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The Creation Explanation

Creation Explanation Intelligent, Purposeful Design in Nature

Predation and Defense

Slugs with stolen stingers. Predation is combined with defense in a most amazing way by the spurred nudibranch, Eolidoidea, a type of sea slug which feeds primarily on sea anemones. But anemones are armed with tiny stinging cells which explode at the slightest touch and plunge a poisoned dart into any intruder. The sea slug, however, can tear an anemone apart violently, chew it up, swallow and digest it without either exploding or digesting the stinging cells. And the most fantastic part of this story is yet to come.

Leading from the sea slug's stomach to small pouches in the fluffy spurs on its sides are very narrow channels lined with moving cilia. The cilia sweep the stinging cells out of the stomach and up the channels to the pouches, where they are arranged and stored for the sea slug's defense. If an unwary fish should nip at a sea slug, it would be stung in the mouth by stinging cells which the hapless sea anemone had prepared for its own hunting and defense.19

Cyanide is good for the millipede. The millipede, Apheloria corrugata, is a chemical warfare specialist. On both sides of each segment of its body where a pair of legs attach, sub-surface glands produce a liquid containing the chemical compound, mandelonitrile. When the millipede is attacked by ants or other enemies, it mixes the mandelonitrile with a catalyst, causing it to decompose to form benzaldehyde, a mild irritant, and hydrogen cyanide gas. Hydrogen cyanide is the deadly poison gas used in the gas chamber to execute criminals. For chemistry enthusiasts the equation for the reaction is as follows:

C6H5 - C - CN --> C6H5CHO + HCN

--> benzaldehyde + hydrogen cyanide

There the millipede sits, happily basking in a cloud of lethal fumes, while his attackers flee in all directions. When the coast is clear he crawls away, for some unknown reason totally unaffected by his own deadly poison.22

The cowboy fungus. An earthy example of intelligent and purposeful design in living creatures is that of the predatory molds. There are many species of soil mold which capture and feed upon the tiny, exceedingly numerous nematode worms which inhabit the soil. Some of these molds grow sticky knobs with which they entrap the worms. But the star predatory mold species is Arthrobotrys dactyloides, which lassos its prey like a cowboy lassos steers. It is only when nematodes are present in the soil that this mold grows tiny loops, each one formed of three cells. When a worm chances to stick its neck into one of the loops, within one-tenth of a second the loop cells swell and the loop clamps shut on the worm, strangling it. The worm is then digested at leisure. The cowboy fungus has struck again!23

figure 1-6. The nematode worm has been trapped in a constricting ring of the earth mold, Arthrobotrys dactyloides, magnified 363 times in this photomicrograph supplied by Dr. David Pramer, Director of Biological Sciences, Rutgers State University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.



19. Roessler, Carl and Jankees Post, Natural History, Vol. 81, May 1972, pp. 30-37.

22. Eisner, T. and H.E. Eisner, Natural History, Vol. 74, Mar. 1965, pp. 30-37.

23. Pramer, David, Science, Vol. 144, 24 April 1964, pp. 382-388.

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