Rafting Termites and Other Dogmas of Ignorance
‘They’re not primitive; we don’t know how they spread
around the world, but one thing we know: they evolved.’
Wood termites. Homeowners hate them, and termite inspectors make a living finding them and killing them. They belong to the family Kalotermitidae, second largest group of termites. In their own element, though, they are remarkable creatures, making colonies and exhibiting complex social behaviors with teamwork. Evolutionists say they evolved from cockroaches in South America around 100 million Darwin Years ago, give or take a few ten million. But drywood termites are landlubbers, and that creates a problem: how did they come to inhabit most of the world?
A family of termites has been traversing the world’s oceans for millions of years (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, 23 May 2022).
The new answer is: they rafted. After all, wood floats, doesn’t it? But did the termite sailors eat their boats and drown on the way? It’s going to take some imagination to figure this out. But first, let the facts make the problem even worse for the evolutionary scenario.
By comparing the genetic sequences from the different species, the researchers constructed an extensive family tree of the drywood termites.
They found that drywood termites have made more oceanic voyages than any other family of termites. They’ve crossed oceans at least 40 times in the past 50 million years, travelling as far as South America to Africa, which, over a timescale of millions of years, resulted in the diversification of new drywood termite species in the newly colonized places.
Now they have to expand the rafting story to 40 times. But they yawn; a few reckless drafts on the bank of time gives them 50 million years for the improbable to happen.
Their conclusion of evolution assumes evolution. The study authors compared genes under the assumption that all of them evolved over time from a common ancestor. Unfortunately, a number of the genomes studied are nonmonophyletic—they don’t fit the assumption of one common ancestor. But under the evolutionary assumption, the first wood termites must have been nincompoops that got better over time. Does the evidence show this?
Furthermore, this study has cast doubt on the common assumption that drywood termites have a primitive lifestyle. Among the oldest lineages in the family, there are termite species that do not have a primitive lifestyle. In fact, they can form large colonies across multiple pieces of wood that are connected by tunnels underground.
The press release points out that termites can hitchhike on human ships today, but that’s a distraction, since humans have only been sailing on wooden ships across continents for a few centuries (“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” an old elementary mnemonic quips). If termites were intercontinental sailors at least 40 times in 50 million years, humans weren’t around to operate a ferry service most of that time. Do the evolutionists know anything about their tale?
“This study only goes to highlight how little we know about termites, the diversity of their lifestyles, and the scale of their social lives,” stated Prof. Tom Bourguignon, Principal Investigator of OIST’s Evolutionary Genomics Unit and senior author of the study. “As more information is gathered about their behavior and ecology, we’ll be able to use this family tree to find out more about the evolution of sociality in insects and how termites have been so successful.”
The paper says the same thing but only in fancier jargon.
Aleš Buček et al, Molecular Phylogeny Reveals the Past Transoceanic Voyages of Drywood Termites (Isoptera, Kalotermitidae). Molecular Biology and Evolution (open access, 3 May 2022), Vol. 39, No. 5, https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msac093.
Therefore, both vicariance and dispersal processes may have contributed to the geographical distribution and evolution of extant Kalotermitidae…. The Kalotermitidae are also able to produce secondary reproductives, increasing the chance of small colony fragments rafting across oceans in wood pieces to reproduce upon arrival to their new destination. These traits also predispose some species of Kalotermitidae to become invasive, spreading with the help of anthropogenic global material transport.
I.e., on ships. Jargon is often used to impress, not to inform.
But long before, in 14.92 million years ago, Christopher Termitus sailed the ocean blue, shouting “Land ho!” as his crew approached Portugal. This calls for a cartoon series to match the other sailing episodes, like How the Monkeys Rafted to the New World: