Recent news concerning the Louisiana black bear’s “endangered species” status calls to mind an interesting story from Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” That important book’s first edition (1859) contains this account in chapter six (Difficulties on Theory):
“In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale” (page 184).
When Darwin’s first edition came out, this “just so” story was criticized as being too speculative. This prompted Darwin to remove his “hypothesis” that bears transitioned into whales through natural selection from all succeeding editions (1860, 1861, 1866, 1869 and 1872.)
Science educator Randall Hedtke writes in “Secrets of the Sixth Edition,” Master Books, Green Forest, AR (2010), at page 91 that this “bear-to-whalelike” transformation is Darwin’s only example of selection involving macro evolution that he could find. Of course, no evidence has been discovered to substantiate Darwin’s “hypothesis” to date. Though Darwin cut it from later editions, he privately regretted giving in to his critics, as he saw “… no special difficulty in a bear’s mouth being enlarged to any degree useful to its changing habits. Years later he still thought the example ‘quite reasonable’ ” R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), p. 483.
It is disappointing that no current biology textbooks mention this odd story that could actually stimulate some genuine critical thinking over Darwinism’s surreal claims concerning macro evolution. To go from a bear to a whale in gradual steps while still leaving a functioning animal at each stage requires a vivid imagination and could take the entire semester. Thankfully, at least some school districts are working to supplement existing textbooks. See, for example, textaddons.com and gdurl.com/rYsu/viewer.
Today’s macro evolutionism-puffing biology textbooks grossly fail our students by omitting serious discussion of the three major biological puzzles: life from non-life; information of life; and irreducible complexity. Maybe Darwin’s “fish story” should be spotlighted so at least our slack-jawed students might dine on this “whale of a tale!”