One more nail in Darwin’s coffin

There is absolutely nothing in either that article or the preceding one that is non-Darwinian, let alone a problem for evolutionary theory.

You are being lied to again, and you are gullibly swallowing it whole again.


Holy smokes, Batman, that is one convoluted mess of misleading propaganda and spin. I guess the talk of the evolution of mimicry in insects around here lately got them nervous and sent them into damage control mode. I see they have multiple posts up about it.

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: For background, see an earlier post, “More Ways of Information Sharing Found in Living Things.” As noted there, this is like sharing books, not by writing new books — the Darwinian method.

What is “non-Darwinian” about introgression, and what does that have to do with design? Where do the the alleles being introduced into the population come from in the first place? Oh that’s right, mutation and selection. How do they cross between populations? Oh, it’s still just breeding between carriers. They have sex.

Darwin himself wrote extenstively on hybrids and reproductive compatibility between different species and populations. He didn’t of course know about the underlying genetics, he couldn’t. All he could see is one animal or plant give birth to another. Hence his view of evolution gave rise to a picture dominated by genealogical lines of descent, not genetic lines of descent.

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: Could this explain the divergent wing patterns found in Heliconius butterflies, long a favorite of Darwinians to show speciation?

Why yes, yes it could.

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: If so, it would simultaneously undermine the Darwinian narrative for peppered moths.

Why? Why does the person who wrote that article say that? The mutational causes of the peppered moth’s dark phenotype is known, and the selective pressure that drove it to high frequency in the population during the industrial revolution. It’s literally a textbook example of mutation subject to natural selection, and there’s nothing in this hilarious article that argues otherwise.

This next part is all ridiculous:

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: An international team of 29 researchers from Harvard, Cornell, and Brigham Young University revealed widespread sharing of genetic information in members of this genus:

In a paper published today in Science , the researchers shed light on the rapid speciation of these exceptional butterflies and describe an evolutionary history rampant with introgression , wherein species exchange genes due to interbreeding between genetically divergent individuals. On a grand scale, the findings provide evidence that the model of an evolutionary tree first famously drawn by Darwin may need some adjusting.

“The traditional way of looking at evolution as a bifurcating tree doesn’t capture the complexity of the evolutionary process, ” said study co-author Paul Frandsen, professor of plant and wildlife sciences at BYU. “ Instead of a tree, it’s more like a bush or a network. By looking at whole genomes and using our new methods, we can get a much clearer picture of what’s going on.”

In the video, Frandsen speaks of “a lot of genetic exchange after things become distinct species.” He says that rather than seeing a tree pattern, as Darwin predicted,

it resembles more of a bush. There’s genetic information being transferred horizontally. We hope that other people who are studying other groups of animals will start to look for these same types of evolutionary signatures, to understand whether this is a really important evolutionary process among all of life.”

The “bush” metaphor is exactly what Jonathan Wells used in describing the Cambrian explosion. It’s a very different picture from Darwin’s branching tree. Frandsen shows remarkable examples of members within a species looking more diverse than members of other species that mimic them! That seems highly improbable by “convergent evolution,” but makes sense with information sharing.

So the author quotes researchers talking about introgression, the passing of genes from one population to another through interbreeding. So, in fact, we have a straightforward mechanism for why some gene is in two population. It’s not convergent evolution, or “design”, it’s just … sex.

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: Harvard University finds in these same Heliconius butterflies “evidence that the process of sharing DNA may be far more common than ever thought.” Completely absent is any mention of random mutation or natural selection.

Uhm, no, they speak a lot about that, they just don’t package it in those terms. Did this guy do a word search for “mutation and natural selection” and when he failed to find hits, thought there was no mention of mutations being subject to selection in the paper? They speak about selection, beneficial and deleterious loci, adaptive radiations and divergence. I guess the propagandist over at EN&V doesn’t know what those words refer to.

