The Buzz on Bat Sonar

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The Buzz on Bat Sonar reported in Live Science and ScienceDaily 29 September 2011, and Science, vol. 333 p1885 September 2011. Coen Elemans, of the University of Southern Denmark and colleagues have studied bats that hunt insects by echolocation, i.e. sending out pulses of sound and listening for the echoes. When the bat gets close to it prey they increase the rate they send out at such a high speed it sounds like a buzz, rather than individual pulses. The researchers found this “terminal buzz” is produced by contracting the muscles of larynx (voice box) 190 times per second, i.e. one contraction every six milliseconds.

To do this requires superfast muscles that have not yet been found in any other mammals. These superfast muscles contract 20 times faster than the fastest human muscles – the muscles that move our eyes. In order to work that fast the muscle cells must have extra power generating structures, extra fast calcium shifting proteins and a different kind of myosin – one of the proteins of the molecular motor that moves when muscles contract. The researchers suggest superfast muscles evolved separately in the animals that have them. Elemans commented: “Superfast muscles were previously known only from the sound-producing organs of rattlesnakes, birds and several fish. Now we have discovered them in mammals for the first time, suggesting that these muscles - once thought extraordinary - are more common than previously believed”.

The researchers concluded: “The ubiquity of buzzes in today’s aerial hawking bats when taking prey suggests that the capacity to emit short echolocation calls at very high rates evolved to enhance bats’ success in capturing night-flying insects. We suggest that the demands of an active sensory system specialised for target acquisition, rather than simply orientation, selected for functional superfast vocal muscles is needed to power the terminal buzz.”

Live Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Note carefully - the above story does not actually explain how the different kind of myosin or the extra fast calcium shifting proteins came to exist. Neither does it explain how the nerve cells necessary to stimulate the muscles evolved or how the bat interprets the information from the echoes. They do call upon natural selection as part of their attempted evolutionary explanation for how a useful feature came into existence, so once more we remind you that something can only be selected once it already exists, so they have really created an evolutionary non-explanation.

Bats that already had the superfast muscles would have had a selective advantage for catching prey, but that does not explain how the muscles were formed in the first place. Given the wide variety of creatures that have been found to have these muscles, we wonder how many times the evolutionists think they evolved and re-evolved? Overall, it makes more sense to believe bats with superfast muscles already had them as part of a designed system that was fully functional to start with, but that would mean bringing God as Creator into the equation and that is ruled out by Fiat Definition in modern science regardless of the evidence. (Ref. mammals, design, echolocation)

Evidence News 16 November 2011