Darwin: Explain This!

i was watching national geographic last night when i saw the most amazing thing. you know those parasites that live in the ograns of warm blooded animals, like tapeworms? they spew eggs into the animals poop and millions of baby tapeworms are forced to try and somehow “find” another warm blooded mammal whose millions of times larger than them through such useful methods as being eaten three or four times and hiding inside progressively larger bodies.

those kinds of animals right from the get go completely look like gods arbitrary mammal population control, but last nights “totally wild: snail zombies” was the last straw.

there is one kind of cow liver parasite whos eggs get eaten by snails, then the snail gets attacked by ants and they eat the eggs and they bring them back to the colony and distribute them to lots of ants. science is pretty foggy on what exactly happens, as it is with a few of the amazing things ants do, but this one is huge.

there is a purple flower that the nearby cows eat. when the ants have been infected with the eggs, and they sense a cow nearby, they climb up the stem of the purple flower and sit there until the cow eats them

the eggs completely controlled the brains of the ants in a completely arbitrary way

i mean seriously, when things evolve, what changes? so far darwinists know that dna can change when reproducing. what does dna do? makes amino acids which make proteins? how do you make an amino acid that controls the brains of another species in such a specific way

how do you know when ants sense the presence of a cow when ants arent built to sense cow presences

[b]how do you tell an ant to go sit on a specific type of flower when thats not something the ant has ever done before[/b]

how does something like that get naturally selected?!?!?!

if this is a completely natural thing, then darwinists must admit that sooner or later, somebody will eat an ear of mutant corn and their brain will be slightly changed so that from then on, they climb up flag poles and worship crackers or crazy nonsense.

not gonna happen. god gapped it. er uh i mean god did it. seriously how does dna mutation cause this to happen.

because protein synthesis is not the only mechanism controlling an organism’s develoment and behavior.

how did ridiculously specific mind control evolve out of previously existing characteristics, and which ones

You’re looking at it from the wrong perspective Future Man, you have to look at the evolution happening forward, don’t look at a particular case and say ‘how could this of happened to be so specific’. The process will have evolved from a general advantage gained which narrows as the process gets refined.

the process would roughly have been:

parasite → cow → poo → grass → cow
while this is happening snails are found to eat the poo and thus parasite egg. Ants also eat the snails and also get infected.

A mutation occurs which means that once the parasite is in ants it makes the ants more likely to want a specific food stuff (e.g your purple flower). Perhaps one of the chemicals inside the parasite egg was very similar to the chemical used by the ants to regulate organising their gathering activities and a mutated egg changed this chemical slightly which fooled the ants and thus set the ants on a slightly biased gathering strategy. This isn’t particularly amazing, it happens all the time. There are sexually transmitted diseases that make you horny (thus increasing the chance that they get spread), there are diseases which make you cough (thus increasing the chance to make it spread), etc. etc.

This is found to be a benefit to the parasite as it means the cows are more likely to be infected than just by the poo-spattered grass reproductive method, through eating infected ants on grass/flowers. Say it increases the likelihood of ants going to a specific food stuff by 1%.

The process then just repeats and repeats, first the ants get more and more likely to run off to flowers, then this stabalizes out as it adversely effects the ants survival as they’re not eating properly and the parasites are now dependant on ants for retransmission so cannot kill too many of them. Say this level is a 10% chance of wanting to gather flower specific food stuff.

Then an ‘activation’ procedure evolves into the process so the ants only do it in certain circumstances, thus letting the likelihood of running off to flower in specific circumstance x,y,z to increase again since it had been forced to stabilize (say now it can reach 50%), etc. etc.

Next it evolves a stop and stay there procedure allowing it to increase the likeliness of running off to flower to say 70%. This allows it to further refine the x,y,z conditions so the ants do it only in very specific circumstances, while increasing the desire to run to flower and stop and stay to 100%. Thus it has acheived the level of complexity as you described above. It’s amazing, but it’s definitely achievable through evolution.

At some point in the above process the parasites ‘abandoned’ the reproductive method of infecting through poo-spattered grass, probably because their eggs got weaker to allow snails to digest the protective shells easier and thus make the ant infection process more efficient, the advantage gained in ‘abandoning’ the old method was greater than keeping both methods running concurrently.

