New species of sparrow

| 137 Comments

According to the Beeb, there is a new species of sparrow, the Italian sparrow. Not the first instance of speciation within human memory, but a nice example. The species was originally a cross between the two other species, and the article notes that speciation by this mechanism may be more common than had been thought.

137 Comments

But did they determine its average wingspeed while carrying a coconut?

Cepetit, I want to be able to +1 your comment. =)

Looks like yet another example of sympatric speciation. Wasn’t there something recently about speciation in lizards brought about by hybridization?

Wouldn’t the Italian Sparrow actually be evidence that the House and Spanish Sparrow where not actually separate species?

“William Amos, professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Cambridge, explained: “I think the best definition we have is the one that says that different species are those that, under natural conditions, tend not to interbreed.””

I guess this board will now become a debate on the subjective meaning, significance and acceptable magnitude of the word “tend.”

How scientific.

fittest meme said:

Wouldn’t the Italian Sparrow actually be evidence that the House and Spanish Sparrow where not actually separate species?

No, given as how the House and Spanish sparrows are morphologically and behaviorally distinct. Just because two species can interbreed does not automatically make them the same species. Then again, if the two species were magically created by God as distinct species, that begs the question of why would they be designed to be allowed to interbreed?

William Amos, professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Cambridge, explained: “I think the best definition we have is the one that says that different species are those that, under natural conditions, tend not to interbreed.”

I guess this board will now become a debate on the subjective meaning, significance and acceptable magnitude of the word “tend.”

How scientific.

As opposed to your incessant whining about how scientists and the scientific community are stupid and evil for not allowing “non-materialistic explanations” a chance to explain anything? Or, how your refusal to bother to understand basic science makes you the supreme arbitrator of what can or can not be considered scientific?

Better yet, fittest meme, why don’t you explain to us how this all really an example of the work of an ineffable, imperceptible, incomprehensible Intelligent Designer, aka GOD as described in the Bible, and not at all an example of speciation through hybridization.

Holy Crow!

Karen S. said:

Holy Crow!

Finding it hard to swallow?

Fittest Meme -

Glad to see you’re back. Last time, we were having a discussion.

First, we noted that these are separate things - 1) Evidence for “design” 2) Evidence for evolution of cellular life and viruses 3) Models of abiogenesis 4) Arguments for broad theism/deism versus atheism and 5) Within theism, evidence for superiority of some sect(s) over others.

We agreed to tackle these one at a time, with an emphasis on 1 and 2, without subject changing.

I think we got through number 1 pretty well. You did convince me, to be honest, that you have no evidence for “design”. To summarize - you can’t specifically say who the designer is, what the designer did, mechanistically how the designer did it, or when the designer did it. You claimed that rocks and dirt are not designed at one point, but then contradicted yourself by saying that the designer designed the entire universe, which includes rocks and dirt. False analogies to the designs of known designers, e.g. computer programs designed by humans or hives designed by insects, are not valid, because in these cases, every single thing I asked - who designed, what was designed, mechanistically how, when, what is an example of what they did not design - can be answered with ease.

So, no evidence for design. Feel free to provide answers to my questions above or new arguments for design if you have them, if not, let’s move on.

Can your provide a reasonable summary of what the theory of evolution deals with, the major mechanisms it proposes, and the evidence supporting it?

It should be noted by all readers how quickly we went from a discussion of speciation to one of religion. It should also be noted who did the topic changing.

Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.

The posted article does not provide evidence of a new species. Instead it demonstrates that regardless of the morphological, behavioral, or ecological differences between House, Spanish and Italian Sparrows they will and can have occasional “cross-cultural hook-ups” that results in reproductively viable off-spring.

And like Dr. Amos says: “as soon as you have interbreeding, all those barriers [between those groups of animals] break down.”

Readers should also note that quotes from Dr. Amos are right from the posted article.

fittest meme said: The posted article does not provide evidence of a new species. Instead it demonstrates that regardless of the morphological, behavioral, or ecological differences between House, Spanish and Italian Sparrows they will and can have occasional “cross-cultural hook-ups” that results in reproductively viable off-spring.

