What are Species?

Within a creationist perspective, species are defined as a breed within a created kind. It has a specific set of reproductively connected characteristics that produce a recognizable pattern. An individual of the species is able to reproduce with others of the same species and potentially able to hybridize with other breeds / species within the same Kind. Habitats and geographical distribution can be indicators of where species boundaries may occur.

Speciation and Hybridization is Expected Within a Kind, but Not Between Kinds

Speciation and Hybridization is Expected Within a Kind, but Not Between Kinds

One area of major confusion for believers is understanding the difference between species and kinds. Each Kind of plant or animal can contain many (sometimes dozens or rarely hundreds) of species. For example, the Elephant Kind has included not only the modern day species of African and Asian elephants, but also the historical (and now extinct) mammoth and mastodon. The entire Kind is recognized as containing the same basic shape or form while the individual species will vary in surface characteristics such as color and size. This ties in heavily with studies in genetics and the relatively new field of epigenetics which demonstrate how speciation can occur within a Kind.

The confusion stems from the fact that the variation expected within a Kind overlaps the entire range of microevolution and a small part of macroevolution when using the technical definitions of the terms. It is further confused when the general definitions of small scale and large scale changes are discussed as being divided at the level of Kind which effectively moves the micro- and macro- evolution boundary from the Species level to roughly the Family level. Quite surprisingly, Creationists have sometimes generically stated they agree with microevolution as changes that occur within a Kind and reject macroevolution as changes that would occur outside of a Kind. This is done to help discuss the amount of variation. However, it is still surprising because using evolutionary terminology would imply evolutionary processes which the creationist would not agree with.

Species Concepts

Katagenos Species Concept

The Katagenos Species Concept is based on the Theory of Created Kinds. It allows for a reproductive and genetic discontinuity between kinds and a continuity between breeds / species within a kind. The active dynamics for change within a Kind are communication and environmental acclimation through the mechanism of genetic selection of already existing DNA. It currently combines the terminology of Baraminology, breeding techniques, and Linnaean classification in order to express these concepts.

Revelatory Species Concept

The Revelatory Species Concept is based on Romans 1:18-20 which, according to Wise, “suggests that God created the universe with physical illustrations of His invisible attributes and God created humans with the ability to recognize those illustrations.”

Species Concepts in Evolution

By some counts, at least 22 different (although maybe somewhat overlapping) species concepts have been proposed within evolutionary circles. Each of them has their own benefits and problems which tend to be associated with the field of science for which they were made. A quick description of the more commonly encountered concepts will serve as an example.

Mechanisms of Speciation

Environmental Acclimation

Environment Acclimation is a selection of traits favorable for a given environment and is the primary cause of natural breeding and speciation. Mating selections are typically based on appearance / phenotype which in turn select the genetics behind those traits / genotype. This is similar to the evolutionary process of natural selection; however it can occur rapidly because already existing traits are chosen and no new genetic material must form over time.

Heritage Mating

When a member of a species decides to mate, it typically follows a pattern of Heritage Mating. Heritage Mating is the mating selection of individuals with the same surface characteristics as oneself – caused by having the same heritage (both genetically and culturally). Heritage Mating explains why hybridization and mixing of less common individuals is not the norm and why species continue with the same surface characteristics that define the species. It indirectly shows the differences that will become prezygotic barriers to reproduction.

Breeding and Speciation

The primary force behind breeding and speciation is Environmental Acclimation. Secondarily come the pre-zygotic (mating recognition) and post-zygotic (genetic compatibility) barriers. Reproductive isolation, commonly mentioned as an evolutionary force, is a condition that can speed up the breeding process because of genetic reduction, but is not the driving force. Likewise, competition and natural selection is not a cause of speciation, but the processes or mechanisms by which it occurs.

Understanding Created Kinds and Species

Many people ask what taxonomic level is equated with the Created Kinds. This is a poor and overly simplistic question. Historically, our taxonomic system has been based on similar morphology (appearance). Created Kinds is based on breeding capability. These are two different systems and they do not necessarily equate to each other. Simply put, Kinds do not equate to any one taxonomic rank.

Post-Flood Speciation

Because of the limited number of animals that were contained on the Ark and the many species found today, evolutionists have suggested there must be some form of “ultra-fast evolution” or “super fast post-flood adaptation” to make this amount of speciation occur in only 4,500 years. However, this thinking is flawed. They are using the evolutionary means of mutation, adaptive radiation, and genetic build-up to bring about the changes necessary to produce these many species.Instead, creationists view this a selection of already existing genetic traits which does not take long periods of time.

Breeding Terminology

When looking at the differences between types of animals like dogs or of plant crops like oranges, it is probably easier to use the terminology used in farming and breeding rather than the scientific use of genus, species, and sub-species. Breeding is the development or refinement of certain traits within a type of plant or animal. This is typically done by man to bring out certain desirable traits while diminishing undesirable traits.

Variation within a Kind

How much change can occur within a kind? Using the Hibiscus Kind as an example, there are changes to color, overall size, and even complexity of the petals (ornamentals). The major features that distinguish this kind do not change. The major features include a corolla of 5 petals fused at the base and an Androecium composed of many stamen fused with the carpels of the Gynoecium.

Hybrid Plants and Animals Display Variation within a Kind

The amount of variation that can occur within a single kind is somewhat surprising. Hybrids that are witnessed between species and genera give strong examples of what is possible. These hybrids will typically have a unique appearance which shows characteristics of both of the parents since they have genetic information from both of them.

Reproductive Isolation of Kinds vs. Species

The concept of reproductive isolation is commonly used in evolutionary terminology stating that species are reproductively isolated from other species. However, in reality what you see is that what we think of as a species can often hybridize with other species, with other genera, and sometimes with other families. Reproductive isolation fits the concept of a Created Kinds much better than it does a species.

Extinction

Extinction is not a driving force or cause for change. Instead, it is a result of an inability of a individual to mate with others of its breed or go back and hybridize with others of its kind. It typically comes from the inability to acclimate to changing environments which in turn challenges its survival. This is primarily caused by a lack of genetic variation or over-specialization of that breed. When extinction occurs due to environmental changes, other species or kinds with traits favorable for that new environment will likely be ready to move in and fill the that environment.

Ring Species

Ring Species are defined as a series of connected populations which spread around a geographic barrier where neighboring populations are able to interbreed but the distant populations that meet after the barrier are unable to interbreed. The basic idea was first suggested in the early 1900’s and the concept was formalized in the 1940’s. This idea was to show in a spatial dimension what is typically expected of evolution in a time dimension. Only a few species have been suggested as potential Ring Species, but with further study each has been found to not qualify as true Ring Species. Therefore, the Ring Species concept is an evolutionary idea lacking any proven examples.

Last Updated: 2018-07-12
Todd Elder

Todd Elder

Todd Elder has a deep desire to understand and experience Creation. As a Baraminologist, his current research includes developing the Katagenos Species Concept, the Natanzera Classification System, and the Floral Formula Method of determining Plant Kinds. As an author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator.
Todd Elder

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