The Peppered Moths Stike Back Monday, August 27, 2007Posted by henry000 in evolution, Icons of Evolution, intelligent design, Jonathan Wells, Judith Hooper, Majerus, natural selection, pepper moth, science, science experiment.
If you ask anyone off the street to give you one example of evolution, chances are it will be the peppered moth phenomenon. The story of the darker type of moths out-surviving the lighter coloured moths in industrial polluted areas has been cited in just about all evolution and biology textbooks.
However, this icon of evolution has been under heavy attack recently, raging from flawed experiments to outright fraud or fakery. The charges include manipulated photographs, deliberate suppressed evidence and dismissing other alternative conclusions out of hand. The critics include the Intelligent Design proponent Jonathan Wells in his infamous book Icons of Evolution and Judith Hooper’s Of Moths and Men.
This attack has completely repelled, and vindicated by a recently experiment conducted. A Cambridge professor named Michael Majerus has repeated this experiment in his own backyard for a span of seven years – taking into the criticism into account as well. His study has conclusively shown that the phenomenon is indeed a shining example of natural selection:
“I conclude that differential bird predation here is a major factor responsible for the decline of carbonaria frequency in Cambridge between 2001 and 2007,” Professor Majerus said.
“If the rise and fall of the peppered moth is one of the most visually impacting and easily understood examples of Darwinian evolution in action, it should be taught. It provides after all the proof of evolution,” he said.
The peppered moth phenomenon strikes back, confirming the power that is of natural selection.
For those who need a refresher in what the peppered moth phenomenon is about, here is a quick summary taken from the report:
The peppered moth comes in two distinct, genetic varieties: the black, melanic form (carbonaria) and the mottled form (typica). Against the background of a lichen-covered tree growing in unpolluted countryside, the typica form is well camouflaged. But in polluted areas where lichens do not grow, it is the melanic form that is difficult to see.