This article is from
Creation 17(3):7–9, June 1995

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Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution

Dino DNA claim debunked

Claims that scientists from Brigham Young University in Utah have extracted dinosaur DNA from old bones have been disputed by one of the world's most respected researchers of ancient DNA.

Svante Paabo, from Munich University in Germany, is regarded as a leader in ancient DNA research. He believes that the DNA which the Brigham Young scientists isolated from bones found in a Utah coal mine is not dinosaur DNA, but human DNA.

The assertions that dinosaur DNA had been found in bones which evolutionists thought were 80 million years old made headlines in November 1994.

Dr Paabo and his Munich team discovered that the DNA was almost identical to a little-known fragment of human DNA. They believe laboratory contamination was the cause. They are not necessarily disputing the reported discoveries of ancient DNA in other fossils.

New Scientist, and The Independent (UK), February 11, 1995.

Scienctists urge end to racist ideas

Science should abandon the concept of race because it has no basis in fundamental human biology, researchers told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Atlanta in February.

They said that as genetics has become better understood, surface differences such as skin colour, hair, and facial features have been found to have nothing to do with basic human biology.

'Biologically, we are saying in essence that race is no longer a valid scientific distinction', said University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Solomon H. Katz.

Katz and his colleagues were said to be acting, in part, to correct a legacy of misconceptions about the biology of race, in which earlier researchers provided the fuel for spurious claims of racial superiority.

The Saginaw News (USA), February 20, 1995 (p. 1).

The idea that some races had evolved higher than others has been the basis for severe abuses of human rights. The Bible, on the other hand, has always taught the unity of mankind (Genesis 3:20; Acts 17:26), and so gives no support to either evolutionary beliefs or racist practices.

The beat that cuts it neat

Leafcutting ants use their jaws to slice leaves and other plant parts so they can carry pieces off. Back in their underground nests, these are fed to a fungus which the ants then live off.

Now German researchers have shown that the ants use a technique to make the cuts neater which modern science began using only 50 years ago. The ants emit chirping vibrations during cutting which make the ant and leaf vibrate at the same rhythm or frequency (about 1000 hertz). This makes the leaf tissues temporarily stiffen, which means the ants can cut more evenly.

The same principle has been used by biologists for many years in the construction of the vibratome, an instrument which shaves neater slices from soft tissues because it vibrates.

However, the ants' amazing technique gives rise to a conundrum for those who believe that everything has evolved for some selective advantage. The same researchers found that the smoother cuts 'did not seem to save the ants any time or effort'. There is no less force needed to cut, and the vibrating ants cut leaves just as quickly as those which are silenced in the laboratory.

New Scientist, January 14, 1995 (p. 16).

Evidence of design such as this, as if for the sheer aesthetic appreciation of human observers, is found throughout nature. For those prepared to look at the world through non-evolutionary eyes, it is further testimony of the Creator's wonderful handiwork.

It's a dog's life

Recent cover story of TIME (Australia) focused on the fact that many well-known dog breeds carry unacceptably high instances of inherited disease. Rather than having been 'improved' by selection, dogs bred for 'looks' are largely genetic cripples.

Not only have their gene pools been reduced in size (as happens also with natural selection) but the relentless inbreeding has caused many opportunities for the inherited copying mistakes (mutations) that have been accumulated by living creatures over centuries to 'match up' (see the chapter on 'Cain's wife' in Creation Ministries International's The Creation Answers Book).

This means that instead of these mistakes being 'hidden' (as they are now), they have much more chance of showing up.

Some of the distressing problems in common breeds:

  • Collies: prone to blindness, skin disease, epilepsy.

  • Dalmatians: deafness.

  • Dobermans: bleeding disorders.

  • German shepherds: hip dysplasia.

  • Golden retrievers: lymph cancer, muscular dystrophy, skin allergies.

  • Great Danes: early death from overstressed heart, tendency to bone cancer.

  • Labradors: bone disease causing dwarfism, retinal degeneration causing blindness.

Other breeds have other problems.

TIME (Australia), January 23, 1995.

Evolution birthday theory

If you were born in summer, are you more likely to oppose Darwin's theory of evolution?

Maybe, according to Dr Michael Holmes, a psychologist from Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh.

Dr Holmes checked the birth dates of 12 biologists who accepted evolution and 16 who opposed it. He also checked 10 physicists who accepted Einstein's theory of relativity when it was first proposed, and nine who opposed it.

He found an overwhelming number of the supporters of either theory were born in or around winter, while the majority of opponents were born in or around summer.

