A recent multidisciplinary study on the two-phase increase in the size of life has concluded that there must exist a “preexisting evolutionary potential” to explain the sudden increase in size and complexity which occurred twice in the history of life, both times following increases in atmospheric oxygen.
From the earliest bacteria to the largest organisms, there has been a 16 orders of magnitude increase in size. Far from the gradual progression over much time which one would expect from a Darwinian explanation, however, this increase was not incremental, but occurred in two very large steps, involving about a million times increase in size over very brief periods of time.
And things didn’t just get bigger, but much more complex as well:
Each size step required a major innovation in organismal complexity—first the eukaryotic cell and later eukaryotic multicellularity.
The investigators conclusion? There must have been a “preexisting evolutionary potential” to account for the rapid changes:
The size increases appear to have
occurred when ambient oxygen concentrations reached sufficient
concentrations for clades to realize preexisting evolutionary
potential, highlighting the long-term dependence of
macroevolutionary pattern on both biological potential and
They also coin the interesting phrase “latent evolutionary potential.”
From the abstract:
…latent evolutionary potential
was realized soon after environmental
limitations were removed.
These dramatic and rapid changes correspond to an increase in atmospheric oxygen. This increase appears to have unleashed an otherwise unspecified and undefined “evolutionary potential” in many different organisms.
What exactly this “evolutionary potential” was is not speculated upon. The presence of latent genetic programs is certainly the most obvious explanation. Darwinists of course are unable to offer this obvious possibility. They would then have to explain where those programs might have come from. They would then be branded ID Creationists and lose their jobs.
While the article does not directly address the implications for Darwinism of the existence of “latent” or “preexisting” evolutionary potential, the impossibility of fitting this concept into the standard neo-Darwinian paradigm is obvious. The standard explanation of life’s development, of course, requires incremental trial-and-error mutations, with nothing “preexistent” about them, selected gradually over generations to build up evolutionary change.
What these researchers have nicely documented in the fossil record, like so many other discoveries, flatly contradicts what would be expected in a Darwinian world. The findings fit quite nicely, however, with the concept of a preexistent design, with front-loaded genetic programs.