Crabs Do Trigonometry

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Crabs do trigonometry according to an article in Journal of Experimental Biology , 2 Oct 2009. Michael Walls and John Layne of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio have studied the ability of fiddler crabs to find their way back to their burrows and how they are able to cope with terrain changes that occur between the time they left and when they need to return. Walls and Layne used a buried balloon to create an instant artificial hill in the sand after the crabs had left their burrows. They then startled the crabs and observed whether they took into account the extra distance created by the hill as they headed for their burrows. The crabs passed the test and ran to the same place over the hill as they had done when the terrain was left flat. How they did it has yet to be determined but the researchers suggest they are able to monitor the tilt of their bodies as they move uphill and downhill and calculate where they are in relation to the horizontal. Layne commented: “They're effectively doing high school trigonometry. Not bad for a crustacean.”

Editorial comment: Anyone who has struggled to learn trigonometry at school will know that it does not get into one’s brain without deliberate learning, or into an electronic calculator without programming. Rather than praising the crustacean these researchers should be praising the Creator who designed them and programmed their brains to enable them to find their way around in a landscape which changes with every tide. (Ref. shellfish, arthropods, navigation, design)

Evidence News 17 Feb 2010

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