As has been pointed out to you, evolution predicts that species, sub-species, and variations will very often be similar and difficult to distinguish. It is the biblical idea of kinds that is inconsistent with and contradicted by such findings, not evolution.

It is evolution that predicts that populations becoming separated will have occasional viable hook-ups, as you put it. Special creation would predict a binary, all-or-nothing situation where two critters are either completely compatible (same species) or completely incompatible (different species), but no gradation in between.

Yet we see gradations in between.

It is this pattern of variability within/between populations that is strong evidence of evolution. Whether two individual, specific organisms can procreate is mostly irrelevant.

fittest meme said:

Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.

Hybridization is not evidence against speciation, as should be plainly obvious. Speciation may have nothing to do with hybridization and vice versa. At some point in the past the Spanish and house sparrow were able to interbreed. This hybrid now lives side-by-side with Spanish sparrows and the two do not interbreed (though I didn’t see whether this is because they are incapable or choose not to). If they can’t interbreed, they are already distinct species. If not, then they’ve taken at least a first step toward sympatric speciation.

As for the word “tends,” science deals with probabilities and there is not always enough data yet available to nail it down. It is pseudoscience that traffics in certainties, and with no connection to the data.

You should also look up the definition of a ring species.

And I didn’t mention religion once. D’oh!

Fittest Meme -

Well, it’s a bit rude of you to refuse to pick up our former conversation, but let’s stick to speciation.

1) You are not using the term “species” in a mainstream way. Populations that can hybridize are not necessarily regarded as being the same species on that basis alone.

2) What is your definition of species?

3) What would you regard as a valid example of speciation?

fittest meme said:

It should be noted by all readers how quickly we went from a discussion of speciation to one of religion. It should also be noted who did the topic changing.

If you don’t like it that we point out that your arguments are nothing but whiny rehashes of “appeal to piety” and “appeal to ignorance,” why do you keep making them?

Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.

Except that the only evidences you present are your own, deliberately inscrutable definition of “species” and your evidence-less assertion that speciation somehow never occurs.

The posted article does not provide evidence of a new species. Instead it demonstrates that regardless of the morphological, behavioral, or ecological differences between House, Spanish and Italian Sparrows they will and can have occasional “cross-cultural hook-ups” that results in reproductively viable off-spring.

So, where does Dr Amos state that House, Spanish and Italian sparrows are all the same species? Where does it state that different species are totally forbidden and incapable of interbreeding? Where does it state that speciation due to hybridization never occurs, and is actually evidence against speciation?

And like Dr. Amos says: “as soon as you have interbreeding, all those barriers [between those groups of animals] break down.”

Readers should also note that quotes from Dr. Amos are right from the posted article.

In other words, you’re just dishonestly quotemining Dr Amos in order to make him say things that he did not actually say.

harold said:

Fittest Meme -

Well, it’s a bit rude of you to refuse to pick up our former conversation, but let’s stick to speciation.

1) You are not using the term “species” in a mainstream way. Populations that can hybridize are not necessarily regarded as being the same species on that basis alone.

What does fittest meme care about “mainstream”? He’s a proponent of Intelligent Design: that automatically makes him magically right, and all of the evil, stupid materialistic scientists who disagree with him magically wrong. He could go “cockadoodledo” and still be right.

2) What is your definition of species?

Didn’t fittest meme imply that a “species” is a population, implied to have been created by God, that only gives the illusion of speciating as it loses genetic diversity?

3) What would you regard as a valid example of speciation?

Probably God magically poofing something into existence.

JOhn Wilkins, a philosopher of biology, has written extensively on species concepts, including a recent book.

A number of his posts on speciation are here. I commend them to fittest meme’s attention.

meme wrote:

“Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.”

As was pointed out to you previously, hybridization per se isn’t the issue. Gene flow is the issue, that’s why the qualifier is needed. If the level of hybridization does not result in significant gene flow, then genetic divergence will necessarily occur, thus creating genetic discontinuity. Since the hybrid does not backcross to the parental species, essential there is no gene flow, so the species are reproductively isolated. Therefore, they will diverge over time until absolute reproductive isolation evolves and hybridization no longer occurs.

