May 20, 2002 | David F. Coppedge

Peppered Moths Are Back

51; One might think that past embarrassments about the peppered moth as evidence for evolution would keep evolutionists reluctant to mention them.  A team from the University of Liverpool either didn’t get the message, or shed all reluctance anyway.  They published a new paper about Biston betularia in Science,1 calling the moth story “a textbook example of how an altered environment may produce morphological adaptation through genetic change” and “one of the most widely recognized examples of contemporary evolutionary change.”  The first reference was to Michael Majerus, who spent years trying to establish the peppered moth as an icon of evolution (06/25/2004, 09/03/2007, and item following 02/08/2009).
    Their paper, however, only discussed which mutations might have produced the black variety.  The black ones, apparently losing their color due to a single mutation, did better when the trees were darker, but are now rapidly disappearing.  No long-term evolutionary adaptation was demonstrated.  Here’s how the paper ended:

The rapid spread of an initially unique haplotype, driven by strong positive selection, is expected to generate the profile of linkage disequilibrium we have observed, establishing that UK industrial melanism in the peppered moth was seeded by a single recent mutation that spread to most parts of mainland Britain and also colonized the Isle of Man (fig. S4).  Paradoxically, although the carbonaria [black] morph is now strongly disadvantageous and consequently rare in the United Kingdom, the rapidity of its decline has minimized the eroding effect of typica [white] introgression on the molecular footprint of strongly positive selection created during its ascendency.

This means that the mutant appeared recently, spread for awhile, and is dying out, without leaving much of an evolutionary trace on the species or the world.


1.  van’t Hof, Edmonds et al, “Industrial Melanism in British Peppered Moths Has a Singular and Recent Mutational Origin,” Science, 20 May 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6032 pp. 958-960, DOI: 10.1126/science.1203043.

The “evolution” of the peppered moth was the kind even young-earth creationist Ken Ham would yawn about, because it represented a temporary case of population statistics – not even micro-evolution.  It’s perfectly fine to study the moths and their distributions and genes, but to call them a “textbook example” of “evolutionary change” should embarrass the breeches off any evolutionist who isn’t clueless (07/05/2002).  Critics of the peppered myth have been complaining about it loud and long for decades.  Why does it persist?
    The reason is that evolutionists are a closed society.  They talk amongst themselves in an echo chamber, reinforcing their pet illusions or attacking straw men (09/03/2007).  They never read the critics.  These guys are probably oblivious to Jonathan Wells’ 2000 book Icons of Evolution that demolished the peppered myth, and the other critiques by non-creationists and others not advocating intelligent design (11/13/2008).  As an argument for evolution, the peppered moth is over, done, defunct.  Give it up, Darwinians!
    The real lesson of the peppered moth is one of fantastic design.  Moths and butterflies create immense challenges to Darwinian theory, as the new documentary Metamorphosis from Illustra Media (to be released next month on Blu-Ray) will make abundantly clear.  This exceptional film is complete and now in the packaging stages.  Get your Dolby 5.1 HDTV system tuned up for a visual, auditory, intellectual tour de force!

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