Focus: creation news and views
Fossil death debate
Photo by G. Mayr / Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg
Fossilized mammals, birds, pterosaurs and dinosaurs often display wide-open mouths, heads thrown back and tails that curve toward the head.
Paleontologists have generally assumed that the creatures died in water and then the currents twisted the bones into that position, or that the limbs were contorted by rigor mortis or while the muscles, tendons and ligaments dried out.
But veterinarian-turned-paleontologist Cynthia Marshall Faux and integrative biologist/paleontologist Kevin Padian take issue with that scenario.
‘I’m reading this in the literature and thinking, “This doesn’t make any sense to me as a veterinarian”,’ said Faux. She and Padian say that the posture of many fossilized animals reflects what they experienced while dying, not after dying. They point to Archaeopteryx as being a ‘classic example’ of a creature in the throes of death from hypoxia (lack of oxygen).
‘Virtually all articulated specimens of Archaeopteryx are in this posture, exhibiting a classic pose of head thrown back, jaws open, back and tail reflexed backward and limbs contracted,’ said Padian. He went on to say that finding fossilized creatures in this pose could be a good indicator that the animal (e.g. dinosaur) was warm-blooded. In contrast, crocodiles and lizards, with their lower metabolic rates, use less oxygen and so might have been less traumatically affected by hypoxia during death throes, Padian said.
Padian acknowledged that many dinosaur fossils do show signs of having died in water and that the current pulled the body into an arched position, but he said that currents cannot explain all the characteristics of ‘an opisthotonic pose’ [drawn backwards].
In fact, these fossils are a sober reminder of what happened to the earth during Noah’s Flood.
- LiveScience, www.livescience.com/aol/070609_dinosaur_fossils.html, 21 June 2007.
A farmer in eastern India thought one of the local dogs had eaten 48 of his chickens. But when he and his brother stood guard one night to catch the culprit, they saw his calf emerge from the cowshed and start gobbling up the chickens alive. ‘Instead of the dogs, we watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal [‘beloved’ in Hindi], sneaked to the coop and grabbed the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat.’
Local television pictures showed the cow catching and eating a chicken in seconds, and the local vet (who confirmed the case) had never previously read or heard of cows turning carnivorous (meat-eating).
However, instances of herbivores (plant-eaters) killing and eating animals are not uncommon (e.g. Creation 21(4):9; 22(2):5; 24(3):9). This shows how an animal that is normally a plant-eater can turn to carnivory, as has happened with many animals since the Fall. Conversely, today’s ‘carnivores’ can be herbivorous (e.g. the ‘spaghetti lioness’ on pp. 44–45 this issue)—an ‘echo’ of the originally perfect world in which all animals were vegetarian (Genesis 1:30).
- ABC News Online, www..abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1865991.htm, 8 March 2007.
- ABC News, abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory? id=2936815, 18 June 2007.
An eye for detail
When you fix your gaze on something, your eyes ‘jitter’, i.e. they make small, involuntary movements. These jitters wiggle the image on the retina. In the 1950s, researchers using cumbersome mirrors to negate the jitter when volunteers looked at an object discovered that the volunteers began to lose sight of the object (disappearing into a featureless grey), so the researchers concluded that jittering kept the image from fading.
Boston University neuroscientist Michele Rucci and his colleagues, recently using computer technology to track the eye’s movements, have now discovered that the jitters are crucial to helping the brain discern the finer details of an image. Negating the jitters resulted in a 16% reduction in volunteers’ ability to pick out the details in fine-lined patterns—the same ability needed in locating a single tree in a forest, or a berry on a bush.
‘Vision isn’t like a camera, where you take a picture and the brain processes it,’ explains Rucci. ‘The actual process of looking … affects what you see.’
Who would have ever thought that the eye’s involuntary movements had such a crucial function? Obviously the eye’s Creator knew what He was doing. He had an eye for detail—that we might have the same.
(For further info about the incredible eye see http://www.creation.com/eye; also Dr David Menton’s DVD The Hearing Ear and the Seeing Eye explains that without the ‘jitter’ we would see our retinal blood vessels, because brain programming removes any unchanging image.)
