Famed British biologist J.S.B. Hildane was once asked what organic evolution had revealed about God's creation. "An inordinate fondness for beetles," was his reported reply.
There are, indeed, a multitude of amazing and exotic beetles on earth. What specific beetles Hildane had in mind is difficult to say, but the bombardier beetle is an excellent candidate for a very special fondness on the part of the Creator.
Bombardier beetles, commonly found near ponds and under rocks, are easily recognized by their orange and blue coloration, and they exhibit 6 absolutely unique defensive capability possessed by no other creature. When threatened or attacked, they eject a noxious and potent spray from a special "reaction chamber" located at the tip of their abdomen. Not only is the wellaimed spray strongly offensive and irritating, it is also literally hot—as hot, in fact, as boiling water.
Scientists have found that the bombardiers have two sacs that lie side by side in the abdomen. The beeties can aim their vile spray with uncanny accuracy by swiveling the gunbarrellike openings of these sacs (see photos). Small predators such as ants, spiders, frogs or praying mantids are effectively repulsed by the spray.
How is the spray actually produced? German investigators have found that the special glands contain a mixture of hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide. A smaller outer compartment on each gland contains a mixture of enzymes that catalyze a reaction when the mixture of the inner chamber is squeezed into the outer one.
The reaction occurs as a small but brisant explosion, with oxygen and highly poisonous benzoquinones being produced. The oxygen gas provides the propellant for the expulsion of the benzoquinones. Because of the intense chemical reaction, the bombardier spray is very hot and has been measured at a temperature of nearly 100°C, or the temperature of boiling water.
Finally, the protective spray of the bombardier beetle is not continuous; instead, it is pulsed, just as a rapidly firing machine gun. The discharge can be heard as a distinctly audible "pop".
But how could the bombardier beetle have slowly evolved as evolutionary theory suggests? The creature contains a complex and elaborate system for producing, aiming, and firing an explosive, poisonous mixture of unstable chemicals. The inner compartments containing the two potentially explosive chemicals must have always been securely isolated from the outer reaction chamber containing the special enzymes that initiate the explosion. Unless everything worked perfectly from the very beginning, the bombardier beetle could literally have blown himself into extinction—or at least boiled himself alive!
Nor would the ability to produce such mini-explosions of noxious spray have been of much survival value unless the beetle also had the ability to properly aim the resulting spray at a potential predator.
Any slow changes in the anatomy of prebombardier beetles in preparation for the final configuration of a yet future bombardier would have little or no survival value and would be fraught with danger if the various chemicals mixed at the wrong time or in the wrong chamber. Surely a "proto-bombardier" would not have known that various precursor reactants, enzymes, storage compartments, reaction chambers, mixing muscles, diaphrams, and expulsion nozzles would "someday" be useful if they could somehow be properly combined in an integrated, functioning defense system!
Thus the bombardier beetle is living proof of intelligent design. The slow changes of evolutionary theory simply cannot account for the absolutely stunning capabilities of the bombardier. The beetle's intricate survival mechanism must have been fully functional from the day it was created. With every "pop" of its defensive (or is it offensive?) spray, the bombardier beetle dispenses another blast to the theory of evolution.
A SKUNK OF A BEETLE, threatened bombardier directs a noxious spray (upper right) at the threatening forceps that are pinching the beetle's middle leg. When front leg is "attacked, "beetle accurately adjusts its aim to ward off the intruder. At lower left, bombardier is shown connected to apparatus designed by T. Eisner and D. Aneshansley of Cornell University that measures the temperature of the beetle's discharge. Through use of this device, it was discovered that temperature of the bombardier's spray reached nearly 1OO° C. Special glands produce the explosive chemicals used in the beetle's spray. The unique structure and complexity of the bombardier's defense mechanism defy evolutionary explanations.