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Evolution moves more quickly than scientists thought
The Kansas City Star ^ | November 18, 2006 | Eric Hand

Posted on 11/19/2006 1:00:27 PM PST by DaveLoneRanger

ST. LOUIS - Evolution happens. But it can also stop and turn on a dime.

A new study of lizards in the Bahamas shows that the natural selection pressures that drive evolution can flip-flop faster than previously thought - even in months.

"Darwin was right about so many things," said Jonathan Losos, a former Washington University biologist who led the study. "In this case he was wrong. He thought that evolution must occur slowly and gradually."

The lizards and their changing leg lengths are yet another case of evolution occurring in real time. From finches that evolve longer beaks in a few years to bacteria that adapt to strange feeding regimens in days, evolution, as a science, has leapt out of musty museums and into the field.

Scientists say that, from a political perspective, the cases offer a vivid reminder of the continuous process that some people imagine proceeding only in fossilized fits and starts: First monkey, then man.

But for the scientists themselves, the cases show that evolutionary biology has, well, evolved into a predictive, experimental science like any other.

Losos had the perfect Petri dishes: 12 tiny islands in the Bahamas with small populations of insect-eating Anolis sagrei, six-inch long lizards that normally live on the ground but can adapt to life in trees.

On six of the islands, Losos introduced a predator, a large curly-tailed lizard that can gobble up the lizards. He theorized that at first, the fastest prey would survive as they ran for the trees. Natural selection would reward long legs. Then, as the little lizards adapted to life in trees, nimble twig maneuvers and shorter legs would be rewarded.

At the start of the experiment, the scientists, using dental floss nooses on the ends of 10-foot poles, caught all lizards and carefully measured their hind-limbs. After the first six months, their predictions held up. The average leg length of survivors was 2 percent longer than those that were killed. After a year, leg length was 3 percent shorter. The changes were small in absolute terms but statistically very large, said R. Brian Langerhans, a graduate student with Losos.

The study appeared Friday in the journal Science. Losos did the research while at Washington University, but left for Harvard University in June.

The lizard study echoes one of the classic cases of evolution-in-action: Darwin's finches on the Galapagos Islands. For more than 30 years, Princeton University biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant have measured changes in the finches' beaks. After extended droughts, small seeds became more scarce. In a few years, the finches evolved longer beaks to crack the larger, tough seeds that remained. Then as more plentiful times returned, the bird beaks got smaller again.

At Michigan State University, Richard Lenski is studying evolution in test tubes. For almost 20 years, he has reared 12 colonies of E. coli. They have divided more than 30,000 times - which, in terms of human generations, is longer than Homo sapiens has been around. Lenski has challenged the bacteria with strange feeding patterns - feeding them sugars, then starving them.

The colonies all adapted, quickly. But they used different genetic tricks to get there. Their DNA is now remarkably different: an example of parallel evolution.

It's difficult to know how an organism will adapt, and also how subtle environmental changes will kick evolution off in a striking new direction, said Ken Petron, a University of Cincinnati ecologist who worked with the Grants on their finches.

For example, on one trip to the Galapagos during a time of seed scarcity, the Grants expected to find the trend toward larger beaks. But a new, larger finch had colonized the island and was eating the larger seeds, Petron said. It was no longer an advantage for the smaller finches to grow larger beaks.

"It's very difficult to predict the outcome of evolution before it happens," he said.

But if biologists can get better at predicting evolution, it could have applications for areas in which humans are altering the environment and causing evolutionary pressures themselves, Langerhans said. Stanford University ecologist Stephen Palumbi has estimated a $50 billion "evolution bill" associated with the antibiotic and pesticide resistance that bacteria, weeds and insects have evolved in medicine and agriculture.

Had the experiment continued, Losos expected the lizard legs to get even shorter with successive generations. But two hurricanes in quick succession submerged the little islands. "All the living lizards were washed away. Bummer," Losos said.

Some eggs survived, however, and hatchling populations are growing. Losos plans to start the experiment over.


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: crevolist; evolution; naturalselection; religionisobsolete
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To: mgstarr

I'm with you. If the moon shots had been real I'd be eating imported green cheese.


101 posted on 11/19/2006 3:13:27 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: Minutemen

Then the real problem you have is that you don't understand it.


102 posted on 11/19/2006 3:14:53 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: aimhigh
Ya, like when the geologists described the Mount St. Helens eruption as causing 10,000 years of geologic action in one day. Just another set of unproven theories.

It occurred to me that the nonsense you're trying to peddle is the idea that geologic events which are determined to have taken thousands or millions of years to unfold may instead have occurred quite swiftly, by a single volcanic eruption or some other similarly brief occurrence.

Let me briefly explain why this is idiotic.

