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The Wonderful Woodpecker : Jehovah's Jaw-Jarring Jackhammer"
By David V. Bassett, M.S.
"But ask, now,...the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee....Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?"--Job 12:7b, 9
In considering strong evidence for creative design, one cannot help but be awed by the engineering expertise displayed by our feathered friend, the woodpecker. Their determined drilling and tree-tattooing, though seemingly relentless, serves to advertise their presence while defending their territory. It also aids in the search for the literally thousands of insect larvae and adult bugs needed daily to satisfy their ravenous appetite. In addition to controlling insect populations, the nearly 200 species of woodpeckers are very valuable in destroying insect-carriers of many tree-killing diseases, thereby helping to preserve the world's needed forests.
The woodpecker is uniquely and specially constructed for this purpose as the following design features would testify:
1. X-shaped feet
With two toes facing forward and two toes facing backward, the woodpecker is able to move up, down,
and around, vertical tree trunks. (Most birds have three toes in front and one toe in back.)
2. Stiff, yet elastic, tail feathers
Tipped with spines, these rebounding supports are used with the feet as a tripod prop to hold the bird up while climbing or drilling.
3. Industrial-strength beak
A woodpecker's chisel-tipped bill hammers wood at the rate of 16 times a second, or nearly 1,000 pecking blows per minute--a 'rate of fire' doubly fast as a submachine gun--with an impact velocity of 1,300 mph.
4. Bone-reinforced and cartilage-padded skull
While drilling, the woodpecker's head travels at more than twice the speed of a discharged bullet. At this speed (over 1900 feet/second), any slight whiplash rotation of the head during drilling would tear away the bird's brain upon impact. To prevent this, superbly coordinated neck muscles keep the head in perfect alignment with the beak during impact. The head and beak thus drive straight back and forth with no side movement at all. Shock-impact is further minimized by special muscles in the head which pull the woodpecker's braincase away from its beak every time it strikes a blow.
Unlike most birds, which have their bill fused directly to the bones of the cranium, the woodpecker's bone-reinforced skull is physically separated from its beak by a remarkable sponge-like cartilage (recognized by scientists as being better than any shock absorber manufactured by man). This padding is essential to the bird's survival when one considers that the suddenness with which the woodpecker's head is brought to a halt during each peck results in a stress equivalent of 1,000 times the force of gravity. The head thus snaps back with an impact of deceleration more than 250 times that of the G-force gyrations experienced by the astronauts during a launch-pad liftoff!
5. Slit-like nostrils
Both their long, narrow shape and their being covered by fine, wiry feathers helps to prevent the entering of sawdust which could hinder the woodpecker's airflow.
6. Extra-long tongue (loaded with "extras")
Again, unlike most birds whose tongue is anchored in the back of their beaks, the woodpecker's tongue is rooted in the right nostril where it is also rolled up and stored when not in use. When in use, the tongue, which can stretch three to five times its normal length, emerges from the right nostril, splits into two halves which pass over opposite sides of the skull under the skin, comes around and up underneath the bill where it enters through an opening, and then out the beak through the hole drilled in the tree. Amazing! The extra-long tongue possesses glue-secreting glands with which to attach insects, sensitive nerve endings to determine the identity of the catch, and is tipped with a hard spearhead armed with rearward-pointing bristles which firmly secure the bugs until they can be scraped off into the waiting mouth.
Evolutionists would like us to believe that the woodpecker's uniquely designed feet, resilient tail feathers, reinforced skull, shock-absorbing cushioning, coordinated neck and head muscles, extra-strong beak, and extra-long tongue (with its highly engineered deployment / attachment / retrieval / storage system) are the end-result of millions of years of blind, unguided chance-mutations. To make matters worse, the woodpecker's supposed evolutionary ancestors have left virtually no fossil evidence of their existence whatsoever!
The fact of the matter is that in an irreducibly complex system, nothing works until everything works. The woodpecker must have been fully formed and functionally complete from the beginning, with all its specialized features intact right from the start in order to survive all that head-bashing. Its incredible design is evidence, not of the cruel, mindless process of evolution, but of a loving, all-wise and intelligent Creator God.
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