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Pitt professor contends biological underpinnings

PITTSBURGH -- Jeffrey H. Schwartz, University of Pittsburgh professor of anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences, is working to debunk a major tenet of Darwinian evolution. Schwartz believes that evolutionary changes occur suddenly as opposed to the Darwinian model of evolution, which is characterized by gradual and constant change. Among other scientific observations, gaps in the fossil record could bolster Schwartz's theory because, for Schwartz, there is no "missing link."

In an examination that further challenges the Darwinian model, Schwartz and cowriter Bruno Maresca, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Salerno, Italy, examine the history and development of what the writers dub the "Molecular Assumption" (MA) in the article "Do Molecular Clocks Run at All? A Critique of Molecular Systematics," to be published in the Feb. 9 issue of Biological Theory.

The MA became a veritable scientific theory when, in 1962, biochemists Emil Zuckerkandl and Linus Pauling demonstrated species similarity through utilizing immunological activity between the blood's serum and a constructed antiserum. Upon observing the intensity of the serum and antiserum reactivity between human, gorilla, horse, chicken, and fish blood, Zuckerkandl and Pauling deduced "special relatedness"the more intense the reaction, the more closely related the species were supposed to be.

Fish blood was most dissimilar, so it was assumed that the fish line diverged long before the other species. Human and gorilla blood were the most similar, meaning both species had the least amount of time to diverge. Ultimately, the Darwinian model of constant evolutionary change was imposed upon the static observation made by Zuckerkandl and Pauling.

To date, the scientific community has accepted the MA as a scientific truth. It is this assumption, which Schwartz is contemplating: "That always struck me as being a very odd thingthat this model of constant c
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Contact: Patricia Lomando White
laer@pitt.edu
412-624-9101
University of Pittsburgh
9-Feb-2007


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