Discoveroids React to a New Galapagos Finch

Some recent news that we didn’t think was especially remarkable has been showing up in at least 50 or maybe 100 different newspapers. A good account is at PhysOrg: Galapagos study finds that new species can develop in as little as two generations. They say, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The arrival 36 years ago of a strange bird to a remote island in the Galapagos archipelago has provided direct genetic evidence of a novel way in which new species arise.

In this week’s issue of the journal Science, researchers from Princeton University and Uppsala University in Sweden report that the newcomer belonging to one species mated with a member of another species resident on the island, giving rise to a new species that today consists of roughly 30 individuals.

This is the Science paper they’re talking about: Rapid hybrid speciation in Darwin’s finches. Without a subscription, all you can see is the abstract, which says:

Homoploid hybrid speciation in animals has been inferred frequently from patterns of variation, but few examples have withstood critical scrutiny. Here we report a directly documented example from its origin to reproductive isolation. An immigrant Darwin’s finch to Daphne Major in the Galápagos archipelago initiated a new genetic lineage by breeding with a resident finch (Geospiza fortis). Genome sequencing of the immigrant identified it as a G. conirostris male that originated on Española >100km from Daphne. From the second generation onwards the lineage bred endogamously, and despite intense inbreeding, was ecologically successful and showed transgressive segregation of bill morphology. This example shows that reproductive isolation, which typically develops over hundreds of generations, can be established in only three.

Okay, back to PhysOrg. They tell us:

All 18 species of Darwin’s finches derived from a single ancestral species that colonized the Galápagos about one to two million years ago. The finches have since diversified into different species, and changes in beak shape and size have allowed different species to utilize different food sources on the Galápagos. A critical requirement for speciation to occur through hybridization of two distinct species is that the new lineage must be ecologically competitive — that is, good at competing for food and other resources with the other species — and this has been the case for the Big Bird lineage.

“It is very striking that when we compare the size and shape of the Big Bird beaks with the beak morphologies of the other three species inhabiting Daphne Major, the Big Birds occupy their own niche in the beak morphology space,” said Sangeet Lamichhaney, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the first author on the study. “Thus, the combination of gene variants contributed from the two interbreeding species in combination with natural selection led to the evolution of a beak morphology that was competitive and unique.”

But isn’t this just a variety, like the numerous breeds of dogs? PhysOrg continues:

The definition of a species has traditionally included the inability to produce fully fertile progeny from interbreeding species, as is the case for the horse and the donkey, for example. However, in recent years it has become clear that some closely related species, which normally avoid breeding with each other, do indeed produce offspring that can pass genes to subsequent generations. The authors of the study have previously reported that there has been a considerable amount of gene flow among species of Darwin’s finches over the last several thousands of years.


“We have no indication about the long-term survival of the Big Bird lineage, but it has the potential to become a success, and it provides a beautiful example of one way in which speciation occurs,” said Andersson. “Charles Darwin would have been excited to read this paper.”

That’s the news. Now for the creationist reaction. The first we’ve seen is from the Discovery Institute. This showed up today at their creationist blog: Zombie Watch: Debunked Finches Re-Emerge to Validate Darwin. It has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Peter and Rosemary Grant are the Princeton pair who have spent their careers on the Galápagos Islands trying to tease out the slightest bits of evidence to support the iconic myth of Darwin’s finches. … In “Rapid hybrid speciation in Darwin’s finches” in the journal Science, four other lead authors, accompanied by the Grants, try to sanctify neo-Darwinism with a melodrama about three “species” of finches that can all interbreed. Mind you, they are all finches. They are all Galápagos finches. They are all family. Any differences among the groups are tiny changes in beak size and shape, and changes in the songs one group sings.


They’d better not push that idea too far, or else they will be calling Japanese a different species from Germans. That’s no joke; to evolutionists, human beings fit in the category “other animals.”

This kind of denial is an old story, and one we’ve discussed before — see Speciation Has Been Observed. Creationists won’t be impressed unless a bird gives birth to a tortoise. It’s the micro-macro mambo, which we discuss in Common Creationist Claims Confuted.

The Discoveroids go on and on, and finish their post with this:

Why do the Darwinians make so much of so little? The reason: the Galápagos Islands are holy ground. Researchers will work for years to honor the founder of their worldview.

Yes, we’re the dogmatic fanatics. Explaining how speciation occurs, and demonstrating an actual example of that process actually occurring in real time, isn’t sufficient for creationists. They’ll continue to claim that no one has ever seen a species evolve, and nothing will ever change their minds. Why? Because they already know The Truth.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Discoveroids React to a New Galapagos Finch

  1. “Mind you, they are all finches. They are all Galápagos finches. They are all family. ”

    Maybe even the same kind?

  2. Scientists identified an Adam and an Eve and their sons. (Biblical studies teach that the daughters are not important.) Even if they are finches, creationists should rejoice and call it a HUGE NEWS.