- Nature 447(7146):852–855, 14 June 2007.
- ScienceNOW Daily News, sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2007/613/2, 21 June 2007.
Mercury’s magnetic mystery
For more than 30 years, Mercury’s magnetic field has presented a puzzle to evolutionary cosmologists. Evolutionists believe that planetary magnetic fields are generated by a ‘dynamo’ from molten material in their cores, to sustain it over millions of years. But Mercury is so small that, given its assumed age of billions of years, ‘its centre should have cooled and solidified long ago, making the source of its magnetic field a mystery,’ in the words of New Scientist.
Now astronomers using radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off Mercury have found the innermost planet has a partly molten core. This supposedly explains the magnetic field; however, there wouldn’t be much of a dynamo in a planet rotating 60 times slower than Earth. But why hasn’t such a small planet’s molten core not cooled and hardened after the supposed billions of years? Solving one evolutionary problem has merely created another.
But creationist physicist Dr Russell Humphreys proposed another model that needs neither molten cores nor fast rotation. This model not only explains Mercury’s field, but also predicted fields of Uranus and Neptune about 100,000 times the evolutionary dynamo predictions. And when Voyager 2 flew past these planets in the 1980s, the measured fields matched Dr Humphreys’ model. See www.creation.com/magfield for further explanation.
- Science 316(5825):710–714, 4 May 2007.
- New Scientist 194(2603):20, 12 May 2007.
‘Human rights’ for apes
New Scientist reports how campaigners across the world want governments to grant ‘human rights’ to apes and other animals. They picture an ape holding a sign saying ‘98% human’. (Note that the claim that ape DNA is so similar is now known to be wrong, and it wouldn’t prove common ancestry anyway—see, e.g., www.creation.com/chimpDNA.) They reported Peter Singer from Princeton University saying that extending human rights to animals is ‘the next step in the Darwinian debate’.
If apes and humans did evolve from a common ancestor then where do we draw the line? There would then be no reason to deny human rights to any animal that shows ‘intelligence and awareness’. But humans and apes are not related. Humans are a special creation made by God in His image. Our eternal, moral and spiritual value comes, not from what we can do, but from our origin.
- New Scientist 194(2606):46–49, 2 June 2007.
‘Enlightened’ Europe needs missionaries
For centuries, missionaries from Europe took the Gospel out to the rest of the world. However, such is the decline in church attendances throughout European nations, that churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America are sending missionaries to Europe.
Commentators say Christianity’s decline in Europe began with the 18th century ‘Enlightenment’ (some Christians have insightfully called it the ‘Endarkenment’) which emphasized ‘reason’ and ‘science’ over the Bible (as opposed to genuine reason—see www.creation.com/logic). Thus the way was prepared for geologists who denied Noah’s Flood to sow ideas about rock layers needing long time periods to form. This in turn gave Darwin the millions-of-years notions needed for biological evolution to become accepted. And evolution leaves no room for a Creator God, who instead ‘evolved’ as a concept, a figment, of human imagination.
With widespread teaching throughout Europe of evolution as fact, little wonder that belief has waned—to the point that even when a pastor publicly admitted not believing in God, he was defended by his congregation (Creation 25(4):8, 2003). The remedy? Unashamedly teach upcoming generations the true history of the world as recorded in the Bible.
- The Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/10/AR2007061001267.html?hpid=topnews&sub=AR, 21 June 2007.
Small dogs are mutants
From chihuahua to Great Dane, the size variation in dogs is staggering—yet all are part of the created dog ‘kind’ (Genesis 1:24–25), for they can all interbreed.
Researchers have now found that chihuahuas, terriers, pekinese and every other small breed they investigated have one thing in common—a mutation in the gene for an important growth regulator (IGF1). This results in less production of the growth regulator.
The research team hardly ever found the ‘small’ variant of IGF1 in large breeds such as St Bernards, Irish wolfhounds and Great Danes. Nor is the mutation known in wolves, from which all domestic dogs are presumed to have descended. ‘Perhaps man selected a small wolf that doesn’t exist now, or they found a small variant that everybody liked,’ suggested research team member Gordon Lark.
