The chieftans of evolutionary theory insist that their doctrines have come a long way since Darwin. Discoveries in molecular biology, population genetics, biogeography, paleontology have left the Victorian concepts of evolution outdated and antiquated, they would say. Yet a look at the evolutionary literature shows otherwise. Simplistic just-so stories, Darwinian phrases like “survival of the fittest” and “missing link,” iconic fossils, and antiquated principles continue to be the rule, as the following articles illustrate.
Just-so hopping lungfish and leaping media: The media are in a frenzy again at the observation that certain lungfish move their fins under the water in an alternating pattern suggestive of walking, suggesting that this provides clues to the mythical Darwinian day when fish moved onto the land. Science Daily, for instance, titled its report in epic Apollo lingo, “A Small Step for Lungfish, a Big Step for the Evolution of Walking.” Not to be outdone, Live Science wrote with the power of suggestion, “‘Hopping’ Fish Suggests Walking Originated Underwater.” It’s not just reporters saying this. Neil Shubin, leading evolutionist of Tiktaalik fame, said, “This shows us – pardon the pun – the steps that are involved in the origin of walking.” No one seems to be asking why, after hundreds of millions of years in the evolutionary timeline, they haven’t evolved feet. One motive might be for Shubin to regain priority with his inner fish. Still smarting from a Jan. 2010 find of trackways in Poland (Live Science), he put out the bait, and Live Science took it, that the Polish fossils were made by fish, not tetrapods. Science Daily’s coverage also supported this motive: “The discovery suggests that many of the developments necessary for the transition from water to land could have occurred long before early tetrapods, such as Tiktaalik, took their first steps on shore.” For video of the “walking” lungfish, see Live Science.
So simple it’s silly: One of the appeals of Darwinian theory is its apparent ability to solve mysteries in nature. Who doesn’t like a good mystery story? In “Biologists solve an evolution mystery,” PhysOrg promised its readers CSI about why guppies have not evolved for half a million years. “Guppies in the wild have evolved over at least half-a-million years – long enough for the males’ coloration to have changed dramatically,” the press release begins. “Yet a characteristic orange patch on male guppies has remained remarkably stable, though it could have become redder or more yellow. Why has it stayed the same hue of orangeover such a long period of time?” Drum roll, please. The short answer is: “Because that’s the color female guppies prefer.” Elementary, my dear flotsam. (Don’t ask why female tastes didn’t evolve in all that time.) It takes a UCLA professor to explain this: “Sometimes populations have to evolve just to stay the same,” said Greg Grether. Maybe this is just a rare exception that proves the rule. Nope; Grether “noted that there are many examples in which there is less variation among populations of a species than life scientists would expect.” With copious appeals to jargon, Grether and his academic professionals assure us that evolution can produce both drastic variation and stasis, all using the same theory….
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