Clint Is Dead, Long Live Clint

Clint chimp.jpgClint, the chimpanzee in this picture, died several months ago at a relatively young age of 24. But part of him lives on. Scientists chose him–or rather, his DNA–as the subject of their first attempt to sequence a complete chimpanzee genome. In the new issue of Nature, they’ve unveiled their first complete draft, and already Clint’s legacy has offered some awesome insights into our own evolution.

The editors of Nature have dedicated a sprawling space in the journal to this scientific milestone. The main paper is 18 pages long, not to mention the supplementary information kept on Nature’s web site. In addition, the journal has published three other papers that take a closer look at particularly interesting (and thorny) aspects of the chimpanzee genome, such as what it says about the different fates of the Y chromosome (the male sex chromosome) in chimpanzees and humans. Other scientists offer a series of commentaries on topics ranging from brain evolution to chimpanzee culture. The journal Science has also gotten in on the action, with a paper comparing the expression of chimp and human genes as well as comments on the importance of chimpanzee conservation and research. (Thankfully, some of this material is going to be made available online for free.)

Why all the attention to the chimpanzee genome? One important reason is that it can tell us what parts of the human genome make us uniquely human–in other words, which parts that were produced by natural selection and other evolutionary processes over the past six million years or so, since our hominid ancestors diverged from the ancestors of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees. (Bonobos, sometimes known as pygmy chimpanzees, are also our first cousins, having split off from chimpanzees 2-5 million years ago.) Until now, scientists could only compare the human genome to the genomes of more distantly related species, such as mice, chickens, and fruit flies. They learned a lot from those comparisons, but it was impossible for them to say whether the differences between humans and the other species were unique to humans, or unique to apes, or to primates, or to some broader group. Now they can pin down the evolutinary sequence much more precisely. Until scientists rebuild the Neanderthal genome–if they ever do–this is going to be the best point of comparison we will ever get. (For more of the background on all this, please check out my new book on human evolution, which will be out in November.)

The analysis that’s being published today is pretty rudimentary. It’s akin to what you’d expect from a reporter who got to spend an hour flipping through 10,000 pages of declassified government documents. But it’s still fascinating, and I’d wager that it serves as a flight plan for research on the evolution of the human genome for the next decade.

First off, scientists can get a more precise figure of how different human and chimpanzee DNA is. In places where you can line up stretches of DNA precisely, there are 35 million spots where a single "letter" of the code (a nucleotide) is different. That comes to about 1.2% of all the DNA. The scientists also found millions of other spots in the genomes where a stretch of DNA had been accidentally deleted, or copied and inserted elsewhere. This accounts for about a 3% difference. Finally, the scientists found many genes that had been duplicated after the split between humans and chimps, corresponding to 2.7% of the genome.

By studying the human genome, scientists have also gotten a better picture of the history of the genomic parasites that we carry with us. About half of the human genome consists of DNA that does not produce proteins that are useful to our well-being. All they do is make copies of themselves and reinsert those copies at other spots in the genome. Other animals have these virus-like pieces of DNA, including chimpanzees. Some of the genomic parasites we carry are also carried by chimpanzees, which means that we inherited them from our common ancestor. Many of these parasites have suffered mutations that make them unable to copy themselves any longer. But in some cases, these parasites have been replicating (and evolving) much faster in one lineage than the other. One kind of parasite, called SINES, have spread three times faster in humans than in chimps. Some 7,000 genomic parasites known as Alu repeats exist in the human genome, compared to 2,300 in the chimp genome. While a lot of these parasites have no important effect on our genome, others have. They’ve helped delete 612 genes in humans, and they’ve combined pieces of some 200 other genes, producing new ones.

In some cases, the interesting evolution has occurred in the chimpanzee lineage, not in our own ancestry. Scientists have noted for a long time that the Y chromosome has been shrinking for hundreds of millions of years. Its decline has to do with how it is copied each generation. Out of the 23 pairs of our chromosomes, 22 have the same structure, and as a result they swap some genes as they are put into sperm or egg cells. Y chromosomes do not, because their counterpart, the X, is almost completely incompatible. My Y chromosome is thus a nearly perfect clone of my father’s. Mutations can spread faster when genes are cloned than when they get mixed together during recombination. As a result, many pieces of the Y chromosome have disappeared over time, and many Y genes that once worked no longer do.

