Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Clever Clams' Design Feature

Giant clam. Image courtesy of Nick Hobgood, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

A recent article in New Scientist states:

In many species of giant clam, photosynthetic algae live in the clam's fleshy mantle, which is exposed to the sea and sunlight through the flaps of its shell ... In exchange for their home, the algae secrete glycerol, which feeds the clam.

The association is one of many in which animals work symbiotically with plants and algae to harvest the power of the sun.

While the article pays lip service to Darwinian mechanisms, the actual science speaks of intelligent design:

Giant clams have specialised cells called iridocytes that allow algae to grow in microscopic pillars, which go about 2 millimetres deep into the clam mantle. Alison Sweeney of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and her team have demonstrated that the iridocytes ensure that every last algal cell in the micro-pillar still gets its fill of sunlight, even though most of the 300 or so cells in each column have no direct access to the light."

Later on, the article even mentions design and another word related to intelligence, viz. system.

"'What makes this system in the clam special is that the design can extract every last photon from sunlight,' says Sweeney.”

In a Darwinian trial and error world, the clams might well have died off a few million years before they came up with this system.

There is no such risk in a designed and created world.


Coghlan, Andy. 2014. Clever clams and algae show how best to harvest light. New Scientist (7 October).