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Scruffy little weed shows Darwin was right as evolution moves on
Times Online | 2003-02-20 | Anthony Browne, Environment Editor

Posted on 02/20/2003 2:30:45 PM PST by Junior

IT STARTED with a biologist sitting on a grassy river bank in York, eating a sandwich. It ended in the discovery of a “scruffy little weed with no distinguishing features” that is the first new species to have been naturally created in Britain for more than 50 years.

The discovery of the York groundsel shows that species are created as well as made extinct, and that Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong. But the fragile existence of the species could soon be ended by the weedkillers of York City Council’s gardeners.

Richard Abbott, a plant evolutionary biologist from St Andrews University, has discovered “evolution in action” after noticing the lone, strange-looking and uncatalogued plant in wasteland next to the York railway station car park in 1979. He did not realise its significance and paid little attention. But in 1991 he returned to York, ate his sandwich and noticed that the plant had spread.

Yesterday, Dr Abbott published extensive research proving with DNA analysis that it is the first new species to have evolved naturally in Britain in the past 50 years.

“I’ve been a plant evolutionary biologist all my life, but you don’t think you’ll come across the origin of a new species in your lifetime. We’ve caught the species as it has originated — it is very satisfying,” he told the Times. “At a time in Earth’s history when animal and plant species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate, the discovery of the origin of a new plant species in Britain calls for a celebration.”

The creation of new species can takes thousands of years, making it too slow for science to detect. But the York groundsel is a natural hybrid between the common groundsel and the Oxford ragwort, which was introduced to Britain from Sicily 300 years ago. Hybrids are normally sterile, and cannot breed and die out.

But Dr Abbott’s research, published in the journal of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, shows that the York Groundsel is a genetic mutant that can breed, but not with any other species, including its parent species. It thus fits the scientific definition of a separate species.

“It is a very rare event — it is only known to have happened five times in the last hundred years” Dr Abbott said. It has happened twice before in the UK — the Spartina anglica was discovered in Southampton 100 years ago, and the Welsh groundsel, discovered in 1948.

The weed sets seed three months after germinating and has little yellow flowers. The species, which came into existance about 30 years ago, has been called Senecio eboracensis, after Eboracum, the Roman name for York. According to the research, it has now spread to spread to several sites around York, but only ever as a weed on disturbed ground.

However, more than 90 per cent of species that have lived subsequently become extinct, and its future is by no means certain.

“It is important for it to build up its numbers rapidly, or it could get rubbed out — which would be sad. The biggest threat to the new species is the weedkillers from the council,” Dr Abbott said.

However, he does not plan to start a planting programme to ensure his discovery lives on. “The next few years will be critical as to whether it becomes an established part of the British flora or a temporary curiosity. But we will let nature take its course,” he said.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: crevo; crevolist
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1 posted on 02/20/2003 2:30:45 PM PST by Junior
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To: Aric2000; balrog666; Condorman; *crevo_list; donh; general_re; Godel; Gumlegs; Ichneumon; jennyp; ..
The URL (which I forgot) is http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-584528,00.html
2 posted on 02/20/2003 2:31:38 PM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
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To: Junior
Put that in your pipe and...oh, never mind! :)
3 posted on 02/20/2003 2:37:49 PM PST by mallardx
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To: Junior; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro; general_re; longshadow; js1138
This should be an interesting thread!
4 posted on 02/20/2003 2:38:01 PM PST by balrog666 (When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain)
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To: Junior
A friggin' weed?

Oh no! We're evolving the wrong way!!

5 posted on 02/20/2003 2:40:27 PM PST by dead
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To: Junior
The discovery of the York groundsel shows that species are created as well as made extinct, and that Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong.

Discovery of a new weed proves that human beings weren't created? Uh huh... Sure.

6 posted on 02/20/2003 2:42:17 PM PST by SunStar (Democrats Piss Me Off !!)
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To: Junior
the York groundsel is a natural hybrid between the common groundsel and the Oxford ragwort

Charles Darwin would have been the first to say that this has nothing to do with his Theory of Evolution.

The Theory of Evolution posits the gradual transformation of one species into another owing to the "survival of the fittest." If the analysis is correct, this is an instance of a hybrid of two species that unusually proved to be fertile.

It actually accords better with Medieval science, which posited creatures such as the gryphon, a cross between an eagle and a lion, than with the Theory of Evolution. In itself, it neither proves nor disproves the T of E.

7 posted on 02/20/2003 2:43:12 PM PST by Cicero
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To: Cicero
Nope. The theory of evolution deals with organisms changing over generations. Daughter species may arise from parent species through these changes, but the parent species may still exist -- one species does not evolve into another, but the other species does evolved from the first. There is a difference. And it may not happen gradually (in geological time); indeed rapid speciation may take part after particularly nasty environmental disasters.
8 posted on 02/20/2003 2:46:24 PM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
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To: Junior
Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong...

