Exceptions to Life Being a Product of Its Genetic Makeup

Continuing the discussion from The Extra Face in Mount Rushmore:

It sounds as though you are talking about contamination? Is that what you mean? It seems that, if this is so, the organism still gets its function from its genetics. Maybe its genetics aren’t 100% inherited due to this contamination? Is that what you are saying?

Not at all. Transcription factors (proteins and other that work together to turn DNA) can be small molecules produced or modified by organs in the body. Health is determined by these processes working working properly and can be affected by the environment or individual choices independent of genetic make up. Incorrect amounts of these molecules can cause issues. Testosterone and estrogen are examples. Vitamin d which is also a hormone is another.

Okay, so you are talking about function internal to the organism… But what we were talking about was evolution of species. So, are you suggesting that these internal functions can cause such radical changes that an organism would be changed into a new or different species?

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No. Transition to a new species is still a mystery. If a new hormone appears in a new species from where did that hormone come from if it is a small molecule that is not directly transcribed from DNA?

I very much agree it is a mystery to you @colewd. When you are ready to understand how scientists make sense of this, the conversation can be had. None of this, however, poses any challenges to understanding how species arise.


I am interested how you would support this claim.

Once again I suggest that if you were truly interested in this subject you would read Speciation by Coyne and Orr. Then perhaps you could dip into the recent literature on the subject. But I sense that you are content in ignorance.

Is there a discussion in this book on the origin of new small molecules over time?

No. But then again, that has nothing to do with speciation. I’m suspecting you have no idea what that word “speciation” means.


This post was set up about discussing small molecules that are not directly transcribed. I simply said speciation was a mystery to me. That is currently my opinion based on the limit of a description of how it occurs at the molecular level. It is however not the main subject of this thread.

No, it was set up about discussing life being a product of its genetic makeup, by which @Michael_Callen meant the origin of differences among species. Then you volunteered you knew of an exception. Apparently you misunderstood the subject, since your “exception” has nothing to do with it.

Yes, and it will remain so until you learn something about it. That’s why I directed you to Coyne and Orr.


You have made this assertion in different forms over the years without support.

Thank you for the recommendation.

Sure. Please define “speciation”.

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The process that begins with population separation, adaption and reproductive isolation. You taught me this.

Coyne’s book looks interesting and I read the introduction but the book is $90.

Sorry, I was away for a few hours… but I want to agree with John Harshman. His description of why this thread was started is spot on. It seems that, if you follow the thread from its original source, Bill, that you stated that organisms are not necessarily the product of their genetic makeup. I made that statement and you asked that I justify it. I don’t have the knowledge to articulate, but I responded by asking if you disagreed with this principle and you stated that you did, because of the exception you knew of, and that there were also likely more.

Where, then, does this leave us? Are you in agreement that an organism is the product of its genetic makeup, or do you disagree?


Ask your local library if they can get it?

As I said before I think this is mostly true but again small molecules like quantities of certain hormones can change the health of the animal independent of DNA based transcription translation. So while I think you are mostly correct in your statement there are exceptions.

I could have identical twins that could have identical genetic make up but different health profiles if one has hormone imbalance.

That’s actually better than I was expecting. I could spend some time explaining why that definition is mangled, but there’s a more important question. Whatever does that, or even actual speciation, have to do with small biological molecules that aren’t directly transcribed?

Nothing but it also does not describe the molecular changes causing speciation. It assigns an environmental cause assuming that normal reproduction will produce the result. At some point during the tree of life testosterone appeared. How would this process result in the emergence of testosterone?