Noah’s Frogs

Hemiphractus fasciatusDid Noah Recognize Different Frog Species?, by Brian Thomas, is a fairly predictable discussion of baraminology. The article opens:

“What if Noah got it wrong?” is a question recently posed in a ScienceDaily article. “What if he paired a male and a female animal thinking they were the same species, and then discovered they were not the same and could not produce offspring?”

These were probably not intended to be serious questions. But if Genesis provides real history, maybe they should be.

The ScienceDaily article – Genetic Matchmaking Saves Endangered Frogs – is about a frog breeding project that is using “DNA barcodes” to ensure that they don’t try to breed similar-looking frogs that are of different species. Andrew J. Crawford is quoted in that press release as saying:

If we accidentally choose frogs to breed that are not the same species, we may be unsuccessful or unknowingly create hybrid animals that are maladapted to their parents’ native environment.

The journal paper the release relates to can be found here (pdf), but is not actually particularly relevant to the subject Thomas wishes to talk about.

As he said, the “what if Noah got it wrong” line is highly unlikely to be serious. But that isn’t about to stop Brian laborously explaining how Noah couldn’t have cared less about individual species, and that he was instead interested in preserving ‘kinds,’ or ‘sorts.’

Questioning how Noah would have discerned between species overlooks three factors. First, Noah might not have taken all amphibians on board. Second, today’s species are not exactly what he saw. Third, Noah was unconcerned with modern biologists’ fixation on naming and preserving every possible sub-variety within a reproducing group.

That’ll teach those stamp-collecting zoologists! Getting away from the frogs, this article strongly resembles the Tigon articles from last year. The other example used is a cross between the old world dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) and the new world llama (Lama glama):

Noah took two of every “sort,” or “kind.” Does the Bible indicate that Noah took two of every one of today’s named species? Certainly not. Many, if not most, species interbreed with at least one other named species. For example camels (Camelus dromedarius) breed with llamas (Lama glama) to form a “cama.”

Camelid locations and migrationThis claim is not cited, but it turns out that the cama is a real thing. It is, in fact, the product of artificial insemination carried out by some Dubai-based mad scientists aiming to breed camels with wool (and that wouldn’t kick so much). This is superficially amazing – an old world and new world animals interbreeding like tens of millions of years of separation never happened – but as it turns out the camelid family original evolved in the new world and expanded into the old only a couple of million years ago. Cama also appear to be sterile and are highly unlikely to even be successfully born.

These aspects are moot, however, as Brian is merely gunning for the “family = kind” angle we’ve seen before. He concludes:

Identifying dwindling species using DNA banding as part of an effort to preserve biodiversity is valuable because each creature reflects its Creator in a unique way. But Noah did not need to use DNA banding. His concern was not to tag varieties within each kind, but to preserve two representatives of each kind.

There are some important aspects, however, that Mr Thomas fails to discuss. With the cama we have a case of two animals that don’t appear to be able to interbreed but actually can, though only if artificially inseminated. He is drawing his definition of a ‘kind’ around this interbreeding aspect, but he is also prepared to accept species being within the same kind even if they can no-longer interbreed. On what basis, then, can he now say ‘that’s too big’ on any grouping that is claimed to be a kind? Could all mammals be one kind, with a common ancestor? What about all tetrapods? It is but a slippery slope to universal common ancestry.

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7 thoughts on “Noah’s Frogs

  1. Unfortunately for Brian, frogs are not “kind” (i.e., a family) but an *order*, containing 29 families today. Plenty of room for Noah to make the same sort of mistake as, oh, bringing a male horse and a female rhino on to the ark.

  2. Check out the Arkansas creationist trial of 1981.
    A creationist expert witness was asked, are land turtle and sea turtle the same kind or different kind? Because the bible says there are kinds that creep upon the earth, and kinds that swim in the sea. The creationist expert had nothing to say.

  3. “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.”
    Thomas makes this sound SO simple.
    If two frogs were of different species (or whatever word the ICR prefer to use for God’s ORIGINAL creation) then they might either have been unable to breed or their offspring might have been infertile. Yet God – according to YECs – has brought about massive adaptation, diversification and, yes, speciation in the ’4,300′ years since the Flood (not to mention extinctions). In order that eg a representative pair of the frog/wider amphibian sort/kind could breed, and its offspring could multiply repeatedly and fill the world with all the – sometimes endangered – species seen today, God or Noah would have needed to ensure that the two individuals not only were a male and a female but that they were COMPATIBLE partners for sexual reproduction (WITHOUT hybridisation as that – usually – is not how new species come about). Including – in the case of eg some gulls – those ‘ring’ species.
    My knowledge of the ins and outs of baraminology is zilch.

    • On Eye’s last para, do YECs insist that ANY two individuals of an original ‘kind’ would, by the mere fact of being of the same ‘kind’, have been able to breed fertile offspring (without what is known as hybridisation)? If so – how CONVENIENT.

    • In reply to Mister Spak.
      Brian will no doubt object if he reads this, but that sounds like a case of parallel evolution of sea kinds (which may have survived the Flood) and land kinds post-Flood. Producing superficially similar sea and land turtles (I’m assuming they are within different genera rather than closely genetically related).

    • Perhaps. But the point of the question for this witness was, how can you tell if two species evolved from an ark kind, and are therefore of the same kind, or are different species different kinds? In the creationist model, these are very different situations, yet the creation witness offered no guidance on how to tell the difference. It’s almost like kinds don’t exist except in the creationists imagination.

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