Saturday, May 31, 2014


The first missing picture intended to be posted with the first post on May 9 of last year (2013) is the picture below.

It was taken in 1957 in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) as I was returning from Australia.  The "snake charmer" said its fangs had been pulled so I wasn't too concerned about being bitten.  But back on the bus the driver said a lady had died from a bite from one a month earlier.  Then I remembered my herpetology professor, during work on my Master's degree at Michigan State University had told us about the fangs of snakes being replaced by others in waiting.

The anecdote may make you realize I shouldn't be taken too seriously, as I am, like most of us, prone to make mistakes and/or forget things.  Now, with my white hair and wrinkles, it doesn't bother me too much.

With all the "selfies" people are posting on their accounts, I thought maybe I would include one from about a year before the first one above.  It was in my lab in Hobart at the University of Tasmania with the Derwent River Estuary in the background.  I didn't need a fellow tourist to take it, I just used a self-timer with the camera.

It is not important to you, but I went through public schools in Ionia County, Michigan, before getting a B.A. at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan; my major was Biology, my minor was English.  When I graduated in 1950 the Korean Was was soon to begin.  I delayed job hunting until a pre-induction physical would find me ineligible for service.  But they were desperate for bodies and I was fortunate to be sent to Germany, instead of Korea, following training at Camp Pickett in Virginia.  The year in Germany was accompanied by passes and leaves in which I visited about a dozen countries.  Many of my friends from basic training were sent as replacements to units in Korea.  The only one who contacted me after the war told me he and another buddy were wounded and another he heard of was killed.

The picture above is another self-timer one taken on maneuvers in Eastern Bavaria near the Czechoslovakian border.  It shows the tents of Clearing Company, part of the 118th Medical Battalion (the approximate equivalent of a MASH unit) of the 43rd Army Infantry Division.  I was discharged later that year (1952), too late to begin graduate school, got a job in a tool and die shop and liked the work so much I delayed return to school for over a year.

Most posts to follow this one will focus on the new points of evolution that I am trying to make understandable.  Previous posts lacked needed illustrations; and a few were too technical in hopes my colleagues would make the needed connections of how to correct current misunderstandings of evolution.

Joseph G. Engemann       May 31, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014



Darwin, in his Voyage of the Beagle, laid out the theory about the formation of coral reefs, and atolls in particular, forming and only growing in shallow, warm, oceans but growing upward as land subsided or oceans rose.  His theory has largely been confirmed by evidence from boring deeply into Bikini and some other Pacific ocean coral islands.  Over a thousand feet of coral rock could be found in some locations.

I expected the growth represented generation after generation growing on top of the previous generation.  I thought some would get quite old by growing upward for a while, but I was surprised by the coral shown in the accompanying photo taken recently in the children's room of the Kalamazoo Public Library.

The photo shows skeletal part of a brain coral that appears to be growing from the middle of a similar coral underneath it.  I was  told it was donated by a local resident years ago after it had been collected in the Florida Keys region.

Below is a photo of a brain coral on the reef of Heron Island near the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.  The green wavy line next to it is the exposed mantle of a giant clam.

Corals and sponges are examples of invertebrates that could continuously grow upward as a reef sinks so that essentially the same organism remains near the surface for a very long time.  The first part and the last part would have the same genetic makeup, baring mutation, but would it still be the same individual.  It becomes a semantic problem to make a distinction.

So, what's the point?

The preceding is just an example of how organisms may almost suspend evolution.  As a result the long time between sexual generations means little chance for change as compared to most animals we know.  The one I have blogged about the most, the pogonophorans, happened to be the connecting ancestral group linking vertebrates to the protostomes.

Joseph G. Engemann        May 30, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014



The kitchen of our second house had a busy wallpaper.  If memories of it forty years ago are correct, it had a yellowish background liberally adorned with smallish nondescript flowers and foliage.  But colors of pale flowers were predominate and smaller contrasting splotches of red and a few other colors were scattered in no obvious pattern.

Staring at the widely spaced red marks it soon became apparent that they were in a geometric arrangement, perhaps a foot apart, of vertical, horizontal and diagonal rows.  After a few months of repeating the observation, probably accompanied by coffee and cookie treats, I made what to me was a remarkable discovery.

In my amazement at how the red stood out, although it was the most vividly colored mark, I may have wondered if I could find other colors in the same pattern.  Because when I looked for blue, and subsequently green and other, color patterns, the red pattern disappeared.  Each color became my focus, however I desired, and became easy to see and all, not surprisingly, conformed to the patterns previously noted for the reds.


The mind is a remarkable thing.  You don't have to do much other than think about what you want to find and you often soon find it if it is there.  If I have a word in mind I can often find it quickly on a page, a list, or a jumble.  Scanning lists of people's names, in alumni publications or other listings, can be done quite rapidly to find those you know without even thinking or looking for their particular name.

