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 Is there a tree of life?
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Skeptic Friend

131 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2011 :  13:47:57  Show Profile Send Baxter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The link below talks about a panel discussion (including Dawkins) where Craig Venter apparently denies common descent: "The tree of life is an artifact of some early scientific studies that aren't really holding up...So there is not a tree of life."

The following video is the actual discussion:

9:00 - 12:00 minute mark specifically.

Can someone tell me what Craig Venter is saying, exactly? Did he drop a bomb or is it just miscommunication?

"We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me." ~from Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

"We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know." ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

9677 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2011 :  15:20:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Perhaps Venter meant "there is no single tree of life"?
It's not like mycoplasma is sorted into the middle of eukaryotes in the tree of life as we know it. Especially multicelled organisms... I don't know the exact history of mycoplasma other than it sorts under bacteria, so it does not belong to the part of the tree of life where we find flora and fauna.

If life started way back when, many strains of life were likely to have arisen from abiogenesis around the globe, but only one strain came to build the tree of life as we know it. But what if there wasn't just one strain that survived, but a minor parallel line of ancestries? Mycoplasma could be a "living fossil" from that time, but tainted or hybridised with the early main genetic line. The different ribosome being one of the remaining anomalies from this minor parallel strain.

This is of course speculation.
It's be interesting what comes out of this.

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"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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Edited by - Dr. Mabuse on 03/11/2011 15:21:45
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SFN Die Hard

6891 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2011 :  20:47:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Venter does not deny common descent, he is just saying that it isn't as simple as a "tree" of life. Its impossible to disagree with him on that. Also, Dawkin's isn't wrong either. If you take the known genetic code variants you can see they are clearly related. There are a few organisms who's code varies from the norm by one or two codons, sure, but there is too much overlap to deny a relationship.

Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

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The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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