Biston moths. Was Re: The Significance of Memetics is ...

Mon, 23 Nov 1998 11:30:14 -0500 (EST)

Subject: Biston moths. Was Re: The Significance of Memetics is ...
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 11:30:14 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 23 Nov 1998 11:15:14 +0100 Mario Vaneechoutte
<> wrote:

> Derek,
> Great you mention this 'classical' example which proved natural selection.
> It is a fake! E.g., black moths appeared as well in the US without air
> pollution and these moths never sit on tree barks under natural conditions.

Firstly, it is not a fake. This work was done by my colleagues up the
road at the University of Liverpool. There is no question of
fakery here, absolutely none, none whatsoever. The very suggestion
that fakery is involved can wreck a scientist's career. This is not a

Secondly, what you say is factually incorrect. The study on moths in
the US _did_ show air pollution was an important fact:

"In both countries, the declines in melanism appear to be correlated
primarily with reductions in atmospheric sulphur dioxide" (Grant et al

The revision that the Liverpool group made on the standard
interpretation was simply that:

"..the role of lichens has been inappropriately emphasized" (Grant et
al 1996)

This work has been replicated in spittlebugs, Philaenus spumarius.
(Stewart and Lees 1996)

Grant et al (1996) Parallel rise and fall of melanic peppered moths in
America and Britain. Journal of Heredity 87, 351-357.

Grant et al (1998) Geographic and temporal varaition in the incidence
of melanism in peppered moths populations in american dn Britain.
Journal of Heredity 89, 465-471.

Stewart AJA and Lees DR (1996) The colour pattern polymorphism of
Philaenus spumarius in England and Wales. Phil. Trans. Roy.. Soc. 351,

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