Species vrs Kind (Research Article)

Species vrs Kind (Research Article)

As mentioned in the preceding article of this series, one of the frequent accusations made against creationists by evolutionists is that Noah could not have fit all the animal species on the Ark.  Considering there are around 6.5 million land animal species known to science, this would be a fair accusation if the word “kind” meant species in the modern sense of the word[1].  However, as we derived in the previous chapter, the Biblical kind is not equivalent to species. It refers to a reproductive group.

Making the claim that kind is equivalent to species is disingenuous, particularly since science has struggled to define what it means by the term species[2].  One article counted up twenty-six separate ideas on what species are[3], while a separate scientist wrote a book claiming there are at least thirty-two distinct concepts of species[4].  The idea is so nebulous that hundreds of books have been written on the topic and no definitive conclusion has been reached.  While this article series is not meant as an exhaustive examination of what a species is, we will treat over twenty variants of the concept of species in this series in order to understand how they differ from the Biblical kind.

Before getting into the discussion of what a species is, it would be useful to understand some key terms involving species. The first, and arguably most important term to understand is “population.”  When a scientist refers to a “population”, he is referring to a group of individuals of the same species, or sometimes subspecies, which live in the same area and interbreed with one another[5].  This definition is a bit obscure because some of the words are highly generalized. For example, how large is an area? In different species, an area can be anything from a few feet to several hundred miles. And what is meant by species? We will address that in a moment but for the purposes of this definition, it is assumed that species has a constant definition for the organisms in question.

A second helpful term to understand when discussing the topic of species is speciation, sometimes referred to by evolutionists as microevolution. Speciation occurs when a population is split into two, isolated groups. These groups interbreed with one another and differentiate into reproductively distinct species[6]. This is what is typically cited as evidence for evolution.

Another term useful to understand when discussing species is the phrase “gene flow”. Gene flow is the exchange of genetic information unique to a population with another population by interbreeding. Generally, this takes place between members of the same species.

One final useful term to understand is the gene pool. The gene pool is the sum of the genetic information available to a given population or species.  Essentially the concept is that the population has a certain amount of variation available to it for each trait. If all those options are put together, that is the concept of a gene pool. Of course, the offspring can only select from the options their parents have the genetic information for, but the whole population has more options available.

Species can only be established by comparison. This is also true of the kind concept. Consider how we know if something is a different species. We compare it against something that might be the same species, or perhaps kind and, using a process of elimination, determine whether two individuals or populations are of the same species.  Evolutionists acknowledge this. “…every (species) concept requires comparing different groups of individuals, whether this comparison involves reproductive isolation, morphological distinctness or phylogenetic relationship.[7]” The fact that, by definition, no species concept can be free of comparison is important to remember since it is sometimes used to discredit the whole species concept. More on that later in this series.

Now that we have established a couple of key terms, it is time to get into our discussion of species as a concept. It is worth remembering that there is no real consensus among scientists as to what a species is.  For scientists, the definition of species they choose largely depends on what they are discussing and what field they are in. For this discussion of species, I will use a very helpful list published by Dr. John Wilkins, an expert on the topic[8].


 Agamospecies is a concept of species related specifically to asexually reproducing organisms. Since they do not need a partner to reproduce, it is quite difficult to apply a typical species definition to these organisms. Most of these organisms, since they reproduce completely on their own, produce identical copies or clones of themselves. This can lead to a mutation multiplying in a population as there is no way to mask it if there is no exchange of genetic material.  However, this concept of species is only good as far as organisms remain asexual and do not exchange genetic material.  Thus any species undergoing conjugation is, by definition, not able to fit under the agamospecies label.

Bacterial conjugation represents a problem to the agamospecies label. Many species of bacteria store their genetic material in specialized circular structures called plasmids. They will then exchange parts of these plasmids with other bacteria using the conjugation process. It is a very effective way to increase the information available in the bacterial gene pool[9]. However, since the agamospecies concept demands an identical copy of the parent, bacterial conjugation essentially makes agamospecies a dead letter if the goal is to reach a universal concept of species.

However, the point of the agamospecies concept is that there can be no universal concept of species. It admits as much in applying itself only to asexual organisms.  Whether there is a universal species concept has been the subject of much debate in biology, perhaps contributing to the multiplicity of species definition. We will return to the discussion of a universal species concept at the end of this chapter.

Autapomorphic species

 The autapomorphic species concept is a more universal application of the word species than the agamospecies concept. Autapomorphy is an intimidating word, but all it really means is a trait unique to a population, species, or another taxonomic group.  The idea behind autopomorphic species is that species are composed of groups of organisms with a unique combination of traits. The autapomorphic species concept is related closely to the phylospecies concept which views species as the smallest unit of evolution. Both concepts rely heavily on evolutionary cladograms[10] to make their points, leaving them with a lot of questions to answer as no two scientists agree on the ancestry of a given organism[11].  It does have the advantage of being able to work for both asexual and sexually reproducing organisms[12]. However, it stumbles over a definition of the word “trait”. What is a trait? Is it something that can be observed on the outside? If so how does that take into account epigenetics, which can change some traits on the outside of an organism? If not, then how do we define an internal trait? No two organisms have identical DNA so where do is the line that delineates between species if no two organisms are the same? Because traits can change in organisms, even over the course of a lifetime, the Autapomorphic species concept leaves us with more questions than it answers.