I don't recall Creationism addressing what's happening now, only what happened then.

This dolt thinks he has proven what happened then by a single data point from now. That would take a much larger "leap of faith" than believing in God ever has.

9 posted on 02/20/2003 2:46:54 PM PST by Onelifetogive
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To: Junior
New species? Impossible. Everyone knows that man's nefarious activity has reduced biodiversity. Species can only be rendered extinct, no new ones can come into existence!
10 posted on 02/20/2003 2:46:59 PM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: balrog666
You're right. This is most definitely going to get interesting...
11 posted on 02/20/2003 2:48:25 PM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
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To: Junior
"It ended in the discovery of a “scruffy little weed"

That came from some other scruffy little weed, not a marigold, not a mum, not an oak tree. A weed came from a weed. Big deal.

12 posted on 02/20/2003 2:48:52 PM PST by MEGoody
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To: Junior
If this weed was in the US, I'd say kill it before it is added to the endangered species list! ;-)
13 posted on 02/20/2003 2:49:30 PM PST by StriperSniper (Frogs are for gigging)
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To: Cicero
Another nail in the coffin of God and the creationism hoax .. .. .. I'm beginning to wither // melt !
14 posted on 02/20/2003 2:49:42 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God *IS* Truth -- love * faith *// trust * *logic* -- *SANITY* Awakening + ))
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To: Junior; Jael
A weed changed into ... a weed - and this is supposed to confirm that weeds and worms, walruses and whales and women & men all came from a common amoeba?

Tune in next week when a foraminifera evolves into ... a foraminifera! Coming soon - a sparrow evolves into ... a sparrow! That proves forams and birds have a common ancestor with apes and college professors!
15 posted on 02/20/2003 2:53:01 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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To: Cicero
Charles Darwin would have been the first to say that this has nothing to do with his Theory of Evolution.

You're right. A hybrid weed isn't exactly proof of evo any more than a mule is.

“At a time in Earth’s history when animal and plant species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate, the discovery of the origin of a new plant species in Britain calls for a celebration.” The creation of new species can takes thousands of years, making it too slow for science to detect.

The above statement is itself a problem for evolution: If species are dying out at an alarming rate (which was as true 200 years ago as it is now) and new ones take thousands of years, is this not evidence that things are devolving?

16 posted on 02/20/2003 2:55:08 PM PST by Dataman
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To: StriperSniper
<< If this weed was in the US, I'd say kill it before it is added to the endangered species list! ;-) >>

Well, they found too many of those blasted spotted owls to keep them on the endangered list, so they gotta do SOMETHING!
17 posted on 02/20/2003 2:56:33 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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To: Con X-Poser
As usual, you completely miss the point. Of course a weed species has, for its immediate ancestor, another weed species. Only creationists think whole new styles of critter spring full blown. You just keep on using your strawman version of evolution to argue against, and folks who know what they are talking about will continue to laugh at you and consider you thick.
18 posted on 02/20/2003 2:56:43 PM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
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To: Junior
Come see me when it establishes its own new phylum. Then we are talking evolution. Once again we confuse variations (micro-evolution) with macroevolution. Yawn.
19 posted on 02/20/2003 2:57:53 PM PST by CalConservative
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To: Junior
Oh great....more liberal puke in an attempt at giving evolution credibility.

So no-one noticed this little weed - that suddenly makes it a newly evolved species? Yeah - right.
20 posted on 02/20/2003 2:58:02 PM PST by TheBattman
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To: Junior
So now hybrids are evolution in action? What about random mutation and natural selection?
21 posted on 02/20/2003 2:58:14 PM PST by AndrewC
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To: Con X-Poser
The article seems to be self-refuting. Such silliness. I suppose this is the 110,000th proof of evolution. What will it be tomorrow?

Post-modernists are so anemic in the rational dept. that I almost wish for the good old days of plain modernism.

22 posted on 02/20/2003 2:58:55 PM PST by Dataman
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To: CalConservative
And where is the line between microevolution and macroevolution? Is there a magic cutoff switch that keeps those small changes from adding up into a big change? How does the fin know when to stop changing into a leg? Inquiring minds want to know. Evidently you do, so let's have it.
23 posted on 02/20/2003 3:00:07 PM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
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To: AndrewC
Speciation is speciation.
24 posted on 02/20/2003 3:00:59 PM PST by Junior (I want my, I want my, I want my chimpanzees)
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To: VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; *crevo_list; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
Sorry of some of you were already pinged by Junior.

[This ping list is for the evolution -- not creationism -- side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. To be added (or dropped), let me know via freepmail.]

