TED Conversations

Han Hua (Alan)

Student - B.E - Computer Engineering, TEDtoChina


This conversation is closed.

Can Theory of Evolution explain the existence of salmon fish? If it can't, does God exist?

A friend of mine ask me this question.

Look up salmon fish as a nitrogen pump. Weathering from rain will only 1-way wash nitrogen compounds downwards to the sea. Nitrogen is necessary for vegetation to grow. That is the basis for fertilizers. If all of the nitrogen are washed away, there will not be life in the mountains.

This is where a very special type of fish, the salmon, are designed, not for its own benefit, but for the benefit of life on the planet, to spend 3-5 years in the deep ocean eating proteins, which contain nitrogen in the amino acids. Then, like a pre-programmed guided vehicle, all the salmons remember to return to their birthplace high in the mountain streams, to breed and to die. 100% of them will never go back to the sea again. The nitrogen in their proteins will be eaten, and the bears will shit in the deep forests, and that is how nitrogen is replaced so we have life and forests in the mountains.

Question is evolution cannot explain this development of a very special fish, because there is no survival advantage for the salmon to return so high in the mountains. The benefit is for the planet. So is there a Power actually control the universe, like God?

You may refer to some materials:


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Dec 20 2011: Let me first start with this: Salmons do not fixate nitrogen (id est, they don't take nitrogen from the atmosphere and turn it to a biological useful form). That role is played by plants and specific types of bacteria. Salmons do eat protein, they need it (as we all do) to survive, but in that cycle, they are just as you and me, another link in the chain rather than the starting point.

    Now, your friend is thinking of evolution and natural selection, as forces acting on individual organisms, while the reality is that they operate on populations: Salmons go upstream because they need to procreate in specific places. In that sense, the "traveling upstream" gene (or genes) may not represent survival advantage for a specific salmon, but it does represent suvival advantage to the species. If it weren't, then salmon population would decrease to zero eventually.
    • thumb
      Dec 21 2011: I do not see in Alan's question where he says salmon fixate nitrogen.
      I wonder why you seem to have missed the point about salmon's profoundly important role in the distribution of nitrogen.

      Edit Effects of Salmon-Derived Nitrogen on Riparian Forest Growth and Implications for Stream Productivity (Citations: 92)
      BibTeX | EndNote | RefWorks Download

      James M. Helfield, Robert J. Naiman
      Anadromous Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) transport marine-derived nitrogen (MDN) to the rivers in which they reproduce. Isotopic analyses indicate that trees and shrubs near spawning streams derive ;22-24% of their foliar nitrogen (N) from spawn- ing salmon. As a consequence of this nutrient subsidy, growth rates are significantly in- creased in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) near spawning streams. As riparian forests affect the quality of instream habitat through shading, sediment and nutrient filtration, and pro- duction of large woody debris (LWD), this fertilization process serves not only to enhance riparian production, but may also act as a positive feedback mechanism by which salmon- borne nutrients improve spawning and rearing habitat for subsequent salmon generations and maintain the long-term productivity of river corridors along the Pacific coast of North America.
      Journal: Ecology - ECOLOGY , vol. 82, no. 9, pp. 2403-2409, 2001
      DOI: 10.2307/2679924

      Cumulative Annual

      View Publication
      The following links allow you to view full publications. These links are maintained by other sources not affiliated with Microsoft Academic Search.

      ( www.bioweb.uncc.edu )

      ( fire.biol.wwu.edu )

      ( www.fish.washington.edu )

      ( www.jstor.org )

      ( www.esajournals.org )

      More ยป
      Citation Context (2)
      ...Several studies have used analysis of stable isotope ratios to demonstrate that nitrogen (N) derived from the carcasses of salmon is found in the foliage of riparian plants (Bilby et
    • thumb
      Dec 26 2011: Hi Edward,

      Thank you very much for your materials and objectivity.
      Actually in America, China and some other places, a lot of dams were built on streams. After that, environments upstream go worse and worse.

      Just as you said,although salmon contributes part of nitrogen, it still plays an important role.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.