Focus: creation news and views
Amazing gecko adhesive toepads ‘evolved 11 times’
With their amazing clinging prowess enabling them to run across ceilings, geckos have inspired engineers to develop biomimetic technologies ranging from dry adhesive bandages to climbing robots. However, as we have earlier reported (Creation 26(1):22–23, creation.com/geckoman), the human-engineered ‘gecko tape’ designs are still substantially inferior to the lizard original—testifying to the greater intelligence of the gecko’s Designer (Romans 1:20).
Now evolutionary researchers are saying that geckos independently evolved their sticky feet as many as 11 times—as if it weren’t hard enough already for evolution to explain how such an amazing ability could possibly even have come about once.
“To discover that geckos evolved sticky toepads again and again is amazing,” said University of Minnesota researcher Tony Gamble, one of the authors of the study. He acknowledges that while scientists have a good understanding of how geckos stick at the microscopic level (through a combination of van der Waals forces and frictional adhesion), there is much yet to learn from geckos if robotic technologies are ever to match them. “It’s one thing to stick and unstick a piece of ‘gecko tape’ to a smooth surface in a lab, but something else altogether to get a robotic gecko to move across a complicated landscape in the real world and stick to all the different shapes and textures it will encounter,” he said.
- How sticky toepads evolved in geckos and what that means for adhesive technologies, Physorg.com, 27 June 2012.
- Repeated origin and loss of adhesive toepads in geckos, PLoS ONE 7(6):e39429, 27 June 2012.
‘Earliest animal’ date out-of-date
Fossilized burrows in Uruguay left behind by some kind of slug-like creature have been ‘dated’ by evolutionists as being “at least 585 million years old”. This pushes the evolutionary date for the ‘earliest’ animal life back by 30 million years.
The ever-expanding ranges of fossils either up or down within the ‘geological column’ highlight the uncertainty and confusion of the evolutionary timeline. (See Journal of Creation 24(3):5–7, 2010; creation.com/fossil-range-expansions.) Why should students bother committing it to memory when the dates will soon be out-of-date? In fact, students would be well-advised to question the very assumptions behind the secular interpretation of the ‘fossil record’. That interpretation is certainly not ‘set in stone’.
- Study resets date of earliest animal life by 30 million years, Physorg.com, 28 June 2012.
- Bilaterian burrows and grazing behavior at >585 million years ago, Science 336(6089):1693–1696, 29 June 2012.
Why a dog’s paws don’t freeze on ice
Dogs can walk for long periods on snow and ice without their paws freezing, but how? Researchers recently studied the paws of four adult dogs and found that the arteries supplying blood to the pads had networks of numerous small veins closely associated with them. This system acts as a counter-current heat exchanger. Warm blood comes to the paws via the arteries, and its heat is transferred to the veins closely associated with the arteries, which keeps the blood warm as it returns to the body.
This design is found in many different types of creatures, e.g. fish gills, whale tongues, and squirrel tails. Designs such as this appear in a pattern called convergence—very similar designs found in completely unrelated contexts. Evolutionists must say that this system evolved in different creatures independently. But this is an extremely weak explanation. It makes much more sense that this testifies to a single designer of life who made life with unifying patterns that defy naturalistic explanations.
- How dogs can walk on ice without freezing their paws, Physorg.com, 13 January 2012.
- Functional anatomy of the footpad vasculature of dogs: scanning electron microsopy of vascular corrosion casts, Veterinary Dermatology 22(6):475–481, 2011.
Once a coelacanth, always a coelacanth
Evolutionists once believed that coelacanth fish gave rise to land animals and birds, before becoming extinct themselves 65 million years ago. But the discovery of a live coelacanth just the same as its fossil counterparts in 1938 (and many other live coelacanths since) saw it abandoned as a supposed ‘transitional form’. It also highlighted the problem of stasis—coelacanths have always been coelacanths (see creation.com/coelacanth and creation.com/stasis).
And now the problem for evolutionists just got worse. The discovery of “the earliest known coelacanth skull” in Early Devonian strata in Yunnan, China, “extends the chronological range of anatomically modern coelacanths by about 17 Myr.” [Myr=million years]
Actually, all the rock strata containing coelacanth fossils date from the Genesis Flood about 4,500 years ago. Note that biblical creationists have exactly the same evidence as evolutionists. Same rocks, same fossils, but a different interpretation—based on the right framework of history, the biblical one.