25 posted on 02/20/2003 3:01:50 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: Junior; All
<< Only creationists think whole new styles of critter spring full blown. You just keep on using your strawman version of evolution to argue against, >>

No, creationists don't think ANY critter has sprung full blown since the garden of Eden.It's been just varieties of them (like your weed) since then. That's all we've ever observed. That's all that can be determined by SCIENCE.

Variation is allowed for in the genes of the creature. Evolution into other kinds of creatures isn't. A sea-horse will not become a race-horse, no matter how many million years you wait. It will not become a half-and-half horse either.

You are the one with the straw man - ASSUMING that because a weed can show variation into a weed, that means it can eventually become a praying mantis, or a mouse, or a monkey, or a man. That's like assuming because a person grows from 18" to six feet by the time he's 16, that he will grow to 10 or 12 feet tall by the time he's 40.
27 posted on 02/20/2003 3:06:37 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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To: All
A very few links from the famous "list-o-links" (so the creationists don't get to start each new thread from ground zero).

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense. From Scientific American
Arguments we think creationists should NOT use from Answers in Genesis.
300 Creationist Lies.
Site that debunks virtually all of creationism's fallacies. Excellent resource.
Creation "Science" Debunked.

The foregoing is just a tiny sample. So that everyone will have access to the accumulated Creationism vs. Evolution threads which have previously appeared on FreeRepublic, plus links to hundreds of sites with a vast amount of information on this topic, here's Junior's massive work, available for all to review:
The Ultimate Creation vs. Evolution Resource [ver 20].

28 posted on 02/20/2003 3:06:54 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: MEGoody
Ah. So "weed" is a "kind"? Dandelions and kudzu are both weeds. Are they the same species or not?
29 posted on 02/20/2003 3:10:50 PM PST by Condorman (A rose in a banana forest is, after all, only a weed.)
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To: Junior
<< And where is the line between microevolution and macroevolution? Is there a magic cutoff switch that keeps those small changes from adding up into a big change? >>

Yeah, the genes of the creature.

<< How does the fin know when to stop changing into a leg? Inquiring minds want to know. Evidently you do, so let's have it. >>

Fins don't evolve into legs. You should have learned that when the coelecanth was rediscovered and what were thought to be transitional fin/legs turned out to still be 100% fins, supposedly 65 million years later.

Next you'll propose that sexual claspers on whales are vestigial legs. At least your line won't reproduce if you can't tell the difference in that area.
30 posted on 02/20/2003 3:12:05 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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To: Junior
Speciation is speciation.

Yes, as we all know, any just-so story that can be used to support Darwininianism is a good story although it really means nothing.

31 posted on 02/20/2003 3:12:34 PM PST by AndrewC
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To: Con X-Poser
"A sea-horse will not become a race-horse, no matter how many million years you wait."

Well, what about a dodo bird? Can it become a pigeon?

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/02/0227_0228_dodo.html
32 posted on 02/20/2003 3:16:51 PM PST by walkingdead (easy, you just don't lead 'em as much....)
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To: Junior
<< Richard Abbott, a plant evolutionary biologist from St Andrews University, has discovered “evolution in action” after noticing the lone, strange-looking and uncatalogued plant in wasteland next to the York railway station car park in 1979. He did not realise its significance and paid little attention. But in 1991 he returned to York, ate his sandwich and noticed that the plant had spread. >>

He *noticed* it in 1979. That proves it didn't exist all along? Like noticing gorillas, pandas, and platypuses just before 1900 proves they didn't exist prior to then?

<< But the York groundsel is a natural hybrid between the common groundsel and the Oxford ragwort, which was introduced to Britain from Sicily 300 years ago. >>

So it has been around before.That's evidence for evolution? Someone is really DESPERATE to prove a false theory.

33 posted on 02/20/2003 3:19:01 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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To: f.Christian
You're giving me a headache.

(And I even agree with you..!)

34 posted on 02/20/2003 3:20:04 PM PST by Jhoffa_ (Jhoffa_X)
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To: Junior
Here's the website for the discoverer of the weed: Dr. Richard Abbott.
35 posted on 02/20/2003 3:21:29 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: walkingdead
Hi everyone . . .

I am f.Christian - - -

a falling down recovering evolutionist // liberal // globalist - - -

not any more since . . . FR saved me (( link ))=== now I hate the stuff // lies ! !

36 posted on 02/20/2003 3:21:59 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God *IS* Truth -- love * SCIENCE* // trust -- *logic* -- *SANITY* Awakening + ))
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To: walkingdead
<< Well, what about a dodo bird? Can it become a pigeon? >>

A bird evolving into ... a bird! Now we're getting somewhere. In our next episode we'll have a fish evolve into ... a fish!
37 posted on 02/20/2003 3:22:36 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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To: Con X-Poser
A bird evolving into ... a bird! Now we're getting somewhere. In our next episode we'll have a fish evolve into ... a fish!

You're not making any sense dude. Birds are all one species? Fish are all one species?

