Hello Mike, it was Richard, actually, and you should not speak so flippantly about these historical kings. Whatever we may think of them otherwise, dulllards they most definitely were not. Great personalities almost without exception. Richard died at Bosworth in a valiant charge against his opponent, the future King Henry VII, a few years after usurping the throne of England in a ruthless but brilliantly orchestrated coup. He was around 33 at the time when he died. I note that at more or less exactly the same age, you are spending much of your time in front of a keyboard bantering with strangers on web forums.
Whatever; I want to sum up the take-home messages that we can learn from the facts of this case. You never followed up the actual data from Richard’s forensic investigation, so I have to do it for you:
Rather than the 23 substitutions per mt DNA molecule that we could have expected under the substitution rates favoured by CMI, the scientists found that the mtDNA of one of the relatives was identical (!) with Richard’s, and the other had a single (!) substitution. If you read the paper about the mtDNA (highly recommended), you saw that the two mtDNA lineages in Richard’s relatives split apart already with the two sisters Barbara and Everhilda Constable in the 1530:s, which means that we have about 1030 years of total evolution between the modern DNA and Richard’s template DNA. One substitution per 16500 bases per 1030 years gives a rate of 5,88 x 10-8 substitutions per base per year, which is about 42 times lower than CMI’s chosen favourite rate.
But, we are not done yet, Mike. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the impression that you try to close the case with some kind of compromise, where we both have a factual nugget pointing in different directions, so each of us can in some way find reasonable support for our own respective scenario. Thus, we can both be happy in our own view of reality. If I am correct in the way I interpret your stance on the matter, then it is clear that you are still failing to grasp the consequences of the facts as we now know them. If both data sets are most likely factually correct, then they are aspects of the same reality, and we should strive to find an explanatory model that is concordant with both factual phenomena.
The most parsimonious explanation for the observed data is the obvious one that I proposed previously, namely that these two rates are the result of two different processes, acting over different time scales. The short-term, modern rates represent the instantaneous frequency of mutations in the mtDNA molecule, whereas the long-term rates represent what we have left in the gene pool after some filtering process has acted on the genetic variation over several generations and removed 90-95% of all mtDNA variants.
Now, can you:
1) confirm that you agree with my description of the case, and agree with my inference to the most parsimonious explanatory model (= high mutation rates, followed by a filtering process over time)?
2) confirm that you have learned another important lesson from this case (thus far – there will be more):
If we can reasonably assume that a system has moved from state A to state B (the two different substitution rates, in this case), based on observational evidence, then this is a primary fact that hierarchically supersedes the need for providing an explanatory model for the observed phenomenon. Finding an explanation for how/why the system has moved from state A to state B is of course what science is all about, but it is secondary to the fact that the state change from A to B has in fact occurred. Even if we, at present, cannot account for how/why it happened, this does not mean that we should not reasonably assume that it happened.
Can you confirm that you understand this basic epistemological principle, Mike, because I will be referring to it often in the future, and I don’t want to have to explain it again.