May 20, 2008

Theory of Evolution: Proven! (Again!)

One of the main arguments against Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the mistaken belief that it has not or can not be proven in our lifetime. Those morons Intelligent Design proponents claim that evolution "can't be proven" because "it happens slowly, over many years." Since we can't watch it, we can't prove it; or so the argument goes

But in fact, we can watch evolution in action. That's because the correct metric isn't a clock-tick or a calendar, but successive generations. Life forms with shorter life spans can evolve into new forms in just a few years. And numerous life forms have evolved as we watched.



National Geographic reports on just such a case; the three-spine stickleback.

Scientists have been studying Lake Washington in Washington Stage since the 1950's. They weren't studying the lake to prove Darwin's Theory, they were studying the effect of pollution on the lake. The State was pumping 76 million gallons of sewage into the lake each day.

When the scientists began studying the lake, it was a cesspool. It was hard to see through the murky waters, and the bottom was covered in a slimy ooze. The tiny stickleback managed to survive in the filth; it hid from predators by sinking into the muck on the lake bed.

They stopped the sewage, and filtered the water, and scoured the lake bed clean over the last 40 years. And scientists monitored the lake's health, taking samples of all the life found in it, including the stickleback.

When the lake was a murky disaster, predators like trout couldn't see the stickleback; and if it felt threatend, it "disappeared" into the ooze. But once the waters cleared up, suddenly it could be seen by trout, and there was no place to hide.

So the species evolved heavier scales to protect them from the sharp teeth of predators. The change from one form to the other is documented.

In the first photo, you can see the beige flesh of the stickleback; in the second, you can see the protective plates it evolved, colored pink.

It's the same process that has rendered many anti-biotics powerless in just a few years; bacteria live their lives in hours, giving them thousands of generations to evolve protection against penicillin and other drugs.

Evolution is a proven fact, and anyone who tells you different is lying.



Photograph courtesy Katie Peichel/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

27 comments:

  1. Yeah, right. You probably think gravity is a proven fact, too. And that 2+2=4. We know your type.

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  2. Your example is one of adaptation not evolution. If you are going to present an argument you should know the difference between a species adapting, which is accepted by both sides, and a new species appearing (evolution) which has never been seen or proven.

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    1. Thank you!

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    2. Delstu, of course, is still wrong. First, adaptation is part and parcel of evolution.

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIIE5Adaptation.shtml

      Second, the adaptation delstu is talking about is an animal trying a new behavior to survive. But if that adaptation is a physical attribute that can be passed on, and it becomes common place, then the species has evolved.

      Killer whales have learned how to chase seals up onto the beach; this is a new behavior. But it hasn't changed their physical structure at all. So we do not have a new species of orca.

      The ancestor of koalas starting eating eucalyptus leaves, which are mildly toxic and barely nutritious. No other creatures were eating them, so it was an abundant food source. Individuals that were able to withstand the toxicity were more likely to survive long enough to mate, and more likely to produce offspring that could tolerate it. Eventually, that animal evolved into the koala, an animal that can easily digest eucalyptus.

      Its nearest living relative is the wombat, which dies if it eats eucalyptus.

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  3. Nice try, delstu. But you're wrong. A new species appearing is speciation, the end result of evolution.

    And science has demonstrated numerous times species that have unquestionably evolved from earlier species.

    But feel free to beat your straw man; we can see through your lies.

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  4. If the Theory is true then why has there never been a fossil found in the 140 years of searching? According to the theory every living creature sprung from a predecessor. For example there is no such fossil of a half fish/half reptile or a half man/ half ape. HUMMM....... Makes me wonder

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  5. Moose, your argument that there are no fossils when there clearly are fossils doesn't bolster an argument against evolution. We have museums FILLED with fossils, starting with fossils found 140 years ago.

    You shouldn't get into an argument if you can't even bother to get the least of your facts straight, Moose. You should READ those books, instead of using them for kindling.

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  6. "And science has demonstrated numerous times species that have unquestionably evolved from earlier species."

    Name one and show proof.

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  7. How about "The three-spine stickleback?" See above.

    It's amazing how stupid you creationists really are.

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  8. Yes, I believe in micro-evolution. I don't consider myself a traditional creationist, but it's the beginnings of Darwinism that I can't get past. How can there NOT be a "creator", whatever that might be? Am I supposed to believe that things just appear out of nothing? That life somehow just is born out of lifelessness?

    I'm trying to see the forest for the trees rather than getting lost in the woods. I'm more concerned with the beginning and the end as I believe it will better explain all the stuff in the middle.

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  9. Yes, I believe in micro-evolution.

    Evolution is evolution. If it works on the micro scale, it works on the macro scale. Evolution has passed every single scientific test, and 140 years later we only find more and more supporting evidence for it.

    How can there NOT be a "creator", whatever that might be?

    Evolution addresses the mechanisms of change, not original creation. Darwin figured out how simple life developed into more complex forms, and how many species derived from a smaller number of original organisms. But he never addressed how the original spark came about, nor has anyone else come up with a definitive theory on that. But not knowing how it started doesn't negate our understanding of how it works.

