Focus: creation news and views 38(3)
Neandertals used catalyst to make fire
Anthropologists excavating Neandertal sites often find small, black lumps of rock with scratches on them, and for years assumed they were used to obtain black pigment for cosmetics. However, it was eventually realized that soot and charcoal provided a much better source for this. Anthropologist Marie Soressi found the blocks are composed mainly of manganese dioxide (pyrolusite, MnO2), a well-known catalyst. In powdered form this can lower the combustion point of timber by more than 100°C, making wood-on-wood fire-starting methods much quicker and easier.
This adds to the growing evidence that Neandertals were fully-human, clever, resourceful people. They were one of many people groups who travelled out from Babel. Living in the outdoors, far from the conveniences of a city, they would have known many ‘bushcraft’ survival techniques, such as the use of natural fire-starters. God created man fully intelligent and innovative right from the beginning.
- Fire! Neanderthal Chemistry, scientificamerican.com, March 2016.
Blood cells fossil finds and storytelling
When paleontologist Dr Mary Schweitzer announced she’d found soft tissue in dinosaur fossils back in the 1990s, there were those who refused to believe it was possible. Dr Schweitzer in fact redid one experiment 17 times before she would believe the evidence before her.
While evolutionists can’t now deny the fact that the soft and stretchy ligaments and blood vessels found are real, they are still yet to explain how extremely delicate structures could have been preserved over incredibly vast time periods.
Instead they use non-specific phrases to describe such finds without addressing the ‘how’ of the long-lasting structures. For example, researchers working with Dr Schweitzer at North Carolina State University say that their latest findings on an alleged 80 million-year-old hadrosaur fossil “add to the growing body of evidence that structures like blood vessels and cells can persist over millions of years”. They also state: “This study is the first direct analysis of blood vessels from an extinct organism, and provides us with an opportunity to understand what kinds of proteins and tissues can persist and how they change during fossilization.” [Emphases added]
Dr Schweitzer added: “Part of the value of this research is that it gives us insight into how proteins can modify and change over 80 million years.”
There is still an alternative, commonsense answer to these finds in supposedly millions-of-years-dead creatures; that they actually lived more recently, just as the Bible tells us. For more, see creation.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue.
- Researchers Confirm Original Blood Vessels in 80 Million-Year-Old Fossil, news.ncsu.edu, December 2015.
Ötzi bugged by still-common stomach bug
Ötzi is the mummified iceman found in the Italian Alps in 1991. To great surprise, scientists found a strain of the ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori that has not changed for thousands of years and that is mainly found in Central and South Asia. They speculated that the H. pylori strain that infects Europeans today developed from African and Asian strains spread by population migration.
Evolutionists claim that Ötzi died in about 3500 BC. Apart from the injuries that caused his death, Ötzi also had bad teeth, an intestinal parasite (Trichuris trichiura) and was lactose intolerant.
His life fits the true history of the Bible which tells us of the Fall of humanity which led to disease and death, the Ark and Noah’s Flood, and a single dispersal of people across the world after the Tower of Babel.
- Morelle, R., Oetzi the Iceman had a stomach bug, researchers say, bbc.com, January 2016.
Blue tarantulas: independently evolved or a common Designer?
A number of strong blue colours in butterflies and birds are not caused by pigments, but are structural colours. They are caused by tiny structures that manipulate light, e.g. causing most wavelengths to cancel out (destructive interference) while selected wavelengths reinforce each other (constructive interference).
There are a number of species of tarantulas with strong blue structural colours. This blue colour also has a narrower wavelength range than the butterfly and bird blues, about 450 ± 20 nm.
The interference colours are caused by “biological photonic nanostructures”—the alignment and spacing of the crystals cause constructive interference of the reflected blue light. However, the pattern is not the same in the different spiders. This led the evolutionary researchers to conclude that the blue colour evolved independently eight times, in allegedly primitive spiders.
But how it happened is a mystery. The usual explanation is ‘sexual selection’, i.e. animals choosing certain features in their mates, so those features are the ones to be passed on. However, “The poor colour perception and lack of conspicuous display during courtship of tarantulas argue that these colours are not sexually selected.”
Meanwhile, the researchers are trying to explain why these tarantulas look blue from any direction, unlike the iridescent butterflies. They believe it comes from the shape of the leg hairs; the flower–petal–like cross sections apparently cancel out iridescence and reflect blue in all directions. This could have biomimetic applications in producing coatings that produce colours that don’t change with viewing direction. Lead author Bor-Kai “Bill” Hsiung says:
If we can mimic tarantulas and produce structural colours that are bright and non-fading, it might be useful for color displays on electronics, e-readers, TVs, or computers.
