Why Don't Poison Dart Frogs Poison Themselves? | The Institute for Creation Research
Why Don't Poison Dart Frogs Poison Themselves?

Found in Central and South America, the poison dart frog uses its skin toxin for defense and its bright colors as a warning. Each tiny amphibian holds enough toxin in its skin to kill 10 people.1 Its popular name came from native hunters who very carefully dipped the tips of their hunting darts in the frog’s poison. A new study revealed how the frogs survive their own poison, and the answer points to God.

Each tiny amphibian holds enough toxin in its skin to kill 10 people. Tweet: Each tiny amphibian holds enough toxin in its skin to kill 10 people. https://www.icr.org/article/10291/ @icrscience @icrbthomas

Over 150 years ago, Charles Darwin asserted that nature could select enough traits over time to change one animal kind into another. Could natural processes have accidentally constructed poison dart frogs step by step? If nature’s first step was to make the frog’s toxin, then what would stop that first batch of toxin from immediately killing the frog, thus ending its imaginary evolution?

Perhaps the frog developed immunity to the toxin first, and its sophisticated biochemical toxin production facilities emerged later so that the toxin could evolve without killing the frog. Does this sound reasonable?2 Two big problems confront that idea.

A new study revealed how the frogs survive their own poison, and the answer points to God. Tweet: A new study revealed how the frogs survive their own poison, and the answer points to God. https://www.icr.org/article/10291/ @icrscience @icrbthomas

First, natural processes do not anticipate future needs or desires. Nature never said, “Hmm, if I could just invent a toxin, it could be useful for future froggy defense.”

The second problem reaches into the newly discovered details of poison frog immunity. Its toxin works by docking with a specific module of a sodium gate protein found on the outer surfaces of nerve and muscle cells. The toxin targets a module that has 1,836 amino acids, each precisely in its place like so many miniature engine components.3 The docked toxin blocks the victim’s sodium gates from sending vital signals. This freezes muscle cells, thereby stopping the heart. Only when scientists changed the 1,584th amino acid found in most animals (asparagine) to the amino acid that the poison frogs have at that spot (threonine) did the toxin fail to dock. Rats with the frog’s version of this protein survived exposure to the toxin just fine.4

Natural processes do not anticipate future needs or desires. Tweet: Natural processes do not anticipate future needs or desires. https://www.icr.org/article/10291/ @icrscience @icrbthomas

What are the odds that natural processes would have somehow specified that exact amino acid swap at that exact position, then spread this new version across all poison dart frog ancestors, all before the toxin ever became a glimmer in Mother Nature’s imaginary eye?

In other words, which came first, the toxin or the frog’s immunity to its own toxin?

A powerful Creator like the One the Bible describes would not have to build animals in steps. He could have created each original animal all at once, like Genesis says He did, to avoid all the “which part came first” problems.5 Plus, a wise Creator could (and a good Creator would) equip creatures with suitable solutions to needs He actually anticipated.

A powerful Creator like the One the Bible describes would not have to build animals in steps Tweet: A powerful Creator like the One the Bible describes would not have to build animals in steps https://www.icr.org/article/10291/ @icrscience @icrbthomas

One may ask why a good God would create harmful toxins at all. Well, in addition to protecting creatures, toxins can become medicines when used in measured doses and specific applications.6 The Lord’s wisdom, “beside Him as a master craftsman”7 from the beginning, anticipated both our research and possible medical interests and these frogs’ needs when He—not nature—designed their toxic skin.

References

  1. Yirka, B. Why poison dart frogs don’t poison themselves. PhysOrg. Posted on phys.org September 5, 2017, accessed September 6, 2017.
  2. Chemists performed 24 precise steps to manufacture this frog toxin in a laboratory—a meticulous and intricate procedure that “random natural processes” could never specify. See Logan, M. M. et al. 2016. Asymmetric synthesis of batrachotoxin: Enantiomeric toxins show functional divergence against NaV. Science. 354 (6314): 865-869.
  3. NaV1.4 (Na = sodium, and V = voltage) is really just one subunit of a larger, vital, voltage-gated sodium channel that helps send nerve impulses to muscles.
  4. Wang, S.-Y., and G. K. Wang. 2017. Single rat muscle Na+ channel mutation confers batrachotoxin autoresistance found in poison-dart frog Phyllobates terribilis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (39): 10491-10496.
  5. Guliuzza, R. J. 2010. All-or-Nothing Unity. Acts & Facts. 39 (9): 10-11.
  6. Harvey, A. L. 2014. Toxins and drug discovery. Toxicon. 92: 193-200.
  7. Proverbs 8:30.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his M.S. in biotechnology from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Cite this article: Brian Thomas, Ph.D. 2017. Why Don't Poison Dart Frogs Poison Themselves?. Acts & Facts. 46 (11).

The Latest
NEWS
Anthropologist Wows Scientists
Jeremy DeSilva of Dartmouth College gave an evening presentation at the end of this year’s week-long American Society of Mass Spectrometry conference....

NEWS
Plesiosaurs: Designed for Swimming in the Beginning
Plesiosaurs (“near lizards”) were an amazing group of aquatic reptiles. Their clear design includes unique flippers and streamlined bodies...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Natural Selection Part 3: A Seductive Swindle | Creation.Live...
Darwin’s idea of natural selection involves long ages of trial and error, making it a fundamentally death-driven concept. Could such a process...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Natural Selection Part 2: A Poor Personification | Creation.Live...
Charles Darwin compared natural selection to a human breeder, but the analogy has faced substantial criticism, even from within Darwinian camps. What...

CREATION.LIVE PODCAST
Natural Selection Part 1: A Darwinian Deception | Creation.Live...
In his book On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin outlined the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. But what was Darwin’s purpose...

NEWS
Imaginary Dinosaur Science Runs Wild in Jurassic World: Dominion
Wild imagination abounds in the new Jurassic World: Dominion movie. Even a fully-feathered dinosaur is shown swimming below the ice at one point. But this...

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Bring Your Family to the ICR Discovery Center and Celebrate the...
The ICR Discovery Center Anniversary Celebration on September 3, 2022, will unveil new science exhibits, hands-on activities for the whole family, the...

CREATION PODCAST
Where Did Our Sun Come From? | The Creation Podcast: Episode...
What makes our sun so unique? Where does the sun get its power? Looking at the evidence, how old is our sun? On this episode of The Creation Podcast,...

NEWS
Giraffe Neck Evolution?
“How the giraffe's long neck evolved has long been an evolutionary mystery” said a recent article.1 For many decades it was...

NEWS
A Shocking Case for Creation
Scientific investigation and research continue to reveal the Hand of the Creator. In this case, it is the remarkable electric fish (ray-finned fish, or...