Now don’t misinterpret what I’ve typed above, I’m not saying the parasite ‘knows’ how to evolve, it’s just that mutations happen and if these mutations give it an advantage against its related cousins (as each step in the above process does) it will be more likely to reproduce more than its cousins until it wipes them out or evolves into a different species. Thus the trait spreads throughout the population and then further mutations can happen to build on the present ones.

There are plenty of examples of such specialization through symbosis/parasitism and they’re not inexplicable, any more than explaining how complex sight evolves from a light sensitive cell.

well the film footage showed ants marching up the flowers in an orderly fashion, then, as the announcer said, they just “latch on” and stare forward. they dont eat the flower, they turn into brainless zombies only when the cows walk by.

i think this is where the mystery lies. i dont think science yet knows what motivates an ant to go look east for food, or when he should give up or how he can tell that he has found a source of food worth writing home about. i guess its possible that whatever makes the ant think a fallen cupcake is good can change to make him think flowers are good, but wouldnt the command “look for a cow…(find food- malfunctions into find purple flower)…stay there” would the first and third be entirely new things that the ant never had the capacity to think of before?

i think the first step of your chain, the first evolutionary step that bacteria takes, the first kind of mind control would be impossible to spread to more than one ant colony since, if the infected ants do nothing but go to the flowers and dont go to food, and they dont eat the flowers, the colony dies with the mutated eggs very quickly.

a big problem i have is, how does an ant sense a cow? it doesnt have the organs. it cant even see, it follows chemicals, how could it possible identify a cow, and how could its instincts possibly be modified so that “smell cow” → “latch on to flower”. the smells that they are used to following, they follow the smell. so if they are somehow able to suddenly detect cows like they detect chemical trails, shouldnt they just run to the cow?

your percentages really lose me. are you saying that 70% of infected ants will have the new mutation?

how do you evolve a mind control procedure from scratch. i man i could understand if the eggs made the ants think that cow smell is their regular scent trail. it would be a modification of existing behavior. but this is all new behavior, ants dont ever stop, they cant be fooled into thinking that the flower is their stop zone, they dont have a stop zone. the egg created that whole idea for them.

i still dont buy it.

matt is right future man. consider this :

i sit down at my computer play a game of civilisation. (u know sid meyer ?). after 20 hours im pretty good at it i get like 20 or so towns, buiding railroad and shit.

then i get to thinking omg this is so insane, look town x is precisely in the position of town x. how the heck does that even happen ? and look all my tanks and shıt are exactly where they are. wow. and all the mountaıns and shores are in their right place. there must be a god there

except if the game had unfolded differently (which it ALWAYS does) i would have been sayin the same about an entirely different map.

see ?

As zenofeller’s saying above, you’re looking at the final product without trying to imagine how it got there. It definitely didn’t just happen all together, what I typed above is a ‘story’ of how it developed, first by making ants more likely to go hunt certain foods, then by making them detect cows, then by instigating a stop and stay procedure in the ant (so it no longer eats the food stuff).

Just like the human eye didn’t just appear out of nowhere but started off as a light detecting cell that didn’t have any use, to it being used to guide the organism towards and away from light, for it to be used to notice sudden amounts of darkness indicating predators so it could flee, for it developing into more cells to better detect these, to it developing colour recognition, to it developing focus, etc. etc. These are small incremental steps, and I was attempting to explain the ants behaviour changing in small evolutionary steps.

While scientists may not know exactly how ant communication works, it doesn’t make it a mystery. It will be through chemicals or visual signals or sound signals, or something, it really doesn’t matter. What happened was that through some (probably chemical) output the parasite started to effect the behavious of the ants, be it by making one secrete a different chemical than it normally would, or to dance to the left instead of the right in a communication dance, or to bash its foot 3 times instead of 2 times, it really doesn’t matter.

I don’t know how Alcohol works, or LSD, or paracetemol. When these things were discovered we didn’t know how they worked. But we did notice they changed the behaviour of the imbibers. When someone falls over after drinking alcohol, I don’t say it’s a mystery why he fell over. It’s obvious.

