What In The Name Of Biology Is It?

Mystery Creature

First, take a good look at the creature in the above picture. What do you think it is? We’ll give you a clue. It’s the larval stage of an aquatic vertebrate. On first appearances it does kind of look like a snail; it has eyes on stalks. But the eyes seem a bit too massive for those flimsy stalks to hold up. And the body isn’t gastropod-like at all. Our wacky imaginations tell us that it’s a type of snake which has had its eyes violently yanked out. That would be wrong too though.

But before we reveal the creature’s identity we want to explain our reason for mentioning it in the first place. According to good old fashion creationism and Intelligent Design creationism, a creature, like the one above, is designed by a designer. Thus it is well suited to its environment. Perfectly suited. But we’d argue that this creature isn’t designed at all, and it’s not perfectly adapted. We’d say that an insufficient field of vision is the very reason for its eyes being on stalks.

Now click here to see the adult stage of the mystery creature.

It’s called a Dragonfish, and it’s from the genus Idiacanthus. According to Australian Museum Online

The Black Dragonfishes (Family Idiacanthidae) are long, slender fishes which live in mesopelagic to bathypelagic waters down to depths of about 2000 m.

Like many deepsea fishes, the Black Dragonfish can produce its own light. This species has tiny photophores scattered over its body and two rows of larger photophores along the side of the body. The chin barbel of the female has a a slender luminous tip. This may be used to attract prey.

Larval Black Dragonfishes are most unusual. They are long, slender, transparent fishes that have their eyes at the ends of long stalks which can be up to half the length of the body.

The Family Idiacanthidae contains three species.

Nature does find a way. The long stalks provide a better field of vision for larval Dragonfish, enabling them to see more food. If Dragonfish were designed, the designer made a poor design choice and then covered it up with another equally poor design choice. We’ll stick with evolution, which allows species to adapt, but not perfectly. Perfection is for fools and gods.

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7 Comments

Filed under Biology

7 responses to “What In The Name Of Biology Is It?

  1. Without controversy, any Being capable of calling into existence the time, space, matter, and organization of the Universe, from quarks to super galaxies, could jolly well do anything he pleased – Such a Being would be, by definition, omnipotent, and infinitely intelligent.

    It strikes me as hubris, nay, chutzpah, that any finite creature should presume to know what an infinitely intelligent, omnipotent Being would or would not think or do.

    The author above assures us that
    1) an Intelligent Designer would have designed the Dragonfish larva to be “perfectly” adapted to its environment,
    2) that the Dragonfish larva is not perfectly adapted to its environment, and
    3) therefore this disparity is proof that the creature in question was not designed by an Intelligent Designer.

    Question 1: How does the author know that an Intelligent Designer would intend that a Dragonfish larva should be “perfectly” adapted to its environment?

    Question 2: By what rubric does the author presume to measure perfect adaptation?

    Question 3: How does the author know that the Dragonfish larva is not adapted to its environment within the design specifications of the Designer?

    Question 3: How does the author know that the environment in which the Dragonfish larva finds itself today is the environment for which it was originally designed?

    Darwin and others have long used presumptuous assertions about what a supremely Intelligent Designer would or would not have done. But such assertions are theological in character.

    Apart from receiving divine revelation, the only way one can presume to know what an infinitely Intelligent Designer would or would not do is to arrogate to oneself infinite intelligence. And therein lies the hubris of the author’s comments.

  2. This is an astonishing entry. Thank you very much for the supreme post provided! I was looking for this entry for a long time, but I wasnt able to find a trusted source.

  3. thedarwinreport

    …any Being capable of calling into existence the time, space, matter, and organization of the Universe, from quarks to super galaxies, could jolly well do anything he pleased

    A generic super being hasn’t been demonstrated to exist, let alone the specific one you describe.

    It strikes me as hubris, nay, chutzpah, that any finite creature should presume to know what an infinitely intelligent, omnipotent Being would or would not think or do.

    It strikes me as hypocritical and arrogant for a finite creature to presume to know anything about a hypothetical being. I can’t ascribe characteristics to said being, but you can?

    Question 1: How does the author know that an Intelligent Designer would intend that a Dragonfish larva should be “perfectly” adapted to its environment?

    I’m not actually making reference to an imaginary being’s intelligence or motives. I’m referencing the common claims made by creationists, one being that life on Earth is perfectly adapted, which it isn’t, since it’s an obvious fact that environments can and do change dramatically.

    Question 2: By what rubric does the author presume to measure perfect adaptation?

    Survival is a good measure of adaptation. It is estimated that 99.9% of all species that ever existed are extinct, so long term survival is far from the norm. But I’m not the one who’s making the claim that perfect adaptation exists. He who makes the claim must provide the evidence. That means creationists must handle this one.

    Question 3: How does the author know that the Dragonfish larva is not adapted to its environment within the design specifications of the Designer?

    First demonstrate that a designer exists and that he has specifications. But perhaps it hasn’t crossed your mind that with complexity comes more variables and less control. Is the designer constantly altering the laws of physics, the weather, the ecosystem, and each and every creature’s genome? Talk about playing a pointless game of Wack-O-Mole.

    Question 3: How does the author know that the environment in which the Dragonfish larva finds itself today is the environment for which it was originally designed?

    I didn’t say it was. Environments change and species adapt or die. You’re the one talking about a static design.

    Apart from receiving divine revelation, the only way one can presume to know what an infinitely Intelligent Designer would or would not do is to arrogate to oneself infinite intelligence

    FYI. Infinity is not a number. And you’re saying it’s not OK for me to presume the motives of a hypothetical designer, but it’s OK for you to presume the designer’s existence. Talk about backward thinking.

  4. Super interesting read. Honestly!

  5. If only I had a penny for each time I came here! Incredible read.

  6. It strikes me as hubris, nay, chutzpah, that any finite creature should presume to know what an infinitely intelligent, omnipotent Being would or would not think or do.
    32

  7. thedarwinreport

    Which one requires more hubris, for an atheist to speculate about what an imaginary being might think, or for a believer to presume that the imaginary being actually exists?

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