What we thought about...



30th January, 2006

Seeing God articles
Faith & Reason articles
Bible Teachings articles

Smelly lobsters

You don't need me to tell you that, given a chance to putrefy for a few days, lobsters smell… well… horrendous. But until recently nobody knew that each individual lobster — of at least some species, if not all — has its own distinct odor strong enough for other lobsters to recognize it. Reporting on findings published in a recent issue of Journal of Experimental Biology, National Geographic News of January 16th describes experiments on interactions between lobsters before and after the smelling portion of their antennae were shaved off.

When lobsters from different locations were placed in a tank, they would immediately engage in some serious fisticuffs with each other for almost an hour. After they had gauged each other's mettle and figured out a hierarchy of dominance, they would then settle down, the wimps getting along in their new community by simply staying away from the bullies. When separated for a day and then reunited, they would quickly sniff each other over with their antennae and reestablish spacing based on remembered dominance. When that part of the antenna devoted to smelling was snipped off, they would tilt at each other once again as if they had never met. Clearly, each lobster reeked of a unique odor. Further, lobsters have the ability to remember their neighbors' smell signatures.

Nature lovers won't be totally shocked by this new finding. They have long been familiar with the capacity of penguins returning from days or weeks at sea to find their own young

by their unique squeak, and of bats returning from a night's feeding to find their own unprepossessing youngsters out of a sea of identical hairless blobs by their smell. But we should not be blasé about such miracles. Further, lobsters are “mere invertebrates”, lacking the superior brain capacity of birds and bats, one would think. And in their case, they aren't programmed to recognize only one smell, but many; nobody knows how many smelly neighbors a lobster could remember before blowing a fuse from memory overload.

The Intelligent Designer figured out the genetic coding necessary to allow for an almost infinite set of variations on some chemical theme to be elaborated by these large crustaceans. I have no idea if zoologists have any clue as to what part of a lobster's anatomy synthesizes the chemicals, or what family of chemicals are involved. Of if they have studied how the antenna's ultrastructure is equipped to detect whatever kinds of molecules we are talking about. Almost for sure they have no knowledge of how that part of the brain devoted to processing and remembering each unique smell molecule works in detail. Those who believe in creation by wisdom and intelligence won't take for granted the staggering suite of design features, ranging from antennal structure to signal processing capability, that enable dumb lobsters to perform such a sophisticated trick. They will think of the words of the Psalmist: “The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them” (111:2). If we know the God of creation, we will take pleasure in His works.


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