In Biology, Intelligent Designs that Amaze, Amuse, and Entertain

Alticini, An Uplifting Story, bottlenose dolphins, catapult, dandelions, Darwinism, dolphins, Evolution, fish stocks, flea beetle, flea beetles, Francis Collins, Illustra Media, infrared cameras, infrared radiation, Intelligent Design, International Society for Photonics and Optics, Keith Moorad, killer whales, leaf beetles, Lehigh University, Life Sciences, Michael Behe, National Institutes of Health, night vision goggles, origami, parachute, Pensoft, PNAS, toothed whales, U.S. Navy, Zookeys
A parade of amazing designs from the living world has passed through these pages over the years, and it shows no sign of stopping. Here are some entertaining examples from recent news. Jump Like a Flea, Beetle Flea beetles, or Alticini, are high-jump champions among the coleopterans (beetles) in the insect world. There are some 9,900 species of flea beetles, a “hyper-diverse group” that inhabits environments from deserts to rainforests all over the world. The Pensoft blog shows a picture of one, saying, “Exceptional catapulting jump mechanism in a tiny beetle could be applied in robotic limbs.”  The fascinating and highly efficient jumping mechanism in flea beetles is described in a new research article in the open-access journal Zookeys. Despite having been known since 1929, the explosive jump — which is also the reason behind the colloquial name of this…
Read More

How Butterflies “Evolve” by Design

beauty, butterflies, caterpillar, cortex (gene), Douglas Blackiston, Drosophila, Elena Casey, Evolution, foresight, Georgetown University, Heliconius, helicopter, hotspot gene, Illustra Media, Intelligent Design, larvae, Lepidopterans, light waves, Martha Weiss, Metamorphosis, Model T, Monarch butterflies, moths, New Scientist, odors, Paul Nelson, photonic crystals, pigmentation, PLOS ONE, Royal Society Biology Letters, South America, tobacco hornworm moths, University of Liverpool, wing patterns
Butterflies, those universally loved flying works of art, offer many reasons to celebrate design in nature.  They showcase aesthetic beauty beyond the requirements of survival (see “Beauty, Darwin and Design,” featuring Paul Nelson).  Their migrations show foresight over multiple generations.  The one-gram Monarch butterflies astonish biologists with their exceptional endurance to survive hardships while flying thousands of miles on paper-thin wings (see “2-Minute Wonder: A Monarch’s Journey“). Their navigation systems exhibit stunning accuracy to arrive at locations they have never seen. Their keen senses can find the right host plants from miles away; they can smell very faint pheromones for mating; and they can distinguish precise angles of sunlight for orientation and timing of migration.  Their wing scales, organized into “photonic crystals,” give precision control of light waves to create…
Read More

No Harm, No Foul — What If Darwinism Were Excised from Biology?

Adam C. Soloff, Amir Marcovitz, appendectomy, bacteria, bats, behavior, cephalectomy, Daphne Major island, Darwin Devolves, Darwin's Finches, Darwinism, Darwinspeak, dolphins, echolocation, Evolution, Galápagos Islands, Hippocratic Oath, homeostasis, Illustra Media, Immune System, introgressive hybridization, Jerry Coyne, Marcos Eberlin, Michael Behe, Michael T. Lotze, Peter and Rosemary Grant, pharynx, Philip Skell, phylogeny, PNAS, primum non nocere, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Richard Dawkins, sound generation, tonsillectomy, turtles, whales
Some biologists might shudder at the thought of eliminating Darwinism from their scientific work. A “Darwin-ectomy” sounds more painful than a tonsillectomy or appendectomy. To hard-core evolutionists, it might sound like a cephalectomy (removal of the head)! If Darwinism is as essential to biology as Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne argues, then removing evolutionary words and concepts should make research incomprehensible.  If, on the other hand, Darwinism is more of a “narrative gloss” applied to the conclusions after the scientific work is done, as the late Philip Skell observed, then biology would survive the operation just fine. It might even be healthier, slimmed down after disposing of unnecessary philosophical baggage. Here are some recent scientific papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) to use as test…
Read More