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No. 71: Sep-Oct 1990

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Those Amazing Insects

Scientific creationists often point out marvels of biological engineering as proofs that evolution by small chancedirected steps is, to say the least, improbable. A sharp arrow for their qui ver has just appeared in Science.

Caterpillar-ant vibrational communication. Some species of caterpillars cannot survive predation unless they are protected by ants. To attract the ants, who just happen to dote on special secretions of the caterpillars, the caterpillars send out vibrational signals across leaves and twigs. In addition to their secretory structures, the caterpillars have also evolved novel vibrators to send out their calls for protection. A few butterfly species from all continents (except Antarctica) have evolved these devices. Looking at this geographical spread, P. J. DeVries thinks that the two sets of organs must have developed independently at least three times. (DeVries, P.J.; "Enhancement of Symbioses between Butterfly Caterpillars and Ants by Vibrational Communication," Science, 248:1104, 1990.)

From Science Frontiers #71, SEP-OCT 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss