A comic about life, love, death, and punctuation, in about three colors.
The findings of the recently decodedplatypus genome are being consistentlyconfused and misreported bysubstandard news outlets like USAToday and Yahoo, implying amongother things the platypus hasgenes inherited from birds. This isasinine for a number of reasons, notthe least of which being the commonancestor of birds and mammalsexisted some 150 million yearsbefore proper birds evolved. While it is true both platypuses and birds enjoy the gene vitellogenin,responsible for the eponymous egg yolk precursor protein, this geneis also common in fish (et al), which is suggestive only of the obvious:tetrapods inherited this gene from their common fishy ancestor. * Looking for the punch? Try your face. There's nothing funny about misinformation.

Platypus 2

2008-05-26

The fact it took a comic to clear up this point is frightening, to say the least. It certainly doesn’t speak very highly of the state of journalism. Even the article published in Nature had its share of jumbled mootness:

[That the platypus also has this gene] suggests that vitellogenins, which are found in birds and fish, predate the split from the sauropsids, although the platypus retains only one vitellogenin gene, whereas the chicken has three.

You know what else is suggestive of the gene predating the split from sauropsids? The fact it exists in fucking fish! In fact, this suggests the gene evolved before the invention of fur and feathers and land vertebrates of any kind! Furthermore (and unmentioned in this and other articles) vitellogenin is also common in insects, which effectively buries its evolution way back in the goddamn Precambrian!

Besides which, the fact the platypus has the gene at all should not come as much of a surprise. Mammals, including humans, contain pseudogene variants of vitellogenin. Being that platypuses still lay eggs, it makes sense they’d still have use for the unmodified version.

Is it any wonder such a startlingly high percentage of Americans don’t believe in evolution? Speaking of which, I can’t seem to find any mention of Australia in the Bible. Did Noah make a drive by to rescue the platypus from God’s wrath, or did they just pass through a forty-day oceanic phase?

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  1. Platypus 1
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