Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution
Butterflies’ magnetic compass
Researchers have found that monarch butterflies have a built-in magnetic compass as a navigation aid in their long migrations — e.g. from autumn breeding grounds in Canada to a winter haven in Mexico, over 4,000 km (2,500 miles) away.
Amazingly, these millions of migrants are going to a destination not one of them has ever seen, yet they return to the same roosting areas that their great-great grandparents (or even more distant ancestors) used.
It has long been known that monarchs can orient themselves by the sun, but this is the first direct evidence that they can also sense directions from the earth's magnetic field (though this had been suspected for some time — see The magnificent migrating monarch Creation 20(1):29-31). However, the experts caution that this discovery is only a small step towards explaining how monarchs navigate. ‘What the butterflies are doing is very complicated,’ they said. ‘They use things we can't perceive, maybe even things we can't conceive.’
Science News, November 27, 1999, p. 343.
Things that man cannot even conceive…this indicates a Master Designer, the Creator of ‘the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them’ (Exodus 20:11).
Plant fossil a record
Fossilized plant spores have been found buried deeper in the earth's rock layers than ever before. Secular geologists believe that these Cambrian rocks were laid down more than 500 million years ago, so, for evolutionists, this addition to the fossil record pushes the origin of land plants back tens of millions of years earlier than they thought. This is a problem for them, because it leaves even less time for land plants to have allegedly evolved from green algae.
New Scientist, March 18, 2000, p. 15.
In the face of such evidence, some evolutionists are increasingly entertaining the notion that bacterial or other spores came to Earth from elsewhere in the universe (see 'Did Life come from outer space?' p. 40). In fact, the order of burial in the fossil record simply reflects the order of burial in the worldwide Flood of around 4,500 years ago, the subsequent Ice Age, and its aftermath.
Flamingo cat ‘not a fantasy’
A new evolutionary British television series is being prepared for screening next year using the same production techniques used in Walking with Dinosaurs. This series, however, will portray ‘lifeforms which will evolve millions of years into the future’, including flying squid, blood-sucking bees and giant rats.
One of the alleged creatures presented is a ‘flamingo cat’, which has long, pink, hairless 'stick' legs for wading in the sea for prawns. Its moustache-like whiskers will help it filter food out of the water.
A scientific adviser to the series claimed, 'We have devised about 40 computer-generated animals on evolutionary principles, so the series will not be a fantasy.'
The Sunday Telegraph, news.com.au, June 4, 2000.
‘Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures’ (Romans 1:22–23).
Fruit flies spread wings
From a few European fruit flies introduced accidentally to Chile, 22 years ago, a whole new population of this species has grown to cover much of the west coast of the USA — and in doing so they are echoing a very curious feature of their European cousins. Back in Europe, for reasons unknown, flies’ wingspans vary with latitude, i.e. longest wingspans in the north, shortest in the south. And now the same characteristic is showing up in America.
Tests have shown that the differences between northern and southern flies in the USA are due to differences in genetic make-up, and that the degree of wingspan lengthening is similar to that observed in Europe.
But the adaptation in America has been achieved differently, as it is another part of the wing that has become longer. Evolutionists are astonished at this ‘alarming’ rate of change.
New Scientist, January 22, 2000, p. 15.
Informed creationists are not at all surprised by this example of rapid change in response to environmental pressures, as it gives an insight into how the earth's many ecological niches were recolonised after the Flood. (See also Brisk biters Creation 21(2):41.)
The longer wings should not be mistaken as evidence for ‘evolution’. Rearrangements in existing genes, and possibly deleterious mutations in control genes, can affect characteristics such as wing length. However, such mutations do not add information (the wing is no more complex).
Birds that regularly perch on large mammals are usually thought to help them by eating the ticks on their hides. But a study of red-billed oxpeckers in Zimbabwe has found that oxen accompanied by these feathered companions have just as many ticks as oxen artificially kept separate from these birds.
