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No. 7: June 1979

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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

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987