Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What Are Octopuses Evolving Into?



How come Octopuses haven't evolved in the past 100 million years?

And if they are evolving, what are they evolving into?

Science Daily: Cretaceous Octopus With Ink And Suckers -- The World's Least Likely Fossils?

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2009) — New finds of 95 million year old fossils reveal much earlier origins of modern octopuses. These are among the rarest and unlikeliest of fossils. The chances of an octopus corpse surviving long enough to be fossilized are so small that prior to this discovery only a single fossil species was known, and from fewer specimens than octopuses have legs.

Even if you have never encountered an octopus in the flesh, the eight arms, suckers, and sack-like body are almost as familiar a body-plan as the four legs, tail and head of cats and dogs. Unlike our vertebrate cousins, however, octopuses don't have a well-developed skeleton. And while this famously allows them to squeeze into spaces that a more robust animal could not, it does create problems for scientists interested in evolutionary history. ...

Palaeontologists have just identified three new species of fossil octopus discovered in Cretaceous rocks in Lebanon. The five specimens, described in the latest issue of the journal Palaeontology, are 95 million years old but, astonishingly, preserve the octopuses' eight arms with traces of muscles and those characteristic rows of suckers. Even traces of the ink and internal gills are present in some specimens. '

"These are sensational fossils, extraordinarily well preserved," says Dirk Fuchs of the Freie University Berlin, lead author of the report. But what surprised the scientists most was how similar the specimens are to modern octopus: "these things are 95 million years old, yet one of the fossils is almost indistinguishable from living species." This provides important evolutionary information.
Indeed: it provides information that none has occured.

Similarly, the tuatara is alleged to be "the fastest evolving animal" yet it's phenotype hasn't changed in 200 million years.

35 comments:

Quantum_Flux said...

I don't know the answer to that one, I don't know why there is any need for them to evolve though. Anyhow, with 8 arms like that, it could be a The Hindu Ink Goddess that they are evolving into.

Quantum_Flux said...

....I might add, that is one ugly octopuss. I should hope they evolve into something more sightly.

OilIsMastery said...

QF,

Perhaps you'll find this one to be more attractive?

=)

OilIsMastery said...

Cthulhu loves you, in a sandwich.

Jeffery Keown said...

Just because no externally observable features are found to have changed, the frequency of certain genes can change rapidly. Evolution is not just "outward appearance."

A good example would be lactose tolerance in Humans. We haven't changed much, but some of us can process lactose and some can't. The origin of this gene sequence can be traced back to the domestication of cows and horses.

(This from Dawkins, I believe. The Ancestor's Tale if I'm not mistaken.

Pleroma said...

There are lots of creatures that haven't evolved over that kind of time scale. I'd imagine that if a niche environment doesn't change too much over time, any strong deviation from an ideal form for that niche would be selected against.

Jeffery Keown said...

From the linked article on the Tuatara:

Many scientists have thought that molecular evolution would be fastest in animals whose physical form, or morphology, also evolved swiftly. The tuatara finding suggests otherwise, that there is no relationship between the two rates.

Clearly OiM's skepticism is, as usual, misplaced.

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

Evolution means change in inherited traits. No change means no evolution.

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

"We haven't changed much"

Don't tell that to a Darwinist they may have a heartattack.

According to them man evolved from apes.

OilIsMastery said...

Pleroma,

Welcome to the website.

"There are lots of creatures that haven't evolved over that kind of time scale."

Exactly.

"I'd imagine that if a niche environment doesn't change too much over time, any strong deviation from an ideal form for that niche would be selected against."

The Earth itself is a niche environment that, according to uniformitarianism, doesn't change much over time. Therefore by this logic, evolution on Earth is impossible.

Jeffery Keown said...

So what did humans evolve from if not an Ape-like ancestor? Are you like that creationist Hoyle (God created Man) or the Hindus (who think humans have existed in this form for billions of years)?

Either way, evidence suggests otherwise.

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

"So what did humans evolve from if not an Ape-like ancestor?"

Your question assumes that man evolves, yet we've observed with the tuatara, echinoids, sharks, octopuses, no evolution in phenotype. None.

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

"Are you like that creationist Hoyle (God created Man)"

Your ignorance and mischaracterization of Fred Hoyle is a real shame and does not reflect well on your character or reading comprehension.

