Before a long migration, certain birds shift from an insect diet to eating fruits such as berries. Researchers once thought that this added carbohydrate reserves as fuel for the journey. But a new study out of the University of Rhode Island suggests that the birds are interested in the fruits’ antioxidants, not their sugars.

Antioxidants are chemicals that are packed within richly colored fruit skins and are known to stabilize cellular processes. Based on research presented at the March 24th American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco, it appears that the birds fill up on berry antioxidants for the medicinal benefits they provide to tissues that will undergo stress during the upcoming flight.

But this implies that birds use preventative medicine by instinct, which would be difficult for evolution to explain. Evolution supposedly operates on physical traits, not non-physical instincts. David Bonter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology told Discovery News, “There must be some compounds in the fruit that serves [sic] as attractions.”1 Perhaps if the birds are responding to compounds, they wouldn’t be responding to an instinct for preventative medicine after all.

But even if such compounds were to be found, the birds’ abilities to detect them, recognize their significance in light of their impending migration, and take appropriate actions would equally defy an evolutionary explanation. Along with their programmed—yet instinctive—flight plans, such abilities point to deliberate design, and therefore to creation.

Months of observation of the birds’ eating behavior prior to migration also confirmed that the plants yielding the berries benefit from the bird’s inadvertent seed dispersal. Bonter told Discovery News that this interdependence “would appear to be something that has evolved jointly between the berry plants and the birds.”1….

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