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No. 71: Sep-Oct 1990

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The bombardier beetle pulse-jet

Creationists have long pointed to the bombardier beetle's jet-like defensive spray mechanism as a device that could not have evolved in many small steps. It must be complete and perfect to work at all. New high-speed photos and related research demonstrate that:

"The ejection system of the beetle shows basic similarity to the pulse jet propulsion mechanism of the German V-1 'buzz' bomb of World War II."

What the beetle has "evolved" is an intermittent explosive process that fires about 500 pulses per second. The explosive energy comes from the mixing of two separate fluids (hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide with oxidative enzymes). (Dean, Jeffrey, et al; "Defensive Spray of the Bombardier Beetle: A Biological Pulse Jet," Science, 248:1219, 1990.)

Comment. The fundamental question is, of course, how can many, small, random mutations contribute to the development of the mechanisms of the pulse jet, its two fuels, the pumps, the fuel reservoirs, the control system, etc., when only the complete, perfected system has survival value. Although creationists argue that the theories of evolution and natural section are unconvincing here; it is still possible that atheistic factors still beyond our ken are operating, and that what we really need is a better theory of evolution.

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