Sunday, 1 June 2014

Creationist non-Trump Card: Evolutionary stasis

Sometime back I read an interesting article on the fossilized nuclei and chromosomes of a 180 million year old Royal Fern. (Subscription link) What makes this remarkable is that the authors of this research showed that the nuclei and chromosome size indicate genomic stasis for at least 180 million years.

Naturally, the creationists were happy to hear this as it gave them another chance to trot out their well evolution clearly is not correct as the Royal Fern has not changed in 180 million years. Or evolutionary stasis proves that evolution does not work. However, there are multiple explanations which show that evolutionary stasis is completely plausible, such as separation and rejoining of populations which then get overrun by a dominant gene.(To understand dominant versus recessive genes, click here) These theories have actually been seen to occur and these explanations fit in with the scientific data.

Also, the creationists reading this article are forgetting one very critical factor and that is something I have always wanted to say in my blog.

"Size is not everything". That is, even if the genome is the same size. The genome itself has not been analyzed as it is fossilized. That means we do not know what kind of mutations have occurred on the DNA. Or evolution in the DNA could have occurred, but we can never know as the DNA is not accessible to study. Only if we could actually sequence the DNA and compare it to a modern day fern and show that they are the same can we say that their has been stasis. However, as I said above this stasis has many other explanations.

So when creationists say "no change has taken place for 180 million years" they are telling you only the parts that they want to believe or the only parts that they understand. Thats why most biologists  (and me included) sometimes refer to these pseudo-scientists as IDiots.