Out-Evolving a Fungus

on January 1, 2019

Among the victims of an aggressive fungus is the variable harlequin frog (Atelopus varius), which is now critically endangered.

An aggressive fungus has wiped out so many frog species in Latin America that it’s now considered the worst infectious disease ever recorded among vertebrates. But some frog species in Panama are slowly recovering. Researchers are thrilled but surprised. They initially thought the fungus may be getting weaker, but experiments showed, instead, that the frogs are becoming more resistant.

Why is that surprising? Fungus generations are much shorter than frog generations, so evolutionary scientists would expect fungi to out-evolve frogs. Instead the frogs seem to be out-evolving the fungus. Some have proposed that the frogs have evolved defenses at a much faster rate than expected, but that implies that random mutations can “invent” a defense system from scratch.

A much better explanation is that the frogs’ Creator designed them with the genetic capacity to develop countermeasures against threats that may arise in a fallen world. They are adapting as God designed them to, but they’re not evolving—they’re still frogs.

This article was taken from Answers magazine, July–September, 2018, 32.