BioAnthropology News: it’s evolution; no epigenetics allowed

“Human Evolution: Early Human Diets” webcast

Excerpt: What was on the dinner plate for early humans a million years ago?

My comment: A million years ago? I think 30, 000 years is a stretch given the speed at which ecological adaptations obviously occur across species via the conserved molecular mechanisms of systems biology. The effect of the allele reported below has recently been extended to development of the brain, which links it to behavioral affects — something that has not been done in the context of mutations and evolution.

“These two reports (Grossman et al., 2013; Kamberov et al., 2013) tell a new short story of adaptive evolution. The story begins with what was probably a nutrient-dependent variant allele that arose in central China approximately 30,000 years ago. The effect of the allele is adaptive and it is manifested in the context of an effect on sweat, skin, hair, and teeth. In other mammals, like the mouse, the effect on sweat, skin, hair, and teeth is due to an epigenetic effect of nutrients on hormones responsible for the tweaking of immense gene networks that metabolize nutrients to pheromones. The pheromones control the nutrient-dependent hormone-dependent organization and activation of reproductive sexual behavior in mammals such as mice and humans, but also in invertebrates as previously indicated. That means the adaptive evolution of the human population, which is detailed in these two reports, is also likely to be nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled, since there is no other model for that.” — Kohl (2013)

See also:  “Use Human Examples to Teach Evolution” Briana L. Pobiner The American Biology Teacher 2012, 74, 71-72 (2 pages–behind a paywall).

My comment: If you use human examples, you’re probably better off teaching about ecological variations that result in ecological adaptations, which is what Dobzhansky implied.

“Every one of the millions of species has its own way of living and of getting sustenance from the environment.” — “Nothing in Biology Makes Any Sense Except in the Light of Evolution ” T. Dobzhansky The American Biology Teacher 1973, 35, 125-129.

It’s been 31 years since Dobzhansky published his oft-quoted work, and most people still seem to think that mutations are somehow involved in species diversity. But that doesn’t make sense in the light of what is known about molecular biology.

Re: Briana L. Pobiner 

In her answer to my question, she suggested that ecological adaptation is a mechanism of evolution. Conserved molecular mechanisms link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in species from microbes to man via nutrient uptake and the pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction. That means there is no reason for population geneticists to keep touting mutation-driven evolution. Species diversity is the result of ecological variation (in nutrient availability) and biophysically constrained ecological adaptations!

Susan Guise Sheridan threatened to ban me from the BioAnthopology News Facebook page after I made the comments above. I thought it was a discussion group and had hoped to discuss the rather sudden interest in diet that’s being reported in the news.

What is not being reported is the link from nutrient uptake (i.e., diet) to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genome of species from microbes to man. When all information about this link from the epigenetic landscape is excluded from the reports by others, it consistently appears that mutations may be causing evolution.

The claim by Briana L. Pobiner that ecological adaptation is a mechanism of evolution exemplifies the misrepresentation of epigenetic cause and effect. Ecological variation in nutrient availability is the cause of ecological adaptations that occur via conserved molecular mechanisms in all species. The conserved molecular mechanisms are biophysically constrained, which means they can organize the genome and result in species diversity via the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones that control the physiology of reproduction.

Mutations cannot organize anything. Mutations perturb biophysically-constrained protein folding, which is how they cause different pathological condition. Each time I see a researcher from any discipline who continues to misrepresent biologically based cause and effect, as Dr. Pobiner did when she linked the fossil record and evolution to diet, I try to discuss biological facts.

For example, I wrote: Before banning me, please consider this fact: “…the recent annotation of new miRNA SNPs paves the way to a growing research in this field. The study of miRNA CNVs is an even more unexplored area…” However, I have an invited review, which is currently under review, that details how the miRNA SNPs, alternative splicings, and CNVs contribute to ecological adaptations and species diversity.

This may not be the place to attempt discussion of such things, but I resent the implication that I am promoting my pheromone company. Do you have any idea what Helen Fisher said about the book I co-authored in 1995, or about epigenetics in 2012?

Sheridan made it clear that she does not care that this is what Helen Fisher wrote about the book I co-authored with the late Robert Francoeur, which was published in 1995 and in 2002: “This is science at its best, with adventure, ideas, and lots of facts… You will never look at your lover or your family the same way again.” –Helen Fisher, Ph.D.

Sheridan made it clear that she does not care that Helen Fisher also wrote:

Excerpt 1:  To me, epigenetics is the most monumental explanation to emerge in the social and biological sciences since Darwin proposed his theories of Natural Selection and Sexual Selection.

Excerpt 2:  I am hardly the first to hail this new field of biology as revolutionary—the fundamental process by which nature and nurture interact. But to me as an anthropologist long trying to take a middle road in a scientific discipline intractably immersed in nature-versus-nurture warfare, epigenetics is the missing link.

What once was “science at its best” has become something not to be discussed on the BioAnthropology News Facebook page, where people interested in physical anthropology can continue to read the news with no concerns whatsoever for scientific facts. For the readership, ecological adaptation may always be a mechanism of evolution. Ecological adaptation may never link ecological variation to species diversity via conserved molecular mechanisms and physical features attributed to mutations.

Author: James Kohl

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