Monday, January 19, 2009

Signs & Wonders

This list of 10 signs of evolution in modern humans is a cavalcade of vestigial body parts and ghosts of abilities past; my favorite item on the list is #7, extra ear muscles:

Also known as the extrinsic ear muscles, the auriculares muscles are used by animals to swivel and manipulate their ears (independently of their head) in order to focus their hearing on particular sounds. Humans still have the muscles that we would once have used for the very same reason - but our muscles are now so feeble that all they can do is give our ears a little wiggle.
We can barely move our ears, and the slight motion we're able to produce is useless as an adaptation i.e., it does nothing to increase acuity or directionality of hearing, doesn't seem to help newborns fit through the birth canal, plays no part in sexual display (it would already be a staple in porn if it were otherwise), etc.

In this instance, humans have weak versions of muscular structures observed in and used by most other mammals. Evolutionary science chalks this up to common ancestry.

ID/creationism has to chalk this up to ... um, what exactly? Commenters to the piece cited above offer the slapdash hypothesis that the Intelligent Designer used "templates" as he was performing his sundry acts of special creation. He was willing to trouble himself with all the countless differences between humans and (say) armadillos, but he couldn't be bothered to begin these efforts from separate "templates"? And the template had a checkbox for armored shell / no armored shell but it didn't have a checkbox for ear muscles / no ear muscles? Neat!

Science wins again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, being a bark and pine needle eating vegetarian, I should benefit from having my appendix and my wisdom teeth. I'm glad I saw this list so I'll have one more factoid to throw around supporting my vegetarian ways.