Critics of evolution pose irreducible complexity as a problem. "The evolutionary biologists have very good answers to that question," said Kosik. "One of them is the following result: A synapse looks like it is a structure that you cannot take apart; if you did, it would lose its function. In the sponge, nature clearly took it apart. And a piece of it is functioning very well in a species that has been quite successful for the last 650 million years."
Kosik explained further the importance of new information regarding evolution. Long before the current paper was developed, co-author Bernard M. Degman allowed the UCSB research teams to look at the preliminary sequence data. They were very surprised to find that, even though the sponges do not have synapses or neurons, they have the genes for synapses and neurons. The genes were there but they weren't making the structures which is the finding Kosik and Oakley published in 2007. "This work raised a lot of questions," he said. "One obvious question is: What are the genes even doing there if they don't have neurons or synapses? We still don't know the answer to that question."
|Contact: Gail Gallessich|
University of California - Santa Barbara