Thursday, December 14, 2017

EVOLUTION: The Eureka Moment

The “eureka!” moment, when I saw the Pogonophora as the significant link of the two main divisions of higher animals, can be credited to the stimulation of reading Gans and Northcutt, 1983. 

Gans, Carl, and R. Glenn Northcutt.  1983.  Neural crest and the origin of vertebrates: a new head.  Science, 220:268-274. 

They placed the pogonophorans in line with the vertebrates based on development.  I was sure the evidence was overwhelming that pogonophorans were close to, or one of, the annelids.  But I also realized most scientists are honorable and truthful in their work and deserve to be taken seriously.  But how could Gans & Northcutt be right when the overwhelming evidence indicated pogonophorans were close to annelids and other protostomes?  Somehow, in an instant, I realized it could be true if pogonophorans were a connecting link.  A deluge of such evidence came to mind.  And, as I followed new, as well as some older, molecular and other evidence the connection became well supported. 

Engemann, Joseph G.  1968.  Pogonophora: the oldest living animals?  Pap. Mich. Acad. Sci., Arts, and Letters, 53:105-108.

Engemann, J. G.  1983.  Coelomate animals are monophyletic.  American Zoologist, 23(4):1008. Abstract # 753.  The Pogonophora have characteristics of both protostomes and deuterostomes and provide support for the annelid theory of origin of deuterostomes.

Understanding the extreme age of individual pogonophorans, suggested in the 1968 report above, was a result of preparing a new section on pogonophorans for the 1968 edition of Hegner and Engemann’s Invertebrate Zoology text.  It was reprinted in chapter 14 of the 1981 edition (Engemann and Hegner) which discussed the evidence making it very likely deep-sea animals typically have very extended lives and low respiratory rates.  My 1983 abstract noted above was reported shortly after Gans and Northcutt triggered my conclusion with their evidence. 

A full report of the paper was submitted to Nature.  The reviewers did not reject the paper but the editor decided not to publish it because it was not of wide enough interest.  I had given it a title suggesting pogonophorans were the protostome-deuterostome link.  He was not moved by my suggestion that a catchier title would have been “my ancestors were worms”.

Of course, there is a whole sequence of organisms from protozoans through sponges, jellyfish, flatworms, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insectivores, primates and closer relatives in our direct lineage.  But we don’t have direct ancestry through either nematodes, mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, or many other groups.  If people squirm to think some ape-like primate was in our evolutionary ancestry, how much more appropriate to squirm for a worm.

What about extreme longevity of pogonophorans?
It helps explain their slow evolutioary rate, and thus, their close molecular relationship to diverse groups of animals.

What is so important about abyssal life of pogonophorans?
The slow pace of life at great depths, due to great pressure, low food and oxygen input to the depths, paucity of life, probable absorption of fossil nutrients from sediments, and isolation from many surface extinction factors makes them living "fossil" ancestors. [Note: really old people may live to see great, great, great grand-children]

What has pressure to do with it?
It has not been demonstrated but it is obvious that reduced diffusion based metabolism is probably the missing factor in reduced community respiration noted at great depths.  I await someone making observations of reduced Brownian movement and/or diffusion of dyes at great depths.  It may be a factor in extended submersion time for deep-diving whales.  Water is ever so slightly compressed at great pressures- it may be the cause.

Could circulatory systems increase activity and decease longevity at great depths?
Perhaps.  But whales presumably shut down some less essential portions of theirs.

What about the great difference in early embryology of the groups alleged to be connected by the pogonoporans?
That has been discussed in other posts.  Also, observation of isopod development in Tasmania and Michigan gives some clues to different rates of development associated with ecological factors.  Abyssal life put a species survival premium on shifting from protostome to deuterostome development.