That’s what the percentages are about, to begin with the parasites make the ants 1% more likely to gather flower food. The stop and stay procedure has not yet been developed, so all it means is that the ants are wasting a bit of time gathering too much flower food. When I said it levelled off at an arbitary figure (10% is the one I chose), this is where the parasites who made the ants go to flowers more than 10% of the time adversely effected the survival of the colony as they were gathering too much flower food stuff and hence the parasite could not reproduce as effectively as those parasites only making ants go there 10% of the time. I just want to emphasise at this point the ‘stop and stay’ procedure has NOT been evolved.

The point of the stop and stay procedure, coupled with the detect cow procedure is to make the chance of parasite infection in the cow higher, while protecting the ant colony from wasting too many workers (and thus keeping that part in the parasite’s chain of reproduction intact).

As an example (not the best one I admit given we work in a MS world) the usual behaviour of an observed program would never be to crash. But then a hacker deliberately overflows a memory range to make it throw an exception and boom, you’ve got the program acting abnormally, in a way that’s never been observed. From what you say (and I know nothing about normal ant behaviour) the stop and stay command is obviously an abnormal procedure for the ant, but you don’t know that we couldn’t make any ant do that by wafting the correct chemical under its mandibles.

Stop thinking of it as mind control and start thinking of it as chemical control, the parasite is interfering with the ant’s nervous system just as alcohol interfers wiith yours or mine. One could say that viruses perform mind control on cells when they take them over, but it’s a very far fetched way of describing a perfectly normal and chemical process.

Future Man, read Chapter 3 of Dawkin’s The Blind Watchmaker. It answers the question in a far more eloquent way than I could ever hope to. Put it on your Christmas list.

I don’t know about evolution.
The problem I see with it is that whenever a mutation occurs, genes are lost…there is no way to gain genes through mutations…so how could creatures develop new behavior if they can only lose it through mutations?

I don’t know…maybe someone can enlighten me…but for now I agree with future man

Genes are modified randomly through mutation. Most mutations are harmful. They produce a decreased tendency for survival and retransmission, and these eventually die out if they compound. Some mutations are benificial, these produce an increased tendancy for survival and retransmission, and these organisms come to dominate a niche. In the long run, useful mutations compound despite the fact that harmful mutations are more prevalent. Thus better behaviors, better organs, better appendages, ect always develop in the long run. Useless ones fade quickly through a lack of “selection pressure” (such as eyes on cave fish, or vestigal legs in whales), but useful ones do develop over longer time periods due to the presence of “selection pressure” weeding out the detrimental mutations.

The randomness does sometimes cause harm, but the selection mechanism of survival of the fittest ensures that in the long run, only the benificial effects (or neutral effects) remain.

Free market capitalism can be seen as a sort of economic survival of the fittest where firms compete with each other for satisfying the needs of consumers and supplying demand. The most effective firms proliferate and prosper, the ineffective, inefficient ones die out. Detrimental buisness practices, such as “Gee, I don’t have to make more than I spend” or “I can just stick this in someone elses yard” die out, and buisness practices conducive to satifying the demand are reinforced.

dont encourage the one with the unspeakable name. capitalism promotes MTV and jewelry, the products that brainwash you into thinking that you want them. it is equivalent to an evolutionary “trick” where bunnies are born with mutated genitals that are bad for their survival, but produce tons of kids and therefore, the mutation becomes naturally selected.


basically, my biggest problem with this example of random mutation is that when any of these things happened to the ants, if they happened one by one, they would not in any way help either the ants or the parasites to have more babies, and they would therefore not continue to live and modify the set of mutations.

when the parasite has its first mutation and it gets into the ant brain and does only one thing, lets say it changes the ants behavior from “follow this ant-fart until you find food Then bring food back Or if no food, just come back” to “follow the smell of purple flowers until you find food Then bring back food Or if no food just come back” this first step would not help the eggs get into cows. likewise, the introduction of stop and stay without the flower trigger is a useless mutation, and would immediately kill the generation containing it.

how could a mutation continue to live if it didnt help the parasite propagate? how could they all happen at once?

future man, green eyes have no evolutionary impact as compared to black eyes do they ? i mean a green eyed chick is roughly just as likely to get knocked up as a black eyed one.

