The Intelligent Design Of Animal Behaviors
|July 22, 2009||Posted by Robert Deyes under Intelligent Design|
Synopsis Of The First Chapter Of Nature’s IQ By Balazs Hornyanszky and Istvan Tasi
Ethology, the field of biology that attempts to explain the origins of animal behavioral patterns, has traditionally focused on two possible sources for such patterns- those that are inherited and those that are environmentally induced. For the former of these two, the Darwinian mechanism is that which is most commonly advanced. The underlying axiom barely needs repeating- inherited behaviors have been acquired through gradual changes as a result of environmental selective pressures. In his 1973 Nobel lecture entitled Analogy As A Source Of Knowledge, Konrad Lorenz made his case in favor of the link between Darwinian gradualism and animal behavior. And yet in Nature’s IQ, authors Balazs Hornyanszky and Istvan Tasi blast such a gradualistic inference and re-interpret the evidence in favor of the intelligent design alternative.
For many key anatomical features found in nature, a necessary behavioral pattern must be present if a desired function is to be fulfilled. The prominent bioluminescent bulb of the anglerfish for example must exhibit a slow waving motion if it is to lure its prey. As Hornyanszky and Tasi so vividly illustrate, any intermediate behavior on the way to becoming the fully-fledged comportment we see today, would have been inappropriate and insufficient for catching unsuspecting fry. In effect, anglerfish are endowed with an IQ that must have appeared at once and in parallel with its predatory anatomy if it were to provide any selective advantage.
We see the same principle playing out in the trap-like lures of other creatures such as the decoy scorpion fish, the Argentine Horned frog and the copper-head snake. Most prominent of all is the alligator snapping turtle which holds its mouth open for extended periods of time while waiting for a victim to catch sight of its worm-like wriggling tongue. The New Guinean dung spider is able not only to assume the appearance of bird droppings but also produce a characteristic ‘dropping’ smell as a way of enticing and trapping insects that normally feed on such a delectable meal. Hungry Egyptian vultures repeatedly throw stones at ostrich eggs as they try to access their next meal- a behavior that has been conclusively shown to be integral part of the vulture’s genetic constitution.
Hornyanszky and Tasi maintain that for all such cases, both the anatomical features and the accompanying behaviors must have arisen all at once if the observed functions were to have been achieved. In short they build on biochemist Michael Behe’s showcase volume Darwin’s Black Box by inferring that many such anatomical-behavioral functional units are irreducibly complex and thereby inaccessible to a progressive accumulation of random mutations.
Hornyanszky’s and Tasi’s case in favor of intelligent design is made all the more compelling through the wealth of examples that they draw on as well as the rich illustrations that accompany many of these examples. In all, the first chapter of Nature’s IQ provides a firm foundation in support of the Intelligent Design case and sets the tone for the chapters that follow.
For more information and to order Nature’s IQ go to http://www.arn.org/arnproducts/php/book_show_item.php?id=129