In any event, this is an example of speciation in action. It is exactly what one would expect if species evolve over time. It is not what is expected if species are created fixed and perfect.

DS said:

meme wrote:

“Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.”

As was pointed out to you previously, hybridization per se isn’t the issue. Gene flow is the issue, that’s why the qualifier is needed. If the level of hybridization does not result in significant gene flow, then genetic divergence will necessarily occur, thus creating genetic discontinuity. Since the hybrid does not backcross to the parental species, essential there is no gene flow, so the species are reproductively isolated. Therefore, they will diverge over time until absolute reproductive isolation evolves and hybridization no longer occurs.

In any event, this is an example of speciation in action. It is exactly what one would expect if species evolve over time. It is not what is expected if species are created fixed and perfect.

In plants, mutations in the form of meiotic accidents help speed up the process of speciation through hybridization, where viable hybrids arise due to polyploid mutations in the parents’ gametes. Like, how the Kew primrose arose, or how domestic wheat and barley came to be.

Of course, if speciation through hybridization is bunk as fittest meme asserts, then why do we see hundreds of thousands of unique orchid hybrid lineages?

harold asked Fit: 2) What is your definition of species?

..as opposed to “kinds.”

Looks like it is out of print, but I thought that Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions: Speciation - The Making of Species by Menno Schilthuizen did an especially good job of explaining why it is so hard to define a species and, if I remember right, why distinct species can sometimes interbreed.

That’s Captain Jack Sparrow…

(in honor of today, of course)

fittest meme said: Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.

The posted article does not provide evidence of a new species. Instead it demonstrates that regardless of the morphological, behavioral, or ecological differences between House, Spanish and Italian Sparrows they will and can have occasional “cross-cultural hook-ups” that results in reproductively viable off-spring.

Uhm…you lie.

Another quote from the article states:

“Second, and perhaps equally important - it is not reproducing with the Spanish sparrow, even though the two birds live side-by-side.”

The “it” refers to the Italian sparrow.

JimNorth said:

fittest meme said: Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.

The posted article does not provide evidence of a new species. Instead it demonstrates that regardless of the morphological, behavioral, or ecological differences between House, Spanish and Italian Sparrows they will and can have occasional “cross-cultural hook-ups” that results in reproductively viable off-spring.

Uhm…you lie.

Another quote from the article states:

“Second, and perhaps equally important - it is not reproducing with the Spanish sparrow, even though the two birds live side-by-side.”

The “it” refers to the Italian sparrow.

No lie.

The fact that the researcher hasn’t seen evidence of them cross breeding doesn’t mean they won’t or they can’t. The fact that the House Sparrow and the Spanish Sparrow did sets a precedent showing that what we often think of and call separate species (thinking that they don’t interbreed) are actually just separate populations of the same species.

Here’s a prediction that some young enterprising scientist may want to take on. If researchers were to breed Spanish Sparrows with Italian Sparrows I predict they would get viable off-spring (that is the off-spring would be able to produce off-spring of their own).

Maybe you’d like to put a wager on the outcome.

Fittest Meme -

Well, it’s a bit rude of you to refuse to pick up our former conversation, but let’s stick to speciation.

1) You are not using the term “species” in a mainstream way. Populations that can hybridize are not necessarily regarded as being the same species on that basis alone.

2) What is your definition of species?

3) What would you regard as a valid example of speciation?

Yo, FM.

Are horses and donkeys separate species? Is it “no” because they can hybridize, or “yes” because mules are sterile?

But wait! Female mules are occasionally, but rarely, fertile! So by your confusing non-definition of “species”, they MUST be the same species. But then since they are almost always NOT fertile, then it must be the case that MOST horses and donkeys are separate species, but that SOME are the same species. And the only way to tell is to mate them, produce a jenny, see if she’s fertile, then you’ll know if her particular two parents were the same species or not. But whatever you discover, it won’t apply to all horses and donkeys!