Scientists have discovered that Clint and his fellow chimpanzee males have taken a bigger hit on the Y than humans have. In the human lineage, males with mutations to the Y chromosome have tended to produce less offspring than those without them. (This is a process known as purifying selection, because it strips out variations.) But the scientists found several broken versions of these genes on the chimpanzee Y chromosome.

Why are chimpanzees suffering more genetic damage? The authors of the study suggest that it has to do with their sex life. A chimpanzee female may mate with several males when she is in oestrus, and so mutations that give one male’s sperm an edge over other males are ben strongly favored by selection. If there are harmful mutations elsewhere on that male’s Y chromosome, they may hitchhike along. We humans are not so promiscuous, and the evidence is in our Y chromosome.

As for the mutations that make us uniquely human, the researchers point out some suspects but make no arrests. The researchers found that a vast number of the differences between the genomes are inconsquential. In other words, these mutations didn’t have any appreciable effect on the structure of proteins or on the general workings of the human cell. But the scientists did identify a number of regions of the genome, and even some individual genes, where natural selection seems to have had a major impact on our own lineage. A number of these candidates support earlier studies on smaller parts of the genome that I’ve blogged about here. Some of these genes appear to have helped in our own sexual arms race; others created defenses against malaria and other diseases.

When scientists first lobbied for the money (some twenty to thirty million dollars) for the chimp genome project, they argued that the effort would yield a lot of insight into human diseases. The early signs seem to be bearing them out. In their report on the draft sequence, they show some important genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees that might have bearing on important questions such as why we get Alzheimer’s disease and chimps don’t and why chimpanzees are more vulnerable to sleeping sickness than we are, and so on.

There is also a lot of variation within our own species when it comes to disease-related genes, and here too the chimpanzee genome project can shed light. The researchers show how some versions of these genes found in humans are the ancestral form also shared by chimpanzees. New mutations have arisen in humans and spread in the recent past, possibly favored by natural selection. The ancestral form of one gene called PRSS1, for example, causes pancreatitis, while the newer form does not.

But our genetic defenses and weaknesses to diseases aren’t really what we’d like to think make us truly, uniquely human. The most profound difference between the bodies of humans and chimpanzees is the brain. Much of the evolution that’s been going on in genes expressed in the brain has been purifying. There are a lot of ways to screw up a brain, in other words. But some genes appear to have undergone strong positive selection–in other words, new mutation sequences have been favored over others. It’s possible that relatively few genes played essential roles in producing the human brain.

You can feel the excitement of discovery thrumming through these papers, but it comes with a certain sadness as well. It doesn’t come just from the fact the chimpanzee whose DNA made this all possible died before he became famous. Lots of chimpanzees are dying–so many, in fact, that conservationists worry that they may become extinct from hunting, disease, and habitat destruction. And once a species is gone, it takes a vast amount of information about evolutionary history with it.

I was reminded of this fact when I read another chimpanzee paper that appears in the same issue of Nature, reporting on the first fossil of a chimpanzee ever discovered. It may be hard to believe that no one had found a chimp fossil before. A big part of the problem, scientists thought, was that chimpanzees were restricted to rain forests and other places where fossils don’t have good odds of surviving. The fossils that have now been discovered don’t amount to much–just a few teeth–and they raise far more questions than they answer. They date back about 500,000 years, to an open woodlands in Kenya where paleoanthropologists have also found fossils of tall, big-brained hominids that may have been the direct ancestors of Homo sapiens. So apparently chimpanzees once coexisted with hominids in the open woodlands that were once thought to be off-limits to them. More chimpanzee fossils will help address this puzzle, but they may never fully resolve it.

The chimpanzees of Kenya became extinct long ago, and now other populations teeter on the brink. To make sense of Clint’s genome, scientists need to document the variations both within and between chimpanzee populations–not just genetic variations, but variations in how they eat, how they organize their societies, how they use tools, and all the other aspects of the lives. If they don’t get that chance, the chimpanzee genome may become yet another puzzling fossil.

