Global warming shrinks bees’ tongues, according to articles in Science (AAAS) News 24 September 2015 and ScienceDaily 25 September 2015 and Science. A group of scientists from Canada and USA have studied the changes in alpine flowers and bumblebees in the Rocky Mountains over the past four decades. They found there has been a general decline in flowers, and concluded bumblebees are adapting to this by evolving shorter tongues.
The research team were able to get an accurate measure of bees’ tongues by examining preserved museum specimens and comparing them with present day specimens of the same species. They found a decrease in tongue length of nearly 25%, even though the overall size of the bees had not changed.
One of the researchers, Candance Galen of University of Missouri, commented: “A change of 25 percent over this amount of time is dramatic, especially when we take into account that this change has occurred over just 40 generations. Most evolutionary change occurs on a timescale of a few hundreds, thousands or millions of years. Forty years is a timescale that happens in a human lifetime”.
They suggest that bees with shorter tongues are able to feed on a larger variety of flowers, whilst those with long tongues specialise in long tubed flowers, and if there is an overall decline in flowers the short-tongued bees do better. The loss of flowers included long tubed and open, shallow flowers.
The researchers blamed the decline in flowers on a warming climate. If night time temperatures do not go down, alpine soils stay warm and dry out. Sydney Cameron, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who was not involved in the study, commented: “It’s one of the best examples of the effect of climate that I’ve seen”. He also went on to say there was a global decline in bumblebees due to climate change, pesticide use, and habitat loss, and long tongues seem to be shrinking in some species.
Editorial Comment: Blaming climate change for decreasing bees’ tongues is part of the growing trend to blame every biological change on climate change, which is then blamed on human activity and so ‘politically correct and grant worthy’. The researchers did not explain i why long tongued bees could not feed adequately from shallower flowers, even if there weren’t enough long flowers, and if any normal population of bees has a wide range of tongue sizes. What they really need to do is carry out some tests to see whether long tongued bees can feed from shallow flowers.
If all that has happened is long tongued bees have been naturally selected against, thus leaving the shorter tongued bees to dominate, then it’s a good example of selection but not evolution. The bees are still the same species of bees. If the shorter tongue is a new phenomenon it could be just a general degeneration of bees. Natural selection, the struggle for existence and degeneration are real processes, but they do not produce evolution of one kind of bee into another kind, or explain how bees came into being in the first place. (Ref. insects, ecology, degeneration)
Evidence News vol. 15 No.18
7 October 2015
Creation Research Australia