November 10, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

March of the Little Penguins Down Darwin Lane?

Penguins are on people’s minds since the movie, but there are other species of the handsome-yet-funny waddlers besides the reigning emperors.  The news media are saying one species demonstrates evolution – another word on the public mind these days.  MSNBC News talked about “Penguin evolution,” and Science Now proclaimed “Evolution on Ice.”  Actually, it’s only microevolution they are talking about, both articles admit.  A study of Adelie penguins revealed small-scale genetic changes between colonies.  They believe these are related to population dynamics as icebergs shifted around, an Antarctic version of the social mixer or (are you ready?) party icebreaker.  Formal dress, of course.

Notice this excerpt from the MSNBC article: “One surprising finding was that there wasn’t much genetic variation between different penguin colonies.”  And their point is?  The article was filled with evolution lingo, but they found less variation than expected – either a blending of genetic traits, or convergence.  What’s more, the study only traced DNA back to 6,000 years.  Isn’t that interesting.
    These studies could have been done by creationists.  Even the most ardent Biblical creationists allow for significant genetic variability within kinds.  Studies like this can be useful; they can help untangle the history of shifting populations of the same species.  We do that with human population genetics – tracing, for example, the migration patterns of Asiatics into the New World via the Bering Strait.  But this new penguin study cannot offer any substantive support for Darwin’s prime thesis, that penguins had bacteria ancestors.  None of the actual data show penguins evolving from pre-penguins.
    Microevolution is not macroevolution.  It’s misleading that both terms include the word evolution, because they do not necessarily have anything to do with each other, except in the imagination of Darwinists.  (Notice that the MSNBC article referred to the old peppered myth as a “classic example” of microevolution.)  Darwinists are convinced that micro can be extrapolated to macro, given enough time, and that horizontal variations can add up to vertical gains in information and function, given no fossil evidence.  Their a priori commitment to Darwinist thinking determines how the data will be interpreted.
    There seem to be more attempts by pro-Darwin science reporters to get the E word before the public eye, hoping to procure for embattled Darwinian theory an air of scientific legitimacy it struggles to obtain and maintain.  Don’t let them get away with trying to use this study as evidence for evolution, or as propaganda against the ID movement.  The subjects were Adelie penguins all through the timeline – no macroevolution occurred, only sorting of existing traits.
    Penguins should be viewed, like all other living things, as testimonies to intelligent design.  The design is evident at all levels, from the molecular, to the cellular, up through the tissues and organs and systems, all the way up to the complete bird and its interaction with other animals and with its environment (see 10/27/2005 story).  Microvariation, yes; macroevolution, no.

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Categories: Birds, Genetics

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