- Hsiung, B.-K., et al., Blue reflectance in tarantulas is evolutionarily conserved despite nanostructural diversity, Science Advances 1(10): e1500709, November 2015 | doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500709.
- Hsuing, B.-K., cited in: Yong, E., Why So Blue, Tarantulas? Many tarantulas are one particular shade of vivid blue, and no one knows why, theatlantic.com, November 2015.
Mighty mites go along for the ride
This might get you scratching … Researchers studying mites—the ones feeding in your hair follicles and sweat glands right now—have discovered four different groups (clades) of mitochondrial DNA worldwide. Mostly harmless, Demodex folliculorum are found on the faces of almost all mammals.
Mite samples taken from 70 human hosts from diverse backgrounds showed people of African descent had all four groups while Europeans had only one.
The research fits the biblical Creation model because it shows that the mite has reproduced and speciated after its kind within migrating people groups. For more see creation.com/qa-speciation.
- Shultz, D., What the mites on your face say about where you came from, sciencemag.org, December 2015.
From a volcano a glacier grows
A glacier growing within the steaming caldera of the Mount St Helens volcano is another stark reminder that long ages are not needed for such features to appear.
After the chaos of the major eruption in 1980, Mount St Helens—in Washington State, USA—quickly recovered its flora and fauna providing some insight into the return of life to the world after Noah’s Flood.
Both Mount St Helens and the worldwide Flood were cataclysmic geologic events involving extreme volcanism (Genesis 7:11), flooding, and the destruction of life—one on a local, the other on a global scale.
The appearance of the Mount St Helens glacier is an insight into the conditions that Noah and his descendants faced. (For more see: creation.com/iceage).
- Doughton, S., Mount St. Helens, still steaming, holds the world’s newest glacier, seattletimes.com, July 2015.
Decaying magnetic field still points to young earth
The earth’s decaying magnetic field continues to prove a headache for those who accept long ages. A recent paper estimated that the field could disappear in about 1,900 years given an observed decay rate of 9% since 1840.
The field points almost north-south—only 11.5° off—which is handy for navigation using a magnetic compass.
Creationists have shown that it could not have been decaying for more than 10,000 years, or else its original strength would have been large enough to melt the earth.
Most geophysicists are wedded to the geodynamo model which says there is a self-sustaining electric generator in the earth’s core. Even though scientists have not produced a workable model to prove this, it’s now being suggested that a major impact event sometime in the past helped force magnesium into the core in such a way that it provided a power source for the so-called geodynamo.
There seems to be a lot of wishful thinking in this hypothetical scenario, but evolutionists require something like this since the decay rate data at face value point strongly to a young Earth.
- O’Rourke , J.G., and Stevenson, D.J., Powering Earth’s dynamo with magnesium precipitation from the core, Nature 529(7586):387–389, January 2016.
- Finlay, C.C., Aubert, J., and Gillet, N., Gyre-driven decay of the Earth’s magnetic dipole, Nature Communications 7:10422, December 2015.
- Sarfati, J., The earth’s magnetic field: evidence that the earth is young, Creation 20(2):15–17, March 1998; creation.com/magfield.
Enough to take your breath away
In another timely reminder of accepting without question the conclusions of secular scientists, within a decade of declaring life was possible in oxygen-free pools deep in an ocean, biologists have found out that was not the case after all.
What was trumpeted in 2010 to be multi-cellular life (metazoans) in hyper-salty conditions, turned out to be corpses inhabited by bacterial “body-snatchers”, according to a paper on the BMC Biology website.
- Inglis-Arkell, E., Sorry, oxygen-free animals don’t exist after all, gizmodo.com.au, February 2016.
Colon cancer mutation in mummy
Scientists suggest that processed food, an inactive lifestyle and obesity significantly contribute to diseases such as cancer in humans. Even should you avoid living that way, you won’t necessarily avoid falling victim to such illnesses.
A research team at the Tel Aviv University studying the mummified remains of an 18th century corpse have found the person may have had a mutation which causes colon cancer. The team is taking a cautious approach to its findings, but notes “this means that a genetic predisposition to cancer may have already existed in the pre-modern era”.
It’s interesting how one report discussed the find:
“But which came first? Is colon cancer a lethal product of modernity? Or is this an open-and-shut case of DNA gone awry?”
Creationists have long pointed out that the death and disease we observe around us and that has been going on for centuries—and which is evident from the fossil record—is the result of a once-perfect creation gone wrong. For more see: creation.com/is-cancer-very-good.