 The biospecies, otherwise known as the biological species concept is perhaps the most well known and most widely accepted concept of the term species. Ernest Mayr is the mind behind the term “biological species concept”, proposing it in his 1942 book Systematics and the Origin of Species. Mayr would write numerous other books on the speciation topic during his life, expanding upon and defending his biological species concept.  Mayr was heavily influenced by Theodosius Dobzhansky, who was perhaps the most influential evolutionist of the early 20th century. Ironically, Wilkins in his list of species concepts gives credit to creationist John Ray, a seventeenth-century English clergyman, and naturalist who wrote extensively on plants and animals, for being the first to propose a biological species concept[13].

The key aspects of Mayr’s species concept were summed up well by Coyne and Orr in their book on speciation. “Mayr’s “biological species concept” identified species as groups of interbreeding populations that are reproductively isolated from other groups.[14]” Mayr viewed species as only breeding with other members of the same species, rarely hybridizing with other species.  However, this concept does have the problem that it is hard to apply to asexual and fossilized organisms since it relies heavily on the interbreeding test. Despite this, the biological species concept is perhaps the most frequently cited in the biological literature.


 The cladospecies concept is a bit different in terms of the concept of a species. It says nothing about how species arise. Instead, it merely tracks existing species from their origin to their extinction using cladistics. It also relies heavily on phylogenetic analysis, attempting to link genetic similarities to common ancestry[15].  This idea is fairly common among evolutionists attempting to use cladistics to formulate a species concept. Their worldview compels them to assume common ancestry. They then apply that assumption to their quest for a speciation concept, resulting in things like the cladospecies. Since there is no universal common ancestor, this species concept is utterly flawed. The researchers proposing it have made the wrong assumptions and thus come to the wrong conclusions.

Cohesion Species

 The cohesion species concept comes as something of an addendum to the biological species concept. It was introduced to make the biological species concept universal[16].  While the idea of a concept of species that can apply to fossils, microbes, plants and macroscopic organisms is undoubtedly appealing, others in the field are not convinced that such a concept even exists. Coyne and Orr say “Evolutionists now appreciate that no single species concept can encompass sexual taxa, asexual taxa, and taxa having mixed modes of reproduction.[17]We will come back to the validity of the desire for a universal species concept at the end of the chapter. Cohesion species are a bit broader than the biological species, in order to accommodate fossils and microbes.


 Compilospecies is a very belligerent and, relatively unpopular concept of speciation.  “A compilospecies is genetically aggressive, plundering related species of their heredities, and in some cases it may completely assimilate a species, causing it to become extinct [18].” This idea was proposed primarily for plants, though it has been extended for other groups as well. While some plant species show DNA sequences, which could be interpreted to support this idea, there are significant problems with it[19]. The most obvious is that assumes that gene flow is a one-way street which can be controlled by the “aggressive” species.  This is patently false.  Interbreeding causes the DNA to go both directions and neither side can directly control what is transferred, let alone control the other side.  To then say that this inbreeding is genetically aggressive is to completely ignore the possibility of a bad result. Genetic assortment in the gametes is largely random, according to Mendelian genetics. To claim one species can aggressively raid genetic information from another is pure fantasy.

Composite Species

 The composite species concept introduces new ideas to the speciation argument. Unlike the biological species concept, which speaks of species as populations, the composite species concept views species as collections of related individuals which have not split from one another. “On this concept, species are historical entities composed of parts of the genealogical network named internodons, and their recognition in nature is achievable by standard taxonomic practice.[20]” The internodons are branching points from common ancestors which differentiated into species.  Thus the composite species concept ties in tightly to the aforementioned phylospecies concept (discussed below). Since this concept relies heavily on branching common descent, it is of little value in attempting to define an accurate species model.


 The ecospecies concept is heavily reliant on the environment to delineate a species. The concept does not seem to be high in favor with the scientific community as google scholar does not produce many articles on the topic. Wilkins describes it as “A lineage (or closely related set of lineages) which occupies an adaptive zone minimally different from that of any other lineage in its range and which evolves separately from all lineages outside its range.[21]” Essentially this idea appeals to the isolation of a set of related organisms which occupy a specific niche in the wild[22]. This is borne out by an article published on ecospecies back in 1951. “If there are ecological differences between ecospecies, certain geographical differences are bound to follow.[23]” In other words, as members of closely related species or even sub-species occupy different niches, they will eventually spread out geographically and differentiate to become less closely related.  However, because of the heavy dependence on habitat in this definition of species, there are a few issues. If the habitat changes, what once was a species, may become lumped in with another species. Thus the validity of a species may be destroyed simply by seasonal or climate affected changes in habitat.

