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Successful Sonar

on February 19, 2010

Bats and dolphins possess amazingly similar abilities to echolocate

In two studies recently published in Current Biology, scientists report that not only do bats and dolphins possess the ability to “echolocate,” but that they also possess amazingly similar genetic mechanisms that allow echolocation. Echolocation is the ability of an animal to use sound in finding its way around objects, just as a submarine uses sonar. Bats and dolphins share the same biological basis for echolocation—which poses a significant riddle for evolutionary explanations.

Generally, when two animals share a feature, evolutionists claim that the animals are closely related. For example, evolutionists claim that humans and chimps have similarities in appearance and genetics. Because of this, they think that humans and chimps both descended from a common, ape-like ancestor that also had those traits. Likewise, evolutionists use supposed similarities between dinosaur fossils and modern birds to claim that dinosaurs and birds had common ancestors.

This faulty reasoning runs into a wall when a feature is shared by two creatures that couldn’t have had common ancestors—at least, not according to the evolutionary tree of life. Evolutionists try to get around this problem by labeling such similarites as a case of parallel or “convergent” evolution. This means that the same trait “evolved” at the same time but in different ways and in two completely different animals.

In the case of echolocation, however, this explanation doesn’t seem to fit. Both bats and dolphins echolocate, and the genetic mechanisms allowing the ability are nearly identical in both animals. Team member Stephen Rossiter, of the University of London, explained how surprising the discovery was:

“[I]t is generally assumed that most of these so-called convergent traits have arisen by different genes or different mutations. Our study shows that a complex trait—echolocation—has in fact evolved by identical genetic changes in bats and dolphins.”

It seems highly unlikely that random mutations could cause any animal to develop the complex ability to echolocate. It seems a huge stretch to believe that the identical ability randomly evolved in two different animals, the bat and the dolphin. Creationists believe that God designed both the bat and the dolphin, and gave each of them a similar and very special ability to echolocate.