Note that the mutation does not involve a gain of information, but a corruption, and thus is not evidence of microbes-to-man evolution. See The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction).
- Science 316(5821):112–115, 6 April 2007.
- New Scientist 194(2599):19, 14 April 2007.
Paul Samollow, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio.
Marsupials aren’t ‘primitive’
The most detailed study yet of a marsupial genome (that of the short-tailed opossum) has uncovered a surprising fact. Surprising, that is, to evolutionists, as the study revealed that marsupials have much more sophisticated immune systems than previously assumed—immune systems just as complex as those of placental mammals.
That’s no surprise to creationists—from the Bible we know that God made the placental mammals and the marsupials on the same day around 6,000 years ago—although there is a gradation in complexity, no animal is more ‘primitive’ or more ‘advanced’ than another.
- Nature 447(7141):167–777, 10 May 2007.
- New Scientist 194(2603):5, 12 May 2007.
Keeping alive the ‘dino tree’—and its myth
Photo by Ian Buchanan
It’s 12 years since the now-famous Wollemi pine, previously thought extinct, was found growing in an isolated canyon near Sydney, Australia (Creation 17(2):13, 1995; www.creation.com/woll. The ‘dino tree’ as it was nicknamed, soon captured the attention of evolutionary botanists and others eager to propagate the tree. Fears for the survival of the species have long abated as the tree can be bought from commercial nurseries and is now growing in public and private gardens around the world.
And it’s not just the tree itself that continues to be propagated, but also the ‘dino tree’ myth—the evolutionary millions-of-years storyline undergirding the ‘surprise’ at the tree’s discovery.
‘[W]e almost expected to find little tiny dinosaurs gnawing at the base of them, it was such a surprise,’ said Dr Tim Entwisle of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens recently. He explained how the botanists ‘could link it back to a fossil … from a plant that we’d known was around at the time of the dinosaurs, we assumed that it had gone extinct, so this is just like discovering a dinosaur alive in Australia today, except it’s a plant of course.’ [emphasis ours]
The finding of a live dino would understandably astonish evolutionists—just as happened with the discovery of the Wollemi pine and a host of other ‘living fossils’ previously assumed extinct for millions of years—but the Bible provides a very different perspective. Wollemi pine and dinosaur fossils can be no older than the date of the Flood—just 4,500 years ago—hence ‘live’ discoveries are no surprise to creationists.
- The Science Show—ABC Radio National (Aust.), www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/ 2007/1902727.htm, broadcast 21 April 2007.
Trash the textbooks
‘If you want to know how all living things are related,’ wrote Laura Spinney recently in New Scientist, ‘don’t bother looking in any textbook that’s more than a few years old. Chances are that the tree of life you find there will be wrong.’
The reason? DNA studies are overturning the traditional evolutionary assumption that organisms with similar features are related. The language of the New Scientist article is extraordinary, given that magazine’s history of stridently proclaiming evolution as fact. Some of the astonishing concessions include:
- ‘These are turbulent times in the world of phylogeny, yet there has been one rule that evolutionary biologists felt they could cling to: the amount of complexity in the living world has always been on the increase. Now even that is in doubt.’
- ‘The whole concept of a gradualist tree … is wrong.’
- ‘Some evolutionary biologists now suggest that loss … is the key to understanding evolution’.
- ‘[W]e need to rethink the process of evolution itself.’
Note that evolutionists and evolutionary publications like New Scientist are in no way ready to concede that creation, not evolution, is true. They have always continued to doggedly hold to what they claim is the ‘truth’ of evolution, even when the theory has to be completely overturned, e.g. in the light of new genetic evidence.
- New Scientist 194(2608):48–51, 16 June 2007.
Stanley Miller dies
Stanley Miller (pictured), pioneer researcher into the origin of life, died in May aged 77. His famous 1953 chemical experiment is still a much-touted icon of evolution, despite actually proving the opposite (see Why the Miller–Urey research argues against abiogenesis). Students are still being misled by this ‘textbook example’ that life arose naturally from non-living chemicals.
Sand dunes in the Namib Desert are among the world’s largest, and possibly the most famous.
They are also routinely claimed to be the world’s oldest, with quoted ages of 20–80 million years.
