Hero Shrew Spine Design Glorifies the Creator | The Institute for Creation Research

Hero Shrew Spine Design Glorifies the Creator
When you first look at a hero shrew, you might wonder, “How in the world did this critter get this name?” But these little mole-like creatures are considered to be the Clark Kents of the animal world—their superpowers are hidden under humble exteriors. New research into the amazing structure and function of the hero shrew spine is revealing amazing engineering that utterly defies evolutionary speculation.1

Figure 1. The spine of a hero shrew showing the interlocking vertebrae (right) compared to a more typical spine of an African giant shrew (left).
Image credit: S. Smith

Nothing else in the animal kingdom contains the extreme spinal structure and strength of hero shrews.2 Their highly unique and unusual backbones can withstand the weight of a full-grown human standing on top them. The hero shrew’s spine has interlocking vertebrae that make it extremely strong and rigid when it is compressed (Figure 1). Interestingly, the shrew’s backbone is flat on both the top and underneath. It also features plentiful amounts of broad side flanges that have lots of finger-like projections forming a nearly circular cage around the entire spine (Figure 2).

To more fully ascertain how the design of this structure gives the hero shrew its amazing spinal powers, scientists used a 3-D X-ray technology to scan the internal features of vertebrae using 20 different specimens.1 For a comparison, they also included scans from a goliath shrew that is similar in size to the hero shrew, but the goliath shrew has a standard mammalian backbone. The goal was to analyze the density and cellular structure of the interior of the bones and then combine that analysis with the morphology data of the outward mechanics of the spine.

Figure 2. Hero shrew spine, viewed from underneath.
 
Compared to the spine of goliath shrews, hero shrews have many more and much-wider vertebrae. Internally, the hero shrew’s cellular structure exhibited many reinforcing rod-like structures that made the otherwise spongey bone very dense and strong. These struts as they were called, were primarily oriented in a head-to-tail direction compared to the goliath shrew where the struts seemed to have a more random orientation. This strut orientation within the bone tissues further maximized the strength and power of the spine.

The bottom line is that hero shrew spines don't just look tough and formidable from the outside, but their inside cellular structure is highly designed to maximize strength as well. Optimization is a hallmark of design.

What purpose this unique overall design is serving the shrew has yet to be determined since little is known about the behavior of these creatures in the wild. One hypothesis is that this trait facilitates foraging for food by allowing the shrew to scrunch up and then push and force its way through difficult places to get at insects for lunch.

Unique adaptive designs in shrews and other creatures continue to amaze biologists. And of course, evolutionists have no clue as to how these highly complex and optimized all-or-nothing traits could have appeared suddenly with no evolutionary precursor. The obvious conclusion is that an all-powerful and omnipotent Creator engineered these creatures from the beginning.

Stage image: A hero shrew (Scutisorex) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Stage image credit: Julian Kerbis Peterhans/ScienceNews. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.


References
1. Smith, S.M. and K.D. Angielczyk. 2020. Deciphering an extreme morphology: bone microarchitecture of the Hero Shrew backbone (Soricidae: Scutisorex). Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 287: 20200457.
2. Stanley, W.T. et al. 2013. A new hero emerges: another exceptional mammalian spine and its potential adaptive significance. Biology Letters. 9: 20130486.

*Dr. Tomkins is Life Sciences Director at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his doctorate in genetics from Clemson University.
The Latest
NEWS
New Devonian Shark Fossil from Arkansas
The fossil record contains a plethora of shark teeth, but fossilized shark skeletons are exceptionally rare. When they are found, though, they are always...

NEWS
Photosynthetic Proteins Power Plants
Some scientists think the photosynthetic process is all but figured out since the discovery of more details regarding the place, assembly, and function...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Summer 2024
...

CREATION PODCAST
Uncovering the Secrets of Earth's Oceans | The Creation Podcast:...
The oceans cover most of our planet's surface. Uniformitarians claim the oceans are nearly 4 billion years old, but the evidence says otherwise.   Host...

NEWS
A Giant Ichthyosaur: Largest Ever Marine Reptile?
Paleontologists have discovered portions of a giant ichthyosaur’s lower jawbone on Blue Anchor Beach at the southern entrance to the United Kingdom’s...

NEWS
New Titanosaur Species Discovered in Uruguay and Argentina
The pre-Flood world had some truly massive dinosaurs, and the largest of them were in the group Sauropodomorpha.1 Within this group were...

NEWS
May 2024 ICR Wallpaper
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you...

NEWS
Was a Key to Photosynthesis Evolution Discovered?
Northern Canadian lakes were the source of recently discovered unique photosynthetic bacteria of the phylum Chloroflexota. After years of culturing,...

CREATION PODCAST
Four Moons That Indicate a Young Universe | The Creation Podcast:...
Earth has one moon, but Jupiter has many! What can we learn from our celestial neighbor's satellites? Do they indicate youth?   Host...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Seeds and Sprouts
by Renée Dusseau and Susan Windsor* You're never too young to be a creation scientist and explore our Creator's world. Kids, discover...