Ricardo Barros


Ricardo Barros

I am writing in response to the assertion in the article “The People Who Saw Evolution” (cover story, April 23) that scientists Peter and Rosemary Grant witnessed evolution in their work with finches on the Galapagos Islands. Evolution is the transition from one species to another, as is described in this typical definition from a PBS website: “The evolutionary process of speciation is how one population of a species changes over time to the point where that population is distinct and can no longer interbreed with the ‘parent’ population.” In short, a new species arises that cannot breed with the former species.

Did the researchers actually witness evolution in the finches? No, the finches remained finches, and even the researchers were hesitant to call a certain bird in the latter part of the article a new species. Instead, what they actually witnessed were minor variations or adaptations (sometimes called microevolution) of the finches, which is not evolution at all.

The general public and evolutionists themselves often confuse simple concepts like adaptation/variation and natural selection with evolution. Remember the famous peppered-moth example of evolution in industrialized England? The correct analysis is that natural selection occurred, not evolution. The moths remained the same cross-fertile moths — no new speciation occurred.

Creationists contend that natural selection and variations among species are part of our created world and can easily be observed. Evolution — the change of one species to another — is assumed and has not been observed, despite the claim of many that the fossil record is proof of evolution.

I would encourage the author (and the readers) to be more careful in their use of the word “evolution” and to carefully distinguish between natural selection and variations within a species, which is not evolution.

Brian Solik ’84