New butterfly species made in lab, according to reports in BBC News and ScienceNOW 14 June 2006. Heliconius heurippa is a butterfly with vivid red and yellow patches on its wings that look like a combination of the patterns on two other species of Heliconius butterflies, suggesting that H heurippa was a hybrid of the other two. To test this theory a team of researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama bred the other two species together they produced offspring with the wing patterns of H heurippa. The newly bred butterflies were found to breed true for three generations. This study has led evolutionary biologists to claim that hybridization can be a means of evolving new species. Although it is difficult to prove it happens in the wild, scientists have suggested that the swordtail fish, African cichlid fish, Ragoletis fruit flies and the American red fox are the product of hybrid speciation.


Editorial Comment: The fact that two species of butterfly can produce fertile offspring indicates that they and the offspring species are actually all of the one kind, even though they may not breed together in the wild. Genesis tells us that living things were made as separate kinds designed to reproduce after their kinds. The term “kind” should not be equated with the modern day term “species”. Since their original creation some kinds have been split up so that subgroups no longer breed together. This is the process of speciation, but it is not evolution. If some of these subgroups start crossbreeding this is hybridization, but that is not evolution either. These processes involve splitting and regrouping of living things but not the production of new and different kinds of living things. (Ref. species, Lepidoptera, hybrids)

Evidence News 19 July 2006