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The painter of ants

Careful observation of its wings soon revealed the clear image of an ant on each of them.

ZOE AUTOR 102/Antonio_Cruz TRADUCTOR Roger Marshall 05 DE FEBRERO DE 2023 11:00 h
Photo: Antonio Cruz.

The colours. the designs and the shapes that are exhibited by the bodies of living beings are directly related to light, and their capacity to perceive it.

Some of the resulting adaptations serve to provide camouflage in their habitat, so that they can remain unnoticed by potential predators or prey.

This is what is known as cryptic coloration, typical among animals such as stick insects, chameleons, octopus and zebras, among others.

Likewise, there is in certain ecosystems what is known as aposematic coloration, the purpose of which is to render all the more visible the species that possess it so as to warn other species of their toxicity.This is the case with many species of wasp, spiders, frogs, snakes, etc.

Mimetic coloration, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. It is a feature of certain harmless species which imitate the colouring of other more dangerous species in order to avoid being attacked by predators.

Examples of this include the flies that imitate the colouring of wasps and other dangerous arthropods.

One surprising instance of this mimetic coloration was discovered a decade ago in a species of fruit fly whose scientific name is Goniurellia tridens. [1].

Careful observation of its wings son revealed the clear image of an ant on each of them. The details are all precise and make it possible to identify its six legs, two antennae, a head, a thorax and slightly longer abdomen, just as real ants have.

While this fruit fly was first described in 1910 [2], was rediscovered in 2012, in the United Arab Emirates, by the entomologist Brigitte Howarth of the Zayed University of Dubai, who showed that each image perfectly imitated an ant.

These diptera insects belong to the Tephritidae family, of which around five thousand species of fruit fly have been identified.

The varied and creative images of ants on the wings of this species have earned them the name “peacock flies”. Subsequently, specimens have been found in Palestine, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, India and even in the Canary Islands (Spain).

When the fruit fly feels threatened by a predator it moves its wings in such a way that they simulate ants moving from one side to another.

This can confuse the predator for several seconds, sufficient to enable the fly to escape. Thus, the more perfect and realistic the images on their wings are, the more likely the flies are to survive the attacks of birds and reptiles.

The female specimens of the Goniurellia tridens lay their eggs on oleanders and other plants, as their larvae feed on them.

According to evolutionary theory, such images evolved in a random manner on these flies until they ended up resembling a completely different species, such as ants.

The problem with such explanations is that they are implausible.They require too many random mutations, and natural selection is incapable of producing them.

All it can do is eliminate detrimental errors in the DNA, but it cannot produce the information required to generate new features by means of beneficial mutations, as it has been believed to do up to now.

The astonishing ability that these flies possess to represent ants on their wings requires several different actions all converging on a single very precise aim.

The first of these consists in recognising the general appearance of the ants that surround them. Then they have to produce the necessary biochemical changes in the wings to generate an image of these ants or make them resemble this species.

All this presupposes a careful observation of their immediate environment, sufficient intelligence to imitate it, planning of all the mechanisms and the action required to implement them with this teleological purpose.

Having just one of these features without the others would be of no use whatever. All of these capacities must be in place at the same time, and this is something that random mutations could never bring about.

The number of mutations required to enable the proteins to change from producing a species with no mimetic capability on its wings to a fly like this is of an astronomical mathematical magnitude and requires far too much time. Evolution does not allow for so many millions of years.

On the contrary, such unique adaptations of organisms point to intelligent design as the origin of everything. The hypothesis of a creator God remains the most logically plausible.

What is required is the intentional action of an artist, not the accumulation of blind, fortuitous accidents during millions of years.

There are no scientific proofs that such a thing could have happened. By contrast, we know that intelligent designs always originate in a mind.

The apostle Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1 v 20).

The incredulity of some human beings renders them incapable of contemplating the greatness of God which surrounds them on every side. This is a deliberate act of substituting the Creator for blind, trivial material processes.

However, they have no excuse, because the evidence of Almighty God is all-pervasive. All we need to do is open our eyes, but especially our soul, to the multiple realities of the world around us and bow our heads before the power of this great painter of ants, who so delicately decorated the wings of these unique flies.

Our prayer continues to be the same as it has always been: Lord open the eyes of the unbelieving so that they can see your light, and discover that you are the great Designer, who has the power even to rescue them from their own scepticism!

2.  Goniurellia tridens (Hendel, 1910) in GBIF Secretariat (2022). GBIF Backbone Taxonomy. Checklist dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/39omei accessed via GBIF.org on 2023-01-07.




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