Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution
Newly hatched orb-weaving spiderlings can survive without eating for a while after leaving the egg, but by the time they are physically able to spin their first web, they must find food in order to survive.
However, many orb-weaving spiders die at this early stage of growth, because few insects actually come into contact with their webs, and even fewer are small enough to be captured.
But researchers have discovered that these spiders (both young and old) also eat pollen caught in their webs, and thus can survive lean periods between insect captures. But as pollen lacks a key amino acid required by the spiders, they cannot survive on it indefinitely.
Nature Australia, Summer 1999–2000, p. 5.
Instances of carnivores being able to survive on herbivorous diets remind us of a time when God gave ‘every green herb for food’ (Genesis 1:30).
Before the earth and its vegetation was cursed (Genesis 3:17), spiders may have thrived on pollen caught in webs spun for that purpose.
The blue colour that ancient Egyptian artists liked to use in their wall paintings, coffins and masks of mummies is still so bright that an observer might think it freshly applied. In fact, the vibrant ‘Egyptian blue’, reputedly the world’s first synthetic pigment, was used up to 4,000 years ago, but some time around the 9th century ad, the secret of how to make it was lost.
When a small pot of Egyptian blue was found at Pompeii in 1814, chemists eagerly set out to recreate the colour that no one had been able to match. It took more than a century of detective chemistry to unravel the mystery. It seems the crucial ingredient — blue crystals of calcium copper silicate — must have been manufactured in some kind of ancient glassworks factory, capable of heating quartz, lime and some form of copper to 1000°C, plus a very precise amount of alkali.
The resulting pigment was extremely stable, surviving unchanged for millennia, even when exposed to Egypt’s heat and sun.
New Scientist, 22 January 2000, pp. 44–45.
The ancients were hardly ‘primitives’ but had some advanced technology that we are only just beginning to rediscover.
Hardly surprising, given that they descended from people who built an ocean-liner-sized Ark.
Is it all over, for white cliffs of Dover?
Rampaging limpets (small sea-shells that cling to rocks) are undermining the white cliffs of Dover, whittling away the coastline at a surprising rate. It seems that as limpets creep across rocks, eating algae, they also eat chalk. An obscure scientist last century had suspected that limpets were lowering the foreshore at Dover by 1.5 mm (about 1/16 inch) a year, but no one believed him.
Recently, researchers have measured the amount of calcium in limpet faeces and the total actually equals 1.3 mm of erosion per year — thought to account for about 30% of total natural erosion.
At Brighton, engineers had assumed chalk rocks made sure foundations for artificial sea walls, but these walls are collapsing after just ten years.
Meanwhile residents have moved an Eastbourne lighthouse to rescue it from an encroaching cliff edge, which has advanced more than 21 metres (70 feet) in 165 years, an average of about 13 cm (five inches) per year. However, these erosion rates are dwarfed by the average two metres (over six feet) per year erosion of Suffolk coastal cliffs. Over the past 800 years, the sea there has claimed about 1.6 km (1 mile) of land, including the entire medieval city of Dunwich, with the last of its 12 churches toppling over the cliffs in 1919.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2000, p. 35.
The Express (UK), 17 February 2000, p. 42.
Rough Guide Travel: Dunwich, <http://travel.roughguides.com>, 31 March 2000.
Such erosion rates contradict the belief that landforms are hundreds of millions of years old.
‘Stone Age’ people fully human
1. Microscopic analysis of the ‘Venus Figurines’, small hand-sized statues of women, said to be from ‘Stone Age’ cultures of central Europe, has revealed impressions left behind on the clay from very finely woven fabric.
It seems that the clay statues were not naked (as portrayed in archaeology textbooks) but were actually adorned with intricately designed clothing.
The advanced sophisticated weaving technology possessed by these ‘Stone Age’ peoples has stunned archaeologists.
EXN.CA, <http://exn.ca/html/templates>, 9 February 2000.
Scientific American Discovering Archaeology, <www.discover ingarchaeology.com> February 9, 2000.
2. Japanese archaeologists have discovered evidence of elaborate housing and sophisticated tools having been used by human ancestors labelled Homo erectus, reputed to have lived 400,000 years ago.
Anthropologists are staggered to find that early humans were far more technologically sophisticated than they had earlier believed.
For these peoples to have crossed the Sea of Japan from mainland Asia would have required a high degree of communication skill and organisation, as well as sophisticated tools to make seaworthy craft.
New Scientist, 4 March 2000, p. 4.
Evidence is continually surfacing that shows that ‘Stone Age’ / Ice Age peoples were fully human. In the light of the biblical account of history, the ‘long-age’ dates can be rejected, and these ‘Stone Age’ peoples are recognisable as some of the early (post-Babel) descendants of Noah.
Nannies badger evolutionists
In large groups of European badgers, some females don’t breed but instead help other badgers to rear their offspring. How can such selfless behaviour be explained by ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ evolutionary theory?
Evolutionists usually say that as self-sacrificing individuals (like these spinster nannies) and their close relatives have many genes in common, it makes sense to forego breeding if it helps siblings’ offspring to survive.
But researchers have now found that the spinster ‘helpers’ actually reduce the group’s breeding success because they compete with mothers and cubs for food. Confronted with this, evolutionists are now saying that this ‘helping’ behaviour must have been beneficial in the past, when badgers are thought by evolutionists to have faced greater danger from carnivores.
New Scientist, 22 January 2000, p. 21.
Whenever evolutionary ‘predictions’ are falsified, the theory survives by changing the ‘story’. But a framework which can be made to ‘explain’ everything comes very close to the textbook definition of pseudoscience (‘Evolution made me do it’, Creation 22(3):4).
