Rapid evolution of finches observed, claims evolutionary biologist David Reznick of the University of California, Riverside, commenting on a study of finch adaptation reported in Science, vol. 295, p25, 11 Jan 2002.
Ecologists at Auburn University Alabama, studied two populations of house finches that had recently moved into new habitats. One group of birds moved from New York to Alabama, the other from California to Montana. Each group rapidly adapted to its new climate and after 30 years the two populations were quite different in appearance and behaviour. In Alabama males grew faster than females and have wider bills and longer tails. In Montana females grew faster and were larger. The differences occurred because mother birds can control the order in which they lay eggs containing male and females. The result in both places was an increased survival rate for the offspring overall.
According to David Resnick the study indicates “A Time scale of decades (not centuries) is really enough for animals to evolve.”
Editorial Comment: The two populations may have adapted well to their new environments and enjoyed different food sources in each, but they have not evolved. Since the two finch populations haven’t even had time to have any significant mutations their gene pool should still be basically the same. They were finches before they moved and they are still finches. The variation in tails, beaks and overall size is the result of a “built in” survival mechanism that already existed in the birds, acting on the new food types and climate they are now in. The proof of this should come if the finches are moved back to their previous environ and left for another 30 years.
Such cope-ability is good evidence of an intelligent designer who knew birds would encounter different environments and designed them to survive. This type of non-evolutionary adaptation accounts for differences in Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands.
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