The researchers found that the burrows followed a very sophisticated design, beginning with a short, vertical entrance shaft that flattened out a few centimeters below the surface into a horizontal platform. The burrows then turn sharply downwards, descending further below ground to form a dead-end chamber. This cool, humid chamber, where evaporation water loss is minimal, provides a refuge for the scorpions to rest during the heat of the day.
The design was common to all the scorpion burrows studied, which suggests that burrow building in scorpions has evolved by natural selection to meet the animals’ physiological needs.
Actually, it doesn;t suggest that the burrows evolved by “natural selection” at all.
“Natural selection” (acting on random mutation, to spell it out fully) means that all scorpions who did it differently died out, leaving only those who somehow accidentally evolved to do it this way.
Of course it didn’t happen that way. The superstition that it did is generally called Darwinian evolution, though embarrassment had caused many to shy away from the correct and widely understood term.
In fairness to the researcher, raising issues about this might end his career. Darwin’s believers need their religion, which is enforced by the courts with a stringency in almost direct proportion to its disconfirmation in nature.
The scorpion’s engineering points to an intelligence in nature, one that we may indeed be able to study—but first we must stop pretending it isn’t there.
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