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Friday, July 11, 2008

Was the bison’s peculiar chest a design feature ... to help Native North Americans survive?

Some of my friends are creationist biologists, and one, Norbert Smith (now retired), writes to say,
One of the neatest evidences I see of God in Creation is the bison...with an incompletely divided mediastinum. As far as I know, it is the ONLY mammal like this and enabled native Americans to feed their families with one arrow anyplace in the chest...collapsing BOTH lungs. This obviously has NO selective advantage and should have been eliminated by natural selection. God created them special to feed a people. See here.

Norbert was not one of the “official” Expelled, but he was in fact expelled from his university, despite an excellent publication record. For many, the idea that there is no design in nature is a dogma, enforced despite, not because of, evidence.

As I noted in By Design or by Chance?, there is a tradition of Native American creationism (not to be confused with Western monotheistic creationism). It accepts as a commonplace the idea that Native Americans were specially helped to survive for tens of thousands of years, isolated from other human communities.

By the way, there are other reasons why the bison does not fit comfortably with classical Darwinian biology: See, for example, "The Tree of Life and speciation: The odd case of the beefalo" (January 19, 2008) from The Design of Life blog.


(Note: The bison is usually called a “buffalo” in North America, but it is not the “buffalo” of Asia. That’s this animal, courtesy Freefotos.com. The image of the bison is from Parks Canada.)

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