Friday, January 09, 2009

Evolution, In Action

Creationist and the rest of the anti-science crowd are a funny bunch. They denounce evolution as a lie, as imposable, as never occurring. Then we see something like this.

Tamiflu, the Roche Holding AG drug for influenza, can’t fight most infections that have been diagnosed in the U.S. flu season so far, health experts said.

More than half of the flu viruses that have been analyzed in the U.S. this season are of the H1N1 strain, said Joseph Bresee, chief of influenza epidemiology and prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Virtually all the H1N1 viruses the agency has tested, 72 of 73, are Tamiflu-resistant, he said.

The emergence of Tamiflu-resistant strains that can spread easily from one person to another makes it more difficult for doctors to use drugs to treat people who are at high risk of severe flu complications, such as pneumonia, he said.

Yep, that's evolution. The environment changes (Tamiflu is created) and the species (the H1N1 virus) has to adapt. The members of the species that can change and resist the new threat (Tamiflu) continue on, those who don't die off.

These changes occurred over the time frame of just a few years, imagine the changes that can be seen over millions (hundreds of millions) of years. It is quite simply evolution, the same forces that enabled the virus to change to survive exposure to Tamiflu have, over the eons, created the great diversity of life that we see on out planet.

I am left wondering just how ill-informed or downright dishonest all the evolution deniers are. How can you ignore all the evidence to pretend something so obvious is not occuring?



terry said...

for me, the problem isn't about evolution within a species. the problem is when you try to explain the evolution to a new species. one with a different number of chromosones and genes.

to over-simplify - if you tell me cats are getting smaller over the eons; or horses are getting larger; or humans are getting taller and less-hairy - no problem. but it's quite a leap of ...erm... faith to then say that also explains how mammals evolved from, say, reptiles; or even dogs evolved from, say, cats.

yeah i know, no one ever said dogs evolved directly from cats. but hopefully you get my point. the flu viruses are amazingly quick evolvers; it's how they survive. but they remain viruses; they don't evolve into some new species.

Jon said...

Not a leap of faith at all.

When the playing field is as large as it is, hundreds of millions of years, is it very easy to see how a creature could over time change, in a number of ways so that eventually you have a number of different creatures that are no longer all that similar.

Your scale of perspective is simply too small. Yes flu viruses are quick evolvers; they are simple creatures and have short life cycles, allowing for more observable evolution. These conditions do not apply to more complex animals, but the factors that lead to evolutionary responses in the flu virus are the very same ones that impact all living things. The difference is in the ease of observation. What happens to the virus in a decade may not happen to humans for thousands of years, but it does happen.

And when the window of time is open wide enough, yes dogs and cats (or whatever you want to consider) did evolve, at some point in the past, from a common creature. It was not a dog or a cat, but its existence did, over time result in rover and fluffy.

Thanks for your comments.