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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CB326:

The unique arrangement of the woodpecker's tongue could not have evolved. If the tongue started anchored to the back of the beak, it would require a large sudden change to get to its present configuration.


  1. The woodpecker's tongue (and hyoid apparatus, a rigid cartilage and bone skeleton of the tongue) are unusually long. However, they are simply an elongation of the same basic anatomy found in all birds. Like other birds, the main attachments are to the mandible, the cartilage of the throat, and the base of the skull. All that is required for the woodpecker's tongue to evolve is for it to grow longer, which could easily happen gradually.

    The creationist claim stems from a mistaken understanding of the tongue anatomy. Creationists think the tongue is anchored in the nostril and grows backwards out of it. Although the back of the tongue in some species is long enough to extend to the nasal cavity, it is not anchored there.


Ryan, Rusty, 2003. Anatomy and evolution of the woodpecker's tongue.
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created 2003-4-23, modified 2003-8-27