Pleurocystidid

Fossil robot built by engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, who worked with palaeontologists to design and build a robot based on an extinct fossil creature known as a Pleurocystidid, which were a type of echinoderm. They had a flattened oval body, a long segmented stem at one end, and two smaller appendages, believed to be feeding apparatus on the other end. 

Previous research on fossil pleurocystitids indicated the long segmented stem was made of muscular segments that could propel the creature along the sea floor. It is believed to be the first echinoderm to make the transition from being sessile (fixed in one place or passively floating) to active locomotion and occurred some 450 million years ago.

The Carnegie Mellon engineers are researching Softbotics – robots made with flexible materials and electronics. They used computer simulations and 3D printing to build a robot with the same body plan as the fossil pleurocystitid. The robot had a long flexible stem that moved in a sweeping action to propel it forward. 

In the summary of their research to team described their work as: “The overall approach followed here, which we call “Paleobionics,” is a nascent but rapidly developing research agenda in which robots are designed based on extinct organisms to generate insights in engineering and evolution.”

References: Carnegie Mellon News 6 November 2023; ScienceDaily 6 November 2023; PNAS 6 November 2023, doi: 10.1073/pnas.2306580120

Editorial Comment:  Building a robot may generate insights into engineering, but it cannot provide any insight into evolution, as the robot did not evolve. The robot was the product of by creative design and construction by intelligent engineers who had studied the structure of the fossil, knew the properties of soft materials, and put this knowledge together to make a new creation. This is the opposite of the chance random processes that supposedly made the pleurocystitid evolve its muscular stem.

Paleobionics may well become an interesting field of research, but as such it is a reminder to palaeontologists and engineers that the evidence of the Creator’s handiwork is so obvious that they are without excuse, and their fossil robot research will be held against them unless they repent and put their trust in their Creator and Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

Photo of Pleurocystitid: Ghedoghedo CC BY-SA 3.0

Creation Research News 8 December 2023

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