Focus: creation news and views
‘Flowing blood’ found in frozen mammoth
Russian scientists have recovered blood from a woolly mammoth so well preserved that hopes of obtaining viable DNA for ‘cloning’ the extinct species have surged again. The blood was in ice cavities below its belly and flowed freely when these were broken with a pick. The find was announced by the expedition’s head, Dr Semyon Grigoriev, chairman of the Museum of Mammoths at Russia’s North Eastern Federal University. Scientists from the Russian Geographical Society were also involved.
This mammoth is believed to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. This is still the most common sort of timeframe given for mammoth extinction, despite long-standing secular suggestions that in some places they survived till around 4,000 years ago. Of course, a post-Flood biblical Ice Age scenario for the freezing (see creation.com/mammoth), less than 4,000 years ago, seems much more believable in the light of this find. In fact, even that seems a long time for something to last ‘in the freezer’. The fact that the blood remained liquid even at subzero temperatures in the lab has revived discussion about mammoth blood containing special ‘antifreeze’ proteins (cf. creation.com/antifreeze-protein).
This is of course not as sensational for creationists as the discoveries of flexible soft tissue, nucleated cells, identifiable protein and even DNA from (unfrozen) dinosaur fossils supposed to be at least 65 million years old (see creation.com/dinosaurs for an article list). But it is one more thing that helps bring home the reality—namely, that the whole creation is really much more ‘fresh’ than we have been led to believe.
- Mammoth found with flowing blood, news.ninemsn.com.au, 30 May 2013.
- Can a mammoth carcass really preserve flowing blood and possibly live cells?, nature.com, 30 May 2013.
A monument to atheism was recently unveiled in the public square outside the Bradford County Courthouse in Florida, USA, just a few paces away from a monument displaying the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments monument was erected in 2012 by a local group, the Community Men’s Fellowship, but an organization called American Atheists led a protest against it, and sued to have it removed. They were unsuccessful, but the authorities agreed the square was a free speech zone and the atheists were entitled to erect their own self-funded monument.
President of the American Atheists, David Silverman, called it a monument to a secular nation, and said it’s the first atheist monument on public property in the United States. He said his group now plans to erect atheist monuments next to every public religious display in America, and has managed to secure anonymous funding to build and place up to 50 already.
- Atheists unveil monument, and plans for more, at Bradford County Courthouse, jacksonville.com, 29 June 2013.
British politician: cull the weak
Recently re-elected UK politician Colin Brewer has reportedly compared disabled children to deformed lambs with five legs or two heads that need to be killed. In an interview with Disability News Service, he reportedly said, “We are just animals. He [the farmer] obviously has got a point … You can’t have lambs running around with five legs and two heads. … It [the lamb] would be put down, smashed against the wall and be dealt with.”
His reason apparently is financial. According to Disability News, when asked if there was any difference between killing a lamb or a human being, he reportedly said: “I think the cost has got to be evaluated.” One is reminded of Hitler’s railing against humans he called ‘useless eaters’. (See creation.com/eugenics.)
How tragic that so many have swallowed the lie of evolution—the erroneous theory that says we are all animals, and that God does not exist, so we will not be called to account for how we have treated our fellow human beings. (See creation.com/darwin-vs-compassion; cf. creation.com/atheists-credit-christianity.)
- UK politician: we should kill disabled children like we kill deformed lambs, lifesitenews.com, 15 May 2013.
- Disability rights: Cornish Councillor Colin Brewer compares disabled children to deformed lambs, huffingtonpost.co.uk, 11 May 2013.
Spiny parasite worm inspires surgical adhesive
When people have much skin damage, e.g. through burns or infection, sometimes this skin can be surgically replaced by transplanting or grafting other skin in its place. But one problem is keeping the graft in place, especially when the wound surface is wet. Chemical glues can cause inflammation, and stapling can damage tissues and increase the risk of infection. But a tiny worm, Pomphorhynchus laevis, that lives in fish intestines, has inspired a medical research team with a solution.
