Loren I. Petrich Mar2193 10:12PM AllVegetarian Garden of Eden? I propose this as an additi

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Loren I. Petrich Mar-21-93 10:12PM All-Vegetarian Garden of Eden? Organization: LLNL From: lip@s1.gov (Loren I. Petrich) Message-ID: <1ojlbm$rce@s1.gov> Newsgroups: talk.origins I propose this as an addition to FAQ files on creationism. Was the Garden of Eden All-Vegetarian? Some creationists maintain that all animals were vegetarians in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve committed that great sin. This belief was actually a common pre-Darwinian belief; the 18th cy. (?) English theologian John Wesley stated that "the spider was as harmless as the fly, and did not wait for blood". However, there is one great difficulty. It has to do with the "design" of predatory animals. One of the great creationist arguments is that seeming design implies a designer, and let us see what a predatory animal would tell us about its designer(s) and said beings' intentions. Predatory animals have numerous adaptations that make catching and eating other animals easier. That would suggest that their designer(s) _intended_ them to be good at this way of life, to follow a standard creationist mode of argument. That would mean that they were not intended to be vegetarians at all, but carnivores that hunt their prey. This goes directly against the hypothesis of universal vegetarianism in the Garden of Eden, since the predators would be on some very unnatural diets. It is worth noting that in the early nineteenth century, a pious biologist named Hugh Miller took this issue _very_ seriously when he considered the fossils of animals which showed adaptations to being predatory; here was clear counterevidence that he had to account for somehow, which present-day creationists simply wave away. I note in passing that design and evolution are not mutually exclusive. Evolution can always take place as a result of the activities of genetic engineers, though there is no positive evidence for their existence. "Negative" evidence would be the supposed incapability of unassisted natural selection to produce some feature (eyes or wings or whatever is one's favorite). Here is a partial catalog of adaptations for being a good predator: Teeth. Dogs and cats, among other members of the mammalian order Carnivora, have long, sharp canine teeth in front for cutting into flesh, and molars modified into carnassials in back for ripping flesh. By comparison, hoofed mammals, like cows and horses, have incisors with full-length edges in front for nipping off vegetation, and molars in back for grinding it up. Monitor lizards and sharks have lots of sharp triangular teeth with serrated edges like steak knives (at least for sharks) for cutting into flesh. Poisonous snakes have teeth modified into fangs, which they use to inject poison into their victims. Diet. Cats are very unwilling to eat vegetable material, though at least one company sells a specially prepared vegetarian cat food named Vegecat. Also, cats are dependent on taurine, which is principally found in animal flesh, meaning that that is what they would have to eat. Lures. Several species of fish (angler fish) feature this way of catching other fish: A dorsal-fin spine bends forward and has a lump on its end. If another fish comes by, the angler fish opens its mouth and eats that deceived fish. Thus, an angler fish is a fish that goes fishing. Traps. Ant Lions make little pits for themselves and hide at the bottom. An ant that falls in gets eaten. Carnivorous plants also use traps of various sorts, such as forming leaves into pitcher shapes and making leaves sticky. Some, like the Venus Flytrap, are more active; when a fly walks on a leaf, the leaf closes on the fly. Spider webs are also traps, laid by the spiders to catch wayward insects. Camouflage. Possessed by predators and prey alike. Being inconspicuous is valuable only if it is important not to be too easy to see. This is good for prey animals because it helps them escape their predators, and it is also good for predator animals because it keeps them from alerting their prey too soon. Camouflage takes numerous forms, such as countershading (light on the bottom and dark on the top), being the same color as one's surroundings (I once saw a Tomato Hornworm caterpillar that was the same color as the plant it had been munching on), having the same shape as one's surroundings (stick insects and scale insects that look like thorns, and even insects that look like bird droppings), and even creating perceptual confusion, which is thought to be the value for the stripes of zebras and tigers, because they are perpendicular to the outlines of their owners' bodies. Poison. Poisonous snakes, as mentioned earlier, use poison to help catch their prey. If a mouse that was bitten gets away, the snake will follow its trail and catch up with it when it gets really sick. Other animals use poison to catch their prey, such as jellyfish, some spiders, scorpions, and even dinoflagellates (one-celled "algae" that are known to cause fish kills). Solitary wasps will sting their prey, usually other arthropods, with just enough poison to paralyze it so that their offspring can have a fresh meal when they hatch from their eggs. Poison is also used for defense, as in the case of social wasps and bees that sting would-be raiders of their hives. Strangulation. In the Amazon jungle, the strangler fig (a plant) has a way of acquiring sunlight for its leaves at the expense of other trees. A strangler fig grows around another tree, killing it, and thus ensuring that it has no leaves above it. Armor. Many prey animals have armor as a form of defense against predators. Turtles and armadillos are armored land animals, which is exceptional, due to the weight of good armor. In the sea, shelled animals are very common; the shells are, of course, a form of armor. Some sea snails, however, bore holes in shells to get at their owners, and starfish will pry open shelled animals like clams and oysters. Related to armor is spines, which porcupines have. They will stick in the nose of a would-be porcupine-eater. Behavior. Dogs and cats retain some behavioral relics of the predatory habits observed in their wild relatives. Dogs chase cars, and Border Collies herd sheep with hunting behaviors, with the final lunge and bite on the neck omitted. Cats play with balls of string and other such objects as if they were mice they are trying to catch. Cats hunt by stalking their prey and then jumping, which they do even when well supplied with cat food. The slow stalking is to keep themselves from being too apparent to a prey animal, while the jumping is to arrive at the prey's position without the poor animal having much chance to run away. Parasitism. This may be interpreted as a form of predatory behavior. Plant eating. Can this be considered predatory behavior also? All these are features of present-day animals (and some plants); fossil evidence is necessarily limited by comparison, but it is revealing. Among animals with teeth, there are numerous examples for teeth suitable for a carnivorous lifestyle. Fossil shark teeth, for example. Or the long canines of sabertoothed felines, which are good for jabbing into a large animal's belly, but not for eating any kind of plant material. Or the numerous sharp teeth of dinosaurs like _Tyrannosaurus_, which suggest a predatory habit like that of the monitor lizards and sharks. Other pieces of fossil evidence for predatory behavior are remains of animals inside of other animals, tooth marks on bones, a fish fossilized with another fish in its mouth [it looks like it choked [to death]], and countless sea shells. The fossil evidence reveals a long history of predatory behavior, at least as far back as the great proliferation of multicelled animals in the Cambrian, and we can conclude that the ancestors of present-day predatory animals were predatory for as long as they had the adaptations to be predatory. So there goes the all-vegetarian Garden of Eden. -- /Loren Petrich, the Master Blaster /lip@s1.gov


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