This article is from
Creation 40(3):7–11, July 2018

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Focus: creation news and views 40(3)

Frog-eating salamander holds its shape

Fragile organs have been preserved (fossilized) in their original shape in a ‘millions-of-years-old’ salamander fossil found in France. As well, the remains of a frog have been detected in its digestive tract. Despite its alleged age, the fossil is not discernibly different from a living salamander.

©123rf.com/Siriwut Theeratawatkulsalamander

Researchers said X-rays revealed a lung, spinal cord, digestive tract, muscles and urogenital organs in a state of “exceptional soft tissues preservation”.

The researchers pointed out that fossils are almost always made up of hard tissues (bones, teeth) and wrote that the salamander’s state of preservation was “difficult to explain” and a “peculiar case”. But it is really only problematic for those who think fossils form over millions of years. Experiments have shown that a special type of bacterial action, especially in a phosphate-rich environment, can lead to such unusually exquisite preservation in a matter of days or weeks (this deposit is rich in phosphate—likely precipitated in the late stages of the Flood, see creation.com/nauru). This makes sense, since if it took much longer to preserve them, the tissues would decay first.

Equally, the identifiable frog bones in its stomach suggest that the specimen was rapidly buried in the fossilizing sediment, ensuring that the bones did not have time to be made unrecognizable by powerful gastric juices before preservation. Well-preserved fossils continue to be powerful confirmation that the bulk of the world’s fossils formed in the world-wide Flood about 4,500 years ago.

  • Tissier, J., Rage, J-C., and Laurin, M., Exceptional soft tissues preservation in a mummified frog-eating Eocene salamander, PeerJ 5:e3861, October 2017 | doi:10.7717/peerj.3861.

Biomimicry makes muscles

©123rf.com/Irina Rumiantsevababy

When we are developing in our mother’s womb, tissues such as muscle are made by special cells called stem cells. Stem cells can take different directions, depending on their situation, to produce different types of tissues. During embryo development, different scaffolds form in which the stem cells then develop to produce the appropriate tissue. A certain type of scaffold will result in muscle formation; another, bone, etc.

Researchers at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia) have copied the muscle scaffold structure, producing it in the lab. When seeded with stem cells, muscle formation follows. Dr Richard Williams, one of the research team, said, “It’s like travelling back in time when our potential for tissue development and repair was at its best.”

They are hopeful that this approach will enable the production of new muscle (e.g.) that will be used to repair seriously damaged muscle in patients.

This is yet another example of scientists copying God’s amazing designs—isn’t there so much left to learn?!

  • Brown, R., Healing muscle tissue gets help from a new 3D cell scaffold; createdigital.org.au/healing-muscle-tissue-cell-scaffold/
  • Li, R., et al., Biomacromolecules February, 2018; doi:10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01632
  • See also creation.com/stem-cells.

©123rf.com/Richard Pindererosion

Rapid erosion belies long-age beliefs

Residents of Tunstall, East Yorkshire, UK, are facing the prospect of their homes eventually disappearing into the North Sea. The coastal cliff-top town is losing an average of 2 metres (6.5 feet) of land per year to the ocean due to erosion. The land in this area is composed of loosely-consolidated sediments, likely deposited during the retreat of the North Sea ice sheet. Long-age geologists say the sediments were deposited approximately 18,000 years ago.

However at today’s observable rates of erosion, Tunstall and other villages and farms would have already crumbled into the sea if the sediments in this area were as old as secularists have dated them. The Bible tells us that Noah’s Flood occurred around 4,500 years ago. Creationist scientists have established that the Ice Age that followed the Flood came to a close around 3,800 years ago. The biblical dates fit better with the rate of erosion at Tunstall.

  • Tunstall cliff-top residents fearful of erosion risk, bbc.com, January 2018.

The not-so-simple single cell

As research uncovers hitherto unexpected complexity in single-celled organisms, evolution’s imagined ‘simple’ single-celled ancestor of all multi-celled creatures is getting harder to imagine.

