Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

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Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#1  Postby MarioNovak » Sep 29, 2014 9:31 am

If we conduct a simple scientific experimet and knock out genes responsible for core components of reproductive system, the biological process by which new offspring individual organisms are produced from their parents will be stopped.

-- Some of the core components of reproductive system are: female egg release system, system that enables man to pass semen out of his body, egg cell, sperm cell that consists of a head, a midpiece and a tail, cervical mucus for sperm transport, systems that enables sperm to find the egg, correct enzyme on sperm head that can penetrate egg wall, systems that enables egg outer wall hardens to prevent other sperm fertilizing the same egg, systems for sperm and egg fusion, placenta, etc...--

So, if we take one step back in the "evolution of reproductive system" and reduce its core components, evolution will stop because organism with reduced reproductive system is unable to pass on genes. This experiment can be repeated for any organism and we will always get the same result - a fundamental feature of all known life - reproductive function - will cease to exist in that organism and that organism will become extinct. Hence, scientifically - based on facts learned through experiments and observation, evolution of reproduction is impossible.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#2  Postby Rumraket » Sep 29, 2014 9:30 pm

MarioNovak wrote:If we conduct a simple scientific experimet and knock out genes responsible for core components of reproductive system, the biological process by which new offspring individual organisms are produced from their parents will be stopped.

-- Some of the core components of reproductive system are: female egg release system, system that enables man to pass semen out of his body, egg cell, sperm cell that consists of a head, a midpiece and a tail, cervical mucus for sperm transport, systems that enables sperm to find the egg, correct enzyme on sperm head that can penetrate egg wall, systems that enables egg outer wall hardens to prevent other sperm fertilizing the same egg, systems for sperm and egg fusion, placenta, etc...--

So, if we take one step back in the "evolution of reproductive system" and reduce its core components, evolution will stop because organism with reduced reproductive system is unable to pass on genes. This experiment can be repeated for any organism and we will always get the same result - a fundamental feature of all known life - reproductive function - will cease to exist in that organism and that organism will become extinct. Hence, scientifically - based on facts learned through experiments and observation, evolution of reproduction is impossible.

Your first and most egregious mistake is to say that sexual reproduct is "a fundamental feature of all known life". Uhm, no it isn't. Ever heard of asexual reproduction? Bacteria simply make copies of themselves by dividing in two. There are even multicellular animals such as sponges that don't need sex to reproduce, a single cell that detaches from the main body can grow into an entire autonomous new individual.

But to look at your actual argument, this is basically just another version of Michael Behe's "irreducible complexity" argument. It suffers from the same fundamental flaws in that it neglects to consider that absent certain key extant elements in the reproductive system, the remaining structures could potentially be altered to compensate for this lack. Back when the organisms we evolved from lacked some of these key components, they remaining parts had altered functions. It's not like some of these parts just popped into being one day and were added to the extant system, they were slowly co-opted to an expanding system that functioned differently before.

You're neglecting to consider that ancestral species who lacked some of these components weren't using the same kind of sexual reproduction we do. At the ancient stages of life that lacked key components of the extant human reproductive system, they weren't human at all. So what might seem obviously necessary for us, could function perfectly well in another distantly related organism. It's like asking how could humans breathe without lungs? Well, back when there were no lungs there weren't any humans, or indeed any terrestrial animals at all. But hold on you say, fish still need gills. Yes, but back before they had gills, they weren't even fish, they were sponges and jellies.

For really weird sex, look at plants. It is so wholly unlike animal sexual reproduction. No penis, vagina, no mobile sperm, no "eggs" in that respect, no cervix, no uterus, no placenta. It turns out that even within the diversity of extant life, a significant fraction of sexually reproducing biomass on the planet lacks almost all the components you listed. Already here it is case closed. One can have sex without many of your listed items.

To look at sexual reproduction at least somewhat like ours, many species of fish simply eject the sperm and egg into their environment, straight on to the bottom of the ocean, rivers or lakes. Usually, the female will simply lay a lot of eggs, then the male will ejaculate the sperm over them(some species of Salmon do this).
In other species of fish, following this the female will keep guard of the area until the eggs hatch. In this situation ti is easy to see that sperm motility isn't strictly required , because the sperm cells are simply delivered straight onto the eggs. So we don't need this "cervical mucus for sperm transport" either.

One simply has to look at extant life to see that there are many ways to have sexual reproduction without many of these supposedly "absolutely required" components. There are many species of single-celled organisms that have sex, they don't need any of these elaborate structures.

