News24

Turtle evolution puzzle solved

2012-05-16 17:20

Paris - The turtle is a closer relative of crocodiles and birds than of lizards and snakes, according to researchers who claim to have solved an age-old riddle in animal evolution.

The ancestry of the turtle, which evolved between 200 and 300 million years ago, has caused much scientific squabbling - its physiology suggesting a different branch of the family tree than its genes do.

"The evolutionary origin of turtles has confounded the understanding of vertebrate evolution," the scientists wrote in a paper published on Wednesday.

Until the latest study, that is - which claims to have been the biggest of its kind.

"Our study conclusively shows that the genetic story is that turtles are more closely related to birds and crocodilians," said research team member Nicholas Crawford from Boston University.

Genetic study

Anatomy and fossil studies of turtles and their reptilian relatives generally place the shelled creatures in the family of lepidosaurs - snakes, lizards and tuataras (rare lizard-like animals).

Genetic studies, however, say they have more in common with crocodiles and birds - which fall into the archosaur group of animals that also included the extinct land-bound dinosaurs.

The latter finding has now been confirmed by the most exhaustive genetic study on the topic ever done, said Crawford - having gathered "ten times as much" information as previous research efforts.

The team compared the DNA of the corn snake, the African helmeted turtle, the painted turtle, the American alligator, the saltwater crocodile, the tuatara, the chicken, the zebra finch and the Carolina anole lizard.

Crawford said the historic confusion partly arose because turtles shared key physical characteristics with lizards, snakes and tuataras - including a three-chambered heart. They had little in common with crocs and serpents.

Lepidosaurs and archosaurs share a common reptilian ancestor. The research was published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Comments
  • Summer - 2012-05-16 17:52

    Evolutionary theory is such a big lie, but it keeps academics in work.

      John - 2012-05-16 18:27

      How can it be wrong? You are living proof that you have evolved into a dumber specimen of our species. Now please go extinct!!!

      zaatheist - 2012-05-16 18:39

      Summer, proof that religion is just what we thought before we understood what mental illness was.

      Dinonofopico - 2012-05-16 18:56

      it is a lie. it doesnt make sense at all

      kbredenkamp - 2012-05-17 05:27

      So when a birdie and a crocodile relay love each other.......... this is BS.

      burns - 2012-05-17 10:46

      Come on, people. Both parties here are being subjective. Look at reality! What I can say from my years of studying BSc is that science cannot prove the exixtence of a deity. Neither can it prove evolution to be true. This puts theists and atheists/naturalists on equal footing and no one needs to be shouting out names like kindergarteners.

      jody.beggs - 2012-05-17 11:09

      @burns and religion can't prove God exists either ? Unless you have proof of course , then please enlighten us all , we would really love to meet your God. Dan the man...

      burns - 2012-05-17 11:31

      I'm aware of that. Just like science cannot prove that God exists, so religion cannot. Just because someone believes a certain worldview doesn't make it true. It does appear that you are assuming that I believe in God. I didn't mention this, so please don't jump to conclusions. I'm just being open-minded to the facts. I would love to discuss God and the idea of deity, since it is some wonderful philosophy to explore, but just not on this blog - too many trolls going about. I want to do it in an intelligible, objective enviroment.

      burnsxtreme - 2012-05-17 12:52

      DelusionBuster, common descent is not a proven scientific theory for the simple reason that it is not scientifically sound and the model that is used to explain it contradicts with a lot of the science that we do well know to be true. I listed some of these in an earlier article (http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/How-the-World-Came-to-be-A-Scientific-Response-20120428) As for the other that you mentioned, let me lay out what I believe. I believe the theory of plate tectonics to be true because it has been observed multiple times. Continental drift does appear to occur, therefore it is at least very plausible, if not true. As for the germ theory, the observations that are made seem to fit the theory very well - certain germs are almost always present when people falls ill to certain diseases. Heliocentricity is based on the meticulous observations that were made by Brahe and interpreted by Kepler. Kepler at first tried to fit the data to what he believed but only later saw the solution when he based his theory solely on the observations. Therefore I also believe that to be true.

      burns - 2012-05-18 07:35

      So how has it been proven in those areas? As for all the publications that are said to prove evolution, you should know that it often occurs in a subjective enviroment. The researchers often make the data fit their ideas of what they think to be true (as opposed to what I mentioned about Kepler). And it all still doesn't change the fact that evolution contradicts much of our irrefutable science.

