Evolution Intelligent Design

Deaf moths frustrate bats by absorbing their sonar calls

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Deaf moths evolved noise-cancelling scales to evade prey
A particularly fluffy moth species (Periphoba arcaei) displaying highly elongated thorax scales which act as a type of acoustic camouflage against bats. Credit: Thomas R. Neil

Thus returning little information to the hungry bat:

Bats hunt at night using echolocation. The technique, which is also known as biological sonar, first evolved around 65 million years ago and enables bats to search for and find prey putting huge predation pressure on nocturnal insects. One defence that many nocturnal insects evolved is the ability to hear the ultrasonic calls of bats, which allows them to actively evade approaching bats.

Many moth species, however, cannot hear. The team of researchers from the University of Bristol wanted to investigate the alternative defences against bats that some species of deaf moths might have evolved.

Using scanning electron microscopy, the team from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences discovered that the thorax scales of the moths Antherina suraka and Callosamia promethea looked structurally similar to fibres that are used as noise insulation, so wanted to explore whether the thorax scales of moths might be acting in some way to absorb the ultrasonic clicks of bats and dampen the echoes returning to the bat, offering the moths a type of acoustic camouflage.

The team measured that the scales on the body of a moth absorb as much as 85 per cent of the incoming sound energy and that the scales can reduce the distance a bat would be able to detect a moth by almost 25 per cent, potentially offering the moth a significant increase in its survival chances.

Dr. Thomas Neil, Research Associate from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences and lead author, said: “We were amazed to see that these extraordinary insects were able to achieve the same levels of sound absorption as commercially available technical sound absorbers, whilst at the same time being much thinner and lighter.

University of Bristol, “Deaf moths evolved noise-cancelling scales to evade predators” at Phys.org

Schoolbook evolution stories would tell us that the moths evolved that ruse as a random mutation acted on by natural selection—as if it were some kind of a lucky number they might have come up with in 65 million years. Not so fast. It’s a hitherto unknown system that will need a considerably more detailed explanation than that. Evoking “natural selection” as a mantra doesn’t work like it used to, back when we knew so much less.

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham who writes, “Got to love how ‘evolution’ can out-engineer our best engineers time after time. 🙂 ” Presumably, that’s the advantage of mindlessness. It comes up with the sharpest ideas.

40 Replies to “Deaf moths frustrate bats by absorbing their sonar calls

  1. 1
    Ed George says:

    Schoolbook evolution stories would tell us that the bats evolved that ruse as a random mutation acted on by natural selection

    I assume that you are referring to the moth, not the bat. Because echolocation can’t be considered a “ruse”. But the idea that scales that are more “stealthy” being more likely to be passed on to offspring isn’t exactly a leap of faith.

  2. 2
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    A supreme being sits around designing bats, then designing moths to frustrate the bats.

    You don’t have a very high regard for supreme beings, do you?

  3. 3
    Eugene says:

    The supreme being’s children are designing bats and moths at school as homework. The best student’s project is then compiled into a genome and is allowed and introduced into our (zoo) world.

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    I don’ know, Pater. If you’re a supreme being you’ve got to fill your time somehow.

  5. 5
    Truthfreedom says:

    @2 Pater Kimbridge

    A supreme being sits around designing bats, then designing moths to frustrate the bats.
    You don’t have a very high regard for supreme beings, do you?

    And
    @4 Bob O’H

    I don’ know, Pater. If you’re a supreme being you’ve got to fill your time somehow.

    Atheists, condemned by their goddess to be forever unhappy.
    https://youtu.be/kv6HkipQcfA

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Could someone PLEASE teach “ED George” how to read?

    I assume that you are referring to the moth, not the bat.

    No, the bat, “Ed”. There isn’t any evidence that natural selection could produce the bat (or the moth, for that matter)

    Because echolocation can’t be considered a “ruse”

    The ruse is saying that it evolved via natural selection.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    A supreme being sits around designing bats, then designing moths to frustrate the bats.

    Nice strawman. Is that the best you have? Really?

  8. 8
    News says:

    Ed George at 1. Thanks for pointing that out. Correction made. Yes, the deaf moths evolved the ruse that thwarts the bats’ sonar.

  9. 9
    Truthfreedom says:

    @2 Pater Kimbridge

    A supreme being sits around…

    In a ‘supreme’ armchair?

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Ed George at 1. Thanks for pointing that out. Correction made. Yes, the deaf moths evolved the ruse that thwarts the bats’ sonar.

