Over the years, one argument I’ve heard evolutionists use to counter Creationism is that there is not enough variation within a single genome to account for all of the species we claim descended from one created kind.  A recent genetic discovery may help demonstrate just how much variation there is within a single gene, let alone a single genome.

Some scientists have been interested in trying to figure out the genetic code that controls the colors and patterns in cats, both domestic and wild.  Many suspected that there were three genes or sets of genes that controlled the colors and patterns but in reality, they just aren’t sure what the controls are.  Stephen J. O’Brien, a scientist in the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at Maryland’s Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research explained it this way:

The same phenomena are seen in the rest of the cat family, too. There are 37 species in felidae — from clouded leopards, black panthers, cheetahs and so forth. There’s a little bit of an evolutionary dance where these different forms are coming out.  Nobody is really sure why there is so much variation.

In 2007, O’Brien and his colleagues were involved in the sequencing of the cat genome.  But the question of how cats can have so many varied coat patterns has still been a mystery.

In the latest study, Christopher B. Kaelin from the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Alabama, led a team of researchers in re-sequencing this particular region of the cat genome.  They discovered that tabby cats with stripes and blotched spotting carried three genes in the region that determined coat patterns.  Two of the genes didn’t seem to make a lot of difference when they had substitutions, but the third gene, identified as Taqpep (Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q), was responsible for the striped and blotched patterns.

O’Brien, who co-authored the paper with Kaelin, commented on the discovery, saying:

This gene in housecats was clearly responsible for this characteristic, which had three separate independent mutations in the history of cats.

Next the researchers wanted to compare the Taqpep gene and mutations with cats in cats in the wild.  One specific cat is the king cheetah, which are characterized with bold stripes along the back instead of the typical stripes.  A king cheetah by the name of Kgosi lives on a cheetah preserve in Northern California and the team was able to obtain a blood sample from Kgosi to use for the genetic comparison.  When the sample had been run, they discovered that the king cheetah’s pattern was also responsible due to a mutation on the Taqpep gene.

Another member of the research team, Greg Barsh, emeritus professor of genetics and pediatrics at Stanford commented on the find and its implications saying:

Mutation of a single gene causes stripes to become blotches, and spots to become stripes. 

We were motivated by a basic question.  How do periodic patterns like stripes and spots in mammals arise? What generates them? How are they maintained? What is their biological and evolutionary significance? It’s kind of surprising how little is known. Until now, there’s been no obvious biological explanation for cheetah spots or the stripes on tigers, zebras or even the ordinary house cat.

What I found fascinating by the study was the amount of variation in expression of the different mutations of just this one gene.  Imagine if when God created the original kinds that He created a large number of genes capable of such wide expressions of variations.  As they spread out and dispersed, they could easily have yielded a huge variety of shapes, sizes, colors and patterns of plants and animals, resulting in a wide variety of species within the original created kind.

References:

Boyle Rebecca.  One Gene Lays The Blueprint for A Cheetah’s Spots And A Tabby Cat’s Stripes, Popular Science, Sept. 20, 1012.

Flowers, April.  How Cheetahs And Tabby Cats Got Their Distinctive Markings, Red Orbit, Sept. 21, 2012.

Pappas, Stephanie.  Feline Find: How the Tabby Cat Got Its Stripes, Live Science, Sept. 20, 2012.

By Design: Evidence for Nature’s Intelligent Designer–the God of the Bible

By Dr. Jonathan Sarfati

At last, a definitive work on design by a leading biblical creationist…

Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.

Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movement in the same vein as Dr Sarfati’s comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.

Paperback, 150 pages

What others are saying about this book…


Brilliant, deep and engaging the battle at the front lines classic Sarfati!

Dr David Catchpoole, Ph.D., plant physiologist

When master logician/scientist Jonathan Sarfati takes on another front of the creation/evolution battle, his fans know they’re going to experience an intellectual feast of cut-and- thrust philosophical swordsmanship with the opponents of Genesis creation/ID. But readers are in for an additional treat too – his passion (not revealed in his previous books) for digging into the details of lifes’ breathtaking designs.

Dr Carl Wieland, Managing Director,
Creation Ministries International (Australia)

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