The paper seems both sound and interesting. And it has a really really cool tree figure.
But the press release has a few doozies. The worst (or best, I guess, depending on your point of view) is the following:
It commands a signaling network more elaborate and diverse than found in any multicellular organism higher up on the evolutionary tree, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered.Yup that is right. A modern organism, living today is somehow "lower" on the tree of life than we are. Too bad the person who wrote the press release did not read Amy Harmon's recent Times story on evolution education. Or they could have gotten help from the high school science teacher Harmon featured, who taught his students about how modern organisms did not evolve from other modern organisms.
And for using one of my most hated metaphors in all of evolution (higher and lower organisms), Salk gets my first "Twisted Tree of Life Award"
thanks for this jonathan. I had not seen the paper, now will.ReplyDelete
Choanoflagellates are 'lower organisms' only in the sense that they are shorter than you or I.ReplyDelete
But the use of the phrase "higher up on the evolutionary tree" opens up a different possibility: if the tree is rooted at the bottom of the page and branch lengths are proportional to sequence substitutions, then wouldn't it be the choanoflagellates that are 'higher up'?
I think it would be fun to rotate branches in various trees to change the view of what is higher and lowerReplyDelete