      QuestioningFaith - 2012-05-19 17:32

      burns: don't tell me you truly believe that such a large amount of evidence is "mere fabrication". if you do, you still have to go a LONG way in your science major. the whole idea that scientists "often make up data" to "fit their conclusions", well, I know *many* scientists, and although it would be false to say that they don't let their hypotheses guide them, it is absolutely bullocks to suggest we just "fabricate" data for it to make sense. if that is the way you do science, you won't get very far mate! that I can promise you...

      Lawrence Robert Atkinson - 2013-04-06 09:48

      If it's a lie, next time you are sick, use antibioticts from the 1960's. They were designed for the viruses from the 1960's. Viruses can't have 'evolved', can they have? Stand behind your statement, or accept that you are lying

  • EricksonTL - 2012-05-16 17:53

    This is the difference between science and religion. Science keeps asking and answering questions, refining theories, or changing them completely. Religion assumes that 2,000 years ago, sheep herders had all the answers. Great news though. Keep asking and answering questions. Those of us who like progress and knowledge are in your debt.

      Andrew - 2012-05-16 18:45

      The 'debate' between science and religion is not as straight forward as most News24 users think. I am a scientist (biologist) who embraces evolution as well as a serious christian. I would recommend readers look at the BioLogos foundation (www.biologos.org) to see how the two (science and religion) actually complement each other. Rather do that than listen to the amateur rubbish (from both sides) 'published' on News24

      zaatheist - 2012-05-16 20:04

      @Andrew "The poorer the intellectual substance of a field, the greater there is a concern for credentials, and the less is the concern for content". - Chomsky:

      Crracker - 2012-05-16 21:46

      @ Andrew If evolution is fact it eliminates the so-called fall in the Garden of Eden and the tainting of original sin and the need for a so-called redeemer in Christian tradition. Unless of course you adhere to some other version of mainstream Christianity or a totally different kind of religion. Religion also implies some kind of benevolent deity. Evolution doesn't. It is blindness at work, not morals, concern for suffering, etc. See (once again) the peculiar mistransfer of information that leads to occurences such as those you can observe for yourself if you google birth defects pictures. Proof in front of you on your PC screen with a few easy clicks. I would really love to hear your response to this comment. I have come to realize that there are too many sudden claims by some on these pages that they are scientists and in support of religion. Sorry, but that seems factual.

      Andrew - 2012-05-17 10:14

      @Crracker I appreciate your point which is a major philosophical issue among religious thought. I would recommend an excellent book published in 2010 called "The end of Christianity" by William A. Dembski wherein he argues for a Theodicy (reconciling the existence of a good God with present evil) ointing to retroactive effects of the Fall. Read it if you are truly interested in the topic. Your suggestion of evolution discrediting those aspects of Christianity refers to one viewpoint (young earth creationism) which only some Christians (unfortunetly many) hold too. I hope that this viewpoint is losing credibility, and interestingly it was not always the main viewpoint throughout history. And I can assure you that I am a true scientist, based at the University of Pretoria in the Department of Zoology and Entomology, I am currently busy with my PhD (here is my academic page - www.up.ac.za/zoology/students.php?person=199 to prove it!) And for scientists (real ones) who hold to Christianity I again suggest you look at BioLogos, one of the founders, Francis Collins, was in charge of the Human Genome Project and is a theist, doesn't get much bigger than that. I would like to engage more if you want to, e-mail from my academic home page if you are interested.

      jody.beggs - 2012-05-17 11:16

      @Andrew its just a cop out , how do TM Christians feel about the way www.biologos.org treats creation as the myth it is instead of the FACT in the Bible. The (www.biologos.org) movement actually insults most Christians , opposite to what it wants to do! After all if the Garden of Eden and creation , as portrade(spelling) in the Bible , is wrong , what else is ? Damn the man.

