Bats Are Home-Run Flyers
You don’t just put wings on a naked mole rat and make it fly. Bats are designed to be aero-bat-ic champions.
A primer on bat flight in Current Biology by Anders Hedenström and L. Christoffer Johansson begins with list of amazing facts that defy evolution:
Bats are unique among extant flying animals, as they have compliant wings and an echolocation sensory system that distinguish them from birds and insects. Flying in the dark, guided by echolocation, has influenced the aerodynamics of bat flight perhaps more than previously realized and resulted in a characteristic flight that is now being revealed.
Yet these authors proceed to espouse evolution in spite of fossil evidence against it:
Bats evolved muscle-powered flight about 65 million years ago, alongside birds, pterosaurs (probably extinct when bats evolved) and insects. The oldest fossil bat dates 55 million years back and, hence, there is a 10 million year gap in the early evolution of bats where information about the initial adaptive radiation is still missing. The oldest well preserved bat fossils, Onychronycteris finneyi and Icanonycteris index, exhibit all of the features of modern bats, including elongated fingers to span out the wing surface and ear morphology suggesting that at least Icanonycteris was using echolocation.
This supports exactly what creationist Dr. Duane Gish used to emphasize in debates with evolutionists: “The first bat is 100% bat!” To believe bats evolved from non-flyers, Darwinians must imagine the emergence of elongated fingers, wing membranes, and the brain software to use them in complex flights at night, with another key innovation—echolocation—all within 10 million years. That’s a blink of an eye in assumed evolutionary time. On top of that, they have the same gaps in the fossil record for the emergence of flight in birds, insects and pterosaurs. Science is supposed to be about evidence.
The case against evolution becomes stronger when the superior flight characteristics of bats are examined in detail. Unlike birds and insects, possessing wings with dead surfaces (membranes and feathers), bats have living wings that inspire human designs:
Bats, on the other hand, have a wing constructed from live skin stretched by the elongated arm and fingers. The skin is 4–10 times thinner than expected, and the bones have a reduced mineralization, compared to other similar sized mammals, reducing the weight of the wing considerably. Skin is living tissue, packed with sensors, elastic fibers and in the case of bat wings also with specialized muscles (Figure 2A). The skin is anisotropic, with higher compliance (i.e. being permissive to load) parallel to the trailing edge, affecting how the skin deforms when subjected to aerodynamic forces, as reflected in strain measurements during flight. Intrinsic muscles in the wing membrane (Figure 2A), not connected to any bones, are thought to control the stiffness of the membrane and thereby the wing’s camber, the curvature of the wing profile. Recent studies have shown that these muscles are indeed active during specific phases of the wingbeat. Studies of artificial membranes with electrically controlled compliance have shown to be able to improve aerodynamic performance.
These living, adaptive wings give bats the ability to reshape their wings in specific ways during flight. They can dynamically control wing shape and the resultant lift achieved. Bats can lock the knuckles on the first finger bones, giving them a stiff leading edge. “The leading edge flap affects the curvature of the leading edge, which may be a way to control the leading edge vortices … that bats use to increase the force production of the wing at low speeds.”
Bats also have a tail membrane that is thicker than the wings. “When punctures do occur in the tail or wing membranes they have a tendency to heal rapidly,” the authors say.
When any animal flies, it needs to be able to lift the entire body weight. It needs thrust to counter drag, and it needs camber on the wings to provide an airfoil. In addition, it needs to control the vortices that tend to form and reduce lift. “As noted above, bats are able to control all of these factors by adjusting the shape and movement of the wings.” Not only that, they can fly slow as well as fast, and even hover. The authors provide some details of aeronautical problems that bats solve to enable their exceptional flights.
It’s not just having the right kind of wings: they also need sensory controls to operate them. The dynamic sense of touch provided by tiny hairs in the wing membranes allows “exquisite control of angle of attack, camber and wing twist.” Experiments show that “Removal of wing hairs cause bats to increase flight speed and it decreases their ability to execute turning maneuvers, suggesting the hairs are involved in the control of slow flight.”
