Focus: creation news and views 40(2)
Dinosaur fossil in marine environment
“It is extremely rare for a complete skeleton of a land dinosaur to be discovered in a marine stratum,” ScienceDaily wrote in a report about the fossilized remains of a duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaur) found on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
The fossil record raises more questions than answers for those who deny that there was a global Flood. Questions include why marine fossils are also found at various sites, including on Mt Everest and in Chilie’s Atacama Desert, for example. (For more see creation.com/whale-chile).
All such finds point to a catastrophic event that overwhelmed creatures (and not just this duck-billed dinosaur). With the understanding of the global Flood, creationists expect to find creatures from different locations buried together; i.e. creatures that did not live together but died together. (For more see creation.com/fossil-crab-alongside-dino).
- Japan’s largest complete dinosaur skeleton discovered, sciencedaily.com, June 2017.
Bird’s oil gland preserved for ’48 million years’
The discovery of a preserved oil gland from a fossilized bird supposedly 48 million years old adds to the growing number of soft tissue finds. (See also “Turtle soft tissue find” below and creation.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue)
Researchers studying a bird from the fossil-rich Messel Pit in Germany concluded from tests on its uropygial gland—which provides oil for preening—that it was “an example of soft tissue surviving over the course of millions of years”. One of the team said:
“The discovery is one of the most astonishing examples of soft part preservation in animals. It is extremely rare for something like this to be preserved for such a long time.”
Based on their organic geochemical investigations, the researchers also encouraged others to likewise investigate fossils for soft tissues. Soft-tissue finds are exciting—and not unexpected—for creationists because such preservation better fits in with a world-wide catastrophic event such as Noah’s Flood about 4,500 years ago. On the other hand, evolutionists have not yet presented a plausible explanation for soft tissues surviving for their alleged millions of years.
- O’Reilly, S. et al., Preservation of uropygial gland lipids in a 48-million-year-old bird, Proc.R.Soc.B. 284(1865):20171050, 2017 | doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.1050.
Turtle soft tissue find
Dr Mary Schweitzer has again been involved with a fossil soft-tissue find. Traces of pigment, beta-keratin, and muscle proteins have been found in a sea turtle ‘dated’ at 54 million years old. Schweitzer was the first to report soft tissues in dinosaur fossils (For more on that, see creation.com/dino-disquiet).
Dr Schweitzer was part of a team headed by paleontologist Johan Lindgren of Lund University (Sweden) that investigated a tiny 74-mm (3-inch) fossilized hatchling turtle from Jutland, Denmark. She said:
“The presence of eukaryotic melanin within a melanosome embedded in a keratin matrix rules out contamination by microbes, because microbes cannot make eukaryotic melanin or keratin. So we know that these hatchlings had the dark coloration common to modern sea turtles.”
Shell colour is vital for cold-blooded turtles as it allows them to absorb heat from sunlight. Compared with today’s hatchlings, there is no hint of significant change (‘evolution’) over the alleged millions of years since the fossil was formed.
- Lindgren, J. et al., Biochemistry and adaptive colouration of an exceptionally preserved juvenile fossil sea turtle, Scientific Reports 7:13324 | doi:10.1038/s41598-017-13187-5.
- Peake, T., Keratin, pigment, proteins from 54 million-year-old sea turtle show survival trait evolution, news.ncsu.edu, October 2017.
NASA Mars evidence: not liquid water after all!
In 2015 NASA announced that it had found evidence of present-day liquid water on Mars. It was said that the evidence “unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses …” This was then hailed as evidence that there could be ‘life on Mars’. It was also cause for hope regarding the viability of a human Mars colony in the future.
In a new study, further analysis of the erosion features that were interpreted as being produced by flowing water has led NASA investigators to say that they are better understood as the result of dry flows of granular material.
Water is necessary for life, but it is not sufficient, falling far short, as we have previously shown (see creation.com/origin-of-life).
- Flowing water present on Mars, say scientists, news.sky.com, September 2015.
- NASA discovery of water on Mars was actually sand, news.sky.com, November 2017.
