|Cover illustration for the forthcoming textbook|
by Carl Zimmer and Douglas Emlen
These little bugs must be one of the best examples of natural selection ever. The more closely they resemble a leaf, the more difficult it is for predators to find them. Over the millenia, the bugs who evaded predators survived better, and eventually walking leaves looked like they do today.
In fact, these guys have been around for a long time, at least 47 million years, according to a fossil discovery published in 2006. That paper described a fossilized leaf insect found in an ancient lake bed in Germany, which looks remarkably similar to its modern descendants.
Yes despite this amazing evidence, only 40% of Americans believe in evolution. State legislatures continue to pass bills attempting to teach children the creation myth that the world was created less than 10,000 years ago. Just last week, a committee in Alabama's legislature proposed a new law that would give students credit for courses on creationism. The bill's sponsor, local legislator Blaine Galliher, was very clear about his motivation:
"They teach evolution in the textbooks, but they don't teach a creation theory…. Creation has just as much right to be taught in the school system as evolution does."I feel sorry for the students in Alabama whose education might suffer thanks to the ignorance of their lawmakers. But there is some hope: in the national poll showing that 40% of Americans overall accept evolution, among young adults that percentage was 49%, while among over-55 set it was just 31%, as shown in this graph: