November 16, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Scientists Force Rapid Natural Selection in Lizards

Scientists transported a predator to a Caribbean island and watched some of the lizards evolve longer legs to run faster.  Then, as some of them took to climbing trees, their hind legs grew shorter.  They are calling this a test of natural selection, and are amazed the effects took effect so rapidly – in one generation, even.
    EurekAlert commented, “Countering the widespread view of evolution as a process played out over the course of eons, evolutionary biologists have shown that natural selection can turn on a dime – within months – as a population’s needs change.”  The story was also reported on Live Science, National Geographic, The Times Online (UK), and New Scientist, which are calling this “natural selection at work” and claiming “This demonstrates that evolutionary biology can be a predictive, experimental science like any other.

And their point is….?  If any of these scientists or reporters think for a minute that this is another arrow in Darwin’s quiver to shoot down creationism, they need to face the tanks.  Creationists already accept limited amounts of natural selection on a microevolutionary scale.  This is not the kind of evolution that is going to help them explain the origin of lizards.  This is like the old peppered myth.  There were probably already long-legged and short-legged variants in existence before the experiment; all that happened was a population shift.  Besides, the genes for legs and the brains to use them were already there.  If you put short people and tall people in a race with a mountain lion chasing them, you already know the outcome.  What kind of predictive science is that?  Where is the evolution?  And where are the environmentalists who should be screaming at these scientists for introducing a non-native species into a fragile ecosystem?
    Take your pick for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week from these silly articles.  A researcher in the New Scientist piece made it sound like the lizards decided to evolve: “These lizards are no dummies,” he said.  “Natural selection can turn on a dime,” as if that thought is worth one.  National Geographic quoted a scientist spilling too many beans while bragging about this observational evidence for evolution: “In most cases in evolutionary biology,” he admitted, “you have to look back and speculate what might have happened.”  Live Science called this a reptilian version of “Survivor.”  OK, time to change channels.

(Visited 75 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply