Many Giant Leaps for Evolution

on December 19, 2009
Featured in News to Know

PhysOrg: “Evolution May Take Giant LeapsEvolution is thought to progress slowly, step by step, the accumulation of hundreds of millions of years’ worth of small changes. Or is it?

The standard story of evolution goes something like this: populations of species live and die. Every so often, an individual or individuals in a population change in some way—due to a genetic mutation, for instance—that allows them to survive and reproduce better than other individuals. Hence nature “selects” the more successful individuals while its competitors die out. Over hundreds of millions of years, these small changes accumulate into big changes, with new, more complex species evolving and replacing their less-successful ancestors. The complex species on earth today—most of which appear to be designed (evolutionists would acknowledge)—owe their complexity to millions of years of small changes in their ancestors.

New research from the University of Reading challenges this stereotypical view.

New research from the University of Reading, published in the journal Nature, challenges this stereotypical view. Scientists studied 101 groups of plant and animal species and reconstructions of their evolutionary lineages. They then compared the reconstructions with four hypothesized models of speciation. A slow-and-gradual model fit only eight percent of the trees, while a model ascribing evolution to sudden, rare events fit eighty percent. The PhysOrg report continues:

The work suggests that natural selection may not be the cause of speciation, which [one of the scientists] said “really goes against the grain” for scientists who have a Darwinian view of evolution. The model that provided the best fit for the data is surprisingly incompatible with the idea that speciation is a result of many small events[.]

Granted, these scientists are still working within the evolutionary framework, and their reconstructions of evolutionary trees are obviously affected by this bias. However, their conclusion comports well with the creation framework if the more prominent evolutionary events are considered separate acts of creation. Within the resulting kinds, then, speciation (distinct from molecules-to-man evolution) likely proceeded quite rapidly after the Flood (against the backdrop of major ecological and environmental changes). Even today, speciation can happen quickly—see . The research thus fits well with the creationist viewpoint even while challenging standard Darwinian ideas.

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