38 posted on 02/20/2003 3:27:23 PM PST by laredo44
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To: Jhoffa_
``I was a communist for 30 years ...

and I listened to so much of this . . . demagoguery (( link )) - - -

that now, with my democratic views, I can no longer stand it,'' Itar-Tass news agency

39 posted on 02/20/2003 3:27:35 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God *IS* Truth -- love * SCIENCE* // trust -- *logic* -- *SANITY* Awakening + ))
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To: All
First off, this weed could be or could not be a new species. Maybe it was there all along, maybe not.

But the question I pose is what about human wisdom teeth. Aren't these remenants of a long ago needed human trait? If so, isn't the fact that we don't need them now sort of prove evolution. Environment/need driving change in the body/organism to make it more effecient?

Now, for my short disclaimer for FR. I don't pretend to know exactly where everything we see came from. Perhaps some "God" did start it all, but if so, science is just uncovering how it was done. Just my 1/2 cent after taxes....


40 posted on 02/20/2003 3:28:25 PM PST by walkingdead (easy, you just don't lead 'em as much....)
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To: f.Christian
Again, I think we agree..

But I have no idea what leads me to that conclusion..

I guess it's just faith in your good nature. Because it's certainly not the argument you have presented.

41 posted on 02/20/2003 3:29:50 PM PST by Jhoffa_ (Jhoffa_X)
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To: Con X-Poser
And how is that a stretch. Isn't something that lives in water but doesn't swim (organism maybe), but evolves to where it can swim evolution?

Oh and for the sea monkeys, if they had no place to go but land or death, they'd become race horses sooner or later. Or they'd be dead.... extinct!
42 posted on 02/20/2003 3:32:09 PM PST by walkingdead (easy, you just don't lead 'em as much....)
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To: Con X-Poser
A bird evolving into ... a bird! Now we're getting somewhere. In our next episode we'll have a fish evolve into ... a fish!

How about a primate into a primate-- like, say, a chimpanzee into a human?

43 posted on 02/20/2003 3:32:46 PM PST by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Jhoffa_; Busywhiskers
bw ...

religious holiday for the god (little g) of Darwin worshippers. ---

It would be sort of like Kwanza for "scientist".


278 posted on 02/14/2003 8:35 PM PST by Busywhiskers

44 posted on 02/20/2003 3:33:46 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God *IS* Truth -- love * SCIENCE* // trust -- *logic* -- *SANITY* Awakening + ))
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To: laredo44; f.Christian
To: Con X-Poser A bird evolving into ... a bird! Now we're getting somewhere. In our next episode we'll have a fish evolve into ... a fish! You're not making any sense dude. Birds are all one species? Fish are all one species? 38 posted on 02/20/2003 3:27 PM PST by laredo44

Now, a squid turning into monkey would be a real story!

45 posted on 02/20/2003 3:35:19 PM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: Jhoffa_
Headache ? ? ?

Imagine how I feel ! ! !

Evolution (( overlords )) is -- full on -- brainwashing (( redacting // deleting -- HATING God -- conservatism )) and . . .

indoctrinating // programming LIBERALISM -- LOVING LEFTIST lies // bias -- all through America // society ! ! !

All unashamedly on the FR too ==== "fraud // corruption" ==== UNADULTERED tyranny // blasphemy -- slavery !

Aids of the soul (( MIND )) // society === America !

46 posted on 02/20/2003 3:36:54 PM PST by f.Christian (( + God *IS* Truth -- love * SCIENCE* // trust -- *logic* -- *SANITY* Awakening + ))
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To: f.Christian
I keep waiting for a subliminal message to come out of one of your posts....... are you trying to brainwash me, they look sort of like coded messages.... :^)
47 posted on 02/20/2003 3:38:36 PM PST by walkingdead (easy, you just don't lead 'em as much....)
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Now, a squid turning into monkey would be a real story!

Indeed it would. But how does that fit into this discussion?

48 posted on 02/20/2003 3:39:00 PM PST by laredo44
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To: laredo44
"Indeed it would. But how does that fit into this discussion?" Because we all know that evolution can never be proved until you see you neighbor turn into a '68 Chevy, and your dog wake up one day a gay prostitute in S.F.
49 posted on 02/20/2003 3:41:22 PM PST by walkingdead (easy, you just don't lead 'em as much....)
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To: laredo44
<< You're not making any sense dude. Birds are all one species? Fish are all one species? >>

I think the problem is that it makes too much sense. Birds (and fish) could easily all be the same kind of creature, just like dogs are.

But even if there is more than one kind of bird, some DNA similarity doesn't prove a dodo evolved into a pidgeon. They may both be variations of the same bird, in which case, they are both birds - the same kind of creature.
50 posted on 02/20/2003 3:43:57 PM PST by Con X-Poser
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