We Welcome Our Moss Overlords

You are familiar with the proposition promoted by the Discovery Institute that complex, improbable, yet functional things exhibit a property they call specified complexity, which to them is a virtually incontrovertible signal of intelligent design.

That is why they insist that our DNA is not laden with “junk,” i.e., non-functional material. The designer — blessed be he! — does everything for a purpose, and he wouldn’t do sloppy work. Because we know (don’t we?) that the designer created us, it follows as the night the day that there can’t be any junk in our divinely fashioned DNA. See Discovery Institute: Junk DNA Dismay.

Knowing that this, shall we say, “purity of essence” is a conclusion of intelligent design theory, we sometimes take delight in mentioning the existence of other organisms that have genomes far larger than ours. For example, we have previously pointed out that an onion’s genome is five times larger than that of a human.

Onions aren’t the only creatures with a genomic endowment that makes us look inferior. A Japanese Plant Has the World’s Biggest Genome, which is 50 times longer than the genome of a human being. Also, the amoeba has a genome far larger than ours. If that’s not humbling enough, the genome of the Christmas tree is being decoded — see Huge DNA code of the Christmas tree being revealed — informing us that the Norway spruce has a genome six times bigger than ours, and other conifer genomes are even larger.

If the “science” of the Discoveroids is valid, then we must cower in fear at the wonders that surely must be concealed within such well-endowed yet unobtrusive organisms. Aware that their genomes conceal abilities beyond our imagining, all we can do is await the day when they reveal their plans for conquest, aided by the super powers with which their intelligently designed genomes have equipped them. This is humbling indeed.

But humility is good. We must always remember that it was mankind’s arrogance that caused the Fall of Adam & Eve, followed by the divine judgment of the Flood, and then other lesser punishments like the linguistic confusion we suffered at Babel. Now that we see how inferior we truly are regarding our genome size, it should dawn on us that our species pride is the most arrogant sin of all — and judgment day is sure to come!

To enhance your humility, dear reader, we bring you news of yet another genomic wonder. This is reported in Physorg: Simple moss plants outperform us by gene number. Moss? Egad! Let’s see what the article says, with bold font added by us:

At the genetic level, mosses are more complex than humans: A group of German, Belgian and Japanese scientists, coordinated by Professor Ralf Reski from the University of Freiburg, Germany, published a new study where they describe 32,275 protein-encoding genes from the moss Physcomitrella patens. This is about 10,000 genes more than the human genome contains.

Are you feeling inferior, dear reader? That’s good. Here’s a bit more:

For their recent study the scientists collected all available information on the moss genome as well as transcript evidence and used this data for a completely new bioinformatic analysis. The result is freely available on the community resource http://www.cosmoss.org,

Here’s a better link and we’re giving it a better title: The moss computational biology toolbox. It’s not a website for amateurs. We went there and looked around. They may have it somewhere, but we couldn’t find a statement that compares the moss genome’s length to the human genome, in terms of base pairs. All we have to go on is that moss has 10,000 more genes than we do.

There’s no need for us to excerpt any more information. If you’re interested in moss, that link is the mother lode. Our interest is far more cosmic — we’re concerned about man’s place in the great scheme of things. From what we’re learning about the inferiority of our genome, we’re about equal to pond scum. That’s the conclusion one must draw from intelligent design theory.

In closing, we’ll restate an offer we’ve expressed before, inspired by this clip from The Simpsons:

I, for one, welcome our soft, green overlords. And I would like to remind them that as an influential blogger, I can be helpful in rendering the human population appropriately docile.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “We Welcome Our Moss Overlords

  1. Google search reveals:
    Only a pipsqueak genome of around 480Mb, apparently.

  2. Among vertebrates the aquatic ‘giant’ salamanders (Amphiuma, Hellbenders, etc.,) have the largest total DNA.

  3. That’s good to know, Victor. I welcome their overlordship too.

  4. Vhutchison: Among vertebrates the aquatic ‘giant’ salamanders (Amphiuma, Hellbenders, etc.,) have the largest total DNA.

