Dawkins on Dummy Eyes

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Dummy Eyes: After noting that animals living in perpetual darkness have “vestiges of eyes”, Richard Dawkins asks the following question: “Given that a cave salamander lives in perpetual darkness so has no use for eyes, why would a divine creator nevertheless furnish it with dummy eyes, clearly related to eyes but non-functional?”
Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth, Bantam Press, 2009, p351

Editorial Comment: In 2004 scientists studied blind cave fish with ‘vestigial eyes’ as well as their sighted relatives that lived in the light. They found they could get the blind fish to develop eyes when they implanted eye tissue from the sighted into a blind fish.

All similar studies on real vestigial organs such as flightless beetles with tiny stumps of wings show that they are descended from winged beetles and have degenerated by loss so they are now stuck where they are living. This is the opposite of evolution. It would therefore seem that the real history of blind cave life is that when their sighted salamander or fish ancestors somehow got trapped in the caves they lost their original sight abilities, through degeneration not evolution. The change is real, but Dawkins and co. are determined to call all change evolution, when it’s really the opposite. It is also possible that baby salamanders, like fish, need to be exposed to light during embryological development for the eyes to fully develop, so badly formed eyes are the result of a bad cave environment, not bad design.

We hope someone does some further research on salamander eyes as we all may learn something about embryological development in general, and how eyes develop and function. (Ref. vision, vertebrates, amphibians)

Evidence News, 26 May 2010