Correspondence

Nature 444, 680 (7 December 2006) | doi:10.1038/444680a; Published online 6 December 2006

There is no new evidence that undermines evolution

Brian Charlesworth1

  1. Brian Charlesworth and 34 others (names available on request from B.C.) Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

Sir:

We are astonished that Nature would publish a Correspondence as full of errors as that by Maciej Giertych (Nature 444, 265; 2006). For someone with degrees from the universities of Oxford and Toronto, Giertych displays a breathtaking ignorance.

There is no "new scientific evidence against the theory of evolution" as he asserts, but fails to document. This can be verified by consulting any of the recent standard textbooks on the subject. The claim that "microevolution...is a step towards a reduction of genetic information" is nonsense. On the contrary, there is ample evidence for the frequent use of duplications of genes in evolution, many of which have acquired new functions. By any criterion, this represents an increase in the amount of genetic information.

Contrary to Giertych's statements, the temporal ordering of rock layers by stratigraphy, and the extinction of dinosaurs some 65 million years before the existence of humans, are overwhelmingly established facts of geology and palaeontology. His claim that "No positive mutations have ever been demonstrated" is simply false. Disregarding the fact that it is illogical to rule out resistance to antibiotics and herbicides as examples of adaptations, as was done by Giertych, there are literally thousands of cases in which natural selection has been demonstrated in wild populations of animals and plants.

Further, the contemporary literature on molecular evolution is filled with studies that provide evidence for a positive role of natural selection. Physicists do not spend their time debating the correctness of the atomic theory of matter; it is intolerable that biologists should constantly be forced to defend their unifying theory against ill-informed attacks.

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