Joseph G. Engemann    Emeritus Professor of Biology,  Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan      December 14, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017



If you find anything I’ve written inspirational and/or of value, the credit goes to God.  I have been somewhat reluctant to extend that credit until recently for two reasons.  One, it sounded too boastful to think God had so favored me, and there are some scriptural passages that discourage excessive self-praise or taking the best seat.  And my mother had a frequent admonition that said “self-praise stinks”.  And two, I may have had self-doubts, but primarily the role God has had in my life was somewhat obscured in my mind until old habits had been well-established.

I do not know what made me so curious about things.  It might be that the early arguments with my brother helped me see that ideas I could not clearly express were as valid as his well-reasoned opinions.  The possibility that we were both wrong did not occur to me then; but sometimes, then or later, I came to the realization that we both may have been right in a limited way.  The consequence to me was that my thinking process may have been slowed down by applying too many “what ifs” to the subject at hand.

Applying alternative views when reading science research reports made me realize scientists often abandon old views prematurely when their research shows a statistically significant support for their hypothesis.  Perhaps individuals do the same thing when they understand exercise is good for their health and think they can exercise more and go back to smoking, or pigging out on sweets, or any other favorite vice.

My journey

Over seventy-five years ago on a pleasant evening I looked up at the Milky Way and with my limited knowledge of astronomy was extremely impressed with the immensity and age of the universe.  I was probably more impressed with God who had made it.  I had just been to confession and was moved that the creator of the universe was so good to me.  I am in awe of many wonders of nature, from the smallest to the largest, and especially humans.  I think it may be one reason I have been able to see evolutionary connections as part of God’s process of creation.  Jesus has said that no one knows the Father except himself and those to whom he chooses to know his Father.

I see the things others fail to see in evolution as evidence I have been granted some advantage because of my awe of God and his creation and love for all of us.  It seems to me that God has prepared me for this via some of the things I earlier viewed as misfortunes and other haphazard choices and/or events in my life.  It has not been a total “comedy of errors”, but I cannot attribute great wisdom to the haphazard direction of my life.

A neat and tidy life with thoughtful attention to career progress would not be likely to produce the eclectic bits of information and research needed to reconcile the annelid theory with the actual course of evolution.  I think Jesus knows this and has intervened to keep me going to help others see the validity of evolution and in particular, that scientists may see that belief in God is not only compatible with understanding evolution, but also may be a source of divine grace to help that understanding. 

The eureka moment of my most important contribution to science will be discussed in my next post.  The major role of asteroids, extinctions, and their interaction with deep sea ecology in determining major early events in evolution may be better appreciated by reading pertinent evolution posts in this blog.  I thought the eureka moment was to be expected in light of the peculiar collection of events in my academic/scientific life.  But I now think it was part of God’s plan for me as evidenced by a number of things.

First, a nudge to complete an evolution book that I had little accomplished toward in my first ten years of retirement.  The nudge was a diagnosis of myelodysplasia and the realization I would be lucky if I survived two years, about the time it took me to complete a first draft.  Some minor efforts to find a publisher convinced me I should put my work on an internet website.  My computer expertise had never been great in the days of punchcards, tape, and eventually disk storage of data (hurrah for thumb drives and if I could get over my fears, cloud storage). 

The second nudge, I was struggling with developing a website a few years after surgical removal of a large bladder-stone, (but no prostate ablation due to low platelet counts).  Following the worst episode of bleeding since the surgery I had a serious talk with Jesus, I let him know I was ready to die, but if he wanted me to set up an internet presence I would take a bleeding stop as the indication.  That was almost five years ago, I was able to set up this blog within a month or so, and have had no bleeding from the urogenital tract since. 

I have had serious bleeding from falls and hernia surgery, especially from the last nighttime fall a few months ago that may have been partially due to an episode of pneumonia.  So now, ten years after finding I had myelodysplasia, I am happy to see every day but starting to take them for granted.  The first day of golf in 2008 I was just soaking up the beauty of the day, spring flowers, fluffy clouds and all that I expected would be my last year.  Whenever the day comes, know that I appreciate the days I’ve had, family, friends, colleagues, and many others that have crossed my path.  And I hope that some of what I have written will benefit you.