"The creationist is a sham religious person who, curiously, has no true sense of religion. In the language of religion, it is the facts we observe in the world around us that must be seen to constitute the words of God. Documents, whether the Bible, Qur'an or those writings that held such force for Velikovsky, are only the words of men. To prefer the words of men to those of God is what one can mean by blasphemy. This, we think, is the instinctive point of view of most scientists who, curiously again, have a deeper understanding of the real nature of religion than have the many who delude themselves into a frenzied belief in the words, often the meaningless words, of men. Indeed, the lesser the meaning, the greater the frenzy, in something like inverse proportion." -- Fred Hoyle, cosmologist, 1993

Jeffery Keown said...

So Hoyle doesn't like being called a creationist any more than I do, but he did say this:

If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of...

That's creationism in a nutshell, sir.

Jeffery Keown said...

OiM,

What is the origin of man then? I would really like your thoughts on the matter.

And I'm serious... I'm not just waiting to pounce on your next crazy statement or clever dodge...

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

Since when do you have a problem with creationists?

All you do is come here to defend creationists like Newton, Lemaitre, and Gamow.

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

"What is the origin of man then?"

Excellent question!

"I would really like your thoughts on the matter.

And I'm serious... I'm not just waiting to pounce on your next crazy statement or clever dodge..."

I don't know.

I'm as ignorant as everybody else.

I remain open-minded to all logical possibilities.

"No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows." -- J. Robert Oppenheimer, physicist, date unknown

Jeffery Keown said...

Hey now, just because someone has delusions like relgion, does not mean they are wrong about everything.

For example, I think you may be on track about Abiotic Oil, but way wrong about how one's religious views affect the quality of their science and this whole expanding earth thing.

Pleroma said...

OIM,

This is actually Seth, I just added a screen name to my account.

Having grown up on a farm and bred animals, I have actually guided changes in phenotype. Some dog breeds, for instance, have been changed to such a degree that they cannot practically interbreed and it is easy to see how they could diverge into new species in the future.

I recognize that their are gaps in paleontological records, such that we don't see continuous changes leading from one species to another, but I can think of many reasons why happenstance would only preserve some moments in time and not others in the fossil record.

But, that and the evidence of a few stable phenotypes over millions of years just don't seem like weighty enough evidence to overturn the very likely story of evolution. Why would there be sexes, for instance? Why are there so many unhealthy genetic mutations in populations that have been taken out of nature and allowed to procreate where they would not have otherwise? It seems that only an evil genius could have come up with all the evidence for evolution in order to delude us, if species do not really evolve.

Quantum_Flux said...

Cute. Now, see, that almost constitutes a symbiotic relationship.

Quantum_Flux said...

I wonder if there are fewer latteral gene transfers that are compatible with an 8 armed creature. I wonder if perhaps a spider gene, or starfish genes would be more compatible?

Jeffery Keown said...

Invertibrates like Starfish and Spiders are "closer" to Octopoids than we are, so from a certain point of view, yes.

However, genes are genes. They are all read and expressed by the same mechanism. So you could transfer jellyfish genes into a pig with few or no problems.

BF said...

Jeffery Keown said: "For example, I think you may be on track about Abiotic Oil, but way wrong about how one's religious views affect the quality of their science and this whole expanding earth thing."

Dear Jeffery

http://www.biocab.org/Geological_TS_Sea_Level.jpg

If one look closely at the graph on sea levels, above, one can see a series of pulses - as if the Earth has a beating heart. Notice that each pulse is larger but inverted, followed by short contraction, long expansion, shorter contraction, longer expansion… etc. Now, if one again looks closely one can see that each time the pulsations are larger and that the system does not return to the point of origin, but that the expansions are larger. This can be explained in two ways:

1. The Earth is losing water mass gradually.
2. The Earth is expanding.

Which of the two is the most familiar and rational explanation do you think?

http://www.biocab.org/Carbon_Dioxide_Geological_Timescale.html

OilIsMastery said...

Seth,

No one would be stupid enough to deny domestic selection and the breeding of new "subspecies" of animals via intelligent design.

But if the DNA and genes aren't there already to select, there is no possible way to breed a pig with wings without intelligent design.

No matter how hard nature tries to select traits, pigs will never give birth to pigs with wings, because the DNA simply isn't there.

