Ham and Thomas get their Platypus Egg-Genes Scrambled

Reading and understanding original research publications can be difficult when the content is outside your field of expertise. Sometimes reading that original research is just avoided and popular summaries are used to inform us of the importance of new research. The latter appears to be the case when Ken Ham writes about his love of the platypus and then has one of his employees provide insights about a recent study of the genome of this unusual egg-laying mammalian monotreme. I made a video response to Ken Ham’s blog post in which I show how Dr. Purdom seems to have relied on a popular summary of the research and has misunderstood the evidence of lost genes for egg-making in the platypus and humans. You can view that in the link below.

What I didn’t know when I made this video is that Dr. Brian Thomas at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) also wrote about the platypus research paper about the same time.

As an aside I want to note that the paper being discussed was about the Echinda and Platypus genomes and how they compare with each other and all creationist outlets have thus far ignored all of the implications of the genomes have for their view of what a “kind” is.

Not surprisingly Thomas picks up on the same item mentioned in Ken Ham’s post. At least he references the original research article in the journal Nature. However, though he references the original research it appears he also didn’t look at the supplemental figures and more importantly at the legends for those figures since they reveal that the simple story told in the popular press is oversimplified with respect to the “lost genes.” Below is a portion of Thomas’ article at ICR about the platypus:

“The team zoomed in on the uniqueness of egg-laying in mammals. Today, chicks get all their nutrients from within the egg before they hatch. Newly-hatched puggles get some nutrients from within their platypus eggs, but they still need to lap mother’s milk. And of course, human babies initially get all their nutrients from milk. The research group demonstrated that chickens have three egg-producing genes, the platypus has one, and humans have none.

They concluded that since all three evolved from a common ancestor that laid eggs, the platypus lost two egg-specific genes while humans lost all three. This conclusion relies entirely on the premise of a common ancestor. It simply ignores the at least equally logical divine origins option. A smart Creator could have equipped each of these three creatures with the specific DNA sequences needed to carry out its own unique growth and development.”

Both Thomas and Ham fail to reveal–or are unaware–that the authors conclusion that the lost egg-specific genes though consistent with a common ancestor thesis are not simply relying “entirely on the premise of a common ancestor.” Had they carefully read the original research or known of previously published literature they should have known that the lost genes are not simply absent but rather are lost functions of genes that are present in degraded form in the genome.

Thomas suggests that it is at least as logically consistent that God simply equipped “each of these three creatures with the specific DNA sequences needed to carry out its own unique growth and development.” Any reader of theirs (both Ham and Thomas’s post) would conclude from their writing that that the Platypus has only one egg-specific gene while the birds have three and thus God made the Platypus with one which was enough and would have no expectation that other bird egg-specific genes might be found in the genome of the platypus though not used in the present-day platypus. Closer inspection reveals that the platypus does have the remains of the other bird egg-specific genes (just like they have broken versions of teeth genes that they don’t use) but they are broken in the platypus and so don’t perform the intended functions.

So do they believe that God made the platypus (and even humans) with genes for making eggs that don’t work but appears to be remains of old formerly useful genes still in their genomes? Ham’s post makes it sound like the authors of the platypus paper have no evidence of common ancestry but simply believe it, but he does not mention that there are DNA sequence right there in the genome that are most simply interpreted as evidence of shared ancestry. Ham and Thomas may choose to interpret that evidence in a different way but they are not free to say that the evidence doesn’t exist or tell their audience that the authors have to reason for their believe in common ancestry.

