February 13, 2009

SOME ARE LIGHT, SOME ARE DARK:

Obituary: Professor Michael Majerus - Geneticist who defended Darwin in battle against creationism (Belfast Telegraph, 13 February 2009)

Majerus was internationally known in the fields of ecological and evolutionary genetics. His best-known work was on the Peppered Moth, which has two forms, one light and speckled, the other dark and sooty (knownas melanic), and has long been heldto be an example of evolution in action. The dark form predominates in polluted areas because it is less easilyspotted by birds when at rest ontrees. Stung by a review of his 1997 book, Melanism: Evolution in Action, which rejected the supporting evidence and so became grist to the mill of creationists, Majerus set about proving his case.

It took him seven years of meticulously planned experiments which tested and compared the predation of the moths by birds and bats by release and recapture, and of the respective behaviour of wild and lab-reared moths. He also redetermined exactly where the moths rest by day, a controversial part of the original research which had been criticised on the grounds that the moths never rested on tree trunks. Majerus proved the critics wrong: they do (it is just that they are hard to see). His work is seen as a significant contribution to the evolution versus creation/intelligent design debate, and has helped to swing the international scientific consensus back in favour of the Peppered Moth as a supreme and easily understood example of evolution.


You have to feel sorry for the poor guy, he got so caught up in the minutiae of the fraud that he lost sight of the fact that even the original claim for peppered moths actually said nothing in favor of Darwinism, indeed, argued against it.



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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2009 3:56 PM
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