Unintelligent, inefficient: The limit to biological design

The apparent efficiency, sleek beauty and effortless complexity of natural mechanisms has led many engineers, designers and architects to look to nature for inspiration. As a zoologist I want to share a word of caution lest we fall into the trap of the “intelligent designers/creationists” who use the apparently “good design” to challenge evolutionary orthodoxy. Many see the flapping hummingbird’s azure wings and forget that its colour makes it a predatory target, and that its metabolism is so fast it can only survive on near pure sugar. Can we really say biological design is “efficient”?

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