August 23, 2022 | Jerry Bergman

Dinosaur Eyes and Darwinism: Evolution Is Blind to Needs

Evolutionists strive to explain traits even
when no good evolutionary reason exists for them

 

Evolution explains everything and, in the end, explains nothing.[1]

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

When discussing evolution, I find many people—including many Darwinists—do not understand how evolutionary theory is supposed to work. Consider this statement: “Large dinosaur predators, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, evolved different eye socket shapes to better deal with high bite forces.”[2] The Darwinian scientist who wrote that needed to explain bite forces required to consume prey. So to achieve this goal, he says that the dinosaur ‘evolved a new eye shape’ with a new socket design. How did that happen?

This is one of many examples that illustrate a common fallacy in evolutionary explanations. They think that a need somehow influences the origin of the solution. In reality, evolutionary theory teaches that mutations happen constantly. Darwinians believe that if one or a set of mutations produces a survival advantage it could be utilized by natural selection. Then, under the best circumstances, the advantage will likely be passed on to the animal’s offspring. But the need cannot supply the mutations to solve the need; they are random, unguided and unplanned.

Here is another example which illustrates even better the “need-energizes-a-evolution-to-meet-that-need” fallacy: “humans needed to run faster to escape predators which, in warm climates, caused overheating of the body. Consequently, in order to run faster in hot climates, humans evolved high-density, specially-designed sweat glands.” Horses, monkeys, some apes, and hippos all have sweat glands, but the human design is unique:

Humans have a uniquely high density of sweat glands embedded in their skin—10 times the density of chimpanzees and macaques. Now, researchers at Penn Medicine have discovered how this distinctive, hyper-cooling trait evolved in the human genome.[3]

“It evolved,” the story goes, because it was needed. Humans needed to evolve larger brains to better cope with our environment, they say, and so evolution obliged that need with a tailored solution: humans evolved high-density sweat glands to provide more efficient cooling. This allowed our brains to grow larger. And furthermore (as the story continues), when humans gradually adjusted from going on all fours to bipedal locomotion, overheating became a serious problem. So to solve that problem, evolution removed most of their body hair.[4] And that explains why we humans are now are called naked apes.[5] Is this a valid understanding of Darwinian evolution?

Dinosaurs Needed Smaller Eye Sockets to Eat

T. rex skull, from a graphic at Hobby Lobby.

New research was done by University of Birmingham Paleobiology professor, Dr. Stephan Lautenschlager.[6] He analyzed the eye socket shape of almost 500 different dinosaurs and related species. His team, despite news reports, did not find that large dinosaur predators evolved different eye-socket shapes to better deal with high-bite forces. What they found in many animals—including in most dinosaurs—was that the eye-socket design is a circular hole in the skull housing the eyeball. The eye sockets in large carnivores, by contrast, have a smaller elliptical or keyhole shape. All of the large carnivorous dinosaurs with skull lengths of one cm or more had either elliptical or keyhole-shaped eye sockets, Lautenschlager found. He and his colleagues used computer simulations and stress-analysis in an attempt to determine the reason for the elliptical or keyhole-shaped eye socket design.

The Results of the Lautenschlager Study

The computer simulations seemed to indicate that skulls utilizing the circular eye-socket design were more prone to high stresses while biting. Lautenschlager’s models also indicated that stresses were considerably reduced if the circular eye socket design was replaced with other eye socket shapes. He concluded that dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus rex, solved the problem of high bite forces without compromising their skull stability by “evolving” smaller eyes that required a smaller eye socket opening. The hole was smaller and therefore the skull support was greater.

The team also investigated whether eye size had increased at the same rate as skull length in the larger skulls. If this was the case, the T rex eye would have been around 30 cm in diameter and weighed nearly 20 kg instead of the actual 13 cm diameter and 2 kg weight.[7] But would this have made a difference to the animal’s survival? It could be argued that a larger eye would have have improved the quality of vision in the larger dinosaurs. If this opposite result was found, evolutionists could have explained that, too: they could claim that larger eyes provided better vision, thus the eye “evolved” for that advantage.

Another example showing the many holes in the skull and their function. From teachersnetwork.org.

