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Creation 24(1):56, December 2001

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banana leaf

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Pliable plants


Many plants have an amazing ability to tolerate some rather harsh treatment.

For example, several species of tropical bats create tent-like shelters out of large living leaves. The bats bite the leaf in certain places to collapse the sides, thus creating a protected roost (photographed here from below) for themselves and their young.

As these ‘tents’ are made of living leaves, they last for extended periods, so the bats do not need to be constantly making new roosts. But how can the leaves remain healthy when much of their water supply has been cut off?

The more that scientists delve into the mysteries of life, the more sophistication and complexity is revealed.

Researchers1 studying the leaves of several plant species used by Costa Rican bats found that even when the leaf’s major water-conducting veins are severed by the bat’s architectural antics, so long as some conducting elements remain,2 the water supply is adequate to sustain the leaf.

Why should this be so? From a Biblical perspective, it makes complete sense that what God allocated as food for man and animals (Genesis 1:29–30) would be able to withstand being pruned, grazed, munched and crunched on a regular basis. And, as if to leave us in no doubt that a Master Designer was responsible (Romans 1:20), not only can plants capture and convert sunlight energy into fodder and fruit, but as a ‘by-product’ they provide us with breathable air at the same time!

© Unclesam/photoxpress banana leaf

But evolutionists attempt to explain things according to a speculative story which says everything came about by chance, and competition is the driving force—so any ‘service’ provided by one species to another must in some way be of benefit to itself. Thus, in the case of the ‘bat-tent’ example above, the researchers, trying to identify an ‘evolutionary advantage’ for the plant, suggest that the plant benefits because the collapsed leaf, weighed down by bats, is less vulnerable to damage from wind or heavy rain!

Such lame attempts to explain the world around us as ultim­ately the result of an accident fly in the face of ever-increasing evidence of the intricacy of living things. The more scientists delve into the mysteries of life, the more sophistication and complexity is revealed.3 This speaks of a Designer—the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth and all that is in them, who remains faithful forever to those who trust in Him. ’He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty’ (Psalm 91:1).

Posted on homepage: 20 March 2013

References and notes

  1. Lincoln, T., Greensleaves, Nature 410(6826):318, 2001, reporting on a paper by Cholewa E., Vonhof, M.J., Bouchard, S., Peterson, C.A., Fenton, B., The pathways of water movement in leaves modified into tents by bats, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 72(2):179–191, 2001. Return to text.
  2. The complexity of the leaf vein system is striking, described as having ‘an apparent hierarchy of some five conducting elements.’ Ref. 1. Return to text.
  3. For example, recent research has overturned the traditional scientific view that plant water-conducting tubes (xylem vessels), being composed of dead cells, function merely as pipes, passively supplying water to thirsty leaves. Instead, researchers have uncovered a (previously unsuspected) sophisticated water transport regulation system, able to change flow rates both rapidly (within seconds) and reversibly, and which frequently repairs breaks in its water column. Zwieniecki, M.A., Melcher, P.J. and Holbrook, N.M., Hydrogel control of xylem hydraulic resistance in plants, Science 291(5506):1059–1062, 2001. Return to text.

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