There's less than a week to go before the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design showdown in Austin, and scientists at Texas A&M - the Aggies - have dropped a bombshell.
They've proven evolution exists.
Aggie researcher and assistant professor Katy Kao has reportedly developed "the first direct evidence of aspects [of the evolutionary process], which up until now have remained mostly theory."
Kao is on a scientists' retreat this weekend, so Hair Balls spoke with Ryan Garcia, a spokesman in the chemical engineering department at A&M, for some clarification.
"I don't think she'd be comfortable saying that we've flat out proven evolution, but she will say that it's really cool because she has a visual view of it," Garcia says. "There are certain adaptations that are required in an organism's evolution that, prior to now, weren't accounted for. It had certainly been theorized, but never shown in the lab."
According to Garcia, Kao watched evolution, and was able to document -- using DNA-based testing -- how and when a cell adapted to its environment.
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"She can see different populations rise and fall under the microscope, and she definitely set out to evolve these things generation after generation," Garcia says. "One of the other professors here said, 'Only if Darwin would've looked under a microscope.'"
But here's the catch: Kao obtained the evidence in yeast cells, which are asexual. From monkey to man, the reproduction was sexual all the way -- in theory, still.
"Research scientists don't like to speculate on things beyond what they've looked at, but she says it does say some things about the evolutionary process that weren't proven before," Garcia says. "When you start getting into talks about a creator and human beings, I will say this will not apply. If someone wants to make an inference, who knows?"
-- Paul Knight