This worm has a spiny proboscis (elongated mouthpart) that it inflates, embedding tiny needles into the intestine wall. Now this has led to a “remarkable invention” by medical researchers in Massachusetts—a surgical patch based on the proboscis structure. The patch has an array of tiny needles, only 700 µm high—1 inch = 25,400 µm. The needles have a stiff core of polystyrene, but are coated with hydrogel, a material in disposable diapers that expands when it gets wet. So these needles likewise expand and anchor the patch in place, 3.5 times more strongly than staples. One researcher said, “The unique design allows the needles to stick to soft tissues with minimal damage. Moreover, when it comes time to remove the adhesive, as opposed to staples, there is less trauma inflicted to the tissue, blood and nerves, as well as a reduced risk of infection.” [Emphasis added] So if the copy was designed ingeniously, then what does it say about the Designer of the original? (But why would a loving Designer design parasites? In this case, it seems that God really did design this system for life in the fallen world that He foreknew, but didn’t ‘switch on’ this design until Adam sinned. See also chapter 6 of The Creation Answers Book.)
- A bio-inspired swellable microneedle adhesive for mechanical interlocking with tissue, Nature Communications 4(1702) 16 April 2013 | doi:10.1038/ncomms2715.
- Spiny worm solves thorny problem, news24.com, 16 April 2013.
- ScienceShot: Parasite Inspires Surgical Patch, news.sciencemag.org, 16 April 2013.
When undersea volcanoes erupt, the sea surface in the area often becomes covered with pumice—a volcanic rock that can float in water. Pumice forms when frothy molten rock cools rapidly, trapping air bubbles inside. Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology have found that tiny marine plants and animals (e.g. coral, algae, crabs, anemones) have been riding on floating pumice stones, even travelling the thousands of kilometres from Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This gives us an insight into the regeneration of ecologically-rich intertidal zones and coral reefs after the Genesis Flood. (Note that “fountains of the great deep” in Genesis 7:11 could have involved volcanic activity.) As well as pumice, no doubt rafts of uprooted vegetation also played a role, e.g. as a refuge for insects. For more on this topic see creation.com/recovery and creation.com/biogeography.
- Pumice rafting brings new life to reef, QUTLinks alumni magazine 16(1):18, Autum 2013.
The quest to understand life’s origin
Creationists have long pointed out that commonly-held genes across the various created ‘kinds’ of creatures are a reflection of a common designer, rather than common ancestry, as evolutionists claim. (E.g. see “Argument: Common design points to common ancestry”—chapter 6 in Refuting Evolution 2.)
However, a recent article in Astrobiology magazine indicates the evolutionists’ position might be changing. It asked the ‘main question’ of whether commonly-held genes are similar enough to point to a common origin, then explained:
“The answer has always been yes. The implication is that we all belong to some universal tree of life. And at the base of this tree—some have imagined—there sits a mild-mannered microbe that lived over 3 billion years ago … . However, this organism, the so-called last universal common ancestor (or LUCA), may be just a fantasy.”
Instead, evolutionist Nigel Goldenfeld from the University of Illinois is exploring the possibility that life might have emerged “from a collective state”, where organisms “shared genetic information from neighbor to neighbor, rather than solely from parent to off spring”.
Notwithstanding the lack of evidence for life’s diversity having arisen from either ‘LUCA’ or this newly-mooted ‘collective state’ community of pond scum, Goldenfeld is apparently in no hurry to acknowledge that the reason life exists is because it was created (i.e. didn’t just ‘happen’).
He remains confident his research will progress human knowledge re life’s origins. “We would like to have a better understanding of why life exists at all,” he said.
- Digging down below the Tree of Life, astrobio.net, 28 March 2013.
Asleep on the Ark?
When the fat-tailed dwarf lemurs of western Madagascar were found to hibernate (for seven months of the year) in their tree-hole nests (Creation 27(4):9, 2005; creation.com/tropical-hibern), it was thought they were the only primates to do so. But now two other lemur species have been found to hibernate, too. Crossley’s and Sibree’s dwarf lemurs in eastern Madagascar spend several months each year hibernating in underground burrows.
Note that Noah didn’t need to take all the various lemur species with him on the Ark—he only needed a male and female of the lemur ‘kind’. And with the now-demonstrated capacity of lemurs to hibernate … well, slumbering lemurs on the Ark wouldn’t have taken much looking after. As the range of creatures found to have hibernation ability increases, the task assigned to Noah looks a whole lot more reasonable than skeptics like to portray. (For more on hibernation, and lemur migration, see creation.com/hibern and creation.com/hitch-hiking-lemurs. For more on why hibernation is not necessary, see creation.com/noahcare.)
