Wednesday, 19 August 2015

More Stupidity From the Idiot Designer

A female adult varroa mite, Varroa destructor, feeds on the hemolymph of a honey bee pupa.
Photograph: Jason Graham, University of Florida. Source.
Museum samples reveal rapid evolution by wild honey bees exposed to a novel parasite : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

Although they'll spend hours scraping around for something that seems hard to explain, even when it has been explained (but their followers would never know that), for something to wave around as 'proof', 'Intelligent (sic) Design' advocates never seem to talk about those very many examples to be found in nature where the only explanation, assuming for a moment that it had been designed, is that the designer was an incompetent idiot that designs without forethought and with complete amnesia about what else it has designed.

The best examples of the Idiot Designer's work, if we play along with the childish fantasy, are to be found in host-parasite relationships, and in the very many arms races that come from predator-prey relationships (of which parasitism is a sub-set).

Take, for example, the recent discovery that the honeybee (Apis mellifera) has evolved the ability to relatively quickly evolve resistance to disease, holding out the hope that they may be able to recover from the devastation of the varroa mite (Varroa destructor) currently wiping out colonies of wild and domestic honeybees. They key to this appears to be the ability to maintain nuclear genetic diversity through the queen's polyandry even though the mitochondria may go through an intense bottleneck. Mitochondria are inherited exclusively from the female.

A queen bee has a single nuptial flight during which she will mate with between 5 and 20 males. She then stores the sperms, using them to fertilise her eggs to produce worker females, or leaving them unfertilised to produce more drones.

A team from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa, Japan, and Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, have trawled through museum specimens and have compared the genetic profiles of bees from before the mite infestation with those from an area around Ithaca, New York, where the bee population has recovered from a mite infestation in the mid-1990s.

Thankfully and laudibly, this paper has open access, supported by public subscription:

Understanding genetic changes caused by novel pathogens and parasites can reveal mechanisms of adaptation and genetic robustness. Using whole-genome sequencing of museum and modern specimens, we describe the genomic changes in a wild population of honey bees in North America following the introduction of the ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor. Even though colony density in the study population is the same today as in the past, a major loss of haplotypic diversity occurred, indicative of a drastic mitochondrial bottleneck, caused by massive colony mortality. In contrast, nuclear genetic diversity did not change, though hundreds of genes show signs of selection. The genetic diversity within each bee colony, particularly as a consequence of polyandry by queens, may enable preservation of genetic diversity even during population bottlenecks. These findings suggest that genetically diverse honey bee populations can recover from introduced diseases by evolving rapid tolerance, while maintaining much of the standing genetic variation.*

Copyright © 2015, Rights Managed by Nature Publishing Group. Reprinted under CC-BY Licence.

The authors go on to say, in their introduction:

We show that while the honey bee population has been hard hit by the introduction of parasitic mites, it most likely did not go extinct. Rather, the bees have rapidly evolved to tolerate the mites’ presence, and now exist at the same colony densities today, as they did in the past. This response was most likely polygenic, but possibly involves some of the same pathways previously identified in Varroa resistance, namely dopaminergic control of aversive memory. These findings suggest that wild populations of honey bees have an inherent capacity to mount a rapid evolutionary response to novel parasites.

Dopamine in bees is believed to control their response to mites by grooming themselves and chewing the mites up.

The team also noted that there have been physical evolutionary changes too. Today's bees are smaller than earlier bees and have slightly different wing shapes.

So, what we have here, if we go along with the Intelligent Design Hoax, is an example of this 'Intelligent' (sic) designer designing a mite which had the capacity to to exterminate honeybees on which we, its supposed special creation for which it made everything else including the entire Universe, depend for our food crops to grow successfully, then giving honeybees the ability to evolve rapidly to get round the devastation its mites were causing.

The human design equivalent would be a designer for the motor industry designing something to make the workforce sick and non-productive, then designing something to help them get better, or to replace those who didn't. Creationists would no doubt gasp in astonished wonder at the brilliance of this designer and sing songs in its praise.

How that can be presented as an act of supreme intelligence by an omniscience, omnipotent and omnibenevolent designer is just astonishing. It would be hard to find a better example of sheer incompetence, a singular failure to think, and a planner without a plan.

In other words, it would be hard to find a better example of evolution by natural selection, where there is no intelligence, no planning, no compassion and no way one evolving species can 'remember' how another species has evolved. A process which is entirely utilitarian and which the only 'test' of success is how many descendants it produces.

Understandably, Intelligent (sic) Design hoaxers never tell their credulous victims of these examples of unintelligent stupidity. It would probably harm their income stream from those victims capable of understanding the significance of them.

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