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Creation 42(1):7–11, January 2020

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Focus: creation news and views 42(1)

Creation News and Views

Soft tissue in all 17 dino bones examined

Researchers studying the fossil remains of duckbill dinosaurs have found a vast array of dinosaur ‘soft tissue’ within the bones. This latest find includes bone cells, blood vessels and fibrous collagen-like structures. They also made the first-ever discovery of osteocytes and blood vessels from a dinosaur backbone and its bony (ossified) tendons.

© 123rf.com/Mark Turnerdino

Scientists examined 17 unfossilized (i.e. not permineralized) dinosaur bones of various types from a mass mortality bonebed (‘graveyard’). Every bone sample contained osteocytes, described as ‘abundant’ in 10 of them, and another five as ‘frequent’. 16 of these 17 samples contained blood vessels, some of which were described as hollow and even “slightly pliable upon manipulation”. In addition, 14 of the bones were found to contain a fibrous collagenous matrix.

Contrary to the old idea that it is impossible to find dinosaur soft tissue, the researchers wrote that “recent investigations have found such remarkable preservation to be quite common”.

The discovery of unfossilized dinosaur soft tissue is problematic for those who believe that dinosaurs died out millions of years ago. But the discovery (and the vast number buried together in similar ‘graveyards’) makes perfect sense when we understand that most such fossils were formed as a result of Noah’s Flood just a few thousand years ago.

  • Ullmann, P., Pandya, S., Nellermoe, R., Patterns of soft tissue and cellular preservation in relation to fossil bone tissue structure and overburden depth at the Standing Rock Hadrosaur Site, Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation, South Dakota, USA, Cretaceous Research 99:1–13, July 2019.

Shipwreck discovery vindicates Herodotus

In his book The Histories, the ancient Greek historian and traveller, Herodotus, described many unusual and interesting things which have often been treated with skepticism. One is the existence of ‘winged serpents’ in Arabia, whose wings closely resembled those of a bat. Some have pointed out the resemblance of his description to pterosaurs (flying reptiles, thought by secularists to have become extinct millions of years ago). If true, this would be consistent with biblical history, rather than the standard evolutionary/naturalistic view.

When Herodotus visited Egypt around 450 BC, he described the construction of an unusual river boat on the Nile, called a baris, with long internal ribs (see below). “For centuries, scholars have argued over his account because there was no archaeological evidence that such ships ever existed.”

Picture by Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundationshipwreck-baris

That is, until now. A fabulously preserved example of about 70% of the hull of a baris has been located in the sunken Egyptian port city of Thons-Heracleion. “It wasn’t until we discovered this wreck that we realised Herodotus was right,” said Dr Damian Robinson, director of Oxford University’s centre for maritime archaeology.

Of course being right about X does not necessarily make someone right about Y, and some of his accounts do seem intertwined with local legend. But intriguingly, this is not the first time that descriptions by Herodotus once thought fanciful (e.g. ‘fur-covered ants digging for gold’) have been vindicated—see creation.com/golden-ants.

  • Alberge, D., Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right—after 2,469 years; theguardian.com; 17 Mar 2019.

Star hiding inside star?

© 123rf.com/Andrey Nyrkovstarry-night

Big bang theory says that the first stars that formed shortly after the supposed ‘bang’, known as Population III stars, were quite different from today’s, and were made of almost entirely hydrogen and helium. But where are they all? There should be some left over, but not one has ever been found.

A recent paper claims to have evidence of a 13.5-billion-year-old Pop III star—only it hasn’t been observed as such, it’s supposedly ‘hiding’ inside another star in our galaxy. The Pop III star allegedly suffered a supernova explosion that gave birth to the star observed today. But the explosion was so weak that most of the material from the earlier star, its ancestor, was sucked back into the descendant.

This whole scenario, using computer simulation, was based solely upon the pattern of elements in the star—particularly the amount of iron, the lowest ever found.

This appears to be another feeble attempt at storytelling, even special pleading, to support the big bang origin of the universe by ‘finding’ one of the missing Pop III stars—despite the fact that it can’t be seen. As with ‘dark matter’, the important thing seems to be the current naturalistic story, and whatever is observed is fitted into that story.

