Not that I ever was a believer in “intelligent design,” but an article in the Feb. 14 issue of Science News should convince anyone that there’s a whole lot that isn’t grand, majestic and perfect about nature. For a quick reference have a look at them there spiky knobs pictured up above (courtesy of Science News). That there’s what passes for a penis on two different types of seed beetle. Yeeeowch! (The cross section is the equipment on the lady bug.) If anything, the evidence seems to be piling up for something I’d like to call “drunken design.”
The article is called A Most Private Evolution: Dumb designs for sex: Evolutionary biology walks on the weird side. And it’s worth checking out for the photos alone–including one of a male duck’s cork-screw penis and a female duck’s cork-screw vagina, which just happens to cork-screw int he opposite direction. Again. Yeeeeowch! In an article fitting for Valentine’s Day (note the issue date), we are given a look at what amounts to an evolutionary genitalia arm’s race that for some reason hampers the species’ ability to procreate like bunnies.
Discussions of evolution often glorify the beautifully apt forms: orchids with nectar recesses just the right length for the tonguelike structure of a certain moth, or harmless butterflies with the same wing colors as a poisonous neighbor. Yet the most dramatic examples of the power of evolutionary theory may come from the strange and ugly stuff — biology that seems too dumb to have been designed.