Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist

Molecular Evolution

rusty broken clock
The clock stamp on the old textured paper
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

New Work by Thornton’s Group Supports Time-Symmetric Dollo’s Law

I never thought it would happen but, in my estimation, Richard Lenski has acquired a challenger for the title of “Best Experimental Evolutionary Scientist.” Lenski, of course, is the well-known fellow who has been growing E. coli in his lab at Michigan State for 50,000 generations in order to follow its evolutionary progress. His rival is Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon who, by inferring the sequences of ancient proteins and then constructing (he calls it “resurrecting”) their genes in his lab, is able to characterize the properties of the ancestral proteins and discern how they may have evolved into more modern versions with different properties. I have written appreciatively about both Lenski and Thornton before, whose work indicates clear limits Read More ›

petri dish in the lab
Petri dishes for medical research
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution: A reply to Jerry Coyne

At his blog, Why Evolution is True (http://tinyurl.com/2fjenlt), Jerry Coyne, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago, has been analyzing my recent paper, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution’” (http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/pdf/Behe/QRB_paper.pdf), which appears in the latest issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology. Although I usually don’t respond to blog posts I will this time, both because Coyne is an eminent scientist and because he does say at least one nice thing about the paper. First, the nice thing. About half-way through his comments Professor Coyne writes: My overall conclusion: Behe has provided a useful survey of mutations that cause adaptation in short-term lab experiments on microbes (note that at least one of these Read More ›

Medical studies of molecular structures. Science in the service of man. Technologies of the future in our life. 3D illustration of a molecule model in neon light
Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Response to Carl Zimmer and Joseph Thornton, Part 2

The science writer Carl Zimmer posted an invited replyhttp://tinyurl.com/yhpm3t7 on his blog from Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon to my recent comments about Thornton’s work. This is the second of several posts addressing it. References will appear in the last post. Now to Professor Thornton’s reply. He writes at length but makes just two substantive points: 1) that neutral mutations occur and can serendipitously help a protein evolve some function (“[Behe] ignores the key role of genetic drift in evolution”); and 2) that just because a protein may not be able to evolve a particular function one way does not mean that it, or some other kind of protein, can’t evolve the function another way (“nothing in our results Read More ›

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Back and Forth with Jerry Coyne, Part 1

Dear Readers, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne has responded at TalkReason.org to my reply here on Amazon.com to his review of The Edge of Evolution in The New Republic. Here I will respond back — not to everything he wrote (nor to other posts and replies on that website), but only to what I think are the more important points of his original response. Because it quickly gets awkward to include all of the context, I will just quote the portions of his response that I specifically address here. Readers who want to see the full back-and-forth should read his posted review and response. Coyne: It is clear from Behe’s response on his Amazon blog to the negative reviews by Sean Carroll and Read More ›