Chernobyl Mutation Experiment Fails to Support Darwinism
Bird brains are getting smaller in the region around Chernobyl. Organisms in the vicinity of the radiation from the nuclear disaster 25 years ago have not improved, but suffered under the onslaught of mutations. There is no evidence of any population increasing in fitness in any way; on the contrary, animals are struggling to survive. Yet according to neo-Darwinism, mutational change is the seedbed of evolutionary gains in fitness.
Timothy Mousseau was a co-author of a paper in PLoS ONE studying bird populations in the affected area.1 They studied 550 birds belonging to 48 species and found an overall 5% decrease in brain size, especially among yearlings: “Brain size was significantly smaller in yearlings than in older individuals, implying directional selection against small brain size.” This means that the radiation was a drag, not a help, on the fitness of these birds: their bodies want to make the brains larger, but they can’t: the “directional selection” is contrary to the mutational load. Mousseau explained in a press release on PhysOrg, “These findings point to broad-scale neurological effects of chronic exposure to low-dose radiation. The fact that we see this pattern for a large portion of the bird community suggests a general phenomenon that may have significant long-term repercussions.”
The radiation affects other organisms, too: “The study revealed that insect diversity and mammals were declining in the exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear power plant.” The birds provide a test case of population response to a mutagen. Although the brains were the organs measured, the whole body suffers: “Stressed birds often adapt by changing the size of some of their organs to survive difficult environment conditions,” the article said. “The brain is the last organ to be sacrificed this way, meaning the radiation could be having worse impacts on other organs of the birds.”
But isn’t this a case of adaptation, then? Neo-Darwinists should not take comfort in the findings: “Mousseau said not only are their brains smaller, but it seems they are not as capable at dealing with their environment as evidenced by their lower rates of survival.”
1. Moller, Bonisol-Alquati, Rudolfsen and Mousseau, “Chernobyl Birds Have Smaller Brains,” Public Library of Science ONE 6(2): e16862. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016862.
“Oh,” the Darwinist says, “but you must give it millions of years.” Don’t fall for that. Evolution runs both fast and slow, don’t they tell us? (01/15/2002, 02/21/2003, 01/31/2011). If Charlie’s mutation magic can turn a cow into a whale in six million years, it could surely produce a measurably fitter bird brain in 25 years. Let’s expand the population and ask how many human CAT-scan patients have gotten smarter and produced genius kids. How many dental patients have grown new improved teeth or new organs after X-rays? Tumors, maybe, but not some new sense organ or function.
The Chernobyl bird populations have been under a steady dose of radiation for decades now, giving ample opportunity for mutations to help at least one chick get a lucky break. Evolution fails another real-world test. Don’t go to Chernobyl hoping to get fit. Under mutational load (12/14/2006, 04/09/2007), you don’t get a choice of “Evolve or Perish”; just the latter.