Even for our kind of reproduction, some of the systems you list aren't strictly needed. Take the away the "systems that enables egg outer wall hardens to prevent other sperm fertilizing the same egg" and it is still possible to have sexual reproduction, you just have to rely on the odd chance that only a single sperm reaches the egg at all. Unlikely, but not impossible as you claimed. Changes to some of the systems can compensate for lacking features of others. For example we could envision that human females released large clusters of eggs instead, to compensate for the lack of ability to harden the cell wall in the case of multiple sperm intrusions, maximizing the chance that you get a one-to-one egg+sperm fusion. So that features isn't strictly needed either.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#3  Postby monkeyboy » Sep 29, 2014 9:38 pm

There we go, all wrapped up before bedtime.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#4  Postby Rumraket » Sep 29, 2014 9:41 pm

Well, we could add this


/thread
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#5  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Sep 29, 2014 10:19 pm

:roll:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#6  Postby Fenrir » Sep 29, 2014 10:31 pm

Religion: it only fails when you test it.-Thunderf00t.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#7  Postby Calilasseia » Sep 29, 2014 10:43 pm

Then of course, we have the existence of simpler, antecedent sexual reproductive systems, such as found in yeasts. Which are single celled organisms that have a sexual reproductive process based upon a small set of genes. You are now going to learn everything you never wanted to know about yeast sex, but were forced to find out. :mrgreen:

Yeast mating is actually rather interesting. To cover this, we need to go over some background information first.

Yeast cells can exist in two major forms, a haploid form (which can undergo mitosis and produce two daughter cells), and a diploid form (which can undergo meiosis during times of stress, and produce four haploid daughter cells). The haploid cells are the ones that can mate, and when haploid mating occurs, the participant mating cells fuse to form a stable diploid cell. Diploid cells can also undergo mitosis, producing two diploid daughters.

Now, in order to understand haploid mating, we need to look at the genes and how they affect the process. First, we need to locate a special locus on chromosome 3 called MAT. There are two alleles present on this locus, called MATa and MATα, for reasons I don't understand. These loci differentiate the cells into two types, a cells and α cells. Next, we need to locate two other loci on the same chromosome, called HML (Hidden MAT Left) and HMR (Hidden Mat Right). HML contains a silenced copy of the MATα allele, and HMR contains a silenced copy of the MATa allele. The names refer to their position relative to the MAT locus itself. Laying chromosome 3 out so that its short arms are to the left of the centromere, and the long arms to the right, HML is on the short arm, then MAT is on the long arm relatively close to the centromere, and HMR is on the long arm further away from the centromere. So, in effect, both a and α cells contain a copy of the MATa and MATα allele, but these copies are silenced. These come into play later. The active locus is the MAT locus itself, and this locus contains one of the two alleles, MATa or MATα.

Additionally, there is a separate gene called HO, which is activated specifically only in haploid cells, and which only then during the G1 phase of the cell cycle (the phase during which the cell absorbs nutrients and grows). It affects the identity of the cells, though the precise mechanism has yet to be fully elucidated. More on this later.

Now, let's return to the MAT locus. This contains either a MATa allele, or a MATα allele. These alleles contain two genes, viz:

MATa : contains genes a1 and a2

MATα : contains genes α1 and α2

These genes are the master control genes for a transcription sequence, involving some downstream regulation, whose ultimate products are a cell surface receptor and a substance released into the environment that can be thought of as a 'pheromone' of sorts. As you might guess at this stage, the 'pheromone' associated with the MATa genes is called a-factor, whilst that associated with the MATα genes is called α-factor. The cell receptors are named according to a different convention though - the cell surface receptor generated by the MATa genes is called the ste2 receptor, and the receptor generated by the MATα genes is called the ste3 receptor.

Basically, what happens is this. An a cell and an α cell, in close proximity and in condition for mating, release their respective 'pheromones'. When the ste2 receptor of the a cell detects the presence of α-factor, the a cell grows a projection in the direction of highest concentration of α-factor. Likewise, when the ste3 receptor of the α cell detects a-factor, the α cell grows a projection in the direction of highest concentration of a-factor. These two projections eventually meet, whereupon the two cells undergo fusion and become a diploid cell. This diploid cell has two sets of the 16 chromosomes of a haploid yeast cell, one with the MATa genes on its copy of chromosome 3, the other with the MATα genes on its copy of chromosome 3.

