Cars Cause Birds to Evolve

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Cars cause birds to evolve, according to articles in ScienceNOW and Nature News and New Scientist 18 March 2013. Cliff swallows can build nests that hang off vertical surfaces, and some build nests on highway overpasses and bridges. This puts the birds in danger of being hit by cars and trucks. Charles and Mary Brown have been studying roadside swallows since 1982 and noticed recently there has been fewer birds dying on the roads in spite of an increase in traffic. Their studies involved taking measurements of the birds, and they found the average wing length of the living birds in the population had become shorter over time, from 111mm in 1982 to 106mm in 2012. However, birds that died on the road in 2012 had an average wingspan of 112mm.

The researchers suggest birds with shorter wings are able turn more rapidly and thus dodge the traffic more easily, whilst the longer-winged birds are more likely to end up as road kill because they are less manoeuvrable. According to ScienceNOW, “The results suggest that shorter wingspan has been selected for over this time period because of the evolutionary pressure put on the population by cars”. According to Ronald Mumme of Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, “Everything fits with the idea that it’s vehicular selection”. The New Scientist article claimed the birds “have evolved shorter wings, which may help them avoid dying on roads by taking off quickly and darting away from cars”.

Nature News, New Scientist

Editorial Comment: Let us coin a phrase for this process …’auto–selection’. New Scientist may claim birds have evolved shorter wings, but this change is not evolution, but a good reminder that selection, whether it be natural, or “auto” (vehicular) can only work by removing individuals with a particular pre-existing characteristic from the population, leaving the now depleted gene pool to reproduce. Therefore, whatever changes are seen in that population, it involved loss of genetic variation, which is the opposite of evolution.

Furthermore, selection can never explain the origin of living creatures. The loss of longer winged birds does not explain how birds got wings in the first place, and will not enable the birds to evolve into some other kind of living creature.

This study should also remind liberal theologians that selection is a process of death and destruction, and therefore could not have been a process the good God used to create a world he called “very good”. (Genesis 1:31) Natural (and unnatural) selection only became a force of nature after the world was afflicted by death and degeneration following human sin and God’s judgement. (Ref. aerodynamics, birds, ornithology, flight)

Evidence News 10 July 2013