    I hate the taste of crow. Apologies to “Ed George”.

  11. 11
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @Truthfreedom #9

    If you were made in his image, then, yeah, he would need to sit his big butt somewhere.

  12. 12
    hnorman42 says:

    News @ 8
    It can be confusing. The bat is actually the selecting agent — if indeed it is an act of selection that’s producing the acoustic camouflage.

  13. 13
    Seversky says:

    A Supreme Being sitting around in a Supreme Armchair doing what – playing Supreme Video games involving the likes of us? So our Supreme Purpose is to provide Supreme Entertainment for all eternity?

  14. 14
    groovamos says:

    seversky So our Supreme Purpose is to provide Supreme Entertainment for all eternity?

    Seversky could entertain himself by telling his mom she means nothing to him. You know, that meaningless existence and all. I’m sure some real life drama would ensue, popcorn optional.

  15. 15
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @Groovamos #4

    There are plenty of local contexts in which life has meaning, including one’s family.
    The strawman of atheism = meaningless existence holds no water.
    Some people seem to think there is a universal context, but I have seen no convincing evidence for one.
    The secret to contentment is focusing on contexts where your life has meaning.

  16. 16
    Ed George says:

    PK, I agree. Any time I hear someone say that life has no meaning without God, I feel sorry for them.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    EG (& attn PK], subjective meaning is not the fundamental sense being raised, there is the huge issue that on evolutionary materialist scientism and fellow traveller views, mindedness, rationality, conscience guided responsibility, meaningfulness and much more are delusions that somehow emerge from blindly created and programmed — those are already huge issues that make this dubious — GIGO limited computational substrates. In short, you need a credible account for responsible rational freedom on such presuppositions, on pain of grand delusion. Yes, the world roots issues lurk and are not going away, you don’t get the option of borrowing underpinnings from other views and then undercutting same. If you doubt the force of these and similar questions, ponder the challenges faced by existentialism in past decades. You don’t get meaningfulness out of blind chance and mechanical necessity on the cheap. Not when grand delusion is the 800 lb gorilla in the middle of the room. KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: FWIW, Wiki summarises Frankl, a place we may begin from to set the matter of meaning vs absurdity, nihilism etc in context:

    Frankl identifies three psychological reactions experienced by all inmates to one degree or another: (1) shock during the initial admission phase to the camp, (2) apathy after becoming accustomed to camp existence, in which the inmate values only that which helps himself and his friends survive, and (3) reactions of depersonalization, moral deformity, bitterness, and disillusionment if he survives and is liberated.[5]

    Frankl concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. In a group therapy session during a mass fast inflicted on the camp’s inmates trying to protect an anonymous fellow inmate from fatal retribution by authorities, Frankl offered the thought that for everyone in a dire condition there is someone looking down, a friend, family member, or even God, who would expect not to be disappointed. Frankl concludes from his experience that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.

    Frankl also concludes that there are only two races of men, decent men and indecent. No society is free of either of them, and thus there were “decent” Nazi guards and “indecent” prisoners, most notably the kapo who would torture and abuse their fellow prisoners for personal gain.

    His concluding passage in Part One describes the psychological reaction of the inmates to their liberation, which he separates into three stages. The first is depersonalization—a period of readjustment, in which a prisoner gradually returns to the world. Initially, the liberated prisoners are so numb that they are unable to understand what freedom means, or to emotionally respond to it. Part of them believes that it is an illusion or a dream that will be taken away from them. In their first foray outside their former prison, the prisoners realized that they could not comprehend pleasure. Flowers and the reality of the freedom they had dreamed about for years were all surreal, unable to be grasped in their depersonalization.

    The body is the first element to break out of this stage, responding by big appetites of eating and wanting more sleeping. Only after the partial replenishing of the body is the mind finally able to respond, as “feeling suddenly broke through the strange fetters which had restrained it” (111[clarification needed]).

    This begins the second stage, in which there is a danger of deformation. As the intense pressure on the mind is released, mental health can be endangered. Frankl uses the analogy of a diver suddenly released from his pressure chamber. He recounts the story of a friend who became immediately obsessed with dispensing the same violence in judgment of his abusers that they had inflicted on him.

