Toads Evolve into Eco-Nightmare

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"Toxic toads evolving into eco-nightmare" reports an article on BBC news, 15 Feb 2006, about a study of Australian cane toads also reported in the Daily Telegraph, news@nature and Nature, vol 439, p803, 16 Feb 2006. Cane toads from the USA were introduced into Australia over 70 years and are gradually spreading across the northern regions of Australia. Biologists at the University of Sydney have studied the rate of advance of the invasion front and compared the size of the toads found at the front with toads in older more established populations. Ben Philips, one of the researchers, explained the results: "During an invasion process the individuals at the front are there because they have moved the furthest. We showed that the toads that are the first to arrive at the front are the ones with the longest legs, and the ones last to arrive have shorter legs. The front toads also have much longer legs than the older populations in Queensland." Amphibian ecologist David Skelly of Yale University commented to news@nature that this study is "one the first known examples of a vertebrate rapidly evolving in a new environment." He went on to say: "People have this deep seated feeling that vertebrates don't evolve on these sorts of timescales. But this work shows that it can happen."

Editorial Comment: Whatever cane toads are up to in Australia, they are not evolving. All that is happening here is the toads that are winning the race across Australia already have genes for longer legs. As a result of leaving the others behind, the faster toads are becoming temporarily separated from the shorter legged toads. Therefore, toads at the invasion front can only mate with toads of similar leg length, and thus reinforce the long legged tendency.

Creation Research predicts that when the short legged toads catch up to the front line they will breed with the long legged animals once more, resulting in a return to the average leg length seen in older established populations. When this happens will the evolutionists claim they are devolving? (Ref. Bufo, ecology, evolution. prediction)

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