Robotic Study Shows Differences Between Walking and Swimming

on March 10, 2007

LiveScience: “Robot Reveals How Fish First Crawled Ashore” http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/070308_salamander_robot.html

European scientists formerly “puzzled” over the workings of a key episode in the story of evolution have developed a salamander-esque robot in an effort to elucidate an answer to the puzzle. The key episode is the alleged water-to-land transition that evolutionists indicate was the starting point for millions of years of terrestrial evolution.

The LiveScience article explains the puzzle:

Until now, scientists had puzzled over how ancient swimmers, which used mostly body movements in the water, could recruit their limbs for land locomotion while triggering the distinctive body movements required for a typical walk.

One neural circuit is all it would take for a seafaring amphibian (or a fish such as Tiktaalik) to transition to land-walking.

To shed light on the process, the team of scientists, led by physicist Auke Ijspeert of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, constructed a 33-inch (0.84 m) robot, colored bright yellow, that is modeled after a salamander—even down to its “spinal cord.” The robot was equipped with limbs as well.

As an increasing electrical stimulus was applied to the “spinal cord,” the robot transitioned from moving its limbs slowly, then more quickly, and finally at full speed, “at which point the limb neuron centers shut down” per the robot’s programming. At this point, the robot began to undulate its entire body in lamprey fashion, enabling it to swim. Based on this model, the team concluded that one neural circuit is all it would take for a seafaring amphibian (or a fish such as Tiktaalik) to transition to land-walking.

Unfortunately for evolutionary theorists, they have yet to show how actual land-going, weight-bearing appendages—or any of the other unique structures of land life—could have evolved by chance! Ultimately, building a robot that transitions from sea to land doesn’t prove a sea-to-land transition any more than an illustration of an ape slowly evolving into an upright-walking human proves that we descended from apes!


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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.