Evolutionary Species Concept

 Unsurprisingly based on its name, the evolutionary species concept is heavily reliant on assumed evolutionary common ancestry to formulate a species concept. It is defined as “a lineage of ancestral descendant populations which maintains its identity from other such lineages and which has its own evolutionary tendencies and historical fate.[24]” In other words, this concept of species relies on common ancestors and remaining isolated from other similar organisms.  However, once again, wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions.  In assuming common ancestry this concept of speciation ignores the fact that speciation has definite limits and cannot be traced throughout the fossil record, something Mayr freely admitted. “Actually the breaks in the fossil record are so frequent that it has been possible in only a few cases to piece together unbroken lineages connecting good species.[25]” Thus a concept involving a historical interpretation of species is likely to fail, at least as long as it is based on the assumed common ancestry.

Evolutionary Significance Unit

 The evolutionary significance unit concept of speciation attempts to combine the evolutionary species concept and the biological species concept. This is aided by Mayr’s insistence that “The species, then, is the keystone of evolution.[26]”  To Mayr and others, this was the case because speciation was the mechanism that spread genetic information. While this concept ignores the loss of information that occurs at each speciation event, it is very popular in the activist wing of the scientific community. However, the evolutionary significance unit is a phrase which can be applied to more than just the species level. “In terms of conventional taxonomy, an ESU (Evolutionary Significance Unit) often corresponds to species or subspecies but in some circumstances can extend to isolated populations.[27]” The evolutionary significance unit is more something applied to politics than science, being used to pressure lawmakers to fund conservation efforts or put aside more land for national parks.  In fact, some scientists even admit that this is not actually a species concept at all, but is geared towards conservation. “In practice, ESUs will usually complement rather than replace ‘species’ defined under traditional, predominantly morphological criteria (although ESUs and species would be synonymous under some species concepts).[28]” Thus ESUs can be ignored for the purposes of this conversation.

Genealogical Concordance Species

 The genealogical concordance species concept could just as easily been called the “melting pot” species concept because it combines aspects of numerous other species concepts, including the biological species concept, the phylospecies concept, and the cladospecies concept.  It is not a terribly popular concept, evidenced by the dearth of papers available through google scholar on the topic.  The basic concept is that a difference of multiple genetic traits in a population from neighboring populations entitles that population to at least consideration as a species.  It is very much a historical concept. “While we do not deny that the current properties and future fates of organisms are important, they are irrelevant to the definition of the phylogenetic taxa and the genealogical species described here. We are interested in the species as the product of evolution, not a player in evolution.[29]” This seems to run afoul of Mayr’s insistence on species as the unit of evolution. Since this is clearly a concept interested in where species came from, not how they exist today, it will not work for our purposes.

Genic Species Concept

 The genic species concept is sort of an extension of the genealogical species concept.  It postulates that new species form when a new set of genetic traits is fixed in a population.  Genetic fixing is the idea that certain information in the population is the only information available for a given trait. The proposer argued: “Defining species on the basis of reproductive isolation (RI), on the other hand, is a concept best applied to the entire genome.[30]” Translating that into layman’s English, the author wants to define a species based on isolation of the genome.  One author commented on that idea by saying, “Following a ‘strict genic species concept’, adaptive mutations in one of these populations (if in the inverted region) would not spread to other populations, and the gene pools within these arrangements do not mix.[31]” In other words, taking the genic species concept to its logical conclusion rules out interbreeding between species and thus makes species unable to evolve. Evolutionists are very reluctant to accept that idea.

Genetic Species

 The genetic species concept is tightly related to the biological species concept but relies more firmly on genetics than the biological species concept.  The idea here is that any group of organisms that interbreeds and thus exchanges genetic information is a species. One article favorable to the idea defined it as follows: “We define a genetic species as a group of genetically compatible interbreeding natural populations that is genetically isolated from other such groups. This focus on genetic isolation rather than reproductive isolation distinguishes the Genetic Species Concept from the Biological Species Concept.[32]” In other words, rather than relying on reproductive isolation to determine a species, these researchers want to focus solely on the genetics of the inbreeding organisms. It’s sort of splitting hairs since a reproductively isolated population usually is also genetically isolated.  However, there may be cases where species under the biological species concept are found in separate, genetically isolated populations. Thus the genetic species concept would split these into new species.

Genotypic Cluster

 The genotypic cluster is a bit of a confusing idea that ties into a lot of different species concepts but relies more heavily on historical interpretations than it does genetics, interbreeding, or cladistics. The concept originated as a response to problems with the biological species concept but does retain aspects of it.  The chief proponent of this concept wrote: “An obvious alternative approach to the biological species concept is (I) to define species in the Darwinian way as distinguishable groups of individuals that have few or no intermediates when in contact, (2) to extend the definition to cover polytypic species, and (3) to incorporate new knowledge from genetics as well as morphology.[33]” In other words, this proposal wants to go all the way back to the way Darwin defined species in The Origin of Species and ignore other proposals made since then, despite the vast increases in genetic and other scientific data, which Darwin and his contemporaries could not dream about.  While there are issues with the biological species concept, along with all other species concepts, it seems very irresponsible to abandon all progress in science to cling to Darwin, especially when most evolutionists consider themselves neo-Darwinian, or modified Darwinian, rather than purely Darwinian.

