|"Swallow in Flight" image credit: morgueFile / AcrylicArtist|
Examples of complexity in the natural world are not hard to come by. Living creatures all are examples of irreducible complexity. This phenomenon is well known in design engineering and refers to the fact that there are mechanisms which only work when everything works together. This is certainly true in the natural world as many mechanisms right down to the molecular world show that this is the case. The cell will not work without all the DNA machinery being in place, as very ably demonstrated by Behe.1 One of the best examples of complexity which defies a series of “gradual” changes is flight. Dawkins2 sought to try to justify such an idea of gradually producing flight, but showed very little understanding of the fundamental engineering principles involved in aerodynamics and control. He even suggested there may be wingless ancestors that, living in water, raised their gills to make primitive sails which then evolved into the flapping wings of insects as they got lifted by the wind.3 Insect flight and flapping motion is far more than having appendages to the body, and all engineers know this.To read the rest, wing on over to "The Intricacies of Flight in the Natural World".
For controlled, heavier-than-air flight, there are four fundamental requirements: (1) A correct wing shape to give a lower air pressure on the upper surface; (2) a large enough wing area to support the weight; (3) some means of propulsion or gliding; and (4) extra surfaces, or a means of altering the main surfaces, in order to change direction and speed.
Flight occurs in many groups of the living world: (a) birds; (b) insects—flies, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths; (c) mammals—bats; (d) reptiles—the extinct pterosaurs (e.g., pterodactyls and pteranodons).