Feature Article - February 2015
by Do-While Jones

Daffy DNA

New research links lobsters with cockroaches.

If you can believe that hummingbirds evolved from a dinosaur like Tyrannosaurus rex, apparently you can believe anything. Evolutionists have gone so far down Alice’s rabbit hole that they now think lobsters are closely related to cockroaches.

The next time you are about to dig into a freshly steamed lobster for dinner, think “cockroach,” or better yet, “dragonfly.” A decade of genetic data and other evidence has persuaded most researchers that insects and crustaceans, long considered widely separated branches of the arthropod family tree, actually belong together. Now they are exploring the consequences of the revision, which traces insect ancestry to certain crustaceans. “When I think about traits in insects, I now have a context for where they came from,” says Jon Harrison, an evolutionary physiologist at Arizona State University, Tempe, who has spent 25 years investigating insect respiration. “It's a total change.” 1

Do you really want to know the details? We didn’t think so! Instead, let’s take this opportunity to expand upon a general principle that we didn’t have room for in last month’s feature article about bird DNA, 2 despite its extended length.

This all fits together because we want to examine the illegitimacy of the notion that one can establish a pedigree based on genetic similarity. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about insects or birds. The issue is whether or not DNA analysis can tell us anything about biological descent—especially if it flies in the face of rational thought.

Vocal Learning Revisited

Last month we just touched on an evolutionary problem so serious that it was addressed in depth by one of the papers produced by the Avian Phylogenetics Project. It had to do with the fact that some birds use sound to communicate, and some don’t.

Pet parrots, of course, can learn to repeat words taught to them by their owners. Alex the Parrot 3, the prime subject in the Avian Learning Experiment, apparently learned the meaning of words, and could carry on a conversation equivalent to that of a young child.

Some people question whether or not Alex really understood what he was saying. He might have just been repeating sounds. But dogs understand what commands (such as, sit, stay, and roll over) mean. (Cats probably know what these commands mean, too—they just don’t care. ) Dog owners can tell the difference from their dog’s “I need to go out!” bark from their “There’s an intruder in the backyard!” bark. So, it certainly seems reasonable that Alex and the scientists understood each other.

From time to time hummingbirds have built nests in the trees around our house, resulting in avian property disputes. Although I don’t speak hummingbird, I certainly recognize their trash talk during aerial dogfights, and take cover whenever I hear it.

Some songbirds have well-documented mating calls—but other birds don’t. Evolutionists formerly believed that vocal learning is such a complex behavior that it could only have evolved once, and all vocal learners inherited the ability. When they constructed their mythical evolutionary tree, parrots were nowhere near hummingbirds. So, they came to the conclusion that parrots and hummingbirds independently evolved vocal learning.

A problem with that explanation surfaced when they discovered that all vocal learning birds have virtually identical genes which non-learners don’t have. Furthermore, humans have those same communication genes, which apes don’t have.

They try to explain this remarkable coincidence with “convergent evolution.” That is, vocal learning is such a difficult and unique characteristic that only one set of genes is capable of doing it. Therefore, all these different, unrelated species accidentally stumbled on the exact same solution to the problem.

Pinewood Derby Convergence

Consider this analogy: All across America the Boy Scouts compete in the Pinewood Derby. They carve blocks of wood into model cars to see which one will roll down an inclined track the fastest. The cars all look very different. Some are expertly carved. Some are very crude. Some are painted well. Others are not. Despite their many differences, all the cars have the same size wheels, spaced the same distance apart. Why?

Yes, the official rules define these things—but even in the absence of these rules, all the cars would have the same size wheels, with the same spacing, because they wouldn’t fit on the track if they didn’t. The track constrains the size and spacing of the wheels.

The evolutionists’ argument is that physical constraints force certain genetic characteristics—and they are right about that.

You Can’t Have it Both Ways

Here’s where the evolutionists go wrong. Whenever two similar species have similar genetics, they claim it is proof of a common ancestor. For example, the fact that human DNA is similar to chimpanzee DNA is claimed as proof of a common ancestor. But, when humans and hummingbirds have identical genes (which apes lack) it is claimed to be proof that the same genes can evolve independently. Evolutionists aren’t consistent. Similar DNA is either proof of a common ancestor, or it isn’t.

Now, because evolutionists have recognized that lobsters and dragonflies have similar genetics, they are ready to redraw their mythical evolutionary tree to bring them closer together! Why not say it is just a case of convergent evolution? There is no logical consistency.

The mythical evolutionary tree is based on opinions that change from day to day. It isn’t based on unchanging facts.

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1 Elizabeth Pennisi, Science, 16 January 2015, “All in the (bigger) family”, pp. 220-221, https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.347.6219.220
2 Disclosure, January 2015, “For the Birds”
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_the_parrot