From “Jumping Gene Enabled Key Step in Corn Domestication” (ScienceDaily Sep. 28, 2011), we learn:
Corn split off from its closest relative teosinte, a wild Mexican grass, about 10,000 years ago thanks to the breeding efforts of early Mexican farmers.
In fairness, corn didn’t split; it was kidnapped and prevented from returning … that’s, after all, the essence of controlled breeding. But we digress. Researchers have determined that about 23,000 years ago, a small piece of DNA (a jumping gene called Hopscotch) landed in teosinte’s control region, and enabled some key changes:
“Hopscotch cranked up the gene’s expression, which helped the plant produce larger ears with more kernels, plus become less branchy, and so those early farmers picked plants with the Hopscotch to breed,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison plant geneticist John Doebley, a corn evolution expert who led the team.
Usually, jumping genes are either useless or bad news. But, says Doebley,
” … we found a case where the mutation caused by a transposable element has done something good.”
Oops, wait a minute.
What the researchers found was the origin of a gene that was “something good” (very good indeed) for humans who were willing and able to take advantage of it. What good was it to teosinte?
One of the serious difficulties with Darwinist thought is the incoherent position about man’s role in nature. If man should thrive worldwide, then the jumping gene is good. If man is just another accidental animal, then Hopscotch happened to increase the homo sapiens primate’s numbers (temporarily). If man is a catastrophe, as Eric Pianka would say, then that jumping gene led to a colossal environment disaster worldwide.
In any event, none of this corn evolution would ever have happened without the intelligent input of humans. The benefit of a tall stock with single ears of abundant kernels is evident for humans (and incidentally for numerous agricultural pests), not for teosinte.
If this story demonstrates anything, it’s that intelligent design can produce major effects.
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