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Creation Vs. Evolution: Design in Animals

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Gold Watches and Rocking Chairs

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

“In its role as a living fossil from the time of prokaryote-to-eukaryote transition, Giardia is now retired” (Henze and Martin, 2003, 426:128, emp. added). It is not often that an icon of science is “retired,” so for those of you who have been storing up gold watches or wooden rocking chairs, now is the time to make your presentations.

Allow me to explain. For many decades, a unicellular creature known as Giardia intestinalis (which can be found in creek water, and can cause diarrhea when it infects the human intestine), has been touted as the intermediate between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Recall that eukaryotes are cells that possess a nucleus and have membrane-bound organelles. Prokaryotes, on the other hand, do not, and are considered much “simpler” and thus more ancient. As Bohdan J. Soltys noted: “…some scientists have called Giardia a ‘missing link’ in the evolution of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic cells” (n.d., emp. added). Thus, evolutionists have suggested that “simpler” prokaryotic cells were here first, and then evolved into “complex” eukaryotic cells, which possessed structures such as nuclei and mitochondria. Giardia was allegedly the key connector of these two cell types. It was supposed to be the creature that helped make the transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. As Henze and Martin noted:

In most textbook accounts, an ancient prokaryotic lineage supposedly evolved a nucleus, giving rise to a eukaryote, which then acquired mitochondria—the double-membrane-bounded powerhouses of eukaryotic cells. A cornerstone of this view has been the single-celled eukaryote Giardia intestinalis, which many consider to be a primitive intermediate, a “living fossil” from the time of the prokaryote-to-eukaryote transition, because it possesses a nucleus but lacks mitochondria. Or so we thought (426:127).

Indeed, that’s what many thought—and what many still teach. In an article titled, “A Homage to Giardia,” Kim Nasmyth observed: “To learn more about eukaryotes’ common ancestor, we need to know about protozoan organisms that descend from the earliest offshoots of the eukaryotic lineage. A good candidate is the archaezoan Giardia lamblia,…” (1996, 6:1042). Soltys described it this way: “Giardia lamblia is considered one of the deepest branching or most primitive eukaryotes in existence…” (n.d.).

However, a recent study has evolutionists scrambling for a new “missing link.” In the report documenting this latest discovery, Tovar and colleagues noted: “…here we demonstrate that Giardia contain mitochondrial remnant organelles (mitosomes) bounded by double membranes that function in iron-sulphur protein maturation. Our results indicate that Giardia is not primitively amitochondrial…” (2003, 426:172, parenthetical item in orig.). Henze and Martin noted: “For years, a unicellular creature called Giardia has occupied a special place in biology because it was thought to lack mitochondria. But it does have them—though tiny, they pack a surprising anaerobic punch” (p. 127). They lamented: “These findings mark a turning point for views of early eukaryotic and mitochondrial evolution: Giardia’s place as an intermediate stage in standard schemes of eukaryotic evolutionary history is no longer tenable” (p 127, emp. added). This admission comes “despite there having already been 30 years of research on Giardia’s subcellular structure” (Soltys, n.d.)!

Pick up any textbook that contains a description of Giardia, and a common feature you will find in all of those textbooks is the lack of mitochondria. As such, Giardia rose to fame as the “missing link” between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. But that distinction no longer is accurate. Giardia do possess tiny mitochondria that have an anaerobic function. So, do scientists therefore admit their mistake, make the corrections in textbooks, and give credence to the possibility that these one-celled organisms were designed? Do they realize their lack of evidence for eukaryotes evolving from prokaryotes? Read how Henze and Martin concluded their report:

We know that mitochondria arose as intracellular symbionts in the evolutionary past. But in what sort of host? That question still has biologists dumbfounded. In the most popular theories, Giardia is seen as a direct descendant of a hypothetical eukaryotic host lineage that existed before mitochondria did. But Tovar and colleagues’ findings show that Giardia cannot have descended directly from such a host, because Giardia has mitosomes (p. 128, emp. added).

Evolutionists “know” that it happened this way, and yet they are “dumbfounded” as to what creature might have provided this link. In other words, they hold such views in spite of the fact that the existing evidence does not support them! And we are supposed to accept this as “science’? I think not. One cannot help but wonder what other evolutionary icons will be retired in the future? Stay tuned. I suspect there are more to follow.


Henze, Katrin and William Martin (2003), “Essence of Mitochondria,” Nature, 426:127-128, November 13.

Nasmyth, Kim (1996), “A Homage to Giardia,” Current Biology, 6[9]:1042.

Soltys, Bohdan J. (no date), “Giardia lamblia: Cell Biology and Microscopy of One of the Most Primitive Eukaryotes,” [On-line], URL:

Tovar, Jorge, Gloria Leon-Avila, et al., (2003), “Mitochondrial Remnant Organelles of Giardia Function in Iron-Sulphur Protein Maturation,” Nature, 426:172-176, November 13.

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