But in a recent study in Geology, three scientists from the University of London conclude the dunes are only 5,700 years old at the most. In fact most of the dune they studied, according to their calculations, is less than 2,410 years old. They worked out the ages using optically stimulated luminescence to ‘date’ quartz sand grains drilled from a dune. Interestingly, they conclude that the dunes ‘are younger than expected’ (quite an understatement) but they do not explain why their calculated ages for the dunes should be trusted and the previous ages ignored.
However, there is still a little way to go with these dates because these wind-blown dunes started forming after the Flood (something they have not accounted for) some 4,500 years ago. That date is based, not on unprovable assumptions, but on reliable eyewitness testimony.
- Geology 35(6):555–558, June 2007.
- Namib Park, www.gondwana-namib-park.com/gondwana_namib_park.html, 19 June 2007.
Planet discovery excites ET-seekers
The news that astronomers have, for the first time, discovered a ‘potentially inhabitable’ planet outside our solar system is described as ‘a big step’ towards finding ‘life in the universe’.
The planet, named ‘581 c’ (it circles the red dwarf star Gliese 581), is said to have Earth-like temperatures and to be ‘just the right size’ for life to exist.
Although it is not yet known if any liquid water is present—acknowledged as being critical for life—that has not curtailed the excitement of those eager to find extra-terrestrial life. ‘On a treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X,’ said Xavier Delfosse of Grenoble University (France).
With all the hype, a British bookmaker slashed the odds on aliens being discovered from 1,000–1 to 100–1.
‘We felt we had to react to the news that an Earth-like planet which could support intelligent life had been discovered—after all, we don’t know for sure that intelligent extra-terrestrial life has not already been discovered, but is being hushed up,’ said a spokesman for bookmaker William Hill.
Such views are a logical consequence of the widespread teaching that life appeared on Earth by evolution, therefore why not elsewhere? However, the Bible gives a very different perspective—see ‘What really happened at Roswell?’ on p. 19.
- The Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/24/AR2007042401470.html, 19 June 2007.
- ABC News Online, www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200704/s1906668.htm, 26 April 2007.
Astonishing DNA complexity discovered
Because of evolutionary notions of our origin, our DNA was supposed to be mostly ‘junk’—leftovers of our animal ancestry.
But a major study of human DNA has revealed astonishing DNA complexity, indicating that probably the whole genome is used by the cell (i.e. at least 93%, as opposed to only 3% in previous evolutionary conventional wisdom), thus debunking the notion of ‘junk DNA’, and creating a giant headache for defenders of evolutionary theory.
The findings make the case for creation even more overwhelmingly powerful. For more on this, see our semi-technical article at www.creation.com/nojunkDNA.
- Nature 447(7146):799–816, 14 June 2007.
Shelling a story
Why should 12 small shells, found in a cave in eastern Morocco, North Africa, be the subject of a research study by fifteen scientists, and make the news headlines? The shells, stained with red ochre and perforated, are considered significant because the researchers have interpreted them as once being part of a string of beads, and dated them at 82,000 years old. Suddenly they are held up as being one of the earliest known examples of ‘human culture’.
Co-author Nick Barton of Oxford University said, ‘A major question in evolutionary studies today is “how early did humans begin to think and behave in ways we would see as fundamentally modern?”’ He imagines the shells may be linked to a growing sense of self-awareness and identity among humans.
Let’s consider all the evidence—including the eyewitness account in Genesis, which makes clear that humans were ‘fundamentally modern’ from the beginning. They were skilled in agriculture, animal husbandry, music, town planning and the use of bronze and iron. And they worshipped God (Genesis 4).
Correctly dated, the 12 beads were made by the descendants of the people who migrated from Babel to Africa, after the global Flood. But ‘progressive creationists’ such as Hugh Ross, who compromise with secular long-age dates, have a problem—now that secularists have put human behaviour at 82,000 years ago, where does that leave Adam? Surely it’s far more logical to trust the Bible’s dates and recognize that secular dates are mere storytelling. For more of the difficulties confronting long-age compromise positions, see Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s book Refuting Compromise.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(24):9964–9969, 12 June 2007, (image supplied by PNAS).