- Earliest known coelacanth skull extends the range of anatomically modern coelacanths to the Early Devonian, Nature Communications 3(4):Article#772, doi:10.1038/ncomms1764, 10 April 2012.
Leakey’s ‘gospel according to evolution’
Famed human evolution fossil-hunter Richard Leakey has made a recent splash in the media by prophesying that skepticism over evolution will be history in 15 to 30 years. This is apparently because ‘science’ (by which he means evolution) will have accelerated to the point where “even the skeptics can accept it.”
Skepticism of evolution is also allegedly the bane of progress: “If we’re spreading out across the world from centers like Europe and America that evolution is nonsense and science is nonsense, how do you combat new pathogens, how do you combat new strains of disease that are evolving in the environment?”
Leakey’s key to solving today’s problems? Accepting evolution: “If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it’s solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive, then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.”
Considering the historical boost to racism after Darwin’s theory was popularized (see www.onehumanfamily.us), his reasoning is hard to follow. But his prognostications still foresee that “the future is by no means a very rosy one”—because of what he claims are man-created ‘planet change phenomena’ like alleged global warming.
- Scientist: Evolution debate will soon be history, usatoday.com, 28 May 2012.
First cell even more impossible
The idea of a first cell making itself is having a rocky time, so much so that many evolutionists want to evict the origin of life from being part of evolution, although the concept is widely called ‘chemical evolution’. Darwin’s contemporary, Haeckel, could perhaps be excused for thinking that life was simple and could arise by chance, but that is no longer a viable idea.
In 2006, the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville published that the minimum genome consists of 387 protein-coding and 43 RNA-coding genes.
Now researchers at Stanford University have studied the common fresh-water bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, disrupting the functioning of the DNA by randomly inserting one extra piece of synthetic DNA per cell, to see which parts are essential for life. The mutated cells were multiplied and then the locations of the synthetic DNA pieces in living cells were identified as being the non-essential parts of the bacterial DNA. The method is very efficient.
“This work addresses a fundamental question in biology: What is essential for life?” said Dr Beat Christen. “We came up with a method to identify all the parts of the genome required for life.”
Just 12% of the DNA was essential under the protected lab conditions. That might not seem like much, but it amounts to 492,941 base pairs (‘letters’) and includes 480 protein-coding genes, plus other essential control sequences and parts for which the function is not yet known.
So, this study suggests that well over 500 essential genes and control sequences are necessary for free-living life. But even one average gene is beyond the reach of random combinations of nucleotides (‘letters’). If it were possible, the materialistic origin of life from chemicals has became even ‘more impossible’.
- Absolute minimum, Nature 439, 246–247, 19 January 2006.
- Essential genes of a minimal bacterium, Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 103(2):425–430, 2006.
- New method reveals parts of bacterium genome essential to life; physorg.com, 30 August 2011.
Men programmed for promiscuity?
One of the more common ‘genetic excuses’ for sin is that men are allegedly ‘wired by evolution’ to be unfaithful and promiscuous. A famous 1948 study involving fruitflies was said to have demonstrated that having multiple mates greatly increased a male’s chances of reproductive success, whereas females had the same number of offspring whether they had one mate or many.
However, new research at UCLA has uncovered a ‘fatal flaw’ in that original experiment. Team leader Professor Patricia Adair Gowaty says that the original paper “should never have been published”. Yet it “became significant in the 1970s [after the so-called ‘sexual revolution’ in the West, hot on the heels of evolutionary high school curricula introduced in the 1960s] and has been cited in nearly 2,000 other scientific studies”.
In pondering why it was not previously challenged, she said: “Our worldviews constrain our imaginations.” For some, she said, the result “was so comforting that it wasn’t worth challenging … .”
Unfortunately, the obvious lessons about jumping to evolutionary conclusions about human behaviour from fallible science (especially extrapolating from insect to human behaviour!) will probably not be widely heeded. Rather, it seems likely that it will now be taken to justify females being equally as promiscuous as males. Gowaty cites a bluejay species that is socially monogamous where the females “regularly take on multiple mates”. This is alleged to be “nature’s answer” to the “evolutionary challenge” of disease. And so the wheel keeps turning.
- So men aren’t hardwired to be unfaithful after all?, dailymail.co.uk, 27 June 2012.
- Biologists Reveal Potential ‘Fatal Flaw’ in Iconic Sexual Selection Study, ScienceDaily.com, 26 June, 2012.
