Nature does not make leaps

Evolution is a process. It occurs gradually via variations within populations. The tempo may vary, but “the canon of ‘Natura non facit saltum,’” as Darwin explained, was “on this theory intelligible.” But today this is no longer true. The first problem, that species appeared abruptly in the strata, could be explained as a spotty fossil record, though incredible stretches of evolutionary progress would have to have gone missing.
 
But the fossil record is not the only evidence for leaps. Since Darwin, rapid change has been directly observed in species ranging from bacteria and yeast to plants and animals. Consider the house finches which began spreading throughout the United States in the 1940s from Mexico and the southwest. The beaks of these birds adapted to their new environments with great speed. Within a decade or so their beaks had adjusted to the new habitats. (Grant) In another example, Italian wall lizards introduced to a tiny island off the coast of Croatia responded rapidly, developing new head morphology and digestive tract structure. (Herrel, et. al.) Such change “would normally take millions of years to play out …” (Johnson) Likewise mussels introduced to a new environment were found to evolve “in an evolutionary nanosecond compared to the thousands of years previously assumed.” (Mussels evolve quickly to defend against invasive crabs) Such examples of adaptation are not new, and one evolutionist concluded that “evolution can occur much more rapidly than we previously thought. Rapid evolution is pervasive, and the list of examples is growing.” (Rapid Evolution Helps Hunted Outwit Their Predators)
 
All of this means that evolution may need a new mechanism of change. In fact it appears doubtful that minor biological variations leads to large-scale change. As one evolutionist put it, macroevolution is more than repeated rounds of microevolution. (Irwin) Increasingly evolutionists have recognized the need for a new mechanism to explain evolutionary change. (Gould, 579, 582) In recent years evolutionists have considered precisely what Darwin ruled out: saltational evolution. Here are some examples:
 
As nature does jump, exclusive gradualism is dismissed. Saltatory evolution is a natural phenomenon, provided by a sudden collapse of the thresholds which resist against evolution. The fossil record and the taxonomic system call for a macromutational interpretation. (van Waesberghe)
 
We offer evidence for three independent instances of saltational evolution in a charismatic moth genus with only eight species. … Each saltational species exhibits a markedly different and discrete example of discontinuous trait evolution (Rubinoff and Le Roux)
 
Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity. The relationships between major groups within an emergent new class of biological entities are hard to decipher and do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin’s original proposal, remains the dominant description of biological evolution. The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla. In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal “types” seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate “grades” or intermediate forms between different types are detectable. (Koonin)
 
Here we provide for the first time evidence of major phenotypic saltation in the evolution of segment number in a lineage of centipedes (Minelli, Chagas-Júnior and Edgecombe)
 
Titles of research papers, which include phrases such as “farewell to Darwinism, neo- and otherwise,” “when natura non facit saltum becomes a myth,” “Saltational evolution: hopeful monsters are here to stay,” and “a Neo-Goldschmidtian view of unicellular hopeful monsters,” highlight this falsification of evolution’s prediction that there are no leaps.
 
References
 
Gould, Steven Jay. 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge: Belknap Press.
 
Grant, B. 2010. “Should Evolutionary Theory Evolve?.” TheScientist January 1.
 
Herrel, A., et. al. 2008. “Rapid large scale evolutionary divergence in morphology and performance associated with the exploitation of a novel dietary resource in the lizard Podarcis sicula.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:4792-4795.
 
Irwin, D. 2000. “Macroevolution is more than repeated rounds of microevolution.” Evolution & Development 2:61-62.
 
Johnson, K. 2008. “Lizards rapidly evolve after introduction to island.” National Geographic News April 21.
 
Koonin, E. 2007. “The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution.” Biology Direct 2:21.
 
Minelli, A., A. Chagas-Júnior, G. Edgecombe. 2009. “Saltational evolution of trunk segment number in centipedes.” Evolution & Development 11:318-322.
 
“Mussels evolve quickly to defend against invasive crabs.” 2006. ScienceDaily August 11. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060811091251.htm
 
“Rapid Evolution Helps Hunted Outwit Their Predators.” 2003. NewsWise July 16.
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/?id=500152&sc=wire
 
Rubinoff, D., J. Le Roux. 2008. “Evidence of repeated and independent saltational evolution in a peculiar genus of sphinx moths (Proserpinus: Sphingidae).” PLoS One 3:e4035.

van Waesberghe, H. 1982. “Towards an alternative evolution model.” Acta Biotheoretica 31:3-28.