[left to right] top: male and female bottom feeders (benthic sticklebacks),
[left to right] bottom: male and female streamline open water feeders (limnetic sticklebacks)
Freshwater stickleback fish, found in five Pacific coastal lakes,
Have you ever looked at the natural world around you and marveled at its beauty, variety and complexity? I grew up in one of the most beautiful areas of countryside in the U.K. As a little girl, I remember watching the birds fly overhead as I netted sticklebacks in the streams.
Talking of sticklebacks, what would you say if I told you that things that look similar in nature are not necessarily so? Let me break things down for you. Looking at the pictures above, you would think that there were two different species from different lake environments. It was believed that the two species evolved from one marine stickleback species, which in turn became trapped in the lakes when the seas receded. Hence, all the bottom feeders share the same physical characteristics (morphology), and all the open water feeders look alike. Yet genetic testing has revealed that the different species in one lake are more genetically linked than their respective “look-alikes” in another lake. i.e. The species of each lake have divided into open water and bottom feeders in identical ways (evolutionists refer to this as reproducible evolutionary events). Each variety of species (ecomorphs) has adapted to its particular environment in its own lake with the same physical characteristics as ones in a similar environment in another lake.
Even more incredible is the development of species of East African lake cichlids. The photograph shows five almost-identical looking varieties (ecomorphs) from the two lakes. Yet, like the sticklebacks, they have independently ‘evolved’ multiple times from different ancestral lineages. Their physical similarities defy their independent genetic pathways. Even more incredible is that, in Lake Tanganyika, there are morphologically indistinguishable species that have ‘evolved’ through generations from different ancestral origins.
The natural world is full of similar occurrences of look-alike (morphologically identical) species from different geographical locations that do not share the same genetic ancestry. Examples such as the varieties (ecomorphs) of tree frogs and burrowing frogs found in Madagascar and India did not ‘evolve’ before the tectonic plates split to separate off Madagascar. Rather, the varieties in Madagascar have ‘evolved’ and adapted to the differing environments there, and likewise on the Indian sub-continent. Their shared physical characteristics – “morphological convergence” – defy the statistical chance that such complex physical universal adaptations from genetically distinct ancestry could occur with such accuracy. Evolutionary argument is made for “repeatable evolution” that is ‘preprogrammed’ within the organism. However, their environments may have similarities, but they are not identical. Also, any preprogrammed biological constraint would not be ‘set’ to foretell future conditions. So, how were they able to adapt and evolve? How did ‘repeatable evolution’ occur?
I would say that the evidence all points to a Creator who provided these wonders of nature. How else would organisms from different geographical locations and different genetic ancestries adapt into apparently physically identical organisms? Job regularly stated, “His [God’s] great works are too marvelous to understand. He performs miracles without wonder” (Job. 9:10, NLT Bible). God is responsible for repeatable creation.
[i] Stickleback Species Pairs, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, 02/1999.
Stickleback photography by Don McPhail,