Virtual Voices

Bait and switch

Science

The New York Times on Monday had a fascinating story, "Evolution Right Under Our Noses," that profiled "a small but growing number of field biologists who study urban evolution-not the rise and fall of skyscrapers and neighborhoods, but the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them. For these scientists, the New York metropolitan region is one great laboratory."

The story gets us to continue reading by offering great bait: "White-footed mice, stranded on isolated urban islands, are evolving to adapt to urban stress. Fish in the Hudson have evolved to cope with poisons in the water. Native ants find refuge in the median strips on Broadway. And more familiar urban organisms, like bedbugs, rats, and bacteria, also mutate and change in response to the pressures of the metropolis."

But then comes the switch: "In short, the process of evolution is responding to New York and other cities the way it has responded to countless environmental changes over the past few billion years. . . . Evolution is one of life's constants. New species emerge; old ones become extinct."

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Excuse me? The New York Times story gives examples of microevolution (change within a species), not macroevolution (evolution above the species level, such as the origin of mammals). For example, almost all the tomcod in the Hudson River share a mutation in one gene that allows them to survive pollutants that cause deformities in fish larvae. Fish born without that mutation may be missing their jaws: Unable to eat, they die quickly.

It's no surprise that fish born with the mutation would quickly become supreme. It would be big news if a fish started walking. Evolutionists defending the Times might say, "Of course we don't have examples of macroevolution-that takes millions of years." Fair enough: Let's not pretend, then, that changes within a population of mud-dwelling worms supply evidence for evolution as the word is commonly understood.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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