Overcoming Obstacles to Evolution Education

Evolution: Education and Outreach

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 505-508

First online:

Misconceptions About the Evolution of Complexity

  • Andrew J. PettoAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin
  • , Louise S. MeadAffiliated withNational Center for Science Education Email author 

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Despite data and theory from comparative anatomy, embryology, molecular biology, genomics, and evolutionary developmental biology, antievolutionists continue to present the eye as an example of a structure too complex to have evolved. They stress what we have yet to explain about the development and evolution of eyes and present incomplete information as evidence that evolution is a “theory in crisis.” An examination of the evidence, however, particularly evidence that has accumulated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, refutes antievolutionists’ claims. The distribution of eyes in extant organisms, combined with what we now know about the control of eye development across diverse groups of organisms, provides significant evidence for the evolution of all major components of the eye, from molecular to morphological, and provides an excellent test of predictions based on common ancestry.


Evolution of complexity Vertebrate eye Misconceptions Intelligent design