Creation Ministries International - more nonsense about Koalas
John Stear, August 2006, link added January 2008
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
--Attributed to Charles Darwin, 1809-1882
Creation Ministries International (CMI) has responded to feedback from "P.A. from Australia", a visitor to the Coffs Harbour Zoo. P.A. took the zoo keeper to task for saying that the Koala "was so highly evolved that it could only eat certain kinds of leaves; mostly gum leaves". CMI has labelled the keeper's comments as "fallacious" and of presenting a false premise. The fact is the keeper, in using the word "mostly", was acknowledging the fact that Koalas sometimes eat other plants and leaves. At this site it's explained that Koalas occasionally eat wattle, tea tree, paperbark and pine species.
P.A., clearly confused, believes that the Koala's diet "... is essentially diesel fuel" and it should have evolved to the stage where it could "... use the fuel to outrun the fires and thus survive in its environment". A little scientific research would have shown CMI that although the koala's digestion involves a process called fermentation, no alcohol is produced, see this site (PDF file, requires "Adobe Acrobat").
P.A. also stated that the keeper was not amused by his comments, which is not surprising, wilful ignorance is seldom amusing.
P.A. misunderstands the processes of evolution, in particular, the process of natural selection. Donald J. Tosaw Jr., on his web site, Evolution Happens! has this to say:
Natural selection is the process by which traits that provide a reproductive advantage tend to increase in frequency in a given population over time, while traits that leave individuals at a reproductive disadvantage tend to decrease in frequency over time.
A reproductive advantage may arise from differences in survival, in fertility, in rate of development, in mating success or by some other aspect of the life cycle. In fact, any trait that increases the chances that an individual will reproduce, is providing a reproductive advantage, even if this comes at the expense of the survival of the individual. For example, possessing a certain coloring pattern might increase an individuals chances of attracting a mate, but might also increase this individual's visibility to predators! [Tosaw's emphasis]
And at this web site we learn that:
The fittest individual is not necessarily the strongest, fastest, or biggest. A genotype's fitness includes its ability to survive, find a mate, produce offspring — and ultimately leave its genes in the next generation. [my emphasis]
If we apply this to the Koala, it becomes clear that while the Koala is not the "strongest, fastest or biggest" creature, it has evolved to cope successfully with a diet of nutrient-poor gum leaves and in adapting to overcome the problems with such a diet, has become arboreal. Living predominantly in trees also lessens the slow moving Koala's vulnerability to predators, thus resulting in the Koala being eminently suited for its life in the tree tops, giving it a distinct reproductive advantage. This is explained in more detail at this site:
The koala's arboreal lifestyle, low metabolic rate, and low energy requirements can all be partially attributed to their nutrient poor diet of eucalyptus leaves. Koalas evolved with gum trees as their primary source of nourishment, and their bodies began to adapt and specialize to cope with the diet. As this happened, evolution selected for koalas to remain in the tree tops where they didn't have to expend large amounts of energy trying to escape from predators on the ground. By being arboreal, koalas can afford to have low metabolic rates and low energy requirements. As a result, the morphology of the koala is very reflective of these different evolutionary pressures. The general body shape of the koala, its paws, and its fur have all become highly specialized to support [a] "lazy" life in the trees. [my emphasis]
To learn more of the evolutionary history of the Koala see Professor Michael Archer's article here.
Professor Archer wrote:
... at least one of the rare Koalas in Australia's ancient rainforests began to specialise on the equally rare gum trees, which in turn were specialists, as most gums are today, on nutrient-deficient soils within the rainforest. After Australia's climates began to deteriorate, from about 12 million years ago, nutrient-deficient soils increased, forests opened up and the gums began a spectacular rise to dominance. And lounging on their limbs, grinning like lucky lottery winners, were the Koalas whose fortunate ancestors had bet on gums.
That's the real science of Koala evolution. The creationist version is based on Bible "science" and as such, is complete nonsense.
See also More Ark nonsense from Ken Ham.