December 26, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Incredible Stasis in Evolution: What Does It Mean?

Quite often in phylogenetic research, evolutionists find examples of extreme conservation of genes or traits.  How they explain the lack of change is almost as interesting as the phenomenon itself.  Here are two recent examples.

  1. Your cousin the shark:  Surprise: you have more in common with horn sharks than bony fishes do.  Craig Venter’s international team found evidence for “Ancient Noncoding Elements Conserved in the Human Genome” and reported this in Science last week.1  They found more similarities in these noncoding regions between sharks and humans than between sharks and bony fish.  Here’s how they interpreted such an astonishing result:

    Thus, it appears that, even though cartilaginous fishes diverged from the human lineage before teleost fishes, higher proportions of regulatory elements are conserved between cartilaginous fishes and human than between teleost fishes and human.  This implies that the regulatory regions of teleost fishes have been evolving faster since their common ancestor diverged from the lineage that led to mammals.  The divergent regulatory regions in teleosts may be partly explained by the partitioning of regulatory elements between duplicate gene loci that arose from the fish-specific whole-genome duplication event in the ray-finned fish lineage.  Teleost fishes, with about 25,000 extant species, are the largest group of vertebrates and exhibit vast diversity in their morphology and adaptations.  The accelerated rate of evolution of regulatory regions may be an important factor in the rapid radiation and diversity of teleost fishes.

  2. Make like a leaf:  A fossil leaf-mimicking insect said to be 47 million years old is virtually identical to modern ones, reported  What this means, according to the article, is that this insect found a “time-tested strategy” to avoid predators.  The article calls this “an outstanding example of morphological and, probably, behavioral stasis.” It means that “leaf mimicry had already evolved early in the Eocene period when insect predators would have included birds, early primates, bats, and other insects.”  See also the story on Live Science.
    Update 12/29/2006: the paper in PNAS appeared online Dec. 29.2  Portions of the abstract demonstrate the degree of stasis of this fossil:

    …. Here we report the first fossil leaf insect, Eophyllium messelensis gen.  et sp.  nov., from 47-million-year-old deposits at Messel in Germany.  The new specimen, a male, is exquisitely preserved and displays the same foliaceous appearance as extant male leaf insects.  Clearly, an advanced form of extant angiosperm leaf mimicry had already evolved early in the Eocene.  We infer that this trait was combined with a special behavior, catalepsy or “adaptive stillness,” enabling Eophyllium to deceive visually oriented predators.  Potential predators reported from the Eocene are birds, early primates, and bats.  The combination of primitive and derived characters revealed by Eophyllium allows the determination of its exact phylogenetic position and illuminates the evolution of leaf mimicry for this insect group.  It provides direct evidence that Phylliinae originated at least 47 Mya…. This fossil leaf insect bears considerable resemblance to extant individuals in size and cryptic morphology, indicating minimal change in 47 million years.  This absence of evolutionary change is an outstanding example of morphological and, probably, behavioral stasis.

    This fossil was found in Europe, while most leaf-mimic insects live today in southeast Asia.  This indicates that leaf insects were much more widespread in the past.  It’s possible that fossil hunters missed finding them before now because the mimics were so good, people mistook them for leaves.
        What traits did the authors feel were primitive?  Their paper tries to place the new fossil between the stick insects and modern leaf mimics, but admits that their origin is “poorly understood” and that “exact phylogenetic position of the Phylliinae within the phasmid phylogeny is unknown”.  It seems arbitrary, therefore, that their chart places the new insect halfway between the stick insects and the leaf insects, considering that the fossil shares many characteristics with extant leaf insects.  They only pointed to “straight fore femora and the absence of tergal thorn pads” as “primitive” traits resembling those of the stick insects; yet, clearly, this fossil was not primitive.  They restated at the end of the paper that this fossil is an example of “exceptional evolutionary stasis of a highly derived morphology, most likely coupled with very specialized cryptic behavior that lasted for [greater than or equal to] 47 million years.”
        As to how exactly this morphology and behavior evolved, they suggested that necessity was the mother of invention: “In all probability,” they speculated, “this advanced type of crypsis evolved in concert with angiosperm leaves on which the insects feed.  It must have been caused by vigorous selection pressure by visually oriented predators” such as birds, lizards, bats and primates. 

1Venkatesh et al, “Ancient Noncoding Elements Conserved in the Human Genome,” Science, 22 December 2006: Vol. 314. no. 5807, p. 1892, DOI: 10.1126/science.1130708.
2Wedmann, Bradler and Rust, “The first fossil leaf insect: 47 million years of specialized cryptic morphology and behavior,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print December 29, 2006, 10.1073/pnas.0606937104.

Do you see how the evolutionary mindset works?  The thought never enters any evolutionist’s brain that evolutionary theory could be at fault.  No matter how bizarre, conflicting and falsifying the evidence, Darwin’s image must be worshipped and the sacrifices* must continue.  It doesn’t matter that no evolution happens in some lineages for tens or hundreds of millions of years (think about that!) for them to keep the pieces of their story straight, while evolution is extremely, fantastically rapid in other quarters.  In the time tree-swinging monkeys supposedly became philosophers, and all kinds of dramatic other changes took place, leaf-mimicking insects changed nada.  Are we to believe that the predators were all so stupid in this time never to catch on to the trick?  “Don’t eat me; I’m a leaf!”  Right.
    Even more astonishing is the conservation of noncoding elements between sharks and humans.  Evolutionary theory is so plastic and malleable, like silly putty, (12/14/2004), it makes evolutionists downright silly, buddy.  We are asked to believe that all the radiations of fish into seahorses and angler fish and tunas showed more evolution of these elements from their cartilaginous swimming mates than 530 million years of evolution of all the other vertebrates—reptiles, birds, and every mammal from shrews to giraffes to elephants and man.  We are expected to trust the evolutionists because they are priests of Science and know the Truth of Almighty Darwin (t.o.a.d.).  Don’t be a toady.

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