Butterfly Wing Pattern

A century ago biologists suggested that butterfly wing patterns were formed from variations in a basic ground plan that was somehow manipulated to produce the distinct patterns in different butterfly species. Scientists at Cornell University and The George Washington University have now carried out a study that “explains how DNA that sits between genes – called ‘junk’ DNA or non-coding regulatory DNA – accommodates a basic plan conserved over tens to hundreds of millions of years, while at the same time allowing wing patterns to evolve extremely quickly.”

Previous research on butterfly wing patterns showed that two genes, named WntA and Optix produced butterfly wing patterns. WntA produced striped patterns and Optix controlled colour and iridescence. The new study looked the non-coding DNA that regulates the WntA gene in five species of butterfly in the nymphalid family. They found four of the species “each of these non-coding elements had similar functions with respect to the WntA gene, proving they were ancient and conserved, likely originating in a distant common ancestor.” The other species, the monarch butterfly, had different regulators. According to Cornell University News this is “perhaps because it lost some of its genetic information over its history and had to reinvent its own regulatory system to develop its unique color patterns.”

To test the functions of the regulatory elements they deleted each one, 46 in all, and looked at the effect if had on the wing pattern. According to Cornell University News, “The research supports the idea that an ancient color pattern ground plan is already encoded in the genome and that non-coding regulatory DNA works like switches to turn up some patterns and turn down others.”

References: Cornell University 21 October; PhysOrg 21 October 2022; ScienceDaily 21 October 2022; Science 21 October 2022, doi: 10.1126/science.abi9407.

Editorial Comment: Overall, this study is another example of how the modern genetic revolution is revealing that genome of every living thing can only be the product of creative design. It is not enough to simply have coded information for individual genes, there must also be enormous amounts of information involved in regulating them so they are activated at the right time in the right places.

This study does show the coding instructions do go back to the beginning. It does not show where or how these regulators or the genes they regulate could have evolved such a code from. Whenever you see this claim of genes from a now missing common ancestor boldly ask where the common ancestor got it from.

The claim about monarch butterflies losing regulators and the “re-inventing” their own is another example of evolution being ascribed the attributes of ‘plan and purpose’ so it is able to solve problems. These are all the characteristics of a Creator, not of chance random mutations that are supposed to make evolution happen.

The concept of “Junk DNA” is like the concept of vestigial organs and is a classic example of how evolution is essentially anti-science. If you don’t know what something does, then the true scientific approach is to do more research and find out.

The concept of useless evolutionary leftovers has persisted because science journalists insist on maintaining it to prop up the theory of evolution long after scientists who study genetics have recognised that the DNA between genes has essential functions in regulating the activity of the genes. It is now referred to as “non-coding” DNA but this is an equally false term. As this study shows such DNA does carry information that is used to control body structures and functions. Therefore “non-coding” is an equally useless way to describe it. In their original report the scientists use the technical term “regulatory elements”. This is a much more accurate description of what this DNA does, and should be used by the journalists who report on such studies for the general public. We wonder if they are reluctant to do this because “regulatory” implies a regulator, i.e. a creative designer who is outside the system and can determine what happens to it.

Creation Research News 26 October 2022

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