Bats are classified according to whether they locate prey by ultrasonic echoes (the microbats) or sight (the megabats). But New Scientist reports that ‘theories about how bats evolved have been thrown into disarray’ by a recent study of bats’ DNA. The researchers conclude that some microbats are ‘more closely related’ to the megabats than to other microbats. Evolutionists now surmise this means either that echolocation evolved twice or that it was lost by the megabats.
New Scientist, 15 January 2000, p. 19.
Evolutionary theory cannot satisfactorily explain how echolocation evolved at all, let alone twice. Nor is it easy to see why megabats should lose such an advantageous characteristic. Echolocation echoes creation, not evolution. (See Creation 21(1):28–31.)
For years, many people have scoffed at any suggestion that declining morality in society could be linked with the teaching of the theory of evolution.
But a research survey conducted by the Australian National University has revealed that people who believe in evolution are more likely to be in favour of premarital sex than are those who reject Darwin’s theory. Also, those who accept Darwinian ideas were reported to be ‘especially tolerant’ of abortion.
In identifying the primary factors determining these differences in community attitudes, the author of the research report said: ‘The single most important influence after church attendance is the theory of evolution.’
The survey showed that about 45% of Australians doubted, or were not sure, if humans evolved via natural selection, as opposed to about 55% who thought this was definitely or probably true.
The Australian, 1 February 2000, p. 6.
A fossil ‘snake’, dubbed ‘Haasiophis’, with well-developed hindlimbs has intensified debate between evolutionists who think that snakes evolved from mosasaurs (extinct marine lizards) and those who think snakes evolved from land lizards.
A similar fossil found in 1996, Pachyrhachis, was at that time considered by evolutionists to be a ‘primitive’ ancestral marine snake that never lost its rear legs. However, the well-preserved Haasiophis fossil shows that it could unhinge its jaw to eat prey larger than its head — something that ‘advanced’ snakes (e.g. pythons) can do, but lizards can’t.
So now some evolutionists are surmising that, far from being ancestral, both Haasiophis and Pachyrhachis are ‘advanced snakes that re-evolved legs’, debunking the idea that snakes came from seagoing mosasaurs that flopped onto land.
Instead they propose that the first snakes evolved from burrowing lizards, losing their legs while their bodies grew longer and more slender. Opinion remains divided, however, with the ‘mosasaur ancestor’ advocates pointing out that there is no evidence at all that snakes and lizards are in any way ‘related’.
Science, 17 March 2000, pp. 1939–1941, 2010–2012.
New Scientist, 25 March 2000, p. 12.
In fact, the supporters of each of these two imagined scenarios are both right in saying that the other theory makes no sense. Whatever these fossil creatures were (whether ‘snake’ or a distinctly separate life form), they reproduced ‘after their kind’ — no evolution took place.
Reports that the australopithecine fossil ‘Lucy’ has the same wrist anatomy as ‘knuckle-walking’ chimpanzees and gorillas are forcing evolutionists to reappraise their theories of human origins. However, most are still clinging to the view that australopithecines walked upright, saying that Lucy’s ‘knuckle-walking’ bones are a leftover or ‘vestige’ from an early ancestor. But careful examination of australopithecine skeletal anatomy indicates a stooped gait, probably similar to the ‘rolling’ knuckle-walk of chimps. CAT scans of australopithecine inner ear canals (which reflect posture and balance), and their long curved fingers and toes, also show that they did not walk habitually upright.
So what was Lucy? Comparative studies have shown that she could not possibly have been an intermediate ‘missing link’ between humans and ape-like ancestors.
Rather, the australopithecines differ more from both humans and African apes than do these two living groups from each other. The australopithecines were therefore unique. This latest evidence also indicates that Lucy was a knuckle-walker, like today’s great apes.
Nature, 23 March 2000, pp. 339–340, 382–385.
Evolutionists believe that the famous Laetoli footprints, indicating upright walking, were made by australopithecines like Lucy, but the evidence clearly indicates otherwise. See Creation 19(1):52, the CMI video The Image of God, and The Revised Quote Book, p. 14.
In a blaze of publicity, primate fossil bones found in China were enthusiastically hailed by evolutionists as ‘the primate equivalent of the missing link’. The ‘dawn monkey’, Eosimias, was described as being shy, nocturnal, having ‘large, saucer-like eyes’ and spending its life flitting about the treetops of humid Asian rainforests, catching insects and drinking plant nectar.
Nature, 16 March 2000, pp. 276–278.
New Scientist, 25 March 2000, p. 19.
Time, 27 March 2000, p. 58.
And the fossil evidence on which this is based? Nothing more than some tiny fossil foot/ankle bones no bigger than rice grains!
Researchers have discovered that the thick layer of blubber under the skin of whales and dolphins is more than just a jumble of fat cells. Long known for its insulation and buoyancy properties, blubber has now also been found to contain an intricately woven mix of collagen and elastin fibres — making the dolphin’s tail like one long spring. Previously it was thought that all the power for swimming came from muscles alone.
Amazingly, the mechanical ‘weave’ of the blubber fibres is not uniform but varies along the dolphin’s body. At key locations, the blubber functions as a very powerful spring, while in other areas it absorbs unwanted energy. Submarine engineers eager to copy these features are now experimenting with new kinds of flexible propellers, called propulsors, which resemble the dolphin’s tail.
Science, 21 January 2000, p. 419.
Yet another example of man copying features that point to a Master Designer.