0 thoughts on “Clint Is Dead, Long Live Clint

  1. Now they’re in a position to start finding more of the genetic diversity that was thought to be exclusively human, yet which is actually shared with the chimp. If the chimp differs 2% from people genetically, should it be assumed that around 1% differentiates us from the common ancestor of both species? This line of research should raise the percentage of human polymorphism which is associated with differentiated populations, rather than being considered as the base polymorphism of the species. If that figure were said to be 15% now, should it be expected to rise from this kind of research to 1/3 or 1/2, or to no great extent?

  2. One could find chimpanzee bones in an African village today, but only as a meat source, not as something that coexists there. Maybe the same was true with the discovered fossils – some hominids living near a forest went hunting and brought back part of the body.

  3. The assertion that having the chimpanzee genome will “tell us what parts of the human genome make us uniquely human” isn’t really true. Having in hand only the human and chimpanzee genomes won’t allow us to differentiate which parts are unique to one or the other lineage and which are primitive states (plesiomorphic) that might be shared with more distant relatives. To understand which parts of the chimpanzee and human genome are unique to one or the other lineage will require at least one more “outgroup” genome. Still, it’s great stuff.

  4. Don’t feel sorry for Clint. I know he’s your great uncle, several times removed. But, according to the immutable laws of heredity, since something like him is an ancestor, sooner or later, someone will have a new baby, just like Clint. I can’t contain my warm emotions, just waiting for it.
    If you are really interested in Origins Science (as distinct from whatever it is that creates all the hot air) might be usufull. I sincerely hope it is. Note, it is classified MAINSTREAM Science, although Bible based — as is Science, proper. I am in need of intelligent, technical evaluation. Best wishes, P.H..

  5. Philip Bruce Heywood.

    Perhaps we could see some predictive theories. Evolutionary Theory has expected what has been found in this DNA research Carl Zimmer has blogged about. What has “Creation Science” predicted or expected?

    I await with trepidation such developments in CS.

  6. I went to the trouble to compose this rebuttal on the previous Blog topic which must have expired, so I thought I’d go ahead and paste it here. Its actually relevant to this discussion as well.

    Since when was it considered necessary to recreate natural history to prove it is true? The evidence has been confirmed along multiple lines of inquiry.

    The subject is: the criteria to be considered a scientific theory. This is the same criteria used to exclude creation science. This comment is specifically regarding the repeatable/testable requirement. Because “it” took place in the past, macro-evolution (or creation, for that matter) is not repeatable. It has nothing to do with truth. I didn’t invent this criteria, it has been hurled at creationists since the debate began. I’m simply pointing out that Evolutionists are no better off.


    I said:
    “The fact that strains of DNA may match, is only evidence of evolution if it is interpreted based on the “assumption” of evolution. If one interprets the similarities based on a common designer (God) they still make sense.”

    Rob said
    But only the former of these conclusions provides any falsifiable results; hence only the former is a scientific conclusion.

    How does the evolutionary interpretation provide a falsifiable result. If they match its hailed as an ancestral relationship. If they don’t match, its because they evolved those DNA strains independently. There is nothing objective about the investigation and nothing falsifiable.

    If you’re talking about a very specific scenario such as the following example (which I’m sure is filled with errors but you’ll get the point). Primates and humans both metabolize protein XYZ in the same way. You suspect they evolved this ability through a common ancestor. If the appropriate DNA could be isolated, and the DNA were drastically different, the hypothesis would be falsified, but it would have no major effect on evolution and probably wouldn’t even get published. The same kind of study could be done with a creation slant. A creationist researcher might believe that God created the ability in both primates and humans using the same “parts.” Once he discoved the DNA was so different he would conclude that his hypothesis was wrong.

    Evolution makes a big mistake at the outset with the assumption that there is no god, and on the off chance there is a god he/she/it didn’t do anything anyway so its inconsequential. Hypothetically, lets say there is a god that did do something, evolution could never be correct because that scenario has already been excluded. It is not an objective hypothesis, its a dogmatic worldview.

