October 1, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

That Doesn't Look Like Evolution

Here are more findings, categorized under “evolution,” that might turn heads and make one say, “Huh?”

Peacock tales: So much for sexual selection. National Geographic now says that male birds with flashy colors are not the most fit. “Among peacocks, swans, pheasants, and other birds, males’ better looks don’t necessarily mean better genes,” the subtitle reads under “Why Flashy Male Birds Aren’t Really What They Seem.” A study conducted by University College London found “there’s no link between flashiness and fitness,” contrary to what Darwin thought. “A male may be attractive, but he doesn’t deliver at the genetic level. In a way, it’s false advertising.” That’s even if the female looks at the male to be attracted in the first place. Earlier studies showed them to be rather indifferent to all that color (3/26/08). And did anyone worry that sexual selection, even if it worked, would be at odds with natural selection? Predators are most likely to see and eat the flashy animal. Natural selection should prefer drab, well-camouflaged birds.

Blind fish: National Geographic sounds impressed that some scientists figured out “How This Cave-Dwelling Fish Lost Its Eyes to Evolution.” But wait; isn’t that a loss of function? Swedes in Mexico figured out that eyes are too costly to maintain in the dark, so that’s why the fish “evolved to be blind” compared to their siblings on the surface that have perfect vision. Think of the possibilities; next time you break a bone, you could brag to your friends that you are evolving. So how, exactly, is this evidence for evolution? “Evolution is often a mixture of many processes happening simultaneously,” Larry Moran argues (see Stuff Happens Law). This put reporter James Owen into a trance: “So, who knows—maybe its eyes will grow back again.”

Snake bellies: Some snakes have elaborate patterns on their bellies, but some don’t. Is there some Darwinian reason for this? National Geographic, once again, tries to make sense of it in the light of evolution. “Plain or patterned bellies can help snakes avoid predators,” Liz Langley explains, not really explaining anything if both strategies work. Another problem is that snake bellies are rarely seen by predators. Maybe the predator sees the pattern when he turns the snake over and is startled, Whit Gibbons (U of Georgia) speculates. Or maybe patterns confuse predators with optical illusions. Or maybe bright color warns predators the snake is venomous. But for every rule there is an exception; the venomous eastern coral snake and the harmless scarlet king snake “look so closely alike that a rhyme had to be invented to help us remember which is which.” Finding no evolutionary rule in the snake wardrobe, Langley turns to humor. Talking about the brightly colored San Francisco garter snake, Gibbons jokes, “Californians would expect nothing less than that their snakes sport the most elegant fashions.” A clever gadfly might respond, So do they dress by intelligent design?

Brachiopod: Betcha can’t tell I’m evolving: Science Daily reports that the genome of an “ancient marine animal,” the brachiopod Lingula anatina, has been sequenced. You wouldn’t know it from the creature’s appearance, because it looks pretty much the same as ones that graced early Cambrian seas 520 million Darwin years ago. Darwin himself called it a living fossil. Was he wrong?

One would expect that “living fossils” would closely resemble their fossilised ancestors, not only in appearance but in genome as well. While that is close to true for coelacanths, other famous “living fossils,” which have the slowest molecular evolutionary rate among vertebrates, the Lingula genome has been evolving rapidly, despite the lack of changes in appearance.

What good is all that evolution in the genes, though, if it makes no difference to the animal’s overall morphology? That’s just one puzzle. We also learn in this article that “The evolutionary origin of brachiopods and their relations to other species are still unclear” 155 years since Darwin puzzled over them in the Origin.  Indeed, they took part in the Cambrian explosion. That leads to another mystery in this article:

One of the great mysteries of animal evolution is that vertebrates and Lingula, although evolutionarily distant, both use calcium phosphate and collagen fibres for biomineralisation. However, genomic scale comparisons show that Lingula lacks genes for bone formation and has different types of collagen fibres. This study indicates that Lingula and bony vertebrates have evolved independently and employ different mechanisms for hard tissue formation. It is an interesting example of parallel evolution.

Despite these mysteries, we are told that the genome “sheds some light on the evolutionary history of brachiopods and lophotrochozoans as well as the origin of biomineralisation.”

Convergent evolution again: Current Biology puts the term right in the paper’s title: “Phylogenomics Reveals Convergent Evolution of Lifestyles in Close Relatives of Animals and Fungi”—not just ordinary convergent evolution, but “a striking example of convergent evolution.” Read about “secondary losses of the flagellum” and how “Specialized osmotrophy evolved independently in fungi and animal relatives.” Opisthokonts are “a broad group of eukaryotes, including both the animal and fungus kingdoms, together with the eukaryotic microorganisms”—i.e., you’re one, and so is a dinosaur and an amoeba. Darwin Flubber allows these 15 evolutionists to claim, “The last opisthokont common ancestor had a complex repertoire of chitin synthases.

Teeth as glorified fish scales: Reporters took advantage of a moment to pay homage to Darwin by claiming tooth enamel evolved from fish scales (e.g., Science Daily). How did that happen, and where is the evidence? Science Magazine reporter Sid Perkins explains in his Kipling-style headline, “How the enamel that coats your teeth evolved.” The tale takes us to Uppsala University in Sweden, where a researcher discovers hydroxyapatite, a key ingredient in tooth enamel, in the scales of a “20-centimeter-long minipredator, which prowled the seas between 410 million and 415 million years ago.” This fish didn’t have enamel in its teeth, though, leading evolutionist Per Ahlberg to surmise that “over millions of years of evolution, hardened structures such as external scales gradually migrated into the mouth and changed shape to become teeth.” More specifically, “evolution may have shifted the activity of enamelmaking proteins to new body parts.” But doesn’t that admit that enamelmaking proteins already existed? Some readers in the comments aren’t buying this just-so story. “Seems like a lot of storytelling” some creationists wrote, knowing that each step in the scenario has to be adaptive or natural selection doesn’t work. What good is a scale gradually migrating into the mouth? What good are enamelmaking proteins in the mouth if there’s no genetic software to put them in the right place on the teeth? These questions were not asked or answered.

If anything and everything can be explained by evolution, then nothing can be explained by evolution. It explains bright colors and drab colors. It explains rapid change and no change at all (e.g., extreme stasis and living fossils). It explains common ancestry and convergence or parallelism. It explains genetic change without morphological change, and vice versa. Bottom line: Darwin’s theory amounts to, “Stuff happens!” He made his theory impervious to falsification when he invented Darwin Flubber to reinforce his Web of Belief.

Darwin is the most successful con artist in history, because he fooled generations of intellectuals into thinking they were explaining things when he invited them to join his Darwin Storytelling Empire (12/22/03). Don’t be a victim of this con game, or you will be a con-vict.

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