Hennigian Species

 The Hennigian Species concept is another concept that is a bit different in its application. It pulls from aspects of numerous different species concepts from cladospecies to the biological species concept.  It does address speciation, but it does it in a rather roundabout way.  It views species as the product of previous species which broke apart due to a mechanism unique to a given species and went extinct, leaving two or more “daughter” species in its wake, which are completely reproductively isolated. Here the concept goes further than the biological species concept, in not permitting any interbreeding. Mayr, in defining the biological species concept, allowed a little wiggle room for some interbreeding. The Hennigian species concept rejects that.  “The Hennigian Species Concept describes species as natural entities, that is, as entities that are individual-like products of evolution. The question is, which species criterion is of particular importance in an evolutionary context? We believe that absolute reproductive isolation is this criterion.[34]”  The Hennigian species concept builds on Mayr’s view of species as the unit of evolution and attempts to define that unit as absolute reproductive isolation. In other words, if two species live side by side, they should not interbreed, ever, or they are the same species.  This does still permit captive hybridization, such as horses and zebras for example, but does not work for wild creatures.

Internodal Species Concept

 The intermodal species concept (ISC) is a combination of the Hennigian Species Concept and the cladospecies concept.  It relies heavily on math, cladistics, and reproductive isolation to determine what a species is. “Since they(authors proposing ISC) claim that genealogical history is the one and only factor which matters for classification, species membership must be completely fixed by the giant or global genealogical network (GGN) that connects all organisms via the relationship of reproductive descent[35].” Another author, introducing the concept said “such a species is defined as a set of organisms of which each pair satisfies a conspecificity relation INT. Species so defined are mutually exclusive since INT is an equivalence relation.[36]” The gist of what these authors are saying is that common descent branched out and produced species which are now reproductively isolated.  This concept takes some of the weaker aspects of several species concepts and attempts to put them together to make a strong argument but fails to do so.

Least Inclusive Taxonomic Unit (LITU)

 The least inclusive taxonomic unit hardly is even is a concept of species.  It does not even completely accept that there are species. Instead, it points to recognizing groupings based on their traits, which ties into the autapomorphic species concept in that it relies on traits exclusive to the group. However, the size of these groups are not set at a specific taxonomic rank. “We instead suggest that taxa should always constitute the same kind of entities; named monophyletic groups which are identified by unique shared similarities (apomorphies).[37]” This taxonomic suggestion sounds suspiciously like these researchers are giving up on the species concept and falling back to a higher level grouping. It honestly sounds from the quoted source as if they are describing a concept similar to the Biblical kind. Of course, if you read the rest of the article, they are focusing completely on making taxonomy fit with their evolutionary dogma, but it is interesting to say the least.


 The morphospecies is the original, Linnaean concept of species. The fact that it still has adherents, even today with all the advances of genetics and technology is indicative of just how far ahead of his time Carolus Linnaeus really was when he was classifying species. This view of species looks at them as the smallest grouping of animals readily distinguishable from one another. One article defined morphospecies as “…taxa readily separable by morphological differences that are obvious to individuals without extensive taxonomic training.[38]” Because of its ease of use, it has a kept moderate level of popularity among field biologists. “‘Morphospecies’ sorting with minimum or no involvement of taxonomists has become a widely accepted method in conservation biology and species diversity based ecology.[39]”  While this article goes on to strongly advise against using “species” with the morphospecies concept, the fact that the author felt compelled to argue that strongly against the concept shows how widely this idea is still in use.

Non-Dimensional Species

 This concept of species is almost never used anymore. The most recent article I could find using Google Scholar was from 1949 and was written by Ernst Mayr, the same man that brought forth the biological species concept. Mayr proposed this concept of species alongside the biological species concept then refined this concept into the biological species concept later. With its near complete disuse, if Mayr had not originated it, it is likely that it would not have made Professor Wilkins list. Mayr kindly explained the concept in his 1949 article. “The species thus has full objective reality only in a local fauna or flora.[40]” Mayr is implying that species can only be real if they are local, meaning in the same population. He later softened this stance and included populations that interbred as the same species.


 The nothospecies concept is also fairly uncommon and generally used for non-animals, such as plants and fungi. The concept requires the hybridization and subsequent isolation of two existing species. In other words, it combines two species together and breeds the offspring to each other to form a new species. It is particularly cited when a plant species hybridizes and forms a polyploid genome (to be discussed in article 6), but rarely used elsewhere. This is likely due to the difficulty posed by polyploid organisms to any concept of species[41]. Never-the-less, this species concept is uncommonly used, and almost exclusively for plants, making it impossible to use universally. Whether that is an issue or not will be discussed in more detail below.

Phylogenetic Taxon Species

 This species concept is also fairly uncommon except among evolutionary cladists.  It ties very closely with the autapomorphic species concept. In fact, some journal articles use the terms interchangeably.  Some evolutionists have said that the phylogenetic taxon species is the “…smallest ‘important’ lineage deemed worthy of formal recognition…[42]” That is an incredibly arbitrary definition. It leaves entirely unanswered who decides whether the lineage is important or who decides whether to deem it worthy or not. As we have seen so far, there are nearly as many definitions of species as there are scientists, and it is likely to be the same when attempting to define important. One of the few journal articles that mention the phylogenetic taxon species, combined it with the autapomorphic species concept and defined them as “The smallest aggregation of (sexual) populations or (asexual) lineages diagnosable by a unique combination of character traits.[43]” This renders it prone to the same problems that plague the autapomorphic species concept such as lack of definition of a trait, or an authority to define what a trait is. Overall, this concept does nothing to advance our understanding of speciation.


