The peppered moth example (revisited)
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ― Charles Darwin
That quote supposedly is misattributed to Darwin, but it suits my purpose because other things that Darwin never said have been attributed to him. For example, if not for the bastardization of Darwin’s theory via statistics (and probability theory), more people would already realize that the response to change (above) is not linked to mutations. The response to change incorporates the thermodynamics of intercellular signaling that enables organism-level thermoregulation, which is required for adaptive evolution. Thus, it is important to note that in Pheromone Signaling: Methods and Protocols, edited by Kazushige Touhara, we read in the Preface:
“The notion of chemical communication was first proposed by Charles Darwin in the late nineteenth century, in conjunction with the physical signal-mediated communication described for the visual and auditory systems. At approximately the same time, Jean Henri Fabre described the attraction of male moths by conspecific females, and proposed that the cue was not a visual signal but some kind of smell.”
Even if Darwin never said anything that was later attributed to him, the biological facts consistent with his observations and the observation of moths by Jean Henri Fabre have not changed. The cues that enable species survival in all species are smells. They are not visual cues; not auditory cues; not tastes; and they are not tactile cues. Without the ability to process and respond appropriately to food odors and social odors (i.e., olfactory/pheromonal input), no species survives.
There is probably no better example of ignorance in the context of biologically based cause and effect, than the peppered moth. “One of the best documented examples of natural selection in modern times is the English Peppered Moth.” Today’s students are still being taught this nonsense about natural selection by professors who were taught the same nonsense. Here’s a brief overview of that nonsense.
From Wikipedia: “In 1924, J.B.S. Haldane calculated, using a simple general selection model, the selective advantage necessary for the recorded natural evolution of peppered moths, based on the assumption that in 1848 the frequency of dark-coloured moths was 2%, and by 1895 it was 95%. The dark-coloured, or melanic, form would have had to be 50% more fit than the typical, light-coloured form. Even taking into consideration possible errors in the model, this reasonably excluded the stochastic process of genetic drift, because the changes were too fast. Haldane’s statistical analysis of selection for the melanic variant in peppered moths became a well known part of his effort to demonstrate that mathematical models that combined natural selection with Mendelian genetics could explain evolution — an effort that played a key role in the foundation of the discipline of population genetics, and the beginnings of the modern evolutionary synthesis.”
Please read that again. Haldane’s calculations were based on an assumption that the color change from 2% to 95% in the population occurred in approximately 47 years. He used a simple general selection model that led to a ridiculous theory about mutation-driven evolution. Thus, the rapid change that supposedly could not occur due to genetic drift was attributed to natural selection via predation. The existence of different color morphs matched to the habitats in which they were found (dark morphs on peat, white morphs on chalk cliffs) was used to exemplify ‘survival of the fittest’.
But wait, species survival is nutrient-dependent, which means all survivors must use their sense of smell to find food. And we’ve since learned that the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones controls reproduction. Obviously, the problem is that people could not wait to explain evolution via calculations and assumptions that are still used by those who tout mutation-driven evolution, or natural selection for something other than food– unless you’re a bird species that selects what it eats based on color. In such cases, though none are know to naturally occur, the difference between a poisonous berry and one that was an essential source of nutrition could wipe out an entire species if both types of berries were the same color.
Reality check: Lassance et al (2013) showed that substitution of a critical amino acid is sufficient to create a new pheromone blend. This finding was, nonetheless placed into the context of mutations theory. According to these authors “…the genetic changes associated with variation and divergence in pheromone signals remain largely unknown.” Therefore, we again have the assumption that the genetic changes associated with variation must be due to mutations.
If, instead, the variation and divergence in pheromone signals was accurately attributed to nutrient acquisition and the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones, they would have exemplified the nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution of species from microbes to man in a moth species, which has escaped the attention of evolutionary theorists from 1924 until now. Instead, we’ve had nearly 90 years of academically irresponsible nonsense tossed at us until even research teams like Lassance et al., have been beaten into submission by experimentally unsupported claims. Those claims, although never supported with experimental evidence, continue to result in the presentation of results that can only clearly be interpreted in the context of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model of experimentally supported biological facts. But evolutionary theorists still seem uninterested in biological facts as indicated by the concluding sentence from Chelo et al (2013), which refuted mutations theory: “Our findings thus set the stage for the development of more general theoretical models explaining the fate of new alleles across long evolutionary timescales.” “[T]he fate of new alleles across long evolutionary timescales” is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in species from microbes to man!