'I'm not driven to astrological explanations', Dr Holmes said. 'I think environmental and climatic factors may explain it.'

The Times (UK), February 2, 1995.

Dr Holmes said his theory may not apply today, because all his subjects were born before the advent of electric lights, central heating, and year-round availability of different foods — so environmental and climatic factors may not still apply. We checked the birthday of Darwin's most vocal defender, biologist Thomas Huxley. He was born in May — a month he shouldn't have been born in according to this theory.

Evolution of prestige cars?

Words that you might associate with evolution could be 'accidental', 'unplanned', 'haphazard', 'random change' or 'purposeless'.

So it is surprising that a prestige car and cycle workshop in Sydney, Australia, would call itself 'Automotive Evolution' — as shown in the photo in the inset at right.

Wouldn't the owners of prestige motor vehicles expect some planning, design, and purpose from the people to whom they entrust their valuable automobiles?

'Stone Age' flute

A burial chamber in Portugal, full of stone and bone tools and thus regarded as 'Neolithic', has yielded a bone artefact which 'could force anthropologists to alter their views about the culture of Stone Age people'.

Apart from axes, other stone tools, pottery, and shell jewellery, there was what to all intents looked like a bone flute. A replica of this instrument is being made to assess whether it 'produces the right sounds'.

New Scientist, January 7, 1995 (p. 9).

The early descendants of Adam and Eve used musical instruments (Genesis 4:21). After Babel, various scattered groups may have lost aspects of their culture — some only temporarily. But they lost none of their intelligence or other distinctly human characteristics. With discoveries of ancient musical instruments, the evolutionary idea that man’s ancestors were 'primitive' grunting Stone Agers is looking more and more unbelievable.

Poll supports creation

More than 60 per cent of residents in the American State of Alabama believe the Bible's account of how humans were created, a new poll has found.

The poll, taken March 10-16, 1995, showed overwhelming rejection of the theory of evolution, and majority support for teaching creationism in public schools.

The University of South Alabama and the Mobile Register newspaper took the poll, which is claimed to have a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.

It found 61 per cent of those surveyed believe 'God created humans in the present form at one time in the last 10,000 years or so'.

Only 4 per cent of those questioned thought humans had evolved without God's help, even though this is the common view presented in encyclopaedias and textbooks.

The Birmingham News (USA),

March 20, 1995 (p. 2B).

'Junk' DNA?

Language-like properties exist in 'junk' DNA, researchers have found. (Much of the DNA in living things does not code for proteins. This non-coding DNA has been called 'junk DNA', reflecting the common belief that it is a useless left-over from evolution.)

Michael Simmons, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, and physicists at Boston University, found that DNA which coded for proteins did not have the characteristics of language, just as would be expected from a code, whereas the 'junk', or non-coding, DNA contained recurring sequences of nucleotides of different lengths, which are similar to words in language. So the non-coding DNA contains a structured language unlike the coding DNA.

Such a language is unlikely to have no function, but what function it has is unclear. Some geneticists suggest it might have something to do with maintaining the association of certain genes. Others have suggested that the non-coding regions are where chromosomes break and reconnect during the formation of sex cells, allowing the mixing of genes so important in facilitating the variety within species.

Science News, December 10, 1994 (p. 391).

The belief that much of our DNA performs no useful function parallels the belief 100 years ago that the human body carried 'vestigial’ organs — rudiments of organs which were supposedly useful in our evolutionary ancestors, but no longer. At one time 180 organs were listed as 'vestigial’. The belief that organs were useless impeded research to discover their functions. History may be repeating itself with 'junk DNA’. Fortunately, not all scientists accept the 'junk’ designation and are searching for the function of this DNA. Others have suggested that non-coding DNA is involved in holding chromosomes together during cell division.

Why are fish wings colourful?

While sailing tropical seas in command of the ship Gandara, A.D.G. Bell became puzzled about flying-fish. Not so much about why they fly, but why they have such colourful wings.

Bell saw flying-fish with wings that were yellow, brown, and turquoise, and shades ranging from frosted purple to deep navy.

'What does baffle me', he said, 'is why, when the wings are only extended during flight, they should be of differing colours.

'I could understand it if they were a coral-swimming fish where the colours are designed to help them blend into the coral colours and so evade capture, but why the need in flight over crystal clear waters like the Coral Sea?'

Science Frontiers, November-December, 1994(p. 2).
Marine Observer, Vol.64, 1994 (p. 136).

The editor of Science Frontiers commented: 'In other words, how do the bright colors, seen only in flight, increase the species' fitness and thus be explicable by the evolutionary paradigm?'