Vestigial Earwigs

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Reader asks about wingless insects: “I read an evolutionist blog the other day on creation science arguments. One was on vestigial organs vs genetic loss. He said that creationists say there are no vestigial organs (which is true), but there are examples of things that do not fully function i.e. beetles of the same species; some have wings and some don't. Another example is the earwig. Some earwigs have wings but as far as I know they don't fly. They stay in moist undergrowth and under rocks etc. The evolutionist said that creationists mince words when really organs rendered useless by genetic loss and vestigial organs are the same thing – useless. This is something I want to address. Can you succinctly explain the difference or refer me to a book or article that gives an explanation as to the difference?”

Editorial Comment: In spite of their appearance most earwigs do have wings. When they are not flying, the wings are neatly folded up and protected by wing cases. They don’t fly much so most people only see them when they are crawling around with their wings out of sight. There are a few wingless earwigs. These often have diminished forceps (the pincer like projections at the base of the abdomen) and one group of wingless earwigs (the Arixeniidae) are parasites rather than eating plants, detritus or catching prey.
See Australin Museum article on earwigs: http://australianmuseum.net.au/Earwigs

Many types of insects have wingless varieties, and these are claimed to have evolved to suit unusual environments, e.g. in a book entitled An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles , Arthur Evans & Charles Bellamy write: “The combination of New Zealand’s cool temperate climates with glaciation, volcanism and tectonic movements has created numerous ecological niches favouring the evolution of many unusual beetles. Strong winds, stable habitats and the lack of predators have encouraged the development of many large wingless species.” (p183)

Beetles with diminished or absent wings are examples of genuine vestigial organs which all research shows are the result of genetic defects, i.e. loss of genetic information, a degenerative process that is the opposite of evolution. A windy environment that has few predators may enable wingless beetles to survive, but that does not explain the origin of beetles or beetle wings, so is no help to the theory of evolution. Furthermore, as in the case of some New Zealand flightless beetles, when ground dwelling predators like rats were introduced, wingless beetles were no longer the fittest and so did not survive. Their ‘vestigial-ness’ was a major contributor to their extinction. (Ref. vestigial, arthropods, flight)

Evidence News, 7 October 2009

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