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Big Bird — Evolution’s “Smoking Gun”?

David Klinghoffer

Big Bird

We’ve already commented on the hype about the Big Bird lineage, heralded as a new species that sprang into existence on Daphne Major, one of the famed Galápagos Islands, in a twinkling of a couple of generations. Is this evolution’s “smoking gun”? Against the backdrop of research of Princeton’s Peter and Rosemary Grant, Darwin’s finches are among the most hyped illustrations of evolution in action. The problem is that they illustrate only the most micro- of micro-evolution.

Jonathan Wells, author of Zombie Science and Icons of Evolution, talked with fellow biologist Ray Bohlin about these celebrated birds on a new episode of ID the Future.

As Wells explains, one problem with Big Bird is that as a new lineage emerging via hybridization, it’s in a strict sense the opposite of what a genuine demonstration of Darwinian evolution would need to bring to the table. Darwin’s model has species originating by splitting, remember, not joining together. Dr. Wells and Dr. Bohlin are amusing as they puncture the Darwin’s finch myth, a science “zombie” covered in both of Wells’s aforementioned books. Listen to or download the podcast here.

Photo credit: Big Bird, by P.R. Grant and B.R. Grant, via Princeton University.