Focus: creation news and views 41(3)
Jupiter’s oddball moon must be young
The massive planet Jupiter has been found to have an additional 12 moons, bringing its total as at July 2018 to a whopping 79 moons.
Most moons orbit their host planet in the same direction as the planet rotates, called a prograde orbit. But Jupiter’s moons have a band of outer moons which go around the opposite way, called a retrograde orbit. This poses a challenge for the conventional naturalistic explanation of planetary formation called the Nebular Hypothesis. In this, a putative swirling cloud of dust and gas accretes to form the planets and moons of our solar system. If this were true, then the planets and moons should all rotate and orbit in the same direction, but they don’t.
Among the newly discovered moons there was an oddball prograde moon, dubbed Valetudo, which is hurtling around Jupiter in the opposite direction to its immediate neighbours risking a head-on collision. The report from researcher Scott Sheppard and published by Carnegie Science said:
As a result, head-on collisions are much more likely to occur between the ‘oddball’ prograde and the retrograde moons, which are moving in opposite directions. “This is an unstable situation,” said Sheppard. “Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust.”
Clearly, this prograde moon orbiting in the midst of retrograde moons could not have been there for millions or billions of years. The observable evidence is entirely consistent with the solar system being created just six thousand years ago on Day 4 of Creation Week.
- Sheppard, S., A dozen new moons of Jupiter discovered, including one ‘oddball’, carnegiescience.edu, 16 Jul 2018.
First find of fossil bird with unlaid egg
A partial bird fossil with feather impressions (see photo) has been found in supposed 110-million-year-old deposits in China. Amazingly, this enantiornithine bird (an extinct type, also called ‘opposite bird’), also had remains of its egg preserved in the body cavity. This is the first such example known in the fossil record. The bird was named Avimaia schweitzerae (literally ‘Schweitzer’s mother bird’) in honour of Dr Mary Schweitzer for her ground-breaking work on soft-tissue finds in fossils.
“Despite being malformed, the egg is excellently preserved, including parts of the eggshell that are rarely seen in the fossil record, such as traces of the egg membrane and the cuticle, which are mostly made of proteins and other organic materials.”
The two-dimensionally preserved egg had between four and six layers in cross-section, suggesting an abnormal double-layering. Lead author Dr Alida Bailleul explained:
“The reproductive system of this female bird was not behaving normally. The egg shell consists of two layers instead of one as in normal healthy bird eggs, indicating the egg was retained too long inside the abdomen. This condition often occurs in living birds as a result of stress. The unlaid egg then gets coated in a second layer—or sometimes more—of eggshell.”
In this case the Noahic Flood some 4,500 years ago provides not only the traumatic experience that likely led to the unlaid double-layered egg, but also the circumstances needed (rapid burial in mineral-rich sediment) to preserve both egg and mother as a fossil.
- Bailleul, A. and 7 others, An Early Cretaceous enantiornithine (Aves) preserving an unlaid egg and probable medullary bone, Nature Communications 10:1275, 2019.
- Bell, V., Ancient bird that died 110-million-years-ago is found perfectly preserved with an egg inside its body, dailymail.co.uk, 20 Mar 2019.
Bone cancer in ‘Triassic’ tetrapod
Described as “ridiculously rare in the fossil record”, a femur with cancer has been located in Germany. The bone, discovered in a limestone quarry, belonged to a Chihuahua-sized diapsid reptile, Pappochelys rosinae. The allegedly 240-million-year-old bone revealed a cancerous growth called a periosteal osteosarcoma which “looks almost exactly like osteosarcoma in humans”. This type of bone cancer affects around 800–900 people in America alone every year.
For ‘old-earth creationists’, professing believers who accept such ‘dates’ as real (and thus have dinos created millions of years before humans) this bone presents a serious dilemma. The Bible is clear that when God looked upon His creation at the end of Day Six, everything He saw was ‘very good’—a description that would not apply to a world including cancer. Such things could only come about after the Fall of Adam and Eve, so this fossil could not be older than mankind.
This bony tumour fits with and affirms the true timeline and sequence of events of the Bible.
- Pickrell, J., ‘Ridiculously rare’ case of cancer found in fossilised leg, nationalgeographic.com, 7 Feb 2019.
- Haridy, Y. and 5 others, Triassic cancer-osteosarcoma in a 240-million-year-old stem-turtle, JAMA Oncol. 7 Feb 2019.
Tiny Rex’—puny forerunner of Tyrannosaurus?
Almost everyone is familiar with the evolutionary concept of tyrannosaurs ruling as top predators in the ‘late Cretaceous’. But where did they come from? Trying to reconstruct Tyrannosaurus rex ancestry has proved tricky. Now, some experts are excited about the find of a few teeth and fossil bones of the right hind leg and foot of a presumed T. rex ancestral relative. A 95-million-year ‘date’ makes it the ‘oldest’ dinosaur of its kind so far found in North America, and it’s said to fill a “70-million-year gap in the family tree” of these ‘tyrannosaurid’ dinosaurs.
