This article is from
Creation 26(1):7–9, December 2003

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Focus: news of interest about creation and evolution

Fossil figures fall

The number of species living in the past, as estimated from fossils, is not as great as once thought, according to a new study seeking to catalogue every fossil ever dug up.

So far, the researchers have found that a number of fossils have been misidentified as being separate species, whereas in fact they are the same species. Poor communication between taxonomists in different countries can often lead to fossils being wrongly given their own species status.

Accordingly, it is now estimated that the overall number of species in the fossil record is inflated by 32–44%.

New Scientist, 23 August 2003, pp. 32–35.

‘Species’ is not the same as ‘kind’. Lions and tigers are different ‘species’, but they can interbreed to produce ligers and tigons (Creation 22(3):28–33, 2000).

So they are descendants of a single pair that Noah took on the Ark. (So sceptics’ ideas that Noah needed to look after ‘hundreds of thousands of species’ are not valid.) Note that even aside from this new information, only about 340,000 actual fossil specimens (estimated to represent about 250,000 species) have been found.

A common claim that 99% of fossil species have become extinct is based on the assumption of evolution, i.e. that billions of intermediate species once existed.

Rapid oil

A new industrial process produces commercial oil from any organic waste—anything containing carbon, e.g. poultry/abattoir offal, crop residues, municipal garbage—in only a couple of hours.

Scientists have developed other methods to rapidly convert waste products into liquid fuel. But such processes are expensive and inefficient, requiring extremely high pressures and temperatures. ‘The chief difference in our process is that we make water a friend rather than an enemy’, said Brian Appel, CEO of Changing World Technologies, describing his company’s waste-into-oil installation in Missouri, USA. ‘The other processes all tried to drive out water. We drive it in, inside this tank, with heat and pressure. We super-hydrate the material.’

Thus, temperatures and pressures need only be modest, because water helps to convey heat into the organic material.

Discover, <www.discover.com/may_03/featoil.html>, 2 May 2003.

Once more we see that the earth’s oil reserves did not need millions of years to form. The key ingredients needed for making oil in this new industrial process were all present at the time of the Flood (only about 4,500 years ago): uprooted plants and dead animals, moderate pressures (under layers of water-borne sediment) and, of course, water—all in abundance!

More clone deaths

There are new fears about cloning after three cloned pigs collapsed and died of heart failure at less than six months of age.

The ‘adult clone sudden death syndrome’, as one researcher called it, struck down all surviving members of a litter cloned using a variant of the ‘Dolly’ cloning technique. This is where a whole adult cell was forced into a fertilized egg that had been emptied of its own genetic material. (A fourth piglet had died only a few days after being born.)

These untimely deaths are a reminder of the problems plaguing cloned animals (see ‘Dolly dead’, Creation 25(3):8, 2003), with many falling ill or dying just after birth.

Nature Science Update, <www.nature.com/nsu/030825/030825-2.html>, 28 August 2003.

New Scientist, 6 September 2003, p. 12.

This is another reason why cloning should not be attempted for humans (see Creation 21(1):48–50, 1998).

Thumbs up for human Neandertals

Although Neandertals are known to have made and used tools, they have been presumed by many to have had limited ability to use their hands, based on interpretations of the anatomy of their thumb and forefinger.

But the latest research indicates no significant difference between Neandertals and people today in their ability to move thumb and index finger to give precise grip.

So anatomical evidence and archaeological evidence both indicate Neandertals were just like humans today, manufacturing and handling a range of implements and tools.

Nature, 27 March 2003, p. 395.

Evolutionists aren’t sure what to do with Neandertal man—whether he is a precursor of modern man or an offshoot that died out. But fossils of Neandertals don’t present a problem for creationists—Neandertals being fully human, descendants of the first man, Adam, who was created in the image of God. (More at Thumbs up for Neandertals.)

Planet theories wrong

Hubble telescope pictures of ‘a giant gaseous object orbiting two burned-out stars’ is forcing a rethink of theories of the origins of planets. Astronomers say the gaseous object is the most distant and oldest planet yet found in the universe, as it appears to have formed 12.7 billion years ago, within a billion years of the theorized big bang origin of the universe.

But these conclusions challenge the belief that planets could not have formed so early because of insufficient heavy elements at that time. So the astronomers say this discovery shows that all theories of planetary formation may have to be revised.

The Washington Times, <washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20030710-093314-3718r.htm>, 9 September 2003.

The detection of this planet goes against evolutionary predictions, but its existence is consistent with the Bible. Note that the planet’s alleged age is not based on any evidence whatsoever—see New planet challenges evolutionary models.

What a web they weave

Spider silk has been found preserved in a piece of amber ‘dated’ at 130 million years old, eclipsing the previous date for the oldest preserved silk of 40 million years old.

Because this latest find resembles silk from the complex aerial webs of modern orb-weaver or comb-footed spiders, the fossils of which are found in rocks dated at 190 million years, [evolutionists say] complex web-weaving must be at least that old.

New Scientist, 9 August 2003, p. 24.

Nature, 7 August 2003, pp. 636–637.

Spider silk is stronger and more efficiently produced than any man-made fibre (Creation 23(2):20–21, 2001). This is testimony to a Creator (Romans 1:20). But could spider silk really last for 130 million years? Preservation in amber is consistent with there having been a global Flood (Creation25(2):52–53, 2003) around 4,500 years ago. Also, comb-footed spiders today are still the same as fossilized comb-footed spiders, testifying to reproduction ‘after their kind’, i.e. no evolution.

