This article is from
Creation 20(1):7–9, December 1997

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Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution

Firebug discovery

The beetle Melanophila acuminata has long been known to seek out forest fires so it ‘can lay its eggs in nutritious, freshly burnt wood’. The beetles have been shown to detect fires from over 32 kilometres (20 miles) away, without using hearing or smell.

Now German researchers have discovered how they do it. They have special organs of detection in their chests which can pick up infrared light. The light is converted to heat, which is then converted to a mechanical signal. This sort of system has never before been described in any living thing.

The Daily Telegraph, 25 September 1997, p. 9.

One wonders how anyone could conceive of such systems evolving from the accumulation of random mutations. The more that is known, the more we see the awesome diversity of creative design.

Early humans were bigger

A new study of fossil humans (‘archaic Homo’, which we believe are mostly the remains of early post-Babel people) has provided very detailed estimates of their total body mass. It shows that they were an average of about 20% larger than people living today.

Their skeletons were more strongly built than ours are today, and ‘the pronounced muscle markings on the bones are believed to indicate great strength’. Their build most closely approximates Olympic ‘throwers, weight-lifters and wrestlers’.

Brain sizes varied, with some groups being bigger, some smaller than the average today, but all within the range of modern human variation.

Nature 387:126–127, 8 May 1997.

People have always been people, who appear to have degenerated physically, probably through inherited mutations. In the last few generations, people in affluent societies have become taller from better nutrition and child health, but this is not an inherited change.

Occult cave art

Paintings on cave walls which evolutionists date as tens of thousands of years old are receiving a controversial new assessment. A growing number of researchers are amassing evidence to suggest that many of these art forms were used for ritual purposes and/or depict various forms of occult or shamanistic experience. For example, they relate to trance experiences used by shamans ‘entering the spirit world’. Others depict supernatural journeys, mystical death and rebirth, and so on. One authority says that ‘since far back in prehistory there have been people who tried to make sense of human existence and control the environment by using altered states of consciousness to go to spirit worlds.’

Science News 150:216–217, 5 October 1996.

This finding causes a problem for ‘progressive creationists’ who, because of commitment to evolutionary dating systems, insist that many cave-dwellers were ‘spiritless’ pre-Adamites. In reality, all cave art was made by people created in the image of God, thus with religious yearnings (albeit often having rejected the worship of the one true God).

Mexican cave squash

It was once thought that the early inhabitants of the Americas were ‘primitive’ hunter-gatherers. Later evidence that they practised agriculture is consistent with the biblical model, that people have always had such capacities.

Recently, remains of domesticated plants (including squash seeds), quite different from wild varieties, were found in a Mexican cave.

The remains have been ‘dated’ at about 10,000 years old, thousands of years before ‘expert’ opinion would have previously allowed such evidence of sophisticated agriculture and plant breeding in this region.

Science News, 151:322, 24 May 1997.

Footprint fiasco

South African paleoanthropologist Lee Berger claims that two footprints found about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Cape Town, and ‘dated’ at 117,000 years, are the oldest known modern human footprints. Berger says ‘unlike the footprints found at Laetoli, which were left millions of years ago, these were made by modern humans—our direct ancestors.’ He is referring to footprints found in volcanic ash by Mary Leakey at Laetoli.

The West Australian, 15 August, p. 11.

Russell Tuttle of the University of Chicago showed long ago that the Laetoli prints are exactly like those of modern humans who walk habitually without shoes. So why are they regarded as made by our alleged ape-like ancestors, and not by modern humans, as these new ones are? Because of the 3.5 million year ‘date’ on the Laetoli prints, which on the basis of evolutionary assumptions means that no modern humans were around. In a classic case of circular reasoning, these human prints at Laetoli are often used to confirm that the Lucy-like australopithecines walked upright!

Dino skin, but no feathers!

Fossilized remains of a small dinosaur similar to the one discovered in China which was reported as having a feathery mane1 have been found in Spain.2 The Spanish fossil includes skin impressions which show that the dinosaur had normal scaled skin, and no feathers. Examination of the unusually good skin impression with a microscope showed ‘no evidence of any structures such as feathers or enlarged scales’.