    Upon returning home, the prisoners had to struggle with two fundamental experiences which could also damage their mental health: bitterness and disillusionment. The last stage is bitterness at the lack of responsiveness of the world outside—a “superficiality and lack of feeling…so disgusting that one finally felt like creeping into a hole and neither hearing nor seeing human beings any more” (113). Worse was disillusionment, which was the discovery that suffering does not end, that the longed-for happiness will not come. This was the experience of those who—like Frankl—returned home to discover that no one awaited them. The hope that had sustained them throughout their time in the concentration camp was now gone. Frankl cites this experience as the most difficult to overcome.

    As time passed, however, the prisoner’s experience in a concentration camp finally became nothing but a remembered nightmare. What is more, he comes to believe that he has nothing left to fear any more, “except his God” (115).

    At the root of this are themes sounded in Ecclesiastes 3,000 years ago, from a very different set of circumstances that show that even for a king in a golden age, wealth, pleasure, peace, prosperity etc were not enough. As he begins, he emphasises the pointlessness of wheel-spinning circularity “under the Sun”:

    Eccl 1: 1 The words of the Preacher,1 the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
    2 Vanity2 of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
    3 What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
    4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever . . .

    Here is Solomon’s telling conclusion, after exploring many dead ends:

    Eccl 12: 1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along,1 and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity2 of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
    Fear God and Keep His Commandments
    9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
    11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
    13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.3 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with4 every secret thing, whether good or evil.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    “Ed George”:

    Any time I hear someone say that life has no meaning without God, I feel sorry for them.

    That’s only because you are too dense to understand what that means.

  20. 20
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    There are plenty of local contexts in which life has meaning, including one’s family.

    Small minds think small.

    The strawman of atheism = meaningless existence holds no water.

    Atheism has nothing to explain life’s existence.

    Some people seem to think there is a universal context, but I have seen no convincing evidence for one.

    That’s because your personal bias is getting in the way. You don’t seem to be able to assess the evidence. And you definitely don’t have anything to explain it.

    The secret to contentment is focusing on contexts where your life has meaning.

    Small minds think small.

  21. 21
    Truthfreedom says:

    @20 ET:

    Small minds think small.

    So true. Eating, sleeping, f***ing (not reproducing) and c**pping + some random imagined ‘meaning’ to not commit suicide is what darwinism/ materialism has to offer humanity.

  22. 22
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    It’s the small minds that can only find meaning when spoon-fed eleventh-century mythology.

  23. 23
    Truthfreedom says:

    @23 Pater Kimbridge

    …can only find meaning when spoon-fed eleventh-century mythology.

    Eleventh century?

    Speaking of spoon-fed; have you yet solved the materialist dilemma?:

    “Empirical verification presupposes epistemological realism —meaning that through sensation we know directly the exterior physical world around us. Natural science proclaims that it discovers the nature of the real physical cosmos, external to our brains or subjective selves. Yet, when we trace the optics and physiology of the sense of sight, we find ourselves entrapped in epistemological idealism — meaning that we do not know external reality, but rather merely some change within our brains that we hope to be an accurate representation of the external world”.
    Dr. Dennis Bonnette
    https://strangenotions.com/naturalisms-epistemological-nightmare/

    Also known as materialism’s epistemological blunder.

  24. 24
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    It’s the small minds that can only find meaning when spoon-fed eleventh-century mythology.

    It’s the large minds that understand there is meaning beyond our mundane lives and local contexts. That there is a greater purpose than to be happy. Small minds think small and by doing so are constrained to local contexts.

  25. 25
    Pater Kimbridge says:

    @ET #24
    Please explain to us what that purpose is, exactly. In your own words, please.

  26. 26
    Truthfreedom says:

    @24 ET:

    It’s the large minds that understand there is meaning beyond our mundane lives and local contexts. That there is a greater purpose than to be happy. Small minds think small and by doing so are constrained to local contexts.

    This comment deserves an applause. Good to see minds NOT ravaged by the toxic doctrine of darwinism.

  27. 27
    ET says:

    Pater K:

    Please explain to us what that purpose is, exactly.

    All I am saying is that one exists and it is up to each and every one of us to find and fulfill it.

  28. 28
    ET says:

    And one way to do that is to advance, intellectually and spiritually. But we cannot advance intellectually while under the doctrine of materialism/ naturalism and it’s bastard child evolutionism. That is because they are false doctrines that lead away from the reality behind our existence.

  29. 29
    Truthfreedom says:

    Atheists, your goddess ‘evolution’ does not care at all about you. The universe is not cruel, it simply has no mind-no intelligence.
    You are the product of an inert womb.

