A hill walker considers the marvels of the human knee…

…and dragonfly wings.  Now whatever could they have in common?  Do read on…

It is now getting towards two years since moving to mid Wales.  One of the great things about the area is the landscape, with lots of quiet hills and valleys to explore on foot.  Every place has its own individuality, and the passing seasons and changing weather provide endless variety for appreciating the local area.  Walking through the local landscapes brings great enjoyment.

As a believer in God as Creator, I am constantly awed by the weight of evidence pointing to His handiwork in everything we see around us.  Everything points to an intelligent and creative mind, far beyond the human mind, behind the design of the world we inhabit.  If I am out on a walk and I see something as simple as an old bottle or can lying around, now neglected as just a bit of old rubbish, I still know it is not something that appeared by accident.  It has all the hallmarks of design and purpose, although far inferior to the world we live in and the life forms we encounter on a daily basis.

Attending a talk by a scientist – Professor Stuart Burgess from Bristol University – who is also a Christian (and there are many such people) I was struck by his emphasis on one design feature that engineers use which is also found in the world of nature – the “four bar linkage”.  One of the three examples he took from the world of nature was the human knee joint.  Being a keen walker, I started to see just how much we all rely on the design of the knee and its part in the whole human body system, and also saw just how much we take things for granted.  I am now especially thankful for the role my knee joints play in enabling me to appreciate the landscape of Powys!  This splendid example of four bar linkage engineering played its part in enjoying the walk around the Cregrina and Glascwm district, featured in the video slideshow at the foot of the home page here on our new website.  And my feet, and eyes, and senses, etc, etc….  There is a Bible verse for it – we are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

In fact the knee joint is perfectly adapted to provide exactly the movement and balance that humans require.  Research shows that there are so many individual parts coming together that it is an “all-or-nothing” scenario as far as its original development is concerned.  There can be no intermediate stages, it has to be fully formed from the start.

A very important thing to note is that this four bar linkage design differs from all other joint types in the human body.  Also, no other type of animal – even monkeys or apes – have this four bar linkage type of knee joint.  It does not represent a minor change or adaptation, but a completely different mechanism for the joint.  There can be no question of any intermediate stages between the two types of knee ever existing or having any possibility of functioning.

Rather than try and explain any further as a non-scientist, here is a link to an article by Professor Stuart Burgess on the subject of the human knee…



Another stunning example of four-bar linkages in nature is found in the wings of dragonflies.  These are often regarded as somewhat “primitive” creatures, yet the exactitude and intricacy of the mechanics of the double system, where two sets of linkages operate in a synchronised manner, left researchers stunned by its elegance and its perfection at such a small scale as an insect wing.

A research project was undertaken to try and reproduce the flight system for making drones smaller and more manoeuvrable.  It was apparently very intricate working at such a small scale, but a successful attempt at a working model was seen as a great step forward in human use of an engineering solution that is already present and operational in a far more wonderful way in the natural world.  The model lasted for just a few flights, but millions upon millions of dragonflies live and reproduce through their fascinating life-cycle every year, unconscious that they bear such an exquisite testimony to our Creator God.


Look where you will in the universe, from the vastness of space to the minuteness of atoms, from plant and animal life, to everything to do with human existence, and the hand of God is everywhere.  Only wilful blindness can fail to see it.


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