Many so-called “vestigial traits” or “evolutionary leftovers” have uses. For instance, ostriches use their wings to keep warm, balance, and threaten enemies. 1 God could create flightless birds with wings to demonstrate His ingenuity in using certain features (like wings) for varying uses.
Because of the curse on creation for man’s sin, some features in animals may have suffered enough deterioration from their original perfect design that they are indeed “remnants” of ancestors—but ancestors of the same biblical kind. But this would be the exact opposite of evolution. It would be de-evolution. Evolution is supposed to explain how wings evolved in the first place to allow birds to fly, for example, and not how birds lost the ability to fly.
- Ignorance of function
Sometimes, we don’t know what function a part performs. Evolutionists assume it is “leftover junk” from evolution, but our advance of science has proven them wrong several times (for instance, with the human appendix). In fact, at one point evolutionists thought that over 90% of DNA was “junk,” but now that number has dropped to below 20%, and this remaining 20% acts like an operating system on the computer—it still has a function. 2
Examples of “Vestigial Traits”
Evolutionist: Yes, vestigial traits can be useful, but they’re still evidence for evolution because they don’t perform what they used to (e.g., ostrich wings aren’t used for flying anymore). 3
Response: Who says that ostrich wings were ever used for flying in the past, or that God had to make all wings for flying? God’s handiwork of life is a “theme and variations,” so to speak. He creates many different types of animals, like birds, and then creates a wide variety of these types of animals. Flightless birds are a “variation” on the “theme” of birds.
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Coyne, J. A. (2009). Why Evolution Is True. New York: Viking.
Meyer, S. C. (2013). Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life And the Case for Intelligent Design. New York: HarperOne.
- Coyne, 2009, p. 57: “Yet the wings are not useless–they’ve evolved new functions. They help the bird maintain balance, mate, and threaten its enemies.” ↩
- Meyer, 2013, p. 401 ↩
- Coyne, 2009: “The wings of the ostrich are a vestigial trait: a feature of a species that was an adaption in its ancestors, but that has either lost its usefulness completely or, as in the ostrich, has been coopted for new uses. Like all flightless birds, ostriches are descended from flying ancestors. We know this from both fossil evidence and from the pattern of ancestry that flightless birds carry in their DNA.” ↩