  30. 30
    Ed George says:

    TF

    Atheists, your goddess ‘evolution’ does not care at all about you.

    Nobody has suggested that evolution cares about you. But is it better to fabricate a God just to make you feel better?

  31. 31
    Jim Thibodeau says:

    Facts don’t care about your feelings.

  32. 32

    .
    “But [isn’t] it better to [disregard recorded predictions, physical evidence, documented history, and the scientific record] just to make [ourselves] feel better?”

    — there you go, Ed, I fixed that for you. I think the answer is still “no.”

  33. 33
    ET says:

    But is it better to fabricate a God just to make you feel better?

    Is it better to fabricate science just to make you feel better?

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, the use of the term “fabricate” implies deliberate deceit on the part of theists. Do you really want to go there? KF

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    PK, 25:

    The meaning of purpose is not particularly difficult:

    purpose (?p??p?s)
    n
    1. the reason for which anything is done, created, or exists
    2. a fixed design, outcome, or idea that is the object of an action or other effort
    3. fixed intention in doing something; determination: a man of purpose.
    4. practical advantage or use: to work to good purpose.
    5. that which is relevant or under consideration (esp in the phrase to or from the purpose)
    6. archaic purport
    7. on purpose intentionally
    vb (tr)
    to intend or determine to do (something)
    [C13: from Old French porpos, from porposer to plan, from Latin pr?p?nere to propose]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    So, the issue is caught up in understanding what we are as contingent creatures in a world that gives every evidence of being contingent and fine tuned for C-chem, aqueous medium, cell based lives. Where, further, the DNA codes in our cells use algorithmic, alphanumerical codes to create proteins. That manifests language and goal directed structures at the heart of our biological nature. Where further even our rationality is inescapably governed under duties to truth, right reason, prudence, fairness and justice; pointing again to purpose beyond our individual subjectivity.

    As a further striking sign, we face sehnsucht, C S Lewis’ joy. In the relevant sense it speaks to a deep, existentially rooted longing or bittersweet yearning or desire or even nostalgia that inherently cannot be wholly fulfilled in this world which is a sign in our souls that our true fulfillment is beyond this inherently imperfect, incomplete age. This points to our nature as more than merely material, and properly finding meaning and fulfillment beyond this world.

    There is vastly more to reality than is dreamt of in materialist ideology.

    KF

  36. 36
    Ed George says:

    KF

    EG, the use of the term “fabricate” implies deliberate deceit on the part of theists. Do you really want to go there? KF

    No, delusion does not imply deceit.

  37. 37
    Truthfreedom says:

    @36 Ed George

    No, delusion does not imply deceit.

    Were not you an agnostic?

  38. 38
    ET says:

    True, “Ed George” is both delusional and deceitful. He is also like the deaf moth and the frustrated bat. 😛

  39. 39
    Truthfreedom says:

    Agnostic: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.
    But Ed George ‘knows’ it is a delusion.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    EG, nope, “fabricate” is not even remotely related to presence of delusion. Further, almost as bad, the suggestion or assumption that ethical monotheists are delusional — echoes of Lewontin’s imaginary demons lurk here, as well as Dawkins’ far worse quadrilemma: ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked — has such a widespread impact that it would reduce the credibility of mindedness in general as we would then be looking at widespread, grand delusion. That then becomes self-referential, an undermining of our general cognitive capability. Yet further, we see even more of an underlying deep rooted and ultimately irrational hostility to God and to those who dare to take him seriously. God denial, to the point of projecting fraud [what “fabricate” actually implies] or even just delusion speaks for itself, and not favourably. It seems, then, that we need to address some serious worldviews alternatives issues and the implications of the sort of polarisation and hostility you let out of the bag. KF

    PS: A first step is to understan that there are not that many live option core worldview alternatives, and that such worldview first plausibles are antecedent to proofs. Proofs are built on them, these are our core alternative faith points. The common notion that theists are an inferior species of thinker as they admit to living by faith is ill informed on the inescapable structure of worldviews given a sound view on regress of warrant. Circularity is futile, infinite regress impossible; we are forced to have a finitely remote set of such first plausibles. To have a reasonable, responsible faith point, we need to look at alternatives seriously on comparative difficulties. Ethical theism is one of the key alternatives and the sort of lurking subtext of contempt just let out of the bag is a sign that serious comparative difficulties analysis has not been adequately undertaken.

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