Consider the probability of all of the following characteristics evolving simultaneously into an effectively functioning system in the woodpecker:

1. Its beak is connected to its skull with a resilient shock-absorbing tissue that is not found in any other bird.

2. The beak is much harder than the beaks of other birds, enabling it to bang away a hundred times a minute without hurting itself.

3. The tongue is barbed in most of the 200+ species and is about four times longer than the beak. In certain species the tongue wraps around the back of the bird's skull, enabling it to reach deep into tree trunks and remove insects.

4. A sticky coating on some woodpecker tongues helps them grab insects.

5. Its tail feathers are constructed so that they are stiff enough to help brace against trees as it climbs.

6. Its keen senses of smell and hearing help detect insects crawling around under the bark of the trees.

7. It short legs and powerful claws are uniquely designed to help it climb tree trunks.

The engineering behind such a technological wonder as the woodpecker boggles our minds. Try to imagine the obstacles the first bird, which was trying to turn into a woodpecker, would have had to overcome!

From A Closer Look at the Evidence by Kleiss, November 6.

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