The Engines of Evolution: Natural Selection and Mutation

The debate in the scientific community is not on whether natural selection and mutations exist because anyone who is informed knows that these are a fact. The debate is rather on whether mutations plus natural selection equal one kind of creature changing into another (evolution).

Although it is true that things do change over time, it is the direction of change that matters in evolution. This type of change is called “vertical change” or in other words, change that causes an increase of useable, beneficial information in the genome.  For example, a frog cannot become a lion because the lion has genes that the frog doesn’t have and vice versa. Mutations and natural selection do not provide the necessary components for one kind of animal to change into another because functional information always comes from a mind.

The thing that has encouraged evolutionary thinking is the use of natural selection and evolution interchangeably. They are not the same thing! Natural selection can only act upon what is already present. It does not create new genes; it only preserves the best of what is already there.

To help demonstrate this let’s say that dogs with medium begin having pups. Some of these pups inherit short hair and some inherit long hair. Then they begin to travel down south where it becomes very hot. The dogs with long hair are starting to overheat, while the short haired dogs are perfectly adapted to their new environment. The dogs with the long haired gene die, while the short haired dogs live on and pass on their short hair to their puppies. After a while, nature will weed out the long haired dogs completely. Now, did we create any new information? No, the dog population simply lost the ability to create long-haired dogs. All the genetic information for making long and short haired dogs was in the first population. Poodles, chiwawas, great Danes, and all of the domestic dogs today have less genetic information than their ancestor population, wolves, and have lost information to create all this variety.

Mutations, however, could possibly help with this gain of information problem. There are several different types of mutations such as inversion, insertion, duplication, frameshift, and deletion. Some of these do increase the amount of genes in the organisms. However, most of these mutations are neutral. Then in second place they are harmful, and very rarely are they beneficial. The difference is that when they are beneficial, they are beneficial only in a specialized environment.

One example of this is H pylori which survives because of its inability to produce an enzyme. This bacterium in the body is harmful and can only be cured by antibiotics. These antibiotics react with the enzyme of the H pylori and kill it. The mutant cannot produce this enzyme so it survives. Although this was a beneficial mutation, if the H pylori was put in its normal environment, natural selection would weed out this mutant.

In addition, fruit flies are often tested on for the means of seeing what kind of mutations show up. When they do this, they get all kinds of fruit fly mutations, but none improve the fruit fly! So I guess Lee Spetner (expert in information theory) said it best when he made the comment “There is no known law of nature, no known process, or no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.” The fruit fly cannot gain functional information because information comes from intelligence.

In conclusion, the evidence does not say that evolution is not impossible, but more or less that it is unlikely. This is because natural selection and mutation are very controversial engines of evolution. It is evident that even if these components would cause evolution, it would take millions of years to see a dramatic change. Evolution is not as sound of a theory as most people think.

Works Cited

“About Mutation.” College of Dupage, 25 September 2004. Web. 23 February 2012.

“Chapter 7: Are Mutations Part of the “Engine” of Evolution.” Bodie Hodge, 18 February 2010. Web. 23 February 2012.

“DNA Mutations.” Genetic Amanda Ewart Toland, 3 October 2011. Web. 23 February 2012.

“Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution?.” Georgia Purdom, 3 January 2008. Web.  15 February 2012.

“Was Darwin Right? Part 2.” Online Posting. YouTube, 22 January 2011. Web. 15 February 2012.


3 thoughts on “The Engines of Evolution: Natural Selection and Mutation

  1. First off, I think that your blog is very well written. I think that it is interesting how natural selection works and how mutations fall under that category. For me, I comprehended this blog very easily because you had great examples. Your example about the dogs with long and short hair made it easier for me to understand natural selection. Keep up to good work!

  2. I knew about evolution and how Darwin discovered it, but I didn’t know that it’s more unlikely now than what it was. Great post!

  3. I like this website very much, Its a really nice berth to read and obtain info . “There are two ways of spreading light to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” by Edith Newbold Jones Wharton.

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