What we thought was an unremarkable article appeared last week at PhysOrg, titled: Natural selection, key to evolution, also can impede formation of new species. A couple of excerpts with bold font added by us will give you the general idea:
An intriguing study involving walking stick insects led by the University of Sheffield in England and the University of Colorado Boulder shows how natural selection, the engine of evolution, can also impede the formation of new species.
The team studied a plant-eating stick insect species from California called Timema cristinae known for its cryptic camouflage that allows it to hide from hungry birds, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Samuel Flaxman. T. cristinae comes in several different types — one is green and blends in with the broad green leaves of a particular shrub species, while a second green variant sports a white, vertical stripe that helps disguise it on a different species of shrub with narrow, needle-like leaves.
Okay, what of it? Then we’re told:
While Darwinian natural selection has begun pushing the two green forms of walking sticks down separate paths that could lead to the formation of two new species, the team found that a third melanistic, or brown variation of T. cristinae appears to be thwarting the process, said Flaxman. The brown version is known to successfully camouflage itself among the stems of both shrub species inhabited by its green brethren, he said.
How is the brown walking stick interfering with the speciation of the two green variants? It’s simple:
Using field investigations, laboratory genetics, modern genome sequencing and computer simulations, the team concluded the brown version of T. cristinae is shuttling enough genes between the green stick insects living on different shrubs to prevent strong divergent adaptation and speciation. The brown variant of the walking stick species also is favored by natural selection because it has a slight advantage in mate selection and a stronger resistance to fungal infections than its green counterparts.
Here’s a link to the paper in Current Biology: Selection on a Genetic Polymorphism Counteracts Ecological Speciation in a Stick Insect. All you can see is the abstract, unless you have a subscription. It’s good work, but it doesn’t seem to be a revolutionary discovery.
Because of the brown variant, all three versions of walking stick are part of one big breeding pool, so the two green variants aren’t diverging into separate species. For speciation to occur, it helps if there is an environmental change, such as a food shortage, a predator, or some other factor that will favor some individuals, leaving the others unable to survive long enough to reproduce. Or there may be physical separation, such as Darwin observed in the famous setting of the Galapagos Islands. The observation of the walking sticks was interesting, but we didn’t regard it so unexpected that it was worth mentioning. However, we failed to anticipate the reaction of creationists.
Look what we found today at the Christian Post, which describes itself as “the nation’s most comprehensive Christian news website.” This is their headline: Natural Selection, ‘Engine of Evolution,’ May Actually Inhibit Evolution, Scientists Find. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
A team of American and British scientists has published a new report detailing how natural selection, “the engine of evolution,” can actually prevent evolution from happening — a potentially devastating setback for evolutionists.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. Then they quote Darwin’s description of natural selection from what they describe as “his infamous book,” The Origin of Species. We’ll skip that so we can get to the fun stuff:
These findings evidently confirm the position of biblical creationists, who maintain that natural selection does not result in upward evolution and speciation, nor does it add new information to the genetic code.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. How to they leap to that conclusion? They cite a world-famous creationist:
“Natural selection cannot create totally new characteristics that were not possible from the information already in the particular gene pool. It can only select from what already exists in that gene pool,” wrote Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis in his book “One Race One Blood.” “It causes changes that take place within a species or within a kind by weeding out certain characteristics that are not advantageous in a specific environment. It can’t cause one kind to change into another.”
Then they provide additional insight from ol’ Hambo:
“Natural selection does not cause reptiles to evolve into birds — reptiles don’t have the information for feathers; only birds do,” he continued. “You’d have to have brand-new information to get something brand new that never previously existed or was possible from the information available. That’s not what’s happening; natural selection is basically a downhill process (or a conserving process). Natural selection results in a loss of genetic information and/or redistribution of pre-existing information.”
Okay, that’s enough. This incident is a good example of what we call the Creationist Scientific Method:
We expect to see ol’ Hambo crowing about this at his own blog.
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