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: Darwinism is getting hit from all directions. Meanwhile, another team of 14 scientists, publishing in PNAS , discovered that “Parallel evolution of ancient, pleiotropic enhancers underlies butterfly wing pattern mimicry.” Heliconius butterflies were the type specimens that led Fritz Müller to propose his model of Müllerian mimicry, the classic case being a butterfly mimicking a toxic species in order to avoid being eaten. What this team found was not classic neo-Darwinian mutation and selection

Uhm, yes it was. I can’t access the paper but it’s right there in the abstract on the front page:


Color pattern mimicry in Heliconius butterflies is a classic case study of complex trait adaptation via selection on a few large effect genes. Association studies have linked color pattern variation to a handful of noncoding regions, yet the presumptive cis-regulatory elements (CREs) that control color patterning remain unknown. Here we combine chromatin assays, DNA sequence associations, and genome editing to functionally characterize 5 cis-regulatory elements of the color pattern gene optix . We were surprised to find that the cis-regulatory architecture of optix is characterized by pleiotropy and regulatory fragility, where deletion of individual cis-regulatory elements has broad effects on both color pattern and wing vein development. Remarkably, we found orthologous cis-regulatory elements associate with wing pattern convergence of distantly related comimics, suggesting that parallel coevolution of ancestral elements facilitated pattern mimicry. Our results support a model of color pattern evolution in Heliconius where changes to ancient, multifunctional cis-regulatory elements underlie adaptive radiation.

Mutatons(changes) in regulatory elements were adaptive and drove wing pattern evolution. Is the EN&V author able to read?

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: Still another study published in Current Biology found wing patterns were affected not by Darwinian selection, but by regulation of the WntA gene.

Which is subject to natural selection. They even have a big fat drawing of different species of butterflies “climbing a mountain” to arrive at the same peak by different paths. That’s a selection metaphor. The climbing process is incremental mutational change, and the upwards movement is towards higher fitness.

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute says that those results “ forever changes the way evolution is understood. ” Ricardo Papa, a co-author from the University of Puerto Rico, moved from a gene-centric concept to a theme-centric model:

“Distinct species with identical wing-color patterns, such as co-mimetic butterflies, can evolve using different molecular strategies . Imagine the same notes played on different instruments!”

So there are multipe selective pathays to similar adaptations, and this is somehow NOT evolution? What? This also gives lie to the claim that incremental adaptive evolution is supposedly a rare exception, yet here we have a similar pattern having evolved by completely different pathways. This also contradicts the claim EN&V makes about how gene-sharing is supposed to be evidence for design. Why use two different ways to make the same adaptation, why not just re-use the exact same one in both species?

Here’s something they left out on EN&V:
“Our team is the first to report that although evolution of similar color patterns in Heliconius may be driven by similar forces—like predators avoiding a particular kind of butterfly—the pathway to that outcome is not predictable,” said Carolina Concha, lead author of the paper and a post-doctoral fellow at STRI. “This really surprised us because it reveals the importance of history and chance in shaping the genetic pathways leading to butterfly wing-pattern mimicry.”

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC: In summary, “Gene regulation gives butterflies their stunning looks,” says The Scientist . Regulation, hybridization, and introgression involve sharing and controlling existing genetic information. This is not neo-Darwinian evolution.

Why not? Changes in any one of those involve mutations, which are subject to natural selection. That’s what that whole thing about “similar forces like predators avoiding a particular butterfly” is all about, selection driving a particular type of adaptation. It’s a textbook example of evolution by mutation and natural selection. The fact that those mutants are passed between different populations through introgression and hybrids isn’t somehow anti- or non-Darwinian.

Whoever reads those EN&V articles owe it to themselves to CHECK EVERYTHING. Every single sentence made in that article is somehow misleading or false. Go straight to the source, read the papers instead, learn what the terms used there actually mean, and their history. Start by reading what Darwin himself wrote, so you can understand whether something is, in fact, “non Darwinian”, or is merely being misleadingly claimed as such.


The DI is so focused on tar and feathering the term Darwinism that they ignore, repeatedly, that each one of these “Darwinism Upended” articles (and there have been many) always describe a new(ish) natural mechanism. Yet it’s these very same processes that ultimately are what the DI want to replace with an immaterial mind. Ultimately things like HGT and hybridization become part of Evolutionary theory making it a better explanation than before. So why are they happy?


I see the Darwin Online link is down atm, so here’s an alternative link to Darwin’s chapter on Hybridism:

It’s always interesting to see these articles, knowing there are scientists associated with DI that know Darwinian explanations have been outdated for 50 years. I suppose it scores well with the target audience, though.


A superb rebuttal, but completely wasted on Gilbert since he won’t have understood and might not even have read the original article.


As their next act, perhaps they could find evidence against Newtonian physics (e.g. the precession in Mecury’s orbit) and argue that planets are intelligently guided.

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