Hi-Tech Eye Design in a Lowly Mollusk | The Institute for Creation Research
Hi-Tech Eye Design in a Lowly Mollusk

Human eyes are well-designed to see objects using light transmitted through air, but not through water, because light travels at a different speed through the two media. However, intertidal-dwelling marine mollusks called chitons can see equally well in both environments. How did they acquire this unusual ability?

Chitons scour intertidal rocks for algae meals. Eight integrated shell-plates cover their backs, and a muscular foot allows them to cling with surprising strength to the rocks they traverse. A recent study explored their unique dual-mode eye design. How do they see in both air and water without switching out eye lenses, and is this an "adaptation," as suggested in a summary in ScienceNOW?1

Researchers publishing in Current Biology tested chiton eye lenses and discovered they were the first ever known to be made of the hard mineral aragonite.2 Chiton shells are also made primarily of aragonite, but the use of this material in an eye lens turns out to be an elegant solution to the problem of forming quality images in either air or water.

"The mineral bends the incoming rays in two directions and creates a double image," according to ScienceNOW.1 The researchers suspect that the chiton capitalizes on the two angles, or "refractive indices," of transmitted light to form an image in either environment. The study authors wrote, "We propose that one of the two refractive indices of the birefringent chiton lens places a focused image on the retina in air, whereas the other does so in water."2 The use of aragonite for a lens material could potentially be copied by optical engineers for many applications.

"The adaptation makes sense, as chitons live in intertidal zones and spend time above and below the water line," ScienceNOW reported.1 But who is to say that the chiton eye was the result of random "adaptation" and not intentional design?

Chiton eye specifications include the thickness, size, and placement of aragonite lenses on the chiton's shell—coordinated with internal light-detecting soft tissues like membranes and specified proteins. All these are needed just to detect a raw light signal. Therefore, these eyes have such incredibly ingenious engineering that the burden of proof lies with the one who insists that chiton eye specifications are natural "adaptations" rather than intelligently specified designs.

Also, the study showed "that chitons can distinguish between approaching predators and the general dimming of light that might be caused by a passing cloud."1 Thus, a visual processing portion of the brain exists in order for the animal to form meaningful images from the light.3 Without all these features in place all at once, the chiton would remain blind and there would be no trait for "nature" to "select."

What are the chances of all these features just coming together at the same time without directed intent? And what are the chances of blind chitons surviving amidst a sea of predators for millions of years while they waited for their eyes to evolve?

The fossil record of chitons shows no adaptations toward eyes, but only fully formed chitons. And their fossils are found in almost all the named layers of fossil-containing rocks. They suddenly appear fully formed, with no evolutionary ancestors, and remain unchanged to this day as if they had been uniquely and completely created.

The dual-functioning chiton eyes, which add to the list of wholly different but wholly formed visual systems in the animal world, present their unique case for creation.4,5,6,7,8,9

References

  1. Meyers, C. 'Rock Eyes' Help Mollusk See Above Water. ScienceNOW. Posted on news.science.org April 14, 2011, accessed April 26, 2011.
  2. Speiser, D. I., D. J. Eernisse, and S. Johnsen. 2011. A Chiton Uses Aragonite Lenses to Form Images. Current Biology. 21 (8): 665-670.
  3. Thomas, B. It Takes More Than Eyes to See. ICR News. Posted on icr.org June 25, 2009, accessed April 27, 2011.
  4. Thomas B. Tubular Fish Eyes Defy Evolution. ICR News. Posted on icr.org March 3, 2009, accessed April 27, 2011.
  5. Thomas B. Moth Eye Technology Proves Difficult to Copy. ICR News. Posted on icr.org June 14, 2010, accessed April 27, 2011.
  6. Thomas B. Beetle Larva Bifocals Are Better than Manmade. ICR News. Posted on icr.org August 30, 2010, accessed April 27, 2011.
  7. Thomas B. Eye Optimization in Creation. ICR News. Posted on icr.org November 23, 2010, accessed April 27, 2011.
  8. Thomas B. Shrimp Eye May Inspire New DVD Technology. ICR News. Posted on icr.org November 4, 2009, accessed April 27, 2011.
  9. Bergman, J. 2008. Did eyes evolve by Darwinian mechanisms? Journal of Creation. 22 (2): 67-74.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on May 6, 2011.

The Latest
COVID-19
What New York Times Columnist Katherine Stewart Needs to Know
An Opinion piece for The New York Times by Katherine Stewart1 makes the assertions that President Trump has responded poorly to the coronavirus...

COVID-19
RNA Virus Origins Fit Genesis Creation
RNA viruses all use organized sequences of RNA chemical ‘letters’ to encode their plans for construction and operation. Infamous RNA viruses...

COVID-19
Psalm 8 and COVID-19
Here in Dallas County, we are under shelter-in-place orders as part of the plan to slow the progress of the global coronavirus pandemic.1 Many...

COVID-19
Spacecraft Model Construction for Isolated Families
The European Space Agency has posted a number of do-it-yourself science activities for families homebound during the coronavirus pandemic.1...

NEWS
Woodcocks: Fit for Different Situations
In today’s change-filled world, God is ubiquitously displaying His creativity to provide for our most important needs. God’s creative providence...

NEWS
Unfounded Fears Arise from Deep Canyon
New concerns have surfaced this week about melting ice from within the deepest point on the continents.1 Worry over the rapid melting of the...

COVID-19
An Ocean of Viruses
A virus is a very tiny structure. In its simplest definition, a virus is some nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) packed inside a protein coat. It is designed...

NEWS
Inside April 2020 Acts & Facts
How is ICR preparing for our next season of ministry? How does science confirm that turtles have always been turtles? Were dragons really dinosaurs?...

APOLOGETICS
Signs of the Times: Glacier Meltdown
What if meteorologists only got paid if their weather predictions proved to be correct? If so, predicting the weather would be a risky business, like...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Don't They Believe in Creation?
After an ICR scientist presents convincing evidence for biblical creation, listeners often ask, “If all you just said is true, then why don’t...