Now here's the clever bit. A cell that only has one copy of the MAT genes allows the HO gene to be active in those cells, whilst a cell with two copies (a diploid cell) suppresses the HO gene. The reverse is true for genes that are activated by diploid cells, such as IME1, but this is irrelevant here: it's included simply in order to alert the reader wishing to pursue yeast genetics further that some genes are haploid-active only, and some diploid-active only. Suppression of HO allows both diploid mitosis to take place, or meiosis to produce four haploid daughters under conditions of stress.

So, what happens to haploid cells between mitotic divisions? This is where HO, and those two silenced loci HML and HMR, come into their own. During the G1 phase of the cell cycle, HO becomes active, generates a DNA endonuclease that cleaves the DNA at the MAT locus, wherupon exonuclease enzymes are attracted to the site and degrade the DNA there. Now here's the crunch: having effectively deleted its active MAT genes, the haploid cell now copies one of the silent copies back into the MAT locus. The clever part is this: if the cell began as an a cell, it copies the silenced copy from the HML locus, and in doing so switches identity to that of an α cell. Likewise, an α cell, when it deletes its MAT genes, copies the contents of the HMR locus to the MAT locus, and thus undergoes an identity switch to an a cell. Why this happens is a part of the mating system that isn't fully understood, but it happens, and so, in between mitotic divisions, an a cell switches to become an α cell and vice versa. Thus, even if a yeast population is founded in a new location entirely from haploid cells of one type, that population can generate cells of the other type, and the now mixed population of cells can mate, produce diploid cells, and set about increasing the genetic variation within the new founder population via meiosis. Very clever, is it not?

Now it turns out that scientists can manipulate this system. Deletion of one of the copies of the MAT locus in a diploid cell will cause that cell to exhibit haploid behaviour, and the HO gene will be activated, resulting in type switching of the remaining undeleted MAT locus after each diploid mitosis. Addition of an extra active MAT locus to a haploid cell results in the cell exhibiting diploid behaviour, and suppressing the HO gene. This will prove fatal in times of stress, because the haploid cell will attempt to undergo meiosis, resulting in destruction of the cell.

In order to make the study of yeast genetics easier, scientists work with haploid strains that have had the HO gene knocked out, so that type switching never occurs, and such yeast cells cannot therefore produce the mixed populations required for mating and diploid formation.

Note that this form of sexual differentiation relies upon a small set of genes all lying on one chromosome, and does not rely upon separate sex chromosomes. These were a later development. :)
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#8  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Sep 30, 2014 2:02 am

Let's clear up a few misconceptions and inaccuracies. Firstly, pollen [the plant equivalent of sperm] is nearly always highly motile, BUT such motility is usually passive-pollen depends on the agencies of wind, water, animal vectors to disperse. Second seeds [the plant equivalent of eggs, are likewise very often quite motile, but again, rely on passive means for transport, although they may have adaptations to assist dispersal by the vector agents previously mentioned.

