New study: parrots have similar brain mechanisms to humans

A cockatoo uses a little tool he made to reach a snack
A cockatoo uses a little tool he made to reach a snack

OK, it’s a fun Friday post. I guess most of my readers know that I love almost all the birds, and especially parrots. I have owned parrots most of my life, and want to get more, too. I also like to feed the wild birds who come to visit my house. One reason I like them so much is that they are very intelligent and obviously designed by a very clever engineer.

First, let me explain what convergence is, then we’ll look at a recent peer-reviewed scientific publication.

We have to start this Science Daily post with the definition of convergence in biology.

In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.

It is the opposite of divergent evolution, where related species evolve different traits.

On a molecular level, this can happen due to random mutation unrelated to adaptive changes; see long branch attraction. In cultural evolution, convergent evolution is the development of similar cultural adaptations to similar environmental conditions by different peoples with different ancestral cultures. An example of convergent evolution is the similar nature of the flight/wings of insects, birds, pterosaurs, and bats.

All four serve the same function and are similar in structure, but each evolved independently.

So, naturalists say that if two organisms have traits that are similar, it must mean that the trait evolved once in their ancestors, and then the modern species inherited the trait from those ancestors. If evolution is true, the only mechanism they have to develop traits shared by two organisms is mutation and selection. The problems occur when two organisms share similar traits, but they have no recent common ancestor, and no recent shared evolutionary history of mutation and selection.

Here’s the latest study from the New Scientist:

To learn more how these birds’ brains develop, Mello and his team compared the genome of the blue-fronted Amazon parrot with that of 30 other birds. They found that regions of the parrot genome that regulate when and how genes for brain development are turned on are the same as those found in humans. These so-called ultra-conserved elements evolved in both species at different times, but with similar results.

Well, parrots and humans are completely different creatures, with no recent evolutionary history, and no recent common ancestors. So, if these changes are due to evolution, then we should see them in the very very very distance common ancestor shared by birds and humans. But then shouldn’t they be in all the other animals who descend from that very very very distant common ancestor to?

Watch this:

I’ll tell you what the real explanation is: the real explanation is that God created birds and humans. And, like a clever engineer, he re-used components that produced the behavior he wanted in his birds and his humans. We know how this works, because this is how intelligent agents write code today. Why do we need a naturalistic theory that requires magic to work, when we have a simple explanation that we can  observe every time someone writes a blog post, or some code, or anything with information in it?

Anyway, however you feel about that, try to be kind to birds, as they are much smarter and more sensitive than most people think. Put out some bird feeders in the yard, if you don’t have an outdoor cat. And if you do have a cat, then why not put a bell on it, or keep it indoors?

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9 thoughts on “New study: parrots have similar brain mechanisms to humans”

  1. So, naturalists say that if two organisms have traits that are similar, it must mean that the trait evolved once in their ancestors, and then the modern species inherited the trait from those ancestors.. This is called “convergence”.

    Unless I’m straight up kooky dukes, that’s not at all what your quote explained as being “convergence.” Convergence is when two species developed similar traits *independently* of each other. That means they do NOT share a common distant ancestor who had that same trait.

    So, if these changes are due to evolution, then we should see them in the very very very distance common ancestor shared by birds and humans.

    No, we shouldn’t. I think you are missing something. Look again how how convergent evolution is explained in the article you’re quoting.

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    1. OK, I removed convergence from my description of divergent evolution.

      Evolutionists have to attribute identical features in organisms to sharing a common ancestor, because they do not have the resources of reuse of code by an intelligent agent. “Convergence” makes sense if there is a common designer, but it makes no sense on an evolutionary view. It’s labeling a phenomena for which they have no explanation.

      The problem is getting worse because we keep discovering convergence everywhere among different animal groups that do not share a recent common ancestor. In the cases of convergence I mention in my post, there is no chain of recent common ancestors between the organisms that share the trait.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Molecular convergence disproves evolutionary theory because of the waiting time problem, and here’s how: Both creationists and their critics have pointed out that it takes a long time for a specific mutation to appear and go to fixation in a population of complex animals. Evolutionists point out that while this may be true, they speculate there are millions of possible beneficial paths for evolution to take. Even though one particular path is very rare, the odds that evolution would take any among those paths wold be very high.

      Enter molecular convergence. When two species need to independently evolve along the same molecular path, we’re back to the original waiting time problem. As the songbird researchers state:

      “The fact that convergent neural circuits for vocal learning are accompanied by convergent molecular changes of multiple genes in species separated by millions of years from a common ancestor indicates that brain circuits for complex traits may have limited ways in which they could have evolved from a common ancestor.”[1]

      So back to the waiting time problem. How bad is it? From another research paper:

      “We next tested the effect of string length on waiting time, using the same generous parameter settings that were described above (10 % beneficial fitness effect, full dominance, no other genetic variants in the genome). Because the actual mutation rate per nucleotide is so very low, we see that even changing a specific single nucleotide to a specific alternative (beneficial) nucleotide required a problematic waiting time (see Discussion). The average waiting time for the fixation of such a “string of one” was 1.53 million years.”[2]

      This means that even if we assume full dominance and an extremely generous +10% fitness effect of every single mutation that builds these systems, it’s still going to take about 1.5 million years for each nucleotide mutation. If anything along this path requires two simultaneous mutations before a non-negligible fitness gain is realized, the waiting balloons to 84 million years (see table 2 in prev ref).

      How many nucleotides of convergence do songbirds and humans share?

      “We were able to identify analogous brain regions for song and speech between birds and humans, and broader homologous brain regions in which these specialized song and speech regions are located, for tens to hundreds of genes (depending on the level in the anatomical tree) out of thousands of genes, and for vocal-learning regions are supported by lack of such findings in vocal-nonlearning birds and primates.”[1]

      I tried to open the supplemental materials to find the number of shared nucleotides among these genes, but Excel said the file was corrupt. Regardless that’s significantly more than what evolution should allow for, and that’s assuming this is the only convergence in the human genome that’d need to evolve (it’s not).

      1. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/346/6215/1256846
      2. https://tbiomed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12976-015-0016-z

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is descended from a parrot. Just look at the evidence:
      1. She has a screechy voice
      2. And yet she can mimic a human voice
      3. She can’t think for herself, but only repeats what she has first heard others say
      4. And finally, she obviously has an IQ no higher than room temperature.
      Of course, comparing AOC to a parrot is probably an insult to the parrots, and if so I apologize. Maybe she’s an example of Darwinism in reverse…

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  2. Reblogged this on Free Matt Podcasts and commented:
    Interesting post that lends to my idea that there is a joining of environmental adaptation and intelligent design theories. Is science God’s voice? We have little to no idea but He that has the Grand Power does.

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  3. It does show how their stories of origins are pretty much still Darwinian folklore.
    You pull out convergent and divergent evolution depending on which you have to use to justify evidence.
    Much like things change slowly, unless of course when they change rapidly.
    Things always evolve expect for thing that are pretty much unchanged for hundreds of millions of years.
    When you get to anything past the historical record of writing almost anything can overturn all that we are supposed to know.
    I just say to remember that in many fields with sketchy evidence people want to be the first to find something. And to get more research glory and funding.
    As a Christian I can sit back and laugh because I have no vested interest in the outcome. I can modify easily as actual science catches up to our supposed beliefs.

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  4. It appears that God designed cats to hunt and eat birds. It doesn’t feel right to deprive them of their God given purpose.

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