A Lyrebird is either of two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds, most notable for their extraordinary ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. They are the:
Lyrebirds are among Australia's best-known native birds, even though they are rarely seen in their natural habitat. As well as their extraordinary mimicking ability, lyrebirds are notable because of the striking beauty of the male bird's huge tail when it is fanned out in display; and also because of their courtship display.
A lyrebird's call is a rich mixture of its own song and any number of other sounds it has heard. The lyrebird's syrinx is the most complexly-muscled of the Passerines (songbirds), giving the lyrebird extraordinary ability, unmatched in vocal repertoire and mimicry. Lyrebirds render with great fidelity the individual songs of other birds and the chatter of flocks of birds, and also mimic other animals, human noises, machinery of all kinds, explosions and musical instruments. The lyrebird is capable of imitating almost any sound â€” from a mill whistle to a cross-cut saw, and, not uncommonly, sounds as diverse as chainsaws , car engines and alarms, rifle-shots, camera shutters, dogs barking and crying babies. Lyrebirds are shy birds and a constant stream of bird calls coming from one place is often the only way of identifying them and their presence. The female lyrebird is also an excellent mimic, but she is not heard as often as the male lyrebird
One researcher, Sydney Curtis, has recorded flute-like lyrebird calls in the vicinity of the New England National Park. Similarly, in 1969, a park ranger, Neville Fenton, recorded a lyrebird song, which resembled flute sounds, in the New England National Park, near Dorrigo in northern coastal New South Wales. After much detective work by Fenton, it was discovered that in the 1930's, a flute player living on a farm adjoining the park used to play tunes near his pet lyrebird. The lyrebird adopted the tunes into his repertoire, and retained them after release into the park. Neville Fenton forwarded a tape of his recording to Norman Robinson. Because a lyrebird is able to carry two tunes at the same time, Robinson filtered out one of the tunes and put it on the phonograph for the purposes of analysis. The song represents a modified version of two popular tunes in the 1930's: "The Keel Row" and "Mosquito's Dance". Musicologist David Rothenberg has endorsed this information.
So, can Darwinism explain the lyrebird’s syrinx? Over at Why Evolution is True, a short post on the lyrebird put forward a simple explanation for the lyrebird’s extraordinary ability to mimic: sexual selection. Leaving aside the author’s factually incorrect assertion that female lyrebirds don’t mimic, this doesn’t strike me as a terribly good explanation: it tells us why the lyrebird’s syrinx might have evolved, but says nothing about how.
To answer the question properly, it might be more sensible to identify the genes that code for the development of the syrinx, and compare their expression in: (a) the Superb lyrebird; (b) other songbirds (suborder Passeri); (c) suboscine birds, which belong to the suborder Tympani of the order Passeriformes (perching birds). (Suboscine perching birds have a less developed syrinx than that found in songbirds.) One would also need to identify a plausible evolutionary antecedent for the syrinx – i.e. an organ from which it might have developed – and compare the genes coding for the development of this organ with those coding for the development of the syrinx. Having done that, one would need to identify the genetic (and morphological) changes required in order to arrive at the lyrebird’s syrinx, and evaluate the biological viability of hypothetical intermediate forms. Ideally, one would try to recreate these intermediate forms artificially. That would be the kind of research I’d look for, in order to resolve the question of whether the syrinx was designed, and I see no reason in principle why it couldn’t be done. Whether this kind of research has been conducted or not, I have no idea. What I do know that it’s worth doing, if for no other reason than to advance our scientific knowledge and help us to decide whether the syrinx is indeed a product of Intelligent Design. And let the chips fall where they may.
Last edited by Admin on Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:20 pm; edited 6 times in total