In Are Ravens Smarter than Evolutionists? we discussed how evolutionary scientists were surprised to see non-ape animals such as ravens using gestures to communicate to each other. Their evolutionary blinders kept them from seeing how so many other animals used some form of body gesture in communication.
What I forgot to mention was the complex communication of honeybees that scientists have been studying for years. And the more they study honeybees, the more they realize just how complex their language is.
Thomas Seeley, a biologist at Cornell University led a team of researchers on a new study of honeybee language and discovered new and fascinating aspects of it.
It has long been known that honeybees can communicate the location of a food source by doing a dance of twists, turns and waggles in front of other bees. Each movement, turn and wag is understood by the other bees who are then able to fly directly to the food source no matter how far away it is.
Seeley and his team turned their focus in a different direction and wanted to learn more about how the bees communicate to each other in the selection of a new nest.
When honeybees outgrow their current nest, they send out a number of scouts to locate a new nest site. The scouts travel in different directions searching for what they believe to be the perfect location. Quite often, more than one scout returns to the hive to tell them they found the right spot. When more than one new nest location has been found, the rest of the bees have to make the decision as to which nest site is chosen and which isn’t. This was the subject of Seeley’s research.
For their research, they took a colony of bees to a treeless island off the coast of Maine. They erected two identical artificial nests that were the same distance from the hive. As the scout bees checked out the nests, the researchers captured and marked each bee so that they could observe what happened when they returned to the hive.
When a scout would locate a possible nest location, they would return to the other scouts and do a waggle dance to communicate its location, much like they would do for a food source. But Seeley and his team discovered that there was more to the decision making process than they originally expected.
More than one scout could be doing a waggle dance at the same time, but for different locations. By observing the tagged bees, they discovered that other scouts would periodically head butt the dancing bee. After so many head butts, the scout would stop dancing, decreasing its chance of having its nest site selected. Eventually, it would come down to the last bee still dancing that would persuade the others to choose its location for the new nest.
The head butting, defined as ‘stop signals’ by the research team, added a new layer of sophistication to the bee’s language or communications. Seeley believes that this process of excitation (waggle dancing) and inhibition (head butting) demonstrate a parallel to how our brains make decisions using neurons.
Another evolutionary scientist from Princeton University, Iain Couzin commented to Seeley’s study:
Other studies have suggested that there could be a close relationship between collective decision-making in a swarm of bees and the brain. But this [study] takes it to a new level by showing that a fundamental process that’s very important in human decision-making is similarly important to honeybee decision-making.
I have no clue as to how honeybee dancing and head butting demonstrate anything about the way our brains operate. The only possible way one could make such a connection is through their evolutionary beliefs that we evolved from insects in the first place, unless they feel that there is some kind of head butting process going on between the billions of neurons in your brain every time you go to make a decision. Perhaps that’s why evolution gives me such a headache.
Castro, Joseph, Head Butts & Waggle Dances: How Honeybees Make Decisions, Live Science, Dec. 9, 2011.
Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.
Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movementin the same vein as Dr Sarfatis comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.