The BBC (United Kingdom) is broadcasting a new television series called "Survivors"1 staring this month. The first episode is Horseshoe crabs are one of nature’s great survivors. The show is based on a book by Richard Fortey of the Natural History Museum in London, England.
Here's a quotation from the BBC press release where Fortey attempts to explain why horseshoe crabs haven't evolved.
A strange evolution?Think about it for a moment. What Fortey is saying is that no change is "evidence" for evolution! I suppose he could be talking about negative selection and that's probably what he was thinking about in the context of the interview. It's still a silly thing to say and, just as you might have predicted, the creationists have jumped all over it.
Evolution not only brings about ‘improvements’ in body shapes and design that help a species adapt better to its surroundings. It also allows some species to remain basically the same.
‘These creatures tell us that evolution does not move inevitably forwards towards new morphology and new designs,' comments Fortey.
'Evidence for evolution is also found in past designs that endure to the present day. As long as the right habitat endures, then so will some of the creatures that inhabited the distant past.
First, there's Turning an Unevolved Horseshoe Crab Into a Darwin Showpiece.
Articles like this are more evidence that once the level of public credulity is sufficiently reduced by accurate information about the logical tricks of evolutionists, people will laugh Darwin off the stage of history and wonder how on earth so many smart people fell for his view of the world.Then there's Denyse O'Leary: Darwinist: Evolution and no evolution are the same thing, it turns out. She laps this stuff up without giving a second thought to the logical inconsistency of rejecting 99.9% of the fossil evidence while promoting the 0.1% of it that seems to cause a problem for "Darwinism." She thinks that's okay because any "problem" for evolution is evidence that God exists.
Let’s review what we were just told.
• Complex designs just popped into existence without ancestors.
• These designs were not only complex, they were better at surviving than more than 90% of other animals that followed.
• They endured virtually unchanged for 450 million years.
• Evolution improves body designs, but it also allows them to remain basically the same.
• A past design that endures to the present day constitutes evidence for evolution.
If you are sufficiently dumbfounded at these shenanigans committed in the name of science, stop taking it. Fight back. Demand logic. Demand integrity. Call a spade a spade. This spadeful of nonsense calls for a ultrasaurus-size pooper scooper.
horseshoe crabs alive today and scientists have no trouble telling them apart. Furthermore, scientists are quite capable of distinguishing the modern horseshoe crabs from the various fossil species. Thus, it is not true that the morphology of horseshoe crab species has not changed in millions of years.
But there's more. Sandwalk readers will know what's coming.
Evolution is not just adaptation and it's not just visible morphological change. It includes things like adaptation at the molecular level and also the fixation of nearly neutral alleles by random genetic drift. You cannot stop evolution unless you stop mutations from happening and you prevent drift. That's not possible so it's not possible that a "living fossil" hasn't evolved. The best you could say is that for some clades the rate of visible morphological change is slower than in some other lineages.
Checking PubMed reveals dozens of papers on the evolution of horseshoe crabs. The latest I could find is Kamaruzzaman et al. (2011). These authors are interested in the relationship between the extant species of horseshoe crab and their relationship to other arthropods. Here's their tree based on the cytochrome C oxidase I (COXI) gene.
Please, let's stop this silly myth that "living fossils" have not evolved for millions of years. It's totally inconsistent with everything we know about evolution and it's flatly contradicted by the evidence. We may not be able to correct the creationists but surely we can educate our fellow scientists so they don't make fools of themselves in public?
1. This is British. You can be sure that the pun/irony is intended.
Photo Credit: Horseshoe crab: Bronx Bohemian.
Kamaruzzaman, B.Y., Akbar John, B., Zaleha, K. and Jalal, K.C.A. (2011) Molecular Phylogeny of Horseshoe Crab. Asian Journal of Biotechnology, 3: 302-309. [doi: 10.3923/ajbkr.2011.302.309] [Science Alert]