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The Elephant Kind, Unpacking How Genetics Can Vary Through Time

[Originally published as An Example of Species and Kinds through History]

The Elephant Kind is relatively easy to distinguish from other animals. Therefore, it can be used as an example of tracking Kinds and species through history from Creation to today from a creationist viewpoint.

The Elephant Kind at Creation

Creation Week included the creation of the broader elephant Kind. This Kind, more formally known as the Proboscibar (proboscis refers to their nose). This was a large land animal with a trunk. It contained wide genetic variation that could be bred out into species (either genetically or epigenetically). These variations include surface features such as body size, tusk size, amount of hair, and skin color, but they all have the same body form of a large land animal with a trunk.

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From Adam to the Flood

In the timeframe from Adam to the flood, the Proboscibar would be expected to breed and develop recognizable species. There is very little to go on for the appearance of pre-flood speciation. So an example combination of surface traits might be a somewhat small elephantine creature with wider tusks capable of lifting vegetation mats in swampy areas. These pre-flood species went extinct at the time of the flood. but the Proboscibar continued on through the flood by the pair of elephantine creatures preserved on Noah’s ark.

Noah’s Ark

On the Ark, the Proboscibar continued on through the flood by a pair of elephantine creatures which presumably still had a wide genetic variation contained within it.

After the Flood

After the flood, the Proboscibar Kind dispersed and entered into different habitats—some colder, some warmer, some more wet, and others more dry.

In each habitat, the genes with more useful traits were bred using already existing traits—for example, larger body size and more hair in a cold climate—forming mammoths, mastodons, and elephants. Although the surface features of these species are different, they were all large land animals with trunks and probably capable of hybridizing with each other.

Mammoths and Mastodons seem to have gone extinct around the time of the ice age after the flood.

The Elephant Kind Today

Today, there would be no one individual elephant or elephantine species that could represent the full Proboscibar. In fact, some of the genetic variation of the Proboscibar is gone (extinct – unless epigenetics has more say in the issue than we yet know). What remains are the African and Asian elephants.

If we took an average of all the known species that belong to the elephant kind, we might be able to get and idea what the original Proboscibar looked like.

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Genetic Information

If a pair of African elephants mate, they produce an African elephant. If an African elephant and an Asian elephant mate they produce a hybrid which has some mixture of their traits—but there is no new genetic information!

The genetic information was contained within the Proboscibar Kind all along and now happened to come together in this mixture. Is it a new Kind? No. Is it a new species? Maybe (probably only a variation in a species). But the African elephant, the Asian elephant, and the hybrid are all large land animals with a trunk and there is no change in basic form or body plan.

Going a step further

If a small herd of mammoths were found in Siberia today and if one of these were taken to a zoo and if it were kept in captivity with an Asian elephant so they had the opportunity to breed (hybridize)—the result might be a hairy elephant.

This would be a new combination of existing surface traits, but it is still not new genetic information. The genes for an elephant already existed in the Proboscibar Kind (from the time of Creation) and the genes for hairiness already existed in the Proboscibar Kind (from the time of Creation)—so no new genetic information was created in the hairy elephant. The mammoth, the Asian elephant, and the hairy elephant are all large land animals with a trunk (and able to breed together) – the same kind.

Summary

  • The Kinds were created,
  • speciation (within a kind) occurred until the flood,
  • the Kind was preserved on the Ark,
  • speciation occurred again after the flood,
  • today we see the results of post-flood speciation within a kind (with perhaps a few pre-flood species preserved as fossils).

Written by 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 a Believer, he is also active as the owner of Scripture Advocate Publishing, founder of the Encouraging Life Children’s Mission, and director of the Creation Science League. As author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator. Visit his web home at Yahshuah.net/creation

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