Ape teeth ‘three times as old’ as Lucy’s
Fossilized ape teeth ‘dated’ at 9.7 million years old and found in Germany have confused evolutionists because they resemble those of the claimed human ancestor ‘Lucy’, which is ‘only’ 3.2 million years old.
The existence of such a ‘hominin’ in Germany wouldn’t fit the out-of-Africa evolutionary narrative for humanity; hence suggestions that the revelations could “rewrite human history”. The head of the research team said of the find: “They are clearly ape teeth”. We would agree, but there is no need to invoke ‘hominins’ or millions of years.
For biblical creationists, human history is recorded from Genesis onwards, so a fossilized ape tooth is a record of a creature that once lived and died possibly during or after Noah’s Flood.
The find follows the discovery of human footprints supposedly made 5.7 million years ago at Trachilos on the Mediterranean island of Crete. (For more, see creation.com/crete-footprints). The footprints also challenge the out-of-Africa theory.
- Lutz, H., et al., A new great ape with startling resemblances to African members of the hominin tribe, excavated from the Mid-Vallesian Dinotheriensande of Eppelsheim, Mainzer naturwissenschaftliches Archiv. 54, 2017.
- Embury-Dennis, T., Prehistoric teeth fossils dating back 9.7 million years ‘could rewrite human history’, independent.co.uk, October 2017.
Garden variety beaks
Researchers have observed what they say is rapid evolution in the beak size of Parus major, aka the great tit, often seen in English gardens, particularly those with bird feeders.
Researchers identified genetic differences between English and Dutch great tits (Parus major), which they say explains why UK birds have ‘evolved longer beaks’. Some in a population that had been studied for about 70 years were tracked by electronic tags, and variants with longer beaks were found to be frequent visitors to bird feeders. Though the paper is vague on the mechanism, this access to food is somehow thought to have given these birds a survival edge.
One of the researchers said:
“The way we’ve detected evolutionary differences in the wild is unique. It was the genome that led the way. That this is possible for a trait influenced by so many genes, holds many promises for future discoveries.”
Selection may indeed be responsible for a greater predominance of those tits with genes for longer beaks. Unfortunately, though, the label ‘evolution’ keeps getting mis-applied to such observations. For the general public, this reinforces the notion that the changes observed, if extended over vast ages, could result in the sorts of huge changes needed to turn microbes into microbiologists (and great tits). Yet this needs vast amounts of new genetic information to arise. Natural selection acts by sorting and culling existing information.
The beak lengths of ‘Darwin’s finches’ have also been observed to change under selection pressure. The changes are rapid (like here, and similarly a surprise to evolutionists used to thinking in long-age terms). But because nothing new is involved, it’s no surprise to find out that the beak lengths cycle back and forth with the climatic oscillations, with no net direction and therefore quite obviously no ‘evolution’ in the sense in which most understand that word.
- For more on why natural selection is not the same as evolution, see creation.com/selection.
- University of East Anglia, Evolution in your back garden: Great tits may be adapting their beaks to birdfeeders, sciencedaily.com, October 2017.
Fossil forest found in Antarctica
A team of international researchers has discovered fossil tree fragments in Antarctica. These fossils add to the growing list discovered on the icy continent, leading some to believe that its landscape was once covered in lush forest. Among the latest discoveries were fossil microorganisms, fungi, and even original amino acids that have been preserved inside the wood.
The team released a picture of a fossilized Glossopteris tree stump, which they claimed still had the roots intact. The now extinct tree potentially grew up to 30 m (100 feet) in height with long, tongue-shaped leaves. The team believes that the trees were rapidly covered with volcanic ash and then turned to stone.
“They’re actually some of the best-preserved fossil plants in the world,”
one researcher said.
“The fungi in the wood itself were probably mineralized and turned into stone within a matter of weeks, in some cases probably while the tree was still alive. These things happened incredibly rapidly. You could have witnessed it firsthand if you were there.”
The rapid fossilization is no surprise to biblical creationists, but does not sit well with the evolutionary story of rock layers supposedly millions of years old. If the team’s assumptions about the fossils’ origins are correct, they were likely formed during the first half of Noah’s Flood when there was great volcanic activity when the fountains of the great deep broke up (Genesis 7:11).
