First, a moment of prayer, led by Sister Sindya N. Bhanoo, from the New York Times (March 3, 2011):
Charles Darwin has had a remarkable record over the past century, not only in the affirmation of evolution by natural selection, but in the number of his more specific ideas that have been proved correct.
Now that the Beard has been appropriately honoured, we learn, shocka!:
He may, however, have been wrong about invasive species, at least where amphibians are concerned. Darwin believed that when an invasive species entered a region where a closely related species already existed, it would most likely be unsuccessful because of a competition for resources.“Instead, we found the opposite pattern with amphibians,” said Reid Tingley, a biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. “When frogs and toads and salamanders invade an area where a similar species exists, they are more, not less, likely to establish themselves.”
– “Invasive Amphibian Species Upend a Darwin Idea”
On the face of it, the findings seem obvious, because if business was good for the current lot of amphibians, why wouldn’t it suit invaders with similar needs? If Darwin thought otherwise, we can be pretty sure that someone other than him was ridding his kitchen of cockroaches and mice.
Yet we are told that “This is the first study that contradicts Darwin’s invasive species hypothesis using animals.” One can’t help wondering if it’s the first study that dared to.
What’s remarkable about this story is not the fact that invasive species can easily take hold where they are not wanted but that the New York Times would actually give the cockroaches and lampreys of the world permission to “upend” Darwin?
Better call in the thought thugs, to sanctify the House of the Beard.