 The phenospecies concept is another relatively rare concept that appears to be largely limited to microbiology.  It ties into the biospecies but also ties into about a dozen other species concepts.  Essentially, after stripping away all the semantics, the phenospecies is one that can be identified based on its phenotype, or its combination of traits[44].  Based on a known list of traits, taxonomists can place organisms as members of a phenospecies if they meet the majority of the requirements. While this works well for microbes, where it is incredibly difficult and time consuming to view some species under a microscope for identification, this very lack of precision works against it in macroscopic creatures. Why lump things together based on superficial trait examination when it is much more illuminating to dig a bit deeper? At least that is the line of logic.

Recognition Species

 The recognition species concept is another species concept that is rarely used. It views the species as being based on two compatible individuals being able to recognize one another and know they are able to mate.  Mayr viewed this as simply being a reformulation of his own biological species concept and claimed to have considered and reject the term “recognition” since it implied “consciousness, a higher level of brain function than is found in lower animals.[45]” Undoubtedly there is truth to Mayr’s statement about consciousness but since his statement is based on his belief in an evolutionary worldview, that lesser evolved animals are less intelligent, the statement should be taken with a grain of salt.  The recognition species concept should likewise be thought of as being a concept not useful to creationist studies.

Taxonomic Species Concept

 The taxonomic species concept is one that is commonly used by field taxonomists but not well liked necessarily among biologists. Wilkins contemptuously dismisses it as being “Whatever a competent taxonomist chooses to call a species[46].” However, those working in field taxonomy, particularly with difficult to classify organisms such as microbes, fungi and lichens find the concept very useful. One paper defines it as “relying largely on morphological criteria or other observable patterns of discontinuity and assuming that these patterns are reflecting the underlying genetic integrity of species.[47]” Essentially, taxonomists assume that the phenotype or outward traits, being shown by the organisms are indicative of a different enough genome for the creatures to be their own species. It is a bit of a rough concept but works well when high-tech genetic equipment and testing is either unaffordable or unavailable.

Which Concept?

After twenty plus species concepts, most of us are probably wondering something along the lines of “Which one do we even use?” That certainly is a valid question to ask, and one to be carefully considered before answering. Some concepts, like the intermodal and genotypic cluster species concepts, are obviously useless for our discussion of created kinds and can be simply rejected out of hand.  Some others are so heavily tied to cladistics and evolution that they are useless, ie cladospecies and compilospecies.  However, even rejecting some concepts, leaves at least ten to fifteen to choose from.  How do we determine which concept to use? The answer hinges on another question.  Is there a universal concept of species?

The universal species idea is hotly debated among the evolutionary community. As quoted above, Coyne and Orr in their seminal work on speciation say that there can be no universal concept of species[48].  However, this is far from a consensus. A fellow evolutionist argued in 2009 that a universal species concept is a necessity. “The species is the basic unit for understanding biodiversity and extinction as well as population and community ecology. Therefore, a universal species concept is clearly important. Considering the importance of having a universal species concept raises the question of why one still has not been adopted.[49]” Clearly, large sections of the biological community are still looking for a universal species concept. However does such a concept exist? Turns out, that depends on what you mean by species.

When most people say species, they think of the smallest unit of the Linnaean classification system and that is what it means today. However, when Linnaeus introduced the term, he did not think of the differences between species as being as small as that between two species of sparrow.  Linnaeus was looking at species as being the Biblical kind.  That is why he chose the word “species” to represent the lowest level of his classification. The word species directly translated from Latin means “kind” something even evolutionists acknowledge[50]. Thus when evolutionists say species, they are inadvertently acknowledging the existence of the Biblical kind, at least the way Linnaeus envisioned it.  To avoid confusion, I will not use species as a substitute for kind in this book, but it is something to keep in mind when you listen to an evolutionist talk about species.

Is there then a universal concept of species in the traditional neo-Darwinian sense? Based on what I can tell from discussing the above-delineated concepts of species, the answer is a resounding no.  There is simply too much variation in life forms and reproductive mechanisms to establish a single species concept. I believe Mayr’s biological species concept works best for sexually reproducing organisms, as they can be reproductively isolated. No such ability is present for microbes. Perhaps the Agamospecies concept will work well here, or perhaps a new concept is needed.

Regardless of which species concept works best, the important takeaway is that the evolutionists have no consensus on this issue, no matter how loud they trumpet their “consensus.” I suspect the reason they have no consensus is that species is a man-made term and thus not everything will fit into one grouping. In a sense then, it might be said that the species concept is not a “real” concept, at least not in the sense that the number “two” is a real concept. We will discuss whether species are real or not in the next article.  Almost every small child can point out the different between “two” and “three”. Yet two scientists can rarely agree on the same definition of species.

Kind or Species?

