November 12, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

Downsizing Evolution’s Credit Balance

Evolution takes credit for many things
that have nothing to do with Darwinism


New Research Helps Explain the Genetic Basis of Why We Look the Way We Do (UC San Diego). This is an article about Hox genes which were discovered in 1990. Hox genes act as master control switches that turn on cascades of other genes – a feature that suggests design and foresight. The focus of the UCSD article is on two species of fruit flies. It has nothing to do with Darwinism or why evolution makes us look the way we do. A beneficial application of using information on Hox gene behavior to mitigate birth defects involves compassion, a human character quality—not evolution. It owes nothing to survival of the fittest or deep time. So why is evolution taking credit for the science?

“These fly studies provide a window into deep evolutionary time and inform us about the mechanisms by which body plans change during evolution,” said Bier. “These insights may lead to a better of [sic] understanding of processes tied to congenital birth defects in humans. With the advent of powerful new CRISPR-based genome editing systems for human therapy on the horizon, new strategies might be formulated to mitigate some of the effects of these often debilitating conditions.”

Study of giant ammonites suggest they grew large because their predators grew large ( The ammonites in this article are not the Biblical descendants of Lot who made frequent war against the Israelites. These are large swimming cephalopods (relatives of squid and octopus) with spiral shells based on the Fibonacci Series (see video by Cristobal Vila). They also had camera-like eyes resembling those of vertebrates, even though they are invertebrates.

Some fossilized species of ammonites grew almost two meters in diameter—human size. No living ammonite grows anywhere near that large. This article tries to explain why ammonites devolved from giant to small. Even their skeleton-key cause of ‘climate change’ is offered only as a passing suggestion. Their remaining hypothesis about an evolutionary arms race with a predator falls apart on inspection:

After a split occurred, P. seppenradensis began to get bigger. The researchers were not able to find any conclusive evidence to explain why they began to grow, noting that it could have been due to events such as changes in climate. But they did find that many species of mosasaurs began to grow bigger at around the same time. The large marine reptiles are believed to have been the main predators of ammonite. The researchers suggest the reason P. seppenradensis began to grow was because the larger they were the more difficult it was for the reptiles to fit them in their mouth—those that were bigger survived to reproduce.

The researchers acknowledge that there is one kink in their theory—prior research has shown that as P. seppenradensis reached its peak size, mosasaurs continued to get bigger. And after a while, P. seppenradensis began to get smaller again for unknown reasons.

A related article on Live Science is more direct about the supposed “selective pressure” to grow big because of predation:

Regarding the former question, the ammonites may have faced an evolutionary pressure to grow because a major predator of the Cretaceous, marine reptiles called mosasaurs, also grew larger during this time, the authors noted. However, although there’s evidence of mosasaurs preying on ammonites, there’s no direct evidence that they interacted with P. seppenradensis, specifically, Ifrim told Live Science. So, for now, this is just speculation.  

None of these articles mention the complex organs, brains, behaviors and mathematical precision of these beautiful animals. The article also notes that giant ammonites appeared at “more or less the same time” on both sides of the Atlantic. The source paper at PLoS One mentions “retrograde evolution” of these complex animals, saying, “the subsequent retrograde evolution of Parapuzosia from the late early Campanian on is clearly unrelated to the further increase in size of mosasaurs.” So does selection pressure of larger predators drive larger prey size? Or does it drive smaller prey size? Both—or maybe neither. One wonders what evolution has to do with any of the science here.

Horseback riding is as old as civilization, but why not for hundreds of thousands of Darwin Years? (photo by DFC)

The origins and spread of domestic horses from the Western Eurasian steppes (Nature). This paper uses the e-word evolution and its derivatives over a dozen times, but has remarkably little to say about the how and why of horse evolution. The authors just assume horses evolved, because different members of the Equid family are found in fossils at different times and places in the moyboy dating scheme. Remarkably, though, the paper states that the first known examples of domestication of horses are found only at 3,500 BC in central Asia. Then, horse domestication expanded rapidly over the next 1500 years throughout Asia and Europe.

Domestication of horses fundamentally transformed long-range mobility and warfare. However, modern domesticated breeds do not descend from the earliest domestic horse lineage associated with archaeological evidence of bridling, milking and corralling at Botai, Central Asia around 3500 bc. Other longstanding candidate regions for horse domestication, such as Iberia and Anatolia, have also recently been challenged. Thus, the genetic, geographic and temporal origins of modern domestic horses have remained unknown. Here we pinpoint the Western Eurasian steppes, especially the lower Volga-Don region, as the homeland of modern domestic horses. Furthermore, we map the population changes accompanying domestication from 273 ancient horse genomes. This reveals that modern domestic horses ultimately replaced almost all other local populations as they expanded rapidly across Eurasia from about 2000 bc, synchronously with equestrian material culture, including Sintashta spoke-wheeled chariots.

The authors ignore the Clydesdale in the room: even assuming the evolutionary dates, modern human beings and horses comparable in size to those destined to be domesticated had already been present for tens or hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of years. What happened so recently? Do they really believe that intelligent, fire-making, world-traveling human beings never thought of the benefits of horseback riding, milking and wagon-pulling till then?

The authors try to make a case for supposed “docility genes” (see that appeared around that time (supposedly by natural selection), but certainly human beings who could hunt mammoths would be courageous enough to break any horse. In addition, not all horses, as rodeo champs know, are docile. Even granting their premise, there surely would have been a long overlap between the appearance of those genes and the utilization of docility genes by humans for horse domestication. How do they know the genes were not artificially selected by humans using intelligent design? Docility is not normally associated with fitness (sloths being an exception). In short, there is no reason to think Darwinian evolution had anything to do with horse domestication, and a lot of reason to question the moyboy timeline.

Examples like this are ubiquitous in the science news: evolution taking credit for observations that have nothing to do with Darwinism. You get the point (24 Aug 2007, 5 Nov 2018). Whatever the reason, these scientists are using the word “evolved” like a lucky charm, or a bad habit, or perhaps as insurance against the watchful eyes of the Darwin Censorship Committee.


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  • R2-U2 says:

    One of my favorite quotes from Phillip E. Johnson:

    “If somebody asks, ‘Do you believe in evolution?’ the right reply is not ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ It is: ‘Precisely what do you mean by evolution?’ My experience has been that the first definition I get will be so broad as to be indisputable–like ‘There has been change in the course of life’s history.’ Later on a much more precise and controversial definition will be substituted without notice. That one word evolution can mean something so tiny it hardly matters, or so big it explains the whole history of the universe. Keep your baloney detector trained on that word. If it moves, zap it!” (“Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds”, 1997)

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