Road ecology is the study of “how roads, and the salts and chemicals we put on these roads, impact nearby nature.” Well, according to a new study, roads are leading to “rapid evolution” on either side of the highway. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of so-called “rapid evolution”—scientists are increasingly observing small changes over short timescales and calling it “rapid evolution.” But is this change within various plant and animal kinds actually evolution in the sense that new genetic information is appearing?
According to study coauthor Steven Brady, this study observed that “individual plants that are living right next to a road . . . have evolved the ability to deal with higher concentrations of things like lead, from fuel.” He also says that on either side of the road “scientists are seeing differences in how one group of amphibians evolves compared to another nearby population.”
The observational evidence shows small changes within a roadside population and small differences between populations based on their proximity to a barrier (a road). The idea that this is “rapid evolution” is a worldview-based interpretation of the evidence. The researchers start with the assumption of molecules-to-man evolution and interpret the evidence through that lens.
But these small changes aren’t evolutionary changes. No new genetic information is being added to the genomes of plants or amphibians. Each group is either losing or reshuffling information to deal with the changes and stresses of their changing environment. This isn’t evolution (which requires an addition of brand-new information). It’s variability within a created kind—natural selection operating on the genetic information that is already present.
What does it mean that examples of so-called rapid evolution keep popping up all over the place?
Evolution is supposedly a slow-and-steady process, adding new genetic information over millions of years. What does it mean that examples of so-called rapid evolution keep popping up all over the place? Well, it supports a biblical timeline, not an evolutionary one.
From a biblical perspective, God created living things with an incredible amount of genetic variability so that each kind could adapt to changing environments (but adaptation is confined within a kind, which is exactly what we observe). We would expect this to happen fairly quickly seeing that there’s only been 6,000 years since creation and about 4,350 years since the Flood; in fact, we already see a wide variety of adaptation within most kinds (e.g., tigers, lions, and cougars in the cat kind).
Learn more in this article by AiG’s Dr. Georgia Purdom, “Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution?”
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.