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Author Topic:   What mutations are needed for a particular trait (e.g. wings) to arise?
skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 1 of 111 (344820)
08-29-2006 5:45 PM


Is it possible mathematically?
How many random mutations would it have taken to create a bird and does this even seem remotely possible? Would it not take a series of random mutations (over time of course) - the odds of this happening being almost impossible?
What is the average mutation rate expected for a creature to evolve novel characteristics that are beneficial anyway?

What would be helpful would be a scenario - even a fictional one that could explain how a creature could evolve into a bird (not just with drawings of transitional types) but an explanation of the type of mutations that are needed.

Think about it like this - what are the all the possible errors due to mutation that could happen? And what is the likelihood that one of them will be beneficial? Has this been ever calculated mathematically?

The natural selection part seems to make sense but random mutation does not. Every SINGLE example of a beneficial random mutation e.g. resistance to black plague in Europeans seems too improbable to have occurred purely by chance.
Now - I cannot show that it is improbable but have the evolutionists have shown that random mutation ALONE IS responsible for these examples? Could they not be another unexplained force behind this?

Edited by skepticfaith, : Admin requested change..


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 3 of 111 (344931)
08-30-2006 12:07 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminWounded
08-29-2006 6:05 PM


How's this - better? I think this is a more unique for the forum now..

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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 11 of 111 (345092)
08-30-2006 3:53 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by PaulK
08-30-2006 3:15 AM


Re: Is it possible mathematically?
quote:
On a more general point, this is a very bad argument.

How is this a bad argument? I am not the one proposing a new theory - has someone not asked this question?
Besides I am not saying that the chances of one beneficial mutation is impossible just an entire series of them to give rise to this trait.

quote:
TO make an analogy the chance of winning the lottery is very low. The chance that someone will win the lottery is a lot higher. If you looked at the history of a large lottery and considered the probability of each of the actual winners winning you would come up with a very large number.

Thus your analogy to the lottery is incorrect. The analogy is more like the same person winning the lottery 1000 or more times..This is why I want to KNOW approximately how much mutations is necessary ..A mathematical model could be build testing the probably of this even occurring...(the event being the evolution of the bird from a reptilian ancestor)..


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 12 of 111 (345098)
08-30-2006 4:10 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Archer Opteryx
08-30-2006 3:41 AM


Re: feathers and flight
quote:

A good introduction to this question can be found here:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/03/4/l_034_01.html
It outlines exactly the changes that would happen in the process of small dinosaurs growing feathers and taking to the air.


Ok - that was an interesting read, but it does not cover what I am saying. How do we know this mutation is random - and how could a series of random mutations one after another (in a space of some generations - I guess) produce forelimbs and hands that became progressively longer then a host of other features eventually leading up to a bird.
Its like I can propose that it is more advantageous for a creature to have a longer tail and viola a mutation appears that gives this longer tail .. natural Selection ends up with more long tailed creature.. Now the creature needs to whip this tail for some reason (it would be advantageous in nature for some reason) and magically another mutation gives it a stronger more flexible tail ...Is this the way evolution works? Anything can just happen magically?

There is a design process in place here and random mutation does not seem to cut it ...


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 14 of 111 (345105)
08-30-2006 4:38 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by dwise1
08-30-2006 4:16 PM


Re: Is it possible mathematically?
quote:
A more accurate model would be a few individuals within the population winning the lottery, which their offspring then inherit as would then their offspring (also being the offspring of others who "married into the fortune" rather than having acquired it themselves).

Of course of of these offspring would have to win the next lottery to aquire the next trait and so on and on. Still, the lottery is DESIGNED to produce a winner and so it is possible . For mutations to produce traits that are beneficial - the genetic code would have to be designed this way too. So the term random is not entirely accurate here - because in the lottery - we know all the possible outcomes for mutations we don't.
What I am getting at is that we can't talk about random when we don't even know what the realm of possibilities are. Clearly these 'series of random mutations' is a result of design which ensures that a few mutations would be beneficial and would give rise to useful traits.


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 18 of 111 (345124)
08-30-2006 5:40 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Gary
08-30-2006 4:43 PM


Infinite possibilities?
quote:
You're right that random mutation alone doesn't cut it. That's where natural selection comes in. Natural selection works upon the random mutations to produce strings of beneficial mutations.