Sniffer dogs

The wild dogs called jackals have a much sharper sense of smell than domestic dogs, but are less willing to be put to work.

So a Russian research group has crossed a jackal with a husky to breed the ‘ultimate’ sniffer dog. Now 25 of the new breed are used at a Moscow airport to sniff out drugs and explosives in planes and luggage. A further 10 ‘jacksy’ dogs are working in a forensic department.

New Scientist, 18 May 2002, p. 19.

This shows again that the Bible’s created kinds often include more than one ‘species’.

It also shows that the selective breeding that produced domestic dogs removed information, in the case of the husky, its acute sense of smell.

Don’t blame the asteroid

Many say that an asteroid smashing into the earth 65 million years ago caused the dinosaur extinction. But this may be misplaced, say paleontologists.

They claim to have found evidence of global climate change before the asteroid hit. So they say the dinosaurs were already in sharp decline, and the impact winter simply finished them off quickly.

Discovery Channel News, <dsc.discovery.com/news/afp/20030714/dinodead_print.html>, 28 July 2003.

Evolutionists assume the fossil record shows the order of evolution and extinction. The biblical perspective is that vast numbers of creatures perished in the Flood (with many of their remains being fossilized under layers of sediment, which later hardened into rock), but all the kinds of land animals and birds survived aboard the Ark (including dinosaurs), repopulating the earth afterwards. Since then, many creatures have gone extinct, not just dinosaurs, in an ongoing display of the Curse on creation.

Germ degeneration

When new disease-causing bacteria appear, it is commonly thought that it is because they gained [‘evolved’] new genes, thus enabling them to attack particular animal species or humans. But a recent study of three species of Bordetella whooping cough bacteria shows just the opposite, i.e. the bacteria have lost genes. This ‘substantial gene loss and inactivation’ makes the bacteria even more dependent on their unfortunate animal or human ‘host’.

So, the appearance of new disease-causing Bordetella bacteria resulted not from an ‘upwards’ genetic gain, but a ‘downhill’ loss of genes. As The Scientist dubbed it: ‘Survival of the not-so-fit’.

The Scientist, Daily News, <www.biomedcentral.com/news/20030814/02>, 2 September 2003.

We have earlier reported evidence that losing an ability can make germs more dangerous (Creation 24(4):8, 2002). Remember, too, that germs were originally not harmful in the ‘very good’ world God made, but benign or useful.

The legs that weren’t

The fossilized skull and other fragments of a whale unearthed in California, USA, are forcing a rethink of some aspects of whale evolution.

In particular, paleontologists are surprised that such a ‘primitive’ whale ‘lived about 20 million years later than it should have’. They say, ‘the creature may have had small rear legs, though this remains speculative because the rear part of the whale was not found’.

Orange County Register.com, <www2.ocregister.com/ocrweb/ocr/article.do?id=53794>, 9 September 2003.

A fishy story—even telling us what size these imaginary legs were likely to have been!

Aardvark ancestry?

An international team of researchers claims that every mammal, including man, is descended from a common ancestor genetically similar to the modern aardvark.

Comparing chromosomes of mammal species shows that the aardvark has the greatest number of genetic features in common with other mammals. The researchers conclude that the aardvark is the closest living relative of our common ancestor.

Proceedings of the NAS, 4 February 2003, pp. 1062–1066.

Evolutionists assume that common features are evidence of common ancestry. Creationists explain such similarities in living things as evidence of a common Designer (Romans 1:20). See Are look-alikes related? Creation19(2):39–41, 1997.

Even faster diamonds

While many people still think natural diamonds need millions of years to form, the technology to rapidly synthesize diamonds continues to improve. [See Creation 25(3):7, 2003; 25(1):9, 2002.]

Researchers have now made diamonds by reacting carbon dioxide with metallic sodium in a pressurized oven at only 440ºC—the lowest temperature reported so far for diamond synthesis—and 800 atmospheres. (Other methods require pressures up to five million atmospheres and temperatures up to 1,400°C.) It took just 12 hours.

New Scientist, 26 July 2003, p. 17.

Hi-tech Ötzi

Further analysis of the frozen corpse of Ötzi, the ‘ice man’ found in the Austrian-Italian Alps in 1991, shows that his society, three thousand years ago, had a high level of technology. Ötzi’s equipment included a framed backpack, a copper axe, dried fruit and other foods, and a fire-making kit that included flint and ores for making sparks.

‘Ötzi was extremely well equipped, each object fashioned from the material best suited to its purpose’, said the Özi researchers. For example, Ötzi’s longbow was made of yew—‘the best wood for such a purpose because of its great tensile strength’.

Longbows of yew gave the English army a crucial advantage at the battle of Agincourt in 1415—thousands of years after Ötzi’s society had discovered their power. Ötzi was also carrying plants with powerful pharmaceutical properties, e.g. birch bracket fungus—in other words, his own first aid kit.

Ötzi’s last meal included goat meat and bread cooked in a charcoal oven. Said one commentator: ‘Clearly Stone Age Europeans were sophisticated individuals who exploited local resources and led lives that were far from brutish or short.’

Scientific American, May 2003, pp. 60–69.

The Observer, 4 May 2003, p. 7.