Even just getting a reasonably accurate estimate of the total protein content of a cell—necessary for understanding cellular functions and processes—has proven to be quite a challenge. This is so even for the oft-studied Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a single-cell yeast species. But in a new attempt, a research team recently did an analysis across 21 separate datasets of protein abundance, and they estimated that an average yeast cell has about 42 million protein molecules in total.

While most of the different types of the (currently presumed) 5,858 proteins have somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 molecules, some are represented by just a few molecules, while others might number up to half a million. These numbers are not static, varying greatly in response to changes in environmental conditions, in turn affecting cellular functions and even the yeast’s phenotype (form).

  • Ho, B., et al., Unification of protein abundance datasets yields a quantitative Saccharomyces cerevisiae proteome, Cell Systems 6:1–14, 20 February 2018 | Doi:10.1016/j.cels.2017.12.004.

Why believe in aliens?

North Dakota State University psychology researchers recently investigated belief in extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI).

©123rf.com/Rich Seymourboy-in-wheatfield

Despite this requiring, as they pointed out, a willingness to believe without any compelling scientific evidence (i.e. a leap of faith), they found it was more common among people with low levels of religiosity. Thus, atheists and agnostics recorded higher levels of ETI belief than religious (primarily Christian) believers. What the researchers did not point out is that atheists and agnostics are also more likely to believe in evolution.

From this and other results of their surveys they concluded that the motivation for ETI beliefs is often a desire to find purpose and meaning in life. To those not wanting to believe in God, belief in intelligent aliens (especially ones that have travelled to Earth, and influenced or interacted with humans) may be more comforting than the thought that we are alone in an uncaring universe.

In this age when ‘ET’ is for many a substitute religion, solid biblical answers that also make sense of the many reports and sightings are vital. The release of CMI’s acclaimed documentary Alien Intrusion, based on Gary Bates’s book of that name and exposing the spiritual deception, is thus very timely. See alienintrusion.com.

  • Routledge, C., Abeyta, A.A. and Roylance, C., We are not alone: The meaning motive, religiosity, and belief in extraterrestrial intelligence, Motivation & Emotion 41(2):135–146 April 2017 | doi:10.1007/s11031-017-9605-y.

Brittle stars show no evolution

The fossil of a brittle star (ophiuroid), a type of starfish, found in the mountains of Connemara, Ireland, is being touted as 435 million years old. Long-age-believing scientists say the brittle star evolved around 500 million years ago in an ancient sea that “covered Ireland” and retreated 400 million years ago due to plate tectonics. However, the scientists admit that the starfish is very similar to the brittle stars of today, which still live off the coast of Ireland.

©123rf.com/vilainecrevettestarfish

As well as telling us that the world is 6,000 years old, making the millions and billions of years of secular ‘prehistory’ impossible, the Bible explains that creatures reproduce according to their kind, and don’t change into something radically different—a fact entirely supported by the fossil record worldwide. So we would expect that brittle stars would give rise only to more brittle stars.

The Bible also describes a global Flood that occurred 4,500 years ago. A sea creature on a mountain range, placed there and fossilized by the action of water, and almost identical to its modern cousins, sits very well with the Bible’s version of history.

  • Moonan, N., Meet the 435 million-year-old starfish which lived in an ancient ocean in Galway, msn.com, January 2018.

Peacock spiders may inspire new optical technology

©BIOSPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photopeacock-spider

A team of biologists, physicists, and engineers has been studying the iridescent abdomen of the rainbow peacock spider (Maratus robinsoni). Using a variety of techniques, they examined the spider’s photonic structures (that manipulate light on a microscopic level) to determine how the spider can create such intense colours. The team then used nano 3D printing to create different prototypes to test their hypotheses. They discovered specialized abdominal scales, combining airfoil-like microscopic 3D contours with nanoscale diffraction grating structures on the surface. The interaction between these two elements results in the separation of light into its component wavelengths at finer angles and smaller distances than is currently possible with available technologies.

It is hoped this discovery can be used to overcome current limitations in spectral manipulation, and to reduce the size of optical spectrometers for instruments on space missions, or wearable chemical detection systems.

