DNA technology continues to refine and fill in evolutionary theory

New DNA technology is shaking up the family trees of many animals.

The thesis was that primates, to which humans belong, were once thought to be close relatives of bats because of some similarities in our skeleton (Primates: cladistic diagnosis and relationships - ScienceDirect) and brains (Flying primate hypothesis - Wikipedia).

However, DNA data now places us in a group that includes rodents (rats and mice) and rabbits.

Astonishingly, bats turn out to be more closely related to cows, [horses] (https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9402-bats-and-horses-get-strangely-chummy/) and even rhinoceroses than they are to us.

The original thinking used similarities with skeletons and brain. DNA says no that conceptual thinking of similarities is wrong.

We all say science is self correcting. The fact that DNA has challenged long term thinking in this one area should cause us to question other tenets of evolution. No?

Don’t exaggerate the extent or significance of any of this. You don’t knock a house down by rearranging the furniture.

What you are looking at is simply new evidence that refines our understanding of the fine details of evolutionary science. It does nothing whatsoever to falsify the bigger picture as a whole.


I would think that this type of correction of fine detail would have been expected, as the current DNA research tools were being developed. Finally, a possibly more precise method is available, or at least another tool for analysis, that can help clarify and correct. My impression has been that scientists welcome more tools that help them improve their understanding of the world.

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It’s pretty normal for clades to be altered a bit as new information comes in. It’s really common with plants as well. Wit the “aster” family there has been tons of movement. It’s because until we had genetics to better understand something all we could use was morphological similarities and differences. Basal forms and divergent traits. They normally finger us pretty close to the mark. But it’s not perfect since convergent evolution occurs to various degrees.

But would not the fact that it’s showing us more closely related to one thing or another be evidence that we have evolved? Why else would we be more closely related to a rodent than a bat? Which to be honest is not that crazy. But as others mentioned it’s part of the scientific methods. This happens often. Families may change up and be split or bundled. A subspecies may be turned into its own species and a individual species may turn out to be a subspecies. But changing humans and Neanderthals for example from species to subspecies of another is not problematic. Genetics are fine tuning evolution, not dismantling it.

Yes, actually the title should read, “Evolutionary Science Supported and Refined by DNA”.
Bats are weird. Maybe they really belong with dolphins, what with the echolocation and aversion to dry land.


Supporters of science tend to say that. Opponents of science tend to say, ‘A rather speculative scientific hypothesis has been disproven, therefore all of science is suspect.’ Don’t be that person.


New evidence and methods improves our understanding of evolutionary history. You think this increase in knowledge and understanding makes evolution a less trustworthy theory. That makes no sense to me.

The fact that DNA has confirmed the long term thinking and provided a better tool to the understanding of evolution should cause us to question the tenets of those who deny it.
I loved the wiki statement " Rather, many biologists resisted the implication that megabats and microbats (or echolocating bats) formed distinct branches of mammalian evolution, with flight having evolved twice.

Flying and gliding animals - Wikipedia claims flight to have evolved 4 times, but the biggest mistake biologists make is to think of bats being the biggest risk to the spread of corona virus such as SARS and MERS as being the only truly flying mammal.

( Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera .[a] With their forelimbs adapted as wings, they are the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight.)

The biggest risk to viral spread has turned out to be the flying mammal called human - having acquired this capability by supernatural evolution. But as to many the supernatural is in the realm of magic, and not real, this flying mammal is only imaginary :slight_smile:

This seems on par with claims that this or that scientific or archeological find has turned Christianity upside down.

Nothing about the basic idea, but just about some minor little detail.

Well… it is true that some of the cults have a difficult time with some of their more extravagant claims. Jesus doesn’t appear when they predict, or excessively literal treatments of the Bible does not quite match up to reality. The earth neither fixed nor like a table. The mustard seed not being the smallest of seeds. etc…

Placing bats with carnivores, ungulates, pangolins, etc. versus primates (plus tree shrews and flying lemurs) grouping with the rodent plus lagomorph group is not new. DNA analyses became common by the mid-1990’s. There are anatomical and skeletal similarities between bats and primates, not surprising in two groups of tree-climbers, but here was never strong agreement about bats being especially close to primates. The best scientific model is the one that takes into account the most different pieces of information and puts them into a coherent whole.

More generally, DNA analyses provide very good support for the general understanding of evolution that was based on anatomical, skeletal, behavioral, etc. features. Where DNA changes our ideas, often it’s possible to go back and see where there are anatomical similarities that had been overlooked. Of course, it’s possible to do a bad or inadequate DNA analysis; there is a noticeable problem of people who don’t admit the difference between “here’s my latest analysis” and “here’s the final word”.


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