The Delicate Balance of Ear Crystals | The Institute for Creation Research
The Delicate Balance of Ear Crystals

UCLA researchers have discovered that tiny crystals called otoliths—necessary parts of a properly functioning inner ear—form not as the direct result of a gene product, but rather as the result of the physical, swaying motion of hair-like cilia during development.

As adult vertebrate bodies move about, otoliths are pulled by gravity and enable the detection of movement, which is vital for maintaining balance. The researchers studied these crystals in fish embryos, where they accumulate as gelatinous proteins mixed with calcium carbonate. When fully and properly formed, the crystals lie atop sensitive beds of cilia, which are fine, hair-like cellular extensions that are responsible for translating roll, pitch, and yaw information from the semicircular canals of vertebrates’ ears.

In their study published in Nature, the scientists discovered that otolith formation required more than just genes—in this case, properly functioning cilia.1 This represents another example of an “epigenetic” factor influencing development, whereas a few short years ago scientists thought that purely genetic causes were responsible for the formation of biological structures.

But there is additional significance to this research. The researchers disabled the gene for the protein dynein, the molecular motor responsible for ciliary motion. The result was that the otoliths “did not assemble in the correct site. So not only did ear crystals form in the wrong place, but they were misshapen and abnormally sized,” according to co-author Kent Hill.2 So the crystals, rows of cilia, sensory cells, skull cavities, inner ear membranes, neuron connections, and many other parts must each be correctly formed for vertebrates to detect motion.

Not only are otoliths complex (being a crystalline arrangement of matter), but their timed and directed formation must result in the correct placement, shape, number, and size for balance detection to work at all. The same Creator who “curiously wrought” us in our mothers’ wombs,3 has similarly set up ciliary swaying as the means to build vertebrate ear otoliths. These crystals’ role in maintaining balance, as well as the precise requirements of their construction, shows clear indications of the Creator’s hand.

References

  1. Colantonio, J. R. et al. The dynein regulatory complex is required for ciliary motility and otolith biogenesis in the inner ear. Nature. Published online prior to print November 30, 2008, 8.
  2. Schmidt, E. Can you hear me now? How the inner ear's sensors are made. UCLA press release, November 30, 2008.
  3. Psalm 139:15.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer.

Article posted on December 9, 2008.

The Latest
NEWS
Brainy Paper Wasps
Wasps (Family Vespidae) have a bad rap, but their benefits actually outweigh their painful sting—although many would disagree! What is the function...

CREATION PODCAST
The Secrets of the Cell | The Creation Podcast: Episode 29
Cells are the basic units of life, and in some forms they are actually organisms. What is a cell? What goes on inside of a cell? Did all life come from...

NEWS
Fossil Footprints Fit Flood Ice-Age Model
Anthropologists Thomas Urban (Cornell University) and Daron Duke (Far Western Anthropological Research Group) recently found preserved human footprints...

NEWS
Deep-Sea Lobster Microbiome
Research continues regarding complex and amazing microbiomes found on or within a variety of creatures.1 The microbiome is a microbial community...

NEWS
"Massively Exciting" Fossil Find
Now this is exciting: “Geologists have found the fossil of the earliest known animal predator. The 560-million-year-old specimen is the first of...

NEWS
Copulation Didn't Kill the Frogs, the Flood Did
Evolutionary scientists recently studied 168 frog fossils from central Germany, concluding that the frogs all drowned while aggressively mating. They claim...

CREATION PODCAST
What Can We Learn From Fossils? | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
Is evolution seen in the fossil record? Why are fossilized terrestrial animals found buried with marine creatures? What conditions were needed to form...

NEWS
Be Not Deceived: Spiritually Train to Overcome Secular Science...
Thorough instruction and discipline are the hallmark qualities of a strong military training program. Well-trained soldiers can think on their feet, adapt...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Jurassic World: Dominion - Fun Movie, Bad Science | Creation.Live...
Covered in feathers, running faster than cars, and living in cold climates...these are just a few of the ideas introduced in Jurassic World: Dominion....

NEWS
CET Model in Plants Is Clearly Seen
Plant scientists have known for decades that plants aren’t just static entities. The half-million or more species of plants in the world display...