I don't have the original quotes of course, assuming that they exist, but I can readily deduce that if a geologist described the Mount St. Helens eruption as causing 10,000 years of geologic action in one day then what the geologist was quite obviously saying is that in the absence of a volcanic eruption this 'geologic action' would take 10,000 years to occur (actually, it'd take far longer than that even to achieve the same results via sedimentation and erosion).

So what?

Even a reasonably bright fifth grade student could probably learn the same in his science class. Volcanic action achieves very swiftly what takes eons to achieve by virtually any other means. That is well known, and readily evidenced in the geologic record, where it's quite easy to distinguish whether such effects were caused very gradually by erosion/sedimentation or very swiftly by volcanic/seismic action.

Of course, to reiterate, I don't have the original quotes, but it's easy enough to deduce what was meant simply because if the geologist meant it in the way that seems to be implied then said geologist should never have received a degree.

103 posted on 11/19/2006 3:15:12 PM PST by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Wow, what was that!

Evolution?


104 posted on 11/19/2006 3:15:39 PM PST by unspun (What do you think? Please think, before you answer.)
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To: From many - one.
If the moon shots had been real

Which ones weren't?

105 posted on 11/19/2006 3:16:59 PM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

And if I assume a dog's tail is a leg then dogs have 5 legs?

Your assumption is in precisely the place that your inquiry should be


106 posted on 11/19/2006 3:17:16 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: From many - one.

Ha! bear in mind, not everyone believes in it.


107 posted on 11/19/2006 3:17:17 PM PST by Minutemen ("It's a Religion of Peace")
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To: Wormwood
We are not really sure chimps can't breed successfully with humans.

BTW, the Darwin Finch business cited above probably involves methylated DNA and not permanent mutations. That's something that can be instantly influenced by diet, and within the same generation.

108 posted on 11/19/2006 3:19:27 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: RightWhale

All of them or, as I said, I'd be eating imported green cheese.


109 posted on 11/19/2006 3:19:45 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: muawiyah
We are not really sure chimps can't breed successfully with humans.

Yes, we are. They can't.

110 posted on 11/19/2006 3:20:22 PM PST by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: Minutemen

Not my problem.


111 posted on 11/19/2006 3:20:34 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: From many - one.

Ranger? Surveyor?


112 posted on 11/19/2006 3:21:06 PM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: Dust in the Wind; navyguy

Again, we are probably looking at processes controlled by DNA methylation and not genetic variation.


113 posted on 11/19/2006 3:21:35 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Minutemen
The problem I have with evolutionary theory is: 1)If we evolved from fish, lizards or chimpanzes 2)in such a relatively short period of time, 3)why on earth is it taking so long for the rest of the fish, lizards & monkeys to morph into humans??

Evolutionary theory doesn't postulate 1,2, or 3.
114 posted on 11/19/2006 3:22:09 PM PST by somniferum (Annoy a liberal.. Work hard and be happy.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

“This is NOT the kind of "evolution" necessary to get from a chimpanzee to a human”

Bzzt wrong answer, chimpanzees and humans evolved from a common ancestor, also what is the barrier that prevents accumulations of changes in DNA sequence leading to speciation?

“zero to sixty, in 5.6 million years”

Given that you’ve got at least 100 nucleotide differences in your genome from your parents, exactly why shouldn’t 6 million years be enough time?

“These kinds of small changes within the species are the kind of "evolution" that is true, and with which creationists have no problem. It is dishonest to say this is evolution as evolutionists propagate it.2

Again I ask you, what is the barrier then that prevents accumulation of change leading to speciation?

“Moreover, such unexpectedly rapid change supports a young-earth creationist perspective.”

Incorrect, the above is based on your own desire to bend data to fit your untenable hypothesis, if the above were true, how can we see the Andromeda galaxy which is 2.3 million light years away? Oh, and the natural reactors found in Africa indicate that the Fine structure constant has been invariant over the last 1.2 billion years or so, so please no specious rants about the value of C changing or any other unsubstantiated cant on decay rats etc.

“It shows that these minor changes do not take thousands or millions of years to occur.”

We know that already, perhaps you’ve heard of Punctuated Equilibrium?

“And this is further evidence against neodarwinian evolution.”

No the article is in fact further support for ToE, as it is defined as changes in allele frequency in a population over time.

“If this "microevolution" takes place quicker than it was thought, that means that the macroevolutionary changes would be more readily observable now, yet they are not.”


Speciation events have been observed, for instance you may wish to look at Spartina angelica as but one example.

[snip propaganda weblink]


115 posted on 11/19/2006 3:24:53 PM PST by bodrules
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Assume

As my mechanic likes to say, "There's your problem!"

116 posted on 11/19/2006 3:25:10 PM PST by ReignOfError
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To: RightWhale

If my leg is being pulled, it just came off.

If not, track back to post 93, paragraph 2.

I might add the the earth is unquestionably flat since I can see the edges when I drive in Texas. Harder to see in big cities, though.


