Another wild and wacky method of reproduction that cannot possibly be explained by Darwinian evolution

Today, trying to pick up something about insect evolution, I came upon an enjoyable presentation about the arthropods and related animals of the Cambrian period at the Understanding Evolution website. There I learned about the onychophorans. The Onychophora are a class (or perhaps a phylum) of land-dwelling invertebrates, sometimes called velvet worms for their velvety skin. They range in size from .6 inch to six inches, and live in temperate and tropical forests, where they eat insects. Here is a picture of a couple of species.

Now get this:

In one South African onychophoran, males stick packets of sperm on the female’s body (apparently anywhere—leg, back, whatever!). Her body senses the sperm packet and dissolves the skin beneath the packet, allowing the sperm to enter her circulatory system and eventually reach her eggs.

You know what I’m going to say next, because I’ve said the same before. In order for this method of reproduction to have come into being by Darwinian evolution, a single male onychophoran had to develop, by chance random mutations, a new instinct and behavior by which it stuck its sperm packets onto a female’s body. At the same time, there had to have been hatched, in the same generation and in the same neighborhood as this mutating male, a female onychophoran which had developed, by simultaneous chance random mutations, an entire suite of internal organic faculties by which (1) her body sensed the presence of the sperm packet stuck to a particular location of her body; (2) the skin under the packet—and only the skin in that one spot—dissolved (think about a creature that can dissolve the skin in any particular spot of its body!); (3) the sperm was then admitted into her circulatory system; and (4) her circulatory system had the ability to transport the sperm to her eggs, which recognized the presence of the mutated male’s sperm and received them. And these multiple transformations in the mutating female onychophoran’s body, which all happened simultaneously and purely by chance, had to take place in the same time and the same place that a male onychophoran, by chance random mutations, developed the instinct to deposit his sperm packet somewhere on the surface of a female onychophoran’s body.

Multiple simultaneous chance mutations in a single organism producing a new and complex organ or function such as the mammalian eye or the exploding caustic missile of the Bombardier beetle is already inherently impossible. Multiple simultaneous and PERFECTLY MUTUALLY COMPLIMENTARY chance mutations in TWO ORGANISMS OF DIFFERENT SEXES would be even more impossible—if there were such a thing as degrees of impossibility.

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Michael writes:

In its usual form, the idea of speciation is a curious notion. That is, the idea that present life progressed (or changed) from lesser complex forms. Taking the idea to its logical beginning it is presumed that life, somehow, emerged from non-life. However, the “mechanism” of this first transition is hidden, and purely speculative.

Empirically, all we can say is that life comes from life. We readily observe life becoming non-life, but no one has ever observed the reverse. Logically, there is no reason to presume the latter situation—at least if we base our conclusions on what can be observed either naturally or experimentally.

The entire notion of life “beginning” is, if we are honest with ourselves, completely untenable. All we know and all we can observe is a continuation of an established process. Perhaps it is only the vagaries of our reason (i.e., our logical mode of conception) that makes us suppose life could ever have a beginning.

Observation shows us changes within species, but no one has ever seen or established empirically the fact of a change from one species to another. The geologic record certainly establishes different kinds of life existing in different eras, but that is not the same thing as establishing and proving a general progression and consecutiveness of types via evolution.

There are moral questions too. For example, the religionists notion that life “begins” at conception is completely unfounded. Again, life does not begin in any sense. Only the continuation of an established phenomenon can rightly be said to exist.

In fine, life is an enigma. And science cannot very well deal with enigma.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 09, 2008 07:08 PM | Send

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