It is true that complex multicellular life absolutely depends on sex in the eukaryotic meaning of the word. [males, females hermaphrodites].
But first let us look at the prokaryota [bacteria & archaea] to see why eusexuality is essential for complex multicellular life.
Bacteria etc have an essential core and a variable shell in terms of their genomes. This is different from the eukaryota [complex life forms like fungi, and "higher" animals and plants]. The eukaryota have a "monolithic" genome. The advantages and disadvantages of the different genome architectures will soon become apparent.
Bacteria can reproduce with great speed, and so achieve almost infinite populations under favourable conditions. What does this mean in terms of selection and evolvability? it means that bacteria can tolerate severe population bottlenecks while under hard selection.
Now let us consider genetic evolution. Genetic evolution depends on genetic drift, natural selection [the subset of NS called sexual selection I will discuss shortly] and dispersal and migration. These three mechanism cause changes in gene frequencies in populations over time [in generations].
Now, let us do some reverse engineering and ponder how designoid patterns achieve functional significance. Genetic expression exposes these patterns to natural selection. Those patterns which aid survival and reproduction are deemed fit for a given environment, and hence enjoy a greater probability of being represented in future generations. But as I claimed above, NS is not the only "force" acting on gene frequencies, genetic drift and migration/dispersal also contribute. NS only gives a bias to proceedings. If NS is strong, the stochastic effects of drift are minimized. The cost is population depression. Population bottlenecks are bad for evolvability [the capacity to address future environmental1 stresses].
Let's look at how bacteria etc address this. Although bacteria are facultatively social [they can be social but don't require it], they don't need eukaryotic sex because they have Horizontal [or Lateral] Gene Transfer. Because prokaryotes are relatively simple organisms [they form colonies, but not complex tissues], the introduction of 'foreign" DNA is unlikely to disrupt developmental processes. Huge absolute population sizes guarantees variation, but even when in a population bottleneck situation, variability [and hence evolvability] is maintained via HGT.
In Eukaryotes the situation is different. From an engineering standpoint, complex life takes time to develop, and is subject to genetic disruptions. Therefore, mechanisms to reduce HGT, and eventually all but eliminate it, is due to the negative epistasis caused by HGT. The complex cellular origami that occurs during the development of complex multicellular organisms makes HGT a dangerous mechanism to maintain variation, and hence evolvability.
But hard selection is needed to ensure cannalised developmental processes. The "answer" eukaryotic life discovered was to separate the somatic and germ lines.
Not only can eukaryotic life forms achieve reasonably high population sizes, they have shifted hard selection onto the sexual cell line. And in sex, they have created sub-populations of males, females or hermaphrodites with slightly divergent trajectories, thus ensuring variability.
In other words, by making somatic life mortal, and gametes immortal but subject to very hard selection, they have achieved the engineering feat of ensuring designoid patterns that show most variablity in the final stages of development. This is why fundamental changes to bauplans occur only very rarely, for the chances of a change in early development making the developing embryo nonviable are much higher.
So as far as complex multicellular life goes, eusexuality is essential. There might be another way to do this, but it seems this is the way it happened. The origin of eukaryotic sex may have been totally stochastic, but in "sacrificing" the immortality of obligate vegetative reproduction, and HGT, complex social forms with specialized tissues opened up a whole range of niches not available to the prokaryota.
"Higher" plants do seem able to exploit vegetative reproduction to a greater extent than higher animals, but in many ways plant development can be less canalized than in an animal. Plant circulation is confined to water, sugars, proteins, RNA etc, but not cells as we see in animal systems, and so invasive/migratory cancers are less of an issue.
Lastly, we have simple eukaryotes in the bdelliod rotifer grade, who still use HGT as a source of much variation, I think this exception proves the rule. In such simple animals, HGT may not have such a negative effect on their developmental pathways, and it has recently been discovered that they are facultatively eusexual also.

[1]. "Environment" here means both abiotic and biotic factors here, including genes and their interactions in genomes.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#9  Postby Sendraks » Sep 30, 2014 8:02 am

I'd like to think that Mario, after posting his superb "gotcha," would stick around to actually learn something.

However, I fear that like so many others before him, once he'd dropped his payload of "truth" on us all, he was already enroute to his next destination.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#10  Postby Calilasseia » Sep 30, 2014 8:42 am

Dembski PointsTM, perchance?

Though previous practitioners made the mistake of trying to collect them on one forum. Now, it seems the usual tactic consists of drive bys on multiple fora.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#11  Postby Scot Dutchy » Sep 30, 2014 8:44 am

Yes a fly-bye. A waste of time.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#12  Postby Sendraks » Sep 30, 2014 8:47 am

If this forum were ever to produce merchandise, I'd like to see a reworking of one of the Wychwood slogans. You know the one, only the RatSkep version would be:

"What's the matter Theist boy, frightened you might learn something?"
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#13  Postby Scot Dutchy » Sep 30, 2014 8:49 am

Strangely he is still online.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#14  Postby Animavore » Sep 30, 2014 8:50 am

Why is something which isn't yet explained by evolution (not that it isn't in this case) often used as evidence against evolution by creationist types? Might as well use the lack of evidence for a gravity carrying particle as evidence agaisnt the theory of gravity.
The only thing that should be used as evidence against evolution is positive evidence for some alternative theory.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#15  Postby MarioNovak » Sep 30, 2014 9:06 am

Thank you all for your answers but unfortunately they realy have little or no relevance to what I said in my argument.

First, asexual reproduction that does not involve the mixing of two different genomes, also needs some core components to function. For examle, most bacteria rely on binary fission for propagation. Before binary fission occurs, the cell must copy its genetic material and segregate these copies to opposite ends of the cell. Then the many types of proteins that comprise the cell division machinery assemble at the future division site. A key component of this machinery is the protein FtsZ. Protein monomers of FtsZ assemble into a ring-like structure at the center of a cell. Other components of the division apparatus then assemble at the FtsZ ring. This machinery is positioned so that division splits the cytoplasm and does not damage DNA in the process. As division occurs, the cytoplasm is cleaved in two, and in many bacteria, new cell wall is synthesized. The systems for order and timing of these processes are also needed.

