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Preadaption and Rapid Change
According to the Genesis account, the earth was originally created perfect. It became marred and cursed when sin entered, and there is evidence of creatures quickly adapting to their imperfect habitats ever since.
These very adaptations are what some people call evidence for evolution, but the evidence can just as easily be seen as necessary adaptations due to changes in the environment. Food choices and level of aggression are examples of traits that can change rapidly in creatures when they are faced with different environments.
Whereas the theory of evolution suggests that species evolve over millions of years, Creation suggests that animals were preadapted to deal with changes in their environments. Moreover, some species could survive even drastic changes if they were preadapted with the tools that would allow them to enter entirely new adaptive zones, such as changing from a vegetarian to meat-eating lifestyle.
Changes in Diet
When lions make a kill, they prefer to first eat the rumen, which contains fermented plant products, before they eat the meat. Could this be because lions were originally created as vegetarians but had to adapt to greater competition and fewer food sources?
Carnivores who become vegetarians adapt rapidly to this diet, and survive very well. There are numerous accounts of lions that were raised on grain diets and would not even touch meat. These animals are great examples of how adaptation, especially in terms of diet, can be a very fast process.
Dogs and cats can also survive very well on vegetarian diets. In fact, they live much longer and are less aggressive on such diets. The meat-shearing teeth of these animals could have been used to shred tough plants in the past, and the fact that they don't do so now could simply be because their original food source was destroyed.
There is plenty of evidence in the fossil record that more varieties of plants existed in the past than exist today.
Even in our day, animal diets are changed by the destruction of habitats. Chipmunks traditionally eat seeds in the forests, but these days we often see them eating roadkill to augment their diets. This is a case of a herbivore becoming a meat scavenger as a result of changing circumstances.
Kea parrots in New Zealand ordinarily dig for roots, but dwindling food supplies encourage them to attack sheep. The parrots use their sharp beaks and claws to tear open the backs of the sheep so that they can eat the fat around the kidneys.i If their food source is restored, the parrots will go back to eating roots.
Kea parrots have the same sharp talons and powerful beaks as birds of prey, but use them for harmless purposes. Lack of food often leads to aggression, and this could be one of the reasons why they aggressively attack a creature that cannot defend itself.
A further example of rapid adaptation is the Vampire Finch of the Galapagos Islands. These normally vegetarian birds have recently been shown to raid nests and suck blood from nesting booby birds, a change in diet induced by increasing competition for vegetarian resources.ii,iii The finches feed on these sea birds during extended periods of drought. They peck at the base of the feathers until the blood flows and then they sip it.
This is a change in diet and behavior induced by negative environmental circumstances and did not require millions of years to develop. Read about the diet God originally intended for humans
Changes in Levels of Aggression
Aggression potentially exists in all creatures, but it need not have been there in the beginning. For example, out of the wild species from which the domestic dog has been bred, there have been developed incredibly docile, friendly, and loving dogs of all shapes and sizes. Selective breeding can also produce the most vicious killers out of the same gene pool. Aggressive natures thus have a genetic basis and can be reduced rapidly through selection.
The Russian scientist Dmitry Belyaev and others who studied the process of domestication of foxes found that changes in behavior could be selected for rapidly.iv Out of a variety of foxes, those that responded without fear to humans were selected and the fearful ones discarded, and by the sixth generation the foxes were displaying behavior patterns similar to domestic dogs—whimpering to attract attention and licking their keepers. This behavior increased to one pup in six by the tenth generation and to three pups in four by the 30th generation.
The changes were accompanied by anatomical changes—including increases in serotonin levels.
Highly aggressive or schizophrenic people are known to have low serotonin levels and are treated to compensate for this condition. The development of aggression and fear of humans need thus not have developed over millions of years but could have come about very rapidly.
There is also evidence that the ancestors of the piranha were once plant eaters. Many species of South American pacu fish, which are closely related to the piranha, use their powerful jaws and strong teeth not to attack other creatures, but to eat plants and fruits. The piranha and the pacu are very similar in form and structure. In fact, there is no clear morphological distinction between the vicious piranha and the vegetarian pacu.v,vi
If environmental conditions were to change, plants and animals could adapt to those conditions by differentially employing the genes and gene controlling mechanisms available in order to survive. There would be no need to wait for some fortuitous mutation to occur in order to overcome new obstacles because, in a sense, all organisms have been preadapted to deal with change within the limits set by their genetic composition.
Animals aren't the only ones who changed their diet throughout history. Find out about the history of the human diet.
i. Nature Australia, (2000): 5.
ii. J. Weiner, The Beak of the Finch, (London: Jonathan Cape Random House, 1994).
iii. "Islands of the Vampire Birds," ABC TV Australia, Broadcasted October 13, 1999.
iv. L. Trut, "Early canid domestication: the farm-fox experiment," American Scientist 87 (1999): 160-169.
v. "Piranha and new DNA evidence," www.angelfire.com/biz/pirahna038/pg2.html, April 28, 2000.
vi. "sub-family Serrasalmina," www.angelfire.com/biz/pirahna038/pg2.html, April 28, 2000.
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