Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creatures that Defy Creationism: Water Scorpion

Water Scorpion (female) // March 18, 2012 // Grand Rapids, MI

Here is another creature that defies creationism: the water scorpion.

I found this specimen depicted in the picture above walking clumsily across a sidewalk this past Sunday with her wings partly unfolded. She had apparently landed and was unable to take again to the air. Water scorpions are effective predators in slow-moving and stagnant plant-rich waters, but they are very poor walkers and feeble flyers.

In their water habitats, water scorpions hunt by means of camouflage. A hunting water scorpion will sit stationary for hours in a largely vertical position. Her “tail” (the item of her anatomy that has won her the misnomer of “scorpion”) serves as a snorkel by which she is able to breathe. Her tail is made up of several strands, and they hold together underwater by means of surface tension; hence, when out of the water, her “tail” looks more like “tails” than a singular tube. With her “tail” to breathe, the water scorpion will sit motionless, resembling a stick or a twig with her stick-like narrow body.

As already indicated, the water scorpion is not a scorpion. She is not even an eight-legged arachnid; she is an insect with six legs. As a beautiful example of convergent evolution, the water scorpion has developed front legs that are a nearly complete mirror of a praying mantid’s forelegs. In fact, if I did not already know that the water scorpion was an aquatic insect, I may have even mistaken this for a mantid fly or even a praying mantis. However, the water scorpion is not closely related to the praying mantis; she developed her predatory front legs independently.

How does the water scorpion defy creationism?

One of the basic teachings of the majority of young-earth creationists is that of “no death before the Fall.” That is, there was no death of humans or animals prior to the sin of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis 3. Hence, as suggested in Genesis 1:29, all animals and humans ate fruits and vegetables only. The introduction of meat eating gradually emerged, according to most creationists, only after the Flood of Noah where, in Genesis 9:3, dispensation is given to eat meat. No joke—there are millions of Americans that buy this narrative uncritically.

The water scorpion is clearly adapted to hunt its prey of water insects, fish, and frogs. It is structured to remain motionless for hours, breathing through its “snorkel,” resembling a stick or a water plant. It has lightning-fast reflexes and mantid-like forelegs that quickly clasp and retain its unwitting prey. Now, one must ask, how would these adaptations—camouflage, “snorkel,” forelegs, speed, etc.—work in a world that was strictly vegetarian? What use would there be for any of these adaptations if the water scorpion merely grazed on water plants?

Frankly, in a deathless world, the water scorpion wouldn’t exist. It would have no use in a vegetarian food chain, and it would find no use for its marvelous predatory adaptations. This is yet another creature that defies creationism.

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