Intense and prolonged ultraviolet or UV light can cause permanent damage to the retina of the eyes of most mammals and humans.  Fortunately, the lens and cornea have a built in protective mechanism that filters out most of the UV light, preventing it from damaging the retina.

Snow blindness is a condition caused by an excessive amount of UV light being absorbed by the lens and cornea of the eye over a period of time.  It results in the lens and cornea being burned, much like a sunburn.  The burned area becomes cloudy and a partial to total blindness occurs which in most instances is a temporary condition, although if too severe can lead to permanent damage of the eye.

.In the Arctic north, this has been a serious problem for man to overcome.  Snow can reflect up to 90% of the UV light that shines down on it.  Nowadays people who live in the Arctic regions wear protective sunglasses specially designed to block UV light.

But what about animals that live in these frigid regions?  How do they cope with the intense UV light?

Professor Glen Jeffery and a team from University College London have reported on a study they conducted on reindeer and their ability to see in the Arctic regions where UV light is especially problematic.  They discovered that reindeer can somehow see ultraviolet light without it damaging their eyes as Professor Jeffery said:

We discovered that reindeer can not only see ultraviolet light but they can also make sense of the image to find food and stay safe. Humans and almost all other mammals could never do this as our lenses just don’t let UV through into the eye.

During Arctic winters, the days are mostly dark with very little visible light to see by.  The light that does shine through is usually a bluish light along with UV.  In these harsh conditions, finding their favorite food, lichens, could be extremely difficult.  The long dark days also gives predators such as wolves, a chance to sneak up and prey on the reindeer.

The researches wanted to see how much of a difference it would make to be able to see UV light under the Arctic conditions.  Using cameras specially designed for UV light, they were able to see the advantages the reindeer had with their special vision.  Professor Jeffery explained:

When we used cameras that could pick up UV, we noticed that there are some very important things that absorb UV light and therefore appear black, contrasting strongly with the snow. This includes urine — a sign of predators or competitors; lichens — a major food source in winter; and fur, making predators such as wolves very easy to see despite being camouflaged to other animals that can’t see UV.

What still intrigues the team of researchers is trying to figure out why the UV light doesn’t damage the reindeer’s eyes as it does ours as Professor Jeffrey posited:

The question remains as to why the reindeer’s eyes don’t seem to be damaged by UV. Perhaps it’s not as bad for eyes as we first thought? Or maybe they have a unique way of protecting themselves, which we could learn from and perhaps develop new strategies to prevent or treat the damage the UV can cause to humans.

Findings such as this are leading other researchers to study animals that live in extreme conditions in an effort to glean from them their secrets of unique survival traits.  Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council explained it by saying:

We can learn a lot from studying the fundamental biology of animals and other organisms that live in extreme environments.

Understanding their cell and molecular biology, neuroscience, and other aspects of how they work can uncover the biological mechanism that meant they can cope with severe conditions. This knowledge can have an impact on animal welfare and has the potential to be taken forward to new developments that underpin human health and wellbeing.

One of the things that impressed me most about this article was that they never mentioned evolution or the ability of reindeer to see UV light as being an evolved trait.  The closest statement of any type was when the article read:

A BBSRC-funded team at UCL has published a paper May 12 in the Journal of Experimental Biology that shows that this remarkable visual ability is part of the reindeer’s unique adaptation to the extreme arctic environment where they live.

But note that they did not say the adaptation had anything to do with evolution and for that I highly commend them.

While some may argue that adaptation is evolution, I would counter that it has nothing to do with evolution and in fact does not fit into the foundational premise upon which the theory of evolution has been built.  The foundational presupposition of evolution is the belief that there has been a steady increase in new genetic information that results in new animal or plant types evolving.  In most cases, adaptation is the sorting out of genetic traits that allows an organism to survive in a particular environment.  This sorting out of traits generally leads to the loss of non-favorable traits, thus a loss of genetic information, not a gain.

If those organism that have become generationally adapted to a specific extreme environment are placed in a totally different type of environment, the vast majority, if not all, will perish because they no longer carry the genetic traits that will allow them to adapt to the changes.  This is not a friend to the evolutionary premise.

But it does fit into the biblical model of Creation.  At the beginning God created plants and animals with a great amount of genetic information to allow them to adapt to many different climates.  As populations grew and spread out into new habitats, each individual population would, over time, retain those traits that allowed them to adapt and survive and would eventually lose some or many of the more unfavorable traits.

In the case of the reindeer, they carried with them the genetic traits that allow them to see UV light without it damaging their eyes.  They also carried the traits for their specially designed hooves, fur and ability to withstand the freezing Arctic winters.  On the other hand, other members of the deer family moved into hotter climates and retained the traits for hooves designed for rocks and climbing, less dense coats and the ability to withstand intense desert summers and arid conditions.

Originally they were both part of the same created kind.  Centuries of adapting to different environments caused them to become different species with different traits.  Most likely, under normal conditions they can no longer interbreed and produce viable offspring.  All due to a steady loss of information, not a gain of information.

Reindeer and other animals that live in extreme conditions are excellent examples of God’s design features and the adaptive abilities He built into so many of His creatures.

Reference

Reindeer See a Weird and Wonderful World of Ultraviolet Light, Science Daily, May 29, 2011.

Ultimate Proof of Creation

Jason Lisle, Ph.D.

Its a bold title: The Ultimate Proof of Creation But is there such a thing? There are many books that contain seemingly powerful arguments for biblical creation. But is there an ultimate proof of creation? There is an argument for creation that is powerful, conclusive, and has no true rebuttal. As such, it is an irrefutable argument an ultimate proof of the Christian worldview biblical creation. Master the method outlined in the following chapters, and you will be able to defend Christianity against all opposition.

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