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By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Reserachers observe evolution in action in birds.

Doubters of Darwin, here's your evidence. According to researchers from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, swallows are evolving before our eyes, developing shorter wings to help them maneuver and avoid cars.

Cliff swallows are the latest animal to demonstrate Darwin's theory in action.

Cliff swallows are the latest animal to demonstrate Darwin's theory in action.

Article Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Evolution, Darwin, swallows, birds, evidence, creationism, Vatican, Catholic, macro-evolution


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nobody likes hitting animals on the road, which is why we might be happy to hear that swallows are getting better at avoiding us. Scientists researching swallow populations that live near roads, have observed a shortening of the bird's wingspans over time that allows the bird to maneuver more quickly and thus avoid cars.

This, if verified by peer review, would be evidence of Darwin's theory in action.

Although Darwinian evolution is often maligned by creationists, typically Protestant Christian fundamentalists, the vast majority of scientists have long reached a consensus that it is a genuine mechanism by which new species evolve. Although it is very difficult to see evolution as it happens in real time in larger organisms, such as humans, it is easily observed in smaller organisms that reproduce quickly. For example, evolution is responsible for the constant stream of new variations on old diseases that often infect humans and animals.

Natural selection is a simple, if brutal, process by which nature selects those individuals of a species best suited to survive in an environment. In this case, swallows that happen to have shorter wingspans, initially a simple result of random genetic variation, benefit from an advantage over their fellow birds with normal wingspans.

Those birds with short wingspans have been found to be capable of making turns of up to 90 degrees much more rapidly than others. Those swallows with the misfortune of being hatched with longer wings, tend to be hit and killed by cars.

The result of this is those with shorter wingspans live longer and produce more offspring which are more likely to carry their parent's trait of shorter wings. Over time, the shorter wingspan will become normal and those with long wingspans will go extinct -- although there will likely be random occurrences of hatchings with longer wings, since this is part of how evolution works.  

Researchers have published the details of their findings in Current Biology, and say they have also taken into account other possible factors such as traffic patterns, predators, and diseases and say their work is conclusive. Of course, it will have to be reviewed before being declared so.

If the research is confirmed, then it will add itself to the growing mountain of evidence that supports the widely accepted consensus that Darwinian evolution is the mechanism by which organisms evolve.

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For an added scholarly, Catholic viewpoint of Darwin, read this. The Catholic Church notes that even Saints Augustine and Aquinas observed evolution in action, long before Darwin.

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