- Zachos, E., Antarctica was once covered in forests. We just found one that fossilized, nationalgeographic.com, November 2017.
- Pappas, S., 280-million-year-old fossil forest discovered in … Antarctica, livescience.com, November 2017.
Trilobite fossil overturns gut evolution theory
Evolutionists regard the extinct trilobites as one of the earliest known groups of arthropods, said to have evolved ‘half a billion years ago’. There are some 20,000 species with highly varied body plans, complex eyes, and even spines and horns that protrude from their bodies—making them some of the more intriguing specimens for fossil enthusiasts. Evolutionists had said that trilobites started off with a ‘primitive’ digestive system, and only evolved ‘advanced’ digestive structures much later on.
However, recent studies on their digestive systems have overturned this idea. Researchers from China have found that even the trilobites said to be the oldest, feature both ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ digestive systems. The ‘earliest’ trilobites have guts that are far too complex! This overturns the theory of trilobite gut origins.
- Hopkins, M.J., et al., The oldest known digestive system consisting of both paired digestive glands and a crop from exceptionally preserved trilobites of the Guanshan Biota (Early Cambrian, China), PLoS ONE 12(9):e0184982 | doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184982, September 2017.
- Switek, B., Trilobites had guts, scientificamerican.com, October 2017.
Worldview directs interpretation of all evidence
An anomaly detected in measurements of cosmic ray electrons and positrons by a Chinese space-borne instrument called Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE), has excited cosmologists searching for so-called dark matter. The journal Nature published the findings.
The author of an online report about this “very interesting” observation, is confident that “this could be it”. But this hope is based on a belief that the standard big bang model is the correct description of the origin of the universe.
One of the team said: “It may be evidence of dark matter,” but then also admits that the anomaly “ … could be caused by some other source of cosmic ray energy.”
These are typical of statements about dark matter, with phrases like ‘may be’, ‘could be’, etc. In this case, and all others before it, it is the worldview (or belief system) that drives the interpretation of any new data. And because cosmology is not really science, in the experimentally testable sense, these ‘scientists’ are free to dream up any interpretation they like—provided that it supports the current ruling paradigm—that the universe started in a big bang without the need for a Creator.
Rethink on how shocked quartz forms
The forces generated by lightning can alter the earth’s surface. Geologists have now discovered that ordinary storm-generated lightning strikes can be the cause of ‘shocked quartz’, which was previously thought to have been exclusively caused by meteorite impacts.
The presence of what are described as Planar Deformation Features (PDFs) was seen as sure proof of an impact. As one professor observed about the long-standing reliance upon such indicators:
“If you can find shock-metamorphosed minerals, especially quartz, then the structure was made by a forceful extraterrestrial impact because no other known process could achieve the pressures necessary to alter quartz into one of several high-pressure forms, commonly referred to as ‘shocked’ quartz.”
Because of the latest findings, however, he said geologists would now have to take a different approach:
“In the future, it will not be enough to find PDFs in quartz to demonstrate the presence of an impact event, but impact proponents will also have to rule out lightning strikes as well.”
It is hard to see, though, how lightning strikes could be readily excluded; it happens somewhere on Earth about 100 times every second.
Geologists who believed that Earth has been around for billions of years and subjected to perhaps millions of impact events, were previously convinced that the evidence of shocked quartz fitted that scenario. This finding is another reminder that further evidence can overturn long-held ideas. And it better fits the biblical creation model of a young Earth with a limited number of extraterrestrial impacts, which most likely happened mainly during the catastrophic world-changing event of Noah’s Flood.
- Melosh, J., Impact geologists, beware! Geophys. Res. Lett. 44(17):8873–8874, September 2017 | doi: 10.1002/2017GL074840.
Spinning time on microfossil spines
Single-celled eukaryote microfossils from Canada’s Yukon Territory and ‘dated’ at 800 million years old have pushed back by about 200 million years a ‘fact’ about when skeletons first appeared in organisms.
