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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CB310:

The bombardier beetle cannot be explained by evolution. It must have been designed.


AIG, 1990. The amazing bombardier beetle. Creation Ex Nihilo 12(1): 29.
Gish, Duane T., 1977. Dinosaurs: Those Terrible Lizards. El Cajon, CA: Master Book, pp. 51-55.


  1. This is an argument from incredulity. It is based in part on an inaccurate description of how the beetle's bombardier mechanism works, but even then the argument rests solely on the lack of even looking for evidence. In fact, an evolutionary pathway that accounts for the bombardier beetle is not hard to come up with (Isaak 1997). One plausible sequence (much abbreviated) is thus:
    1. Insects produce quinones for tanning their cuticle. Quinones make them distasteful, so the insects evolve to produce more of them and to produce other defensive chemicals, including hydroquinones.
    2. The insects evolve depressions for storing quinones and muscles for ejecting them onto their surface when threatened with being eaten. The depression becomes a reservoir with secretory glands supplying hydroquinones into it. This configuration exists in many beetles, including close relatives of bombardier beetles (Forsyth 1970).
    3. Hydrogen peroxide becomes mixed with the hydroquinones. Catalases and peroxidases appear along the output passage of the reservoir, ensuring that more quinones appear in the exuded product.
    4. More catalases and peroxidases are produced, generating oxygen and producing a foamy discharge, as in the bombardier beetle Metrius contractus (Eisner et al. 2000).
    5. As the output passage becomes a hardened reaction chamber, still more catalases and peroxidases are produced, gradually becoming today's bombardier beetles.

    All of the steps are small or can be easily broken down into smaller ones, and all are probably selectively advantageous. Several of the intermediate stages are known to be viable by the fact that they exist in other living species.

  2. Bombardier beetles illustrate other aspects of life that look undesigned:


Isaak, Mark, 1997. Bombardier beetles and the argument of design.


  1. Erwin, Terry L., 1967. Bombardier beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) of North America: Part II. Biology and behavior of Brachinus pallidus Erwin in California. Coleopterists' Bulletin 21: 41-55.
  2. Erwin, Terry L., 1970. A reclassification of bombardier beetles and a taxonomic revision of the North and Middle American species (Carabidae: Brachinida). Quaestiones Entomologicae 6: 4-215.
  3. Eisner, T., 1958. The protective role of the spray mechanism of the bombardier beetle, Brachynus ballistarius Lec. Journal of Insect Physiology 2: 215-220.
  4. Eisner, T. and D. J. Aneshansley, 1982. Spray aiming in bombardier beetles: jet deflection by the Coanda effect. Science 215: 83-85.
  5. Eisner, T., D. J. Aneshansley, M. Eisner, A. B. Attygalle, D. W. Alsop and J. Meinwald, 2000. Spray mechanism of the most primitive bombardier beetle (Metrius contractus). Journal of Experimental Biology 203: 1265-1275.
  6. Forsyth, D. J., 1970. The structure of the defence glands of the Cicindelidae, Amphizoidae, and Hygrobiidae (Insecta: Coleoptera). Journal of Zoology, London 160: 51-69.
  7. Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

Further Reading:

Weber, C. G., 1981. The bombardier beetle myth exploded. Creation/Evolution 2(1): 1-5.

Angier, N., 1985. Drafting the bombardier beetle. Time (Feb. 25), 70.
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created 2001-2-17, modified 2004-2-19