So talk to Jesus,  He will hear you and do what is best for you.  Thank him.  Pray for others, they are his friends too.

Joseph Engemann   Kalamazoo, Michigan    December 11, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


 Jesus has been closer to me than I realized all of my life.  Unfortunately, I have not given him the recognition he deserves; and as I will be ninety late next year, if I make it, I don’t have a lot of time to make up for my omissions.  I have begun a few posts in the last few years that were almost introductory to a last post.  I have less premonition of such an event now, but the possibility of mental decline increasing made it seem like a good idea to write this now.  I may enlarge on topics in future posts, but I can’t be sure of that.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is the second identity in the one Trinitarian God who took the human nature to help bring salvation to all people that accept him.  Having become truly human he gives us reason to believe that God really understands our problems.  He sacrificed his life for us to fulfill the will of the Father (at the same time being one with Him) to wipe away our sins that seem to us an impediment to entering heaven.  God’s love is all encompassing, and God’s Holy Spirit is always urging us to improve our love for God and all humanity.

Jesus was born of the virgin, Mary.  His life as the Son of God, a human, as well as his eternal life with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is more than I can explain; but I think it is reasonable when you consider that God is an infinitely powerful, eternal being that precedes the universe and time, both of which are parts of his creation.

Jesus, the Jew.

Born into the chosen people, Jesus was trained in the scriptures and followed the Jewish law and traditions under the guidance of his family in preparation for his brief earthly role as the Messiah predicted by Isaiah and other prophets.

He castigated teachers in the temple who interpreted the law so strictly for the people but, did not act the way they taught.  Jesus summed up the law of the Old Testament as the guiding principle in the New Testament, as love of God and neighbor.

Jesus and science.

It appears that Jesus does not try to teach us principles of science.  Instead he accepts the understanding of the culture of the time and uses it to teach things he is concerned about. 
In the previous post, I mentioned the nematode worm that is wound up on a stick to extract it from the skin of an infected person.  Jesus mentions it as a symbol of the way he would die on a cross (John 3:13-15) and references it later (John 8:28 and 12:32-33); the bronze serpent had been held up by Moses (in Numbers 21:6-9) as instructed by God.  In the telling of the story the worm became a seraph serpent depicted in bronze wound around the stick, converted to the symbolic crucifix, used by Christians as a reminder of Jesus’ death and love for us.  And it is converted to a symbol of the medical professions as the caduceus, usually showing the serpent wound around a winged staff; the medical version may be showing a connection to the method of extracting the nematode, or possibly gods of Greek mythology.  [Credit for my knowing the possible connection of the parasite being the fiery serpent of the bible goes to an unknown colleague of Dr. E. B. Steen, my colleague at WMU, who told me about him nearly sixty years ago.]

The three days before the resurrection of Jesus were prefigured by Jonah’s three days in a big fish.  Whether it was literal truth, but mistaking a whale for a big fish, or myth or legend of the Paul Bunyan sort, it provided a teaching moment linking old and new in the Bible.

Science and Religion

There are numerous bits with accuracy in understanding of science common to biblical days as presented in scripture.  Variation in germination and growth of plant seed dependent on soil and determining yield, predicting weather based on clouds on the horizon, the relative permanence of a dwelling built on rock as opposed to sandy soil, as well as understanding of human behavior, are among examples enriching the teachings of Jesus recorded by his disciple’s followers as well as some apostles.

The findings of science are all tentative, i.e., capable of being falsified by new data.  Of course, laws are not expected to yield to new interpretations, whereas hypotheses change, hopefully with declining frequency as new data is obtained and interpreted.  When it comes to spiritual things, science is incapable of making valid observations to either prove or disprove spiritual matters.