    I believe this is incorrect: the current champion among vertebrates SFAIK is the African marbled lungfish, Protopterus aethiopicus, with DNA of 132.83 picograms as C-value (C-value is in picograms, converted to haploid terms, e.g. divided by two if tetraploid). That is 38 x Human. Humans have 3.5 pg.

    Among land tetrapods, the current champion SFAIK is Necturus lewisi, the “Gulf coast waterdog”, an amphibian with 120.60 pg, or 34.5 x Human.

    The two-toed Amphiuma has 96 picograms of DNA in haploid terms, = 27.4 x Human.

    All salamanders, newts, axolotls, and caecilians [legless snake-shaped amphibians] have much more DNA than humans. Frogs: sometimes more, sometimes less.

  5. Robert: [This species of moss has] Only a pipsqueak genome of around 480Mb, apparently.

    That is slightly more than 1/4 [26%] of the human genome size.

    This species of moss is quite comparable to the black-chinned hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri, which has 0.91pg of DNA, about 26% of human. Obviously, hummingbirds are vertebrates that can grow asymmetric flight feathers, fly, hover, have exquisite balance etc.

    For comparison, the puffer fish, another vertebrate, has 330 Mbp, less than half of this species of moss, and 1/10 the size of the human genome.

    The sea urchin, not a vertebrate but closely related to vertebrates, has 814 Mbp, still less than this species of moss.

  6. Curm: A Japanese Plant Has the World’s Biggest Genome

    I don’t think Paris japonica has the biggest genome overall. Among plants, I think so.

    But among amoeba, Amoeba proteus has 100x human and Amoeba dubia has 209 x human.

    Save these links for future reference, so you can double-check this stuff:

    Database of Animal Genome Sizes: http://genomesize.com/

    Database of Plant Genome Sizes: http://data.kew.org/cvalues/

  7. Good links, Diogenes. Thanks.

  8. ERRATA: Ignore everything I said about the moss having 1/4 the size of the human genome.

    Saunders clearly wrote 480 Mbp, and I stupidly read it as 840 Mbp!

    Thus when I wrioe:

    This species of moss is quite comparable to the black-chinned hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri, which has 0.91pg of DNA, about 26% of human.

    That’s obviously wrong, and

    The sea urchin, not a vertebrate but closely related to vertebrates, has 814 Mbp, still less than this species of moss.

    is also wrong, but what I wrote about the puffer fish having a SMALLER genome than this moss, is still correct.

  9. Diogenes says: “Ignore everything I said about the moss having 1/4 the size of the human genome.”

    We all forgive you, but you somehow have to calm down the moss. They’re unlikely to forget your insult.

  10. But we are created in God’s image! So if all of these life-forms are genomically superior to us…

  11. Roseanne Roseannadanna: What’s all this fuss about Interior Design? I have a good friend who studied Interior Design, and what does it have to do with evolution, anyway?

    Jane Curtin: I think that’s “Intelligent Design”, Roseanne. Intelligent Design.

    Roseanne Roseannadanna: Oh. Nevermind.

  12. retiredsciguy says: “Roseanne Roseannadanna: What’s all this fuss about Interior Design?”

    That’s good. Very good.

  13. Equating genome size with “importance” is a fallacy, of course, and more importantly the Discoveroids know it is, but deliberately mislead the public about that and many other things that they know ain’t so. Nevertheless, in a way the autotrophs are the “highest” form of life, Then things started going downhill when those nasty heterotrophs appeared. Maybe that’s what they mean by “The Fall.”

  14. Retired SciGuy,

    That’s not a Rosanne Rosanneadanna sketch– Rosanneadanna sketches end with her describing something disgusting, like getting her armpits shaved. It’s a Mrs. Emily Litella sketch.

    Your reply should consist of two words…

  15. @Anonymous — You are so right! I should have just written “Gilda Radner: What’s all this fuss…”

    Problem is, not many of us around any more who remember the original SNL cast. Arguably the most talented assemblage of comedic actors of all time.

    Of course, the crew at The Discovery Institute comes close, but they don’t realize it.