This article is from
Creation 11(4):5–7, September 1989

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Focus: News of interest about creation and evolution

Neanderthal Funerals—A Grave Error?

A fresh controversy has erupted about whether the Neanderthals buried their dead-something which most anthropologists have accepted as fact for some time. Robert Gargett, a Berkeley graduate student, argues that the apparent ‘graves’ were probably a result of local geology. He has some supporters, but two anthropologists from the University of Kansas say he is ‘selective in the cases he covers, lacks historical perspective and ignores important discoveries that demolish his argument.’
From Gargett’s comments, one gains the impression that he would prefer to believe the Neanderthals did not bury their dead, because to have done so makes their ‘spiritual capacities’ so much like our own that ‘they begin to seem much like us’.

Scientific American,
June 1989 (p. 16).

Perhaps with the demise of many of the australopithecine ‘ancestors’ on the horizon, Neanderthals are due to be exhumed (excuse pun) to reoccupy their previous ‘subhuman’ status?

Goofy and the Sparrow

Walt Disney World (Florida) was the place where the last dusky seaside sparrow died, in June, 1987. In 1980 there were only six males left of this inhabitant of the salt marshes of the US south-east coast. To try to preserve their genes, Disney zoo workers captured five of these males and bred them with what they thought were their closest relatives. They repeatedly crossed the males with their own hybrid daughters to build up a population containing mostly the dusky seaside sparrow’s genes.

New research using mitochondrial DNA analysis reveals that it may have been, well, a ‘mickey mouse’ enterprise, although with the best intentions and based on the best available knowledge. It turns out that genetically the bird is virtually identical to most of the seaside sparrows along the Atlantic coast, which means there was probably no need to preserve it in the first place. At the very least, it should have been bred with its close relatives, not the Gulf Coast birds that were thought to be the closest but were much more genetically separate.

Scientific American,
April 1989 (p. 15).

How many other separate species have been listed by taxonomists which in fact are, when genetic information is considered, only minor variants that could easily have descended from one created pair? Darwin’s finches are a prime example.

‘Most Primitive Ant’ Discovered

An ant described as ‘the most primitive known’ has been discovered living in Australia The ant, dubbed the ‘dinosaur ant’, is only known to live within a one-square kilometre area of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. Dr Bob Taylor, an entomologist in Canberra, said he believed that this ant existed millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. He said the ants are well tuned to the environment and fit into their niche ‘perfectly’.

Australasian Post,
July 15, 1989 (p. 48).

Photos of these ‘most primitive’ ants (Nothomyrmecia macrops) show not the slightest hint that they have evolved from any other insect-further evidence that ants were created as ants (see our article on ants in this issue of Creation magazine).

Camouflaged Caterpillars

Springtime broods of certain caterpillars that eat fuzzy, golden oak flower spikes have been seen to appear fuzzy and golden themselves. A second lot of these caterpillars (Nemoria arizonaria), that mature after the flower spikes have disappeared, devour the oak leaves instead and take on a twig-like appearance! Experiments have shown that it is plant chemicals which control the caterpillar appearance and which stimulate the appropriate camouflage for each season.

Science Frontiers,
May-June, 1989 (p. 3).

The editor of Science Frontiers asked why the oaks would contribute to their own destruction by providing caterpillars with chemicals that concealed them from predators. He said one would have expected that ‘evolutionary forces’ would have produced chemicals that would have made the caterpillars more obvious to their predators instead of vice versa. We suggest that impersonal vegetation cannot be purposeful, and that these caterpillars reflect created complexity and design.

Smart Kids Love Dinosaurs!

If your child is heavily into dinosaurs and only keeps quiet when he or she is asleep, there’s a chance you have a gifted child on your hands! Mr Ken Imison, president of the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented, says that alert parents can identify a gifted child before the child starts school. He says gifted children are very alert as babies. They have boundless energy, varied sleep patterns, and lots of curiosity Most start to read before starting school. ‘Many gifted kids around about four, five, or six develop a quite extraordinary interest in dinosaurs’, Mr Imison added.

The Australian,
July 4, 1989.

Where on Earth are the Fossils?

