Geckos' Toes Come and Go

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Geckos’ toes come and go, according to reports in ScienceDaily 28 June 2012 and PLoS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039429, 27 June 2012. Geckos are tropical and subtropical lizards that can walk on vertical and overhanging surfaces using toe-pads that grip the surface with millions of microscopic bristles called setae. This enables them to climb trees and rock faces. However, not all geckos have these special toe pads and they live on the ground in places like sand dunes.

A group of researchers from USA and Canada have constructed an evolutionary tree of geckos and concluded the toe-pads have evolved and been lost many times over. They wrote: “Here we present a multigene phylogeny of geckos, including 107 of 118 recognized genera, and determine that adhesive toepads have been gained and lost multiple times, and remarkably, with approximately equal frequency. The most likely hypothesis suggests that adhesive toepads evolved 11 times and were lost nine times.” According to ScienceDaily “The gain and subsequent loss of adhesive toepads seems associated with habitat changes; e.g. living on boulders and in trees versus living on the ground, often in sand dunes, where the feature could be a hindrance rather than an advantage.” Aaron Bauer, of Villanova University, Pennsylvania commented: "The loss of adhesive pads in dune-dwelling species is an excellent example of natural selection in action."

Gecko toe-pads have inspired materials for scientists in the development of dry adhesive surfaces as well as engineers who are trying to build climbing robots. Anthony Russell, of the University of Calgary, one of the research team, claimed: "Gaining a better understanding of the complex evolutionary history of gecko toepads allows bio-inspired engineers to learn from these natural designs and develop new applications."

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: This is yet another example of the uselessness of evolution as a basis for science. These scientists have simply discovered that the presence or absence of toe pads cannot be fitted into a tree-like pattern based on the assumption geckos evolved from a common ancestor.

Whilst evolutionists don’t like it, there are other ways to explain why there are geckos living without toe pads. They may have once had them and lost them but have survived by living on the ground in sand dunes, but this is not evolution. It is a loss of genetic information, and therefore the opposite of evolution. Alternatively, they never had toe pads and were meant to live on the ground, and not climb trees and rocks, and that’s not evolution either. The bottom line is that no-one has actually observed a gecko without toe pads evolve into a gecko with toe pads. Either way, they have survived in the struggle for life, but they have not evolved.

The researchers’ evolutionary tree is of no use to engineers trying to apply the gecko toe pad method to man-made devices. Such engineers actually require creative design to do this, and when and if such engineers are able to design a robot that can cling to trees and rocks like a gecko, they will rightfully get the praise for their creativity. That means even more praise should go the Creator who is Jesus who made all things and who designed and made geckos, without copying anything from anyone else. (Ref. reptiles, biomimetics, phylogenetics)

Evidence News 16 August 2012

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