Named Moros intrepidus, it would have stood 1.2 m (4 ft) tall at the hip and weighed about 78 kg (170 lb). Scientists reckon it was a 6–7-year-old juvenile, a small, fleet-footed predatory relative of the mighty Tyrannosaurus—and one of the many ancestral tyrannosauroids that supposedly were populating North America sometime during the last 150 million years or more.
This is claiming quite a lot from rather limited fossil data. Assuming fuller skeletal material is found and confirms that it was T. rex-like, this merely adds weight to the diversity possible within the tyrannosaur kind. For many years, scientists have accepted that a young T. rex was rather small—based on growth patterns of many of its fossil bones. Like ourselves, it reached maximum size (in its early 20s) only after a teenage growth spurt, see creation.com/size-of-dinos. Fossils of another diminutive T. rex relative, Nanotyrannus (nicknamed Jane in 2001) have proved controversial, with some evolutionary experts taking the view that it’s just a juvenile T. rex. This latest ‘tiny rex’ may well suffer the same fate.
- Mighty T. Rex began as cute, deer-size dino, livescience.com, 21 Feb 2019.
- Diminutive fleet-footed tyrannosauroid narrows the 70-million-year gap in the North American fossil record, Communications Biology 2, article 64, nature.com, 20 Feb 2019.
Adult stem cells cure aids and lymphoma patient
We have written extensively on stem cells—cells with the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body (see creation.com/stem-cells). A major theme is that none of the benefits come from embryonic stem cells—derived by murdering human embryos. Rather, they are from somatic or ‘adult’ stem cells harvested without killing anyone, so are perfectly ethical.
A recent case to add to the dozens of other cures with adult stem cells comes from a patient with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. This is sometimes treated with strong radiation and chemotherapy, but this kills the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. So stem cells from donor bone marrow are transplanted so they can form new blood-forming cells.
But in this case, the patient was also infected by HIV, and developed AIDS. So a donor was chosen who had a mutation that conferred HIV resistance. As usual, this beneficial mutation was still an information-losing one: specifically it lost a protein receptor, called CCR5, to which the virus attaches. Even the report states that the suitable donor must “carry two copies of the disabled CCR5 gene.” [Emphasis added.]
So this patient’s cancer cells have now been destroyed, but with an added bonus that the replacement cells lack the target for the virus. So he is now in long-term remission from both the cancer and AIDS.
- Andrusko, D., HIV patient cured of AIDS thanks to adult stem cells, lifenews.com, 6 Mar 2019.
The amazing neuroplasticity of the human brain
A recent news story about a boy (Noah) born “without a brain” highlights the amazing neuroplasticity of the human brain. The brief report is about how a “six-year-old born with only two per cent of his brain, is baffling medical professionals who say his brain ‘grew’, enabling him to become the bright little boy he is today.” According to the parents, “doctors advised them five times to terminate the pregnancy after scans revealed their son Noah had ‘no brain’.”
However, the parents continued with the pregnancy, and a follow-up scan when Noah was three revealed that his “brain had grown to 80 per cent of a ‘normal’ sized brain.” Although doctors told the child’s parents “that Noah would be severely mentally disabled and unable to talk, see, hear or eat”, the article says “the bright six-year-old can do all of those things.”
According to Noah’s dad, medical experts say the boy’s progress is a result of “the brain’s ability to heal or correct the body’s nervous system”. Good luck in trying to invent an evolutionary just-so story of how information was encoded into the genome to enable the brain to perform such a healing wonder.
Young Noah’s story also teaches us that all human life is important, and how tragic it would have been if his ‘miracle’ had never been allowed to happen because his life had been terminated by abortion.
- Boy born ‘without a brain’ makes incredible progress, au.news.yahoo.com, 22 Feb 2019.
An eggsciting find
Fossil egg and nest sites are usually associated with only a single species. However, a ‘Late-Cretaceous-aged’ (allegedly 100–66 million years ago) fossil egg site in Romania preserves a nest site with four different species together. This makes it unique in the vertebrate fossil record. It is also the ‘earliest’ example of any multispecies egg/nest site.
The sedimentary mudstone layer contains thousands of eggshell fragments and complete eggs. By studying the composition and thickness of the eggs the researchers assigned them to: enantiornithines (the extinct so-called opposite birds); another bird species of uncertain affinities; crocodylomorphs (the reptile group including crocodiles); and to gekkotans (the reptile group including geckos), respectively. There were also a number of complete bird bones identifiable as adult enantiornithines.