    Examine the lives of those around you: is their birth and their death more important than "all the stuff in the middle?" That "stuff" you don't think matters is the sum total of our existence.

    I can tell you this: you will never have the beginning of life explained to you to your satisfaction, and you won't know what happens to your consciousness after death until you die.

    If evolution is false, then the process which has proven it must also be false; and that means that there could be no electricity, no pharmaceuticals, none of the amazing things we take for granted in our life.

    Evolution is a miracle. And if there is a god who created the universe, then evolution is His remarkable tool.

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  10. Adaptation is where your body gets used to something, like your body adapts to heat when you move from a cold climate to a warm climate. Your body adapts to the altitude change when you go up to the mountains. The adaptation is that your body doesn't act adversely and continues to function as it normally would in an environment that would have otherwise been hostile. When your body CHANGES due to climate, that's evolution. If you suddenly grew a third leg to run faster from the new Godzilla species that landed from outer space, that's evolution. So, say it back to me kiddies, adaptation-where your body gets used to something, evolution-when your body changes because of something.

    Amen to that religious idiots.

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    1. So a suntan, or gaining/losing weight is "evolution"?

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    2. Are your children born with your tan? Of course not.

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  11. CLJ, you are the liar here. The National Geographic article YOU refer to clearly states:
    "Before the cleanup, only 6 percent of the fish were completely plated. Now 49 percent are fully armored, with bony plates protecting their bodies from head to tail."

    Now, if these COMPLETELY PLATED fish were swimming those waters way back there in 1950, how do you claim the species has evolved. In this case, you can't even claim they adapted.
    Survival of the fittest? Sure.
    The fully plated fish survived better and made more baby fully plated fish.
    THAT is not evolution.
    And this is YOUR ARTICLE!
    Come on dude. This is a typical example of believing what you want and ignoring what doesn't suit you.

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  12. Glenn, I'm obviously not lying. You just don't know what you're talking about.

    A central tenet of Darwin's theory is that species often have random mutations. Mostly, they don't last very long. But when those mutations become an advantage for survival, those mutations go from being an occasional accident to a normal state for the species.

    Yes, this is "survival of the fittest." That is the mechanism that drives evolution. Anytime you talk about survival of the fittest, you are talking about evolution.

    The stickleback species HAS evolved, because the bony plates have gone from being extremely rare (6%) to very common (49%).

    Your ignorance is typical of those who decry evolution. You keep trying to work at the level of the individual, and in evolution, the individual animals are irrelevant. As a species, the stickleback has gone from being almost an entirely plateless species to a largely plated species. That's a change: it's new. And it's evolution.

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  13. So let me get this straight you belive that something new was added to the fish DNA?

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  14. My "beliefs" have little to do with the discussion, KC. What I am telling you is that the species of stickleback has evolved from a translucent fish to a heavily plated fish.

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  15. Too bad the author's brain hasn't evolved after all the criticism...

    You are talking about a process that makes changes within a species over a relatively short period of time.

    Evolution takes place over millions of years and is VERY SLOW, like the molasses your brain uses for fuel...

    Evolution, much like faith in god, is faith based (at the moment). But it is what I believe. I have faith that evolution will be proved at some time in the future, not to far from now... just around the evolutionary corner... lol

    Give it up CLJ... you used the wrong analogy to prove your unprovable point

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  16. Michael, you're wrong on a couple of points:

    Evolution takes place over millions of years

    Sorry, no. Evolution takes place over many successive generations; life forms with shorter lifespans (and more generations in a short span) thus evolve more quickly than life forms with long lifespans (less generations in a time span).

    Evolution, much like faith in god, is faith based

    No, God is a matter of faith because you can't test a theory of his existence; you can't make predictions based on what you can examine about him. There is no evidence of god, only inference.

    Evolution, on the other hand, has stood up under numerous rigorous scientific experiments, because there is plenty of evidence for it. From that evidence, we can take the theory, and postulate (make a prediction with it), and if the postulate proves true, then the theory is sound.

    Incomplete though it may be, the fossil record demonstrates the possibility of evolution, as does the morphology of finches in the Galapagos Islands (which started Darwin thinking in the first place).

    THEORY: organisms change over time, taking on new traits in response to environmental stimuli.
    POSTULATE: small organisms exposed to a new and constant threat to their existence should evolve a defense against that threat.
    PROOF: Bacteria exposed to a specific anti-biotic will become completely immune to that anti-biotic after several generations.
    PROOF: influenza vaccine has to be completely reformulated every year because specific strains evolve into new strains immune to the original vaccine.

    Darwin himself predicted the existence of a species through means of his theory of evolution: in 1862, Darwin examined the Comet Orchid, which had an extremely deep blossom. Darwin predicted that somewhere there was a moth with an 11" or even a 12" long proboscis (tongue) that fed on the orchid. It would have been necessary for such a moth to exist in order for the orchid species to propagate; the stamens were deep inside.