I understand this but what I am driving at is that the successive series of mutations is not likely to produce anything useful (even many generations apart and with natural selection) if as you phrased it

quote:
out of a practically infinite number of possibilities, that things could have turned out.

This is what I have an issue with. If the number of possiblities are infinite as you say - (and I doubt that they are) then evolution isn't highly improbable - it is impossible! Despite the time frame involved, it still wont be enough time for creative pressures to select the right mutations..
However, if this entire process was designed to stack the deck in favor of useful beneficial mutations - we can get what we observe right now. Of course this would imply either a designer or an intelligent process that is driving evolution. From a logical stand point this would make sense - but it certainly is not random, at least not with infinite possiblities ..

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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 24 of 111 (345171)
08-30-2006 6:53 PM


Finite possibilities - not infinite..
quote:
If I have a hundred dice, and I roll them all, there are a large number of possibilities. 6^100, to be exact. But even though this number is very large, that doesn't mean that it is impossible to get any particular combination. If I roll all the dice, I have to get some combination, even if that combination is extrememly unlikely.

But I know that onedye has 6 sides here..I thought that someone had already come up with a number with regard to mutations. Also what I am driving at is similar to this Intended mutationsthread.

. The entire process has to be preprogrammed - every example given so far, lottery, dice, etc is designed..

To say simply that it is random and not get into any specifics as to how is simply not scientific. Anyone can caluclate the odds of winning a lottery - why can't the same be done for a beneficial mutation on a specific creature. This is the mystery of Life though -- but to just dismiss the whole thing as random is ridiculous.. It was either designed directly or via a process similar to a computer program (even if there was some chance involved).


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 36 of 111 (345473)
08-31-2006 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by Codegate
08-31-2006 2:13 PM


Re: Finite possibilities - not infinite..
quote:
Suddenly our 1000 critters are not all equal. Let's say of the 1000 in the population now there are 50 that are slightly better suited to the new environment. Perhaps they had a slightly darker colouring and can hide from the new predator easier.

I see your point about selection but what you mention is not a mutation! There were alredy slightly darker critters in the population!


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 39 of 111 (345486)
08-31-2006 4:01 PM


Summary ..
Here is what I gather from the responses so far:

To get from a non-flying creature to a bird hypothetically - ( I could have chosen flying insects too but I am sure there are absoultely no fossils that could even suggest insect evolution)

The basal creature may have evolved feathers, very light bone structure, modified forelimb structure, the wishbone chest structure etc - this is assumed from looking at fossils of ancient reptilian looking birds which apparantly evolved from small dinasour.

Now the chances of the first trait happening (whatever that was) is equivalent to winning the lottery... which means that the realm of possiblities is finite (not infinite) but quite large -the number which no one has quite figured out. (Technically it cannot be infinite because the probability 1/infinity gives 0).
Mutations happen at a certain rate (I guess this is quite high) for each creature. Most of the mutations are neutral and do not affect the population or creature substantially. Many of them are detrimental and the creature dies from disease.
However once this trait does appear and it is beneficial with no harmful side effects, subsequent generations should contain a higher proportion of creatures with this new trait until the entire population has this trait - feathers, modified limb or something.

It is quite possible that this is all that happened or this population splits up with some staying essentially the same while others face a new challenge..

This new challenge can be overcome with a new trait - which appears by chance again - about the odds of winning the lottery. the process is repeated and we have a creature that again looks a little different.

So far the odds are not like the same person winning the lottery the same time (as I previously stated) because of the numerous failures (diseases, harmful, neutral mutations etc) over many,many generations, and also numerous sub-branches which were semi-successful at least.

Repeat this a number of times - perhaps more population splitting and eventually we have many brances of bird like creatures. Fast forward to present and we see modern birds. There are fossils of other now extinct branches and perhaps some interemediate steps but fossil evidence is sketchy ...

Doest this sound about right or are there some problems with above or things I left out?


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 45 of 111 (345509)
08-31-2006 5:48 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Archer Opteryx
08-31-2006 4:37 PM


Re: Summary ..
quote:
The important thing you are overlooking now is that evolutionary change does not involve a series of lightning strikes. This is far more characteristic of creationist theories than the theory of evolution.

Some people, for example, are born with longer arms in proportion to their bodies than others. Some are born taller than others. There is nothing 'Lottery-like' about this. Being with arms that are longer or shorter than the average is just natural variation within a population.



