From Evolution News & Views
Posted by madcap on February 26, 2008
I recently picked up Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science by Oxford chemist Peter Atkins. It’s a 2003 book, and on the plus side, it offers enjoyable and concise explanations of many important scientific theories, including some lucid diagrams explaining Einstein’s ideas about relativity.
In his chapter on evolution, Atkins boldly states, “The effective prediction is that the details of molecular evolution must be consistent with those of macroscopic evolution.” (pg. 16) I’m willing to accept that “prediction.” However, Atkins unfortunately goes on to dramatically overstate the evidence for molecular evolution by asserting, “That is found to be the case: there is not a single instance of the molecular traces of change being inconsistent with our observations of whole organisms.” (pg. 16)
I’ve addressed this topic before, and, to put it nicin ely, Atkins’ comment is wrong. In fact, in 2000, Trisha Gura wrote an entire review article in Nature entitled “Bones, Molecules or Both?” (Vol. 406:230-233, July 20, 2000), devoted entirely to examining the difficulties encountered by evolutionary scientists when trying to reconcile molecule-based phylogenetic trees with phylogenetic trees based upon morphology. In Gura’s words, the commonality of these conflicts has led to great “evolution wars” among systematists over whether they should use “bones,” “molecules,” or “both” when constructing phylogenies. As Gura stated: Full story: