Butterfly Patterns: Convergent Evolution or Design?

Evolution News & Views

ButterflySome butterflies are expert mimics of other species. Evolutionists call this "convergent evolution." Recently a single gene was found responsible for the red colors in one genus. Does this strengthen the case for convergent evolution, or any kind of evolution? As usual, what is left unexplained is far more important.

Members of the Heloconius genus of butterflies (also called passion-vine butterflies) are renowned for the brilliant red patterns on their wings. Some of them can even mimic members of other genera that are toxic, using the color to warn predators. The remarkably similar patterns in unrelated species has led some evolutionists to explain it with the phrase "convergent evolution" — the notion that natural selection somehow hit on the same solution to a problem more than once. Their explanation was strengthened by a recent discovery that a single gene is responsible for these patterns. But is it really evolution, convergent or otherwise?

Robert Reed of the University of California at Irvine, and a team of other biologists, spent a decade studying Heloconius butterflies. They finally isolated a single gene named Optix that is expressed in the red parts of the wings. Interestingly, this same gene is responsible for eye development in other insects. Publishing in Science,1 they said, "Our results show that the cis-regulatory evolution of a single transcription factor can repeatedly drive the convergent evolution of complex color patterns in distantly related species, thus blurring the distinction between convergence and homology." The findings were summarized in PhysOrg and Science Daily accompanied by photos of the flamboyant red wings.

While this is an important finding, it raises other questions about evolution. In fact, the press release from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, reproduced by PhysOrg, said as much…

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Butterfly Patterns: Convergent Evolution or Design? – Evolution News & Views

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