First, a quick note to those reading from a feed: the first post about the Universal Genome was accidentally published before it was ready. As a result, the version you saw in your reader or e-mail contained unfinished sentences and other confusing flaws. Please click here to read the correctly edited version.
That post contained my first impressions of UG. Now I have looked at the paper in Cell Cycle, and I have questions about its scientific value.
I have written and rewritten and unwritten portions of this post, trying to decide what to say about this paper. I researched the journal, which is a relatively new but bona fide biology journal. I searched for other mentions of "Universal Genome" but, except for an Intelligent Design blog or two crowing about this paper, it seems not to have appeared anywhere.
What it boils down to is this: I cannot understand how it passed peer review. There is no place in the theory of evolution for the following statements from the abstract:
(a) the Universal Genome that encodes all major developmental programs essential for various phyla of Metazoa emerged in a unicellular or a primitive multicellular organism shortly before the Cambrian period; (b) The Metazoan phyla, all having similar genomes, are nonetheless so distinct because they utilize specific combinations of developmental programs.In other words, right before the evolution of the very first animals (metazoans), back when more or less all life on earth was single-celled, some multi-cellular creature appeared that had all the main genes that would be used for all future animals. Somehow its DNA "knew" what genes its descendants would need to grow everything from bilateral symmetry to eyeballs, though it itself presumably had none of these features.
The author, Michael Sherman, is not a zoologist nor an evolutionary biologist; he is a biochemist at a medical college. Thus his qualifications to propose a new theory of evolutionary zoology may be questionable. Still, this paper appeared in a peer-reviewed journal.
Am I missing something here?