117 posted on 11/19/2006 3:25:58 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: Junior

Back to the news story that starts this thread ~ DNA methylation can create the changes observed without any change whatsoever in allele frequency over time.


118 posted on 11/19/2006 3:26:34 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: DaveLoneRanger

This story would be better titled: "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Theory".


119 posted on 11/19/2006 3:26:34 PM PST by finnigan2
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To: Minutemen
why on earth is it taking so long for the rest of the fish, lizards & monkeys to morph into humans??

Monkeys are a different branch and have evolved to where they are and may evolve to something. Lizards are a different branch and fish are a different branch. Branches are not taken as rejoining once they separate. Speciation is the hypothesis, not despeciation.

120 posted on 11/19/2006 3:26:57 PM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: ReignOfError

Assumptions take place on both sides. In this case, limitations aren't only assumed, they're already there.


121 posted on 11/19/2006 3:27:33 PM PST by DaveLoneRanger (Celebrating my two-year anniversary! Yehaw!)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Perhaps this article will help you see the light.

http://www.evolutionpages.com/homo_pan_divergence.htm


122 posted on 11/19/2006 3:28:39 PM PST by UpAllNight
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To: Alter Kaker
The "original" human beings probably found the eating of many kinds of grass poisonous. Most "modern" human beings can eat just about any kind of grass without difficulty. Still, some folks have some serious problems with some kinds of grass, e.g. what and rye.

Human beings have "adapted" to grass, at least in part.

123 posted on 11/19/2006 3:29:08 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Alter Kaker
Sorry, bananas have not been "selectively bred". In fact, they haven't been "bred" at all. They are "cuttings".

If some change occurs that looks beneficial we might well select that particular cutting for further expansion in the available space.

124 posted on 11/19/2006 3:31:58 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: billybudd

Who are these Jewish scholars, from 2,500 years ago?


125 posted on 11/19/2006 3:32:00 PM PST by Treader (Human convenience is always on the edge of a breakthrough, or a sellout.)
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To: From many - one.

I see. Thanks.


126 posted on 11/19/2006 3:34:07 PM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: From many - one.
And if I assume a dog's tail is a leg then dogs have 5 legs?

Which reminds me of an old joke. A a chemist, an engineer and an economist are stranded on an island after a shipwreck. They have an ample supply of canned food, but are unable to open the cans. So after some head-scratching, each has his own suggested solution.

The chemist suggests leaving the cans in the hot sun, then tossing them into a shaded pool, over and over. The repeated heated and cooling should make the metal brittle and make it possible to crack them open just by banging them on a rock.

The engineer suggests finding the longest limb they can and using it as a lever to smash he cans against a rock.

The economist says, "Assume a can opener."

127 posted on 11/19/2006 3:35:06 PM PST by ReignOfError
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To: Minutemen
The problem I have with evolutionary theory is:

That you have no idea what it is.

128 posted on 11/19/2006 3:36:30 PM PST by ReignOfError
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To: AntiGuv

No, we don't know it for a fact.


129 posted on 11/19/2006 3:37:49 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
To be honest with you, I haven't studied any biology since the early '70s but from this; "DNA methylation is a type of chemical modification of DNA that can be inherited without changing the DNA sequence." I will let my stance on "adaptation" remain, OK?
130 posted on 11/19/2006 3:38:00 PM PST by Dust in the Wind (I've got peace like a river)
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To: RightWhale

Not fair.

Do I still have a leg and have you seen Elvis?


131 posted on 11/19/2006 3:38:50 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Assumptions take place on both sides.

But only one side questions and tests and actively tries to disprove its assumptions.

132 posted on 11/19/2006 3:39:03 PM PST by ReignOfError
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To: Treader

Just checking out the definitions of the various actors, there could not have been any "Jewish scholars" before Abraham. Ergo, the folks who first wrote down the oldest stories in Genesis were not "Jewish" ~


133 posted on 11/19/2006 3:41:16 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Dust in the Wind

Time to catch up. This DNA Methylation explains many things including why there are gay guys, why stuff in your body stops working, how chickens can grow teeth, and so forth.


134 posted on 11/19/2006 3:44:43 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Theo

“Dave -- I'd have to agree with Alter Kaker on this one. You either believe evolution or don't. "Micro-evolution" is still evolution.”

Belief is for religious dogma, ToE doesn’t require belief, you either accept that it is the best explanation for the data – if you don’t then you have to provide an alternate hypothesis that explains the data in a reproducible and testable manner – preferably your alternate hypothesis should make predictions that can be tested.

I, for one, don't believe in evolution (defined as an increase of genetic information transmitted through generations) at all.

Define “information”, how is this to be quantified? Also you are incorrect, there are a variety of mutational mechanisms, such as insertions, DELETIONS, point mutations, translocations or duplications etc


135 posted on 11/19/2006 3:45:04 PM PST by bodrules
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To: From many - one.

