Bio-Origins Project Update, Hypothesizing Differential Mutation Rates | The Institute for Creation Research

Bio-Origins Project Update, Hypothesizing Differential Mutation Rates

You might expect that the same gene in different creatures would have the same sequence. Surprisingly, this is not so. As we reported last month,1 our preliminary protein/DNA comparison data show profound molecular differences across creatures, and these differences fall along traditional Linnaean classification groupings as shown in Figure 1.

What would you conclude from this result? How did these differences arise? Was this same gene created differently in different creatures? Did these differences arise primarily because of post-creation and post-Flood change? How do we explain these results from a young earth perspective?

One fascinating hypothesis is that these differences arose as a result of different rates of mutation accumulation in different “kinds.” This hypothesis—that the differences stem from different rates of origin—is different from the evolutionary explanation that the differences reflect different times of origin.

Consider the basics of molecular biology for how this might play out practically: The genome (complete set of genetic instructions) in each creature is unique, but genes (subsets of DNA sequence that are ultimately translated to protein) involved in common cellular processes are shared across diverse creatures. If we assume, for example, that God created the same ATP6 (one particular gene involved in energy transformation) gene sequence in elephants, mice, and fruit flies, and if we assume that elephants accumulated mutations slowly; mice, slightly faster; and fruit flies, much faster, then after 6,000 years of mutations, mice would appear (molecularly) different from elephants, and fruit flies would appear even more different from both mammals. Hence, a hierarchy of mutation accumulation rates could produce a hierarchy of molecular differences over time.

Preliminary data on species’ rates of mutation accumulation are consistent with the above hypothesis. A key factor in these rates is the speed at which species reproduce.

One measure of species’ reproduction rates is generation time—the time from conception to sexual maturity. Comparison of the generation times in elephants, mice, and fruit flies shows a hierarchy of time as shown in Figure 2—elephants reproduce slowly, mice more quickly, and fruit flies the fastest. Conversely, by calculating the theoretical number of generations that have passed in each of these species since creation, it is apparent that fruit flies have had many more opportunities to accumulate mutations than either of the mammals (Figure 2).

This very small dataset is consistent with the differential mutation rate hypothesis. However, we have much more data to analyze before we reach any firm conclusions.


  1. Jeanson, N. 2012. Bio-Origins Project Update, Comparing 2,000 Animal Species Molecularly. Acts & Facts. 41 (9): 6.
  2. Altman, P. and D. Dittmer, eds. 1972. Biology Data Book, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. Bethesda, MD: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
  3. Basic Methods of Culturing Drosophila. 2007. Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center at Indiana University. Posted on, accessed July 26, 2012.

* Dr. Jeanson is Research Associate and received his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University.

Cite this article: Jeanson, N. 2012. Bio-Origins Project Update, Hypothesizing Differential Mutation Rates. Acts & Facts. 41 (10): 6.

The Latest
Dolphins Learn Tricks from Peers to Catch Fish
Dolphins—like other cetaceans such as whales, wholphins, and porpoises—are highly intelligent marine mammals, capable of astonishing feats....

Liberty and the Word of God
“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” (Psalm 119:45). July 4th is called Independence Day here in our country because on...

Wandering Albatross: Wide Wings on the Winds
Wandering albatrosses have the largest wingspan of any living bird, so they live much of life soaring above the oceans. With their wings—and a lot...

Inside July 2020 Acts & Facts
Where can we find hope during times of waiting? How has ICR reached a new global audience? How does evolution conflict with the Bible's teaching...

Soft Dinosaur Eggs Deflate Bird-Dinosaur Evolution
A pair of new studies found that some dinosaurs, and possibly some marine reptiles, laid squishy eggs. One study discovered that many dinosaurs, like turtles...

Encouraging Notes During the Storm
Without a doubt, the global spread of COVID-19 has forced most of us to make major adjustments to our daily routines. Whether the stay-at-home mandates...

God's Grassroots Provision
In times of calamity and crisis, it’s easy to question whether life makes sense—or, more accurately, how God is making ultimate sense of...

Why Do I Believe in Recent Creation?
A student recently asked what I believe about the age of the earth. I replied that at one time I felt absolutely certain that the world was billions...

Walton's Cosmic Temple Is a House of Cards
A series of books and videos by Dr. John Walton, an Old Testament theologian at Wheaton College, has made a huge splash in the evangelical community...

Evolution's Death Versus Jesus' Death
Cancer took the life of both my dad and a friend in the last several months. Death certainly injects misery into the joys of life. I know we must die,...