How may times have we seen creationists argue against evolution because no one has ever witnessed one species evolve into another? It’s far too many to recall, but this is a typical example: Hambo Says Bacteria Don’t Evolve. We know, of course, why speciation hasn’t been observed — because it takes a great many generations to happen. With long-lived species like ourselves, it’s impossible to literally witness. So we rely on fossils, morphology, and DNA evidence. But that’s not enough for creationists.
When we point to Richard Lenski’s E. coli long-term evolution experiment, creationists claim it’s only micro-evolution. They’re always screaming that no one has literally seen a monkey evolve into a man, or a dog into a cat, or a crock into a duck. They demand visual evidence of actual evolution, while at the same time they insist that the unseen and unevidenced events in Genesis are true. (Ah, they respond, but that’s different!)
Well, now we have something else for them to ignore — if they can. It’s at EurekAlert, the online news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): Biologists watch speciation in a laboratory flask. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Biologists have discovered that the evolution of a new species can occur rapidly enough for them to observe the process in a simple laboratory flask. In a month-long experiment using a virus harmless to humans, biologists working at the University of California San Diego and at Michigan State University documented the evolution of a virus into two incipient species — a process known as speciation that Charles Darwin proposed to explain the branching in the tree of life, where one species splits into two distinct species during evolution.
One species of virus evolved into two in only a month? Let’s read on:
“Many theories have been proposed to explain speciation, and they have been tested through analyzing the characteristics of fossils, genomes, and natural populations of plants and animals,” said Justin Meyer, an assistant professor of biology at UC San Diego and the first author of a study that will be published in the December 9 issue of Science. “However, speciation has been notoriously difficult to thoroughly investigate because it happens too slowly to directly observe. Without direct evidence for speciation, some people [Hee hee!] have doubted the importance of evolution and Darwin’s theory of natural selection.”
After that we’re told:
Meyer’s study, which also appeared last week in an early online edition of Science, began while he was a doctoral student at Michigan State University, working in the laboratory of Richard Lenski, a professor of microbial ecology there who pioneered the use of microorganisms to study the dynamics of long-term evolution.
Lenski? Aha — they’re all in it together. It’s a Darwinite conspiracy! Anyway, here’s the paper in Science: Ecological speciation of bacteriophage lambda in allopatry and sympatry. All you can see is the abstract, unless you have a subscription.
EurekAlert has some technical information, which you can read for yourself. Here’s one last excerpt, which is certain to be seen as a challenge to creationists:
“With these experiments, no one can doubt whether speciation occurs,” Meyer added. “More importantly, we now have an experimental system to test many previously untestable ideas about the process.”
We’re anticipating a vigorous reaction from the creationist websites, including denials like: “They’re still viruses!” and “The experiment was intelligently designed!” This should be fun.
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