The Tibetan Snow Lotus, Saussurea laniceps, is highly prized for its use in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine for the treatment of headaches, high blood pressure, and various other ailments. Every year at flowering time, Himalayan locals climb above altitudes of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) to scour the rocky mountain slopes for it, harvesting the whole plant.
Increasingly locals have had to compete with other medicine-seekers, too, given the growing worldwide interest in alternative remedies. Tourists are also eager to souvenir rare plants from exotic locations.
Now because it’s the tallest plants that are harvested, being both easier to find and considered more potent, only the smaller plants are being left behind to produce seed. Therefore, only the smaller plants’ genes are making it through to the next generation. The result? Researchers have reported that the height of the snow lotus has nearly halved over the past century.2,3
This dramatic shrinking of the Tibetan Snow Lotus is being widely heralded as an ‘evolutionary change’.4 One agency has even ranked it as #2 in their “Seven signs of evolution in action”.5 In their preamble, they wrote: “British naturalist Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking 1859 book, The Origin of Species, proposed the theory that species evolve over time through the process of natural selection.” But the Tibetan Snow Lotus6 is most certainly not an example of ‘evolution in action’, as the observed change in the lotus population is not something that can ever have turned primordial ooze into plants and zoos. That’s because here, as always, natural selection7 can only remove existing genes; it cannot create new ones. And now that the Tibetan Snow Lotus population is losing the genes for taller plants (which likely set more seed than dwarf plants), its very existence is said to be under threat.8 All of this is very bad news for those who claim to see ‘evolution in action’, as the removal of genes by natural selection and extinction in no way explains how those genes arose in the first place. The Bible, however, explains exactly who we should thank for the snow lotus’s existence—and ours.9