Good morning Creationists! Are you hungry for some breakfast? I just so happen to have a nice juicy worm over here on this hook. Mmmm! Look at it wriggle! Don’t you want to come over here for a bite?
There actually is a kind of earthworm that serves as a nice kind of Creationist bait, to get them caught on the hook of their own past protests against the evidence for biological evolution through natural selection. It’s an evolved earthworm.
Well, of course, all earthworms have evolved – just like everything other living on Earth. The earthworms that I want to talk about, however, have evolved into their current form very recently – since the operation of some mines in Great Britain.
Those mines brought deadly heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, to the surface, into the soil. That’s a problem for ordinary earthworms, who would be killed by eating soil containing the heavy metals. Some very non-ordinary earthworms, however, have been found at different mining sites in Wales and England. These newly found earthworms have the ability to eat soil with heavy metals in it. The worms secrete special proteins that cling to heavy metals in their guts, isolating the heavy metals and preventing the metals from otherwise interacting with their bodies and causing harm to the worms.
Here’s where the Creationist bait comes in: DNA analysis shows that the newly discovered worms are descended from a previously known species of earthworms that lives nearby – but not at the mining sites where the ground has been polluted. That means that the heavy metal worms evolved from the worms that are incapable of eating heavy metals – and did so very recently, since the pollution from the mines.
Furthermore, different kinds of heavy metal earthworms are found at different mines far away from each other. Those earthworms have different mechanisms for dealing with the heavy metals. This means that different strains of earthworms evolved the ability separately. That suggests that evolution is going on all around us all the time, although usually in ways that cannot be seen by the naked eye. You can’t see how earthworms are dealing with arsenic and lead in their food. You have to use the methods of science.
There was no Intelligent Design necessary to get these worms to evolve the capability of eating soil that contains high levels of heavy metals. Natural selection did the trick.
Here’s the hook: Creationists are always saying that evolution has never been observed, but the study of the earthworms living around mining sites in the UK has brought us just the kind of observation of evolution they’ve been looking for. Of course, scientists had to work pretty hard and think with great concentration to find ways to observe the evolution. They had to develop technologies to expand their perception of the reality of the earthworms. They couldn’t just pray on it. But, observe evolution they did.
And so yet another desperate excuse for believing in Creationism has been dismantled. Silly creationists will continue to say that the science supporting the theory of evolution isn’t strong, although studies like this one keep on coming out, year after year.
Well, Creationists are entitled to their beliefs. What they’re not entitled to is to use public school science classes to teach those religious beliefs to other people’s children.