However, in wondering how such scales arose, the team erred by describing them as “long evolved complex structures”. A more accurate assessment would have noted them as “amazing and recently designed complex structures”, acknowledging their Creator, rather than evolution.

  • Nature’s smallest rainbows, created by peacock spiders, may inspire new optical technology, eurekalert.org, 2 Jan 2018.

Earth’s solid metal core “impossible”

©Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photolava

Secularist researchers have concluded that the inner core of the earth “shouldn’t exist”. Based on density measurements from seismic studies, the centre of the earth is thought to be a solid sphere of primarily iron-nickel alloy, with a diameter of c. 1200 km (750 miles). Surrounding this solid inner core is a molten outer core.

Naturalistic, long-age scientists believe the earth was once completely molten. They can’t explain how the inner core cooled sufficiently to become solid metal, given the massive pressures involved, even supposing an age of the earth of 4.5 billion years. The physics just doesn’t add up.

However, the Bible tells us that God formed the earth from water around 6,000 years ago, contrary to all naturalistic theories. The earth was never completely molten. God’s comment is apt: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4).

  • Specktor, B., Earth’s inner core shouldn’t technically exist, livescience.com, February 2018.

Evidence of global oceanic magma surge

©Nature Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photomagma

Scientists recently found evidence of a world-wide marine “massive but short-lived” volcanic event that they say led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. They describe a ‘pulse’ of magma, erupting through the oceanic crust on a global scale, and speculate this was initiated by the Chicxulub meteor impact. They also found evidence of “fast-spreading rates” of seafloor formation at the mid-oceanic ridges.

A global tectonic event involving the seafloor and massive volcanism is entirely consistent with the Bible’s description of the year-long, world-wide Flood in Noah’s day, which occurred when the “fountains of the great deep” were opened. Such an event must have involved a rising of the seafloor in relation to the land. Geological formations throughout the world attest to the enormous volcanic activity that occurred alongside massive water-borne sediment deposition. Although many individual dinosaurs indeed perished in the global Flood, we know from the Bible that dinosaurs were preserved by God on the Ark. Their descendants are recorded in history as dragons, and they likely became extinct relatively recently.

  • Bodkin, H., Global wave of underwater volcanoes helped kill off dinosaurs–new study, telegraph.co.uk, February 2018.
  • Byrnes, J. S. and Karlstrom, L., Anomalous K-Pg–aged seafloor attributed to impact-induced mid-ocean ridge magmatism, sciencemag.org, February 2018.

Enough to take your breath away

After plotting the flight patterns of a water fowl known as the ruddy shelduck and tracking it to altitudes of up to 6,800 m (22,000 ft), researchers say it’s the world’s highest-flying duck. This duck ranges in size from about 1 to 1.4 kg (2 to 3 lb) and migrates from sea level on the Indian subcontinent north to its breeding grounds on the other side of the Himalayas. To traverse that mountain range and avoid flying over the really high peaks like Everest (8,800 m) means having to cross terrain at least 4,000 m high. It climbs to those great heights at an impressive rate of about 0.74 m (2 ft 4 in) per second. That equates to about 45 m (145 ft) every minute on a journey where oxygen levels get increasingly lower.

©123rf.com/Sakdawut Tangtongsapbirds

A researcher observed:

“This species has probably evolved a range of adaptations to be able to cope with flying so high, where oxygen levels are half those at sea level. We don’t yet know the nature of these adaptations.”

But which is the more plausible explanation of the ruddy shelduck’s high-flying capabilities? That they developed spontaneously over millions of years? Or that the information for such capabilities, allowing them to cope with the much higher mountains after the Flood, was present from the first day flying creatures were created about 6,000 years ago? For more on the incredible feats of our feathered friends, see creation.com/wings.

  • Parr, N., et al., High altitude flights by ruddy shelduck Tadorna ferruginea during trans-Himalayan migrations, J. Avian Biol 48(10):1310–1315, October 2017 | doi:10.1111/jav.01443.
  • High-flying ducks cross Himalayas, phys.org, September 2017.

