Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Pando - Something for Creationists to Ponder

Pando, the Word’s Heaviest Organism, is an Ever-Growing Witness of an Ancient Earth – Naturalis Historia

What is the world's oldest living and almost certainly the heaviest organism?

No it's not the blue whale, a mere minnow by comparison, or 'Methuselah', the 4850 year-old bristlecone pine tree from California and nor is it General Sherman, the giant sequoia or redwood tree.

It is in fact, Pando, a clone of trembling aspen, Populus tremuloides, around Fish Lake in Central Utah, USA. It gets its name from the Spanish for 'I spread' because of the extensive spread of what has been shown to be a clone of all males trees (so they can only reproduce vegetatively, by root suckers). The total weight of this organism is estimated to be 13 million pounds (5900 metric tonnes).

Embarrassingly for creationists, it has been estimated to be at least 80,000 years old and maybe over 100,000 years. This date placed the start of this clone within the last ice age when the Utah mountains would have been very much colder than today, although being far enough south to avoid the glaciers.

Not only that but, even though it doesn't reproduce sexually, there is nevertheless genetic evidence of evolution within the clone due to somatic mutation, as was shown in a 2008 paper which showed that not only is Pando a clone but that there are about 40 genotypes within it.

While clones of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides, Michx.) in the Intermountain West of North America are expected to be large, one putative genet in central Utah, identified from morphological evidence, has garnered particular attention for its size, even gaining the nickname “Pando” (Latin for “I spread”). In order to determine if a single genetic individual coincides with the morphological boundary of “Pando,” we sampled 209 stems on a 50-m grid throughout the putative clone for analysis at 7 microsatellite loci. We have identified a single genetic entity concurrent with that described from morphological characteristics. Spatial analyses indicate that the clone covers approximately 43.6 ha. Surprisingly, an additional 40 genotypes were identified adjacent to the putative clone, indicating that genet diversity may be high in the stand as a whole. In confirming the existence of the “Pando” clone, we suggest that this organism will provide valuable opportunities to study important biological processes such as clonal growth, somatic mutation, and senescence.

So, here we have solid evidence that a single organism has been alive for some 8-10 times as long as creationists claim Earth has been around for, clear evidence of evolution even in the absence of sexual reproduction, and an unfathomable mystery as to why any intelligent designer would design an organism with the potential for sexual reproduction, the males of which produce countless trillions of pollen grains every year, when it can reproduce asexually in such a spectacularly successful way.

Perhaps it's significant that none of the creationist disinformation sites have any mention of Pando.

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