Cold-blooded dino evidence bites the dust
Debate has long raged over whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded, like other reptiles, or warm-blooded, like birds and mammals—or maybe some combination of the two. Or perhaps some were and some weren’t.
The bones of modern cold-blooded (ectothermic) animals show ‘lines of arrested growth’, also known as ‘lags’. These are similar to tree rings in that they occur when organisms slow down or suspend their growth to match periods of certain environmental stresses.
Because these features were thought to be characteristic of ectotherms, and have been found in dinosaur bones, it was long thought to be powerful evidence that the dinos were coldblooded.
Now a group of scientists led by Maeke Koehler, of the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology in Barcelona, report in Nature that they have studied the bones of 41 species of mammals. Although they were not specifically investigating this issue, they found the same lines in every one. Although it does not show that the dinos were warm-blooded, it eliminates one line of evidence against it.
According to BBC News, Dr Koehler and her colleagues seemed surprised by the finding, perhaps more so that no one had reported checking out mammal bones for this feature before.
- Dinosaur cold-blood theory in doubt, www.bbc.co.uk, 27 June 2012.
Evolutionary theory on the rocks
A news release from the University of Aberdeen claims that granite rock (containing metals such as zinc, copper and molybdenum) was critical for the evolution of life today. It says that the abundance of granite on this planet 1.5 billion years ago prompted “the evolution of life from single-celled organisms—the simplest, most basic forms of life—into much more complex, multi-celled organisms”.
Professor John Parnell from the university’s School of Geosciences said, “What our findings have revealed is that without the high density of granite, there would not have been enough metal to allow these cells to become more complex, and ultimately this key point in evolution which eventually led to human life on Earth, could not have taken place at that time.”
Dr Adrian Boyce, of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, said, “It’s a privilege to be able to work on rocks such as these, which are opening up the secrets of key transitions in the life of our planet.”
Actually, if the rocks could open up the ‘secrets’ of life’s origin, they certainly wouldn’t be telling an evolutionary story (Luke 19:37–40). Also, see “Salty problem for chemical evolution” on p.10 for why metal ions would actually hinder chemical evolution.
- ‘Heavy metal, sex and granites’—critical role of granite in evolution of life on Earth revealed, www.abdn.ac.uk, 13 June 2012.
Salty problem for chemical evolution
Many evolutionists believe that life evolved from non-living chemicals in the ocean. But salt is proving to be a big problem (as long noted by creationists—see creation.com/loopholes, creation.com/origin).
Part of the “evidence” is the alleged similar composition of our blood to seawater. But this has long been exposed as fallacious—there is little correlation between the amounts of different chemicals (see Creation 19(2):24–25, 1997; creation.com/red-blooded-evidence).
But another problem is with “salt” in the wider chemical sense. Most think of salt as sodium chloride, and this is enough of a problem for billions-of-years dogma (see Creation 21(1):16–17, 1998; creation.com/salty). But to chemists, ‘salt’ refers to a wide range of chemicals where a metal is combined with a non-metal. And the problem is with abundant calcium ions.
A recent report points out:
“For example, calcium ions readily bind with phosphate, thus making this molecule unavailable for important biological functions, such as energy transfer (in the case of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP) and genetic coding (as part of the backbone of DNA and RNA).”
Chemical evolutionist David Deamer of UC Santa Cruz, author of First Life (2011), is also concerned with their effect on fatty acids, essential for cell membranes. Fellow chemical evolutionist, Jack Szostak of Harvard University, points out that ions like calcium “would definitely precipitate fatty acids, preventing membrane formation.” We see this happening when we use soap in hard water: the soap “scum” is this precipitate.
But the dilemma is that these ions are actually vital for life’s function. For example, “calcium ions play a vital role in cellular signaling.” So the very ions that are essential for life to function would prevent its formation in the first place.
- A salt-free primordial soup? Physorg.com, 19 January 2012.
- Oozing Life Up Against All Odds, crev.info, 20 January 2012.
Dinosaurs offend creationists?
New York’s Department of Education has issued guidelines for improving school exam papers. The guidelines include a list of unmentionable topics—words and phrases that the Department of Education deems inappropriate to include in school tests, as mentioning such terms “could evoke unpleasant emotions in students”. One of the forbidden words is ‘dinosaurs’, as it “might offend children from creationist families”.