If the world is our wallpaper we can enjoy a trip through endless landscapes more enjoyably if we, like Darwin, learn to observe the rock formations, hills, streams, plants, and animals while looking for or noticing relationships of one to the others.

Searching people, friends and others, we can usually find what we are looking for in them, either good or bad.  A bad experience with them early tends to make us notice the bad.  Likewise, a good first experience tends to make us notice the good later.  The repetition can confirm the original view because we may have become blind to the other view.


God is not hiding.  Old Testament writers found him in a gentle breeze or a burning bush.  In the New Testament he variously appears as a dove, tongues of fire, and as Jesus Christ.  To us, God can be seen in his works, not as blotches on the wallpaper, but in everything good that he created.  For us, the challenge is to program our search engine to look for the good in everyone.  You can also look for one, eternal, all-powerful God's works at night when the light from the sun, reflected off the moon, took only a few minutes to reach us; the light from the nearest star, a year or so to reach us; and light from the farthest stars, uncountable years to reach us.

Alternatively, follow your conscience and as you become aware of the things God does for you, you will find God in your own experiences more convincing evidence than you could get from me telling you of my experiences.

Joseph G. Engemann      May 17, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014


Why "Hello World"

I just checked my blog settings and found I have been blogging about a year to myself.  Some brave souls managed to find it, especially in the last few months after a daughter started to comment on a few posts to friends on Facebook or Twitter.

The settings were so private that it was not listed on blogger and search engines could not see it.

What have you missed?

If your interest is evolution

- the post of May 31, 2013 has the basics of a major boo-boo made a few years earlier and perpetuated in errors supposedly showing the evolutionary relationships of animal phyla.

- read the blogs about annelids, the pogonophora, and why the annelid theory of chordate origin should be reinstated.  Perhaps start with post number four, 05/19/2013, on how cognitive dissonance entered in to my finding out why that is so.

- an efficient line of early evolution leading from protozoans to flatworms can be found in last July's posts.

If you are interested in the creation/evolution debate [in addition to the post of 07/10/15 just added]

- posts of 06/12/2013 and perhaps 03/12/2014 might be helpful.

- other posts may also help you see I think the debate is meaningless; God created the living world by a process we recognize as evolution.

Quirky and not so quirky views about God, Evolution, Creativity, Science, and other items are scattered through the posts.  They still do not have graphic illustrations.  Perhaps that deficiency will be taken care of sooner rather than later.

Joseph G. Engemann    May 12, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014



Today, both interact in regulating functions of cells and organs, but which came first?

In many cases they interact to accomplish their job.  The same thing was probably true during the evolution that brought them to the way they work.  Hormones by definition operate on cells beyond the cells where they are produced.  But so do nerve cells.  The distinction is that hormones are chemical substances produced by cells but are transported to targets by the general circulation of the blood, with an exception for certain pituitary hormones noted below; neurosecretions are produced in nerve cells and transported along the axon to close proximity to the target cell.


Two methods are known by which hormones operate. 

In both methods the hormone is delivered to the target cell by the circulatory system and diffusion to the cell surface.  Peptide type hormones typically do not enter the cell.  They bind to a receptor that extends through the outer cell membrane and cause the inner side of the receptor to function as an enzyme that converts adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).  The cAMP then activates the cell to do the function development had programmed it to do; thus the same hormone can perform different functions if particular cells with the receptors have different functions.

Steroid hormones typically have a different method of functioning.  They pass into the cell and attach to specific locations on a chromosome’s DNA.  The gene at that site is activated to produce the RNA that leaves the nucleus to interact in producing the product the gene specified.


Nerves cells can control action of cells remote from the nerve cell body.  A long process, the axon, extends from the cell body to the target cell.  Proper stimulation of the cell body causes a transient depolarization of the membrane of the axon to rapidly progress to a termination closely applied to the target cell where neurotransmitters are released at the gap to activate the target.

The neurotransmitter can be ATP or some other molecule depending on the location and function of the cells.  In a few instances actual hormones can be released into the blood and be delivered by a special blood vessel network to a portion of the pituitary as part of the complex hormonal control complementing neuronal control of pituitary and its responsibility of secreting a variety of hormones controlling many other body systems.


The Final Step

Hormones generally have longer term, slower developing effects.  Nerves typically have a rapid response.  Sensory nerves and motor nerves enervating muscles have the fastest transmission. The response produced rapidly ceases because an enzyme in the gap between nerve ending and target cell contains an enzyme that rapidly degrades the chemical transmitting the stimulus. Nerves with less voluntary control transmit slowly to organs for less instantaneous responses.

