The Strange Case of the Tuatara

Does this make any sense:

Scientists have “recovered DNA sequences from the bones of ancient tuatara, which are up to 8000 years old. They found that, although tuatara have remained largely physically unchanged over very long periods of evolution, they are evolving – at a DNA level – faster than any other animal yet examined.”

So reports the Science Daily in an article called New Zealand’s Living Dinosaur — the  Tuatara — is Surprisingly the Fastest Evolving Animal. The creature, a type of lizard that lives only in New Zealand, hasn’t changed physically in 8000 years, but its DNA is evolving rapidly. “Of course,” says the discoverer, Professor Lambert, “we would have expected that the tuatara, which does everything slowly — they grow slowly, reproduce slowly and have a very slow metabolism — would have evolved slowly. In fact, at the DNA level, they evolve extremely quickly, which supports a hypothesis proposed by the evolutionary biologist Allan Wilson, who suggested that the rate of molecular evolution was uncoupled from the rate of morphological evolution.”

Say what? Molecular evolution has “uncoupled from morphological evolution?” Then wouldn’t that mean the first has no connection with the second? And wouldn’t that sorta make molecular evolution a bit… irrelevant? Is the data here being pushed into a mold to fit the conclusion the researcher desires? The whole thing raises numerous questions for me, being neither a paleontologist nor a geneticist. How exactly does DNA evolve? What are the signs? And if DNA is “evolving” with no discernible change in phenotype… what’s the point? How does that prove anything?

The conclusions in this article presented as from the “experts” requires not only the use of faith, but the dispensing of logic to be accepted: We know this creature is evolving rapidly, even though it hasn’t changed in 8000 years. Talk about non-intuitive! Tell me again — why is it we’re supposed to put our faith in stuff like this instead of the Bible?

Photo: Tuatara in New Zealand. (Credit: iStockphoto/Robyn Grant)

0 thoughts on “The Strange Case of the Tuatara

  1. Gayle

    Say what? Well, I really wish this had a base in fact, not fiction, ’cause I could sure use some new faster ‘evolving’ DNA. Mine is getting tired, sluggish…well, darn, just plain ole warn out, yes,it is old; although I have not reached the 8000 year mark, YET. I will snag that mark in heaven where He has prepared a room for me. Yeah! A room that will never need to be cleaned. Yes, even better!!!

  2. karenhancock

    Too funny, Gayle! Oh yes, for heaven! Where we’ll have perfect DNA and there’ll be no more cobwebs, no more dust, no more smudges, the dirty things having passed away and all things become new! Best of all NO old sin nature. And NO cosmic system!


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