“Evolution in Action” claims article on msnbc.msn.com 11 February 2009. In honour of the Darwin bicentennial John Roach lists “Seven signs of evolution in action”. They are:
1. Galapagos finches are evolving different sized beaks. “For example the medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis), recently downsized its beak to exploit small seeds more efficiently after a larger finch arrived on its island and began competing for food. The smaller beaks on the smaller birds allowed them to thrive, while the big birds ate all the big seeds and nearly went extinct, scientists say.”
2. Humans are causing plants and animals to evolve. The snow lotus is getting smaller because humans harvest large ones, leaving only the small ones to go to seed. Also “human preference for trophy game such as big fish and caribou is driving these species to become smaller and reproduce at younger ages.”
3. Humans are evolving. “For example, Europeans have evolved a tolerance for dairy products into adulthood, whereas people in China and most of Africa have not.”
4. Butterflies have evolved resistance to a killer bacterium. Male Blue Moon butterflies on a south Pacific island were dying due to a bacterial infection but within one year the population began to make a comeback “due to the evolution of a so-called suppressor gene that keeps the killer bacteria in check.”
5. Toads evolve longer legs. Cane toads are gradually moving from eastern Australia across northern Australia. “Researchers found that the toads leading the cross-country march had legs that were 6 percent longer than those of the stragglers. The added length gives more speed, which permits the long-legged toads to secure the best habitat at the newly conquered terrain.”
6. Half evolved flatfish fossil found. Adult flatfish have both their eyes on one side of the body so they can lie on their side on the sea bottom. Scientists have found a fossil fish with a partially displaced eye. This is an intermediate form between a normal fish and a flatfish.
7. Lizards are losing limbs and “becoming snaky”. Some skinks, a type of Australian lizard that wriggle their way through sand and soil, have long slender bodies and no limbs, a bit like snakes. But researchers say “once a skink goes snaky, they never go back.”
Editorial Comment: The increase in toad leg length at the front of the great Aussie toad race across north Australia is happening simply because when toads began to migrate, those already possessing long legs did move faster, and have outpaced the slower short legged ones. Therefore, they can now only breed with other long legged toads at the front of the race and average leg length increases. It has nothing to do with evolution whatsoever. As a result, we predict that when their shorter legged mates eventually catch up, they will once again breed with each other and average leg length will go back to the previous size.
The decreasing size of lotus plants, fish and caribou are certainly the result of large ones being removed from the population, leaving only small ones to breed. Again it is a great example of selection, but one which can only result in the elimination of the creatures if it keeps going.
We have written several items about finch beaks. Search for “Galapagos finch” in this fact file.
Reptiles really are losing limbs faster than any other life form on the planet, but that is a loss of function, a devolving downwards, not an evolving upwards to a more complex creature. This is confirmed by scientists’ observations that no-one has seen legless lizards regain legs. Furthermore, there are now known some 50 groups of fossilised legged reptiles and amphibians that have all lost legs by the present and none have regained them.
Human tolerance to dairy foods also turns out to be an example of degeneration. All children of every human race are born with an enzyme for breaking down lactose so they can digest their mother’s milk. This normally switches off during childhood after the child is weaned. But in western European races the control mechanism of this enzyme fails and it remains switched on, i.e. it is a defunct biochemical switch, not the evolution of a new function. In some Europeans this enzyme production is switched off in late life and so those Europeans addicted to their glass of milk begin to suffer anything from gas problems to explosive diarrhoea.
The butterfly resistance gene is now known to exist in other populations of this same species of butterfly, and could have easily been transferred into the infected island population by interbreeding with the other same species butterflies from outside the original study population.
As for the flatfish? What most evolutionists won’t admit is that the “partial flatfish” fossil is in rocks of the same evolutionary age as the oldest Sole fish – which is a fully formed flatfish, so the partly flat fish can’t possibly be the ancestor of the fully flatfish. This extinct fish is simply evidence that there were once more kinds of flat fish than there are now.
In Conclusion: All examples John Roach lists involve some kind of biological change, but none are evolution. None of the organisms listed in these seven examples have turned into another kind of organism. We have written about some of these examples in more detail in previous Evidence News. These can be found using the search box above. (Ref. selection, genetics, environment)
Evidence News, 11 March 2009