Comments

  1. This is so typical of YECs–to take convincing evidence against their view and try to twist it into an argument for their view. Perhaps the most extreme case of this was ICR’s “RATE” project, where they spent several years and large sums of money to study radiometric dating, hoping it would vindicate their view. Instead, they had to admit that the amount and patterns of radioisotopes in the geologic record strongly pointed to an old earth incompatible with YECism. Despite that, they would not accept the logical conclusion (that the earth is old) and instead appealed illogical, ad-hoc miracles to account for the results, and declared that the study was a big success. What more evidence does one need that there is nothing “scientific” about “Scientific Creationism” and that YECs will not allow any amount or weight of evidence falsify their view. As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m surprised that more conventional scientists have not made more hay out of the horribly failed RATE project, or it’s implications. http://paleo.cc/ce/RATE-project.htm

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Marie Janis says:

      It’s because “more conventional scientists” in the main don’t know about creationism and care even less.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know if it’s so much they don’t know about them, as opposed to just ignoring them and hoping they will go away (or as you say, not caring), which I for one regard as a big mistake. I think those (including you, Joel, and others here) who take the time to address YEC claims are vital, at least in keeping YECs from having even more undue influence in the public arena and science education (which is already depressingly large). Otherwise they could say (and even now, try to) that “evolutionists” cannot answer their claims. That said, I’m even surprised that many creationist watchers who hit YECs hard on other issues seem to have let the RATE project go with little comment, since it back-fired on them big time, and showed how scientifically bankrupt the entire YEC viewpoint is, and how inherently flawed their methodology is, especially in regards to its core doctrine (a young Earth).

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  2. This is really wonderful stuff. I’m a high school biology teacher, and I have taken a few graduate genetics courses, enough to appreciate your knowledge. Thank you for passing it on.

    On Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 11:03 AM Naturalis Historia wrote:

    R. Joel Duff posted: ” Reading and understanding original research > publications can be difficult when the content is outside your field of > expertise. Sometimes reading that original research is just avoided and > popular summaries are used to inform us of the importance of new ” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you visited here! Are you teaching remotely now? Hope you explore many of Joel’s other fine articles which address many aspects of YECism, especially recent AIG claims about hyper-rapid post-Flood speciation. I myself used to teach high school biology, and was heavily involved in resolving YEC claims about “human” tracks with dinosaur tracks and other alleged out-of-place fossils and artifacts. If these ever come up in your classes, hope some of my articles may be of assistance. My home page is http://www.paleo.cc

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  3. robert byers says:

    Everytime I post here it doesn’t occur or so late I loss contact as time passes. Deep time. Anyways .
    There are errors on all sides. first before the fall no platypus existed. iTs probably just of a kind that includes this weasel like thing. All the extra traits are extra possibly post flood. Indeed poison levels is in a spectrum. Egg laying is in a spectrum as many snakes and lizards don’t lay eggs and others do. Teeth is the same thing esepecially for creationists like me who say theropod dinosaurs were just toothy flightless ground birds. The dna is not proven to be a trail. iT fiollows hand in glove bodyplan changes.Its inferred its a trail of common descent. The dna only shows what is here now.
    On creation week everybody had eyeballs and the exact same genes for eyeballs. later dna changed and had this.
    These critters, like marsupials, just show changing to a new envirorment. No big deal. Finally there is no evidence god created mammals or reptiles. instead these are unrelated kinds who have like traits for good reasons. yet the division is a old human one scoring traits on a presumption that show relationship.

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    • It’s comments like this that have me starting to believe byers is a satire account.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When I first read some of Robert’s incoherent posts a few years ago, my first reaction was to suspect that he was just a “troll” looking to waste our time or toy with us. I’m still not sure if that is the case, and regret the times I tried to reason with him or get him to understand even the most basic scientific principles and lines of evidence. I’m going to try to resist that now, and recommend that others do the same, since no one else has had any better success in this regard. As the saying goes, “Don’t feed the trolls.” And maybe my saying this much is tossing him too many crumbs. At any rate, even if Robert is not really a troll and is just someone who has no ability or inclination to reason or debate in a coherent way, it’s clear by now that attempting to engage him further would be futile as trying to teach a fish to ride a bike. And maybe by getting little or no response to his goofy posts, he will eventually move on.

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        • robert byers says:

          You accuse me and everyone no doubt just ecause you get frustrated at failure of persuasion. I always expect to be persuasive but never questiuon others motives until much accumulated evidence.
          Origin issues are complicated and demand intellectual ability. Sopmebody/both is wrong and sombody is right. Proving to each other is not easy. Why attack your opponents when yopu should be patient and believe in people to see finally the truth. I’m sure I represent millions or tens of millions in North America. I am just more knowledgable and more confident and so on. lets rumble and don’t whine.

