The Frillfin Goby–A Fish with a Built-in GPS

Frillfin goby

One of the most studied fish in the ocean is a three-inch long shore fish called the frillfin goby (Bathygobius soporator). This little fish has even gotten attention from the New York Times which ran an article about studies by Dr. Jonathan Balcombe on this fish and how it survives (May 15, 2016).

This fish lives in the intertidal zones in the Atlantic Ocean. When the tide goes out, the fish lives in small tidal pools which are isolated and free of the large predatory fish which pose a threat when the tide is in. The problem is that these small pools can be hunting grounds for shorebirds and crabs so sometimes the fish needs to change pools. The goby does this by jumping out of its pool and landing in a nearby pool that offers better protection. The obvious problem with making this jump is knowing where the next pool is to land in it and not on bare rock. In 1971 a study was done at the American Museum of Natural History to see how the frillfin goby learns where to jump and how far to jump to land in the pool. Their conclusion was that the goby swims over the area at high tide and makes a mental map of the topography of the sea-floor. It can use this mental map 40 days later to escape from a predator. Essentially they have a mental GPS that allows them to make what would otherwise be a very dangerous escape.

This is not a chance driven device. Observers did not see any case where the goby missed its pool. The accuracy of the jumping is far beyond chance. This instinctive drive and the biological features that sustain it are an evidence of an intelligence providing for life in every nook and cranny of the world around us. For more information see the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 188 (1): 378-392.
–John N. Clayton © 2017

The Resurrection Plant

Resurrection Plant
Resurrection Plant 3-hour Timelapse, Credit: Serych/wikimedia commons

An advertisement currently running on television for a lotion product says that it contains ingredients derived from the “Resurrection Plant.” After doing some research on resurrection plants, I found that several plants are called by that name. The thing they all have in common is that they can become desiccated (almost completely dried out) and then return to life when water is applied. Perhaps the best known is Selaginella lepidophylla which is sold as a novelty. The animation shows one of these plants going from dry to revived over a three-hour period. This resurrection plant is native to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico and western Texas. It is known by various other names including “rose of Jericho.” It’s also called “false rose of Jericho” because there is another species of resurrection plant called “rose of Jericho” that grows in the deserts of Asia and Africa.

Whatever you call it, the Selaginella lepidophylla has a special distinction. Early Spanish missionaries to the American desert southwest used it as an object lesson to teach the natives about the concept of rebirth. When the plant appears to be dead and without hope, water revives it to new life. This can be compared to a person dead in sin being revived to new life in baptism. However, it isn’t the water that gives the baptized person new life, but the power of the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection plants are not really dead. Those desert plants are waiting in a dormant state until the rain returns. When Jesus was placed in the tomb, he was completely dead as verified by the Roman soldier who pierced his side with a sword. Then early on the first day of the week, he was alive again. That is a true resurrection and the most solidly verified event of ancient history. I don’t know if an ingredient from the resurrection plant will restore your skin. I do know that the resurrection of Jesus can restore your soul. Jesus told Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). The apostle Paul wrote, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3,4).
–Roland Earnst © 2017

Lessons on Design from Frogs and Toads

Tungara Frog

One of the children’s books that we have in our children’s series is on Frogs and Toads. Re-reading that little book written at a child’s level motivated me to look into some of the unusual things about these amphibians. Of the 7,537 species of amphibians, 6,631 are frogs and toads. One thing some creationists have not considered is that if you interpret “kinds” in the Bible to refer to species, you have many problems explaining how you get 6,631 species of frogs on Noah’s ark. The point is that the Old Testament Hebrew word “min” (translated “kinds” in most translations of the Bible) is not the same as the English word “species.” “Kind” has a much broader meaning. We find the same concept of “kinds” in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 15:39 the writer tells us that there are four kinds of flesh, the flesh of men, of beasts, of fishes, and of birds. We would suggest that changes due to environmental pressures have caused frogs to speciate to enable them to adapt to their individual environments. Frogs living in trees don’t need the same equipment functioning in the same way as frogs in a pond, in a sand dune, or in a cold place. This factual evolution is seen in most animals, but very clearly in the frogs. We still have much to learn about this. Toads and frogs have an organ called a “Bidder’s organ.” The purpose of this organ is unknown. It is present in all toads in early development but only in the males in adulthood.

Some frog behaviors are amazing. The Tungara frog which is common in South and Central America is a good example. During the mating season, the female releases a protein which the male collects on his feet. When he has collected a sufficient amount, he begins kicking his feet vigorously producing a foam into which the eggs are placed to grow into tadpoles. Other frogs produce a similar foam, but by completely different methods. Studies are being done to see how the frog acquires this ability, but it is pretty obvious that it isn’t acquired in stages. The genome may tell us whether it is built into the frog’s DNA or whether it is a learned behavior, but it appears that it is genetic in nature. To program a code takes intelligence and purpose, and chance explanations are difficult to justify, even in such a simple organism as a frog. Data from Discover magazine, July/August 2016, page 74.                                –John N. Clayton © 2017