Biologists have long suspected that birds have the ability to detect earth’s magnetic field. This ability allows them to stay on course during long migrations over tens of thousands of miles. The mystery was exactly how they are able to do this. Now researchers from Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology have pinned down one factor. They believe that a photoreceptor called cryptochrome is what makes birds sensitive to magnetic fields. A compound called superoxide reacts with the cryptochrome and allows birds to navigate by earth’s magnetic field. The problem is that superoxide is highly toxic. One researcher noted, “that the toxicity of superoxide was actually crucial to its role.” In other words, if it wasn’t toxic, the navigation system wouldn’t work. But what protects the bird from being injured by the superoxide? The article explains: “Mechanisms for reducing the concentration of superoxide prevent its damaging effects, and the resulting low concentrations help ensure the biochemical compass works correctly.” Once again, does such a sophisticated system—involving quantum mechanics and a careful management of a would-be toxic substance—sound more like design, or more like an evolutionary accident? The Genesis creation account doesn’t tell us the details of how God designed such complex and intricate creatures, but it does tell us without a doubt that He did.
ScienceDaily: “Bird Migration: Toxic Molecule May Help Birds ‘See’ North And South” June 23, 2009