The University of California, Santa Barbara, has this news item at their website: Rapid Adaptation is Purple Sea Urchins’ Weapon Against Ocean Acidification. A few excerpts will give you the general idea:
In the race against climate change and ocean acidification, some sea urchins may still have a few tricks up their spiny sleeves, suggesting that adaptation will likely play a large role for the sea creatures as the carbon content of the ocean increases.
“What we want to know is, given that this is a process that happens over time, can marine animals adapt? Could evolution come to the rescue?” said postdoctoral researcher Morgan Kelly, from UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology.
Nice little question — can evolution deal with climate change? Here’s more:
Due to rising carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, the oceans of the future are projected to absorb more carbon dioxide, leading to acidification of the water. The change in the ocean chemistry is expected to negatively affect the way urchins and other calcifying creatures create and maintain their shells and exoskeletons.
Why the concern about sea urchins? We’re told:
They are considered a keystone species, meaning their population has an important impact on the rest of the undersea ecosystem.
Okay, what did they do?
To observe the potential effects of future increased levels of carbon dioxide in ocean water, the researchers bred generations of purple sea urchins in conditions mimicking projected environment of the ocean in near the end of the century.
We’ll skip the details. You can click over there to read the whole story. Also, here’s the published paper in Global Change Biology: Natural variation and the capacity to adapt to ocean acidification in the keystone sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. This is what they found:
The findings suggest that the effects of ocean acidification may not have as deleterious an impact on sea urchin size or population growth rates as previously thought. Good news for the keystone species, and good news for the creatures that eat them. The results also suggest that adaptation is a major factor in the response of ecologically important species to climate change.
“We don’t expect evolution to completely erase the effects of ocean acidification, but we do expect evolution to mitigate these effects. And the more heritable variation there is, the greater the power of evolution to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Kelly.
Very nice, but we know you’re wondering: What do the creationists think about this? For the answer to that burning question, we turn now to the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). Their article on this news is Spiny Sea Creature Rapidly Accommodates Chemical Changes.
We won’t bother you with ICR’s description of the research. Instead we’ll jump right to their peculiar interpretation. They say, with bold font added by us:
But whether or not the larvae evolved through mutations and selection — the supposed engines of evolution — or some other internal mechanism is not yet known. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that God created urchins with an inherent potential to adjust their internal machinery to accommodate pH (acidity) changes.
Doncha just love creation science? But what isn’t consistent with the hypothesis that God-did-it? Let’s read on:
Perhaps accidental mutations did confer acid tolerance to urchins. This has happened in the past, and it would be consistent with either a creation or an evolutionary way of thinking. But a well-designed self-adjusting process challenges evolutionary thinking.
Yes, this is a big challenge to evolutionary thinking. Maybe the results were due to mutation. But hey — it coulda been an example of creationism at work. ICR continues:
Preliminarily, two clues seem to signal a design rather than an accidental cause for the adjustment. First, the change occurred rapidly, as though an acid-response and adjustment system was already in place within the urchins. Second, the change precisely met the newfound need of the urchin offspring, and random changes rarely meet needs with precision.
Jeepers — the mutation did the job. That’s a powerful design clue. But what about 90% of all species that went extinct for lack of appropriate mutations? Is that also due to design? Don’t ask. Here’s ICR’s conclusion — in which they dismiss both evolution and climate change:
Meanwhile, the claim that these urchins “evolved” through natural selection is just as premature as claiming that anthropogenic CO2 is poised to cause mass extinctions.
So there you are. Despite all the research going on, creationism is still alive and well. Like Count Dracula, it just won’t die.
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