So, if we reduce core components of the systems that allows the execution of these processes - DNA replication, DNA segregation, division site selection, invagination of the cell envelope and synthesis of new cell wall... - the biological process by which new offspring is produced will be stopped, just like with sexual reproduction.

Next, labeling some scientific observation "irreducible complexity" does not negate the observation. If we reduce core components of system that enables man to pass semen out of his body and as a consequence reproductive function cease to exist in that organism it is completely irrelevant how we label this consequence because reproduction is not dependable on human linguistics and language, but on the presence of the core components of the reproductive system.

Also, if reproductive system of some organism is structured so that component X(eg testicles) is neccesary for its function than assertion... "You're neglecting to consider that ancestral species who lacked some of these components weren't using the same kind of sexual reproduction we do." ... is like saying "my PC can compute without microprocesor becouse Babbage's Difference engine lacked microprocesor and was able to compute. So this assertion is complete non sequitur that ignores structural and configurational constraints of the system in question. Simply put, you can't accumulate genes for testicles and reproduce if reproductive system is structured so that testicles are needed.

From the study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation we know that all cellular life forms without exception, from archaea, bacteria to eukaryote will go extinct if we reduce core components of their reproductive systems. But, reduced/less complex state of the system is conditio sine qua non for the idea of evolution. Hence, we can conclude that human mental constructs in the form of ideas, ad hoc hypotheses or theories postulating that reproductive system is result of the accumulation of small heritable changes within populations over time are in contradiction with science, and therefore false.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#16  Postby MarioNovak » Sep 30, 2014 9:10 am

Animavore wrote:Why is something which isn't yet explained by evolution (not that it isn't in this case) often used as evidence against evolution by creationist types? Might as well use the lack of evidence for a gravity carrying particle as evidence agaisnt the theory of gravity.
The only thing that should be used as evidence against evolution is positive evidence for some alternative theory.

This kind of reasoning can also be used by proponents of a flat Earth, such as the Flat Earth Society. We have knowledge about the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation, and that knowledge shows that Earth is an oblate spheroid. Likewise, we have knowledge based on facts learned through experiments and observation which shows that reproductive function of any organism cease to exist if we reduce core components of reproductive system. So, excuses mentioned above(isn't yet explained) are completely flawed. They are like saying something like this: "Because we currently cannot provide an adequate explanation for the flat Earth, this doesn't mean that Flat Earth theory is false". Or: "if flat Earth is impossible to imagine, it doesn't follow that Earth is not flat."
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#17  Postby Fenrir » Sep 30, 2014 9:13 am

I see. So if I pull the battery out of my car then Henry Ford never existed?

Take that Ford!!1!
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#18  Postby Sendraks » Sep 30, 2014 9:15 am

MarioNovak wrote:Likewise, we have knowledge based on facts learned through experiments and observation which shows that reproductive function of any organism cease to exist if we reduce core components of reproductive system.


Did you read any of the posts above or did you just ignore all the content that destroyed your argument?
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#19  Postby Animavore » Sep 30, 2014 9:15 am

MarioNovak wrote:Simply put, you can't accumulate genes for testicles and reproduce if reproductive system is structured so that testicles are needed.


Obviously testicles werent needed to reproduce before testicles evolved.
You're really muddled on what evolution entails. Your argument reminds me of Ray Comfort's when he couldn't understand how creatures walked around for years before eyes evolved.
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Re: Can you debunk the following argument against evolution

#20  Postby Animavore » Sep 30, 2014 9:18 am

MarioNovak wrote:
Animavore wrote:Why is something which isn't yet explained by evolution (not that it isn't in this case) often used as evidence against evolution by creationist types? Might as well use the lack of evidence for a gravity carrying particle as evidence agaisnt the theory of gravity.
The only thing that should be used as evidence against evolution is positive evidence for some alternative theory.

This kind of reasoning can also be used by proponents of a flat Earth, such as the Flat Earth Society. We have knowledge about the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation, and that knowledge shows that Earth is an oblate spheroid. Likewise, we have knowledge based on facts learned through experiments and observation which shows that reproductive function of any organism cease to exist if we reduce core components of reproductive system. So, excuses mentioned above(isn't yet explained) are completely flawed. They are like saying something like this: "Because we currently cannot provide an adequate explanation for the flat Earth, this doesn't mean that Flat Earth theory is false". Or: "if flat Earth is impossible to imagine, it doesn't follow that Earth is not flat."

You have that completely backwards. The Flat Earth 'theory' is rejected because it lacks positive evidence. Where is the positive evidence which shows that reproductive systems can't evolve?
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