The findings of religion do not appear to have clarity of method in all cases.  Because the three dominant monotheistic views differ to increasing degree as we leave discussion of God and some basic principles, we will probably never reach complete unity even though we should strive for it.  But it is difficult for those believing all scripture should be interpreted literally to believe-- the scientific view of age of the universe, or fossils; the fiction incorporated in some bible stories and parables that were used to teach moral principles; the exaggeration common to speech and scriptures during biblical times.

Can we add separation of science and religion to separation of church and state as a desirable principle?  Maybe separation of science and state too?

My personal relationship with God

It has been a journey, many others have taken it, and it is open to you.  I have no doubt that  God has been with me all my life, even when I did not cooperate.  The same is true for you, just have patience.  In the meantime, I suggest a short daily reading of scripture.  Give God a chance.  

The apostle, John, had a close relationship with Jesus, and cared for Mary after the Crucifixion.  So John had opportunity for learning about Jesus' childhood from Mary and directly observing Jesus during his ministry.  So those constructing his gospel were able to faithfully give a clearer picture of what Jesus taught.  In John 13:34-35 we learn of the new law, "love one another".  We get a clearer picture of the Holy Trinity in John 5:19-30 and 5:14-17.  The equality of men and women is perhaps best shown in John's Gospel.

My love of the gospel according to John may be attributed to the fact it was the first one we studied the first year I joined as the only graduate student, along with some faculty and townspeople, in a study group led by Dr. Joseph Druse, an English Professor at Michigan State University.

Joseph Engemann      Kalamazoo, Michigan    November 8, 2017 

Monday, October 30, 2017


Nematode worms are typically long, round, unsegmented, gradually tapered at both ends.

"Nematodes have many species with relatively little difference in body form.  Many are parasitic and it is thought that most species of vertebrates may have one or more parasitic nematode species unique to them.  Nematodes parasitize many other groups of animals and plants.  Many live in the intestines of animals.  One free-living nematode species lives in organic rich soil but can also live as a parasite in humans. Rotting organic matter in soil is not so different from the intestinal contents of some animals.  Both are rich in bacteria that the nematodes can feed upon.  Adapting to the rich soil made them somewhat "pre-adapted" to life as an intestinal parasite. This adaptation included an ability to live in environments with oxygen so limited many other animals could not survive." (from my unpublished 2010 manscript)

The similarity of structure of different species disappears when the mouth end, and often the anal end, are examined microscopically.  Three jaws are present in some.  The pharanyx may have a muscular bulb that probably helps ingestion of food without losing pressure, the body contents act as a hydrostatic skeleton.  The cuticular covering of the body is molted or shed typically several times in early development.  During the process of development portions of the chromosomal material can be ejected from the chromosomes; this is perhaps a result of selection for the small size of ancestors living among the sand grains of soils. In one species the ejection of chromatin occurs in all cells except the stem cell until the 32 cell stage.  Body cells of many achelminths other than nematodes also seem to have the loss of ability to regenerate that is thought to be a result of the reduced chromosomal material in body cell nuclei (or nuclei when tissues are syncytial).  Near constant number of nuclei or cells of the species are present in the tissues of many aschelminths.

I was reviewing some of Libbie Hyman's work on Aschelminthes (not accepted as a valid cluster by many zoologists), but unfortunately she did not have the benefit of knowing about gnathostomulids (first described in 1956) which were later.  Gnathostomulids seem to be descendents of the simple early flatworms that are not flat, but are adapted to living in sediments that are often anoxic.  Reidel, 1969, suggests the gnathostomulids can be placed in either the Platyhelminthes or the Aschelminthes.  The gastrotrichs may be the connecting link to rotifers.  Nematodes may have been the termination of a line orginating early in the cluster of achelminth groups; but they have a complete lack of cilia, a fact that makes them unlikely to have given rise to any other groups since arthropods also lack cilia but are so clearly derived from annelids that do have cilia.  Thus the lack of cilia in nematodes and arthropods is an analagous, not homologous, trait.