It can’t be Jack Sparrow, he doesn’t try to hump any bottle and suck any girl within sight. (He seems to constantly confuse his actions, priorities, enemies and friends - I suspect it can be the booze.)

fittest meme said:

It should be noted by all readers how quickly we went from a discussion of speciation to one of religion. It should also be noted who did the topic changing.

I am an outsider to this discussion, but I note that you did that in your very first comment.

Instead of accepting the science or asking for clarifications, on the spot you made up a baseless criticism of the scientific method as applied to the best tested science we have (biology).

Only creationists do that.

You don’t do very well in evangelistic pamphleteering for your religion, do you!?

fittest meme said:

JimNorth said:

fittest meme said: Let’s get back to the topic of the posted article. I’m simply pointing out that hybridization is evidence against speciation not for it.

The posted article does not provide evidence of a new species. Instead it demonstrates that regardless of the morphological, behavioral, or ecological differences between House, Spanish and Italian Sparrows they will and can have occasional “cross-cultural hook-ups” that results in reproductively viable off-spring.

Uhm…you lie.

Another quote from the article states:

“Second, and perhaps equally important - it is not reproducing with the Spanish sparrow, even though the two birds live side-by-side.”

The “it” refers to the Italian sparrow.

No lie.

The fact that the researcher hasn’t seen evidence of them cross breeding doesn’t mean they won’t or they can’t. The fact that the House Sparrow and the Spanish Sparrow did sets a precedent showing that what we often think of and call separate species (thinking that they don’t interbreed) are actually just separate populations of the same species.

Here’s a prediction that some young enterprising scientist may want to take on. If researchers were to breed Spanish Sparrows with Italian Sparrows I predict they would get viable off-spring (that is the off-spring would be able to produce off-spring of their own).

Maybe you’d like to put a wager on the outcome.

Once again, the mere ability to hybridize rare or only under artificial conditions, is irrelevant. The important thing is the amount of gene flow. The paper presented genetic data that showed that no evidence of hybridization in natural populations. This means that hybridization was extremely rare or completely nonexistent. This means that the level of gene flow could not be sufficient to prevent genetic divergence.

fittest meme said:

No lie.

The fact that the researcher hasn’t seen evidence of them cross breeding doesn’t mean they won’t or they can’t.

Just because scientists and Ann Coulter could (technically) cross breed doesn’t mean they will.

In fact, such social taboos are early stages of the genetic isolation of gene pools. In the case of Ann Coulter, the barrier is already pretty nearly insurmountable. “Can’t” would be the more likely word to apply here.

fittest meme said: No lie.

The fact that the researcher hasn’t seen evidence of them cross breeding doesn’t mean they won’t or they can’t.

That’s because the best evidence possible, genetic evidence, highly suggests that the Italian Sparrow does not breed with the Spanish Sparrow. If it could, there would be genetic evidence to say otherwise. There isn’t. Case closed. Two separate species. Look up mules and hinnies. This is an analogous case as Just Bob suggests.

And I have published 5 times more in one year than you have your entire life…pfffftttt!!! Silly English Knigget!

Matt G said:

Looks like yet another example of sympatric speciation.

There is no evidence that speciation was sympatric. In fact the article suggests allopatric speciation during geographic isolation of the hybrid population from others.

The Jumbuck said:

All the populations in a ring species are at the same Baramin level. Neither has more complex specified information than the other, and hence, they are all the same kind as per Genesis 1. If you draw a line in a page it is like a single kind. If you draw a circle, it is still a kind, but this time a ring species. Understand?

Sounds more like Dungeons and Dragons than Biology to me. But since you’re starting with the premise that there are Magic Users, it is, perhaps, inevitable.

I’m going to regret this, I’m sure, but here goes.

Name me one single “kind” or “baramin” and all the species within it (let’s stick with large mammals). Then tell me if you’re prepared to defend the supercharged evolution of all those species from the pair of that “kind” after the Flood. And maybe using creationist genetics, you could describe the original pair from the Ark.

I think felines would be instructive, but if you have another favorite “kind”, please, astound us with the answers from the extensive research programs of creation science.

