Tree of Life Revised and Expanded

Tree of Life

This has been all over the news the past few days, and so far the creationists haven’t mentioned it. At EurekAlert, the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we read Wealth of unsuspected new microbes expands tree of life. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

The tree of life, which depicts how life has evolved and diversified on the planet, is getting a lot more complicated. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who have discovered more than 1,000 new types of bacteria and Archaea over the past 15 years lurking in Earth’s nooks and crannies, have dramatically rejiggered the tree to account for these microscopic new life forms.

Revisions are not unusual because new species are always being found. The last time we discussed this subject was several months ago in New Version of the “Tree of Life”, where we said:

But we can’t help wondering what people like ol’ Hambo make of this. Did all those species somehow appear in the 4,000 years since Noah’s Flood? Why does every species — including our own — fit into its proper place in this one hierarchy — as if they were all related? Why aren’t there any unique outliers that don’t fit anywhere?

There’s never been an answer from Hambo, or any other creationist. Let’s read on:

“The tree of life is one of the most important organizing principles in biology,” said Jill Banfield, a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science and environmental science, policy and management. “The new depiction will be of use not only to biologists who study microbial ecology, but also biochemists searching for novel genes and researchers studying evolution and earth history.”

And it’s of no use to creationists, so they ignore it. EurekAlert continues:

The new tree, to be published online April 11 in the new journal Nature Microbiology, reinforces once again that the life we see around us – plants, animals, humans and other so-called eukaryotes – represent a tiny percentage of the world’s biodiversity.

You can see that paper here: A new view of the tree of life. For the moment, you can read it online without a subscription. That’s where we got the illustration above this post. We hope we’re not violating anyone’s copyright. Back to EurekAlert:

According to first author Laura Hug [great name!], a former UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow who is now on the biology faculty at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, the more than 1,000 newly reported organisms appearing on the revised tree are from a range of environments, including a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, a salt flat in Chile’s Atacama desert, terrestrial and wetland sediments, a sparkling water geyser, meadow soil and the inside of a dolphin’s mouth. All of these newly recognized organisms are known only from their genomes.

Hey, this is interesting:

One striking aspect of the new tree of life is that a group of bacteria described as the “candidate phyla radiation” forms a very major branch. Only recognized recently, and seemingly comprised only of bacteria with symbiotic lifestyles, the candidate phyla radiation now appears to contain around half of all bacterial evolutionary diversity.

It makes you wonder what the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — had in mind when he was devoting so much time to making those. And why aren’t they mentioned in scripture?

If you’re interested in the details, you can follow the links we’ve provided. Your Curmudgeon is going to wait for the creationist reaction. We suspect we’ll be waiting a long time.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Tree of Life Revised and Expanded

  1. And they are not hinted at in the Bible. In particular, there is no day of the six days of creation where they can fit … Or can they?

  2. To channel Haldane, though the creator might have been inordinately fond of beetles, the designer was even fonder of bacteria. It’s always the little things that make a difference.

  3. Hmm, the ID creationist people apparently would have a better justification for dreaming that the world was created for them if they were bacteria or archaea!

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    “See, they just keep changing things, trying to make it all fit. It doesn’t fit in the tree model anymore … ha ha!” Or words to that effect.

  5. Dave Luckett

    Creationists are not interested in this at all. It doesn’t challenge their idea that they… (cough cough) that is, human beings are the pinnacle of creation. Who cares about pointy-head scientists finding new bugs?

    Mind you, if just one of these new bacteria didn’t use DNA, man, the sewage would righteously impact the air impeller.

  6. These are all of the “germ kind”. it’s all micro-evolution.

  7. Unfortunately, creationists do have an answer: that You-Know-Who designed organisms in this way and, as TomS says, any change since Adam and Eve has ben mere “micro-evolution” (or “adaptation” for those who can’t stand using the e-word at all). The “tree of life,” in their view, is just a modern view of Aristotle’s “ladder of life”.

    Of course, Aristotle was a pagan, but hey, at least he wasn’t a dirty Darwinist materialist.

  8. SC: “And it’s of no use to creationists, so they ignore it.”

    Actually they – and I mean the activists, not the evolution-deniers-on-the-street – probably read it more thoroughly than scientists. Specifically to look for changes to pretend that evolution is “a theory in crisis.” Or to mine data to show how many “gaps” it has. I haven’t zoomed in to see if there are any “whens,” but if there is, that will be either ignored, by Discoveroids who have no problem with it, or spun by YEC peddlers as “biased” to “faulty dating techniques.”

    All those tactics of course will produce neat sound bites that will fool the public, and result it long, technical refutations that few people will understand – even if they have the time or interest to follow them.