  • Nordlander, T. et al., The lowest detected stellar Fe abundance: the halo star SMSS J160540.18−144323.1, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, 488(1): L109–L113, 2019.
  • Ciaccia, C, Evidence of 14B year-old ‘time machine’ star found 35,000 light-years from Earth, 7 Aug 2019

Earliest’ East Asian engraved bones

© d’Errico/Doyonengraved-bone

Two engraved animal bones from the Lingjing site in Henan Province, China, are causing a stir in the world of archaeology. Claimed to be 105,000 to 125,000 years old, they have been presented as the ‘earliest’ form of abstract art in East Asia. The straight lines were deliberately etched into the bones, as well as red ochre being used on one to intensify their colour. ‘Earlier’ engravings exist elsewhere in the world, thought to be done by Homo erectus or Neandertals. In this case however the research team ascribe the artwork to the enigmatic Denisovans. This means that the Denisovan artist was able to demonstrate the ability for abstract thought in the intentional engravings. There was also evidence of knapping, complex flint tool manufacturing, at the site. Homo erectus, Neandertals and the Denisovans were all fully human descendants of Noah after the global Flood. These straight lines are straightforward evidence that these humans had the ability for abstract thought in the form of art. Denisovans, just like all humans, were endowed with this wonderful gift, being made in the image of God. It is also ironic that evolutionists can infer intelligence from a small number of straight lines on animal bones. Yet evolutionists cannot infer intelligence from the truly amazing four-dimensional DNA code in every living thing (Romans 1:20–21).

  • Li, Zhanyang and 6 others, Engraved bones from the archaic hominin site of Lingjing, Henan Province, Antiquity, Jul 2019.

Earliest’ mammal hyoid shows no change

In mammals, the muscles for powered swallowing and suckling milk are anchored to a uniquely mobile saddle-shaped series of hyoid bones situated between their neck and chin.

© Zhe-Xhi Luo/UChicagomicrocodon

A new exquisitely preserved ‘Jurassic-aged’ fossil found in China, Microdocodon gracilis, is the ‘earliest’ (i.e. lowest in the ‘geologic column’ construct of geological layers) example of modern mammal hyoid bones.

The shrew-sized creature is said to be from an extinct lineage whose supposed common ancestor gave rise to both that line and modern mammals. One of the paper’s authors, Professor Zhe-Xi Luo, confidently stated, “Now we are able, for the first time, to address how the crucial function for swallowing evolved among early mammals from the fossil record”.

But rather than showing some ‘earlier’ transitional stage, this mammalian-type hyoid bone is fully formed. So rather than helping the evolutionary story in any way, all that Microdocodon gracilis does is push back the date of the ‘earliest’ example of a modern mammal-type hyoid to a supposed 165 million years ago.

This find gives no insight into how or when it supposedly evolved, only that this must have been prior to when this creature lived. “The basic message here is that there was a rapid transformation [of the hyoid] that occurred [before] the docodonts,” paper co-author Bhullar surmised. After that point, he says, “there wasn’t all that much variation in the hyoid … it was kind of a key innovation. Even as the rest of the body changed, it remained relatively static”. The truth is that this was no evolutionary milestone. Rather, the Genesis kinds which were created to suckle and use powered swallowing were equipped from the start with fully functioning hyoid bones. This allowed them the great range of movement and strength needed.

  • Zhou, C. and 4 others, New Jurassic mammaliaform sheds light on early evolution of mammal-like hyoid bones, Science 365(6450):276–279, 2019.
  • Wood, M., Fossil shows how early mammals could swallow like their modern descendants, 18 Jul 2019.
  • Wu, K., Mammals’ weird way of swallowing is at least 165 million years old , 18 Jul 2019.

© 123rf.com/Somsak Sudthangtumplant-2

Biologists agree that life begins at conception

A new study has shown that of 5,577 biologists who were asked when life begins, 96% of them agreed that it begins at conception. The biologists questioned were from 1,058 academic institutions around the world and had a wide range of religious and non-religious backgrounds. The survey demonstrates that there is a robust scientific consensus on when life begins.

While the matter-of-fact statement that life begins at conception is a biological one, surely it has huge moral implications as well, particularly in regard to the abortion debate. The Bible makes clear that people were made in God’s image, and that the murder of any human being is wrong. So if biologists from widely-varying backgrounds agree that human life starts at conception, then how can abortion be anything other than the sinful murder of a unique human being? The Bible is clear about the Christian’s duty to those who have no voice, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute” (Proverbs 31:8), as well as about the forgiveness offered for all sin through Jesus Christ.

  • Ertelt, S., Survey asked 5,577 biologists when human life begins. 96% said conception, 11 July 2019.

Rare Earth

© 123rf.com/Kevin Cardenbible-earth

“So far, not a single Earth-sized planet has been discovered to be in both the Habitable Zone and the Abiogenesis Zone.” This was the concluding statement of a poster presented to the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas in March 2019, by Marcos Jusino-Maldonado, a researcher in astrobiology, and Professor Abel Méndez, a planetary astrobiologist and Director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

Though scientists have identified around 4,000 planets orbiting other stars, Jusino-Maldonado and Méndez have determined that only seven are inside both the Habitability Zone (being able to possess water that is essential for life) and the Abiogenesis Zone (where it is theoretically possible for even the building blocks of life to be produced, ignoring all the other problems of ‘chemical evolution’—see creation.com/origin-of-life).