    It took awhile, but the moth was finally found in 2009. Just as Darwin predicted. It feeds on the nectar of the orchid, and pollinates them.

    See? No faith needed for evolution; it's all science.

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  17. how is it that planet earth just so happens to be in the exact right place in our galaxy, in our universe, with the right tilt, energy, one sun, one moon, being the only planet that can sustain human life, with all the best food for the human body growing naturally all over it? we surely didnt create the avocado tree, and make it contain over 20 vitamins and minerals that enable our bodies to properly function. we did create fast food, and its no good for the human body. how did all those plants, and vegetation get there? what about the daily miracles that happen all over the world. how do we know the difference between right and wrong? where did morals come from? did man make those up? what about the human eye, and the fact that the eye can form three different tear drops; one for happiness, one for sadness, and one for lubrication? you're right god can not be proven, but it cant be disproved either.

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  18. Anonymous-
    The fact of evolution has nothing to do with the existence - or the lack thereof - of god. I'm not saying God doesn't exist. I'm saying that regardless of His existence, it was evolution that shaped life on earth.

    And BTW, your arguments in favor of God SUCK. You point at one thing to support your argument, and leave out all the other things that contradict the "proof" of the one thing.

    You say God must exist because avocados are great food. So are the grains wheat, barley, and rye. But millions of people born with Celiac get sick from eating them. Nuts are great food, and dairy products - and there are millions of people who are deathly allergic. If your point is that because food is nourishing it must have been created by a supreme being, then you must also account for the food that kills.

    You also fail to address the fact that if you ate only avocados, you'd die of malnutrition. It's got a lot of stuff we need, but it doesn't have everything we need.

    You also argue that people know the difference between right and wrong - prove that. Account for wars and prisons in your proof - because a proof has to account for EVERYTHING, not just the bits that agree with the theory.

    The comment about the human eye is just stupid; you can cry for joy or cry for sorrow, but in both cases the chemical output is exactly the same. And while making the stupid comment, you utterly fail to address near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or color-blindness.

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  19. As far as the entire 'adaptation vs evolution' thing goes, they're the same thing. Evolution is the change at the genetic level of species. Adaptation, which is what is talked about in the article listed above, is the change of a species to be better suited to their environment(s). Now who says that adaptation and evolution can't be the same thing? Mutations at the genetic level caused some of these fish to form larger, heavier scales than others, but obviously this mutation didn't help the fish species any, because the (non-mutated) fish kept multiplying, keeping the number of genetically-mutated fish small. Now when this trait became useful, the mutated fish began surviving better than the non-mutated fish, and thus created more offspring. Those offspring had the same genetic mutation as their parents, and thus a new branch of these fish at least was born.
    The argument between different types of a species and different species is really just for the sake of organization in the scientific world; many different mutations compiled over the years because of, say, a different environment could very well classify a once-related type of fish as a different species.
    In the end, all species had the same basic DNA at one point because of this mutation process, but since it's been so many mutations ago, (I don't think) scientists have found a common genetic standpoint for all of the species of Earth yet.

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  20. I think that evolution is a real thing. Living things can change themselves to adapt to the environment. Evolution does not prove the origin of life. If you believe in evolution does not mean that you in turn cannot believe in God. The bible says that in one day God created the animals. It never says how long that day is. What is a day to God? It never says how those animals were created either or how long that process took. Evolution is a fact in that we have observed organisms changing over time to adapt. This does not prove that we as humans evolved from some primitive species. There is no way to prove genetically that these humanoid fossils they are finding are our ancestors. It is speculation based on what we can piece together from the fossils we have found. Evolution is a thing that does happen, but it does not prove or clarify the origins of life on this planet.

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  21. You're right; how did life start? We don't know. Accident or design, it may be beyond our power to know for sure.

    But the fossil record is no longer the only tool in the arsenal; studies in genetics also contribute to the pool of knowledge.

    When we compare the DNA of every human being on the planet, we find that we all share a common female ancestor who lived about 200,000 years ago.

    When we compare our DNA to chimpanzees, we find that we have a common ancestor who lived between 5 and 8 million years ago, depending on the study.

    And when we compare our DNA to orangutans, we find that we have a common ancestor who lived between 10 and 12 million years ago.

    Without evolution, we have no tool to explain either the fossils or the genetics; the fossils are just things that sprang up out of nowhere and died out for no apparent reason, and we wouldn't even have bothered finding DNA.

    Without evolution, we don't know why antibiotics and vaccines stop working. They worked, and then they don't, and there is no tool to explain why.

    Evolution undeniably clarifies the origins of life on this planet, and how we ended up with so many different life forms; it just doesn't explain how it began.

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  22. There might be a god, but science proves that there was no need of a god to create this world. Though I do not believe that god exists.

    As for evolution, this is proven for over 140 years now, and all we find is more and more proof.

    How can this still be debated? Evolution is real, period.

    I admire your knowledge and courage C.L.J.

    Yours sincerely, Jordy

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