A couple of days ago I noticed this very confident post by a regular N24 user one "Sean the Sheep" and I thought it was about time we lay this one to rest once and for all, since this claim has been repeated over and over on this forum ad nauseam, without ever being properly challenged.Sean:
Here is the comment as posted:
Well lets look at the facts shall we!
Fact 1: What happens as living things mutate? They lose genetic information. There has never been an observed increase in information resulting from mutations. A mutation always results in a loss of information. As two geographically separated populations of the same kind experience mutations, and lose different parts of their genetic information, it can result in sufficient genetic differences such that there is no longer a sufficient match in genetic information so as to allow successful breeding. Both populations are still the same kind, but because of a loss in genetic information their genes can no longer combine to create offspring.
Lets do something really radical today and look at the real facts, not the variety that Sean likes to suck from his thumb at night.
Mutations can happen in many ways, and there are many examples where this statement by Sean can be shown up, but here are the simplest ones in the interest of brevity.
The very simplest possible type of mutation is what is known as a single point-mutation. The DNA has a sequence which is changed, pretty much randomly, in one single place. An example of this in practice is the mutation responsible for the illness known as Sickle Cell Anemia.
In Sickle Cell Anemia the sequence "CCT GAG" is mutated to "CCT GTG". The A has mutated to a T (Technically Glutamic acid mutated to Valine, quite a common thing, but lets not dig too deep into the details which we do not really need for this discussion).
According to Sean this is a clear case of information loss. The protein coded for by this DNA sequence, called hemoglobin in this case, cannot be created perfectly anymore (red blood cells with this version have an incorrect sickle-formed shape) and the patient is sick (lack of oxygen carrying capability in red blood cells causes chronic fatigue).
The biggest conundrum for Sean's theory is that mutations are random. We can thus just as easily find a mutation of CCT GTG back to CCT GAG! There are literally thousands of known cases where similar back mutations happen regularly in DNA of many species.
The question now of course begs, if the first mutation removed information, and the loss of information caused the degradation of the hemoglobin, then what did the second mutation do?
This is important because after that second mutation the information is somehow back, which would imply an increase of information, since we are back where we started from, so either the first mutation did not remove anything OR the theory that mutation can only remove information is just hogwash.
One other simple example is insertion and deletion (indel) mutations. In this case DNA that looks like this CCT GAG can mutate to something like this CCT TCT ACT AAG GAG. No, that is not a typo! The DNA is now BIGGER. It is in fact MUCH bigger, yet our self-proclaimed expert would claim that this was not an increase of information. (He will of course later also claim that there is no such thing as Junk-DNA, so it will be really hard to claim this added genetic material does not add information!)
These kinds of insertions are more prolific in some species than others.
If Fruit Flies, as one example, insertions between generations has been recorded where the size of the entire genome was doubled. Yes the amount of DNA is double what it was before the hundreds of insertion mutations!
I would suggest that it would take a very special kind of fool to claim that this is not an increase in information, especially since these insertions can code for beneficial proteins or even reverse prior deletions for a more extreme example!
I am not even going to list references for this article as these concepts are so very basic. A simple google search for "indel" or "back mutation" will confirm how this works for the interested reader, or even just "how does mutation work" or "what is mutation".
Alas it seems our self-proclaimed local expert on mutation has not done that just yet, probably to busy educating others to work on his own education.
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