Throwing Darwin Under the Bus

Now there is Evolution by Accident?

This is a great concept that may open a few people’s minds a bit. Particularly scientists. It is a sign that scientists are finally getting beyond Darwinian dogma in their publications.

The F-pilus (or sex pilus) is a stellar example of this process from the microbial world.

There are these two bacteria, see, one “male” (F+) and one “female” (F-). You can tell them apart because one has a pilus (a microbial penis). The pilus is basically a stick of DNA with some genes. I know you don’t believe me, so here is a picture from a microscope:

Two bacteria exchanging sexual favors

F+ microbes have a special purpose in life that F- do not.

The F+ sticks his, er, pilus, into the F- cell and gives her his genes, which then become part of the genetic cell machinery in the F- microbe. Like, hey babe, how would you like to share some really great genes?

It takes a while to finish this gene transfer though, and if there is a physical disturbance (like they get eaten by a pill bug), the pilus breaks and only the first parts of the genes that got through become incorporated into the F- microbe. This process has been watched, documented, photographed extensively, and the genes have been tagged with markers that show their fate as the peeping scientists watch. The most important genes are in the leading end of the pilus. These are survival genes like antibiotic resistance or stubbornness. The earth-shattering beauty of this process is that even though the point at which the “conjugal link” is broken is totally random, the order of the genes on the pilus has already established a survival priority.

The recipient of the genes is now a new organism. This is as close to proof of evolution as you can get and most scientists would be quick to point that out. But it also dispells a common myth about evolution – that it occurs through a process of many random events, which only very infrequently produce a successful new organism.

There can be no strictly random mutation within this system. Arguing for random mutation in the light of this is a dead end. We have to move beyond Darwin and the anti-Darwinists narrow interpretations. I am throwing Darwin under the bus. Sorry. Every broken transfer in this process involves a non-fatal mutation. Natural selection needn’t involve fatalities, mere selective pressure will do. These mutations allow for genetic variation, because half a gene may still perform an altered function, or it can recombine further, or it can just sit there waiting for a chemical reaction or a cosmic ray or a science experiment to give it purpose.

As an interesting aside, one of the genes on the F pilus is the gene for the F-pilus itself. If that gene gets through the transfer process uncircumscised, then the F- recipient becomes an F+. Holy shit. Ancestral sex change!!!!! In that case there will be a new F+ microbe cruising the streets out there that can impregnate its genes into other F- microbes. But what if the transfer is broken before the F pilus gene gets through? In that case, the F- microbe will remain receptive for more love events and she gets to keep whatever new toys she got from her brief affair. What a fucking great deal.

So this concept explained by Evolution by Mistake has been known for a long time, maybe just not articulated as an example of how evolution works. I might add that this concept presages the next great evolutionary discovery to come from the theoretical evolutionists, but I am here to tell you that microbiologists already knew that, and these scientists probably did too, but they needed to publish or die.

File this message under Dr. Flodo’s conundrum: If a tree fell on a scientist in the woods, would anybody give a rat’s ass?

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