September 16, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Voles Throw Evolutionary Genetics Into Disarray

What is it with voles?  These little gopher-like furballs with beady eyes, short tails and tiny ears are giving evolutionary geneticists fits.  A press release from Purdue University states, “Purdue University research has shown that the vole, a mouselike rodent, is not only the fastest evolving mammal, but also harbors a number of puzzling genetic traits that challenge current scientific understanding” and are “an evolutionary enigma” with “many bizarre traits,” videlicet:

  • Chromosome numbers range from 17 to 64 between species.
  • X chromosomes in some species carry 20% of the genome.
  • Some females carry significant parts of the male Y chromosome.
  • In some species, the males and females have different chromosome numbers.
  • Despite widely variant genotypes, all voles come out looking basically the same (phenotype).  Some species look so identical it takes a DNA analysis to tell the difference.

Why is this an evolutionary puzzle?  “The study focuses on 60 species within the vole genus Microtus, which has evolved in the last 500,000 to 2 million years,” the article says.  “This means voles are evolving 60-100 times faster than the average vertebrate in terms of creating different species.”

It doesn’t mean any such thing.  It means, rather, that evolutionists are more incorrigible than ever when faced with conflicting data, to the point they will believe in miracles.
    These findings also mean that geneticists don’t understand nearly as much as they thought.  How can you have vastly different genomes that yield identical-looking animals?  What do genetic differences really imply about the fitness of individuals and populations?  Why would a little furball evolve 100 times faster than an elephant, monkey, or whale, or rat or mouse?
    Evolutionary theory was so much easier before we had facts.

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Categories: Genetics, Mammals

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