Rats’ whiskers can vary quite a bit in appearance but a team that wanted to find out how rats get information through their whiskers discovered something quite interesting about the math behind them:

We found that rat whiskers can be accurately described by a simple mathematical equation known as the Euler spiral…

The Euler spiral – also called the Cornu spiral, Spiros or Clothoid – is a shape whose curvature changes linearly with its length. It looks quite like an s-shape, where the tips of the “s” carry on curving in to spirals that get rapidly tighter. As a result, aspects of the curve can fit a wide variety of shapes including those that are straight or s-shaped, those that increase in curvature and those that decrease in curvature.

This is why the Euler spiral can be used to describe all types of rat whisker, even though they come in many different shapes. Some are s-shaped, some get more curly towards the tip and some get less curly towards the tip.

Robyn Grant, “How we found a special maths equation hidden in rat whiskers” atThe Conversation

Grant adds, “In this way, maths can give us a special insight into how biological structures and systems work.”

Indeed. It is called structuralism, a first cousin of ID. But shhhh!! Darwin dogma is:

The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.”

As usual Darwin was creating a rhetorical fog. There is no conflict between design in nature and the operation of fixed laws of nature. Quite the opposite. The Euler spiral is a fixed law of the mathematics that helps hold our universe together, resulting in the design we see. There is no reason to believe that the rat went through hundreds of flopped, fatal designs for whiskers (natural selection acting on random mutation) before hitting on the Euler spiral. It was probably implicit from the beginning because the nature of reality in our universe would enact it.

Call that creationism if you want. And yes, it does lead many to think that there must be a Mind behind the universe, to derive such mathematics. But that is a separate discussion. Grant’s idea, to study other mammals’ whiskers to see if similar patterns turn up, sounds like a good next step for a biologist.