Evolutionary Predictions Fail Observational Tests
Lately, some expectations by evolutionists have not been fulfilled. Here are several recent examples of evolutionary upsets:
- Dinobird genes cook up scrambled eggs: Scientists expected that the dinosaurs presumed ancestral to birds would show a decreasing genome size. The thinking was that the cost of maintaining a large genome takes its toll on flight. In Nature,1 however, a team found that smaller genomes evolved 230 million years ago, long before the early bird caught a worm. Not only that, the non-avian dinosaur line (ornithischia) had sleeker genomes than the avian dinosaur line (saurischia). Genome size was not measured directly, but inferred from a relationship between cell size and genome size. This means that evolutionists cannot presume that genome size has anything to do with phylogeny.
Carl Zimmer in Science1a commented on this paper and on the question about genome size in general, but did not come up with any explanation for how natural selection would favor large or small genomes. See also the write-up in Live Science which repeats the assumption that dinosaurs had feathers (but compare counterarguments from CMI).
- Dog beats ape: Chimpanzees have a hard time drawing inferences about one another’s mental states by their motions. One can point to hidden food, for instance, and the other will not get the message. Dogs actually are much better at this, according to an article on EurekAlert. Since dogs are supposedly farther down the evolutionary tree from humans, though, evolutionists attribute the dog’s better score to domestication: “What accounts for this piece of convergent evolution between humans and domestic dogs is nothing other than the process of domestication – the breeding of dogs to tolerate, rather than fear, human company.” But would this mean that breeding chimps to tolerate, rather than fear, human company would produce a similar ability? They didn’t say.
- Parroting humans: Ryan Jaroncyk on Creation Ministries Intl reported about N’kisi, the wonder bird. This parrot can speak meaningful English sentences and has a vocabulary of 950 words. His report, based on an article in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine, implies that “birds possess a far greater linguistic capacity than chimpanzees.” This “defies evolutionary predictions,” he said. He devises a thought experiment: “What if chimpanzees possessed a vocabulary of 950 words, used words in context, and formulated simple sentences like N’kisi the parrot?” The result would be predictable: “The scientific community and popular media would be in an evolutionary frenzy.”
- Waspish behavior: Time to rewrite the evolutionary history of wasps, reported a press release from Univ. of Illinois. It’s all wrong. “Scientists at the University of Illinois have conducted a genetic analysis of vespid wasps that revises the vespid family tree and challenges long-held views about how the wasps’ social behaviors evolved,” it states (vespids include yellowjackets, paper wasps and about 5,000 species). “In the study, published in the Feb. 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found genetic evidence that eusociality (the reproductive specialization seen in some insects and other animals) evolved independently in two groups of vespid wasps.” The article did not speculate on how difficult it was for this ability to arise by evolution, except to say that “ The evolution of eusociality in wasps has long been a source of debate.” The take-home lesson is that assuming simple evolutionary lineages can get you stung: “These findings contradict an earlier model of vespid wasp evolution, which placed the groups together in a single lineage with a common ancestor.”
So does this cast doubt on the validity of evolutionary speculation? Not in the slightest. Evolutionism is actually strengthened by the finding that data contradict the prediction:
“The fact that eusociality evolved independently in two groups of vespid wasps also sheds light on the complexity of evolutionary processes, [Sydney] Cameron said.
“Scientists attempt to make generalizations and simplify the world. But the world isn’t always simple and evolution isn’t simple. This finding points to the complexity of life.”
- Winged migration: Is there a simple evolutionary tree for bird migration? Not here, either. A press release in EurekAlert from studies at the University of Arizona said, “A universal assumption about bird migration has been that short-distance migration is an evolutionary stepping stone to long-distance migration. The team’s work contradicts that idea by showing that short-distance migrants are inherently different from their globe-trotting cousins.” Seasonal food availability, not evolution, is apparently the determining factor. “One textbook explanation suggests either eating fruit or living in non-forested environments were the precursors needed to evolve migratory behavior.” True or false? “Not so,” is the new correct answer. The work is published in the March 2007 issue of American Naturalist.
- Scrub that: Some birds plan ahead. The scrub jay makes a list of things to do today, apparently. This behavior was described in Nature,2 where the authors began, “Knowledge of and planning for the future is a complex skill that is considered by many to be uniquely human…. We show that the jays make provision for a future need, both by preferentially caching food in a place in which they have learned that they will be hungry the following morning and by differentially storing a particular food in a place in which that type of food will not be available the next morning.” This is a longer time period than similar behavior observed over “very short time scales” in rats and pigeons. Even crows and apes don’t show this kind of foresight. “The results described here suggest that the jays can spontaneously plan for tomorrow without reference to their current motivational state, thereby challenging the idea that this is a uniquely human ability.” Sara Shettleworth, in the same issue of Nature, called this “food for thought.” Although we cannot mind-meld with a bird brain, it almost seems that these raucous garden birds are able to imagine time-travel into the future to foresee what they will need.
- Millipedes and biologists in the dark: Northern Arizona University reported two identical-looking cave millipedes that cannot be related. “We knew the millipedes likely represented two distinct species because the two populations were separated by the Grand Canyon,” said co-discoverer J. Judson Wynne. “The fact these two species belong to an entirely new genus was a great surprise to us.” He called them “living fossils.”
- Neanderthal verdict: The idea of a simple replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans, a “a topic of lively debate in human evolution,” will have to be abandoned, apparently. PNAS3 provided confirmation that the cave layers where bones of both groups have been found do overlap and interstratify with one another. They based this on radiocarbon, artifacts and stratigraphy. Unless “native Neanderthal populations effectively self-destructed the moment the first modern populations set foot in their territories,” a completely implausible scenario, they say, it is now “totally inescapable” Neanderthals and modern humans knew each other and coexisted for a long time.
The authors in this last item attribute criticisms of the interstratification theory to “a long-standing agenda to deny the possibility of significant chronological overlap and coexistence between late Neanderthal and early anatomically modern populations in western Europe, and therefore to deny any suggestion of potential mutual interaction or ‘acculturation’ between the two populations,” they asserted. With so many cases like these above, one can begin to meditate on what other agendas might operate to deny the possibility of keeping observations synchronized with theory.
1Organ, Shedlock, Meade, Pagel and Edwards, “Origin of avian genome size and structure in non-avian dinosaurs,” Nature 446, 180-184 (8 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05621.
1aCarl Zimmer, “Evolution: Jurassic Genome,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1358-1359, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5817.1358.
2Raby, Alexis, Dixon and Clayton, “Planning for the future by western scrub-jays,” Nature 445, 919-921 (22 February 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05575.
3Mellars, Gravina and Ramsey, “Confirmation of Neanderthal/modern human interstratification at the Chatelperronian type-site,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0608053104, published online before print February 21, 2007.
The evolutionists can’t seem to get anything right. No matter where they look, organisms aren’t cooperating with Charlie’s expectations. What’s really naked here, the jay bird or Darwin’s little storytelling parade? Is evolutionary theory really good for anything? Did not Darwin foist a fruitless path of inquiry on science? Aren’t his disciples clueless? Don’t they deserve to be called on the carpet and reprimanded for pretending to have scientific knowledge when the evidence is against them? We retort; you deride.