An Intermediate Step

Some sponges have cells with short processes containing inclusions which have staining properties similar to neurosecretions.  Sponges do not have any rapid responses.  Some slow changes in the large opening, where water passing through the sponge leaves, have been reported.  Perhaps the closing is beneficial to the sponge during disruptive events when debris is settling into the sponge’s cavity.  A mechanism to send the distress signal from cells at the bottom of the cavity to cells around the opening could have selective value for survival if cells responded appropriately.  Elongated cells that had improved ability to deliver the message quicker would have suitable variations progressively selected until many generations and many new species later both hormones and nerves would provide the coordination we see today.

The First Step

It seemed to me that the one-celled animals (protozoans) might have chemicals analogous to hormones that control a portion of the cell but are produced within the cell.  The DNA does something like that via the RNA it produces.  But can the DNA be controlled?

The Experiment

Thirty-plus years ago I suggested a related study for a student looking for a research project.  During my master’s thesis topic, 60 years ago, I investigated some aspects of lipid chemistry in a protozoan, Tetrahymena.  I had used a technique others had described for synchronizing the divisions of Tetrahymena cells in their growth phase.  Heat shocks prevented completion of the division phase of the nucleus so the whole population was stalled at the same division stage.  Following return to normal temperatures most divided in synchrony about a half-hour later.

By ultra-sonically disrupting cultures during post shock periods and treating cultures that were not shocked with the disrupted cultures we hoped to find an induced peak of divisions within a half-hour.  There was no certain peak, although a few dividing cells in one culture was inconclusive evidence that was never followed up with more precise focus.  So the first protozoan “hormone” is yet to be discovered.


Chemical substances released by one animal in minute quantities that produce some specific behavioral response in others of the species are called pheromones.  A rock thrown to get your attention is not considered to be a pheromone.  Sex attractants are among the most widely studied pheromones.  Alluring perfumes are not pheromones either.  But some synthetic insect pheromones have been used to attract pest insects to traps.  Their release from many points in an infested field has also been shown to disrupt the male’s search for a female and make it less likely for reproduction to be successful.

The sex attractant pheromones of a closely related group of species from one insect family were found to consist of variations of the percentage of the same two or three volatile chemicals uniquely characteristic for each species.  That suggests one way new species could arise without geographic isolation.  Once success in reproduction correlated with a variant concentration, a new strain could evolve in its own particular direction.

Among other pheromones are alarm pheromones.  Trail marking substances could be used by the ant that placed them, and/or by others of the species.  Human pheromones are not well studied.  Two reasons may be significant.  Our ability to smell is worse than that of many other animals.  And the other is our reluctance to interfere during the private moments of others.  Could some of our intuitive decisions about others be based on otherwise unperceived pheromones?  Does a baby’s smell aide bonding or otherwise affect the mother?  Or vice versa?  Lots of possible pheromone responses may yet be found.

Joseph G. Engemann         May 10, 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Whither this blog?

I’ve sketchily covered the things that were most important to do

1.  Convince scientists that it is OK, right, and proper that God is the ultimate cause.

2.  Show them that the annelids and pogonophorans are a very significant connection in the tree of life.

3.  Show them that the deep sea environment and bombardment from space had a role in selecting pogonophorans for extreme longevity (hundreds of thousands of years) and that explains the genetic link this group shows in the tree of life with very diverse younger groups, as well as the error responsible for their contrary findings.

4.  Convince creationists that the proper evidence for the method God used in creation of life was the natural selection that scientists accept, and that even the chance aspects of it reflect the will and awesome creative power of God.

5.  Do all the above by leaving a written and/or electronic (this blog?) record.

I’ve often thought I could not accomplish this during my life due to the inertia of science and the tendency of the status quo to be perpetuated.  Why rock the boat?

Some of the things still to do

Of lesser importance are the many examples of aspects of evolution that I have encountered, not only some of them on my own, but many suggested by others, and some accepted and well known by specialists.

1.   Details of the evolutionary events leading to our left brain, right brain dichotomy in function and thinking.

2.  The probable evolutionary pathway from protozoans to sponges to cnidarians to flatworms and the consequent origin and fate of nematocysts and rhabdites.

3.  The related evolution and connection of the endocrine and nervous systems, probably my next post.

Some self psychoanalytic aspects

As I’ve learned to respect myself, I’ve learned to respect others (at least I should) as having equal love from and access to God.  My inadequacies were part of my development essential to pursuing an erratic path to an unusual knowledge of evolution (that still is filled with knowledge gaps).

Even at 85 years of age and questionable health the mind is still working.  There were gaps of years along the way where it seemed nothing was happening upstairs.  But this morning while showering a new insight on early evolution of the first few animal phyla was developed.  Before I forget I’ll make a note here [It involves the fusilinids, that were enormous foraminiferan protozoans, whose calcareous skeletal parts may have been lost from early sediments due to anoxia and consequent acidification causing them to dissolve, their coexistence and interaction with sponges  and possible role of somewhat related events in hormone/nervous system origin].