- Mutated gene associated with colon cancer discovered in 18th-century Hungarian mummy, sciencedaily.com, February 2016.
How Edomites dressed in David’s day
The discovery in Israel of remarkably preserved 3,000-year-old materials that included fabrics that were intricately decorated and coloured as well as leather and seeds, connect to the biblical kings David and Solomon.
The items were recovered from copper mines in Timna, Israel, which are said to have been operated by Edomites, whom the Bible tells us were subject to King David (1 Chronicles 18:13).
Of the finds, Dr Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University said:
“The fabrics are of a very high quality, with complex designs and beautiful dyes.”
Skeptics claim that kings David and Solomon never existed. However, the archaeological evidence against the skeptics is accumulating. As we reported in Creation 38(2):7, on the discovery of King Hezekiah’s seal, such revelations remind us again that we should trust God’s Word as the true history of the world, and that it includes information about real people and their lives.
- Team discovers fabric collection dating back to Kings David and Solomon, phys.org, February 2016.
Fountains of the great deep
A team of hydrogeologists has calculated that there is enough groundwater trapped in the earth to raise sea levels by 52 m (170 ft).
Their estimates fit rough calculations made several decades ago. The team from the University of Victoria in Canada said that the top 2 km (1.2 miles) of the earth’s crust contains about 23 million cubic km (5,500 million cubic miles) of groundwater.
- Earth has enough groundwater to raise sea levels by 52 metres, newscientist.com, November 2015.
Floating ‘life’ rafts pose more problems
Creationists have long pointed out that floating vegetation rafts have contributed to the distribution of many species across the world’s oceans. Such conditions would have been prevalent after the devastation of Noah’s Flood, for instance.
It is now well documented that creatures can migrate on floating vegetation (for details, see creation.com/rafts).
The ever-growing problem of ocean-borne plastic debris has added another dimension, as University of Florida researchers found when studying these long-lasting waste fields. Why? Because barnacles which latch on to plastic have helped create a complex habitat that is “similar to trees in a rainforest or corals in a reef”.
In a report on the findings, the university said:
Before plastics, rafting communities in the ocean were limited because of a limited number and lifespan of natural floating rafts, like downed trees, seaweed or pumice. Over the last 40 years, however, the amount of oceanic plastic waste has increased at an alarming rate, and the lifespan of these artificial rafts can vastly exceed that of natural rafts.
- Neeley, M., Plastic debris crossing the Pacific can transport more species with the help of barnacles, news.ufl.edu, February 2016.
Major flaw over a little fish
DNA testing on the tiny 2.5 cm (one-inch) Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis) has forced a radical adjustment, amounting to thousands of years, concerning when it was isolated in a flooded cavern in the Mojave desert, Nevada.
Previously said to have lived in the cavern for about 13,000 years, genetic sequencing with neighbouring populations shows that the fish were only trapped there between 105 and 830 years ago.
According to Simon Ho, a computational evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney, Australia, the study “adds to a growing body of evidence that some species might be much younger than earlier genetic comparisons had suggested, because DNA mutation rates can be very high over a short period of time”.
- Cressey, D., Genetics rewrites story of fish species trapped in single hole, nature.com, January 2016.
A sudden gash in the hills
Recently, people living near the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains (Wyoming, USA), were shocked by a show of ‘fast geology’. It took just two weeks for a huge crack to open up in one of the hills, before dividing it into two. A vast volume of rock slid away. Although much smaller slips are not unknown in the area, one person aptly commented: “It’s an impressive example of just how quickly very large geological events can occur under the right conditions.” Indeed it is. Another wrote of people being “awed to see the earth change so dramatically, so quickly”.
The ‘gash’, as locals have nicknamed it, quickly grew to a reported 685 m (2250 ft) long by 36 m (150 ft) wide, although estimates vary. Impressive by today’s standards, it is nevertheless a mere pimple compared with the energies unleashed during the Great Flood of Noah’s day (creation.com/genesis-and-catastrophe).
In fact, in the northwest of this same Bighorn Basin, a truly gigantic slide is thought to have happened in the late stages of the Flood (50 million years ago on the evolutionary timescale), forming Heart Mountain. A vast block of rock apparently slid some 60 km (37 miles) down a very slight (2°) slope to form today’s mountain. Not surprisingly, how all of this happened is a big puzzle to the ‘deep-time’ geologists—but makes much more sense within a ‘Flood geology’ framework (creation.com/heart-mountain).
- Massive ‘crack in the Earth’ opens up suddenly…, mnn.com, October 2015.
- Awe, curiosity over sudden, huge ‘gash’ in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, cnn.com, November 2015.