I have to wonder what the creationists will say about this? The usual hand waving and wailing about how they are still crickets I suppose. This is another nail in the coffin for creationism.
I was perusing one of my favorite sites this morning National Geographic’s Phenomena, home of a handful of great science blogs. Ed Yong’s “Not Exactly Rocket Science” has the post titled “The Silence of the Crickets” (x2 which was odd, but read on)
There is a species of cricket on the Hawaiian island of Kauai that is being predated by a parasitic fly and I quote: “whose larvae burrow inside them and eat them alive.” These flies zeroed in on the crickets by listening to the characteristic cricket chirp, then did the nasty business of implanting eggs when they found the source of the chirping.
An observant professor Marlene Zuk, PHD, University of Michigan, who had been studying these crickets had noticed on subsequent trips that the crickets chirp was being heard less and less every trip. An investigation shows why. The crickets were caught, in real time, evolving wings that no longer allowed for chirping. The crickets that had flatter wings which were bad at chirping were surviving, because they were invisible to the parasites. The survivors offspring of course had wings unsuitable for chirping to the point now where there are hardly any chirpers left. Which is a pretty awesome story, but…
What is even awesome-er, is the neighboring island of Oahu has the same crickets, with the same problem, that also independently evolved flatter wings unsuitable for chirping, over the same time period as the crickets on Kauai! This evidence was brought about by genetic testing that showed: “the flatwings are caused by a mutation on a single gene, somewhere on the X chromosome. But both mutations arose independently! So the same mutation, flatter wings, happened on both islands, roughly at the same time, in two different populations, in differing area of the genome.”
Absolutely fucking incredible.
Get the full story here: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/05/29/the-silence-of-the-crickets-the-silence-of-the-crickets/
EDIT: Geez, I’m slow, my excuse is I was just on my first cup of joe when I posted this story…I get it now why the original post’s title was duplicated, 2 cases of mutations, on 2 neighboring islands…doh.
Also, I hate it when my attempts at posting links fail to work. I suppose a copy and paste will get you there. In the meantime anyone have link posting tips?