Chameleon tongue movement quantified, according to a report in BBC News and Mail Online 20 April 2016, and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A, doi:10.1098/rspa.2016.0030, 20 April 2016. The chameleon is able to rapidly shoot out its tongue by unravelling like a telescope to twice the length of the whole animal. The tongue has bone at its core surrounded by a multi-layered structure of fibrous and elastic tissue, surrounded by muscle that activates the movement.

A group of British mathematicians and engineers have come up with a mathematical model of how the movement works, based on a series of observations and experiments. The tongue movement involves the build-up of energy followed by quick release, which the scientists described as “an extreme example of quick energy release in the animal kingdom”. The mathematical model of how the energy is built up and released as a forceful projecting movement, involved more than 20 equations, and “three distinct coupled subsystems: the energetics of the intralingual sheaths, the mechanics of the activating accelerator muscle, and the dynamics of tongue extension”.

Derek Moulton, associate professor of mathematical biology at Oxford University explained to the BBC: “The equations are modelling the mechanics of these different layers, and the interactions of these different layers. The balance of forces and the energy contained in these different layers when the muscle – this outermost layer – contracts, which is what sets the whole thing in motion”. The model could be used in the design of elastic components in robotics. But Moulton told Mail Online, “Above all, our research is curiosity driven and our goal in this instance was to understand a fascinating phenomenon”.

Editorial Comment: A mathematical model involving over 20 equations in three distinct linked subsystems is a lot of information. It is absurd to think that mindless random processes came up with such a sophisticated system – and that just describes the animal’s tongue. Such a tongue would be of no use unless it was controlled by a brain, which has to be able in advance to gather, store and analyse 3D information about the animal’s surroundings before it sets off the tongue’s movement.

Information only comes from a mind, and the ability to recognise it and organise it also requires a mind.

The motivation of these scientists is a reminder that the desire to understand the “fascinating phenomena” that we see in the world around us is based on the mandate we were given by our Creator to rule over the living world. To do this wisely we need to study it and understand how it works. This involves the creativity needed to design experiments, and the ability to communicate with one another as part of a research team.

We have these creative abilities because we are made in the image of the Creator God. This will be further affirmed when engineers put the mathematical tongue model to work in robot design. Studying biological systems from an engineering, i.e. creation based point of view, is leading to many brilliant inventions.

Listen to mathematician and engineer, Professor Andy McIntosh explain how he was inspired to build an award winning spray system based on the bombardier beetle, and how the evolutionary biologists rejected his offer of joining him in the project. DVD available from the Creation Research webshop.

Evidence News vol. 16, No.8
4 May 2016
Creation Research Australia