It has long been held that predators preferentially take the young, weak and diseased prey. This concept is central to natural selection and is one of the tenets on which evolution rests. The premise is flawed. The entire superstructure built on natural selection providing a mechanism for evolution collapses into disarray if predators do not actually take the weakest individuals. Upon close examination, the thesis is neither logical nor supported by the scientific evidence. Natural selection therefore lacks as a mechanism for evolution.
Natural selection, combined with genetic mutations, is the foundation on which much of evolution rests, for it is thought to provide the mechanism by which a species can change, adapt and improve over time. Therefore, for over 150 years, it has been taught that predators capture the weak, young, and diseased prey thereby ‘improving’ the gene pool. Educational nature programs have replaced reading science material for many people, and many such programs simply repeat the mantra that predators can only capture the weak. We are repeatedly told predators perform the crucial task of allowing only the fit prey to survive and reproduce. By removing the weakest individuals, the predators are thought to power the evolutionary process. This ‘selection of the fittest’ is said to be the driving force of evolution. Without predators harvesting those less fit, evolution is a theory without a mechanism, an idea without scientific merit. But do the scientific data support this scenario?
Young animals are only available during a small fraction of the year and most wild animals are healthy. If predators had to rely on eating young or sick prey they would soon starve to death. There is another fundamental problem with this theory. If predators ate diseased animals they would likely become ill. This is common sense and has been known since at least the time of Moses: “Anyone, whether native-born or alien, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then he will be clean” (Lev 17:15). People of all cultures learned to avoid eating sick animals or those that have died of disease….
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