Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peppered Moth is Changing Color Again

James Tozer of iOL Science reports that the peppered moths that gained so much notoriety as being one of the premier examples of natural selection are changing color again. He writes:
"We have seen these moths making a big swing back to their original colour," said Richard Fox, of Dorset-based Butterfly Conservation, who is project manager of Garden Moths Count 2009.

"It has been happening for decades as air pollution is cleaned up and with the demise of heavy industry in the big cities.

"The moths have been responding to this and the numbers of black and white moths will vary across the county.

"In Dorset it is very rare to see the moth in its dark form, but in industrial cities 150 years ago they were almost all black and that's where we will notice the greatest changes now."

The peppered moth, Biston betularia, was originally white with speckles, which allowed it to rest on lichen-covered trees and walls without being spotted by birds.
Michael Majerus recently did a renewed study on the moths,in 1997, concluding that the evidence was not as solid as was originally reported. Stung by the fact that creationists seized on this as evidence that "Darwinists" were lying about the evidence, he set about doing a more detailed study and, in the process, corroborated the evidence that the variations in the coloring in the moth are subject to selection. It seems they still are.

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