Synopsis Of The Second Chapter Of Nature’s IQ By Balazs Hornyanszky and Istvan Tasi
Defense, Disguise, Perception is the descriptive title that Hornyanszky and Tasi have chosen for the second chapter of their book Nature’s IQ. And the delivery of the facts is as convincing and thought-provoking as ever. Coupled with its vivid illustrations, the chapter lays out a set of arguments that are easily accessible to the expert and non-expert reader alike. The underlying principle of their text is simple- intelligent design lies at the heart of many of nature’s phenomena.
As Hornyanszky and Tasi show from the onset, the natural world is replete with innovative defense mechanisms that afford potential prey with the protection they need. For many of those doing the eating, an aversion towards highly toxic prey such as the poisonous sea snake is one that is deeply ingrained into their instinctive fabric. It has to be. After all, one bite-sized morsel taken out of a creature such as a sea snake would be lethal to most prospective predators. The fire-bellied toad cautions all who might dare nibble at its poisonous flanks by flipping onto its back and displaying the red and black markings on its belly.
Warning-style markings are of course common-place throughout nature as are rapidly deployed disguises or masquerades that ward off would-be attackers. Many a high school student will learn about eye spots on moth and butterfly wings, designed as they are to give the impression that a much larger, potentially dangerous beast lies waiting. Bearers of such disguises often times exhibit associated behaviors only showing their disguises when threatened. The copper-band butterfly fish has the astonishing ability to move backwards so as to make the eye spot on its large tail look as if it really is at the front.
In the case of the American four-eyed frog, white and black nodes on its back stand out as realistic three-dimensional imitations of much larger mammalian and cephalopod eyes. These frogs exhibit the extraordinary ability to turn their backs to wherever danger is lurking, lifting their hind legs into a position that makes their fake eyes look all the more face-like and therefore less enticing for the hungry onlooker. For evolution pundits this theatrical act defies their version of the story of life since, in the words of Hornyanszky and Tasi “the simultaneous appearance, via chance mutations, of the pseudo-eyes and the knowledge of just what to do at precisely the right moment is, to put it mildly, highly improbable” (p.30).
As artful masters of disguise go, the treehopper Umbonia spinosa takes some beating. Making the most out of its thorn-like dorsal protrusion, this particular insect instinctively flattens its underlying body against the stems of rose bushes to avoid detection. The Atlantic Halibut about which Darwin himself wrote in The Origin Of Species, maintains its anonymity by also lying flat, camouflaged against the sand covered sea bottom. How would either of these creatures know that to lie still in their respective environments is the best way to eschew the grasp of a predator?
For these and all their earlier examples, Hornyanszky’s and Tasi’s intelligent design inference shines through as they reason in favor of irreducibly complex, genetically inherited systems that require both phenotypic and behavioral traits in order to achieve their respective functions. Knowledge of the most appropriate behaviors is not something that is learned but rather is genetically hard-wired into these creatures from birth. In order for such behaviors to be effective, they must have appeared in tandem with the phenotypic traits with which they are so evidently associated. Therein lies the designed IQ that we observe in many fauna.
Horyanszki’s and Tasi’s superb treatise is a ‘must read’ for all who are interested in the ongoing debates over the origin of animal behaviors. It is bound to shake the unquestioned acceptance of the Darwinian story of life that today pervades many a field of science.
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