    Let’s hope that they will not be chased from their Paradise (island) for having gulped the wrong fruit, or grain, or nut, or whatever.

  3. With the phrasing “to evolutionists” the writer seems to oppose him/herself to ‘those other people’, strongly suggesting that the DI does not consider ID (part of) evolution. That’s weird, because I thought Intelligent Design only needed to supplement the ToE to overcome the development of irreducible complexity.

    To the Disco Tooters spying here, why don’t you drop the mask? You’re all creationists, many of you even of the ex-nihilo type, and while it’s silly to believe that, it’s outright disingenuous to lie about your beliefs.

  4. According to Wikipedia, Darwin’s finches are in the tanager family, not the “true finch” family. Baraminologists often say that a “kind” is “something like a taxonomic family”.

  5. Hans Weichselbaum

    The opinions are divided in the land of ID. Michael Behe has little quarrel with the thesis of common ancestry (“Darwin’s Black Box” 1996, Introduction), but rejects Darwinian gradualism.
    Most other ID followers, including senior Stephen Meyer, don’t accept common ancestry.

  6. Draken:
    “To the Disco Tooters spying here, why don’t you drop the mask? You’re all creationists, many of you even of the ex-nihilo type, and while it’s silly to believe that, it’s outright disingenuous to lie about your beliefs.”

    Their old habits die hard. The whole ID thing was started as a workaround of the Supreme Court ruling that creationism was a religious belief, and therefore couldn’t be taught in public schools. So, in order to have creationism taught in public schools, they tried to change the name from “Creationism” to “Intelligent Design”. No “God” as Creator; just some unnamed “Grand Old Designer”. Some school boards thought it was enough of a butt cover to use it in their schools — at least until Kitzmiller sued the Dover, Pa. school board, and federal Judge Jones basically ruled that Intelligent Design was just old-fashioned creationism under a new name.

    Since then, the Discovery Institute “Discoveriods” have been insisting that “No, we’re not creationists! Uh,uh. No way. Nosiree! We believe in Design Theory.” They don’t specify who the designer is, but they aren’t fooling anyone — their designer is none other than the “Grand Old Designer”, or G.O.D. for short.

    Kinda like the piece of rope in the old joke that walked into a bar and ordered a drink. Bartender says,”We don’t serve ropes in this bar. Now, get out!”

    So the rope goes out in the road, rolls all around in the dirt and gravel, twists himself all up, hops back into the saloon, and orders a drink.

    Bartender says,”Say, aren’t you the rope I just kicked out?”

    Rope says, “No, I’m a frayed knot!”

    The bartender wasn’t fooled. Neither was Judge Jones.

  7. I also think that the founders of ID realized that the “young Earth” and “Arkeology” were losers, but that to reject them was to lose a substantial part of their political base. The IDers took the stance of not saying anything about such things. That is, that they were removing what little of substance was left in creationism. There is no definition or description of what “Design” might be, and “Intelligent Design” tells us only that there is a better explanation than naturalistic evolution – not teling us anything about that better explanation.

  8. Ross Cameron

    Can`t understand why the Discoveroids don`t see evolution taking place in front of their eyes. Creationists->Intelligent Designers-> Utter Idiots

  9. Here’s the write-up of the finch findings at Science News:

  10. The IDiots from Seattle may think that YECers and Arkeologists are losers, they are using the same non-arguments. Take this:

    “Any differences among the groups are tiny changes”
    ie variations within a kind. Because big differences require new “information”. And that violates the divine Law of Information Containment, like Ol’Hambo pointed out in the other article.

  11. The creationists’ argument that no new “information” is created is refute every time someone writes a book, even if it’s a garbage creationist tract. Any text which carries a meaning contains at least some information not previously in existence, unless it’s a direct copy of something else.

  12. Consider the basis of the law of conservation of information as used by creationists.

    Is this law based on logic, do we have confidence in this law because of the meaning of the terms, can we prove that it is necessarily ture, like the laws of arithmetic? If so, then it applies also to the supernatural, for even the supernatural cannot do the logically impossible.

    Is this law based on experiments? Let us examine the only cases that the
    creationists bring up in reference to the supposed law:
    There are cases in which there are only minor amounts of information: the snowflake forms a pattern naturally, if a new species micro-evolves within a kind. That is, minor variations from the conservation of information are OK. Living things can grow and reproduce and seeds and eggs can produce complicated adults.
    When intelligent or purposeful agents, like humans, are able to violate the conservation,
    In brief, the only times that the law is referenced by creatonists are cases in which it is not obeyed. The law, as far as creationists are concerned, there is not conservation.

  13. TomS asks two profound questions:

    “Is this law based on logic?”
    “Is this law based on experiments?”
    Since it’s a divine law formulated by creacrappers I think I can guess the correct answer without any elaborate explanation.