|Twisted Tree of Life|
The paper is actually pretty interesting. But the last line of the abstract. OMG. It is beyond awful. Here is the full abstract:
The fossil record demonstrates that each major taxonomic group has a consistent net rate of diversification and a limit to its species richness. It has been thought that long-term changes in the dominance of major taxonomic groups can be predicted from these characteristics. However, new analyses show that diversity limits may rise or fall in response to adaptive radiations or extinctions. These changes are idiosyncratic and occur at different times in each taxa. For example, the end-Permian mass extinction permanently reduced the diversity of important, previously dominant groups such as brachiopods and crinoids. The current global crisis may therefore permanently alter the biosphere’s taxonomic composition by changing the rules of evolution.
That last line saying that the current extinction crisis may change the rules of evolution really really really bugs me. Changing the rules? Please. If they are rules, then, just how, exactly do they change? If they do change, perhaps they should not be rules no?
And as an aside, what is up with Science not printing the full first name of authors? Does that really save space?
Anyway - not much to say here other than that J. Alroy is the winner of my the 8th "Twisted Tree of Life Award" for suggesting that the evidence presented in this Science paper changes the rules of evolution. And a half award goes to the editors of Science for letting this BS get into the abstract.
Previous recipients of this award are
- Twisted Tree of Life Award #7: NPR on the Evolution of Crying
- Twisted tree of life award #6: Scientific American Origins piece for dissing microbes
- Twisted tree of life award #5: Nicholas Wade & use of higher, lower, ladders, etc
- Twisted Tree of Life Award #4: Hoxful Monsters Blog on "Primitive" Animals
- Twisted Tree of Life Award #3: The Columbus Dispatch on Ancient Bacteria
- Twisted Tree of Life Award #2: Science Friday on the Five Kingdoms
- Twisted Tree of Life Award #1: Salk Institute Press Release on Kinases
Hat tip to E2 (aka Eric Eisenstadt) for pointing out this article and the strange claim in the last sentence of the abstract.