The evil stare of the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) -- AKA Hoot Owl, Cat Owl or Winged Tiger -- strikes terror in the hearts of over 250 species it calls prey, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and other birds sometimes 2 to 3 times heavier than itself. (Newsday Photo/Bill Davis)
We know our hero, Papa Ratzi, has a lot on his mind right now what with leading members of the Religion of Peace™ calling for his head for condemning religious violence, and we totally agree with TigerHawk when he says "For my part, I am sick of 'Muslim rage.'" As TH suggests in his heroic post, "Grow up!"
In the great evolutionary arms race between predator and prey, birds who want to eat moths and avoid being eaten by Great Horned Owls have learned to beware of that wide-eyed look. Enter, stage left, a number of moths like the Io (Automeris io) above, who have evolved arresting "eye-spots" they can flash to scare away predators. The image above by photographer, writer and naturalist Bev Wigney of Burning Silo is the "after" of a must-see "before-and-after" sequence she calls "Moth surprise."
But when you get a minute, Papa, we'd like to call your attention to the error of your ways when it comes to Darwin's theory of evolution. If we can believe what we read [via disinterested party], you are seriously misreading Darwin's "grandeur in this view of life":
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday issued his strongest criticism yet of evolutionary theory, calling it “unreasonable.”
Speaking to a 300,000-strong crowd in this German city, the former theological watchdog said that, according to such theories derived from Charles Darwin’s work, the universe is “the random result of evolution and therefore, at bottom, something unreasonable.”
The homily appeared to throw the Catholic Church’s full weight behind the theory of intelligent design (ID) -- a subject of massive controversy in the United States. [As we've blogged here early and often] The Catholic Church has for over 50 years accepted Darwin’s theory of random selection as the most probable cause of development, but has always stressed God’s role.
We guess it depends upon what your definition of "random" is, not to mention your definitiion of "unreasonable." Is Islamicist rhetoric unreasonable, yes. Is Darwinian discourse, no. More about that in a moment, but by way of example first, some fascinating news that field naturalist Darwin would have appreciated, "whence we see spiders, flies, or ants entombed and preserved forever in amber, a more than royal tomb."
Electron microscope images of moth wing scale at point of insertion left (University of Alberta photo) and butterfly wing scales (Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa photo). "When you catch a butterfly or moth you may notice a powder that rubs off of them. This powder is a bunch of tiny scales." According to our own Museum of Science, Boston, "These scales detatch from the wings very easily. This may be an adaptation for escaping spider webs. If a moth flies into a web, the scales may stick but the moth will escape."
"The emergence of hanging spider webs might have influenced the evolution of flying insects," according to scientists who have found "a 136 million-year-old piece of amber encasing pieces of web and trapped insects," reports MSNBC [via Diane Duane of Out of Ambit]:
The finding helps fill in the gaps of the origin of orb webs, and also indicates predatory spiders likely played a role in the evolution of flying insects. The study is detailed in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Another example of our favorite blind paleontologist, Geerat Vermeij's observation that when it comes to evolution, "everyone is affected mostly by their enemies."
The amber is the oldest known example of a web with trapped insects. Although only few pieces of the web remain, the arrangement of the preserved bits strongly suggests an orb web design.
For example, Grimaldi said, members of the family Lepidoptera, which includes moths and butterflies, are covered in scales that allow them to tumble out of sticky webs.
"And it happens that Lepidoptera evolved around the same time that spiders produced these webs," Grimaldi told LiveScience.
The types of insects caught in the fossilized web are important pollinators today, and may have been darting from flowering plant to flowering plant when they were captured by the web. Agile, powerful fliers with good vision, such as bees, would also stand a better chance of avoiding webs, much as they do today. Small, weak flies or less nimble fliers would have been, and still are, more commonly ensnared.
"Agile, powerful fliers with good vision." That reminds us of Benedict XVI himself when it comes to facing down the threat of Islamic fascism. But here's what we wish the great man would understand, quoted here from the blurb of Vermeij's book, Nature: An Economic History:
From humans to hermit crabs to deep water plankton, all living things compete for locally limiting resources. This universal truth unites three bodies of thought -- economics, evolution and history -- that have developed largely in mutual isolation. Here, Geerat Vermeij undertakes a groundbreaking and provocative exploration of the facts and theories of biology, economics and geology to show how processes common to all economic systems -- competition, cooperation, adaptation and feedback -- govern evolution as surely as they do the human economy, and how historical patterns in both human and nonhuman evolution follow from this principle.
What could be more reasonable?
Update: Pajamas Media links with a great punch line:
However, one suspects that Evolutionists won’t be desecrating churches over the matter.
More tough love from John Howard's multicultural spokesman: "Australia Muslim leaders have been 'read the riot act' over the need to denounce any links between Islam and terrorism."