  7. I’m not really interested in defending Philip Heywood. I don’t appreciate his insulting tone, even though its not insulting to me, and he probably didn’t succeed in insulting anyone else. Since non-evolutionists are all lumped together, his tactics reflect badly on me. In skimming the website he’s endorsing it also appears to contain some ridiculous bunk.

    Nevertheless I will briefly address Cliffords’ query:
    Perhaps we could see some predictive theories. Evolutionary Theory has expected what has been found in this DNA research Carl Zimmer has blogged about. What has “Creation Science” predicted or expected?”

    Regarding the similarity of Chimp and human DNA, creation science, like evolution, predicts exactly what is found. It is only logical that God (or a designer) would use similar mechanisms to achieve similar results. As an analogy consider a Ford Explorer and a Ford Expedition. Naturally they will have many similarities. They’ll also have some differences. Chances are if you know how to recognize and repair the starter or water pump on one, you’re also quaified to fix the other.

    Creation science also predicts that fossil lines will appear in the fossil record fully formed, and, that definite divisions between kinds will exist. This division will serve as a boundary to genetic change. This is exactly what is found in the fossil record, the laboratory and the world.

    What predictions does macro-evolution make about the future? Ahh, without consulting your local science fiction section.

    The fact of the matter is that both evolutionists and creationists are interpreting the same evidence. Evolution and Creation are worldviews built on axioms that, by definition, are taken as unprovable assumptions. Because these worldviews are used to interpret the evidence, that interpretation can not then be used to declare triumph, as that would be circular reasoning.


    I believe this blog and evolutionists in general minimize the difference by using figure like 1.2%. (Right or wrong, they find ways to justify ignoring the 3% insertions and the 2.7% duplications.) By emphasizing a figure like 1.2% rather than the 35 million differences to which this corresponds it sure sounds a lot smaller. How about stating it as 1 in a hundred? That sounds like a lot to me but back to the subject.

    35,000,000, if divided in half, proposing that half occured on the chimp side and half on our side, we’re down to 17.5 million. This is to have occurred in 6 million years. For the sake of argument, lets say we can get that number down to 12 million (it seemed like Carl may have been pushing for this with his discussion about the Y chromosome). 12 million in 6 million years, That’s a yearly average of 2 mutations found favorable by natural selection (or at least not detrimental enough to be weeded out). A generation may have been shorter in the past but now its about 20-25 years. Is 15 years fair? Okay we’ll use 10. That’s 20 mutations per generation. I don’t know the formula that gives us the time required to get these mutations proliferated throughout the population but it seems its approaching a dangerously unfeasable circumstance (and I think I’ve been pretty generous with the numbers). It surely depends on the population but if the population is large it will take longer and if the population is small the mutation rate (since most mutations are detrimental or fatal) must be slower or risk extinction.

    Now admittedly I’m no scientist. My background in biology comes more as a hobby with only a couple courses in college and HS. I’m sure someone will pipe in to explain that I’m wrong, but please include the correct explanation rather than just a comment on my ignorance.

  8. Doug,
    I have a home work assignment for you. Do an in depth study of the emperor penguin, sea lion, the big brown bat, and the night hawk. Find out all you can about them. I recommend starting with their respiratory system, from the oxygen carrying molecules to the gross anatomy of their lungs. Then go on to their circulatory system, digestive system, skeletal system, you get the idea. Compare and contrast each of these animals with the others and explain your results in terms of creationism or intelligent design.

  9. For a day and a half, silence is the only rebuttal to my claim – that the generous allotment of time, 6,000,000 years, is still not nearly enough time to accumulate the vast amount of genetic difference between chimps and humans.

    Finally after a day and a half of waiting, David Holland (could this be the drummer of Judas Priest?) gives up and decides to try and send me on a ridiculous “homework” assignment to get me out of the way. I take it as a complement.

    And what good debate about evolution would be complete with out reference to the flat earth fable. On earlier posts, I’ve pointed out that this cheap diversionary tactic has been used, in an attempt to discredit Biblically rooted scientists, since before Darwin’s heyday. It has no foundation in reality and can generally be regarded as an admission of defeat by the evolutionist.

