Tortoise Shell Rights Itself

on November 3, 2007

New Scientist: “Tortoise Shapes Evolved to Avoid ‘Turning Turtle’ Everyone knows that tortoises aren’t exactly nature’s most agile creatures. The plodding manner of the reptiles is fabled, and we haven’t heard of any arrests for illegal tortoise fighting.

Despite their appearance, however, some species of tortoise have an intriguing mechanism for maintaining “balance” in the most extreme sense: shells that self-right the creature.

The star tortoise ... has “just one stable orientation, right side up."

The star tortoise, for example, has “just one stable orientation, right side up. Put another way, a star tortoise placed on its back will automatically roll back onto its front, righting itself with little effort.” The star tortoise’s particularly large dome is one type of monostatic object, an object that “has only one stable way of resting on a horizontal surface.”

Monostatic objects are “incredibly rare” in nature, say researchers Gabor Domokos and Peter Varkonyi of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, who modeled various turtle and tortoise shells.

What an incredible design! When we appreciate both the design and the Designer, we are encouraged to study and learn more of nature, contrary to common claims that creationists are anti-science.

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