Thursday, December 18, 2014

Are Cheetahs evolving dogs?

As a rule, why do dogs and cats have different paws? That's because canine paws are designed for running whereas feline paws are designed for climbing and/or killing (e.g. puncturing, gripping). Although cats can run, they run in short bursts–when they are chasing down prey. They lack stamina. By contrast, wolves, Cape Hunting dogs, &c., are long-distance runners. They can run for miles and miles without becoming winded. That's how they wear down their prey. Cats are sprinters, dogs are marathon runners. 

The Cheetah is an exception. The Cheetah has paws like a canine rather than a feline. It's a necessary adjustment to equip it for extreme speed. It couldn't run that fast, or turn that fast, with big soft paws and retractable claws. 

According to evolutionary reasoning, we should infer that Cheetahs have canine paws because Cheetahs and canines share a common ancestor. Indeed, Cheetahs are transitional species. Either felines evolving into canines or canines evolving into felines. 

But, of course, in the case of Cheetahs, Darwinians admit that this is simply an adaptation. It's not common descent, but the environment, that accounts for this adaptive trait. That exploits a food niche. Superior speed enables Cheetahs to outrun prey that's too fast for lions and leopards. 

But that raises questions regarding evidence for evolution. Are similar traits due to common ancestry or adaptation? 

From a theistic standpoint, Cheetahs are cats with dog-like feet because God designed them to run fast. A very specialized cat. God makes a wide variety of creatures. God rings the changes on possible combinations.

No comments:

Post a Comment