A long article in Physics Today (42:38, March 1989), titled ‘Where on Earth is the Crust?’, concludes: ‘Plate tectonic processes circulate the entire oceanic crust back into the mantle every 100 million years. Erosion also removes part of the continental crust, and some of the eroded material may eventually find its way to deep oceanic trenches, where it is also returned to the mantle. This implies that at any given time only about 10% of the crust is at the surface. Much of the continental crust, however, is more than half the age of the earth, so one can infer this part has not recirculated recently.’ This is taken to mean that plate tectonics [a theory of the earth’s surface based on the concepts of moving plates and spreading of the sea floor] may be responsible for missing sections of the geological column and fossil record.

Science Frontiers,
May-June, 1989 (p. 4).

‘Missing links’ between created kinds (alive or fossilized) are now excused by inaccessibility! But you can’t argue scientifically from evidence that is absent!

Crossing Species

Elephants cannot mate with lions, nor dogs with cats. No species likes to share its DNA with another. Complex barriers exist to prohibit such goings-on. Therefore, several genetic laboratories around the world are attempting to support or refute a recent claim by researchers at the University of Rome. This group says it has introduced genetic material directly into mouse sperm from other species, and that the introduced material seemed to be permanently retained by 30 per cent of young resulting from test-tube fertilization.

The Australian,
July 4, 1989.

Mankind may be clever and creative-but man’s cleverness and creativity have been given by an even more clever Creator!

Creation Rates High in Polls

A survey of 190 high school biology teachers from across America has shown that 43 per cent of the teachers believe that the story of Noah’s Ark and the Flood is definitely or probably true. The survey also revealed that 19 per cent of the teachers accept that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, and 30 per cent want to teach creation science in the classroom. Meanwhile, a survey conducted in the United Kingdom by Professor John Durant, from the Science Museum in London, has shown a strong general belief that dinosaurs have co-existed with humans, despite evolutionary brainwashing to the contrary. The UK poll surveyed 2009 adults. Of these, 31.6 per cent accepted that the earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

The Australian,
July 11, 1989.
The Newcastle Herald,
July 7. 1989.

Dancing in the Dark

It has been known for some time that bee ‘scouts’ give directions to nectar sources by a complex ‘dance’ that passes on the information. Now (bee-lieve it or not), scientists in Europe have made a miniature robot bee that can perform some of the dances. And it actually fooled some of the bees into following its ‘instructions’. The use of this robot bee has suggested an answer to the puzzle-how do bees follow the dancer’s movements in a dark hive? Incredibly, it appears that they ‘listen’ to changes in the amplitude of the dancer’s buzzing wing beating. When the robot’s wings stopped moving, the bees took no notice of any of its dance-steps.

Scientific American,
June 1989 (pp. 16-17).

We are just beginning to understand the incredible complexity of this whole dance-information system of these remarkable insects, a complexity which reduces all attempts at evolutionary explanations to shambles. (See Creation magazine, December 1986, for an article on the amazing honeybee dance.)

Firing up a Controversy

Anthropologist Steven James, a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University, has suggested that most of the reports of the use of fire by ‘early hominids’ are based on poor interpretation. He recently stated: ‘Anthropologists have invented stories to account for early use of fire-based on a model of hunters sharing meat around the campfire-but that’s just not what you see in the archaeological record’ James is not just talking about one or two sites or a minor side issue. He is referring to a belief held by the majority of scholars on an issue of major importance, based on interpretations of a large number of sites on many different continents.

Scientific American,
May, 1989 (p. 12).

In this emotionally charged and bias-prone issue of human origins, in which many are urging that we must modify the biblical text to accommodate such ‘facts’, we do well to ask ourselves the question: How many other ‘facts’ are equally ‘stories’ which have similarly been ‘invented’ to fit preconceived ideas?

It’s a Crucible, It’s a Vat, … Whoops!

We have always known archaeologists can be wrong, but sometimes it needs a bit of evidence to reinforce it. At a recent convention of archaeologists in Boston, an item made of metal was identified as a Late Bronze Age bellows. Nothing unusual about that, except that this same object was first identified as a crucible to cast ingots. This was found to be wrong, and the item was said to be really a vat to dye linen purple. Then it was realized the object wasn’t a vat-it was a vessel to mix cheese! Now it has been found that the cheese vessel is really a bellows.

August, 1989 (p. 12).