What new classes, orders, genuses, and species did you intelligently design and create with domestic selection?

Pleroma said...

None.

However, given a million years or so, I'd bet I could breed a pig that had wings. Start with a bone spur, an eventual mutated joint or something... Making it fly would be another matter entirely.

OilIsMastery said...

Seth,

"However, given a million years or so, I'd bet I could breed a pig that had wings."

An intelligent designer with knowledge of genetic engineering such as yourself might be able to do it in even less time, but it seems nature has trouble doing it even over hundreds of millions of years.

Quantum_Flux said...

Well, viruses are known to change DNA of reproducing cells in a couple days. I attribute much of evolution to latteral gene transfers such as that, and other mutations. Perhaps the Bird Flu, for instance, could introduce a mutative sequence into humans that could one day lead to a mutant baby devoloping wings or such. I think nature does this sort of "intelligent designing" all the time when the genes jump from one animal species to another. As to why a virus can't cause a pig to develope wings, well, perhaps it can.

Jeffery Keown said...

I suppose we can add "Evolution" to the list of evidences OiM chooses to ignore.

The problem OiM has is that he's not millions of years old, and has trouble seeing anything the majority accepts as fact.

If he were so old, or accepted facts as presented by mainstream science, this blog wouldn't exist.

Score one for willful ignorance.

Viruses are responsible for placental mammals existance. An ancient immunodeficiency bug actviates to suppress the immune response in female mammals, allowing a fetus to grow inside her. Without it, you get the monotremata, who continue to lay eggs because there's no need or opprotunity to switch to another method.

And that's the key. Opprotunity in the form of mutation and isolation, coupled with need in the form of improved competiveness.

It's really simple. Pigs can't fly, because their ancestors couldn't and didn't have the genes and morphological room to manuever.

Louis Hissink said...

Evolution is essentially liberal creationism - When Charles Lyell shifter Biblical Creation from 4004 BC to some arbitrary point of time in the past, he still had to come up with some sort of process in which mankind ended up as the zenith of all life. Darwin supplied it.

All evolutionary "tree diagrams" start with simple life forms culminating in the human being.

This sort of makes Dawkins a Clayton Creationist.

Pleroma said...

@Jeffrey

In defense of OIM, even though I disagree on this point, I have seen on many occasions where a majority of people believe an idea simply because everyone around them believe it too. This is especially true where evidence is unclear. When "experts" seem clear about their opinions and have lots of complicated arguments to back it up, even if those arguments don't really make sense, the non-experts will follow whichever experts seem to have the largest following. I respect OIM's reasons for disagreeing with non-intelligently designed evolution far more than I respect the another person's agreement based merely on the fact that that's what experts told him is true. I studied evolutionary theory with Bob Trivers, and I still think there is only enough evidence to call it a likely story. But I think it is by far the most likely story compared with a story involving provident deities or evil geniuses. Occam's Razor and all that.

Pleroma said...

@Louis

I thought liberals believed dolphins were the apex of the evolutionary tree.

OilIsMastery said...

Jeffery,

"The problem OiM has is that he's not millions of years old, and has trouble seeing anything the majority accepts as fact.

If he were so old, or accepted facts as presented by mainstream science, this blog wouldn't exist."

Are you serious?

See the sidebar for quotes and peer-reviewed science I believe to be factual.

You're the one who doesn't believe in electrons, electricity, and electromagnetism. I actually do.

Jeffery Keown said...

You're the one who doesn't believe in electrons, electricity, and electromagnetism. I actually do.

I have never said such a thing. Where did you get that impression?

I'm in Computer Science and Implementation... I'd better believe in EM. EM puts food on my table, allows my nervous system to function and (sorta) makes the sun shine... when did I say I didn't buy into one of the fundamental forces of the universe?

What are you smoking, and does the government of your country know you are ingesting such large quantities of it?

Jeffery Keown said...

Evolution is essentially liberal creationism - When Charles Lyell shifter Biblical Creation from 4004 BC to some arbitrary point of time in the past, he still had to come up with some sort of process in which mankind ended up as the zenith of all life. Darwin supplied it.

The discovery of DNA and the science of Genetics provided the mechanism by which it happens.

Evolution is a fact. Get over it.

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