Echolocation ‘evolved in the same way’
Published: 3 October 2013 (GMT+10)
Sonar was originally an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging. As the name suggests, it is a detection method using echoes of sound to detect objects and measure their distances and speeds. However, scientists were taken by surprise when they found that bats and dolphins use exactly the same process. Just like man-made systems, they have ingenious ways to avoid being deafened by their own echoes. Indeed, the living sonar systems are much better than man-made ones. Using the principle of analogy, much used by Darwin himself, one would think that the living sonar systems also had an ingenious engineer behind them.1
Non-evolution of echolocation
However, the prevailing dogma is that things made themselves by random mutation and natural selection over millions of years. Yet, there is no evidence from the fossils that sonar systems evolved. One evolutionist admitted that the bats which are the ‘earliest’ (according to evolutionary ‘dating’ methods) are already fully formed:
Hallmark features of these creatures include the elongated fingers that support the wing membranes and the extensive coiling of bony structures in the inner ears, a sign that they were capable of detecting the high-frequency chirps used in echolocation.2
Recently evolutionists led by Stephen Rossiter, a biologist at Queen Mary, University of London, have tried to trace evolution of echolocation systems in some of the genes involved in bats and dolphins.3 Their detailed “analysis revealed that 200 genes had independently changed in the same ways.”4
First, this is like trying to say that man-made sonars evolved by tracing changes in the individual components with no regard for how they are organized. Second, it is remarkable that so many genes ‘independently changed’ in the same way. Statistically, what are the chances or probability of this happening in the correct manner? Practically zero. It is just not feasible.
Note that if evolutionists thought that bats and dolphins shared a recent common ancestor, they would assert that the common features were homologies—attributable to descent from a common ancestor. However, this is not an option here, because evolutionists believe that bats and dolphins diverged much earlier. So the common features are called homoplasies—explainable not from a common ancestor but from ‘convergent evolution’ for a common function.
The ubiquity of homoplasy
However, such homoplasies are widespread, and this undercuts much of the appeal to homology as evidence for a common ancestor to begin with. That is, how do we know whether a supposed homology is not really a homoplasy? This is not just a hypothetical question. For example, for a long time, evolutionists claimed that whales evolved from mesonychids, an extinct group of land-dwelling carnivores, because of alleged homologies. However, because of molecular similarities, evolutionists now say that whales came from artiodactyls (even-toed hoofed animals, such as camels, cattle, pigs, deer, giraffes and hippopotamuses).5
Indeed, some geneticists recognize how this latest result undermines homological arguments for building trees of evolutionary descent (phylogenies). Genomicist Todd Castoe from the University of Texas, Arlington calls it “bittersweet”, as one report states:
Biologists building family trees are likely being misled into suggesting that some organisms are closely related because genes and proteins are similar due to convergence, and not because the organisms had a recent common ancestor. No family trees are entirely safe from these misleading effects, Castoe says. “And we currently have no way to deal with this.”6
Science should be about finding the correct explanation, not the materialistic explanation. And one indeed exists. The observed uniformity is consistent with a particular subset of intelligent design: the biotic message theory, as proposed by Walter ReMine. That is, the evidence from nature points to a single designer (the homologies), but with a pattern which thwarts evolutionary explanations (the homoplasies). That is, unlike evolution, biotic message theory not only explains homologies but also homoplasies and convergences.7
Furthermore, in most cultures around the world, such a pattern of commonality would bring honour to a Designer, and would also indicate the Designer’s authority over and mastery of His designs.8 Sonar systems are yet another example of an ingenious Design Engineer, which could only be the God of the Bible.
- See Sarfati, J., By Design, ch. 2, 2008. Return to text.
- Perkins, S., Learning to listen: How some vertebrates evolved biological sonar, Science News 167(20):314, 2005. Return to text.
- Parker, J. and six others, Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals, Nature, 4 September 2013 (Epub ahead of print) | doi:10.1038/nature12511. Return to text.
- Pennisi, E., Bats and dolphins evolved echolocation in same way, news.sciencemag.org, 4 September 2013. Return to text.
- Fossil Finds Show Whales Related to Early Pigs, Reuters, 19 September 2001. Return to text.
- Cited in Pennisi, Ref. 4. Return to text.
- ReMine, W.J., The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory, Saint Paul Science, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, 1993; see review: Batten, D., J. Creation 11(3):292–298, 1997; creation.com/biotic. Return to text.
- Holding, J.P., ‘Not to Be Used Again’: Homologous structures and the presumption of originality as a critical value, J. Creation 21(1):13–14, 2007; creation.com/original. Return to text.