Evolutionists previously said biomineralization—a process by which minerals harden tissues, such as teeth and bones—first appeared in vertebrates about 550 million years ago; so this find throws that into question. Researchers concluded the microfossils—from a 60 m (200 ft) thick section that contained lime, mudstone and slate—used biomineralization because they contained a calcium and phosphorus compound called hydroxyapatite, which is found in tooth enamel and bone.
Of course, the ‘dates’ quoted are governed by the evolutionary paradigm. The notion that it is all calibrated by radiometric dates as ‘absolute’ is clearly problematic. The presence of the short-lived carbon-14 isotope in coal, fossils, and even diamonds across the spectrum of geological ages provides powerful evidence against the claimed millions of years ages for the rock strata (see creation.com/cdating).
- Sullivan, W., New fossils push back earliest single-celled skeletons 200 million years, pbs.org, July 2017.
- Cohen, P.A., et al. Controlled hydroxyapatite biomineralization in an ~810 million-year-old unicellular eukaryote, Sci.Adv. 3(6):e1700095, June 2017 | doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1700095.
Reflective paint from ’65,000 years ago’!
Ornamental paint made of shiny mica grains and pigment, found at the deepest level of an archaeological dig in Australia, is being called the earliest-known use of reflective paint. Scientists studying a site in Kakadu National Park believe they have found new evidence that Aboriginal people have lived there for 65,000 years—up to 18,000 years earlier than previous claims.
Contrary to the secular origins story that man slowly evolved in Africa, the Bible teaches that after the Flood about 4,500 years ago, people groups travelled out from Babel in the Middle East and eventually dispersed to all habitable areas of the earth. From biblical history we would expect that the people of those times were highly innovative and creative, and this is what the evidence reveals at Kakadu.
But the archaeologists who discovered the paint accept the ‘Out of Africa’ hypothesis of man’s origins and are convinced humans have been in Australia for tens of thousands of years. They used optically-stimulated luminescence to derive their ‘date’, a method based on unprovable assumptions. 65,000-year-old paint is quite a claim—modern paint, with all the research that has gone into it, does very well if it survives a few decades.
- Buried tools and pigments tell a new history of humans in Australia for 65,000 years, theconversation.com, July 2017.
Easter Island ‘heads’ have bodies
Because iconic images of the Easter Island statues (known as Moai) show them as large heads, people commonly think these statues are just large heads. However, archaeological digs have dispelled this myth. The ‘heads’ sit on ‘torsos’ that have been buried by what secular geologists describe as mass transport deposits, such as from landslides. Most of the statues were carved from tuff (a compressed volcanic ash).
But how were they moved around? Recent archaeological digs have revealed that tree trunks and ropes were used to erect the statues. Pollen data suggests that trees were more abundant when the statues were carved around 600 to 900 years ago.
There is no doubt that the ancient Rapa Nui (the native people of Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui) were smart enough to work out how to move the giant stones, which can be up to 10 m (32 ft) tall and weigh about 72 tonnes (80 US tons). This again reinforces the fact that humans have always been as intelligent as they are now (or arguably even smarter in earlier generations) because we’re all made in the image of God.
- Nace, T., The famous Easter Island heads have hidden bodies, forbes.com, July 2017.
Trend away from religion
The unsurprising revelation that there is an increasing trend away from religion (in particular, mainline Christianity) is revealed in both the latest Australian census as well as a long-running survey of first-year American college students.
Even though 60% of Australians had a religious affiliation, the proportion of people reporting no religion increased to 30% in 2016—nearly double the 16% in 2001. Of that 60%, all but 8.2% gave Christianity as their religion.
Similar percentage trends are revealed in the Cooperative Institutional Research Program survey of American college entrants that has been conducted since 1966. The number of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled from 10% in 1986 to 31% in 2016.
The trend fits with the overall impact of decades of an increasingly anti-God agenda throughout society, particularly in the classroom where molecules-to-man evolution (the world made itself; the Bible’s history is wrong) is taught as fact and any dissent from that position is basically outlawed.
- Census snapshot: 35 key findings, dailytelegraph.com.au, June 2017.
- Downey, A., College freshmen are less religious than ever, blogs.scientificamerican.com, May 2017.