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Apologetics Press :: Sensible Science

Coral—Turning Preconceived Ideas Upside Down
by Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

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Once again, scientific evidence supports Creation, and yet, once again, scientists are looking for other ways to “interpret” newly discovered data. The latest evidence supporting creationism comes from the sea—the location evolutionists have suggested is the site of the origin of all life. Located around reefs and lagoons is a type of coral known by the scientific name of Acropora millepora. Coral is a marine colonial polyp characterized by a calcareous skeleton. Because evolutionists consider coral as quite primitive (i.e., it is an invertebrate that does not have a complex nervous system), they have assumed that the genes contained within this type of coral would differ greatly from that of humans. As Robert Saint of the Australian National University in Canberra noted: “The assumption was that coral would lack many of the genes found in higher animals” (as quoted in Dennis, 2003). However, the results of a comparative study tell an entirely different story.

The research, that appeared in the December 16, 2003 issue of Current Biology compared gene sequences between Homo sapiens (humans), Acropora millepora (coral), Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly), and Caenorhabditis (roundworm). Carina Dennis explained that gene sequences known as “expressed sequence tags” (ESTs) “can represent either single genes, different pieces of the same gene, or expressed portions of DNA that do not contribute to a coding gene” (2003). Conventional evolutionary thinking would assert that the gene sequences found in humans should be closer to other “highly developed” creatures such as Drosophila. But, as Kortschak and his collagues observed: “Our preliminary survey of the expressed sequences of planula stage Acropora millepora appears to turn upside down several preconceived ideas about the evolution of animal genomes” (2003, 13:2194, emp. added). They went on to note:

A more subtle revelation of the Acropora EST dataset is the extent to which coral sequences resemble human genes rather than the corresponding Drosophila and Caenorhabditis sequences; in comparisons against the entire database, the majority of the coral ESTs show much higher similarity to vertebrate sequences than to any invertebrate sequences (13:2191).

The bottom line? The gene sequences found in this species of coral are closer to humans than they are to fruit flies or nematode roundworms. Kortschak and his colleagues admitted: “The most surprising implication of the Acropora dataset is that extensive gene loss has occurred in Drosophila and Caenorhabditis—a substantial number of the coral ESTs (53 clusters; 11% of hits to any organism) appeared to have a human homolog but no counterpart in the fly or worm” (2003, 13:2191, parenthetical item in orig.). The problem this presents is obvious. Corals possess these gene sequences; fruit flies and nematode roundworms do not. If evolutionary theory is correct, they must have lost these sequences. But then these specific sequences show back up in highly complex creatures such as humans? If it sounds a little illogical, maybe that’s because—it is!

So exactly where does this leave evolutionists, who are determined to construct some sort of “evolutionary tree of life”? If they are to accept the data for what they really appear to document, then humans have much in common with sea coral—an organism considered to be extremely primitive. As Kortschak and his colleagues went on to note: “These data are a provocative reminder of the limited extent of our understanding of metazoan [unlike protozoans, metazoans are more than single-celled organisms—BH] genome evolution and the potential hazards associated with extrapolating general evolutionary principles based on the model invertebrates” (13:2194). These data call into question many of the arbitrary lines that have been drawn in regard to alleged ancestors for metazoans. Dennis lamented: “The finding means that although fly and worm models are useful for studying gene function in development and cellular processes, they may be of limited value in studies of the evolution of human genes” (2003). Limited value, indeed! Now if evolutionists could simply accept the obvious conclusions of the data that upset beliefs on origins, instead of trying to massage them into an ever-changing-but-never-quite-right theory.


Dennis, Carina (2003), “Coral Reveals Ancient Origins of Human Genes,” Nature, Science Update, [On-line], URL:

Kortschak, R. Daniel, Gabrielle Samuel, Robert Saint, and David J. Miller (2003), “EST Analysis of the Cnidarian Acropora millepora Reveals Extensive Gene Loss and Rapid Sequence Divergence in the Model Invertebrates,” Current Biology, 13:2190-2195, December 16.

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