m trying to shake off a very, very bad cold.

Malchus/John Kwok said:

[A lot of pointless griping about trivial differences.]

SHUT THE HELL UP!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jim Foley published on January 21, 2011 6:08 AM.

Child abuse indeed was the previous entry in this blog.

Rhyothemis variegata is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter