January 6, 2016 | David F. Coppedge

Lizards that Leap Over Evolution

They may appear less evolved to Darwinians, but some lizards are world champions.

World’s Fastest Tongue: According to National Geographic, the chameleon sports the world’s fastest tongue. The “remarkable performance” of these “motor mouths” astonished the researchers who watched a chameleon nab an insect, using a high-speed camera shooting 3,000 frames per second. This sluggish-looking lizard has the highest acceleration and power of all the amniotes, a group that includes reptiles, birds and mammals.

Amazing FactsThe results showed that not only did the smaller chameleons perform just as well as their larger counterparts, but in many cases their tongues were actually faster and stronger.

For instance, the tongue of Rhampholeon spinosus, an endangered chameleon from Tanzania and the smallest in the experiment, produced a peak acceleration 264 times greater than the acceleration due to gravity. If it were a car, the chameleon’s tongue could accelerate from 0 to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour in 1/100th of a second.

Science Magazine shows a video of chameleons extending their tongues up to twice their body length. Scientists calculate the power output of the tongue at 14,000 watts per kilogram—the highest power output for any terrestrial vertebrate, including cheetahs and pronghorns. But does anyone really need the evolutionary gloss? Is the smaller guy more fit “because small chameleons have evolved larger tongues relative to their body size, handy since they also need to consume proportionally more food to survive”? Live Science quotes an evolutionist opining, “It’s an example of morphological evolution being driven by metabolic constraints.” Then why didn’t horned lizards and snakes get this ability? The evolutionist offered a just-so story without any evidence.

Learning Lizards: Monitor lizards called goannas in Australia have been trained not to eat poisonous cane toads, an invasive species that threatens their numbers. The BBC News reports, “the study suggests goannas have the ability to learn from experience and retain that knowledge over a long period of time.” They’re not as dumb as they look for primitive tetrapods newly evolved from the sea, as evolutionists would have it.

Gecko Tires: The gecko is well known as a biomimetic icon. What’s new in an article on Science Daily is a creative application of the amazing adhesive power of gecko toes: tires with an adjustable grip. “Imagine a new type of tyres whose structure has been designed to have greater adhesion on the road,” this article based on the European Physical Journal begins. Applying the “fakir” principle that allows a man to lie comfortably on a bed of nails, researchers relied on “a model specifically developed to study the contact between a smooth silicon sphere and textured silicon surfaces featuring a pattern of pillars–both in the micrometric range in terms of diameter and height.” This is similar to the effect of the hairs on the gecko’s feet that can either sit lightly on a surface or press down and create adherence using van der Waals forces. “Nature is full of examples of amazing adjustable adhesion power, like the feet of geckos, covered in multiple hairs of decreasing size.”

Intelligent design provided all the impetus to this story: the motivation to study these animals, the astonishment at what was found, and the application to human designs. Darwin, be gone.

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