This week’s correspondence deals with the validity of using ‘living fossils’ and functions in endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are commonly seen as ‘junk DNA’, as evidence against evolution. CMI’s Dr Don Batten and Lita Cosner respond.

Travis S. from the United States writes:

Can you answer this rebuttal I received from my brother?

There is no written rule that says a lineage has to die out just because an offspring develops a beneficial mutation. The theory of evolution explains how species change over time, it doesn’t say that all species must change over time. As long as a species can survive in its environment and pass on its genetic information to its offspring, it can survive indefinitely. It doesn’t mean that the “living fossil” didn’t speciate, it just means those possible splits died out while the original lineage was able to always successfully reproduce even into today. How exactly does that not work with evolution?

CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds:

Dear Travis,

Thanks for your comment, which I have also shared with Dr Werner.

Dr Werner said in the article:

“If a scientist believes in evolution and sees fossils that look like modern organisms at the dinosaur digs, he/she might invent an hypothesis to ‘explain’ living fossils this way: ‘Yes I believe that animals have changed greatly over time (evolution), but some animals and plants were so well adapted to the environment that they did not need to change. So I am not bothered at all by living fossils.’ This added hypothesis says that some animals did not evolve. But if a theory can be so flexible, adding hypotheses that predict the opposite of your main theory, one could never disprove the theory. The theory then becomes unsinkable, and an unsinkable theory is not science.”….

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