Tuatara is fastest evolving animal, claim articles in EurekAlert, 20 March 2008 and ScienceDaily, 23 March 2008 and Trends in Genetics, vol. 24, March 2008. The Tuatara lizard is considered a classic example of a living fossil – an animal that has not changed since it first appeared in the fossil record. A team of researchers led by David Lambert from the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution have recovered DNA sequences from the bones of ancient Tuatara, which are up to 8,000 years old, and compared them with living Tuataras.
The following is the abstract from their report in Trend in Genetics:
“The tuatara of New Zealand is a unique reptile that coexisted with dinosaurs and has changed little morphologically from its Cretaceous relatives. Tuatara have very slow metabolic and growth rates, long generation times and slow rates of reproduction. This suggests that the species is likely to exhibit a very slow rate of molecular evolution. Our analysis of ancient and modern Tuatara DNA shows that, surprisingly, Tuatara have the highest rate of molecular change recorded in vertebrates. Our work also suggests that rates of neutral molecular and phenotypic evolution are decoupled.”
Lambert commented to EurekAlert: “What we found is that the tuatara has the highest molecular evolutionary rate that anyone has measured.”
Editorial Comment: As the Tuatara is an excellent example of a creature in which the actual bones (which we have seen) show no significant evolution from the oldest fossils, (which in the evolutionist mind are millions of years old), it came as no surprise to note that the press release articles and abstract give no details as to what was actually measured.
The reference to “neutral molecular … evolution” suggests the researchers looked at variations in DNA sequences that do not result in changes to body structures or functions. As such, they were not measuring evolution as Darwin would have used the term. Evolution is a theory about how living creatures changed in structure and function, and turned into different creatures as natural selection enabled some to survive, and others to die off. If there are no physical or functional changes then there is nothing for natural selection to act on and, therefore, no evolution.
The use of the word “evolution” in the context of the reports above is part of a growing trend to call any variation (or almost any biological process) “evolution” in order to bluff people into believing it must have happened, even though there is no evidence for it. Be careful whenever you read the word “evolution” and ask “what was actually found?” The reason the Tuatara is called a living fossil is that it has not changed for as long as it has been observed as a fossil or living creature, and therefore, there is no evidence it has evolved in the Darwinian sense. Instead, the lizard is good evidence that living things reproduce after their kind, just Genesis says. (Ref. DNA, reptiles, genetics)
Evidence News, 21 May 2008