    David you’ve stated openly in a couple posts that you know nothing of ceationary science, yet you still attack it. I don’t think I should do your homework for you. Allow me to suggest that you do a little investigation of your own and peruse some of the following:

    Carl, perhaps you’d like to address my argument as your next Blog topic. The current discussion has grown a bit stale.

  10. Doug said,
    “Finally after a day and a half of waiting, David Holland (could this be the drummer of Judas Priest?) gives up and decides to try and send me on a ridiculous “homework” assignment to get me out of the way. I take it as a complement.”

    I’m not the drummer of Judas Priest.

    Why do you think it was ridiculous? These sort of comparisons are what I consider the best evidence for evolution. You are more likely to accept it if you find it youself. If you can explain it with creation I would certainly like to hear it. I doubt very much you can and I think you know it too. That’s why you didn’t try. As to trying to get rid of you, if I wasn’t interested in what you have to say I simply wouldn’t read it.

    Regarding your estimate of mutation rates, Hans Ellegren comes up with 100 mutations per generation. Nachman and Crowell come up with 175 mutations per generation. Your estimate is low. (A few minutes on google to find these. Did you think to look?)

  11. Number one I didn’t intend any disrespect in pointing out that you share the name of the Judas Priest drummer…I meant it in harmless jest and aopologize if it was taken in any other way.

    Number one I didn’t intend any disrespect in pointing out that you share the name of the Judas Priest drummer…I meant it in harmless jest and aopologize if it was taken in any other way.

    From my point of view your request is ridiculous because you’ve requested an in-depth study of 4 creatures, a pretty big assignment for a weekend hobby. Its ridiculous because you have no expectation that I will do it (you’d be right). Its ridiculous because you provide no reason or incentive for me to do it. Your more recent implication is that I will see for myself the convincing evolutionary evidence, and the”truth” will be its own reward. Its ridiculous because you would find unsatisfying any explanation I returned, because it does not fit with your dogmatic naturalist-only veiw of science.

    I view this blog as a place to discuss evolution. Some topics inspire debates about the hows of evolution. Some open up the more dramatic debate of whether macro-evolution is a reality or a figment of the imagination. I prefer that the topics of creationary science or ID only be discussed breifly on this blog. ID and creation are generally very different camps. Each, in turn, is composed of a number of different ideas as well. Some ID’ers believe a designer was only involved in composing the genetic language and getting the ball rolling. Others believe the designer micromanages the universe. Creationists include young-earth, old-earth recent-Adam, old-earth old-Adam, etc. Then there are the compromisers like theistic evolutionists.

    My view of creation is that God created the various “kinds” (i know… what is a kind?). Similarities between different “kinds” are logically attributed to the fact that they have a common creator/designer. Evolution explains these similarities with a common ancestor. When a similar task is acheived by very different means, (ie. insect vs. bird vs. bat flight) creation explains this based on an appropriate design given a specific environment or need. Evolution calls it convergent evolution. A symbiotic relationship is designed that way. Evolution calls it co-evolution. When finches show different beak shapes and sizes, evolution describes this as adaptation. Creation calls this variation within the “kind”, arguing that God created the kinds with vast amounts of genetic information to adapt to different environments.

    This comes under criticism as just using God as an excuse to explain what is not understood. The criticism comes from the dogmatic view that there is no god and that everything can be explained naturally (or that there is a god but he didn’t do anything). Including God in science doesn’t exclude investigating things that aren’t understood. The value in understanding the universe is not a possession of evolution. Regarding vestigial organs and junk DNA, evolution is the stumbling block to understanding. Operational science is independent of the worldview.

    Evolution comes under a similar criticism. For example, evolution doesn’t explain co-eviolution. It has no documented eplanations that amount to anything more than just so stories – the evolutionary inerpretation of the symbiotic relationships.

    You see, it would be pointless to spend any significant effort trying to convince you that creation is accurate. You’ve pointed out before that disproving evolution is not the same as proving creation, and I agree. But it is the first step. As long as your faith in evolution remains unwavering, you will not seek an alternative. If you are truly interested you’ll seek information from more credible sources than than some guy on a blog.

