Believe it or not

By Philip Bell Creation Ministries International

‘Evolution’ of stick insects rewritten

stick insect

As a university student, the lack of evidence for insect-flight evolution contributed to my rejection of evolution, in favour of Biblical creation.

I was therefore recently intrigued to read that the latest research on this topic is causing evolutionists to 'rewrite the rules' of evolution.

Evolution is not meant to run in reverse—at least, this is a basic principle of evolution that is widely accepted. Evolutionists believe that complex genetic instructions, once encoded in a creature's DNA (by natural selection of random mutations1), are unlikely to be undone2, even less likely to be regained later on. A recent report on stick insects in the prestigious journal Nature is forcing evolutionists to rethink this fundamental belief.3

Today's stick insects (or phasmids, as scientists call them) show great variety; e.g. some have wings and some do not. The conventional idea holds that a winged insect ancestor gave rise to different groups of winged stick insects, with many of these later evolving to a wingless condition.4 From their studies of DNA in 59 stick insect species, the authors of this latest research came to a completely different conclusion: wings were lost in a 'primitive' ancestor of stick insects, reappeared at least four times (independently), then were lost yet again on two or more occasions!

So, these exquisitely complex structures we call wings (not to mention the associated muscles, ligaments and nervous control systems) are now said to have evolved, devolved and 're-evolved' several times.

Moreover, these ups and downs in the evolution of insect flight allegedly spanned 300 million years, with periods of winglessness lasting up to 100 million years.

Genetic information for wings, no longer serving any selective purpose, should be lost and/or should degenerate through disuse by virtue of mutations.5 Aware of this, the authors speculate that the instructions for wings were somehow linked to those for legs, so they could be switched on again later. Shoe-horned by their unquestioning belief in evolution, they fail to question whether these non-functioning genes could really have existed for so long!

References and notes

  1. Mutations are rare genetic mistakes that may occur when cells divide or when DNA is damaged by something harmful in the environment.
  2. This principle was first formulated by Belgian biologist Louis Dollo and thus called 'Dollo's Law'. See: Dollo's Principle: Irreversability [sic] of evolution, in Milner, R. (Ed.), The encyclopedia of evolution, Facts on File, Oxford, p. 143, 1990.
  3. Whiting, M.F., Bradler, S. and Maxwell, T., Loss and recovery of wings in stick insects, Nature 421: 264–267, 2003.
  4. Approximately 60% of living species of stick insects lack wings.
  5. As there would be no selection against mutations in unused genes (for wings), mutations would accumulate in these genes so that they would become completely scrambled and no longer able to specify how to make wings. With such a long period proposed (100 million years), this would be inevitable.
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