  • David - 2012-05-16 19:33

    Charles Dumbwin will be on here just now....I have asked him to change his name to Sir Richard Cranium ...

  • Peter - 2012-05-16 19:56

    To what was the turtles genes compared too? to dinosaur genes? Just another theory being given as fact. If you read closely this article has nothing to do with evolution. The turtles DNA was compared corn snakes, the African helmeted turtle, the painted turtle, the American alligator, the saltwater crocodile, the tuatara, the chicken, the zebra finch and the Carolina anole lizard.

      Crracker - 2012-05-16 21:53

      Nobody says you MUST agree. You are of course free to submit a paper for review in which you dispute the findings and reasonings. In the meanwhile let's concentrate on what we can all reasonably well understand. Your reliance - it is taken - on the bible to dispute the scientific method. What does the bible have to say about turtles and where they fit in?

      Peter - 2012-05-17 09:11

      @Cracker... Why are you bring in the Bible? My comment does mention the Bible. The research mentioned in the article only Seems to connect the DNA between different species which is scientific but so say that it proves the turtles evolution is an assumption.. Like the Gap theory.

      jody.beggs - 2012-05-17 11:20

      @Peter well do you have an alternative theory that your not sharing ? So by simply reading this article you a professor of evolution , I'm impressed and I think I saw God.... Rather study the Bible more.. Damn the man.

      Peter - 2012-05-17 13:40

      Why does evolutionists defend the theory so zealously? Is it because people are so desperate to get the Creator out of the picture? The fore-runners of evolution did not know the facts because of limited technology. Ernst Haeckel is credited for making Darwinism popular. After studying evolution, he concluded that it was possible because the cell structure was as simple as a ping-pong ball - nothing more that a blob of microscopic jelly. In sincere ignorance he bought into this theory and took off with it. Modern technology such as the electron microscope, X-ray crystallography and NMR technology have shown amazing complexity that was unknown when evolution was born. People don't like to let go of beliefs so even though evolution was founded upon mis-information, people continue to build upon it. The problem now is that as technology and science increase, more and more information has to be ignored for the evolutionary model to hold up. Evolution only sounds credible because evolution advocates toss out any evidence that does not support their predetermined outcome. Evolution as a belief system only survives because people take everything at face value and refuse to look outside of evolutionary science. Anything that proves to contradict evolution is labeled as religious and cast aside.

      jody.beggs - 2012-05-17 16:10

      @Peter no. Because religion is evil and the God is a lie.. Simple.

      jody.beggs - 2012-05-17 16:15

      Religion only sounds credible because Religion advocates toss out anyone opinion that does not support their predetermined outcome. Even the Bible was edited to prove this point. Religion as a belief system only survives because people take everything at face value and refuse to look outside of Religion, this can be seen by the way Children a taught that they will burn in hell for not believing, proof (Heaven's gates and hell's flames). Anything that proves to contradict Religion is labeled as evil and cast aside. Religion even condones murders and rape. Stoning people for random reason , surviving rape , lying , being atheist , non believer or witch. Which is against the 10 commandments. Damn the man.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-05-17 00:35

    Just look at the picture, it's obviously related to birds.

      Keith - 2012-05-17 19:17

      Yes, I can see the feathers.

      skootzie - 2012-05-29 12:21

      Imagine this bugger flying around .. dropping it's luggage from the sky ;-)

  • Merven - 2012-05-17 08:14

    And there goes another 'defence' of the idiot Kent Hovind and other 6 Day Creationist, bhwahahaha!

