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How Did the Elephant Get Its Long Trunk?

by Bryan Sharp

The Elephant and the AlligatorHow did the elephant get its long trunk? In his fairy tale, "The Elephant’s Child," Rudyard Kipling fictionally describes how the elephant got its long trunk. Originally, we are told, elephants had short noses, but one day a young elephant got too close to the river and was attacked by a crocodile. Biting the elephant on the nose, the crocodile tried to pull him into the river. As the elephant pulled back, his nose stretched until it became the trunk we see today.

While we all recognize this story as fiction, evolutionists have used the same plot to describe how the giraffe got its long neck. Evolutionists used to teach that one giraffe stretched its neck to reach distant foliage and therefore its offspring had longer necks. Of course evolutionists claimed this process happened gradually, with each generation of giraffes having only slightly longer necks than its predecessor, but the idea was the same. The idea was that any type of change which an organism underwent it its lifetime could be passed on to its offspring. For example, people who customarily spent more time in the sun and therefore had deeper tans would have children who were darker than those who spent less time in the sun. Thus, with nothing more than a fairy tale, evolutionists explained everything from elephants’ trunks and giraffes’ necks to dark and light skinned human races.

For the most part, evolutionists no longer defend this concept. In fact, "…German biologist August Weismann…in 1893…cut off the tails of mice for many generations, and showed that this had no effect on the tail length of their descendants." (1) But even without Weismann’s maimed mice to show it false, this type of evolution was not science. The problem was that while evolutionists claimed giraffes’ necks grew longer from generation to generation, no one could explain how it happened. No one could show, step by step, what would cause a giraffe with a stretched neck to pass on that stretch to its young. Our point is that without a sound mechanism to show how it works, evolution was, and is, nothing more than a fairy tale. So what is the mechanism of evolution?

The answer depends on whether we ask a biologist or a paleontologist. Evolutionary biologists claim evolution must happen gradually, with minute mutations occurring at the genetic level and accumulating over millions of years until a new creature imperceptibly emerges from an older one. Evolutionary paleontologists claim evolution happens quickly, with large changes occurring during embryonic development so that one generation produces offspring vastly different than itself.

Actually, neither biologists nor paleontologists have a mechanism for evolution. While biologists cannot fathom, let alone demonstrate, a series of mutations leading from lizard to bird, they are far more comfortable claiming the process occurred in small increments over vast eons. To them, this gradual change seems more probable than a lizard giving birth to a bird. On the other hand, while paleontologists cannot explain how a bird could hatch from a lizard’s egg, they know the fossil record does not indicate a continuous, gradual change from a lizard to a bird. Fossils are either distinctly bird or lizard. There are no in-betweens. In other words, biologists know quick change is impossible and paleontologists know slow change did not happen.

The result is that not only can no one show, step by step, how a lizard could transform into a bird, but even the very basis of an evolutionary mechanism proposed by one group of scientists is shown false by the other group. No one has ever been able to explain how evolution could occur. After all, if scientists could explain how evolution could happen by accident, why have they been unable to go to the laboratory and reproduce it on purpose?

We could claim that when Cinderella’s fairy godmother waved her magic wand over some mice, they became men. But unless we can either, see it happen, or explain how it could happen, it is nothing more than a fairy tale. Genetic mutations are the magic wand of evolution. Unless we can either explain how these mutations can turn mice into men, or see it happen, what is the difference between this fairy tale and evolution? How did the elephant get its long trunk? Maybe God gave it to him.

1. Futuyma, Douglas J. Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, Massachusetts 1998. p. 23.