Category Archives: The Growing Edge: Life as Agent

Life is not clay upon which God or natural selection acts; Life, from the tiniest to the most intelligent, contends with its circumstances. Life, furthermore, is able to modify itself to meet its challenges. Life learns and hence evolves. This is agency

How did this Creature Evolve?

What is this creature?

Periophthalmus modestus.jpg

This little guy is a mudskipper.  He lives on tidal mud shoals that, depending on the tide, are above or below water.  He has modified his pectoral fins so that they can drag him across the mud, at low tide.  For his dwelling place he burrows into the mud and creates a U-shaped cavity; one arm of the U exits to the outside, while at the end of the other U he fashions a chamber which will not fill with water.  In this very protected chamber the female will lay her eggs.  Although the eggs and developing embryos are perfectly safe from predators, the chamber, with no communication to the outside, has limited oxygen, a gas vital to the survival of the embryos.  So the mudskipper swims from the chamber to the water’s surface, takes in a gulp of air, swims back down then up to the nursery chamber, where he exhales and blows air into it.  In this manner he laboriously supplies oxygen to his developing progeny.  How in the world did this creature arrive at this adaptation?  Is this behavior genetic?  If so, how did the genes get so smart?  Did God create the mudskipper whole cloth (creationism)?  Are his lungs and pectoral fins/legs irreducibly complex, and therefore created by God (intelligent design)?  Is he a product of random mutations that led to variations in his behavior, with the optimal behavior selected for (NeoDarwinism)?  Is this creature to some extent sentient and capable of making educated guesses to enhance his adaptations (MetaDarwinism)?