There is a list of posters who believe the moon landings were faked. For a few moments you sounded like them, but it is clear that you do believe the moon landings happened. Right? You do, don't you?


136 posted on 11/19/2006 3:47:01 PM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: D Rider

Look up Spartina angelica, speciation in action. Your hypothesis has therefore been falsified, back to the drawing board for you.


137 posted on 11/19/2006 3:47:18 PM PST by bodrules
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To: muawiyah
Just checking out the definitions of the various actors, there could not have been any "Jewish scholars" before Abraham. Ergo, the folks who first wrote down the oldest stories in Genesis were not "Jewish" ~

Where did you get the idea that everything from "in the beginning" on came from someone's contemporaneous observations? For the first 25 verses of Genesis 1, that's impossible, because there was no one there to take notes.

The pentateuch is traditionally known as the "Books of Moses," and even if his authorship is apocryphal, it was almost certainly a Jew who first put pen to paper, erm, papyrus, or vellum, or whatever.

138 posted on 11/19/2006 3:48:40 PM PST by ReignOfError
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To: D Rider
Actually, the ball is in your court, prove that there is no limiting mechanism, and I'll bite.

No, the ball is not in my court. You agree that evolutionary mechanisms takes place in the short term, and you observe the wide variety speciation extant today, and you're suggesting that the two are still not related. If they're not, you have to explain yourself. How, where, when and why does evolution suddenly stop taking place? Can you find me an example of that happening?

139 posted on 11/19/2006 3:51:25 PM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: D Rider
Actually, the ball is in your court, prove that there is no limiting mechanism, and I'll bite.

No, the ball is not in my court. You agree that evolutionary mechanisms takes place in the short term, and you observe the wide variety speciation extant today, and you're suggesting that the two are still not related. If they're not, you have to explain yourself. How, where, when and why does evolution suddenly stop taking place? Can you find me an example of that happening?

140 posted on 11/19/2006 3:51:26 PM PST by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: RightWhale

Didn't I tell you that I don't?

I even gave you a hint of my proof. We all know that the moon is made of green cheese. If we had ever gotten there we'd be mining cheese and selling it at a profit. Simple capitalism. Or are you one of those anti-American people who don't believe in capitalism? What else are capitals for, anyway.


141 posted on 11/19/2006 3:52:12 PM PST by From many - one.
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To: ReignOfError
Writing had been in existence for several thousand years BEFORE the first Jew walked the face of the Earth.

In fact, Abram started out very near the place writing was first developed. Wonder if God revealed a few stories to him, hmmm?!

142 posted on 11/19/2006 3:55:53 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: From many - one.

"What else are capitals for, anyway"

Housing politicians and providing increased sales of sign paint!


143 posted on 11/19/2006 3:56:34 PM PST by bodrules
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To: RightWhale

From a certain point of view the Moon "landed on" our rockets.


144 posted on 11/19/2006 3:57:00 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah
No, we don't know it for a fact.

Yes, we do know it for a fact, or at least for as much of a fact as we know just about any fact..

A series of experiments by Soviet researchers in the 1920s failed to produce a human/ape hybrid. In the 1970s another series of experiments established that human sperm will not fuse with other primate eggs and that human chromosomes will not align themselves with chimp chromosomes.

There is no doubt that a human/chimp chimera could be engineered in the lab, but so what? Virtually any kind of chimera theoretically could be engineered in the lab. A chimera is not bred like a hybrid; it's an artificial amalgam.

BTW, please keep in mind that just because someone can navigate a keyboard and mouse well enough to post some ridiculous nonsense doesn't make it true.

145 posted on 11/19/2006 3:59:51 PM PST by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: padre35

I believe what you are describing is the first time an entire species running off the proverbial cliff at the same time.


146 posted on 11/19/2006 4:02:34 PM PST by Recon Dad (Marine Spec Ops Dad)
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To: muawiyah; billybudd

I found the choice of descriptions & time frame interesting- thus my query of billybudd...


147 posted on 11/19/2006 4:03:43 PM PST by Treader (Human convenience is always on the edge of a breakthrough, or a sellout.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
[ Evolution moves more quickly than scientists thought ]

That is.... If it happened AT ALL...

148 posted on 11/19/2006 4:05:53 PM PST by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole)
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To: AntiGuv

Those experiments in the 1920s were doomed to failure since all they had on hand were examples of "Modern Soviet Man", and you know how worthless those guys were.


149 posted on 11/19/2006 4:06:56 PM PST by muawiyah
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Because they have not been posted in a while, here are a couple of useful links for anyone wishing to learn about evolution:

PatrickHenry's List-O-Links (now the Un-Missing Links).

Index of Creationist Claims


150 posted on 11/19/2006 4:12:36 PM PST by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
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