The best-preserved dinosaur skin found to date is a recent discovery of a one-square-foot impression of a hadrosaur skin in New Mexico. Its bumps or tubercles are similar to some modern-day lizards.3

1. See Creation 19(3):6, June 1997.

2. No feathers on Spanish dino, Science 276:1341, 30 May 1997.

3. The Associated Press release, July 1997.

Neandertal gourmets and musicians.

  1. Chris Stringer of the British Museum has found that Neandertals in Gibraltar feasted on roasted pistachio nuts, olives, rabbit, goat, and venison grilled over a pine-scented fire. This contradicts the usual ‘brute’ image of Neandertals.

    Despite the claimed evolutionary age of more than 40,000 years, Dr Stringer found ‘plant material so well preserved that he was able to tell what species they were’.

  2. A ‘stone age’ hearth in a Suffolk forest, ‘dated’ at nearly 500,000 years, contains what look like ‘carving knives and kebab skewers’.

  3. We reported (Creation 17(3):9) a bone flute among Neandertal remains in Slovenia. Analysis has now shown that it ‘could play sweet music’. The flute is based on the same seven-note scale used in modern Western music. The instrument, carved from the thigh bone of a bear, is ‘dated’ at between 43,000 and 67,000 years old.

  1. The Daily Telegraph, 12 March 1997, p. 8.
  2. Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August 1997, p. 8.
  3. The London Times, 5 April 1997, p. 1.

The evidence for Neandertal sophistication continues to mount, despite recent claims that DNA from one specimen argues against their closeness to modern humans. The Genesis account implies that these were early post-Flood humans making a new life in harsh conditions after the dispersal at Babel.

Too hot to handle

The discovery of bacteria able to live in hot springs has led to speculation that these are ‘ancient’ organisms, and that life could have evolved in such high temperature conditions.

Now Stanley Miller, one of the pioneers of origin of life theorising, has argued in a major co-authored paper that a ‘hot’ origin of life is not supported by the evidence.

High temperatures increase reaction rates, but this also increases the rate at which organic compounds decompose. For one thing, ‘RNA and DNA are clearly too unstable to exist in a hot prebiotic environment’. The paper also points out that these heat-loving bacteria are certainly not ‘primitive’ in their make-up.

S. Miller and A. Lazcano, The Origin of Life—Did it Occur at High Temperatures? Journal of Molecular Evolution 41:689–692, 1995.

Penguin power

American researchers have successfully trialled a model ship driven by ‘flapping flippers’, rather than a propeller. They are now planning to build full-size versions, which deliberately mimic the way in which the flippers of penguins move through the water.

The two flipper-like foils on the sides of the boat are each powered by their own motor. They are capable of both a twisting and a side-to-side motion, synchronized by a computer.

Tests have shown that they are 87% efficient, compared with 70% for a propeller, with enormous potential fuel savings for shipping.

New Scientist, 154(2080):25, 3 May 1997.

This is one more example of man’s technology mimicking God’s original created design.

Swiss, Swedes sterilized

Last issue (pp. 22–23), we highlighted the scandalous way in which tens of thousands of Americans were sterilized against their will. Eugenics laws, directly inspired by evolution and copied by the Nazis, were used to ensure the survival of the ‘fittest race’. Now there are revelations that about 60,000 Swedish citizens were similarly treated between 1935 and 1976. According to a professor of history at the University of Lausanne, this also happened in at least one Swiss canton, under a 1928 law of which a copy was requested by Adolf Hitler. Reports are filtering in of similar practices in Norway and Canada.

Sydney Morning Herald, 27 August, p. 10.

Frozen mammoth find

Although there are the scattered remains of millions of mammoths and other creatures buried in frozen soil in the Arctic circle, only a few dozen carcasses have been found largely intact.

Now another carcass, lacking only tusks and part of its head, has been found perfectly preserved in the permafrost, the permanently frozen soil on the banks of a Siberian river.

The mammoth is a male, and it is hoped that its frozen sperm may be able to be used to fertilize an egg from a female African elephant.

Nature 388:510, 7 August 1997.

Such discoveries are of great interest to creationists, as they speak of a rapid and permanent climate change (you can’t plunge a mammoth into already permanently frozen soil after it dies). The evidence indicates that such finds are the result of catastrophism associated with the post-Flood Ice Age (see Creation 19(1):42–43, December, 1996.)