The reason I referred to Hyman was to find out about the adhesive glands or pedal glands, commonly paired on most ashelminths' posteriors, but absent in the gnathostomulids.  The glands are very small and difficult to see, especially in nematodes.  I did not see them in some nematodes I had watched in water on a microscope slide at low magnification, but those nematodes were clearly adhering by their tail as the writhed around.  One researcher (Chitwood) divided nematodes into two groups depending on whether they had phasmids at their posterior.  The mouth area and anal areas of nematodes show great variation in microcopic details not conducive to casual observation.

Such fine details can be a great help in identifying species and often show revealing variation suitable for showing evolutionary relationships.  The October 20, 2017, issue of Science has a research report detailing such a fact with feather-like hairs on water-strider feet.  In the case of water-striders, the details are limited to very close relatives.  In arthropods, similar microscopic comparisons can be made of structures limited to closely related species of the same genus and sometimes of different orders.

When the very small and the very large features match, relationship seems more likely.  To determine evolutionary relationships, neither can be ignored.  Over-dependence on one may lead to error and demonstrate why the novice or student may see things the specialist or teacher does not see, a relationship affecting creativity as noted by Tinbergen.

Among the larger features distinctive for nematodes, that show them as a terminal group in an evolutionary sense, are the muscle cells of the body of the intestinal parasite, Ascaris.  All are longitudinal and each passes a muscle cell process to the nerve enervating the muscle.  Other lines of evidence that the Ecdysozoa are an invalid group are indicated by some of the references appended.

Ascaris can grow to a foot long during it time in the intestine.  It has a simple life cycle with transmission of eggs, typically ingested with fecal contaminated food, hatching in the intestine and larve going through tissue and blood to the lungs where they break out and get coughed up, swallowed, and then comlete their life in the intestine.  Another nematode parasite of humans is thought to be the fiery serpent mentioned by Moses.  It has a big name, Dracunculus medinensis, and is known as the guinea worm.  The adult female can be as much as a meter long and live in the subcutaneous tissue under the skin.  The larvae are discharged through a hole in the skin and, if ingested by an aquatic microcrustacean named Cyclops, complete their larval development and, if Cyclops is ingested by a human, eventually reach their location under the skin.

The great variations in size, number of host species needed to complete life cycles, and adaption to a single or limited number of final hosts of most vertebrates, as well as many invertebrates, seems to indicate an ancient origin for nematodes.

Joseph G. Engemann    Emeritus Professor of Biology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan   October 30, 2017

REFERENCES (comments added)

Aguinaldo, Anna Marie A., James M. Turbeville, Lawrence S. Linford, Maria C. Rivera, James R. Garey, Rudolf A. Raff, and James A. Lake.  1997.  Evidence for a clade of nematodes, arthropods and other moulting animals.  Nature, 387:489-493. Unfortunately, textbooks have picked up their grouping of nematodes with arthropods and some other molting animals in a group they named Ecdysozoa; based on 18s ribosomal DNA sequences, it is inadequate to support such a group.  They even say “It was unexpected to find nematodes contained within the Ecdysozoa because in previous molecular studies they diverged deep in the protostome tree, even before the deuterostome-protostome bifurcation.”   -page 491 has discussion of unequal rates found in other nematode studies (documented and ignored) and their search for and choice of slowly evolving representatives [almost guaranteed to put an outgroup in where it doesn’t belong]

Fraser, Hunter B., Aaron E. Hirsh, Lars M. Steinmetz, Curt Sharfe, and Marcus W. Feldman.  2002.  Evolutionary rate in the protein interaction network.  Science, 296:750-752.  (26 Apr 2002)  “We show that the connectivity of well-conserved proteins in the network is negatively correlated with their rate of evolution.”  “interacting proteins evolve at similar rates.” - used “putatively orthologous sequences between Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.” 

Halanych, Kenneth M.  1996.  Testing hypotheses of chaetognath origins: long branches revealed by 18S ribosomal DNA.  Syst. Biol., 45(223-246.   Well-done study but long branches and small sample size make result of relationships beyond the nematode-chaetognath affinity somewhat dubious.