Failure can be a breeding ground for success.

We can learn from almost everyone and almost everything.

Write it down, your memory is not as great as you think it is.

In all likelihood, today is neither the best, nor the worst, day in your life.  So enjoy it, it is what you have.

In answer to the first question, whither this blog, I now hope to go on to more interesting aspects of evolution related topics, after accessing the previous four blogs as being  progressively more boring.  OK, so maybe it won’t all be on evolution.  After all, I've gotten used to my family’s and friend’s eyes glazing over when I bring up the topic – evolution.

Joseph G. Engemann        May 3, 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014


Natural Selection and Macromolecules


The larger organic molecules found in living organisms are called macromolecules because of their large size.  They are primarily proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids.  Many of them function within the cells where they were formed.  But the most important or central one to biology and evolution is DNA, a nucleic acid.

The long, linear double-stranded molecules of DNA are coiled in helices of chromosomes enclosed within the nucleus of animal and plant cells.  How the purine and pyrimidine base combinations along the molecule function, to duplicate the DNA sequence and form RNA and proteins to do the work of the cell, was a mystery until the code units were first determined by Watson and Crick in the mid 1950’s.

Determining the DNA code of humans then became a major priority for geneticists and molecular biologists throughout the world.  Francis Collins was a leader among those heading the Human Genome Project, which with others determined the sequence.  Along the way of his scientific journey he made a transition from atheism to belief in God.  He describes many aspects of the journey in his 2006 book, The Language of God*.

When I read the book in 2007 I thought he had written the book I was trying to write.  He also finds evolution by means of natural selection a basically true scientific explanation.  He does a good job of refuting creationist arguments.  He does a much better job explaining the molecular side of evolution in the genetics area than I could possibly do.  If you want to know that, please read his book.  If you don’t want the details, please read the introduction and first chapter of his book.  It is great food for thought.

Macromolecules in cells

Some macromolecules have an important structural function outside of cells.  The protein, collagen, functions as a connective tissue fiber in tendons, ligaments, and separate fibers of  loose connective tissue of many animals such as ourselves.  It, and the spongin fibers in sponge tissue, are similar proteins and are the only proteins that release the amino acid hydroxyproline when hydrolyzed.  The collagen fiber networks in bone are the primary protein portion strengthening the crystallized calcium compounds of mineralized bone.

Keratin is a protein important in hair, nails, and horns of some mammals.  Chitin is a polymer of acetyl glucosamine, the structural protein of insect and other arthropod exoskeletons.

Within the cells, DNA has functions demonstrating many of the potential functions cell molecules may have.  Slight changes in function can be eliminated or incorporated in subsequent generations depending on accompanying rates of survival.

            Localization.  The DNA can keep functional parts (genes) in close association.  Then necessary interactions can be accomplished efficiently.  It provides a better opportunity for functional clusters to be passed on to offspring during reproduction.
            Retention.  They are easily retained by the cell as well as by the nucleus.
            Storage.  The information coded can be kept and then passed on to subsequent generations.  The individual’s DNA cannot be effectively built up and depleted, like carbohydrate and fat nutrient reserves, except through cell division or cell death.
            Reduced osmotic impact.  The approximately four dozen molecules of DNA in each human cell have less osmotic impact than most other major components of the fluid portion of the cell that do not readily permeate the cell membrane.
            Reduced chemical reactivity.  Relative to size, reactivity of DNA is far below that of most small organic compounds.
            Diversity.  We are each unique in our DNA, as are most species.
            Reproduction.  DNA contains the information needed to develop within a functioning cell the machinery to duplicate itself and make the other changes necessary for reproduction of the species.  The plan is there.  All it needs is a functioning organism and a favorable environment.


A variety of glitches in the mechanism for duplicating itself can rearrange one or more portions of the DNA molecule.  If it is a serious enough change the organism or the offspring getting the change may die or be incapable of reproduction.  A minor change will usually be passed on with little effect if it is a region of the DNA not active in producing necessary products.

But those changes or rearrangements of sequences may in rare instances be beneficial to survival of the offspring.  Over time, it may contribute to better reproductive and survival success and the new form will eventually replace the original form.  That is the simplified version of the development of the diverse community of species living on earth.

So what is good for survival?  Whatever works best!  A heavy fur coat if you live in the arctic, a skimpy or missing coat of fur if you live in the tropics.  A trim body may help if food is abundant and the environment is comfortable.  Abundant fat may help you survive if you face long winters or times without food.  Migrate to another environment and your offspring will eventually be quite different from those that didn’t migrate.

The story of evolution is in the DNA.  But it is often easier to find the story in conjunction with the details of the organisms when the intermediate forms are extinct.

*Collins, Francis S.  2006. The Language of God – A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.  Free Press, New York.  294 pp.

Joseph G. Engemann        May 2, 2014