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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
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Claim CB822:

According to the theory of evolution, life evolved with different forms branching from a common ancestor. Recent scientific work contradicts this expectation. Molecular data indicate that the tree of life should be uprooted and discredits the homology concept.


Yahya, Harun, 2003. Darwinism Refuted, The myth of homology.


  1. The claim refers to results that indicate that horizontal gene transfer was common in the very earliest life. In other words, genetic information was not inherited only from one's immediate ancestor; some was obtained from entirely different organisms, too. As a result, the tree of life does not stem from a single trunk but from a reticulated collection of stems (Woese 2000). This does not invalidate the theory of evolution, though. It says only that another mechanism of heredity was once more common.

  2. Horizontal gene transfer does not invalidate phylogenetics. Horizontal gene transfer is not a major factor affecting modern life, including all macroscopic life: "Although HGT does occur with important evolutionary consequences, classical Darwinian lineages seem to be the dominant mode of evolution for modern organisms" (Kurland et al. 2003, 9658; see also Daubin et al. 2003). And it is still possible to compute phylogenies while taking horizontal gene transfer into account (Kim and Salisbury 2001).


Tamzek, Nic. 2002. Icon of obfuscation.


  1. Daubin, V., N. A. Moran and H. Ochman. 2003. Phylogenetics and the cohesion of bacterial genomes. Science 301: 829-832. See also: Pennisi, E., 2003. Passages found through labyrinth of bacterial evolution. Science 301: 745-746.
  2. Kim, Junhyong and Benjamin A. Salisbury. 2001. A tree obscured by vines: Horizontal gene transfer and the median tree method of estimating species phylogeny. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing 6: 571-582.
  3. Kurland, C. G., B. Canback and Otto G. Berg. 2003. Horizontal gene transfer: A critical view. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 100: 9658-9662.
  4. Woese, Carl R. 2000. Interpreting the universal phylogenetic tree. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 97(15): 8392-8396

Further Reading:

Doolittle, W. F. 2000. Uprooting the tree of life. Scientific American 282: 90-95.

Woese, Carl. 1998. The universal ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 95: 6854-6859, (technical).
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created 2003-8-7, modified 2005-6-18