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Denton: Animal Body Types as “Adaptive Masks”

Photo: Richard Owen (left); beside him is the skeleton of a giant moa, by John van Voorst [Public domain].

On a classic ID the Future episode, biologist Michael Denton discusses the implications of recurring animal body plans, arguing that they are predetermined types undergirding less fundamental “adaptive masks.” Denton questions the ability of a Darwinian process to account for these high-level patterns found in living systems, such as the recurring body plan of insects. He suggests instead that these recurrent forms extend from original “primal patterns,” much as argued by such 19th-century opponents of Darwinism as Richard Owen and Louis Agassiz. Denton says their arguments were brushed aside by those fixated on a Darwinian/adaptationist model, but never effectively answered. Dr. Denton is the author, most recently, of the capstone work in his Privileged Species series, The Miracle of Man: The Fine Tuning of Nature for Human Existence. Download the podcast or listen to it here.