  • Grant - 2012-05-17 12:20

    Amazing, when we look at the anatomy, it looks closer to snakes and lizards; when we look at genetics, it looks closer to crocs and birds. Here we have a living creature and we do not know where to put it into the "evolutionary tree", and yet we can with absolute certainty from a fossil (no DNA, no soft tissue) work out exactly where this fits in with this theory. Our scientists are brilliant at working out exactly our past down to hundreds and thousands of millions of years, but are hopeless to figure out the present. And what is worse, is that we believe everything they say about evolution, when we do not believe either our politicians or our religious ministers.

      burnsxtreme - 2012-05-17 13:10

      We can see yet another prime example of where they went haywire with the conclusion. It truly is a sad matter that science is being abused like this.

      burnsxtreme - 2012-05-17 15:15

      Playing the man and not the ball, are we? I can say many of these things because I understand the science involved - which comes from me studying science at a university. I also associate with many people that are critical and rational thinkers (not just those that believe the same that I do) and this also helps me to be critical of things that I hear. I'd rather leave my argument with you since it has clearly become foul.

      Keith - 2012-05-17 19:19

      Can we be sure that it is not an alien from the watery planet found recently?

      skootzie - 2012-05-29 12:24

      // We can see yet another prime example of where they went haywire with the conclusion. // Because you can't connect the dots (read: don't understand how they came to that conclusion) then surely the scientists are lying? Great logic. :-/

  • Peter - 2012-05-17 13:42

    Why does evolutionists defend the theory so zealously? Is it because people are so desperate to get the Creator out of the picture? The fore-runners of evolution did not know the facts because of limited technology. Ernst Haeckel is credited for making Darwinism popular. After studying evolution, he concluded that it was possible because the cell structure was as simple as a ping-pong ball - nothing more that a blob of microscopic jelly. In sincere ignorance he bought into this theory and took off with it. Modern technology such as the electron microscope, X-ray crystallography and NMR technology have shown amazing complexity that was unknown when evolution was born. People don't like to let go of beliefs so even though evolution was founded upon mis-information, people continue to build upon it. The problem now is that as technology and science increase, more and more information has to be ignored for the evolutionary model to hold up. Evolution only sounds credible because evolution advocates toss out any evidence that does not support their predetermined outcome. Evolution as a belief system only survives because people take everything at face value and refuse to look outside of evolutionary science. Anything that proves to contradict evolution is labeled as religious and cast aside.

  • gailcarolynhayes - 2012-05-17 14:07

    This is really interesting information although most people do not see the signifcance of looking backwards to find out how life came into being and indeed argue about it like ignorant toddlers. The purpose may appear useless but it could lead us to answers which will ensure the survival of our planet with its diverse lifeforms just as space travel has broadened our knowledge and produced some incredible technologies which most of us use daily without even realising that before space travel industry none of these things existed. To be honest man managed to survive before these modern inventions arose so it is a moot point whether this advance is a good or a bad thang. I would suggest you all, both scientific and spiritual go out and by a book called "The Forty Rules of Love" by a man called Elif Shafak and open your third eye and look inward rather than outward. Published by Penguin and picked up purely at random for book club it is a book which will make all who read it examine themselves and the way they think and even receive and perceive the information they choose to name call over.

  • matches - 2012-05-17 14:24

    I am still stuck at the "age-old riddle in animal evolution". We need to find the person who started the riddle.... One more thing if crocs became turtles why are there still crocs hanging around...

      Keith - 2012-05-17 19:22

      No. Sometimes he just sits.

      skootzie - 2012-05-29 12:27

      // No. Sometimes he just sits. // LOL, I love that quote .. "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits!" // One more thing if crocs became turtles why are there still crocs hanging around // You need to research the evolutionary process; you don't understand it at all.

  • leon.n.meyer - 2012-05-18 15:36

    If you can, get the documentary by Sir David Attenborough - "The Tree of Life". It explains a lot and opens your eyes to a different view point. Makes you think!!!

  • Hayden - 2012-05-20 22:37

    I love how organic evolution is in no way parallel to molecular evolution. If one really wants to get shockingly entertained, then just wait until Scientists run DNA sequencing under phylogenomics and sit back and watch the confusion overwhelms everyone.

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