Closer scrutiny showed that the red-billed oxpeckers, instead of helping the animals, actually spent much of their time picking at the oxen's wounds. Describing oxpecker behaviour, one researcher said, '‘They return to the site of the wound and chisel away at the scab until the blood is flowing freely. We had a donkey with a hole in its leg that you could insert a finger into.’
New Scientist, April 29, 2000, p. 19.
Researchers are increasingly observing such behaviour in the wild, e.g. the ‘vampire finches’ of the Galápagos Islands. (See Piranha article on p. 20.)
After death entered the world because of Adam's sin, perhaps scavenging from carcasses and blood-sucking from the wounds of live animals were intermediate phases leading to full-blown carnivory.
Once a taste for blood had been acquired, shortage of other foods could have driven many species to become predators.
PCA slipping away?
Two years ago the Presbyterian Church of America, ‘rather than have it tear itself apart over the question of the doctrine of creation’, formed a committee to try to find a denominational consensus over the meaning of ‘day’ in Genesis 1.
The committee presented its report on 21 June at the annual General Assembly, recommending that its findings be distributed to all churches for two years consideration. Amid heated debate and threats of schism, the assembly voted instead to immediately accept 'diversity of views' on the days of Creation.
Presbyterian & Reformed News, May-June 2000, pp. 2, 4.
pcanews.com; 21 and 28 June, 2000.
National Geographic recently published the results of an ‘experiment’ in which four artists were given identical casts of fossilized bone pieces classified as a female Homo habilis (a doubtful taxonomic group in the eyes of most experts — it should probably have been called Australopithecus, like the famous ‘Lucy’) and asked to independently sketch ‘the hominid to whom the bones belonged’.
(From the photos, there appeared to be only seven pieces of bone from which the artists had to work.)
The results? Four radically different figures, varying in hairiness, posture/locomotion (one is drawn as a tree-climbing creature, while the others are on the ground), musculature and amount of flesh on the bones.
The most pronounced variation though is in the facial characteristics, which ranged from dull, expressionless and ape-like through to human-like.
Acknowledging the discrepancies, the coordinator of this exercise explained, ‘Research was completely up to the individual. That's why their work looks so different. There's no one way to draw her.’
National Geographic, March 2000, Behind the Scenes.
This candid admission from an evolutionistic magazine should alert us to the fallibility of artistic reconstructions from fossils.
In Creation 17(2):16–18, Christian medical illustrator Ron Ervin told of his discomfort when, contracted to draw ‘Lucy’ for an evolution textbook, he was told to re-draw his illustrations to make them more ‘ape-like’ or more ‘human-like’.
Misleading evolutionist illustrations indoctrinate the public. This highlights the role of bias in interpreting the facts, and the importance of quality, well-presented creationist literature.
Seven ancestral European women?
A study of the mitochondrial DNA of 6,000 Europeans has led Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford, to conclude that European ancestry can be traced back to just seven women. (Mitochondrial DNA is believed to be passed down only from mothers to their offspring.)
The same study has suggested that the seven ancestral mothers are descended from one of three clans that exist today in Africa, reinforcing the ‘out of Africa’ theory of the origin of modern humans.
The Times, foxnews.com, June 20, 2000.
All mankind is descended from Noah's three sons, one of whom, Japheth, is widely held to have been the ancestor of Europeans. Could the seven grandsons of Japheth, documented in Genesis 10:2–4, have been the husbands of the mooted seven ancestral European women?
However, the conclusions of this study should be treated with caution, as geneticists have begun to question whether mitochondrial DNA can only be inherited via the maternal line.
(See also Genesis correctly predicts Y-chromosome pattern: Jews and Arabs shown to be descendant of one man! and also The sixteen grandsons of Noah Creation 20(4):22-25.)
Archaeoraptor buried quietly
Given the fanfare and 10-page coverage National Geographic gave to its claim of a feathered dinosaur fossil in November 1999, which turned out to be a composite of a dromaeosaur tail and the body of a bird, it would have been reasonably expected that a retraction would be given prominence in its March issue (see ‘Birdosaur’ beat-up Creation 22(2):54-55).