“The only constant in Nature is that Nature constantly changes.”

Steve P., Jumbuck, Athiest-o-clast, and other creationists need to define their versions of species. One that reflects reality and does not eminate from the nebulous regions of their rectum.

Query - why have no modern organisms ever been uncovered in the fossil record? Why are Italian sparrows not found with dinosaurs? Why don’t rabbits forage in the pre-cambrian foliage? If the species are fixed, we should see Homo sapiens fishing on the coast of Pangean seas. We don’t.

Best answer based on the data: Evolutionary theory can explain these mysteries, your comfy chair religion cannot.

creationist troll lying:

Neither has more complex specified information than the other,

How do you know this? Did you actually measure the complex specified information of some of the subspecies? What number of complex specified information units do these subspecies have? Show your work or provide a reference.

Not going to get an answer here. Because the creationist troll just lied and made it all up.

If their death cult religion was true, they wouldn’t have to lie all the time.

The Jumbuck said:

All the populations in a ring species are at the same Baramin level. Neither has more complex specified information than the other, and hence, they are all the same kind as per Genesis 1. If you draw a line in a page it is like a single kind. If you draw a circle, it is still a kind, but this time a ring species. Understand?

But Bumjuck, suppose there are three species, A, B, and C. A can breed with B and B can breed with C, but C cannot breed with A. Are A, B, and C all the same kind or not?

phhht said:

The Jumbuck said:

All the populations in a ring species are at the same Baramin level. Neither has more complex specified information than the other, and hence, they are all the same kind as per Genesis 1. If you draw a line in a page it is like a single kind. If you draw a circle, it is still a kind, but this time a ring species. Understand?

But Bumjuck, suppose there are three species, A, B, and C. A can breed with B and B can breed with C, but C cannot breed with A. Are A, B, and C all the same kind or not?

Understand?

phhht said:

phhht said:

The Jumbuck said:

All the populations in a ring species are at the same Baramin level. Neither has more complex specified information than the other, and hence, they are all the same kind as per Genesis 1. If you draw a line in a page it is like a single kind. If you draw a circle, it is still a kind, but this time a ring species. Understand?

But Bumjuck, suppose there are three species, A, B, and C. A can breed with B and B can breed with C, but C cannot breed with A. Are A, B, and C all the same kind or not?

Understand?

No. Why should he? Trying would be a sin.

Say, Jumbuck. How do you explain SINEs?

Say Jumbuck, can you give a run-down of pre- and post mating reproductive isolating mechanisms, and how that fits in with “baramins”?

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

You guys are f*ckin’ dense. I mean, dense.

If you have 26 concepts of species, how in hell can there ever not be speciation! A jury-rigging if ever there was one.

Please, stay withing the safe confines of this board. Its scary out there.

Steve P. said:

You guys are f*ckin’ dense. I mean, dense.

If you have 26 concepts of species, how in hell can there ever not be speciation! A jury-rigging if ever there was one.

Please, stay withing the safe confines of this board. Its scary out there.

Then tell us the, O Wise One: Based on your deep knowledge of biology, what definition of species works for all organisms on the planet?

Steve P. said:

You guys are f*ckin’ dense. I mean, dense.

If you have 26 concepts of species, how in hell can there ever not be speciation! A jury-rigging if ever there was one.

Please, stay withing the safe confines of this board. Its scary out there.

You are f*ckin’ dense. I mean, dense.

If there are 26 concepts of species, how in hell can there never not be speciation! A classic denial of reality if ever there was one.

Please, stay withing the safe confines of this board. You are scary.

Please, stay withing the safe confines of this board. You are scary.

Steve P. absolutely has to stay within the safe confines of his toxic and kooky religion.

It’s scary for his type out in the daylight of the real world.

raven said:

Please, stay withing the safe confines of this board. You are scary.

Steve P. absolutely has to stay within the safe confines of his toxic and kooky religion.

It’s scary for his type out in the daylight of the real world.

But then its only Raven talking religion.

Trashes religion apparently stimulates her striatum. Gets to drawl her favorite line ‘ Youuuuu LIE!’

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

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