To the untrained eye, certain butterflies can look essentially identical to corresponding varieties of another species. This way they can evade predators, who won’t eat them because the insects they’re copying taste terrible.
Biologists since Darwin’s time have wondered how these butterflies can so closely mimic the wing and body coloration patterns of an unrelated kind. Now, an international team of researchers has sorted out the genetics, and what it found was not at all what was expected.
Publishing online in the journal Nature, the team found that the varieties of color patterns in butterflies of the genus Heliconius corresponded perfectly with single DNA base differences found in a special set of genes called a supergene. This supergene, named P, consists of only a few gene sets that are shuffled in discrete patterns. Different generations can variously deploy differently ordered gene-blocks so that a single kind can express different color patterns using the same DNA. “Analyses of 31 individuals of four morphs [varieties] revealed a complete association between alternative rearrangements and specific wing-pattern phenotypes,” according to the study authors.1
Lead author Mathieu Joron told the international news agency AFP, “We were blown away by what we found.” The supergene system was so “astonishing” and “amazing” that it looks like “the stuff of science fiction.”2
The reason this supergene appears so amazing to evolutionists is because it is too well-organized to be a product of blind, unthinking evolution. But it does make sense if a Mastermind designed this genetic switching system to enable butterflies to express near-perfect mimicking patterns—not after millions of years of evolutionary trial and error, but in a single generation!3
The study authors admitted, “The origin and maintenance of adaptive multi-locus polymorphism [shuffling sets of genes] in the face of recombination is a longstanding puzzle in evolutionary biology,” meaning that nobody knows how unguided nature could have built such elegant genetic operations, let alone maintained them for a “100 million years of evolution.”….1
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