African Moon Moth

Moth tails baffle bats, claim scientists in reports in Science (AAAS) News, Science Daily 4 July 2018 and Science Advances 4 July 2018 doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aar7428.

Moth wings vary a lot in their shape. Some moths have rounded wings and others have elongated tails on their back wings.  As moths are preyed on by bats a group of scientists set out to see whether wing shape affects how easy bats can catch them.  They studied three species of silk moth, named luna, African moon, and polyphemus.  They placed the moths in a flight arena and then released a bat and observed how often the different moths were able to elude the bat.  Moths with no tails fared the worst, while moths with tails did best.  The researchers then altered the shape of the moths’ wings.

They then shortened the tails of long tailed moths and added extra length to short tailed moths. The moths with the artificially elongated tails had the best chance of escaping, and the moths with deliberately shortened tails were more often caught than when they had their natural long tail.

The researchers suggest the long tails confuse the bats’ echolocation. The bats are aiming for the body of the moth, which they eat and discard the wings.  The tails may give the impression of multiple moths and confuse the bat as it attempts to sweep the moth into its mouth.  Even if the bat damages the tail, the moths can still fly, so they are able to escape.

The researchers also drew up an evolutionary tree for silk moths using specimens collected from all over the world and concluded that long tails in moths have evolved independently four times. Their report is entitled “The evolution of anti-bat sensory illusions in moths” and they wrote in their summary “We postulate that sensory illusions are widespread and are underappreciated drivers of diversity across systems.”

Aaron Corcoran, an animal ecologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina commented: “The authors have demonstrated a powerful approach for understanding the diversity of moth shapes.” The Science news article is entitled: “Watch how battles with bats give moths their flashy tails.”

Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment:  Flashy tails may enable moths to survive battles with bats, but the battles did not drive any evolution which could give the moths their tails short or long.  If the long tails did evolve as researchers claim, they would then have to explain how the presence of bats changed the growth control genes in moths to change them from rounded wings to elongated wings.

Instead, the researchers have described a classic case of survival of the fittest, or natural selection – the fittest being the long-tailed moths, with the non-tailed moths being selected out. These processes do not and cannot change non-tailed moths into tailed moths.

Survival and selection are never observed to ‘evolve’ living creatures. They merely sort them according to characteristics they already have. The survivors are those with features that work to their advantage in a particular situation.  Survival and selection are real processes, but evolution is not.

Survival and selection are the result of the world degenerating. In the original very good world all creatures, including bats, ate plants.  When suitable plant food was no longer available bats were smart enough, and hungry enough, to eat whatever they could find, including moths.  If round winged moths were easier to catch they got selected out and tailed moths survived.  Bats acted as a selecting agent, but they did not make moths grow tails if the moths did not already have the genes to do so.  Survival and selection are not evidence for evolution, they are evidence the world has gone from perfection to degeneration, just as Genesis tells us.

Evidence News vol. 18 No. 9
18 July 2018
Creation Research Australia

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