Butterflies vs. Macroevolution

Perhaps there is no other group of animals that are more ornate and beautiful than the butterflies. Butterflies are insects, of course, belonging to the class Insecta. They, in turn, belong to a much larger group of animals called the arthropods. What was the origin of this very substantial phylum? Three authors recently concluded the following:

As Darwin noted in the Origin of Species, the abrupt emergence of arthropods in the fossil record during the Cambrian presents a problem for evolutionary biology. There are no obvious simpler or intermediate forms—either living or in the fossil record—that show convincingly how modern arthropods evolved from worm-like ancestors. Consequently there has been a wealth of speculation and contention about relationships between the arthropod lineages.1

Butterfly "evolution" is usually discussed in terms of disruptive selection and mimicry, both of which count as but minor variation among these stunning creatures. Clearly, they remain butterflies. What of the origin of insect wings?

The wing may have evolved as a flap-like extension of the dorsal upper leg, according to Kukalova-Peck, and hence may have been articulated and moveable from the start2 [emphasis mine].

But if the origin of butterflies and insect wings remains an evolutionary enigma, certainly the incredible change from caterpillar to the adult winged insect rates as one of the fascinating evidences of creation. Metamorphosis to the adult stage is nothing less than a biological miracle. Complex molecules called enzymes are released that literally digest the caterpillar while it is ensconced in the chrysalis, converting it into a rich soup of disjointed tissues and cells—which after four days becomes an adult butterfly. But how? Detailed metamorphosis studies done on different insect species shows only that the ways organ systems are formed are quite varied. This is not what evolution would predict. A non-creationist laments,

. . . no stage or aspect of this physical process can be accounted for or even guessed at with our current knowledge of chemistry, physics, genetics, or molecular biology, extensive though they are. It is completely beyond us. We know practically nothing about the plan or program governing the metamorphosis, or the organizing agency that executes this plan.3

Research continues in this fascinating field, pointing not to the gods of time, chance, and genetic mistakes, but to a Master Designer's hand that is "clearly seen" (Romans 1:20).


  1. Osorio, D, J. P. Bacon, and P. Whittington. 1997. The evolution of arthropod nervous system. American Scientist 95: 244.
  2. Gerhart & Kirschner, Cells, Embryos, and Evolution, Blackwell Science, 1997, p. 555.
  3. Milton, R., Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, Park St. Press, 1992, p. 220.

Cite this article: Sherwin, F. 2005. Butterflies vs. Macroevolution. Acts & Facts. 34 (2).

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