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          • Robert, I probably should heed my own advice and not respond, but I’m taking a break and thought I’d make a quick reply. You say “You accuse me and everyone no doubt…” First, I don’t know where you get “everyone”; you are the only one I suggested might be a troll, and with good reason. A few other YEC posters do make extreme claims here, but most of their claims are not as outlandish, and unlike you, they at least sometimes try to offer some evidence. As far as patience goes, I think I and others have been more than patient with you, often calmly explaining why your claims starkly contradict scientific evidence and even what most YECs hold, and repeatedly asking you to present any counter evidence (to no avail). Joel has given you free reign to make loopy claims in post after post, whereas other blog owners would have barred you long ago for wasting everyone’s time and having nothing constructive to offer. Your last comments today are rich, and especially troll-like, since not only do your views not represent tens of millions of people, but I don’t know of anyone, even among YECs, who shares them, or regards you as “knowledgeable.” Can you name even a few of the millions you talk about? You say “let’s rumble” but evidently only want to ramble and make more absurd claims. If you’re not a troll, the resemblance is uncanny. :^)

            Liked by 1 person

            • robert byers says:

              Its foolish to use a blog to accuse people. I’m not arguing. You make accusations and presume to be judge of same accusations. You accuse me of being a troll and then accuse me of being a evidence lacking creationist then this or that. Accusation to ha ve credibility must be consistent in any law court.
              Anyways your frustrated at failure to persuade and blame the the unpersuaded.
              You would say that to tens of millio0ns of North american creationists on hundreds oif points.
              I don’t attack you. I presume you try your best to think about origin matters. These are not really big circles and getting along should be easy. Patience and intelligence in matters of contention.
              Lets rumble but have a drink later. Your troll accusations are unreasonable and could only be sour grapes. We should nurture origin blogs and not attack opponents. Lets be more Christian or classy.

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              • For the record, I didn’t “accuse” you of being a troll, just suggested that your behavior led me and others to suspect it. Nor was there anything “inconsistent” in my comments, since I allowed that you could be a troll OR a YEC making claims without any evidence, and those are not even mutually exclusive. At any rate, do you plan to ever answer specific questions or give any evidence for your claims? Last time, I asked if you could name even a few of the “millions” who support your claims. How many could you come up with? Zero. If you can name even one or two this time, sure, I’ll drink to that. :^)

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    • Christine Marie Janis says:

      Hi Robert, I look forward to your answer on this one. Why is it, given your explanation that the marsupials just adapted to the new Australian environment by getting a pouch, that the three families of rodents native to Australia (hopping mice, mosaic mice, and water rats) didn’t experience the same evolutionary pressure.

      By the way, did you know that there are also marsupials in South America, in a quite different environment?

      Liked by 1 person

      • rjdownard says:

        Judging by the sparse documentation in Robert’s (sole) 2005 posting on this topic, and the general obliviousness of creationists generally to biogeographical details or the fiddly bits of the fossil record, its unlikely he’ll venture anything more substantive or useful than the fluff he has so far.

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  4. rjdownard says:

    Ooh, some more goodies to allude to in Vol. 2 of “The Rocks Were There” … thanks for the heads up :)

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    • Jim, when do you expect your book to come out? Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rjdownard says:

        Jackson’s just finishing up his degree now. We should be hot on the writing by spring, and hope to have it out by end of the year or early 2022. It will have extensive follow-up chapters on geology and the Flood, plus the cosmology, vertebrate origins, and human origins chapters that fill out the remainder of the topics, as well as a review chapter bringing the topics of Vol 1 up to date (science does have this habit of generating new technical work of relevance, after all). Expect a book of comparable breadth as Vol 1.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Glad to hear. Yeah, I know how it goes. I wanted to publish my Paluxy book years ago, but I and others keep accumulating new material and refining existing info, besides many other things coming up and taking a lot of time along the way.

