A recent article makes the claim that there are two distinct species of African elephants. They have now been classified as Loxodonta cyclotis, the forest dwelling elephant and Loxodonta africana, the savanna dwelling elephant.
In the article they admit that the two types of elephants were different in appearance with one being significantly larger than the other, but other studies that had been previously done indicated that they were still one species. However, their determination of the new species separation was not based upon these previous studies or the once held traditional definition that two different species are incapable of interbreeding and produce viable offspring, but upon mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
The researchers also extracted mtDNA from the Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, the extinct wooly mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, and mastodon, Mammut americanum. By comparing all of their mtDNA, the researchers came to the conclusion that the two types of African elephants were separate and distinct species. Furthermore, they concluded from the mtDNA analysis that the two species of elephants separated into the two distinct species between 2.6 – 5.6 million years ago. Note – If I ever turned in my research with a 115% fudge-factor as they do with their dates, my professors would have rejected my work and failed me, but hey, evolutionists can get away with a lot, can’t they?
Interestingly, even though the African elephants had supposedly diverged into separate species several millions years ago, the researchers admitted that the mtDNA showed that they were still interbreeding about 500,000 years ago around the same time they claim that the African and Asian elephants separated from each other (their time scale, not mine).
We have already posted articles that discuss what constitutes a species these days and how the definition has been distorted and is remains ambiguous due to evolutionary influences. See: The Ambiguity and Controversy of the Evolutionary Term ‘Species’ and Species – What are They?.
But there is one question I would like to ask and that is how can they justify declaring that the two African elephants are separate species several million years ago while admitting that they were still interbreeding a mere 500,000 years ago? Wouldn’t that define them as still being one species at that time? Even one of our staunch critics to this website who is a die hard evolutionist and apparent atheist defined species as being able to interbreed and produce viable offspring. This fact should raise much concern and question as to validity and accuracy of their research and conclusions. When you do question this study, please see yesterday’s article – Modern Birds: When Did They First Appear? – which addresses the fundamental assumptions that mtDNA dating is based upon.
I have no problem with the two types of African elephants being classified as separate species, if in fact they meet the criteria, one of which I still believe to be true is whether or not they will or can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. In fact their speciation fits perfectly with the biblical account of Creation, created kinds and the Flood.
In all likelihood (I admit we don’t know for sure) there was probably one elephant kind (2 at the most) on board the Ark. After they disembarked, normal population pressures would been absent after the Flood resulting in a more rapid reproduction – sexually maturing at a younger age, higher survival rate, etc. – along with wide dispersion throughout the lands. All of which would have resulted in rapid speciation due to the continued loss of genetic variability as the new populations moved away from each other.
Today, we see speciation events taking place and in all instances, it is the result of several possible factors – rearrangement of genes, existing genes being turned on or off or a loss of genetic variability. However, none of the speciation events are due to an increase in NEW genetic information which is what is required for evolution to take place. On the flip side, the biblical creation model says that everything, living and non-living, is suffering the Curse and consequently is winding down and steadily losing information and structure, which is precisely what we observe today.
My hopes and prayers are that when you read reports like this, that you learn to look closely for the assumptions, contradictions, inaccuracies, fudge-factors and just-so stories. Then turn to the only eyewitness account that was given to us by our loving and Holy Creator God, the Bible to learn the truth.
Gilbert, Natasha, African elephants are two distinct species, Nature.com, Dec. 21, 2010.