Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 7: June 1979

Issue Contents

Other pages











What drummer do periodical cicadas hear?

Periodical cicadas have the longest life cycles of the insects. Every 13 or 17 years they emerge in vast numbers. How did such long life cycles evolve? How is such precise periodicity maintained. Evolutionists answer the second question with ease. Periodical cicadas are successful in life because their overwhelming numbers, at such widely separated times, completely saturate the appetites of predators, whose populations are not synchronized with the cicada's. Any deviant cicadas emerging a year or so early or late are quickly snapped up, thus promoting synchronicity. So far, so good; but how did such a novel method of coping with predators evolve? There seems to be no way that the cicada's "adaptive peak" of evolutionary success could have been attained from an initial nonperiodic origin. In other words, the cicada cyclic prison is so strong that evolutionists cannot imagine how the prison was made in the first place.

(May, Robert M.; "Periodical Cicadas," Nature, 277:347, 1979.)

Comment. Was it a giant, blind evolutionary step that just happened to succeed?

From Science Frontiers #7, June 1979. 1979-2000 William R. Corliss