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  5. Barry Passmore says:

    Joel,
    I seem to have lost your recent blog without having read it. Pse resend your recent Q&A when you can.
    Thank you so much!

    Barry Passmore

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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  6. Speaking of platypus problems for YECs, I’ve yet to see any explain how the platypus pair debarking Noah’s ark managed to get all the way to Australia, crossing vast foreign habitats and thousands of miles of ocean entirely unlike the ecosystem it is narrowly adapted to (freshwater streams). Of course they also have no plausible answer as to how the four four species of egg laying mammals as well as dozens of marsupial species made the same incredible trek, to the exclusion of most placental animals, despite many of them also having very narrow habitats and diets as well. That’s one huge hop for a roo to leap over the pacific ocean, or sugar gliders to soar over it, and we won’t even get into the poor tree-dwelling koalas and burrow-dwelling wombats. You’d think that Ham (an Australian) might have some reasonable ideas, but I have not seen them. See: http://paleo.cc/ce/marsupials.htm

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    • Well, there were those vast floating forests whose broken up remains after the flood acted as rafts which brought all the fauna to Australia. Oh, but you asked for a reasonable idea:-)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Marie Janis says:

      I’ve heard that early migrating humans made pets of them and carried them in their pockets.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christine, yes, I recall that too, although I can’t find the reference at the moment. The closest I could find in a quick search was a 2007 AIG article by Paul Taylor that says that animals could have floated to Austraila on logs left over from the Flood (never explaining why so many marsupials and so few placental mammals got on (logs), adding “Others could later have been taken by people”. He doesn’t say if they were for “pets” or explain why so many marsupials would be taken and so few placentals. He also makes many lame analogies, such as comparing the treck of marsupials to Australian with the Krakatoa eruption and subsequent recolonization in the late 1880s -never mind that the former involves thousands of miles of open oceans to cross whereas the latter was surrounded by many other islands and close to the mainland. In another place he suggests that maybe the creatures unique to Australia and New Zealand could travel “farther and faster’ than their placental counterparts because their pouched youngsters needed less care. How this explains why flightless Kiwis, emus, or moas would travel faster (especially across water) than flying birds he does not say. He suggests that there also could be large land bridges to Australia after the flood, despite there being zero evidence for this. Of course, after all this fanciful speculation and disregard for extensive contrary evidence, Taylor ends by saying that YECs have better explanations for animal distribution than “evolutionists.”https://answersingenesis.org/animal-behavior/migration/how-did-animals-spread-from-where-ark-landed/

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    • robert byers says:

      Glen. There are answers to this. I wrote a eassy called ” Post Flood Marsupial Migration Explained” by Robert Byers . Just google. The platypus did not exist in its present bodyplan until it got to that area. its just a variety of otter which is a variety of something. So yes its absurd to say montremes/marsupials migrated to Australia etc etc and the others didn’t. this is impossible. Some creationists try to say some advantage allowed this division and selection. However the better idea, the true one, is that simply they are the same creatures with a trivial bodyplan change after migration to areas for this or that reason.
      however evolutionists really have got creationists on this if they were smart enough. Except some creationists like me who say no problem.

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      • Robert, if you had read my earlier post carefully, you’d have noticed that I left a link to my article on the marsupial distribution problem, where I specifically address your ideas on this issue, and explain why they are ludicrous and ignore the massive anatomic and reproductive differences between marsupials and placental animals. For you to call these differences “trivial” shows that you are not only outside of conventional science, but all YECs I know of as well. You claim millions agree with you, but as we can see, you’ve been unable to name even a few who agree with your claims here or your “bodyplan” ideas in general. Just because you repeat them over and over does not help your case. What you need is evidence, which you never even try to present.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Robet, for your convenience here again is a link to my article addressing your ideas on this issue, and other weak attempts by YECs to explain marsupial distribution. http://paleo.cc/ce/marsupials.htm

        Liked by 1 person

        • robert byers says:

          Oh yeah. Well I am glad you cited me. its actually a good quick summery. i do wish my fellow creationists on this to see the error of thier ways. this is the place to discuss it unless another thread is started. Indeed millions don’t agree with me but tenbs of millions agree with biblical creationism in NorthA even though hundreds of millions otherwise do not.

