Saturday, June 28, 2008

Phylogenetics Grant from the Discovery Institute?

You'd think, given all their problems explaining the history of the horse species we know existed, that opponents of evolution would be loath to add another species to the clade. Not so! The scholars at Answers in Genesis want you to understand - with no uncertainty - that unicorns are real. Now it's our job to complete the taxon sampling required to solve this interesting phylogenetic puzzle. They concede that it may also have been a relative of the cows, so best to sample broadly. (Image cribbed from Weinstock et al. 2005. Evolution, systematics, and phylogeography of Pleistocene horses in the New World: a molecular perspective. PLoS 3:1373-1379)

7 comments:

Poletarac said...

The placement of unicorns is clearly a long-branch attraction problem.

On a vaguely related note, The Felsenstein Zone is a really great band name.

Dan said...

I think we should sample even more broadly than that. It's equally possible that the unicorn was in fact the terrestrial ancestor of the narwhal, which underwent a spate of rapid evolution during the great flood, leading to its current aquatic form.

Glor said...

It would be rash to rule out the narwhale/unicorn relationship. As the article from AIG points out, the creator is somewhat reluctant to design organisms with only one horn.

Jeremy said...

Next up, the phylogenetic placement of Leviathan? We could learn a lot about the evolution of fire-breathing.

Tom Near said...

This reminds me of the April Fool's paper in MPE that presented phylogenetic resolution of the Yeti.

There are creationists systematists out there. One group actually presented an analysis of discrete morphological characters for the sunfish and blackbasses (Centrarchidae). This got Dan Bolnick to fire off a commentary on this "work."

Glor said...

Was Bolnick's commentary published?

Tom Near said...

It was. I should write him for a copy.