Actually, informed biblical creationist students could use an exam test on dinosaurs to make the point to teachers/examiners that dinosaurs actually fit the Bible’s historical account, rather than the evolutionary timeline. For example, the discovery of ‘still squishy’ tissue and red blood cells in dinosaur remains (creation.com/schweit), and the many worldwide accounts of dinosaur-like creatures having lived alongside man (creation.com/chinese-new-year-dragon).
We are increasingly receiving reader feedback from excited parents of how their school-aged children are doing exactly that! It would be a shame if school authorities sought to suppress (Romans 1:18) those opportunities, by means of censoring ‘dinosaurs’ out of exam papers.
- Don’t mention dinosaurs: New York raises the bar for politically-correct exams, independent.co.uk, 29 March 2012.
- PC student tests forbid dance, dinos & lots more, www.nypost.com, 30 March 2012.
‘Reverse engineering’ human hearing
Audio processor maker Audience is ‘reverse engineering’ the human hearing system in order to improve cell (mobile) phones. They have designed a chip to analyze sound in much the same way as the human brain, which in a noisy environment is able to hone in on the human voice and filter out background sounds, even when those sounds are overpoweringly loud.
The new processing chip will mean that people in a noisy environment will no longer have to shout down the phone to make themselves heard over background noise.
- Audience reverse engineers human hearing for mobile, eetimes.com, 30 March 2012.
Juvenile crime committed by amoral teenagers
University of Cambridge researchers questioned teenagers about their attitudes to lawlessness and asked what criminal things they had done (cross-checking their answers with police records). The research provided important insights into last year’s UK riots—why some young people went on a lawless rampage while others did not.
The study found that teenagers who avoided crime did so not because they feared the consequences or lacked the chance, but because they saw it as wrong. Conversely, teenagers with little sense of right and wrong were responsible for the vast majority of juvenile crimes. The lack of a sense of morality was the single most important factor in teenagers breaking the law.
Professor Per-Olof Wikström who led the study observed, “The idea that opportunity makes the thief—that young people will inevitably commit crime in certain environments—runs counter to our findings.”
Academics around the world have heralded the research as “groundbreaking” and a “breakthrough” in understanding teenage crime. One US academic described it as “among the most significant works in criminology in decades”.
- The 16-year-olds who have committed 86 crimes each, independent.co.uk, 24 June 2012.
Pliosaur suffered arthritis
Scientists at the University of Bristol have found signs of a degenerative condition similar to human arthritis in the jaw of an eight-metre-long pliosaur. Pliosaurs were giant marine reptiles with a huge head and short neck, in contrast to plesiosaurs with a small head and long neck. This was the first time such a disease has been found in fossilized reptiles which evolutionists assign to the Jurassic Period, supposedly about 200–145 million years ago.
“In the same way that aging humans develop arthritic hips, this old lady developed an arthritic jaw, and survived with her disability for some time,” explained Dr Judyth Sassoon. “But an unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke. With a broken jaw, the pliosaur would not have been able to feed and that final accident probably led to her demise.”
We have earlier reported on dinosaur fossils showing signs of the same sorts of cancers that afflict humans today (Creation 26(2):21, 2004; creation.com/dinotumour). When God looked at all He had made at the end of Day 6, He declared everything to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Therefore there was no arthritis and no cancer for Him to see, anywhere in all creation. Therefore these fossils must be dated to a time after the Fall (which occurred about 6,000 years ago)—they cannot be the claimed millions-of-years old. The Genesis Flood 4,500 years ago is the key to understanding the ‘geologic column’ and its embedded ‘fossil record’.
- University of Bristol press release: Ancient sea reptile with gammy jaw suggests dinosaurs got arthritis too, www.bris.ac.uk, 16 May 2012.
Whale evolution unravels (even more)
The whole story of whale evolution is seriously unravelling. In October 2011, Argentine scientists discovered a jawbone of a fully aquatic whale (a Basilosaurid) on Seymour–Marambio Island on the northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. This was ‘dated’ to 49 million years ago. The only claimed whale ancestor that predates the jawbone is Pakicetus, which evolutionists themselves now admit was a fleet-footed land animal (Creation 27(2):20–22, 2005; creation.com/not-at-all-like-a-whale). This creates an impossibly short time-frame for evolution to occur, even with all the unrealistic assumptions in favour of it happening.
- Finding of the oldest whale fossil in the world: “Antarctic archaeocete”, dna.gov.ar, acc. 2 July 2012.