September 26, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Amazing Adaptations

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All biologists agree – creationists and evolutionists alike – that organisms show remarkable adaptations to their environment.  They differ only in their explanations for how they got that way.  Here are some remarkable examples of adaptation that will challenge any theory of origins.

Glowing millipedes:  There is only one genus of millipede that glows in the dark, and all three species live in southern California.  Millipedes of the genus Motyxia glow over the entire surface of their bodies, even though blind.  Since they cannot see one another, they must use their light to deter predators.  That’s what researchers from the University of Arizona determined, according to PhysOrg.  Their field experiments showed that the glowing millipedes were attacked less by rodents than the non-glowing ones.  These millipedes have another remarkable adaptation: they produce cyanide internally and somehow safely transport it to their skin as an additional deterrent.  According to the original paper in Current Biology, “Bioluminescence — the ability of organisms to emit light — has evolved about 40–50 times independently across the tree of life.” It can be found in plants and animals as diverse as deep-sea fish, fireflies, fungi, and beetles.

Bird nesting:  In Botswana, southern masked weaver birds build elaborate nests.  A new study from University of Edinburgh questions whether this behavior is innate.  Scientists found that birds can alter their techniques, and learn from one another and from experience.  “Researchers chose the colourful African bird because they build complex nests, which is potentially a sign of intelligence,” the article on PhysOrg said.  The males go all out with their hobby.  Some of the birds build dozens of nests in a season.

Parrot talk:  Who isn’t fascinated by a talking bird?  An article on the BBC News website discussed how parrots and other language-mimicking birds are able to talk.  “Unlike humans,” Megan Lane explained, “birds do not have vocal cords. Instead, they are thought to use the muscles and membranes in their throats – specifically the syrinx – to direct airflow to make tones and sounds.”  This ability has been studied in parrots (including cockatoos and parakeets), songbirds and hummingbirds – all “distantly related” branches of birds.

Extreme salt tolerance:  New species of microbes have been discovered living around springs in the Dead Sea, the saltiest body of water on Earth.  Exploration of the lake bottom is difficult, but researchers from the Max Planck Institute were able to capture samples, and found “phototrophs, sulfide oxidizers among many other organisms” mostly in the kingdom Archaea, according to Science Daily.

Farmer plant:  A plant that buries its own seeds has been discovered in Brazil.  According to the BBC News, the “genuflecting” plant Spigelia genuflexa, was discovered by an amateur botanist.  “After fruits are formed, the fruiting branches bend down, depositing the capsules of seeds on the ground and sometimes burying them in the soft cover of moss,” the article said.  It mentioned other plants that live on cliffs that are able to plant their seeds in cracks.

Air-conditioned ant cities:  Grass-cutting ants in Argentina build elaborate mounds where millions of ants live in colonies.  New research reported by the BBC News shows that they build porous turrets that ventilate the colonies, keeping the fungus they farm at the right temperature.  The structures are built for this purpose: “this study is the first to show that the ants carefully construct the turrets with highly porous walls that are perfect for this exact job.”  Termites also build air-condition mounds much larger in size.

Turtle eggs:  Some of the beaches on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic are hot.  Turtles that lay their eggs there, according to Science Daily, lay heat-proof eggs that help the young cope with the heat.  Scientists at the University of Exeter studied this adaptation.  Since most females return to the exact beach where they were born, the ones returning to hot beaches have better heat protection than those laying eggs on cooler beaches just six kilometers away.

A new book on evolution by James Shapiro discusses the remarkable adaptations in nature and finds the standard neo-Darwinian theory of evolution wanting.  In Evolution: A View from the 21st Century (just published by FT Press Science, and temporarily available for free to Amazon Kindle subscribers), he offers a startling new evolutionary notion: innate sentience.  “What Might a 21st Century Theory of Evolution Look Like?” he asked near the end of the book.  “Using the 21st Century scientific perspective, we can articulate a more interactive and information-based set of basic evolutionary principles without departing from the realm of established empirical observations:” he said, the first principle being: “Living cells and organisms are cognitive (sentient) entities that act and interact purposefully to ensure survival, growth, and proliferation.  They possess corresponding sensory, communication, information-processing, and decision making capabilities.

James Shapiro (University of Chicago) is very good for pointing out the serious flaws in origin-of-life theories and standard Darwinism, but his alternative is worse.  Standard neo-Darwinism puts the creative power in the environment, or in some personified “tinkerer” that modifies existing genetic code by chance.  Shapiro disposes with those notions, and criticizes randomness, finding it useless as an explanation for the remarkable adaptations in nature.  But his alternative is nothing more than a new scientific animism.  Oh, great!  Won’t that be fun to wrestle with, a throwback to medieval superstition.  Anything but intelligent design!  Evolution must triumph, even if overhauled from inside out, top to bottom, front to back.  The E word is sacred to today’s pagans.  To maintain his membership in the Darwin Party, Shapiro had to toss in a few obligatory castigations of creationism and intelligent design, but otherwise his book is revealing about the bankruptcy of modern evolutionary theory.  He speaks of information as fundamental, and proposes using the word engineering to describe the amazing adaptations in the living world.

Read Randy Guliuzza’s series on ICR called “Darwin’s Sacred Imposter” (part 1, part 2, part 3).  Guliuzza exposes a logical trap that evolutionists (and even some creationists) fall into: assuming natural selection creates adaptation.  It is illogical and irrational to ascribe creative powers to the environment, or to the beings themselves.  Blind millipedes cannot “act purposefully” as “cognitive (sentient) entities” to ensure their own survival, growth and proliferation.  Only the creation explanation puts the information and intelligence where it belongs – in the mind of the designing intelligence, who programmed adaptive capabilities into the organisms so that they could change with changing environments (notice that creationists do not believe that animals today are exactly the same as when first created; subsequent adaptation has occurred; it just doesn’t take millions of years).  When the alternative is a retreat back to animism, you know that creation is the real scientific perspective for the 21st century.

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