December 20th, 2006
I find it deeply worrying and hard to believe that either a science journalist with the BBC or the curator of the Zoological Society has no idea how evolution works, but it would appear to be the case. Spotted this gem in this BBC story about parthogenesis in giant lizards:
“[The curator of the Zoological Society] said the lizards could have evolved the ability to reproduce asexually when, for example, a lone female was washed up alone on an island with no males to breed with.”
No. No, they couldn’t. Given the terms of the scenario the only possible way such an ability could develop in that situation is during the lifetime of a single female giant lizard, which is expressly _not_ an evolutionary change (and is extremely unlikely to have happened). The change is only evolutionary if it appeared through natural genetic variation in the child of a pair of lizards who did _not_ have the ability, and if it then gave that child a reproductive advantage which resulted in the ability spreading through the population.
I mean, Christ, I know this based on high school biology. There’s no excuse for a science journalist to mess it up.