Sunday, 11 January 2009
The Pink Lizard That Darwin Missed
Some iguanas are greenish like this specimen on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria.
When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos islands in 1835, he obviously missed a pink variety of Iguana that now appears to be on the verge of extinction. A research team that investigated their habitat in 2008 found only ten of them left. Scientists think that they number less than a hundred.
The pink iguana (rosada) was first found on the island of Isabela in 1986. They live on the slopes of a volcano and are not known to breed with other subspecies of iguanas.
Iguanas are relatively large lizards. The largest variety can grow to be over 6.5 feet or two meters long. They have rows of spines running down on their back and tail. They are shy herbivores or plant-eating creatures. Brightly colored green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are often kept as pets since they are rather peaceful creatures.
A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and reported by BBC news suggests that the existence of pink iguana will cause the evolutionary tree of the Galapagos iguanas to be re-written.
Evolutionary trees are often built on speculations. Some early evolutionists, such as Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), the German scientist who popularised Darwinism in continental Europe and is now known for his fabricated embryo drawings, used their imagination rather freely in drawing evolutionary trees. Haeckel for instance constructed a link between life and non-life, naming it Monera, and invented a link between man and apes called Pithecanthropus alalus.
The problem with these two additions to the tree of life was that there was absolutely no fossil evidence or other kind of evidence for them. While more recent family trees are not so suspect, they are often built on very little actual data so that a single find may cause scientists to re-write them, as in the recent case with pink iguanas.
This, in turn, might – and should - raise questions about the validity of Darwinian evolution itself.
Black, Richard. 2009. Pink iguana rewrites family tree. BBC News. (5 January). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7811875.stm
Grigg, Russell. 1996. Ernst Haeckel. Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit. Creation 18:2, 33–36. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v18/i2/haeckel.asp