Halanych, Kenneth M., John D. Bacheller, Anna Marie A. Aguinaldo, Stephanie M. Liva, David M. Hillis, and James A. Lake.  1995.  Evidence from 18S ribosomal DNA that the lophophorates are protostome animals.  Science, 267:1641-1643.  “we propose the node-based name (16)[K. de Queiroz and J. Gauthier, Syst. Zool. 39, 307 (1990)] Lophotrochozoa, which is defined as the last common ancestor of the three traditional lophorate taxa, the mollusks, and the annelids, and all of the descendants of that common ancestor.”  Note 10 includes the following statement “Regions that could not be readily aligned were excluded from the analyses.”  Their proposal is ridiculous when all data are considered.

Halanych, Kenneth M., and Yale Passamaneck.  2001.  A brief review of metazoan phylogeny and future prospects in Hox-research.  Amer. Zool., 41:629-639.  maintain Hox gene research supports the earlier ridiculous proposals of ecdysozoans and lophotrochozoans.  Has numerous references.

Hobert, Oliver, and Gary Ruvkun.  1998.  A common theme for LIM homeobox gene function across phylogeny?  Biol. Bull., 195:377-380.  neurogenesis regulatory genes and transcription factors are very similar in vertebrates, insects, and nematodes

Hobmayer, Bert, Fabian Rentzsch, Kerstin Kuhn, Christoph M. Happel, Christoph Cramer von Laue, Petra Snyder, Ute Rothbackerm, & Thomas W. Holstein.  2000.  WNT signaling molecules act in axis formation in the diploblastic metazoan HydraNature, 407:186-189.  the WNT signaling pathway had been found in nematodes, insects and vertebrates.

Kappen, Claudia.  2000.  Analysis of a complete homeobox gene repertoire: implications for the evolution of diversity.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97:4481-4486.  used the nematode, C. elegans

Sarnat, Harvey B.  1984.  Muscle histochemistry of the planarian Dugesia tigrina (Turbellaria: Tricladida): implications in the evolution of muscle.  Trans. Am. Microsc. Soc., 103(3):284-294.  Says striated muscle is in every metazoan phylum except Porifera and adult Platyhelminthes. (oblique striations in nematodes – Rosenbuth 1965, 67  Wright 62) 

Van Auken, Kimberly, Daniel C. Weaver, Lois G. Edgar, and William B. Wood.  2000.  Caenorhabditis elegans embryonic axial patterning requires two recently discovered posterior-group Hox genes.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97:4499-4503.  “essential embryonic patterning in C. elegans requires only Hox genes of the anterior and posterior paralog groups, raising interesting questions about evolution of the medial-group genes.” Three Hox genes in the nematode

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Today's paper

A Washington Post article by Jonathan Kay, “Nobody Listened to Luther at first. That’s why he succeeded”, published in the Kalamazoo Gazette October 29, 2017, deserves reading to see an example of how momentous ideas develop.  Some similar circumstances surrounded Darwin’s ideas about natural selection.

Non-conformists may face problems

Today such factors as rapid communication and professional networks can, Kay writes, “make us more cautious, since we know that any new idea can expose us to instant censure from complete strangers in other parts of the world………. – This phenomenon goes by different names – group think, political correctness, herd mentality.  But in every form, it serves the interest of the orthodox and frustrates the heretic.” 

I sometimes feel like I am a group of one in terms of my findings.  I don’t expect to be in a group with Luther or Darwin, but I am not aware of much acceptance of what I thought were my best ideas about evolution.  I do appreciate the fact that my post about the coelom has received so many views.
An early post of mine-  has had zero page views. The post makes suggestions for solitary brainstorming that can substitute to some degree for the benefits of group brainstorming.


I have begun a draft of a post on nematodes.  It is hoped to be helpful in understanding the antiquity of their origin, far before the time the erroneous Ecdysozoa implies.  I was reviewing some of Libbie Hyman’s invertebrate volumes and will leave most related comments to the forthcoming post.  But the last two paragraphs of the post  said some of the things I might have repeated.

