F Rosa Rubicondior: Malevolent Designer News - God Loves Elephants More Than he Loves Us

Saturday 6 February 2021

Malevolent Designer News - God Loves Elephants More Than he Loves Us

Artist's illustration of species within the taxonomic order Proboscidea, which includes elephants.
Credit: Liam Elward
Larger versions are available by contacting Charlotte Hsu at chsu22@buffalo.edu.
How elephants evolved to become big and cancer-resistant - University at Buffalo

Unlike most other mammals, and especially humans, elephants hardly ever get cancers.

The reason for this has been known since 2016 when researchers at the University of Chicago found that elephants have multiple copies of the TP53 gene, probably produced by gene duplication during their evolution to large size! The TP53 gene is involved in DNA repair, but in most mammals, this gene is not very efficient. Multiple copies of it seem to compensate for this inefficiency, however.

Now another team have shown that this is true for other related animals and was probably true for their remote ancestors.

This is how I explained it in by popular illustrated book, The Malevolent Designer: Why Nature's God is not Good as an example of something creationist's putative designer could have give us and other mammals, but chose not to (assuming you believe that magical nonsense):

Elephants Don’t Get Cancer.

Elephants are almost unique amongst mammals in that they rarely get cancers. This appears to contradict Peto’s Paradox (114) which states that, since cancers are mostly caused by faults in DNA replication during cell division, animals with more cells or which live longer should have more cancers than those with fewer. Elephants are very large and tend to be long-lived yet rarely get cancers. This paradox was partly resolved by the discovery of a gene, TP53, which produces a protein P53, which regulates cell division and stops cells proliferating too rapidly. This acts as an anti-cancer gene but the problem is, it is not very effective, as the incidence of cancers in animals like humans attests.

So, why don’t elephants have the same rate of cancers as other mammals, when they too have this not-very-effective TP53 gene? The answer was discovered in 2016 by researchers from the University of Chicago, who found that elephants have multiple copies of the TP53 gene, probably produced by gene duplication during their evolution to large size! So much for the Creationist dogmas that no new information can arise by mutation, and mutations are always harmful.

Figure 47 African elephant calf
Illustration: Catherine Hounslow-Webber

What they discovered was that the increased activity of these genes means DNA damage either gets repaired much more quickly than with other mammals and that, if it can’t be repaired, cell apoptosis (cell death and destruction) is much more efficient, so either the cell fails to develop into a cancer because the DNA fault is repaired, or it is rapidly destroyed (115).

The ID view must be that this was deliberately designed by the same intelligent, omnibenevolent designer as the one who designed humans and all the other animals that suffer from cancer, yet, having designed a solution to the cancer (which it also designed) it failed to provide other species with it. The conclusion can only be that, for some reason, it decided to exempt elephants from its cancers but wanted other animals, including humans to die from them, and, having designed a singularly ineffective anti-cancer gene, it left it at that.

The problem, from a biological perspective was that elephants appear to violate Peto's Paradox which says that as the number of cells in a multicellular organism increases, the probability of a cancer arising should also increase because cancers are caused by mistakes in cell reproduction.

That problem for biology was resolved by the 2016 paper. But it created even more problems for Creationism. It violated several of their sacred dogmas, for example:
  • All mutations are harmful and degenerative- and yet these protected elephants and their relatives from cancers.
  • No new information can arise by mutations which invariably mean a loss of information, and yet elephants had information that protected them from cancers, unlike other mammals.
Now, however, further work by Juan M Vazquez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Vincent J Lynch of the University at Buffalo has shown that this is not restricted to the larger members of the Proboscidea family but is also present in the smaller members. The implication is that, rather than beig a by-product of evolution to a larger size, it was a key thing that enabled this evolutionary increase in size.

Artist's illustration of species within the taxonomic order Proboscidea, which includes elephants.
Credit: Liam Elward
Larger poster available from Charlotte Hsu at chsu22@buffalo.edu.
...this phenomenon is not unique to elephants, scientists say: The research concluded that duplication of tumor suppressor genes is quite common among elephants’ living and extinct relatives, including in small ones like Cape golden moles (a burrowing animal) and elephant shrews (a long-nosed insectivore). The data suggest that tumor suppression capabilities preceded or coincided with the evolution of exceptionally big bodies, facilitating this development.


“One of the expectations is that as you get a really big body, your burden of cancer should increase because things with big bodies have more cells,” says Lynch, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. “The fact that this isn’t true across species — a long-standing paradox in evolutionary medicine and cancer biology — indicates that evolution found a way to reduce cancer risk.”

In the new study, “We explored how elephants and their living and extinct relatives evolved to be cancer-resistant,” Lynch says. “We have past research looking at TP53, a well-known tumor suppressor. This time, we said, ‘Let’s just look at whether the entire elephant genome includes more copies of tumor suppressors than what you’d expect.’ Is the trend general? Or is the trend specific to one gene? We found that it was general: Elephants have lots and lots and lots of extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, and they all contribute probably a little bit to cancer resistance.”

