The Peppered Moth;

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: The Peppered Moth;
From: "Kim Sterelny" <>
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 12:54:59 +1200
Dear All

The Peppered moth example has never, to my knowledge, been discussed an a 
paradigm example of speciation or macroevolution. It has always been discussed 
as a fine example of microevolution: of evolutionary change within a 
population, the result of a change in gene frequency. As such, the example 
stands. There is a fine history of biology book on the Peppered Moth example 
(which annoyingly has disappeared from my personal library!) and it is true 
that (as usual) the story is not as simple as that told in textbooks. But the 
example stands as a clear example of selection-driven microevolutionary change. 
The remarks about new genes, subspecies, etc are not relevent.


Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, New 
Zealand. Phone: 64-(0)4-4721000 x864; fax 64-(0)4 463-5143.

>From July-December, I am in the Philosophy Program, RSSS< ANU; 

> ----------
> From:          on behalf of Michael Tarburton
> Sent:         Wednesday, March 21, 2007 12:34 PM
> To:   Birding Aus
> Subject:      Re: [Birding-Aus] The Peppered Moth;was  "Native Australian 
> budgerigars are blue in colour"
> G'day All
> I do not believe the Peppered Moth story has ever been good evidence
> for evolution.
> Firstly what did we end up with?: two forms of Biston betularia.  No
> new genes at all.  There is no evidence of even a new subspecies as
> both forms were to our knowledge (not assumption) always there.  Even  
> the text that I started this thread on states "it is    thought
> that the black variety originally arose as a result of a mutation.
> Even they do not say we have good evidence for that.
> Secondly that the peppered and melanistic forms are reversible
> showing adaptation to some unknown environmental fluctuation is not
> evidence for a new form of organism or even a new gene.  It is
> clearly not pollution affected tree trunks that the moth is
> responding to as the lighter form started to re-emerge & increase in
> proportion before the trunks themselves started to lighten in colour.
> Thirdly Why would the journal Evolutionary Biology publish the
> arguments if they did not see them as worthy?
> Fourthly Where is the logic in testing for bird predators in a niche
> (tree trunks) that the moths are very rarely found in?  Good science
> would test in the natural surrounds, where different birds or other
> predators might be an influence.
> Fifthly why appeal to a journalist who claims one of the authors is
> also a creationist - lets deal with the facts of the argument.
> Evolutionists do not have a monopoly on reasoning and logical
> thinking?  Have a look at the creationists arguments rather than
> condemn them for for what they are.
> Thank you for your arguments
> Cheers
> Mike Tarburton
> On 19/03/2007, at 10:31 PM, Andrew Hobbs wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> > I dispute very strongly your suggestions about the peppered moth.
> > It is still one of the strongest, best supported cases of evolution  
> > and it has every right to be quoted in text books. In fact I would
> > question the motives of an author of a modern textbook on General
> > Biology if it started omitting this as an example.
> >
> >
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