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          • Robert, so when you say millions don’t agree with you, I take it that is your way of admitting that no one agrees with you about marsupials being trivially modified placental animals – at least no scientists whether YEC or nonYEC.

            Liked by 1 person

            • robert byers says:

              Admitting nothing because I never opined otherwise. You misread me somewhere. Good grief of coarse my idea is novel, well actually the creationist who published me already suggested it independently, and thats why I desire evolutionists to do a better job about the impossible claim of marsupials ever having been on the ark and migrated en mass with no placentals in tow.
              Anyways this is not the thread for this.

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              • Robert, this goes to the main problem with your claims. They are just “ideas” (often extreme ones) lacking in supporting evidence, and which often contradict extensive evidence, as well as even what most YECs hold. I don’t know what you mean that this is not the thread for “this.” Joel’s article was about monotremes, and we branched into marsupials, and then the problem (for YECs) of how so many marsupials got to Australia while so few placental animals did. I don’t blame you for wanting to end the discussion tho, since we all know that your “ideas” contradict lots of evidence from multiple fields (anatomy, physiology, paleontology, genetics, etc) which confirm that marsupials are not closely related to placental animals. You cannot go on superficial appearances alone, which seems to be the only basis for your “body plan” notions. You can’t do science without_ evidence_. Why do you seem to have trouble grasping that?

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  7. rjdownard says:

    Wise’s floating forest idea has garnered much criticism even from within the YEC community, but for sheer audacity it’s hard to beat the fellow at Creation Ministries International who (briefly) entertained the idea about a decade ago that marsupials like koalas might have been thrown there ballistically as ejecta along with volcanic eruptions. The expressions of the poor marsupials I have imagined as they were hurled transcontinentally can evoke either laughter or horror, depending on one’s mood.

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    • That’s a hoot, and I will have to add it to my article, since it does take the cake for creativity and outlandishness, if the author was even serious. Of course, it begs the question of why marsupials would be selectively blasted, or were they better able to survive the explosion and atmospheric travel. and subsequent impacts? We have to allow that kangaroos were very bouncy, which would help a lot when falling from the sky. Do you know the name of the CMI author, or the site or publication that contained the suggestion? By the way, I think he stole it from the romantic comedy movie Joe and the Volcano (Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) although they were only thrown a half mile or so, if I recall correctly.

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      • rjdownard says:

        On the ballistic koalas, it originated as I recall around 2009 and there was a discussion of it at Conservapedia in the early 2010s, but unfortunately the link wasn’t working today when I checked. Here’s the reference I think applies so you can try hunting for it later:

        Conservapedia. 2013 “Talk:Post-Diluvian Diasporas.” Entry last modified 3 March (online text at conservapedia.com accessed 9/13/2019).

        It’s possible they’ve taken it down permanently. I have a hard copy of the discussion buried in my notes somewhere, but couldn’t retrieve it short notice.

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  8. Looking for “peace in our time,” God’s Flood (at maybe 6000 BC) was a miracle event that just “overflowed” everything (2 Peter 3:6) to drown people, leaving Earth’s geography, and Australia’s bones in caves intact. It was part of God’s miracle to “hop” every creature across any obstacle such as oceans or mountains to the Ark, and from the Ark home again. This had to happen for New World hummingbirds, obviously. So for Australian marsupials. (A raven released on January 25 had to hang around until May 17 to meet his mate.) There’s a pattern in Acts 8:39-40, where God needed his man up the coast of Palestine, so, apparently, he was transported. I’m only bothered by so many “Just So Stories” of ReCreationists calling their untutored group-think a ministry. Forgive me for a rough haiku-17: Two blind beggars, walking together, say, “Thank God for this nice, safe ditch.”

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