New Hybrid: Salamanders

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Joining the ranks of such hybrid animals as ligers and wholphins, LiveScience reports on this week, is a new hybrid salamander breed of the California tiger salamander and barred salamanders.

In a bit of irony, the hybrids are helping drive one of their parent species—the California tiger salamander—toward extinction.

Puzzling though it sounds, the researchers, who reported on the discovery in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest the hybrid salamanders are more likely to survive than either parent species—even though the hybrids are infertile. In a bit of irony, the hybrids are helping drive one of their parent species—the California tiger salamander—toward extinction.

“The mixture of genes from organisms that are distinct enough to be called separate species don’t usually produce healthy, fit offspring,” explains evolutionary biologist Benjamin Fitzpatrick of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. To creationists, these hybrids—even though often infertile—are reminders of the originally created kinds that encompassed more than what today’s “species” (or even “genus”) classification encompasses. The hybrids are a sign that, although selection of existing genetic material has caused the original kinds to diverge over time (as illustrated, notably, by the many “mutant” dog varieties), fundamentally, each modern animal is still a member of its original kind. Thus, successful offspring can frequently be produced between individuals of different species or even different genera.

Understanding the accurate creationist view is crucial to defending the Bible’s account of history and the origin of living things. Rather than presenting a static creation of millions of animal species, Genesis presents God’s creation of a (relatively) smaller number of kinds that have adapted within their kind to the environment via natural selection.

And, of course, this lines up exactly with what we observe—various species/varieties of bears (or dogs, chickens, snakes, cattle—you get the idea) have arisen over time, but bears are still bears and are still giving birth to bears!

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