This strange episode of dodgy science and publishing is worth reprinting in its entirety from Ars Technica:
Scientific publishing weirdness: This paper didn’t strike me as weird so much as completely bonkers, given its opening sentence: “I reject the Darwinian assumption that larvae and their adults evolved from a single common ancestor.” It forwarded the proposal that the difference between larval and adult forms of insects–between caterpillars and butterflies, to give one example–arose because insects are the product of a hybridization event between a caterpillar-like organism and something that looked like the adult. The two different forms represent what once were two different species. There’s no evidence for this, and any number of reasons to indicate it’s wrong. The person who wrote the article is retired after having pushed similar ideas for decades; he’s apparently so poorly read on the subject that he doesn’t realize that there’s already data that addresses the test of his proposal that he puts forward (and shows that he’s wrong).
But things apparently get weirder still when you look at the history of the paper. Members of the National Academies of Science are able to shepherd papers through the review process at its Proceedings journal (a practice that will end next year), which is the only reason this got through. The member in this case is Lynn Margulis, who got into the NAS because of her endosymbiosis hypothesis for the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts. But since then she’s been suggesting hybridization and endosymbiosis as the explanation for just about anything in biology, whether the data support it or not. The paper looks to be her way of thumbing her nose at a scientific club that would have her as a member, as she hand-picked a group of equally disgruntled reviewers (choice quote from one: “I’m willing to lower that bar.”).
Things have now descended into chaos. PNAS is refusing to put the paper, which is available online, in one of its print editions, and its editor is sitting on other papers from Margulis while awaiting an explanation for what happened here.
I’m looking forward to that explanation…