Evolution Occurs Before Our Eyes

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Evolution occurs before our eyes, claims an article in New Scientist, 9 July 2005, p28. New Scientist writer Bob Holmes claims that evolution is not a slow gradual process that is too slow to be directly observed, but is a rapid process that can be seen happening now. He presents the following classic examples: "Evolutionary biologists have long known that the process can happen rapidly - Charles Darwin himself pointed out the observable changes wrought by pigeon fanciers and dog breeders. A century later biologists showed that peppered moths in England's industrial heartland had evolved darker colours to camouflage themselves against soot-blackened trees. And by the end of the 20th century everyone knew that bacteria, insects and weeds were able to evolve resistance to antibiotics and pesticides within a few years. But few thought such speedy evolution was more than just a special case. But in the 1980s biologists began to realise that adaptation might be a more dynamic process than they had thought. For example, on one of the Galapagos Islands, Peter and Rosemary Grant of Princeton University discovered that among one species of finch, individuals with small beaks do best in wet years, when small-seeded plants thrive, while their larger-beaked nestmates have the edge in drier years, when larger-seeded plants predominate. As a result, beak size see-saws back and forth rapidly."

The article then goes on to cite more recent examples of rapid evolution in fish and wild sheep. After many years of intense fishing, cod living off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, "have also evolved towards maturing at smaller sizes - presumably as a result of the capture of the largest fish". The Rocky Mountains in Canada are described as "one of the best places to see evolution in action" because the wild big-horned sheep have evolved smaller horns due to sheep with larger horns being shot by hunters looking for impressive trophies.

Editorial Comment: We couldn't help but laugh when we read this. All Bob Holmes examples involve rapid change in a population of living creatures, and all involve some kind of selection, but not one of them is evolution. All that has happened in each case listed is that some members of a population of varied individuals have been removed, leaving the rest to reproduce. Therefore, the already pre-existing characteristics of the remaining individuals, e.g. antibiotic resistance or small horns, have become the dominant features in succeeding generations. The gene pool has been reduced, which is the opposite of evolution, but fits Genesis, which describes how the world has changed from a lush and plentiful environment that could support many types of creatures to a degenerate environment where only the few can survive. (Ref. evolution, degeneration, selection)

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