Toward a Biology Worthy of Life > Genes and the Central Fallacy of Evolutionary Theory > Brief excerpt
A project by Stephen L. Talbott

The organism as agent of its own development (2)

I draw from a description of the goliath beetle offered by British physician and evolutionary scientist, Frank Ryan:

Rather than a den of repose, we see now that the enclosed chamber of the goliath’s pupa really is a crucible tantamount to the mythic pyre of the phoenix, where the organic being is broken down into its primordial elements before being created anew. The immolation is not through flame but a voracious chemical digestion, yet the end result is much the same, with the emergence of the new being, equipped with complex wings, multifaceted compound eyes, and the many other changes necessary for its very different lifestyle and purpose.

The emerging adult needs an elaborate musculature to drive the wings. These muscles must be created anew since they are unlike any seen in the larva, and they demand a new respiratory system — in effect new lungs — to oxygenate them, with new breathing tubes, or tracheae, to feed their massive oxygen needs. The same high energy needs are supplied by changes in the structure of the heart, with a new nervous supply to drive the adult circulation and a new blood to make that circulation work. We only have to consider the dramatic difference between a feeding grub or caterpillar and a flying butterfly or a beetle to grasp that the old mouth is rendered useless and must be replaced with new mouthparts, new salivary glands, new gut, new rectum. New legs must replace the creepy-crawly locomotion of the grub or caterpillar, and all must be clothed in a complex new skin, which in turn will manufacture the tough new external skeleton of the adult. Nowhere is the challenge of the new more demanding than in the nervous system — where a new brain is born. And no change is more practical to the new life-form than the newly constructed genitals essential for the most important new role of the adult form — the sexual reproduction of a new generation. The overwhelming destruction and reconstruction extends to the very cells that make up the individual tissues, where the larval tissues and organs are broken up and dissolved into an autodigested mush...To all intents and purposes, life has returned to the embryonic state with the constituent cells in an undifferentiated form. (Ryan 2011, pp. 104-5)