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Rapid Evolution

1 June 2023
Biology, Catastrophism, Evolution, Geology

An interesting story at https://phys.org/news/2023-05-overfishing-linked-rapid-evolution-codfish.html … cod fishing in the North Atlantic has been going on for centuries, with people fishing on the Newfoundland Banks long before their discovery was officially recognised. However, it has been particularly heavy over the last hundred or so years, so much so that it is now being suggested that overfishing has led to evolutionary changes in cod fish. As remarkable as this may appear to uniformitarian thinking it is probably something that has occurred over and over again, especially at catastrophic boundary zones. Rapid evolution is nature’s way of replenishing the oceans – and the land. Research was focussed on extraction of the genetic code from cod caught over 110 years ago, and those caught in more recent time. Scientists had already noticed that cod had developed what looked like a survival advantage – by maturing earlier than in the past, and not growing so big or so quickly. This made them less likely  to be targeted – and they were likely to reproduce before they were caught.We have heard of crop pests evolving to become resistant to chemical sprays, but can cod have evolved in such a clever manner?

Scientists have now demonstrated that many genes throughout the Atlantic cod genome, did in effect shift over the last 100 years. They appear to have evolved in response to overfishing – via small changes in many genes. In the 1990s, Alantic cod populations fell sharply to just one per cent of historical levels, we are told. This coincided with the deployment of factory trawlers with advanced radar and sonar systems. Cod stocks were depleted faster than they could be replenished *

At https://phys.org/news/2023-05-mysterious-protein-plays-crucial-role.html … here we have the claim a specific protein in plants plays a crucial role in growth. What goes on inside plants to trigger the spring awakening in growth? The protein appears to be a generator of cellulose, the main structural component of plants.

At https://phys.org/news/2023-05-geneticists-hidden-genome-duplication-species.html … research has found sturgeons and paddlefish, related species, have developed, at some point, a ‘whole genome’ duplication. This, they think, goes back to a common ancestor.  It gave them the ability  to produce plenty of genetic variations, going back to the time of a major extinction event, 200 million years ago. The end of Triassic. The extinction  is of course not thought to be catastrophic and so the interpretation is that it occurred prior to the  event, enabling them to survive by evolving quickly. The duplication, they say, doubled their chances of evolving variations, or in their words, a wider range of mutations. One may wonder at this point if the idea the duplicated genome occurred prior to the extinction event, was based on uniformitarian dating of sediments laid down at that point in time. If those sediments had been laid down rapidly during a catastrophic event, and the end of Triassic is one of the biggest, the duplication would be part and parcel of fish caught up in it. Therefore it still could have evolved prior to the event. On the other hand, the ability to evolve into a new niche environment after the event is a typical post-catastrophic biological mutation, and may have nothing to do with duplication. This story illustrates how muddled our view of the past has become viewed through the prism of uniformitarian gradualism.


* all the facts in this story might not be exact, or may be somewhat overblown. The idea only one per cent of cod fish survived the 1990s is an estimate. There is also the suggestion that cod migrated further north, into Norwegian waters, where good catches are still being taken. In that scenario the cod have simply removed themselves from the overfished waters of the EU. Factory ships are still hoovering up lots of fish, including juveniles, in the waters around Britain and Ireland. The British fishing industry was sacrificed as an offering to the EU on membership of that club, and is mostly reduced nowadays to a few small boats operating in coastal waters. It was a political decision. Spain and France were the main beneficiaries.

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