  12. Doug said:
    “This comes under criticism as just using God as an excuse to explain what is not understood. The criticism comes from the dogmatic view that there is no god and that everything can be explained naturally (or that there is a god but he didn’t do anything).”

    The criticism comes from the fact that it’s not science. Are there any ways this belief could possibly be falsified?
    The reason that science deals with natural explanations has nothing to do with whether there is a god or not. It’s because natural mechanisms/phenomena are observable and, in some instances, repeatable. We don’t have access to any supernatural realms, so how can we test supernatural beliefs/theories using the scientific method?
    The scientific method’s track record speaks for itself.

  13. I don’t claim that the creationist methodology is falsifiable. I do claim the same problem exists for evolution. Both are philosophical worldviews outside of science. Its not until one gets down to a specific hypothesis that can be tested and observed that falsifiability becomes an issue. It is just as difficult to falsify the claim that millions of years ago a couple of jaw bones became the sensitive ear bones through which we enjoy Bach and Mozart.

    I just posted an entry on this topic on a previous blog entry. I will copy a portion of that entry below.

    is evolution falsifiable? Well according to Scientific American “It should be noted that the idea of falsifiability as the defining characteristic of science originated with philosopher Karl Popper in the 1930s. More recent elaborations on his thinking have expanded the narrowest interpretation of his principle precisely because it would eliminate too many branches of clearly scientific endeavor [namely Evolution].” Emphasis mine.

    That notwithstanding Sci Am does defend evolution’s falsifiability with the following:
    “If we could document the spontaneous generation of just one complex life-form from inanimate matter, then at least a few creatures seen in the fossil record might have originated this way. If superintelligent aliens appeared and claimed credit for creating life on earth (or even particular species), the purely evolutionary explanation would be cast in doubt. But no one has yet produced such evidence.”

    So that’s all it takes? If I look over to the loveseat and see a two-headed, freak of nature, with green scaly skin, waving the keys to what looks like the millenium falcon, parked in my front yard; either, he spontaneously generated or he makes the claim that he’s just checking on his high school biology experiment: us; and evolution has been disproved. Wow I wish i’d known it was so easy!


    I have a plane to catch. Going to Austin this weekend (another reason I can’t do my homework assignment) and Denver next weekend so I won’t be able to contribute much for the next 2 weeks (but I may pop in).

    Breifly and quickly regarding mutation rates David Holland provided. First they are very vague and say nothing of the rate of fixation, whether they are neutral, detrimental, fatal, or beneficial or just the combined total of all the above. Second, in breifly skimming the pages you provided it appears that those estimates were derived largely based on the difference between chimp and human DNA. I know you’re smart enough to see why this is circular for this particular discussion.

    In checking this stuff out a bit in the last couple days, I came across something called Haldane’s dilemma. Do the google search on it. Read the evolutionists defense/dismissal of the “dilemma” but also read the following:

    Cost theory and the cost of substitution—a clarification

    Examine all of it objectively and see what you think.

    Have a good weekend!

  14. Doug said:
    “It is just as difficult to falsify the claim that millions of years ago a couple of jaw bones became the sensitive ear bones through which we enjoy Bach and Mozart.”

    Isn’t this transition well documented in the fossil record?

    Doug said:
    “In checking this stuff out a bit in the last couple days, I came across something called Haldane’s dilemma. Do the google search on it. Read the evolutionists defense/dismissal of the “dilemma” but also read the following:

    Cost theory and the cost of substitution—a clarification
    Examine all of it objectively and see what you think.”

    Maybe you could summarize ReMine’s main points when you get the chance? I had not heard of Haldane’s dilemma before and did a google search. ReMine was the only name that came up suggesting this is a big problem for evolutionary theory, and he’s an electrical engineer.
    The explanation from biologists seems to be that Haldane didn’t account for more than one gene being selected for at a time, genetic changes due to neutral drift rather than selection, varying population sizes, and sexual recombination. In other words, his calculations were oversimplified.

