I intended to write one or more posts for publication after I am gone. But the timing of that is so uncertain, as well as the uncertainty of my heirs publishing them considering the chaotic state things may be in at that time, it seemed to be sensible to do so now. The posts of this blog do not have as much documentation as is typical of most scientific literature, a fact that tends to make it viewed as possible fake news. But new ideas are difficult to publish in scientific journals protected by editors and reviewers indoctrinated in old ideas regardless of their validity. Also, truly new findings are not likely to have much closely related literature supporting the topic.
Much of what I have written is based on data in legitimate scientific journals. But in the most important ideas I have posted I have little original data of my own. For example, the important role of the pogonophorans in main-stream evolution was discovered by analysis of other people’s research, especially by indicating to me the first step of showing the extreme longevity of deep sea species. [see June 13, 2014 post, EVOLUTION AND THE OLDEST ANIMAL].
Because my peers have missed this step, they have been unable to see how the error in molecular dating has led to the non-sense descriptions of Ecdysozoa and Lophotrochozoa. [my post of May 31, 2013 provides documentation of this fact]. Extreme longevity can make a group almost unchanged, in molecular data, to the common ancestor of widely divergent groups, so molecular ancestral trees miss accurate determination of relationships.
Finding the missing link role of the little known pogonophorans
My own research on isopod crustaceans helped me understand the principles involved in the pogonophorans bridging the embryological gap between the two main lines of advanced animals. [see my post of June 24, 2013, “The protostome-deuterostome link”]. Comparable embryological observations are likely found for the same phenomena in other groups, but finding it out myself made it more useful. The embryological evidence was a minor, but satisfying, part of showing the discarded annelid theory of chordate origin should not have been discarded, but just revised. [many posts of this blog document that fact, for example, see the last five posts of June 2013]
Annelids, arthropods, and mollusks
Level of organization, systems, and a peculiar arrangement of cells (the annelid cross) had been evidence of the closeness of annelids, arthropods, and mollusks. Annelids are usually accepted as the oldest of the three groups. The discovery of Neopilina and the fossil, Acaenoplax, [ see August 3, 2013 post, Evolution of Mollusks ] helped solidify the annelid origin of mollusks. The annelid ancestry of arthropods is generally accepted.
Cnidaria: nematocyst origin
The gross structural organizational comparison suggesting a poriferan-cnidarian-flatworm sequence in those three phyla is given possible support by the connection of a spicule-nematocyst-rhabdite sequence suggested in the post “Nematocyst Origin” [ April 18, 2015 ].
Other subjects treated may provide better understanding of the factors acting in evolution by natural selection. Posts on macromolecules (5/2/2014), extinctions (3/6/2014), sperm whales (8/29/2013 and 11/4/2013), body cavities (2/27/2015) may help understanding of evolutionary processes. [The last topic includes misleading placement of pseudocoelomates between those having no body cavity and those with advanced body cavities. They are an offshoot, possibly of a common ancestor, but not a known link to advanced coelomates.]
The basis for my evolution judgments
I hope that my evolutionary findings are not viewed as anything other than good scientific thinking- data driven analysis of cause and effect. When the evidence became overwhelming for the missing link role of the pogonophorans, I probably felt no need for a rigorous search for alternative explanations when I knew existing views were incomplete or erroneous. So, my hope that this blog would help scientists know that they can at the same time believe in God is not a factor supporting my view of evolution other than, like Darwin, I believe it is a grand view of creation to believe that evolution by means of natural selection was and is God’s idea.
Joseph Engemann Emeritus Professor of Biology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 31, 2017