Science Magazine agrees that the “sense of touch turns bats into acrobats.” The hairs grow on both sides of the two wings, giving bats four arrays of sensory data for precision control. Emily Conover writes,
Bats’ thin, flexible wings—a thumb and four fingers connected by webbing—stretch and reshape during flight, unlike those of birds and insects. Their agility in the air demands quick, precise wing movements and a constant adjustment of tiny muscles in the wing membrane. They also use their wings for other delicate tasks, like holding food and cradling young. To adjust their complex wings for the job at hand, they must integrate a variety of sensory feedback.
If anyone doubts the effectiveness of bat flight systems and sensory mechanisms, they should try to build a robot that can land on a cave ceiling in the dark.
Even though blind people can echolocate to a degree (Science Daily), bats take the skill to a whole new level (7/30/11). Flying rapidly, bats can navigate through closely-spaced prison bars blindfolded. With sound, they can avoid collisions in tight swarms and identify their prey by shape and texture, homing in on it while the insect is darting about. “To be able to echolocate efficiently you need ears. Bat ears are essentially parabolic shaped structures facing the air flowing over the bat as it is flying.” Large ears add drag, but the bats seem OK with that; if they didn’t work so well, robotics experts at Virginia Tech wouldn’t try so hard to imitate them. Science Daily reports,
The team’s sonar system incorporates two receiving channels and one emitting channel that are able to replicate some of the key motions in the bat’s ears and nose. For comparison, modern naval sonar arrays can have receivers that measure several meters across and many hundreds of separate receiving elements for detecting incoming signals.
Darwinians believe that bat flight emerged from some unknown land-dwelling ancestor. Take a look at the naked mole rat as a candidate. What follows is not to disparage this little rodent; Science Daily points out that they never seem to get cancer. Whatever gene they have that provides anti-cancer protection is of great interest to medical researchers right now. Nevertheless, what would it take to get a naked mole rat off the ground?
“You don’t partly fly,” Paul Nelson quips in Flight: The Genius of Birds. “Because flight requires not just having a pair of wings, but having your entire biology coordinated towards that function.” This is certainly true of bats and the other groups of powered flyers: pterosaurs, insects and birds.
In the Current Biology primer, Hedenström and Johansson dismiss the problem by saying, “the adaptive diversity among birds and bats bears witness of the strength contained in the process of adaptive tinkering.” But recall that in Darwinian theory, every mutation, every “tinkering” event by the Blind Watchmaker (a.k.a. chance), must have survival value. If a naked mole rat started on the path to batdom, would long fingers help? Not without membranes. Would membranes between the fingers help? Not while it’s trying to live underground. Give it instant wings in a huge leap of imagination; would that help? Not without muscles, nerves, bones and flight software to operate them. In fact, no matter which tinkering step might be imagined to contribute to powered flight down the road, each mutation has to increase fitness immediately or natural selection will eliminate it. Evolution has no foresight; it can’t see 10 million years, 10 years, or 10 microseconds into the future. The naked mole rat without the full complement of flight hardware and software will go extinct long before the parts arrive, even if beneficial mutations were not as rare as they actually are, and even if it had hundreds of millions of years to wait.
Creationists allow for diversification within an original bat “kind” whatever it was, or however many kinds there were initially. But blind, unguided processes of chance will never help a naked mole rat (or any other presumed ancestor) take off into the air. When it comes to creation evidences, bats score a home run.
Got evidence? There you have it. Look at the fossil record. Look at the aerodynamic requirements. Look at the coordinated systems. Look at the envious engineers trying to imitate them. Finally, look at the completed bat flying in the dark, negotiating obstacles, catching insects on the wing, and landing safely on a crowded cave roof, where it gives birth to babies who grow up instinctively knowing how to operate all that equipment. Evolutionary theory has nothing to offer theoretically, empirically, or logically to explain the origin of bats. In fact, they believe not only that four different kinds of animals “innovated” powered flight and echolocation by “convergent evolution” (1/26/10, 9/06/13, 11/04/13), but that different groups of bats “innovated” echolocation independently by convergent evolution. That’s just playing Jargonwocky. Creation by an intelligent designer explains everything in all categories of evidence. Why would anyone who cares about truth and logic possibly believe anything else?
Next time you see a bat flitting about outdoors, don’t be afraid of it. Stand in awe of it. Stand in awe of its Creator.