Here are some fun animals and plants worth knowing about, not only for what they do, but for the pained expression they give Darwinians.
Limpet engineers. A limpet is a shelled creature related to snails that clings to rocks in tidepools. Researchers at Trinity College Dublin are calling them ‘marine repairmen’ and ‘biomechanical engineers’ and ‘construction workers of the seashore.’ How did they earn those titles?
Limpets frequently suffer damage at the apex of their conical shells, but rather than drying out due to dehydration or getting picked off like sitting ducks by dinner-hungry predators such as seagulls, the hard-working creatures quickly patch over small holes with new biological building material from within.
Incredibly, these repaired shells turned out to be just as strong as the originals when subjected to impacts from rocks.
The snails can’t overcome a problem called spalling, where multiple impacts cause material failure. But that problem may not have a solution, the press release says. “Spalling is evidently one problem that doesn’t have a perfect solution — whether you are a concrete foreman overseeing a building site or a limpet trying to speedily repair his or her home on the seashore.”
Venus flytrap chemists. The carnivorous plants we know and love have another trick up their sleeve: extracting energy from meat. Research at the University of Freiburg reveal that the plants do, indeed, need to supplement photosynthesis with insect prey. But to make it work, they have to do elaborate organic chemistry.
The scientists now assume that the process of ingestion and energy production in the Venus flytrap is more complex than thought: The carnivorous plant thus uses the energy it receives during photosynthesis to begin the digestive process and to access nutrients. In order to maintain this process, it produces additional energy by oxidizing amino acids that it extracts from its prey, thereby gaining access to yet another energy source.
It required 11 scientists to explain what this tender little carnivore does, in the journal New Phytologist.
Archer fish torpedos. We’ve written before about the amazing archer fish that needs to figure out index of refraction, velocity and fluid mechanics as it shoots bugs out of bushes above the water. Now, New Scientist says that the fish can also spit at prey underwater. Scientists at the University of Bayreuth figured out that the underwater jets can disturb the subsurface to find prey.
This time one of the researchers came up with a just-so story to rescue Darwin:
“Many other fish and invertebrates forage by disturbing the ground, and this is probably the ancestral condition,” says Alex Kacelnik of the University of Oxford. “Archerfish probably thus started with this ordinary skill then transitioned to targets probably at, or narrowly above, the surface and this created new selective pressures to focus and aim water jets at ever higher targets.”
“It’s a lovely example of the incremental and interactive process of evolution of complex traits through natural selection,” he says.
Lovely, indeed. Did Kacelnik really think this through? First, how did the spitting response “emerge” originally, with all the muscular, nervous and brain software required to aim a jet of water, and how did the fish associate that new composite trait with the possibility of finding prey? Did the first spitter learn this by thinking about it, or by trial and error? Neither, of course, because according to neo-Darwinism, it had to emerge by blind, random mutations. Second, if this is a law of nature, why is the archer fish unique? Wouldn’t all the other fish want to learn this trick? Third, how did the trick get into the gametes? If this mutation (or set of mutations) were so advantageous, it would have to originally emerge in the sex cells by accident, then all the competitors without it would have to die. But many fish survive just fine without being able to focus jets of water several meters into the air; it doesn’t seem vital. And unless the traits are dominant, the first fish with the mutation would have to mate with another having the mutation. Fourth, even if it were a vital function, how many fish had to die of starvation before the trait became fixed in the population? Fifth and last but not least, there is no such thing as “selective pressure.” Extinction is a perfectly good option in Darwin’s world of aimless, purposeless natural processes.
Starling formation flight. Similar questions about evolution plague an article from the University of Bristol, “Birds of a feather flock together to confuse potential predators.” The beautiful murmurations of half a million starlings are featured in Illustra Media’s documentary Flight: The Genius of Birds. A scientific explanation that merely states that starlings perform their aerobatics “to confuse potential predators” may be partly right, but it answers a far less interesting question. The scientists should be asking, “How did the hardware and software for split-second coordinated movement arise without intelligence?” These birds respond within milliseconds in close proximity in the air, but almost never collide. No functional trait can appear in Darwinian theory “for the purpose of” anything. Natural selection is blind. It cannot plan ahead. At its root, Darwinian theory amounts to “stuff happens.” The statement that they “flock together to confuse predators” only makes sense in design theory.
To avoid being inebriated, don’t swallow the Darwine. Ask hard questions. Darwinism makes sense only when you don’t think about it. The just-so stories are lame, because Darwinians answer the wrong questions with plausible-sounding but wrong answers inconsistent with their own theory. Learn to ask the right questions, and you will see Darwinians with a blank look on their faces, or they will get mad. For the sober, the wonders of nature arouse awe at intelligent design far beyond anything we know.