do you then have difficulty explaining why there are both green and black eyed chick versions ?

because a person born with green eyes is the same as others. i dont see why it would become common, but i certainly see why it hasnt taken over: because its not better than blue. and maybe black eyes are bad for you, or they are a difficult mutation to create.

when you change one of these things for the parasite egg and not all of them, then the egg is less likely to survive. actually i guess it is possible that first the ant would have the instruction to go to the flower before it evolved the ability to stop and stay, and if it was in this order it would work out.

but i think im stuck on the fact that if the egg told the ant to go to the flower without giving the ant the ability to sense cows, the ant would innefficiently be going to flowers all the time and they would die. eggs with this mutation would kill their ant hosts faster.

and if the egg gave the ant the ability to sense the cow and not the command to climb up flowers, this would have no effect on the reproduction of the parasite. and i guess that would be like having green eyes if it doesnt have a negative effect, and it could eventually turn into a somewhat common thing, available for future mutation into flower climbers.

but what i really think is that if the ant had only the cow sensing ability and no flower climbing, it would walk over to the cow like it does when it smells other stuff. and instead of not finding food and going home, the ants would walk all around where the cow was and follow it around and they would die.

basically, this ridiculously coplex evolution contains steps that would be detrimental unless they happened all at once. and im too stuck in this probability determined reality to comprehend that 20^999:1 is violated by anyone but god.

Why would ants occasionally going to flowers affect the survival of the colony? In the beginning it was probably only a mild desire, say like that of a diuretic. I may drink a lot of Tea and thus need to piss more often, but I don;t really notice it and it doesn’t especially effect my survival. Some ants from the colony climb the flower more often, butnot enough for it to be consider a significant disadvantage. However the likeliness of there being an ant at any one time on a purple flower which acow would eat was probably much higher, and thus it did positively impact parasite retransmission rates.

The egg definitely wouldn’t have come up with the sense cow routine first, it had to have been the climb flower one.

You’re too stuck on looking at the macro changes without realising that you can take tiny tiny evolutionary steps to get to the same point. There was no sudden overwhelming desire for every ant in the colony to run off to the flowers. It would have started as a mild desire of a few ants to collect more flower stuff than normal that didn’t have any significant impact on the colony. Then this would have evolved from there.

What are you trying to argue here, on the one hand you say they’re reproductively more succesful, therefore the ‘mutated’ genitals can’t be bad for survival, but then you add that they are bad for survival.

Were you deliberately trying to write a logically incoherent sentence to parody capitalism? It wasn’t very clear so I apologise if I’ve misunderstood :blush:

as i see it, a mutation is either beneficial, completely neutral, or is eventually wiped out. definetely wiped out before another mutation happens to the same strain.

if a family of ants mutated to go to flowers often, then they would neccesarily gather less food than a neighboring colony that doesnt waste time on such uselessness. so when those two colonies get to reproducing, flower clan has 4 males and females and regular has 5. little steps matt, little steps.

if you have a family that eats less food for millions of years, i totally think this will have an effect. … oh dammit i keep thinking about the ants when i should be thinking about the eggs. ok so if it happens in the order 1)flower-love 2)cow sense 3)stop and stay. then it will work out alright…hmm…

… well i guess my main problem would then be: how do ants associate sensing a cow over there with climbing this particular smelling flower over here. it looks like ants just smell a thing and go at it. so they can smell flowers and go to flowers, smell cow and go to the cow, but not smell cow and go to flowers. i guess there are more complex ant behaviors that we dont quite understand that can be manipulated to produce this effect. i give up. the big question that remains is: ‘does the first step of flower obsession hurt the ants enough to lower the odds that a cow will eat them enough to counteract the increase in odds because of the flower obs.?’ probably not.

yeah the bunnies would be stressed out and over burdened and therefore less happy but still naturally selected. just like you stupid american materialists with your jewelry and your flashy clothes whose only positive benefit to society is the fact that i get to see girls butts every day. sure thats a good thing, but is it really something worth the cost that the system in charge should be selecting? not if its a system who cares. capitalism is todays devil.

therein lies the error. it is possible that a mutation has but a very small impact on the species’ survivability, and before the mutated population declines completely a second mutation occurs that has a significant positive impact.

