The debate is finally over; evolution is no longer a mere theory. Multiple news sources are reporting the discovery of “hybrid sharks” off the Australian coast. The new specimens prove Darwin correct and Scopes an under appreciated hero. One researcher, The University of Queensland’s Jess Morgan, professed, “This is evolution in action.”
Wait a minute, let me get my tongue out of my cheek.
With all due respect to Ms. Morgan, this is not evolution in action, at least not in the way it’s being presented.
The University of California at Berkley offers the following,
Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations). Evolution helps us to understand the history of life…
Evolution means that we’re all distant cousins: humans and oak trees, hummingbirds and whales. (source)
There is a significant distinction to be made between “Macro-evolution” – one common ancestor for every species on the planet, and “Micro-evolution” – the method used to produce the Labradoodle.
The difference is in the DNA. The DNA of a Labrador and the DNA of a Poodle are both K9DNA (sorry for the scientific jargon). One has curly hair, one has short coarse hair, but they’re both Canis Lupus Familiaris, aka, dogs.
This is not an oak tree gradually evolving into a blue whale.
When asked about the sharks, Demian Chapman, of Stony Brook University, said,
the fact that these two species were so closely related made it easier for them to mate than wildly-divergent ones.
It doesn’t mean we’re going to see great-white-tiger sharks anytime soon, or bull-Greenland sharks,” he said. “If any species was going to hybridize, it was going to be this pair. (source)
The sharks in question are the common blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) and the Australian blacktip (Carcharhinus tilstoni), which is smaller and lives in warmer waters than its global counterpart. Notice they’re both “Carcharhinus,” aka, sharks.
Ms. Morgan’s implied idea, that a disenchanted Australian blacktip longed to swim in cooler waters, and reasoned to fulfill his dream in future generations by making shark babies with a common blacktip, is as nonsensical as it sounds.
Sharky: “Mom, why can’t you accept that me and Juliet are in love. I just know I was made to swim in colder waters.”
Mama Shark:”You’re just an Australian blacktip, Sharky. You’re dad is an Australian, just like his dad, and his dad before him. Don’t go fillin’ your head with all those crazy dreams. Anyway, you’re too small to make that swim.”
“Mom, there’s more to life than this crummy old reef! I won’t let you steal my dream. I just won’t! I’m going to Juliet’s!”
“Hey Sharky,” Juliet the common blacktip said.
“Hi Juliet. Mom just doesn’t understand our love. She thinks you’ll take me away from her – to the cold waters.“
“What do you think we should do about it?“
“What does every shark mom want?“
“No, Juliet. Stop acting so common! Grand babies.“
“Oh, Sharky, you’re so evolved!“
Two “closely related” sharks procreating isn’t “evolution in action.” Had the frisky Australian blacktip impregnated a neighborhood sea turtle we would have a story, but that’s not what happened, so there’s no story. It’s cool, but it’s not Oak tree to Blue Whale evolution.
This will likely be presented as evolutionary evidence in school classrooms across the country which is why parents have to pay attention to what their kids are learning about in school. You might believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution and find no issues with the premise of the article, that’s your prerogative. However, let me encourage you to at least take some time and consider whether the information is being presented accurately before passing it along as true.
Perhaps we should start teaching sex-ed in shark schools.