I am new here, and am not a paleontologist...nor do I portray one on the
However I would like to offer a couple of observations...
One, that I would not put much weight on an observation made in 1937
concerning the development of organs. After all, I was taught in high
school, about forty years ago, that human embryos had functioning gills.
Two, perhaps the gentleman was referring to the external manifestation of an
ear, which, as far as I would guess, seems rather distinctive to mammals,
though, even if I were somewhat correct currently, would be difficult to
confirm "pre-historically" due to the fragile nature of the organ. And the
physics of the sound-gathering characteristics of this organ may have be
germane to some future point the author was hoping to make.
As to the "interesting theological reflection," I would agree that it would
be a stretch...
According to Genesis 1:3, God "spoke" the world into existence, much as the
words of Christ could quell a storm. So, despite Berkeleyan logic to the
contrary, sound existed before "ears to hear," and, to paraphrase the ad,
"When God talks, EVERYONE listens.
I hope to find time to add to your interesting conversations, but I will
admit upfront that biology is not my strong point. But I can usually put my
foot in my mouth as good as the best of them, so I will not let my ignorance
hold me back.
Robins AFB, GA
From: george murphy [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 7:25 AM
Subject: Re: For paleontologists: Is this true?
Thanks to David C., David S. & Keith M. for info re my original question.
Jeans' comment to which I referred comes at the end of a closing
section on "hearing in animals" & deals with vertebrates & insects. He was
a well-known mathematical physicist & I believe a skilled organist, but I'm
not sure how knowledgeable he was on evolution.
On general principles there is continuity between senses of touch &
of hearing but a meaningful distinction can still be made between an
organism detecting something poking it & detecting pressure waves. Sticking
to the latter end of that spectrum, I would have guessed that hearing would
be likely to develop before sight for early marine organisms, simply because
it would be more advantageous: Sonar is more useful than a telescope for a
The "interesting theological reflection" that I suggested is that in
scripture the spoken word and hearing are the primary means of God's
communication with human beings. Make of it what you will - perhaps it's
too much of a stretch.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
Sensitivity to environmental vibration, of which our sense of hearing is a
specialized example, is found in unicellular organisms as well. The
external ear and associated internal specializations developed in mammals,
although convergent specialization of skull bones for hearing occurs in
other terrestrial vertebrates. Certain fish have an entirely different
specialization for "hearing" in which a sensitive structure is associated
with the swim bladder, detecting faint vibrations. Thus, most of the
structure of mammalian ears is indeed a relatively late innovation, compared
with the use of nostrils in smelling (at least present in fish), the
vertebrate eye (in conodonts), etc. Proprioception, however, seems to have
undergone substantial improvement at roughly the same time. This is the
internal sense of body motion, i.e., why you can close your eyes and still
tell where your hands are as you move them without touching something for
reference. The fossil evidence on pro!
prioception is non-existant, so estimates of its timing depends on the
condition of modern animals. External ears have a dismal fossil record, but
the internal specializations involve bone and so do a bit better.
Dr. David Campbell
46860 Hilton Dr #1113
Lexington Park MD 20653 USA
That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droigate
---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 19:45:48 -0700
>Keith gives a good answer from one viewpoint. But we may carry matters
>further back if we think of basic sensitivity to various types of
>stimuli. Touch is found in the sensitivity of bacteria to attachment, and
>also in the repulsion reflex of paramecia, for example. I recall that
>_Balantidium coli_ does not bounce off on contact, and so bores through
>the intestines of its hosts. Vision can probably be ascribed to the red
>spot of Euglena and certainly to the eye spots of helminths. But the
>algae and blue-green bacteria seem to have a more rudimentary ability to
>orient relative to light. However, the formation of images probably is
>first found in arthropods' compound eyes. I can't separate taste from
>smell at the most basic level of chemical sensitivity. It is evident in
>bacteria as well as fungi and protozoa. The earliest sensitivity to
>vibration that comes to mind is the earthworm. The earliest production of
>sounds for signalling is probably among arthropods. As Keith notes, just
>what does Jeans mean?
>On Sun, 21 Oct 2001 17:03:10 -0400 george murphy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> On skimming Sir James Jeans' Science & Music (first published in
>1937) I noted the closing sentence:
> "Students of evolution in the animal world tell us that the ear
>was the last of the sense organs to arrive; it is beyond question the
>most intricate and the most wonderful."
> Is the statement in the first clause now correct? If so, it
>suggests an interesting theological reflection.
>George L. Murphy
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/ <http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/>
>"The Science-Theology Interface"
Sent via the WebMail system at mail.davidson.alumlink.com
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