  15. Doug said:
    “Number one I didn’t intend any disrespect in pointing out that you share the name of the Judas Priest drummer…I meant it in harmless jest and aopologize if it was taken in any other way.”

    I didn’t take as disrespectful and I’m sorry I gave that impression.

    There is no time limit on the “asignment”. You can do it whenever you feel like it. The point is not the similarities but the pattern of similarities and differences. The penguin and the sea lion have very similar life styles but the penguin is more similar to the night hawk in every way. I recommended starting with the respiratory system because this is where it really stands out. The penguin’s respiratory system is very different from the sea lion’s despite the fact they are both mostly aquatic. The penguin’s and the night hawks respiratory system are very similar dispite have very different needs. You see the same thing comparing the bat to the sea lion and the sea hawk. You also see the same pattern in the circulatory system, the digestive system, or any place you care to look. If each animal was designed for its particular niche I don’t think this is what you would see. That’s why I picked these four animals, two mostly aquatic carnivors and two nocturnal flying insectivors.

    If we find that penguin hemoglobin and myoglobin were more similar to sea lion hemoglobin and myoglobin than to the night hawk’s that would be evidence against evolution and for special creation. Finding a bird with three bones in its middle ear would be the same thing. Why do barn owls tracking a mouse by sound in the darkness have only one bone in its middle ear, while a cat doing the same thing and a human that couldn’t do it if his life depended on it, have three? Doesn’t the owl need the amplification supplied by those bones as much as the cat?

    For the record I’m Catholic not an atheist.

  16. Just for the record, no-one reading or writing this page is a blood relative of the late Clint; the intention was to be humorous, not personal, as, I am confident, is understood.
    I was challenged by a reader who perhaps is stymied by publications titled “www.creationtheory”, to provide “predictive theories”. (Please refer to my first comment, above.) It’s useful to read the literature, and find where modern technology & Origins are really at.
    I will list just one, from a list of potentially 50, all readily deduced from the Internet Publication I mention above, or from relevant technical sources.
    Clint is not your great uncle, mine, nor anyone else’s. No baby “just like Clint” is going to be born to a human mother. Therefore there is a species lock. All of biology asserts a species lock. At the point when one species is transformed into the next — and I am not saying this does or does not fully apply to the origin of humans — something trips the lock. As a generality, life is designed so that not only was DNA and other information re-programmed, there is a continuity of life, species-to-species, and a mechanism operated to cause it to happen without violation of the reproductive isolation of species. It didn’t happen by magic, it didn’t happen by religion – whatever religion one may hold – it happenned through real, natural, describable, biological/information technological events.
    PREDICTIVE THEORY; Mechanisms exist and will (in fact, ARE) being discovered, showing how species transformations occurred: this will include mechanisms for re-programming DNA,and for tripping the species lock. In other words, nature will be shown to be rational, and not the product of obscurantist quasi-religious-mystical wishfull thinking. A clearer picture is found at , where may be found 49+ predictions, besides. I haven’t studied your publications in detail but at least elements of this page are something of a step up on the nauseating same old same old that smothers everything at TalkOstriches. Again, best wishes. P.H..

  17. Philip said: “In other words, nature will be shown to be rational”… OK, love to see that when you have it.

    Meanwhile, to cut through all the gibberish going on here, science doesn’t preclude a god, it just doesn’t bother testing for one. The supernatural is beyond the bounds of science. It tests for what can be shown in the natural world. If you are saying evolution happens, and god made it happen, I can’t really argue with you. I don’t personally believe it, but I can’t argue with you. If you think you can test “god” in the natural world, by all means, continue your work. Again, come back when you have something.

  18. Sorry, Mr Hoopman, I don’t copy. I don’t understand the syntax, or whatever the word is. I’m signing off. In passing, I take the liberty of a comment. Whatever I wrote on the above page may be, quote, “gibberish”, but I take you to task for suggesting the other contributors to this page, including its provider, are by implication all fools. I’m sorry, I can’t make head nor tail of your message. But to put a positive spin on it, it’s arguably better than the average at TalkOrigins, and no more relevant to technological advance in Origins Science than is theirs. P.H..

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