Elephants do have enhanced cancer protections, compared with relatives

Though many elephant relatives harbor extra copies of tumor suppressor genes, the scientists found that elephant genomes possess some unique duplications that may contribute to tumor suppression through genes involved in DNA repair; resistance to oxidative stress; and cellular growth, aging and death.


The study searched for extra copies of tumor suppressor genes in the DNA of Asian, African savanna and African forest elephants, as well as in the genomes of a number of fellow Afrotherians, such as Cape golden moles, elephant shrews, rock hyraxes, manatees, extinct woolly mammoths, extinct mastodons and more. The team also studied certain species belonging to a group of mammals called Xenarthra that is closely related to Afrotherians, and found some extra copies of tumor suppressors in those animals’ genomes as well.
The research was published open access in elife at the end of January, 2021:


The risk of developing cancer is correlated with body size and lifespan within species. Between species, however, there is no correlation between cancer and either body size or lifespan, indicating that large, long-lived species have evolved enhanced cancer protection mechanisms. Elephants and their relatives (Proboscideans) are a particularly interesting lineage for the exploration of mechanisms underlying the evolution of augmented cancer resistance because they evolved large bodies recently within a clade of smaller bodied species (Afrotherians). Here, we explore the contribution of gene duplication to body size and cancer risk in Afrotherians. Unexpectedly, we found that tumor suppressor duplication was pervasive in Afrotherian genomes, rather than restricted to Proboscideans. Proboscideans, however, have duplicates in unique pathways that may underlie some aspects of their remarkable anti-cancer cell biology. These data suggest that duplication of tumor suppressor genes facilitated the evolution of increased body size by compensating for decreasing intrinsic cancer risk.

So, the situation, from the point of view of an intelligent [sic] design advocate is even worse that I first reported. Not only did this new study confirm that elephants indeed do have protection against cancers because of the multiple instances of gene duplication of the relevant genes, but this isn't unique but is widespread amongst their relatives, suggesting that this was present in a common ancestor, so showing common ancestry of this family.

Not only is there the conundrum for creationists of why their supposedly all-loving creator had a perfectly good defence against the cancers it also created but that it chose not to give this defence to most of its creation - including it's supposed special favourites, humans. And we have evidence of common ancestry to add to the refutation of the sacred creationist dogmas I mentioned above.

The amazing thing is the effort creationists must put into ignoring all these papers and accounts of research that flatly contradict and refute even their fundamental claims and assertions.

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  1. I dont think God loves anything nor anyone. I dont claim to know what God is like but I can only speculate and make guesses. I dont claim to be right. No one really knows. Elephants may have greater resistance to cancer but Im sure they suffer from other diseases and parasites, drought, starvation, dehydration, deforestation, and poaching and hunting from humans.
    Despite being the largest and strongest land animal, baby elephants are small and defenseless and are easy victims to lions, crocodiles, and hyaenas. There are also many Cryptids or Unknown animals in Africa and all over the world. In Africa, theres the Emela N Touka or the killer of elephants, the dinosaur like Mokele Mbembe, the Lau, the Lukwata, the Nguma Monene, the Chipekwe, the Dingonek, the Mahamba, the Kasai rex, etc all of which are monstrous, dangerous animals which can kill elephants and anything else. The world is even scarier and more dangerous than most people think.

  2. For the interested reader Cryptids and Cryptozoology is the scientific study of Unknown and Unidentified animals. Some of them might be fictional and mythical and some of them might be real living animals. Author Bernard Heuvelmans wrote On The Track of Unknown Animals, and author Roy Mackal wrote about the dinosaur like Mokele Mbembe(he traveled to the African Congo in 1980 to search for it), and authors Loren Coleman and Karl Shuker are interested in cryptids.
    The cryptids in Africa are especially dangerous and fearsome, and many of these unknown cryptids kill elephants, hippos, rhinos, and buffalos, which are dangerous animals themselves. The Lukwata kills and eats crocodiles and overturns boats and canoes and grabs anyone in it. Lakes, rivers, and oceans have lake serpents and sea serpents. The Lochness monster of Scotland, Ogopogo of Canada, and the Lukwata of East Africa are all fearsome lake serpents and potential man killers and man eaters. There are even scarier things in the water than sharks and crocodiles. The fearsome horned monster known as the Emela Ntouka is known as the killer of elephants as it kills elephants and buffalos with it horn. This African cryptid is a herbivore but still violent, territorial, and super dangerous. Even the herbivores are dangerous in Africa. The Mokele Mbembe kills hippos and any humans coming near it without eating the bodies as its a herbivore. This is very scary and disturbing to realize that there are animals out there in Africa that can kill hippos , elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and crocodiles. Whoever or whatever created Nature seems to be fond of violence and killing. The creator is a violent, barbaric, bloodthirsty, cruel, heartless, sadistic malevolent bastard, cretin, monster, and idiot. Amoral idiot is the creator. Its a huge embarrassment.


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