Flood-runner couldn’t outrun the Flood

The fossilized tail and foot bones of a turkey-sized dinosaur were discovered in 2005 in coastal Victoria, Australia. It has been given a new species name, Diluvicursor pickeringi, meaning Pickering’s flood-running dinosaur.

©123rf.com/Kevin Cardenwaves

The ‘flood-runner’ aspect of the name derives from the fossil having been found in rock layers evidently deposited by fast-flowing water. The “high-energy” floodwater entombed not only Diluvicursor but a host of other vertebrates too, all entangled in a mass of plant debris, including huge logs—one exposed fossil log measured five metres long. And the amount of sediment deposited was huge, as evidenced e.g. by a now-coalified tree stump and its root ball being completely buried, in an upright position.

Sadly, evolutionists ignore this “ancient log-jam”, similar to burial patterns seen in fossil sites around the world, as evidence consistent with a single, global event—the worldwide Flood of Genesis 6–9. In that event, the only refuge for the likes of Diluvicursor was to be on the Ark with Noah, for no ‘flood-runner’ could outrun that Deluge. And this latest fossil news is a reminder also that not all dinosaurs were huge—a key point as to how the various dino kinds could fit aboard the Ark. (Mega-dinosaurs could have been taken aboard as juveniles/adolescents—see creation.com/dinogrowth.)

  • Herne, M., et al., A new small-bodied ornithopod (Dinosauria, Ornithischia) from a deep, high-energy Early Cretaceous river of the Australian–Antarctic rift system, PeerJ 5:e4113, 2018 | https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4113
  • Turkey-sized dinosaur discovered in ancient log-jam, University of Queensland News, uq.edu.au, 11 January 2018.

Antibiotics antics

©Scott Camazine / Alamy Stock Photoant

When African ants get injured, e.g. when their termite prey fight back, their comrades transport the wounded ants back to the nest for medical treatment. Specifically, an ant will ‘lick’ intensively (using the finger-like palps in its mouth) inside the wound of an injured ant for about two minutes.

The leader of the research team that made this discovery, Dr Erik Frank of Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, believes this is the first time that an insect species has been found to dress the wounds of other individuals, and that it reduces mortality. “If we didn’t allow an injured ant to receive treatment, they died in 80 per cent of the cases, most likely due to an infection.” Whereas when ants were permitted to have their wounds licked by their brethren, only 10 per cent died of their injuries.

While Dr Frank said it’s still unclear how the licking helps, he believes it is more than just a simple cleaning of the wound. “It could also be therapeutic, so basically a medical treatment where they apply antibiotics or other potential substances for the injured ant.” He said that further understanding of this “might potentially lead to possible antibiotics, which could be helpful in our own medical system.”

Isn’t it interesting that Solomon’s injunction to go to the ant, consider her ways, and be wise (Proverbs 6:6), could be so instructive to us today, in a manner surely no-one expected?

  • Smith, C., Ants rescue fallen comrades from the battlefield for emergency treatment, abc.net.au, 14 February 2018.

Censuring children from creation

A leading atheist activist organization, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, has recently submitted a complaint to a school district in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. It claimed that a seventh-grade science teacher from Smith-Hale Middle School committed a serious constitutional violation—for teaching creation and casting doubts about evolution and the age of the earth.

The complaint also took issue with three questions in a test (the teacher’s accepted answer in brackets):

©123rf.com/Aleem Zahid Khanboy
  • Transitional forms have been found in the fossil record for all animals [false];
  • Catastrophe supports sudden species appearance and a younger earth [true];
  • There is no evidence that dinosaurs and humans may have coexisted [false].

The complaint went on to assert that teaching creation and even intelligent design in a public school was unlawful and unconstitutional, being religion and not science. It urged the school district to take appropriate corrective action.

The enemies of the Gospel know that evolution and the age of the earth is a key issue, and they actively censor any attempt to expose students to doubts about evolution in science classes. Parents cannot realistically expect their children to come out of the public school system unscathed if they do not actively equip them with biblically-based answers showing how science supports the Bible.

  • Freedom from Religion Foundation, Letter to Superintendent of Hickman Mill C-1 School District, 19 January, 2018, accessed 15 February 2018] ffrf.org.