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Memories of a Lizard Past? Vestigial Muscles

Lizard sitting on a hand: ID 30154887 © Anastasiia Lieonova |

[Originally published as Vestigial Muscles

A recent article from Science News has the evolutionary community buzzing. They seem to think they have accomplished something special. The article, on the muscles in a human embryo, makes some claims about embryology that are quite startling.

According to the authors, human embryos exhibit muscles that are not found in adults but are found in lizards. This has led secularists to cry out with joy at the prospect of proving their dearly held dogma to be factual. Unfortunately for them, a closer look at the article reveals no such thing.

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Scientific Ethics

Before going any further, I want to briefly comment on the ethics of this study. The study was done on human embryos up to thirteen weeks gestation. This begs the question of, where did these embryos come from? One of my contacts was able to get me access to the paper and it does not say, either in the paper itself, or in the supplemental information.

There are two ways to get intact human embryos, however. One is from stillbirths, but parents who give birth to stillborn children don’t tend to donate them to science. They bury them. The other way, of course, is aborted babies. Given that these researchers talked about standard measurements of length like crown to rump often used for intact embryos, these were not chopped bits of embryo, so these had to have been done deliberately for sale.

Evolutionists love Embryology—Their Way

It’s hardly surprising that the evolutionist are again appealing to embryology. They have been appealing to embryology since the notorious fraudster Ernst Haeckel drew his abysmally inaccurate comparison of human embryos to other embryos back in the mid-1800s. While Haeckel’s embryos have been debunked for over a century, they still show up in particularly high school textbooks, as well as continue to have an inordinate amount of influence in the thinking of the Darwinians.

Real Embryological Development

Aside from the apparent abysmal ethics of these researchers, there are myriads of problems with this study. First of all, they claim that there are thirty muscles in the hand of an embryo and only nineteen in an adult. This is true but completely misrepresents the development process.

Muscles develop from embryonic mesoderm. This tissue develops into myoblast, which then develops further into myotubes. These myotubes will then form muscle fibers. All of this happens by means of cellular fusion. Muscle cells often have hundreds of nuclei as a result of all the fusion that takes place during their formation. This fusion all takes place during development.

So when exactly do you need to start counting in an embryo? How do you know they have exactly thirty muscles and they will not simply fuse down during development?

Interestingly, no one is completely sure how many muscles an adult human has. A quick search of the internet reveals numbers that vary between the six hundreds and the eight hundreds. This is because it depends on who is doing the counting. Some muscles split into parts. Do you count those as one muscle or multiple muscles? The quadriceps anchors in four spots. Is it one muscle or four?

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Since we don’t even have a firm number on how many muscles an adult human has, how on earth can we possibly use the number of embryonic muscles as an indicator of evolution?

Worse still for the evolutionists is the fact that even if we grant them that some of these muscles do die during development, it does not prove anything. In fact, programmed cell death is a very important part of development. It is known as apoptosis and it is involved in various aspects of development from splitting the fingers apart, to brain development. Claiming that losing some muscles as part of development is evidence of evolution when a loss of tissue is a known aspect of development is simply ludicrous.

This claim about the vestigial muscles echoes the empty claims of Darwinists over the last century and a half. There is no substance to it whatsoever if you look into the details. The Darwinists are not interested in providing those details, however, because the details undermine their dogma.

These muscles are not vestigial leftovers of a made-up evolutionary past.  Claiming they are stretches credulity beyond the breaking point.

Written by Emory Moynagh

I graduated from Pensacola Christian College with a B.S. in Biology, then worked as a high school science teacher for two years before transitioning into a quality assurance role. I now do science and apologetics research. My personal interests in apologetics stem back to high school when I was introduced to the teachings of Ken Ham, ICR, CMI and others. This created a passion in me for Creation Science, the Bible, and all things science related. You can find my friends and me at In His

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