consider an example. say cars are the species. one day a car with a cannon mount, but no cannon is born. the cannon mount makes is slightly bulkier and slower, so it has a slightly lesser chance to reproduce. then again some car-chicks think its very sexy because its exotic, so it has a slightly better reproduction rate. all in all it would decline and die out in 1000 years. but in the next 400 years a new muttation occurs, giving a she-car a cannon, but no mount. that is slightly detrimental for the car, making it a bit bulkier. however at some point a mount guy and a cannon girl hitch and voila, their third born has a fully functional cannon mounted on the chassis, and thats the end of it, he can now utterly dominate all the other cars, and eventually all cars will evolve to tanks.

Heres another one: crazy bee behavior

of course i could go on and on about the incredible things bees do, but one stands out. in general, how the crap do animals instinctually learn how to do things that are very very specific when these animals have no clue what they are actually doing?

how can you have a genetic mutation that makes a behavior? shouldnt we be seeing humans born that randomly do absolutely any kind of behavior imaginable? shouldnt it be possible to have a kid who wakes up from his first nap and suddenly grabs moms face and starts humping it uncontrollably? literally, that is what i believe should be happening rarely if the following bee behavior was created at random:

some of the coolest nature footage is of giant japanese hornets massacreing bee colonies and stealing their children. piles of ripped up half bees are everywhere, its the coolest. one species of bee just dies everytime a scout spots them, and one has a defense.

the hornets are like 5 times bigger than the bees, so the bees cant attack out in the open at all. they somehow lure the hornet inside the nest, and then blow my mind. about 50 gather around him, and then one suddenly shakes his butt, and the butt shake ripples out around him as all the bees feel a shake and respond by shaking. seconds later, they pounce all at once. and they dont sting him or attack him in any normal bee way whatsoever.

they pile on him so he cant move, then they vibrate themselves until they increase the temperature of the bee pile by a few degrees. the maximum temperature a bee can live in is 119F. the maximum temperature a hornet lives in is 117F. can you guess how hot it gets on the inside of that bee pile?

how does an animal randomly mutate this kind of behavior if we have never seen a baby attack his moms face and hump it until it reached 118F? are there small steps that would happen on the way?

the problem i see with mutating behavior is that i dont respond with behavior according to my instinct unless im having sex. is the urge to attack hornets the exact same thing as the urge to have sex? the bees see it and literally get horny? because the only way i can understand participating in this coordinated effort is if i had seen it done before and i remembered and reproduced what i saw. but bees dont do that, they dont remember things. they just have that instinctual level like our having sex.

so if they completely irrationally do things without understanding why, just like i would be doing when i had sex before i understood it made children, then why dont they do ALL SORTS of crazy things all the time? why dont we see the most ridiculous hilarious behavior randomly mutated?

my big question for scientists is: have we seen tis kind of behavior? have animals been born in labs that started uncontrollably humping something for no reason. it cant be learned or mistakenly learned, it has to be pure instinct. like instead of a dog gyrating his hips, he gets up on his hind legs and punches with his forearms or he gyrates his head like at a heavy metal concert. if this bee behavior can randomly mutate, so should a lot of weird hilarious stuff. and i see no ‘little steps’ possible without destroying the efficiency of the bees.

So did God get assholed on Colt .45 one night and say, “I got the most fucked up idea for a zombie bug!”? Would that be “Unintelligent Design Theory”?:wink:

The flow of evolutionary change can happen in slow thousands of years steps or can occur in in the space of months. Consider: the emergence of ‘super rats’ that quickly adapted to the poison called warfarin. What was initially a deadly poison turned into a condiment within a few years. Rapid mutation gave us rats that now consider warfarin candy. Look at the virus wars. Each year a new flu vaccine has to be developed to counter the newly mutated virus strain for the coming year. Think about the short transition phase of ebola (simian to human), the asian bird flu that quickly mutated into a bird to human form. It doesn’t take a great deal of study to realize that all sorts of complex evolutionary developments can happen in very short periods of time. The Cambrian period saw an explosion of life forms not seen before or since. Evolution is constant, and many changes occur very slowly - at least in human terms, but it can also be a rapid change as well.