Design in Eye Socket Shapes

Even a cursory analysis of dinosaur skulls illustrates the fact that the eye-socket hole can weaken the strength of the skull. Thus a smaller eye will logically weaken the skull less. But dinosaurs had numerous large holes in their skull (see illustrations). Although much was said about evolution in the article, the analysis of the large skull collection evaluating the two eye designs showed no evidence of morphing from the larger circular eye into the smaller slit design. All of the eyes examined in the fairly large sample of almost 500 different dinosaurs studied were either circular or elliptical. None were in between these two designs as one would expect from evolutionary gradualism. The data support the creation model – not the evolution model.

Other Problems with the Results

The first problem with the conclusions of the study was that several of the smaller dinosaurs had elliptical or keyhole-shaped eye sockets. This indicates that there may be another reason for the elliptical design. Another problem is that a typical dinosaur skull has over a dozen openings, many comparatively large (see illustrations). Why would evolution reduce the size of the eye socket hole instead of some of the other holes? The openings in the skull serve several purposes including, in T. rex, of reducing the weight of the huge skull and making room for the elaborate network of sensory organs, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves in the head.[8]

Note the large holes in the skulls used in the study. Stephan Lautenschlager, 2022. Functional and ecomorphological evolution of orbit shape in Mesozoic archosaurs is driven by body size and diet. Communications Biology 5 (1); DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03706-0, p. 4.

Furthermore, while the eye design may cause more stress to be on the skull when the animal is chomping on a meal, this factor alone may have had little practical significance for the animal. If the team had demonstrated that a skull with the larger eye design was more likely to break, that might have supported a need for a redesign. The report, though, did not indicate that breakage was a risk. The concern was that “A reduction in relative orbit size generally also means a reduction in relative eye size.” Thus it would seem that the smaller eye size would be a clear disadvantage.[9]

It appears that the scientists found a variation and then went looking for an evolutionary explanation for it. In the end, though, we are left with a trait variation that, as of yet, has no known clear advantage that can presently be determined.

Summary

Their explanation illustrates Popper’s criticism of many science claims: “A theory that explains everything, explains nothing.” This team could have used the same data to come to opposite conclusions. They were blind to problems in their preferred story which was not even consistent with evolutionary theory. Natural selection is not a servant to bring solutions to every need.

Evolutionism clouds thinking and distorts reality. To do better science, researchers should remove the Darwin glasses first.

References

[1] Based on the words of science philosopher Karl Popper (1902-1994) who wrote, “A theory that explains everything, explains nothing.” https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/888934-a-theory-that-explains-everything-explains-nothing.

[2] University of Birmingham. “All the better to better eat you with: Dinosaurs evolved different eye socket shapes to allow stronger bites.” Phys.org. https://scitechdaily.com/large-dinosaur-predators-such-as-t-rex-evolved-different-eye-socket-shapes-to-allow-stronger-bites/, 2022.

[3] University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The chilliest ape: How humans evolved a super high cooling capacity, https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2021/april/the-chillest-ape-how-humans-evolved-a-super-high-cooling-capacity, 2021. Emphasis in original.

[4] Connor, Steve, Why humans lost their body hair: To stop their brains from overheating as we evolved. The Independent (UK), 17 February 2013.

[5] Morris, Desmond, The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s Study of the Human Animal, Vintage Books, London, UK, 2005; Morris, Desmond, The Naked Woman: A Study of the Female Body, Thomas Dunne Books, New York, NY, 2004.

[6] Stephan Lautenschlager, Functional and ecomorphological evolution of orbit shape in Mesozoic archosaurs is driven by body size and diet. Communications Biology 5(1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03706-0, 2022.

[7] Lautenschlager, 2022.

[8] Prothero, Donald, The Story of Life in 25 Fossils: Tales of Intrepid Fossil Hunters and the Wonders of Evolution, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 2015, p. 204.

[9] Lautenschlager, 2022, p. 5.


Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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Comments

  • tjguy says:

    Assuming the authors are correct about their hypothesis concerning the benefit of having smaller ellyptical eyes – a big assumption – this becomes another example of how Darwinians take the good design of the Creator, find out the reasons for the design, and then assume that the organism evolved in this particular way because of the rationale for the design. But that’s cheating, as was pointed out in the article.

    Nothing ever evolved “to do something”. It just evolves and there is no way of knowing how it will evolve or why it evolved the way it did. It just did. It’s all chance. But saying it evolved for a particular purpose makes it easier to stomach I guess. It sounds more rational, even though it is not.

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