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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2006
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Claim CB200.1.1:

Evolutionists propose that irreducibly complex systems can arise by co-option of parts from other existing systems. But approximately thirty of the proteins needed for the bacterial flagellum are unique to it; closely similar proteins are not found in other living systems. Thus, there is apparently no place they could have been co-opted from.


Minnich, Scott A., 2003. Unlocking the Mystery of Life (video), Illusta Media.
Minnich, Scott A. and Stephen C. Meyer. 2004. Genetic analysis of coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits in pathogenic bacteria. Second International Conference on Design and Nature,


  1. The claim is simply false. Of the twenty proteins in the archetypal Salmonella bacterial flagellum which appear to be required in all bacterial flagella, only two have no known homologies, that is, are "unique". It is at least plausible that homologies for those will be discovered later. At least nine flagellar proteins are homologous to proteins of the Type-III secretion system (T3SS), suggesting the two evolved from a common ancestor. Regardless, the existence of many homologous proteins shows that the parts of the flagellum can function for purposes other than motility (Pallen and Matzke 2006).

  2. There is no such thing as "the" bacterial flagellum. There are thousands, perhaps millions, of varieties among different bacteria, not to mention other very different kinds of flagella on archaebacteria and eukaryotes. The Salmonella flagellum, for example, has 22 additional proteins which some other bacteria lack in their flagella. Do design proponents suggest that each was a separate creation, or did they evolve? (Pallen and Matzke 2006).


Matzke, Nick, 2006. Flagellum evolution in Nature Reviews Microbiology.


  1. Pallen, Mark J. and Nicholas J. Matzke. 2006. From The Origin of Species to the origin of bacterial flagella. Nature Reviews Microbiology, Sept. 5 (epub. ahead of print).

Further Reading:

Matzke, N. J. 2003. Evolution in (Brownian) space: A model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum.
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created 2006-9-9