Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sulfur Bacteria: “The Greatest Absence of Evolution”

Sulfur exists in extraordinary places. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

A recent news item in ScienceDaily begins with the words “The greatest absence of evolution ever reported has been discovered by an international group of scientists: a type of deep-sea microorganism that appears not to have evolved over more than 2 billion years.”

However, then the article goes on to say something unexpected:

“But the researchers say that the organisms' lack of evolution actually supports Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.”

ScienceDaily was reporting on research published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

The scientists examined sulfur bacteria, microorganisms that are too small to see with the unaided eye, that are 1.8 billion years old and were preserved in rocks from Western Australia's coastal waters. Using cutting-edge technology, they found that the bacteria look the same as bacteria of the same region from 2.3 billion years ago -- and that both sets of ancient bacteria are indistinguishable from modern sulfur bacteria found in mud off of the coast of Chile.”

On the evolutionary timescale, “2.3 billion years” amounts to over half of the age of Earth. As change is assumed to be the primary characteristic of Darwinian evolution, one might be excused in suggesting that a lack of change should be at least somewhat embarrassing for Darwinians.

Darwinian evolution seems to be so flexible that everything is seen as evidence for it. Punctuated equilibrium was invented to account for the dire lack of transitional fossils, and as Philip S. Skell, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences famously put it, just so stories on the power of natural selection – even mutually contradictory ones – are frequently used to bolster up the crumbling façade of evolution.


Scientists discover organism that hasn't evolved in more than 2 billion years. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2015.