Mutation–the key to comic book evolution

“Mutation—it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.” So says Professor Charles Xavier at the beginning of the film X-Men. Mutations work great in comic books and movies to enable people to do all sorts of fantastic things—command metal like Magneto or heal like Wolverine. However, real life is another story. In evolution’s story, one type of organism mutated and changed into an entirely different organism slowly over numerous generations—for example, fish mutated into reptiles, and reptiles into birds. This is called macro-evolution.

The problem with this theory is that it has never been observed. We have never seen one organism mutate into another organism, except in comic books or movies. At Michigan State University, Professor Richard Lenski wanted “to follow evolution in real time.” In his experiment, Lenski grew bacteria in his lab until he had millions or “roughly the equivalent of a million years in the history of humans.” His conclusion: “Nothing fundamentally new has been produced.” In the end, the bacteria were still bacteria.

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April 30, 2012

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