December 5, 2013 | David F. Coppedge

Hummingbird Metabolism a "Marvel of Evolutionary Engineering"

Unlike humans, hummingbirds are equally good at extracting energy from fructose as from glucose.  They are marvels of evolutionary engineering.  That makes perfect evolutionary sense.

It’s uncanny how some reporters credit Darwin with engineering designs so good, we can’t duplicate them, let alone understand them.  Consider a press release from the University of Toronto about hummingbirds.  First, the marvels of engineering:

  • Flight: The Genius of BirdsHummingbird metabolism is a marvel of evolutionary engineering. These tiny birds can power all of their energetic hovering flight by burning the sugar contained in the floral nectar of their diet.
  • …they are equally adept at burning both glucose and fructose, which are the individual components of sugar; a unique trait other vertebrates cannot achieve.
  • “Hummingbirds have an optimal fuel-use strategy that powers their high-energy lifestyle, maximizes fat storage, and minimizes unnecessary weight gain all at the same time.
  • “What’s very surprising is that unlike mammals such as humans, who can’t rely on fructose to power much of their exercise metabolism, hummingbirds use it very well.
  • Hummingbirds require an incredible amount of energy to flap their wings 50 times or more per second in order to maintain hovering flight. In fact, if a hummingbird were the size of a human, it would consume energy at a rate more than 10 times that of an Olympic marathon runner. They are able to accomplish this by burning only the most recently ingested sugar in their muscles while avoiding the energetic tax of first converting sugar into fat.
  • Hummingbirds are able to move sugar from their blood to their muscles at very fast rates, but we don’t yet fully understand how they are able to do this.
  • …if a hummingbird were the size of an average person they would use sugar fast enough that they would need to drink more than one can of soda every minute eventhough it’s mostly made of high-fructose corn syrup.

Now, how the credit is given to evolution:

  • Hummingbird metabolism is a marvel of evolutionary engineering.
  • From an evolutionary perspective the findings make perfect sense, says [Ken] Welch. Whereas humans evolved over time on a complex diet, hummingbirds evolved on a diet rich in sugar.

It seems premature to attribute this high-efficiency, optimal design to unguided process of nature when scientists still don’t understand how the hummingbirds do it.  Saying it evolved doesn’t make it so.

There it is again: that silly oxymoron, “evolutionary sense.”  If it evolved, it makes no sense, because sense makes no sense in Darwin’s universe.  Making sense requires a moral judgment from outside a system.  A system may work, but it cannot make sense apart from a mind.

Then there is a second silly oxymoron, “evolutionary engineering.”  If it’s engineering, it’s not evolutionary, and if it’s evolutionary, it’s not engineering.  Engineering requires a mind, a plan, and the ability to organize parts for a whole.  Could an aimless, designless operation of chance bring together all the marvels in the first (engineering) list?

Silly Darwinists treat evolution like a magic wand that can do anything.  More appropriately for this article, evolution is like high fructose corn syrup that, instead of providing energy for scientific progress, turns to fat in the brains of scientists hooked on Darwin-brand Yoda Soda.  Let’s enjoy hummingbirds for the engineering marvels they are without dragging Darwin into it.  To clear your head, go watch Flight: The Genius of Birds.





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