- Looks cute, but has strange habits, New Scientist 218(2916):17, 11 May 2013.
Eugenie Scott retires
After 26 years as executive director of the NCSE (the US National Center for Science Education), long-time anticreationist campaigner Eugenie Scott (1945–) has announced her retirement.
Nature journal extolled: “The scientific community has much to learn from her example in the fight against pseudoscience.” Of course, if that were true then Dr Scott would have spent her time exposing evolution for the ‘pseudoscience’ it really is, rather than brazenly seeking to disparage ‘fundamentalist Christian’ Bible-believers. Nature praised her approach:
“Scott’s strategy is to attack what she calls dichotomous thinking: false assumptions that a churchgoer cannot believe in evolution or that a scientist cannot believe in a higher power. When, in 1995, the US National Association of Biology Teachers issued a statement describing evolution as ‘impersonal’ and ‘unsupervised’, Scott and others called successfully for those words to be removed.”
Indeed, Ms Scott unashamedly sought to lull Christians into a false notion that evolutionary teaching is no threat to young people’s faith in Christ. As fellow evolutionist Jerry Coyne has written, “This disharmony [between science and religion] is a dirty little secret in scientific circles. It is in our personal and professional interest to proclaim that science and religion are perfectly harmonious. Liberal religious people have been important allies in our struggle against creationism, and it is not pleasant to alienate them by declaring how we feel. That is why, as a tactical matter, groups such as the National Academy of Sciences claim that religion and science do not conflict…”.
And as Eugenie Scott herself has formerly admitted, “I have found that the most effective allies for evolution are people of the faith community. One clergyman with a backward collar is worth two biologists at a school board meeting any day! … What we [such clergy and atheists] have in common is that we want to see evolution taught in the public schools…”. For more see creation.com/enemy-revealed.
- Science in schools—The US National Center for Science Education teaches researchers how to fight for their cause, Nature 497(7449):287–288, 16 May 2013.
Plants do mathematics! Researchers say plants perform complex arithmetic calculations to ensure their food reserves last the whole night (when they can’t feed themselves with energy from the sun via photosynthesis).
After sunset, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store, then arithmetically divide it by the length of time until dawn (known by their ‘internal clock’, similar to our own body clock). In this way the rate of starch consumption is adjusted so that by daybreak, around 95% of the starch is used up.
According to Professor Martin Howard of the John Innes Centre, (an Institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in the UK), “This is the first concrete example in a fundamental biological process of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation.”
- Square roots? Scientists say plants are good at maths, uk.reuters.com, 23 June 2013.
- Biological arithmetic: Plants do sums to get through the night, sciencedaily.com, 24 June 2013.
- Arabidopsis plants perform arithmetic division to prevent starvation at night, eLife 2:e00669, 2013.
Storytelling vs evidence (‘Paleolithic-Neolithic humans’ vs 70 Dutch generations)
A paper in the journal Investigative Genetics has dropped a ‘bombshell’: Patterns of genetic diversity which indicate population movement may not be as ancient as previously believed, but instead can be simply explained by recent events. This conclusion was reached after genomic analyses of people across the Netherlands showed the Dutch population could be separated genetically into four geographic groups (north, central-west, central-north, and south).
The researchers diplomatically acknowledged that their results could be explained by invoking movement of ancient, Paleolithic-Neolithic humans, in line with prevailing academic long-age views. However, they stressed that their data also is in line with the movement of people within the last 70 generations of modern Dutch, “for which there is a wealth of archaeological evidence”.
Leader of the study, Professor Manfred Kayser of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, said the results “highlight that future population history studies need to take into account recent demography before assuming all genetic variation observed is due to ancient events”.
Wise advice. Note that, it’s not the evidence that is in dispute, but the interpretation of it. Genetic evidence is proving to be very useful in confronting long-age ideas (creation.com/time-nofriend-of-evolution) and overturning false notions that hunter-gatherer peoples never practised agriculture (creation.com/people-that-forgot). Why would you bother with ‘Paleolithic-Neolithic’ fairytales when “70 generations of modern Dutch” adequately explains the genetic findings? This also fits the biblical perspective that we are now on average about 200 generations removed from the first couple, Adam and Eve.
