Friday, March 5, 2010

More on transposable elements

A reader writes:
I just read through your blog post today, and I was curious if it would be possible to tie transposable elements to either (both?) the Curse or post-Flood diversification. I know we could never completely prove such a hypothesis, but I wonder if God included such regions (or added them later) to increase speciation. ince apes and humans share many similarities, it would seem logical that the transposable elements would be similar as well if they served such a purpose.
Yes, this idea has been kicked around in creationism for years. As far as I know, it was first mentioned in articles in the old Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal:
Walkup. 2000. Junk DNA: evolutionary discards or God's tools? CENTJ 14(2):18-30. [PDF]
Jerlstrom. 2000. Jumping wallaby genes and post-Flood speciation. CENTJ 14(1):9-10. [PDF]

Bergman picked up on it in the Quarterly:
Bergman. 2001. The molecular biology of genetic transposition. CRSQ 38(3):139-150. [Abstract]

I tried to systematize the idea in a paper published in Origins (GRI):
Wood. 2002. The AGE-ing process: rapid post-Flood intrabaraminic diversification caused by Altruistic Genetic Elements (AGEs). Origins (GRI) 54:5-34. [PDF]

Then I thought better of my original presentation and revised it in a paper published in the ICC proceedings:
Wood. 2003. Perspectives on AGEing: a young-earth creation diversification model. ICC5, pp. 479-489. [PDF]

Then lots of people started talking about it:
Williams. 2005. Inheritance of biological information - part III: control of information transfer and change. TJ 19(3):21-28. [PDF]
Borger. 2008. Evidence for the design of life: part 2 - Baranomes. Journal of Creation 22(3):68-76. [PDF]
Shan. 2009. Transposon amplification in rapid intrabaraminic diversification. Journal of Creation 23(2):110-117.

I know there are others, but they're just not coming to my mind right now. Many of these papers are playing off of the work of conventional TE research that I've frequently commented on here. Creationists were not the first to suggest that transposable elements could be linked to speciation, as I wrote yesterday. Maybe we were the first to suggest that speciation is the primary or sole purpose of TEs? In any event, that list of references should make for some interesting reading.

Could this explain similarity of chimp/human TEs? I don't see how. As far as I can see, it just makes them part of the overall similarity of humans and chimps. It doesn't explain the similarity. Why have animals so similar to humans at all? Why not just make a world with humans and mammals but no primates at all? Then we would look really different from everything else. But no, we've got primates, and not just primates but chimpanzees with their nearly identical genomes. Don't even get me started on australopiths. Read my post on "transitional forms" for my opinion about australopiths and other intermediates.