Gene Simmon’s Competition: The Bat’s Tongue

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so.”  Moses, Genesis 1:24

“Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera…whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight.  By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums, and colugos, glide rather than fly, and can only glide for short distances.  Bats do not flap their forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread-out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane or patagium.  Bats represent about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with about 1,240 bat species divided into two suborders…Bats are important in eating insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides.” Bat, Wikipedia

 “KISS’ frontman Gene Simmons has some competition:  Ecuador’s long-tongued bat boasts a 3 1/2 –inch tongue half again as long as its body.

“The elusive bat shows off its tongue in first-time footage next week in the premier episode of a National Geographic Channel documentary, Untamed Americas.  People would need tongues about 9 feet long to match the bat’s proportions.  To accomplish this feat, the bat keeps its tongue stuffed down its throat, doubled up in its esophagus.

“’A pretty extreme adaptation, evolving a tongue longer than your own body’ says biologist Nathan Muchhala of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, one of the bat’s 2005 discoverers.  ‘Just amazing footage that we can now really see how it works.’

“Shown in the first episode of the nature documentary, the footage of the Andean bat ‘is very impressive, but so is the story it tells about evolution,’ says pollination biologist Justen Whittal of Santa Clara University in California.  Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, theorized in 1862 that creatures would evolve features such as long tongues (or the proboscis, for moths), to take nectar from long-stemmed flowers.  Darwin proposed the existence of a Madagascar moth years before its discovery.

“Research on the long-tongued bat since its discovery advances that centuries-old proposition, Whittal says.  Basically, the flowers grew longer so the bats would have to get their heads covered in pollen.

“In a series of experiments, Muchhala and colleagues artificially lengthened the tube of the Andean flower.  They showed that a flower just a bit longer than the bat’s tongue forced the critter to butt its head into the pollen-loaded rim of the flower, loading up the far-flying bat’s noggin with pollen to deposit on the next flower it visits.

“Unfortunately, the flower has a, well, skunky smell,’ says Muchhala, who traveled with the documentary makers to capture the bats in action in the Ecuadorean Andes. ‘Bees like sweet-smelling flowers; bats like awful ones.’”  Dan Vergano, USA TODAY, June 5, 2012, p. 5A

Editor’s Comment:  How long did it take the flower or the bat to “evolve” the length of the tube of the flower, or the tongue of the long-tongue bat?  Did they evolve such paraphernalia at the same time?  Or, how long did it take the flower to figure out that a longer stem would insist that the bat evolve a longer tongue in order to butt its head in the rim of the flower?  What amount of faith does it take to believe such a theory?  Should this theory be taught in the classroom as “settled” science?  Doesn’t it sound like our scientist is sounding a bit like a voice for intelligent design? By the way, Charles Darwin also said, “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick.”  I wonder why?

“Every plant in the world is a miracle and a mystery, with a thousand and one functions, characteristics and abilities that defy all explanation:  all life is like that.  Life itself is the most mysterious thing on this planet for it is the gift of GOD, the infinite Author of life.  Some forms of life deviate so from conventional types that they seem to defy the very laws of life.

“Some bacteria can live in hot springs at a temperature of 175F., while spores of other bacteria have survived after being exposed to the temperature of liquid air (-310 degrees).  Some flowers push their way up through snow and ice, while others lie dormant in desert sands for years, then carpet the desert valleys after a rain that may come but once in several years.

“Many deadly poisons (some of which are useful drugs) are extracted from delicate plants with beautiful flowers, such as aconite from monkshood.  Strychnine, opium, cocaine, digitalis and belladonna are but a few of the many others.

“Some plants die as soon as they have flowered, while some trees (the Joshua trees and the giant sequoias) live up to 3,000 years and more.

“The great water lily of the Amazon and Indonesia has leaf blades five feet in diameter, while some palms have leaves twenty feet long.  There are seaweeds that grow in the dim light of the ocean 450 feet below the surface.  This is quite an achievement, for the light is so dim at that great depth, that the normal process of photosynthesis is greatly retarded.

“There are several kinds of ‘epiphytes,’ or ‘air plants,’ that get their nourishment from the air rather than from the soil.  The staghorn fern is an example.

“One could try vainly for a thousand generations to ‘educate’ the roots of plants or trees adapted to get their food from the soil, to get their sustenance from the air only—and not succeed.  How is it then that some plants, the ‘epiphytes,’ HAVE mastered the secret?  The answer is, God in the beginning made them so.

“Who designed the 500 kinds of so-called ‘killer plants’ that trap, kill and eat insects?  We already have mentioned some of these, such as the famous ‘pitcher plant.’

“What could be more ingenious, complicated, designed for a purpose, and with apparent ‘intelligence,’ than the machinations of the sundew?”

“The sundew plant has about 200 tiny red filaments on the upper surface of each leaf.  Each filament is club-shaped at its free end and carries a refractile globlet of fluid that is a sticky substance from which it is impossible for an insect to free itself.

“Movement of wind, rain or dust, or falling bits of mud, and or leaves, or even small bits of sugar, placed on them by human hands, on the leaves of the sundew, cause the leaves and the filaments to re-act.  The filaments will secret an acid fluid, but there is no attempt whatever at ‘capturing’ the non-living objects, nor is there any attempt to digest it.  But let a small insect light on a sundew leaf, and the chemical composition of the secretion of the filament is a once changed into a digestive ferment and the process of appropriating the unfortunate insect as food begins.  Where did a lowly plant get such ‘intelligence’?” Fred John Meldau, Why We Believe in Creation and Not in Evolution, p. 127-129


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