As a teenager, when I was first introduced to creation apologetics, I remember seeing a man giving a lecture and demonstrating just how intuitive a kind really is. He brought a five-year-old child onto the stage and showed the child a picture. The picture had a dog, a wolf, a coyote, and a banana on it. The child was easily able to deduce which one was not the same as the others.  It is slightly oversimplified, but it illustrates an important point.  Kinds are largely intuitive. We can often tell two creatures are of the same kind simply by looking at them.  Not always, of course. Some kinds are fairly broad.  Giraffes and okapis are considered the same created kind, yet do not closely resemble one another. However, some traits they do share, in particular, the ossicones, are unique to the giraffe kind[51].

In a larger sense, the question that must be answered is, can there be a universal concept of kind? Is there a way to define kind so that it applies to every creature, plant, and microbe, fossil, and living? Since the Bible only uses one word for the original kinds, I would argue it is possible to have a universal kind concept.  This, of course, leads to the logical follow-up question of, what is this universal concept?

As we discovered in chapter one, the Bible defines kind universally as a reproductive group. Taking that and applying it to practical taxonomy is more difficult.  This problem has plagued creationist baraminology[52] since its advent. Some baraminologists have turned to the cladistics methods of the evolutionary biologist to attempt to delineate kinds with limited success. Others have relied solely on reproductive capabilities.  Frank Marsh, the man who really sparked the study of created kinds, wrote: “But how do we distinguish them(kinds)? By observing their differences in size, in form, in structure, and in growth habit. These distinguishing characters become manifest in each kind as it develops from the fertilized egg.[53]” Marsh was clearly advocating a more holistic approach to created kinds and with good reason. Since Eden, much genetic information has been lost to extinction and inbreeding.  Members of the same kind may no longer be able to interbreed successfully though they could at the beginning.

Bearing what Marsh said in mind, I suggest a sort of marriage of modified cladistics with the more traditional reproductive approach to kind to produce a workable model of the Biblical kind. This model will rely heavily on reproductive data where it is available, supplemented with modified cladistics and Biblical understanding. What is meant by modified cladistics will be discussed in article eight of this series.  Whether this approach to kinds will work on all manner of creatures will be discussed throughout the remainder of this series.

To briefly recap, we have seen that evolutionists have no consensus on what makes a good species concept.  In fact, there is even debate over whether there can be a universal species concept, or if species are even real[54].  In contrast to all the debate, creationists have a universal concept of what a kind is, which lightyears ahead of where evolutionary scientists are. In the next article in this series, we will discuss evolutionary problems with species and why kind is simply a better and more intuitive concept.



[1] Mora, Camilo, Derek P. Tittensor, Sina Adl, Alastair G.P. Simpson, and Boris Worm. “How many species are there on earth in the ocean?” PLOS B (2011) https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1001127

[2] Milius, Susan. “Defining ‘species’ is a fuzzy art.” Science News November 1, 2017. Accessed October 19, 2018 https://www.sciencenews.org/article/defining-species-fuzzy-art

[3] Wilkins, John. “How many species concepts are there?” The Guardian. October 20, 2010. Accessed October 19, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/science/punctuated-equilibrium/2010/oct/20/3

[4] Milius 2017.

[5] (No author listed) “Population Definition” Biology Dictionary Accessed October 20, 2018 https://biologydictionary.net/population/

[6] (No author listed) “Definition of Speciation” Biology Dictionary Accessed October 20, 2018 https://biologydictionary.net/speciation/

[7] Jerry A. Coyne and H. Allen Orr Speciation Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates Inc. 2004.

[8] Wilkins, John S. “A List of 26 Species ‘Concepts.’” Science blogs October 1, 2006. Accessed October 20, 2018 http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/2006/10/01/a-list-of-26-species-concepts/

[9] Grohmann, Elizabeth. Günther Muth, and Manuel Espinosa. “Conjugative Plasmid Transfer in Gram-Positive Bacteria.” Microbial Molecular Biology Review Volume 67 Issue 2 (2003) Pages 277-301. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC156469/

[10] A cladogram is a reconstruction of the inferred ancestry of a given species(or other taxanomic level) based on assumption of common ancestry.

[11] Michael D. Crisp and Greg T. Chandler “Paraphyletic species.” Telopea Volume 6 No 4 (1996) Pages 813-844. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

[12] Wilkins Science blogs 2006.

[13] Ibid

[14] Coyne and Orr, 2004.

[15] Michael Donoghue “A Critique of the Biological Species Concept and Recommendations for a Phylogenetic Alternative.” The Bryologist Volume 88, No. 3. (1985) Pages 172-181. https://donoghuelab.yale.edu/sites/default/files/012_mjd_thebryologist85.pdf

[16] Alan R. Templeton. “The Meaning of Species and Speciation: A Genetic Perspective.” In The Unit of Evolution: Essays on the Nature of Species. Edited by Marc Ereshefsky. Pages 159-183. London; The MIT Press, 1992.

[17] Coyne and Orr 2004.

