A Mistaken Case of Macroevolution

Author: Stephen Caesar
Subject: Biology
Date: 2/26/2004


When evolutionists see two related species in the fossil record, one in an earlier geological layer and one in a later (i.e., higher) layer, they assume that the creature in the earlier (lower) layer was the evolutionary ancestor of the one in the higher, more recent layer. This they consider to be macroevolution: the lower species improved over time, grew stronger, became more fit to handle its environment, and eventually became the brand-new, more highly developed species that left its remains in the higher layer.

Ordinary corn on the cob has shown this to be false reasoning. Corn (maize) originated in what is now Mexico and spread outward from there. The plant from which modern corn was domesticated is called teosinte, which is native to the region. Archaeologists have found well-preserved teosinte ears at various sites in Mexico from around 4300 BC (Jaenicke-Després et al. 2003: 1206). It is much, much smaller than modern corn, and is very different in appearance. Because of this, evolutionists assumed that teosinte was a species that, over time, macroevolved into a bigger, larger, brand-new species, modern maize.

Genetic studies, however, have proved that teosinte and modern maize are the same species. For one thing, they can interbreed, which shouldn’t happen if they’re two different species. Moreover, this interbreeding occurs in the wild, not in human-controled conditions. The result of the teosinte-corn hybrid looks so different from both parents that evolutionists originally considered it a separate species, naming it Zea canina. In the 1920’s, a scientist named Dr. George A. Beadle examined the chromosomes of this hybrid and discovered that teosinte and corn were the same species after all. They even shared the same chromosomal order of genes (Fedoroff 2003: 1158).

More recent studies have shown that only a few genetic mutations changed teosinte into maize. It turns out that the differences between maize and teosinte exist in only 5 genomic regions. In 2 of these regions, the differences are due to alternative alleles of just one gene. This allele affected kernal structure and plant architecture (Fedoroff 2003: 1158). (Alleles are merely different forms of the same gene.)

Thus, the differences between teosinte and maize are not the result of teosinte evolving into maize over time. They are both different forms of the same species (Fedoroff 2003: 1158). Modern maize is much, much larger than teosinte, so this is an example of changes within the bounds of species that have improved the species. But there is always what is known as a “fitness cost” whenever a species microevolves: as discussed often in this column, fitness cost is when a species microevolves a new trait to increase its ability to deal with new conditions in its environment, but the improvement is counterbalanced by a sudden disadvantage in another area.

For the mighty modern maize, this disadvantage is fatal: modern corn can’t breed without human involvement (Fedoroff 2003: 1158). In other words, if the large, hearty maize plants were left on their own, they would soon die out, and humble teosinte would once again rule the day. This isn’t what Darwin had envisioned; in his theory, modern maize would triumph without human help, and the weaker teosinte would die out.

Moreover, this microevolution from teosinte to modern maize was rapid (as opposed to the millions of years postulated by Darwinism). Genetic studies showed that the transition from teosinte to maize occurred rapidly and in one spot, and it took only 10 generations. Nina Fedoroff of Pennsylvania State University reported: “The results are unequivocal: All contemporary maize varieties belong to a single family, pointing to a single domestication event” (2003: 1158). Thus falls another “proof” of Darwinism.



Fedoroff, N.V. 2003. “Prehistoric GM Corn.” Science 302, no. 5648.

Jaenicke-Després, V., et al. 2003. “Early Allelic Selection in Maize as Revealed by Ancient DNA.” Science 302, no. 5648.


Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.1stbooks.com.