The Monophyletic vs. the Polyphyletic Origins of Life

Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 170, 2016 September )

A recent discovery that resulted from research completed on paramecium, single-celled freshwater animals familiar to all zoology students that has a characteristic slipper-like shape and is covered with cilia, and the bacterium called Mycoplasma capricolum, has created a major problem for Darwinism.

The reason is the discovery has disproved the concept that the DNA existing in all creatures, plant and animal, from bacteria to mammals, utilize both the exact same “punctuation” and DNA code.

The reason is because it was widely believed by scientists that all life had a universal DNA code was due to the recognition that the chances of life evolving from non-life on earth by chance were so small that a single origin of life would be the most that one could ever expect. Thus, all life existing today would have evolved from this first single cell that evolved the original DNA code. From this cell all life evolved. Recent research, though, has found that this is not the case. The DNA code does vary in some life forms.
The four different DNA nucleotides represented by the letters A, T, G, and C are used to produce the three letter code, each called a codon, that directs the production of the 20 amino acids used by the body to manufacture protein. Protein is the basis of all life. It is the main component of not only most body organs, but also of smooth and striated muscle, skin, and most all enzymes and hormones. Three codons, specifically the RNA would be UAA, UAG and UGA, in essence serve as punctuation marks called stop codons that terminate the assembly of the protein chain. This protein chain folds-up to make a functional protein, such as an enzyme or a hormone. Research has recently found that some life forms do not use the standard code that ordinarily serves as a stop code. Instead, this code in these organisms produces an amino acid.

The journal Nature reports that whenever a paramecium’s cellular machinery reads the standard code (UAG or UAA for a stop code that terminates the protein chain), instead of functioning as a stop code, it places the amino acid glutamine into the growing protein chain.

Obviously, it must use another code for the termination code, namely, in this case, the UGA code. Other researchers have found that some mycoplasma bacteria also ignore what is normally a stop code — in this case UGA is translated into an amino acid, and the other two standard stop codons, UAA and UAG serve as stop codes.

Previous to this, it was believed that the DNA stop code was identical in all biological organisms because, as noted, it was widely believed that natural selection evolved the code very early in evolution. Thus, for this reason Darwinists concluded that all descendants of the first rudiments of life used the same coding system. Scientists admit they’re baffled by the discovery of these new eccentric codes. To explain the code differences, evolutionists postulate that life has evolved multiple times, a theory called the polyphyletic origin of life, a major problem considering biologists acknowledge the miniscule likelihood of life evolving even just once.

The only other possibility is the so-called monophyletic origins theory, where the original code evolved into different codes. Because the code is tightly linked to the entire protein production system including tRNA and mRNA, it is obviously extremely difficult to envision how one code could evolve into a different code without jeopardizing the life of the creature.

Evolutionists postulate that, if this change had actually occurred, it must have occurred very early in the evolution of life. Scientists are already hypothesizing reasons for these differences, such as an attempt by some simple creatures to resist the many kinds of viruses that could have invaded them in their attempt to take over their cellular machinery, such as how bacteria phages function. Researchers suspect that, as they probe deeper into the DNA machinery of different life forms, more variations will be found. As there exist a million or more species on this planet, and so far the DNA of only a handful of them have been examined in depth, researchers will likely find that life is far less closely related at the DNA level than they had once thought.

They will likely find that each different code type requires a separate creation that produces a code which is distinct, yet similar to, other living forms. At the most basic level of life, these drastic differences support a creation worldview more so than evolution by common descent. Although evolutionists will likely try to utilize their “scientific imagination” to construct scenarios to explain this finding, their explanations will obviously be difficult to prove scientifically. Life may turn out to be far more complex than anyone has ever imagined; and each new discovery tends to add to the complexity level and mystery of life.

In a section titled “Eerie Perfection” Cambridge biologist Simon Conway Morris describes a scientific research program to determine the optimality of the genetic code and how optimal our code is versus other possibilities. The other possibilities were figured to be around 10 to the 18th power, too many to compare. So they randomly selected one million other possibilities from this set and compared those to the genetic code. Their conclusion was that only one other code was more optimal than the [existing] genetic code and that one would not work on earth. Hence, our code is literally one in a million. Morris says “Freelund and Hurst have difficulty in keeping the surprise out of their report.” (Morris, 2004, p. 17)

This fact indicates that genetic research will find the various different existing DNA codes are optimal for each life form in which the code is found (Freelund, and Hurst, 1998).


Anonymous. “The NCBI Maintains a Webpage Listing All Known Variant Nuclear and Mitochondrial Codes.”

Freelund, Stephen J. and Laurence D. Hurst. 1998. The Genetic Code is one in a Million. Journal of Molecular Evolution. 47:238-248.

Morris, Simon Conway. 2004. Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tsonis, Anastasios A., James B. Elsner, and Panagiotis A. Tsonis. 1997. “Is DNA a Language.” Journal of Theoretical Biology. 184:25-29.