A correction was published, but was buried in the non-indexed Forum section, under the title 'Feathers for T. rex?'. This consisted of just a 10-line letter from one of the paleontologists who originally examined Archaeoraptor, and an eight-line editorial comment citing an investigation that confirmed that the fossil was a composite, and promising to publish further details as soon as the studies are completed.
National Geographic, November 1999, pp. 98-107; and March 2000, Forum.
Sadly, many readers of the original authoritatively written article, which asserted that the Archaeoraptor fossil was incontrovertible evidence that dinosaurs evolved into birds, will never notice the hard-to-find, small-print 'disclaimer'.
Flood link to fossilized dino family
A ‘family’ of six fossilized dinosaurs have been found buried together in Patagonia. Resembling Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus, (Greek gigas [giant] and notos [south]) the yet-to-be-named dinosaur could be the largest apparent meat-eater to have ever walked the earth.
The ‘family’ of one large adult, two smaller adults, two juveniles and one quarter-size ‘baby’ dinosaur were found buried together with no indications of volcanic eruptions or attack from other dinosaurs.
Paleontologists are therefore theorising that the group ‘may have perished in a flood‘.
Scientific American, sciam.com, April 12, 2000.
Fossils are generally found buried in layers of sedimentary rock, i.e. sediment laid down by moving water before hardening. New fossil discoveries are frequently described as having been found ‘on the floor of an ancient lake or sea’ or ‘in an old riverbed’. All consistent with a past global Flood in which ‘Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died’ (Genesis 7:22).
Underwater adhesives play a vital role in shipbuilding and repair, but do not bond indefinitely, as salt water degrades even the strongest of conventional adhesives. So engineers, in their search for an underwater superglue, are investigating how mussels can cling onto rocks in some of the world's harshest surf.
The mystery substance (modified proteins containing dihydroxyphenylalanine) secreted by mussels takes about a minute to harden into an incredibly strong thread, attaching the mussel to a new surface. In addition to its long-lasting strength in seawater, the ‘mussel glue’ would offer other advantages over conventional adhesives. It doesn't need high temperatures to bond, and is not poisonous like standard petroleum and tar-based glues.
Beyond 2000, beyond2000.com, June 9, 2000.
Science News, July 3, 1999, p. 5.
Everything God does, He does well!
British Christians a ‘deviant minority’
A recent survey has found that as the British abandon Christianity (only 26% now believe in the God of Christian teaching), they are becoming increasingly uncertain about their own moral decision making. 75% now claim ‘there can never be absolutely clear guidelines about what is right and what is wrong’. This ‘decline of beliefs in any kind of over-arching guidelines or absolutes’ has been accompanied by a sharp increase in wariness and distrust of other people (59%). One observer commented that Britons are conducting 'a unique social experiment … trying to negotiate our way through life without reference to a divine figure to fix our moral compass'.
Many are alarmed at this, with 45% of those surveyed thinking the abandonment of traditional religion is making Britain a worse society, while only 20% think it is making it better. A university researcher warned of the link between the wane in religion and the rise of mental and emotional illness, alcoholism and suicide. With Britain to commemorate Charles Darwin on its new £10 note, the widespread belief in his theory of evolution is evident in that nearly one-third think ‘we are just a biological organism which ceases to exist at death’.
The drift away from belief in the Bible extends to church leaders as well. An earlier survey found that only three of 103 British bishops (Anglican, Catholic and Methodist) actually believe the biblical account of Creation, while 25% do not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Neither do some bishops believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
A University of Aberdeen sociology professor said bluntly that Britain (the country in which the church most rapidly capitulated to Darwinism) is now a ‘post-Christian society’ in which ‘knowledge of Christian ideas is so thin that we're talking about a deviant minority.’
The Herald Sun, December 28, 1999.
The Daily Telegraph (UK), December 23, 1999, p. 16.
Sunday Express (UK), May 28, 2000, pp. A20-21.
Daily Mail (UK), May 18, 2000, p. 39.