Christian Unity

Today, about the 500th anniversary of the event most associate with Luther’s long campaign, there is a mood that seems to have developed in recent years, of Protestants recognizing that Catholics have gotten past such blemishes as selling indulgences and killing heretics, and of Catholics thinking that Protestants have selectively departed from teachings of Jesus.  There is recognition of a common bond for many on both sides of the former divide; and if it has not been there before, that all humans are created by, and loved by, God.

Joseph Engemann      Kalamazoo, Michigan   October 29, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Economy

The blog post, “History Repeating”, that I posted in April of 2016 was copied from a journal entry I wrote in 2009.  It seems like history is still repeating in the economy, the political world, and perhaps other ways.  It seems like it is worth reading for those in the USA. 

If you want to read it you can get there by clicking the arrowhead before 2006, then April, then History Repeating.  I think you can also get there by clicking

Don’t let it depress you too much – repeating can be better than destroying.  It might be better to call it a cycle, or a day, year, or generation.  It can even make you happy when it is children or grandchildren.

If you apply natural selection theory to economic or political theory it might result in beneficial change.  It doesn't need to be as destructive as revolutionary change that people see in what Marx accomplished.  Gradual change is most likely to be both beneficial and successful.

Joe Engemann     Kalamazoo, Michigan    10/23/17

Friday, October 20, 2017



About a half-century ago I was confused by the distinction between Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism.  The "Neo" prefix had been added to designate the discoveries of Darwin enhanced by understanding of hereditary or genetic principles clarifying the principles of natural selection.  Such proliferation of terms helps the specialists introducing them but brings confusion to the generalists.

Discovery of details of pogonophoran biology provides near certainty that the abandoned annelid theory of chordate ancestry was actually correct when modified as done in numerous posts on this evolutioninsights blog.  The separation of the chordate line from protostomes via the polychaete - pogonophora - hemichordate - chephalochordaate sequence has sufficient evidence to justify abandoning the old idea that the deuterostome departure from protostomes was near the flatworm level.

Updating the annelid theory

First, the original abandonment of the annelid theory on embryological grounds was dismissed by the drastic differences between protostome and deuterostome development.  This blog (June 24, 2013 etc.) is the only source showing a plausible reason for the change via the pogonophorans.

Second, the current popular distortion of animal phyla relationships is based on faulty research described in this site's blog of May 31, 2013.  The post on Evolution: Molecular Clocks on November 25, 2014 contains numerous citations to research showing the great variations possible in studies based on molecular clocks.

Third, the input from ecological and structural studies shows the simplicity of inversion of systems to deuterostome chordates from protostome annelids via tube-dwelling polychaetes noted in Evolution of systems inversion posted June 28, 2013.  Several other June 2013 posts should also be viewed.

Fourth, the post on EVOLUTION AND THE OLDEST ANIMAL, June 13, 2014, should be a great help understanding the unique evolutionary position of the pogonophorans and their position as a very important connecting link between the two major lines of higher animals.

Updating the Tree of Life

The June 30 2013 and subsequent posts to August 3, 2013 have information about the linking of mainstream invertebrate groups as well as arthropods and mollusks.  There are many important subgroups of sponges, cnidarians, and flatworms in the mainstream.  Interesting sideshoots include ctenophores, rotifers, nematodes.  The protonemerteans are a hypothetical descendent of flatworms preceding the polychaete annelids; they represent the most uncertain guess for continuity in the protozoan to people ancestral tree.  Arthropods and mollusks probably have separate origins from polychaete annelids.

Branches from uncertain places in the tree of life include lophophrates such as bryozoans and brachiopods, and echinoderms; they may be near the pogonophorans in origin.  Chaetognathan origins are uncertain, as are the origins of a number of unsegmented worms.

Joseph Engemann, Emeritus Professor of Biology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan       October 20, 2017