Finger gene got bats flying, according to an article in New Scientist, 13 Nov 2004, p1. The evolution of bats is a mystery because the oldest fossil bat is a fully formed creature with all the features seen in living bats, such as long finger bones that form the framework of their wings.

In order to find out how bats evolved long fingers, Karen Sears of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Centre compared the embryological development of fingers in bats and mice. Growing finger bones have plates of cartilage where cells divide and grow and within this is a region call the hypertrophic zone, where cells enlarge. This region is much larger in bats than mice. Sears found a protein produced by a gene called BMP2 in the bat fingers but not in the mice. She applied the protein to the mice embryos and they developed long fingers. According to New Scientist: “Sears believes that bats began to evolve when this one gene became activated. Although it is a small developmental change, if it allowed the ancestors of bats to grow extended digits it could explain how bats evolved flight so rapidly.” The article concludes with: “The lack of transitional forms has also led to speculation about the origin of bats, with some believing that primates are their closest relatives. Genetic studies now show they are closest to the ferungulates, which include horses and pigs, or to the shrews and moles.”

One New Scientist reader made the following comment about this last assertion: “So bats are most closely related to the ferungulates? Pigs might indeed fly!” (New Scientist, Letters, 4 Dec 2004, p31.)

Editorial Comment: This study explains why bat and mice fingers are different, but it does not explain how they got that way. It takes more than long fingers to make a flying bat. Sears’ long fingered mice have shown no sign of flying, and long fingers are a hindrance to walking.

It is this kind of dilemma, along with the sudden appearance of fully formed fossil creatures that led to both the “hopeful monster” and “punctuated equilibrium” theories of evolution. These claim living creatures had to evolve in sudden jumps, which happened too fast to be preserved in the fossil record.

Creation is a much better explanation for such findings because it explains the evidence that is there, rather than theoretical evidence believed to be missing. The punch lines are simple. Regardless of how long ago the bats were fossilised, they are found as fully formed creatures that look like living bats which is totally consistent with them having been created separately and having reproduced after their kind. Living bats have genes for long fingers because they need them. Mice don’t. (Ref. bats, genes, fingers)