But even these seven planets, it was observed, are all warm ‘super-terrans’ (i.e. super-Earths or mini-Neptunes). As such they are unlikely to have a rocky composition, and thus “less likely to support life”.

We dedicate much time and many resources to exploring the possibility of other habitable planets, to no avail so far. Yet our own home that our Lord made is incredibly well designed and fine-tuned for us. Even after being devastated in consequence of Adam’s sin, it still carries many of the hallmarks of its original description by Him as “very good”.

  • Jusino, M. and Mendez, A., The occurrence of planets in the abiogenesis zone; www.hou.usra.edu, Mar 2019.

Fossil fly eyes still contain pigment

A research team has examined the allegedly 54-million-year-old beautifully preserved fossils of 23 crane flies from the Fur Formation, Denmark. They found the first example of the biological pigment eumelanin ever seen in compound insect eyes, including living ones. Many other animal groups use melanin in their eyes, but till now it was thought that compound eyes exclusively used other pigments, called ommochromes.

© Johan Lindgrenfossil-fly-eyes© Johan Lindgrenfossil-fly-eyes-2

Following their discovery, they examined modern-day crane flies and also found eumelanin, used to shield the photoreceptors from harmful light.

They further discovered that the amazingly preserved hexagonal lenses that made up the flies’ compound eyes, originally composed of chitin, had been partially replaced by the mineral calcite. This led them to question whether the compound eyes of trilobites (often lauded for their design) were indeed calcified during life, as widely supposed, or during the fossilization process. The compound eye has no precursor in the evolutionary story, going all the way to the Cambrian, supposedly more than 500 million years ago.

This discovery adds to the ever-growing list in which a biological pigment has been detected in an immaculately preserved fossil. Of course the Noahic Flood around 4,500 years ago gives a much more reasonable explanation for this. For one thing, it means that the length of time that the biological pigment has remained detectable is only thousands of years. It also provides the rapid burial mechanism for the countless numbers of fossils worldwide that are well preserved—some of them exquisitely so, such as these.

  • Lindgren, J. and 16 others, Fossil insect eyes shed light on trilobite optics and the arthropod pigment screen, Nature 14 Aug 2019.

French fossil femur find

A huge sauropod dinosaur femur (thigh bone) from a known dinosaur ‘graveyard’ in Charente, France was recently revealed. At 2 m (6.5 ft) long and weighing c. 500 kg (1/2 ton), such a ‘big’ dino find is unusual for Europe, although this area has to date produced thousands of bones of mostly dinosaurs (of various types) and other animals, including crocodiles and turtles.

The excellent preservation of this femur was a surprise. Ronan Allain of the National History Museum of Paris said, “We can see the insertions of muscles and tendons, and scars” which “is rare for big pieces which tend to collapse in on themselves and fragment”.

It’s in any case unlikely to see such exquisite detail if it was gradually covered over long periods of time, as the typical uniformitarian story suggests.

Moreover, the bone was “in a thick layer of clay”. Since clay initially has significant water content, the femur’s good state is all the more astonishing. Water will accelerate decay, even though fossilization by permineralization requires water at first, to carry the dissolved minerals. Compression of the clay by thick layers of overlying sediment would have helped squeeze out the excess water, but that would only solve the decomposition problem if the layers were not laid down over vast ages, i.e. it had to happen before the bone decomposed.

All in all, quick burial by mineral-rich, sediment-laden Floodwaters, with ongoing sedimentation over only days or weeks rapidly depositing more layers on top, makes much more sense of this bone and the fossil ‘graveyard’ in which it was found.

© REUTERS/Regis Dyuvignaufemur
  • Keach, S., DIN-WOAH! Huge 6.5-FOOT thigh bone belonging to ‘world’s biggest dinosaur’ found in France—and it weighs 500 kilos; thesun.co.uk, 25 July 2019.
  • Scientists uncover giant femur in France; bbc.co.uk, 26 July 2019.

Engineers copy (some) of God’s heart design

123rf.com/Sebastian Kaulitzkiheart

Comment: Over more than 10 years of teamwork, applying lots of intelligence, and using the heart stem cells that were originally created by God, these clever scientists managed to fashion one chamber of a heart. It just goes to show how much super-intelligence went into the creation of hearts to start with. Our Creator is all-knowing!

Researchers at the Harvard University have built one chamber of a human heart, a left ventricle. This is one of the four chambers of a heart. Copying the way in which a heart develops in real life, they constructed a scaffold from biodegradable fibres, into which they put human heart stem cells. In several days, a thin wall of heart tissue grew. The heart beats. Kit Parker, a senior researcher of the group said, “Our group has spent a decade plus working up to the goal of building a whole heart, and this is an important step towards this goal.” The bio-engineered heart chamber will help in the study of disease treatments.

  • Bioengineers build 3D model of human heart ventricle; blog.cirm.ca.gov/2018/07/25/bioengineers-build-3d-model-of-human-heart-ventricle/