In the past, we’ve posted articles that dealt with the use of echolocation by bats, dolphins and even blind people. We’ve discussed how improbable it is for echolocation to have evolved because of so many different structures and features that all need to be in place at the same time in order for any of them to be functional. Echolocation is truly a feature designed by an infinitely wise Creator.
As amazing as echolocation is, a new study has discovered just how some bats fine tune their echolocation to not only locate prey, but how to distinguish the size of the prey. They also discovered that the bats have developed a way to test for toxicity of the prey without actually biting into it.
Dr Rachel Page and a team of researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama studied eight fringe-lipped bats, Trachops cirrhosis, on Barro Colorado Island, in Gatun Lake, Panama. Gatun Lake was created when the Gatun Dam was built across the Chagres River between 1907 and 1913. As the man-made lake filled up, it surrounded a pristine piece of rainforest that was named Barro Colorado Island. In 1923, the island was declared a nature reserve and its fauna and flora have been extensively studied ever since.
Fringe-lipped bats feed on a variety of frogs, some of which are highly toxic. Mistaking a toxic frog for a non-toxic frog could be a fatal mistake. Page and her team sought to find out how the bats distinguish between the toxic and non-toxic frogs.
They lured bats in by playing the recorded calls of non-toxic frogs that the bats are known to feed on. As the bats approached, they would present frogs of varying size and frogs that were both toxic and non-toxic and then observed the bats and their use of echolocation.
The team discovered that when the bats heard the calls, they quickly used their echolocation to locate the frog. Once the bat was closer to its prey, it used a different type of echolocation that was designed to identify the size and shape of the frog. When the team offered a large poisonous toad, the bats would veer off as they flew closer. When smaller prey was presented, the bats readily captured both toxic and non-toxic frogs.
Careful observation then followed the bats to see what they would do after capturing a toxic frog. They found that the bats had a way of chemically testing the frog to see if it was poisonous or edible without actually biting into the frog. In all cases when the frog was toxic, it was only a matter of seconds before the bats would drop them. If the frogs were edible, the bats flew off to enjoy their meal.
In every case, the bats used their general echolocation to find the prey, then they used a different form of echolocation to determine the size and shape of the prey as they drew near and once captured, they used a specialized chemical test to determine if it was toxic or edible.
Just the mechanism of echolocation is miraculous enough, but when you start to learn about how the bats use two different forms of echolocation and then add the chemical analysis, it completely defies all possibility of being a product of evolution. If the second form of echolocation had not evolved at the same time as the primary form, many bats would have died by attacking the poisonous larger toads. If their ability to test for toxicity had not evolved at the same time as the two forms of echolocation, a lot more bats would have died eating the smaller toxic frogs.
These bats are just one of hundreds of examples of specially designed features found in plants and animals. As a biologist, biblical creation of specially designed animals and plants is the only explanation that makes sense. I’m not forced to make up wild so-so stories to explain what I see in nature or read about in the scientific literature. When we start with the truth, explanations are easy and the only source of absolute truth that exists in the Bible, the Word of God, written and preserved for us to know Him and His creation.
For Bats: What Sounds Good Doesn’t Always Taste Good, Science Daily, May 21, 2012.
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.
Paperback, 150 pages