First we’ll mention the science, then we’ll give you the creationism. Three weeks ago, PhysOrg had an article titled Genetic adaptations to diving discovered in humans for the first time, which says, with our bold font:
Evidence that humans can genetically adapt to diving has been identified for the first time in a new study. The evidence suggests that the Bajau, a people group indigenous to parts of Indonesia, have genetically enlarged spleens which enable them to free dive to depths of up to 70m. It has previously been hypothesised that the spleen plays an important role in enabling humans to free dive for prolonged periods but the relationship between spleen size and dive capacity has never before been examined in humans at the genetic level.
For over 1000 years the Bajau people, known as ‘Sea Nomads’, have travelled the Southeast Asian seas in houseboats and collected food by free diving with spears. Now settled around the islands of Indonesia, they are renowned throughout the region for their extraordinary breath-holding abilities. Members of the Bajau can dive up to 70m with nothing more than a set of weights and a pair of wooden goggles.
[Melissa ] Ilardo, first author on the paper [Physiological and Genetic Adaptations to Diving in Sea Nomads in Cell, readable online], suspected that the Bajau could have genetically adapted spleens as a result of their marine hunter-gatherer lifestyle, based on findings in other mammals. “There’s not a lot of information out there about human spleens in terms of physiology and genetics,” she said, “but we know that deep diving seals, like the Weddell seal, have disproportionately large spleens. I thought that if selection acted on the seals to give them larger spleens, it could potentially do the same in humans.”
Very interesting. It reminds us of High-altitude adaptation in humans, about which Wikipedia says:
High-altitude adaptation in humans is an instance of evolutionary modification in certain human populations, including those of Tibet in Asia, the Andes of the Americas, and Ethiopia in Africa, who have acquired the ability to survive at extremely high altitudes. This adaptation means irreversible, long-term physiological responses to high-altitude environments, associated with heritable behavioural and genetic changes.
Okay, now for the creationism. The Discovery Institute just posted this at their creationist blog: Humans Are Not Evolving into Mermaids. It has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Darwinists assert that humans are undergoing natural selection, too. Therefore, evolution is a fact. Is the latest claim about “humans still evolving” all wet? In a recent article on sea turtles [link omitted], we weighed the evolutionary idea that “opportunity shapes adaptation.” We asked, “Well, if opportunities can shape adaptations, we should see human mermaids by now, shouldn’t we?” [What?] Almost immediately, news articles start appearing promoting the idea that some groups of people are indeed evolving into free-divers.
Then they discuss the research on the Bajau Sea Nomad people and say:
Legs turning into flippers could not be far behind!
After that brilliant extrapolation they tell us:
The story is reminiscent of the old “aquatic ape” hypothesis that enjoyed brief popularity among Darwinians in the 1980s. It was supposed to explain hairlessness and subcutaneous fat in humans, among other “adaptations” that make humans distinct from apes. One of its proponents’ books became a best seller in 1972. … Is history repeating itself in the current claim about freediving Sea Nomads?
Isn’t this great? The Discoveroids continue:
For neo-Darwinism to account for the observations, we would expect to find new genetic information from mutations.
Ooooooooooooh! Information! See Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. The Discoveroids quote a bit from the published paper on the Bajau people and announce:
A standing variation [in spleen size] already existed in the human gene pool, therefore; nothing new was created by mutation — just a modification in size to an existing organ. The quote means that the capacity for large spleens already existed in the population, fitting Doug Axe’s principle that selection cannot invent things. Besides, could anyone prove that a large spleen was not the original designed trait? If it was, then selection reduced the genetic information in non-divers.
This is getting wild. Let’s read on:
Looking at the empirical observations without Darwin glasses on, one may infer that humans — like all other organisms on the planet — come equipped with the genetic toolkit to survive in a wide variety of environments.
Yes! The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — built all those capabilities into the human genome. Here’s another Discoveroid rebuttal:
Evolutionists often don’t go far enough. They love to latch onto possible cases of natural selection, but fail to apply the same reasoning in other cases. Are coal miners evolving into troglobites after generations of that line of work? Are piano players evolving more fingers? Are weightlifters evolving more muscle mass? Why do the Inuit wear parkas instead of evolving their own long fur? Why haven’t snake charmers evolved immunity to venom? You could think of a hundred examples that could be analyzed as cases of “humans evolving” like the Bajau diver case, and yet we are all one species with one human nature.
Having totally demolished the scientific study on the Bajau Sea Nomad people, the Discoveroids triumphantly end their post with this:
In short, don’t expect to see tail flukes or blowholes in humans any time soon. The Little Mermaid remains Disney fantasy, and the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs take off their latex costumes before going home.
That was a splendid example of creation science! Not even Casey could do it better.
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