- Archaeological genetics: it’s not all as old as it first seems, biomedcentral.com, 20 May 2013.
- Clinical distribution of human genomic diversity across The Netherlands despite archaeological evidence for genetic discontinuities in Dutch population history, Investigative Genetics 4:9, 2013.
Lunar water overturns moon formation theory
Apollo mission rock samples from the moon contain traces of water, according to a recent analysis by University of Michigan researchers. They say that their findings show the early moon was wet, and that water was not substantially lost during the moon’s formation. But this is a challenge to secular ideas about the moon’s origin.
“That is somewhat difficult to explain with the current popular moon-formation model, in which the moon formed by collecting the hot ejecta as the result of a super-giant impact of a Martian-size body with the proto-Earth,” said researcher Youxe Zhang. “Under that model the hot ejecta should have been degassed almost completely, eliminating all water.”
- Water on the moon: It’s been there all along, University of Michigan News Service, 17 February 2013.
- Water in lunar anorthosites and evidence for a wet early Moon, Nature Geoscience 6:177–180, 2013.
- Compare: Henry, J., The moon’s recession and age, J. Creation 20(2):65–70, 2006; creation.com/moonage; and Samec, R.G., Lunar formation collision theory fails, J. Creation 27(2):11–12, 2013.
Triceratops dinosaurs buried in Wyoming
Paleontologists recently excavated three large Triceratops skeletons in Wyoming USA. A rancher alerted the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, which organized the dig. The find reveals dramatic clues as to what overtook these three-horned reptiles and buried them so close together.
The animals were remarkably well preserved. Peter Larson, president of the Institute, said that the largest of the three skeletons could be the most complete Triceratops skeleton ever found. That means they were buried rapidly.
There was no time for them to be scavenged by other animals or to rot away.
Burying such large animals would need lots of water and much sediment. Interestingly, the evolutionist researchers, no doubt aware of this, say that the area was once part of a vast inland sea they call the Cretaceous Seaway.
Rapid burial does not take much time, contradicting the idea they are millions of years old. Instead, these Triceratops fossils are what we would expect from Noah’s Flood (not a mere ‘Cretaceous Seaway’): “Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.” (Genesis 7:22)
- Triceratops trio unearthed in Wyoming, edition.cnn.com, 4 June 2013.
- Three largely intact fossil skeletons of the dinosaur triceratops have been found in Wyoming, news.com.au, 6 June 2013.
Evolutionary ‘spin’: When stars don’t their ‘age’, give them a ‘dynamical age’ instead!
When Francesco Ferraro, of the University of Bologna, Italy, and his colleagues studied 21 star clusters that all supposedly formed over 10.5 billion years ago, they ran into a problem.
Some of the star clusters looked “surprisingly young”—i.e. younger than their assigned evolutionary ‘age’. They had ‘blue stragglers’ (stars that are much bigger and brighter than their evolutionary ages should allow) distributed throughout, making the star clusters appear much younger than their presumed age of 10.5 billion years. Other clusters had blue stragglers clumped in the centre, which the researchers say makes them appear older than 10.5 billion years.
To try to overcome this ‘chronological age’ problem, the researchers have proposed giving the stars a ‘dynamical age’, in line with how old the stars look. Pointing out that just as people appear to “age at variable rates depending on their lifestyles”, so too do star clusters age at different rates, the researchers say.
As the University of Bologna’s Barbara Lanzoni put it, “Since these clusters all formed at roughly the same time, this reveals big differences in the speed of evolution from cluster to cluster. In the case of fast-aging clusters, we think the sedimentation process can be complete within a few hundred million years, while for the slowest it would take several times the current age of the universe.” How old are the star clusters really? From the Bible, we see that God created the earth on Day 1 of Creation Week, about 6,000 years ago, then the stars were made on Day 4.
- Some ancient star clusters look surprisingly young, space.com, 19 December 2012.
- Dynamical age differences among coeval star clusters as revealed by blue stragglers, Nature 492(7429) :393–395, 20/27 December 2012.