There are regions today in which different species of birds and geckos use the same nesting areas and even nests. It is thought this could be the first ever fossilized example preserving this associative behaviour. However, is it really preserving a normal scene? The researchers, looking at how the mudstone was laid down and the eggs’ fossilization, suggested they were deposited in a single flood event. Flooding is the only plausible explanation for the rapid burial and preservation of the eggs, which are readily accounted for during the biblical Noahic Flood. A briefly exposed area of land during a fluctuation of the flood water level may have forced these animals together for a short period of time to lay their eggs (see creation.com/dinosaur-challenges-and-mysteries) before these were buried by another wave of sediment.
- Fernández, M. and six others., A mixed vertebrate eggshell assemblage from the Transylvanian Late Cretaceous, Scientific Reports 9:1944, 2019
The uniquely strong and flexible skull of T.rex
An international team of scientists have re-examined the skull structure of Tyrannosaurus rex. The huge skull of a T. rex can be up to 1.5 m (5 ft) long, and is over-proportioned to the rest of the body in comparison to other animals. Its skull has special openings at the sides and front called fenestrae, which help to reduce the weight. Using an “anatomical network analysis”, the researchers studied the T. rex’s bone modules (distinct bone regions in a vertebrate skull that form a unit with another bone), to examine which ones were connected to each other.
They compared the results to samples of the major groups of land vertebrates—opossum, tuatara, leatherback turtle, alligator, and chicken. In doing so, they discovered that T. rex had a unique skull design showing the highest number of, and most complex, skull modules and least consistent modular pattern. Due to the high number of bone modules, it had an extremely flexible skull structure. The top half of the skull was also divided into a lower and upper muzzle providing further flexibility. The interconnected bone modules gave T. rex incredible purchase that would have helped rip apart prey animals. “This trait, combined with teeth anchored within tooth pockets and two large temporal fenestrae (openings) as attachment points for the strong jaw muscles, made T. rex the ‘ideal carnivore’,” stated lead author Werneburg in summary.
While this may be the case, of course Adam and Eve would have had no reason to fear T. rex (or really, the tyrannosaur created kind) before the Fall. But afterwards, when its nature had been corrupted and it began to eat meat, what a fearsome sight T. rex must have been. This huge animal with a uniquely strong and flexible skull was no lumbering giant; rather, this study adds to the long list showing it was exceptionally well designed.
- Werneburg, I. and 4 others, Unique skull network complexity of Tyrannosaurus rex among land vertebrates, Scientific Reports 9:1520, 2019.
- Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, T. rex possessed a unique flexible skull, phys.org, 6 Feb 2019.
1,000+ scientists sign public dissent from Darwinism
In 2001, the Discovery Institute, which promotes the idea of Intelligent Design (ID), launched a list of scientists who were prepared to state in public that they dissented from Darwinism. All signatories affirmed that they were “sceptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
Updating the Institute’s list in February 2019, there are now more than 1,000 signatures from scientists across a wide range of disciplines, universities and countries. There are likely many more, including those with often well-founded fears of academic retribution; even dismissal has followed such ‘coming out’. Clearly, there are many scientists who can see that Darwinism is like the emperor with no clothes.
However, while ID can be a first step for some on their path away from Darwinism, it is more important that they know the identity and saving power of that intelligent Designer, the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16).
- Skepticism about Darwinian evolution grows as 1,000+ scientists share their doubts, evolutionnews.org, 4 Feb 2019.
Fatty fossils foil (long-age) faith
Scientists have discovered that fossils of Dickinsonia, an extinct ocean-dwelling creature, contain high levels of a cholesterol-like molecule.
‘Dated’ at 558 million years old (Ediacaran), Dickinsonia is regarded by evolutionists to be one of the earliest organisms to have evolved. They are claimed to be even older than trilobites and other Cambrian creatures. But if these fossils actually were that old, we should not find cholesterol-like substances. Such biomolecules should have degraded long ago, even under optimal conditions.
This rivals a 2014 paper that found soft, flexible, and unmineralized marine worms (Sabellidites cambriensis) with an evolutionary ‘date’ of 550 million years (see creation.com/worm-fossils-still-soft).
Such discoveries pose a radical challenge to the idea that the fossils are millions of years old, but fit perfectly with what we would expect if the earth is only ~6,000 years old as taught in the Bible.
- Bobrovskiy, Ilya., et. al., Ancient steroids establish the Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia as one of the earliest animals, Science 361(6408):1246–1249, 21 Sep 2018.
‘Ancient’ stone circle shock
A circle of stones located at Leochel-Cushnie (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) turns out to have been made more recently than some experts thought. Historic Environment Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council’s Archaeology Service both claimed the circle was authentic and deemed it to be thousands of years old.
That is, until the previous owner of the land came forward and explained that he himself had assembled the stones in a circle in the 1990s. Historians and archaeologists have taken the news in their stride, at the same time admitting that stone circles are difficult to date … .
A revelation by the maker is still the best and most reliable way to find out about the origin—and age—of anything.
- BBC, ‘Ancient’ Aberdeenshire stone circle found to be replica, bbc.co.uk, 21 Jan 2019.