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ID in my Daughter’s Science Class

I recently assisted my daughter with a most interesting project for her 8th grade science class. The assignment was to learn about a Biome, write a report on it, then design an animal to live in it.
The students were to provide a description of the characteristics of their animal which suited it to life in the Biome they selected, and make a model of the animal for display. My daughter selected arctic tundra for the Biome. We read up on it, she did the report, then the fun began.

She has a housecat, (felis-catus) named Chester of whom she is very fond. He seemed a good starting point. We designed several adaptations to Chester to enable him to thrive in the arctic tundra. First, and most obviously, we made him all white to blend into the snow. Then we regressed his legs to vestigial stumps and flattened him out dramatically so he could hug the ground and better avoid being picked off by predators, as well as stay low out of the wind. His species is therefore felis-flatus. (That’s “flatus” as in flat to the ground, rhymes with “catus” not the other meaning which my son already had fun with.)

For locomotion we gave his edges the ability to undulate, like a Manta ray’s. So he gets around by flapping along the ground. This action also helps him clear snow from the burrows of his prey. He doesn’t have to be fast as he can’t outrun predators anyway, and his own prey is small rodents that live in the ground. To extract them he positions himself over their burrows and runs his very long (heavily modified) tongue down the hole, wraps it around their little necks, and pulls them into his mouth.
When it’s very cold he can roll up into a tube to conserve heat, with his soft belly deep inside a cocoon of fluffy insulating fur.
My daughter thought he should be able to fight back if attacked, rather than just huddle up, and so added spikes to his tail, so he can whip it up and clobber anything that steps on him or tries to bite him.

She made a cute little model of Chester’s new relative to which, because of his method of locomotion, we gave the common name of “flap-cat.”

She received a 100% grade for this new species of cat.

I thought this was a great exercise in intelligent design. I made sure my daughter understood it that way too. What I’m not sure of is how the teacher understood it. The assignment sheet was out of the official science curriculum.

What this assignment was not was an exercise demonstrating gradual adaptation and selection. Future paleontologists who found fossils of felis-catus and felis-flatus could no doubt make up all sorts of stories about how one had gradually evolved into the other, despite the paucity of intermediate forms. The fact would remain, though, that our flap-cat was developed in one afternoon from my daughter’s housecat.
And her school had whole classrooms of students similarly intelligently designing animals. Beautiful.

Maybe there’s hope for science education after all.

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6 Responses to ID in my Daughter’s Science Class

  1. Great! This is the kind of ID education that we need to expose our children to. The materialists can’t explain why a cat with a spiked tail could exist, but design can!

    I’ll be talking to my daughter’s science teachers about this. Design an animal. What a great idea!

  2. Then we regressed his legs to vestigial stumps…

    …thus proving NDE. See the following transitional critter between felis-flatus and Chester:

    http://www.catbreedadvice.com/.....chkin.html

  3. That’s an interesting mutation for cats. But…it doesn’t “prove” NDE.

    Because only heterozygous munchkin cats survive to pass on the gene…. A litter with two munchkin parents may be all munchkin kittens, all normal kittens, all non-viable kittens with two copies of the munchkin gene, or any combination of the three.

    This mutation confers no selective advantage. Quite the opposite: the homozygous state is fatal.
    On average one quarter of the kittens born to two Munchkin parents will be non-viable. There would have to be a tremendous competitive advantage to short legs to overcome this.

    Our flap-cat has the legs functionally completely gone, out of the way, and we (imaginarily of course) engineered his DNA to grow him that way without any negative trade-offs.

    So, while interesting, these Munchkin cats are a dead-end, not a possible transitional form to felis-flatus.
    Nice try though.

  4. russ, “thus proving NDE.” I hope you are joking. Even if munchkin syndrome were viable, one mutation does not a theory prove.

  5. russ, “thus proving NDE.” I hope you are joking. Even if munchkin syndrome were viable, one mutation does not a theory prove.

    Yes, I was joking.

  6. Off-topic:

    Article on Wikipedia’s “control-by-the-few” structure in Slate:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2184487/?GT1=10935

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