[18] Jack R. Harlan and J. M. J. De Wet. “The Compilospecies Concept.” Evolution Volume 17 (1963) Pages 497-501. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1558-5646.1963.tb03307.x

[19] Javier Fuertes Aguilar, Josep Antoni Rossello, And Gonzalo Nieto Feliner. “Molecular Evidence for the Compilospecies Model of Reticulate Evolution in Armeria (Plumbaginaceae).” Systematic Biology Volume 48, No. 4. (1999) Pages 735-754. https://watermark.silverchair.com/48-4-735.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAjQwggIwBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggIhMIICHQIBADCCAhYGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQM2at2NH4OhhUrpuAcAgEQgIIB54rW0-c-wo65KM_zYrPTK350-xSzMB4p2f54Sytnt4GAVKRPHrNr_9vs0FXZ-3uWC1pnmKeYp03Knmc_CcGH0ZdUjRE_TwsCMZHPY6n9nfsXroKLWHskGz-tgW8zOYgsoDATM2VcKZMF6BUpAq73ZvmuumjyGP1KN47FYpXY-jeFScAcR9PAFNtSJn9D8kbgmGg2UGA9GXMHwg_UrI8SoPGxMS9o2W65R1QjkwHKnTb505suufpet8oLzYGhv_lKm-IiGZLq5_Y-G2Gh6njVfp6stNxfzBDMeZBNciYV4URmMv9aiEfVdNnjaWPAxWnj1R1Qay9n3DYWaQtd7HKbeEdhnqK6WdyBOgGXRmK-1uutUiTrWHb1Asd0ApYJ0yecVHm9D3tRq0PhNOrzw9cptXiG3akftQ5GzFa2Dv6jZM-OA2TGW7JymEt630tycBasH9WyC8ltzpml320H_-7c2UHJCoRQGNxnpRWwnvWbFCfYzF_ZtODZiqrMwKHwTAj0Qf__GOYzgmrsy6eKCFYMKGRqz72ksHPzsApN5Tby7ybJwcNVzbOdIXeBrZ_7X0fcgwVfw7gyFi4hRi75RUKEGUzERH81t82lW3vzmXJF2IQSNgWKnhpWvO-1fM21VQE3Cb4Orl0PRYM

[20] D. J. Kornet and James W. McAllister. “The Composite Species Concept: A Rigorous Basis for Cladistic Practice.” In Current Themes in Theoretical  Biology Edited by T.A.C. Reydon and L. Hemerik. Pages 95-127.  Springer; Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 2005.

[21] Wilkins Science blogs 2006.

[22] A niche is a habitat or part of a habitat.

[23] H.G. Baker “The Ecospecies-A Prelude to Discussion.” Evolution Volume 6, (1951) Pages 61-68. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1558-5646.1952.tb02811.x

[24] E. O. Wiley “The Evolutionary Species Concept Reconsidered.” Systematic Biology Volume 27, No. 1 (1978) Pages 17-26. https://academic.oup.com/sysbio/article-abstract/27/1/17/1626671


[25] Ernst Mayr Animal Species and Evolution The Belknap Press of Harvard University: Cambridge, MA 1965.

[26] Ibid

[27] Stephen A. Karl and Brian W. Bowden. “Evolutionary Significant Units versus Geopolitical Taxonomy: Molecular Systematics of an Endangered Sea Turtle (Genus Chelonia).” Conservation Biology Volume 13, No 5. (1999) Pages 990-999. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/6060018/karl_1999_conservbiol.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1540778977&Signature=GrzDN9Y4Z6koyvH4B%2FcbRxVT7pQ%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DEvolutionary_significant_units_versus_ge.pdf

[28] Craig Moritz “Defining ‘Evolutionary Significant Units’ for conservation.” TREE Volume 9 No 10. (1994) Pages 373-375. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

[29] David A. Baum and Kerry L. Shaw. “Genealogical Perspectives on the Species Problem.” Monographs in Systematic Botany Volume 53 Pages 289-303. http://joelvelasco.net/teaching/systematics/BaumShaw95-Genealogicalspecies.pdf

[30] Chung-I Wu. “The genic view on the process of speciation.” Journal of Evolutionary Biology Volume 14 No. 6 (2001) Pages 851-865. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1420-9101.2001.00335.x

[31] Mohamed A. F. Noor. “Is the biological species concept showing age?” TRENDS in Ecology & Evolution Volume 17 No. 4 (2002) Pages 153-154. http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~gerstein/VEG/noor.pdf

[32] Robert J. Baker and Robert D. Bradley. “Speciation in mammals and the Genetic Species Concept.” Journal of Mammalogy Volume 87 No 4 (2006) Pages 643-662. https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article/87/4/643/962134

[33] James Mallet “A species definition for the Modern Synthesis.” TREE Volume 10, No 7. (1995) Pages 294-299. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6cbe/816fe69c9f8d1fb23f79023aadaffea2d883.pdf

[34] Rudolf Meier and Rainer Willmann “A Defense of the Hennigian Species Concept.” In Species Concepts and Phylogenetic Theory edited Quentin D. Wheeler and Rudolf Meier. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.), Pg 167. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rudolf_Meier/publication/263430037_A_critique_from_the_Hennigian_species_concept_perspective/links/0deec53ad4bfa920c0000000.pdf#page=175

