Biston betularia - Peppered Research on the Peppered Moth


Once in a while a research study comes along that points out a serious problem with some aspect of evolution or some common example of evolution. Biston betularia, normally called the Peppered Moth, is an example of the process of natural selection used in most biology books, from both Christian and secular publishers. Evolutionists have used the Peppered Moth for years as an example of evolution. Creationists have pointed out for years that it is only an example of microevolution, not macroevolution. It was always an example of a small "horizontal" change within one "kind," not a "vertical" change of one kind to another. Creationists do not deny that natural selection occurs, as in microevolution.

However, natural selection may not always be as important as evolutionists imply. Natural selection is a competition process essentially. Animals often cooperate and actually help each other or do things that natural selection does not apply to. Well, it turns out this famous example from these moths is based on research that is seriously flawed. It comes from a man named Bernard Kettlewell in Oxford, England. The study was originally done in the 1950's. He reported that after industrial pollution turned the trees in England dark, then the lighter colored moths were picked off of trees by birds because they were more easily seen. This gave the dark moths an advantage so the dark moths became the dominant type among these moths. This phenomenon is known among biologists as industrial melanism. Both the lighter variety and the darker variety of these moths are Biston betularia. A new book published by a man named Michael Majerus (an evolutionist) has come out which gives a very telling critique of Kettlewell's work on the moths. It turns out for one thing that these moths do not rest on trees, they were placed on the trees by the researchers, and this is when the famous picture of the moths was taken apparently. Also, these moths do not tend to choose backgrounds that are like their own color. Other researchers since Kettlewell's time have not been able to duplicate his results at all. This is nice for creationists, because creationists had nothing to do with this critique of Kettlewell. It shows that science is very fallible sometimes. Evolutionists will have to find other examples of natural selection in action.

The real facts are often much harder to get to than what you would be led to believe from the media and even from what science textbooks say. I would recommend the following short article from the journal Nature. Even Christian textbooks would have incorrect information in them about these moths. This is important for teachers and Home Schooling parents to be aware of.

"Not Black and White," a review of the book "Melanism: Evolution in Action," by Michael E. N. Majerus,, Oxford University Press, 1998. Review by Jerry A. Coyne, in Nature, Vol. 396, Nov. 5, 1998, pp 35-36.

Wayne R. Spencer
Creation Education Materials

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