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Natural Selection Theory Strengthened By Armored Fish Study

on September 6, 2008
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ScienceDaily: “‘Armored’ Fish Study Helps Strengthen Darwin's Natural Selection Theory” It’s yet another rock-solid proof of Darwin’s theory—at least in the eyes of Darwinists.

University of British Columbia scientists investigated the genetic changes of freshwater sticklebacks, concluding that their study “provides further evidence for Darwin’s theory of natural selection.” But is it really so?

Could this gene explain the transition?

Rowan Barrett, Sean Rogers, and Dolph Schluter wondered whether evolution can explain the reduced armor plating on freshwater sticklebacks, which are larger than their marine kin. Evolutionists think marine sticklebacks “invaded” freshwater lakes and streams during an ice age, during which time they gradually lost their bony armor.

The researchers based their work on the discovery of a mutant gene found in sticklebacks that prohibits the growth of the armor. While the gene is found in less than one percent of marine sticklebacks, it is quite common in the freshwater variety. Could this gene explain the transition?

The team relocated 200 marine sticklebacks that carry the armor-reduction allele to “experimental” freshwater ponds. There, the team observed a “significant increase” in the frequency of the allele in the offspring of the 200: a.k.a. “evidence that natural selection favors reduced armor in freshwater,” according to Barrett.

Interestingly, those individuals carrying the mutant allele are also significantly larger—perhaps growing more because they aren’t expending as much energy developing armor. And so, in the absence of significant predation, the “more fit” armorless sticklebacks survive and reproduce more.

Barrett claims the study backs up Darwin’s theory “by showing that environmental conditions can directly impact genes controlling physical traits that affect the survival of species.” Of course, if this is all Darwin’s theory was, we would agree. (Not only is that not the case, but the basic idea of natural selection was around before Darwin!) However, Darwin and his followers argue that phenotypic variations like these, operating within the mechanism of natural selection, can explain how unicellular organisms mutated all the way up the ladder to humans. The problem (for Darwinists) is that such “mistakes,” if one can call them that, would have to “accidentally” confer a great deal of new genetic information, something that has never been backed up in the lab or in nature.

There are plentiful examples . . . of mutations destroying genetic information.

Instead, there are plentiful examples—including possibly this one—of mutations destroying genetic information, such as the code for building armor. In some situations, these sort of mutations end up helping the organism, even enabling individuals to grow larger. (For example, mutations that result in beetles that can’t fly are beneficial on windy islands!) Yet an eternity of mutations like this will never lead to a more complex organism.

So, then, is this evolution? It depends. When one defines evolution as simply “changes in genotype (or phenotype) frequency in a population over time” (or similarly), then this is certainly “evolution,” though it is a sort of evolution that is fully compatible with Scripture (information-reducing, within kind, etc.). But this study in no way supports “evolution” as defined as “the common descent of all forms of life from a single microscopic ancestor”—nor do other such studies, including a similar stickleback study we reported on in News to Note, May 24, 2008, item #5.


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