[35] Joel D. Velasco. “The intermodal species concept: A response to “The tree, the network and the species’.” The Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society. Volume 93 (2008) Pages 865-869. https://watermark.silverchair.com/j.1095-8312.2007.00955.x.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAlUwggJRBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggJCMIICPgIBADCCAjcGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQMIP7QoUbo9d9iCO7OAgEQgIICCLNF03bV4JNbbUOahq6xBZz8911VfeODazEArlzGkZNe_2_BqOopnPK9PKA3lYU49Gir9BnztLmoFFGiP1-QlrSrxbydbeyD6sLVjmTZllnfdy9WO9EES5RF6lQn5KW3LqZKieOmWwrvDz9vusaEB5N9CgNT9z8UPXtawDYeW4Pf3T4_vK01UlSCmjUCYrivlPvdNkO-nikMUf_78H_HL2Ib_XCr-r3Tcx3hZt8RNZyj6n1cKWF91BPef8nbIiW7p7LSPPV1-CSiyyeFVe8TigfOnj6qwFsIAd12rS7g3lsFrbQEP7QCIRlr4U6QEtZ5fG87tnGuCIcdP5CGU8taOUXTTXD8qRuGE8tV84PbDTnHPMGUmTUCQcvILQXrkv0C0vimpO9b_06Z_AZ6VK0DjvPUoSn6B1r6QtlkMfbHpVgee4Ghb7z8waVoN5XN1kqpAf7Q070mzhWTq-4w6o_HlGvcQlJ_fIKgN-YyKwVWk5wvsBcKH8v92HJ88gA1cFqBg6Yh7EwuiW0wowyeijbi6jUmlATQ5INHKnQscXwe9vO44SkQVfyGYEEtcv41pZfsebwsfoxTLghog_t08BC_QWoQQ4y82CCkvA0z5jTD-HY2HQMF53iB2CorxBse7AWldXYGSDMyzZALr5Ziz0W_h50hrDyauXavzBb0G277kUUz_arb4–OTt8

[36] D.J. Kornet. “Permanent Splits as Speciation Events: A Formal Reconstruction of the Internodal Species Concept.” Journal of Theoretical Biology Volume 164 No. 4. (1993) Pages 407-435. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519383711641

[37] F. Pliejel and G. W. Rouse. “Least-inclusive taxonomic unit: a new taxonomic concept for biology.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B Volume 267 (2000) Pages 627-630. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1690571/pdf/10787169.pdf

[38] Ian Oliver and Andrew J. Beattie “Invertebrate Morphospecies as Surrogates for Species: A Case Study.” Conservation Biology Volume 10, No. 1 (1996) Pages 99-109. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1523-1739.1996.10010099.x

[39] Frank-Thorsten Krell “Parataxonomy vrs taxonomy in biodiversity studies – pitfalls and applicability of ‘morphospecies’ sorting.” Biodiversity and Conservation Volume 13. (2004).  Pages 795-812. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/36017907/91-BioCons2004.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1541126756&Signature=82fVbtsR6JaRKlVvZoZTQilFXXs%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DParataxonomy_vs._taxonomy_in_biodiversit.pdf

[40] Ernst Mayr. “The Species Concept: Semantics vrs Semantics.” Evolution Volume 3, No. 4 (1949) Pages 371-372. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1558-5646.1949.tb00038.x

[41] Mayr, 1965.

[42] Wilkins, 2006.

[43] M. Casiraghi,  A. Galimberti,  A. Sandionigi,  A. Bruno,  and M. Labra. “Life With or Without Names.” Evolutionary Biology Volume 43, No. 4 (2016) Pages 582-595. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11692-016-9384-5

[44] M.L. Hanninen and A. Siitonen. “Distribution of Aeromonas phenospecies and genospecies among strains isolated from water, foods or from human clinical samples.” Epidemiology and Infection Volume 115, No. 1 (1995). Pages 39-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2271571/pdf/epidinfect00052-0043.pdf

[45] Ernst Mayr “The Biological Species Concept” In Species Concepts and Phylogenetic Theory edited Quentin D. Wheeler and Rudolf Meier. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.), Pg 28

[46] Wilkins, 2006.

[47] Phillipe Clerc. “Species Concepts in the Genus Usnea (Lichenized Ascomycetes).” Lichenologist Volume 30 No. 4-5, (1998). Pages 321-340. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Philippe_Clerc/publication/232025710_Species_Concepts_in_the_Genus_Usnea_Lichenized_Ascomycetes/links/02bfe51261bf279afb000000/Species-Concepts-in-the-Genus-Usnea-Lichenized-Ascomycetes.pdf

[48]Coyne and Orr, 2004.

[49]James T. Staley. “Universal species concept: Pipe dream or a step towards unifying biology?” Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology Volume 36 (2009) Pages 1331-1336. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Staley2/publication/26836662_Universal_species_concept_Pipe_dream_or_a_step_toward_unifying_biology/links/0deec53c414bd66929000000/Universal-species-concept-Pipe-dream-or-a-step-toward-unifying-biology.pdf

[50] B. N. Singh. “Concepts of Species and Modes of Speciation.” Current Science Volume 103 No. 7. (2012) Pages 784-790. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6fd4/d46f3deb6139923ba64ce306687fe0542044.pdf

[51] Jean Lightner “Mammalian Ark Kinds.” Answers Research Journal Volume 5 (2012) Pages 151-204. https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/mammalian-ark-kinds/

[52] Baraminology is the study of the created kinds.

[53]Frank L. Marsh Variation and Fixity in Nature. Omaha: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1976.

[54] Coyne and Orr, 2004.

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