I am not overlooking anything here - you just did not like the way I wrote it emphasising some of the weaknesses in the theory. The subject was a creature evolving towards being a bird.
Each novel trait arose because of a mutation and this beneficial trait - the chances of that appearing is the odds of winning a lottery. This is not after the fact - it is before. If you disagree with this then what are the chances of a beneficial mutation that introduces a novel trait?
I clearly stated that I was wrong about the same person winning the lottery analogy. And went on to describe the exact same evolutionary scenario that was presented to me. natural selection - i know it filters out the population - I have no problem with that..
However you object to my use of the word 'lotto' because each time the trait was to arise - that is approximately what the odds of it arising from a beneficial mutation is.
The whole longer arms thing means nothing because I am not arguing that with you - I know that -- by the way that is not a mutation at this point anyway.
Natural Selection acts AFTER the mutation occurred - I am talking about the odds of obtaining the beneficial mutation in the first place..

So in a way it is a set of lightning strikes but over a long period of time (again something I understood) which means you don't mutliply the probablilities of each beneficial mutation down the line..

In other ways - I concede that it is NOT impossible but you refuse to demonstrate what the chances of a benefeficial mutation that introduces a novel trait are (which is why I assume it to be odds of winning the lottery - and quite reasonable since there are some in this board who have debated if a beneficial mutation is even possible)


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 46 of 111 (345510)
08-31-2006 5:50 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Belfry
08-31-2006 5:43 PM


Re: Summary ..
quote:
What makes you so "sure" there wouldn't be such fossils, skepticfaith?

Because I have not seen any ..

care to show me a few links ?


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 48 of 111 (345514)
08-31-2006 6:18 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by PaulK
08-31-2006 6:05 PM


Re: Summary ..
quote:
In fact it is more likely that there are several beneficial mutations which could start the development of wings, and it should be added that there are a huge number of individuals where the first mutation could have occurred.

What do mean by this? The first mutation happened in one individual first, didn't it? Are you saying that the exact same mutation happened in more than one individual the first time? From what I understood the first individual with first mutation passed its genes down from generation to generation until it became more prevalent in the population.

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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 72 of 111 (346469)
09-04-2006 2:46 PM


Other Problems..
quote:
What 'novel traits' are you talking about? What definition of 'novel trait' are you using?

You can take your pick from the development of flight itself (which may have happened from a combination of different things but is still not very clear) to the formation of a wing or even simply the appearance of feathers - they are just elongated scales? How did it get from a scale to a feather?
Now the main problem is that we have not observed ANY such (similar)mutation in higher order animals such as mammals, birds, reptiles etc. That is a mutation that results in a physical change in the animal - a change in the function of a particular limb or organ. (And I dont' mean changes like long to short legs or size differences) - I mean something extraordinary - of this magnitutde - a scale becoming a feather or change in the animal's locomotion ...

Most of the observed 'beneficial' mutations are with bacteria, algae etc..If there anything major as I described above, please provide a link or something - I haven't heard of them.


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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 76 of 111 (346992)
09-06-2006 2:33 PM


Lets get the list then...
Ok -- I am not the expert here.. Just convince me here.. What mutations have been observed that have resulted in physical changes for higher order animals (mammals, birds etc). Nothing drastic, just something that implies or suggests further evolutionary change.
I may have misused the word extraordinary here but if anyone can show me mutations that have been observed recently, I would greatly appreciate it.
BTW I know of the immunity to disease - blood type mutations - excluding those ...
My suspicion and I hope that I am proved wrong is that no such mutations have been observed.

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skepticfaith
Member (Idle past 4067 days)
Posts: 71
From: NY, USA
Joined: 08-29-2006


Message 78 of 111 (347073)
09-06-2006 6:31 PM
Reply to: Message 77 by Archer Opteryx
09-06-2006 3:45 PM


Re: Lets get the list then...
quote:
On what grounds do you make this personal distinction between observable change you will accept as change and observable change you will not accept as change?

I was just hoping it would be a longer list and not have to see same examples as in other posts. There were some other posters (ID/creationists - I guess) who did not accept them - I did think their argument seemed somewhat reasonable though...

The wisdom teeth example makes sense.

I am hoping there would be more examples along this line..


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