Focus: creation news and views 42(4)
Green seaweed now ‘200 million years older’
Located in rocks in Northern China, abundant specimens of fossil seaweed, just a few millimetres long, have added a whopping 200 million years onto its alleged history. The former record holder was ‘dated’ at 800 million years. So, the newly identified species of green seaweed, Proterocladus antiquus, is a billion years old in evolutionary time.
This means that such complex multicellular plant life existed “much earlier than previously thought”. Also, it means it has no known evolutionary ancestor. That is, it just appears fully formed in the fossil record.
Additionally, “a group of modern green seaweeds, known as siphonocladaleans, are particularly similar in shape and size” to these fossils.
Thus, this find has created two big problems for evolution. First, it has significantly shortened the time available for evolution to occur. Second, with these most likely modern representatives, no evolution has occurred in the supposed one billion years. It is one more ‘living fossil’.
God is clear that He formed all plant life fully functional on Day 3 around 6,000 years ago, which is consistent with finds like this.
- Tang, Q. and 3 others, A one-billion-year-old multicellular chlorophyte, Nature Ecology & Evolution 4, 24 Feb 2020.
- Starr, M., Look at these mind-blowing fossils of 1 billion-year-old seaweed; sciencealert.com, 25 Feb 2020.
String discovery ties evolutionary view into knot
Scientists are now finding that Neandertals were intelligent, clever, and resourceful, the same as any other people. Given their evolutionary assumptions, many scientists had for decades imagined that Neandertals were a brutish, ‘less-evolved’ people. A recent university study reporting the discovery of a short piece of string has cast further doubt on this view.
Said to be the oldest ever found, the string was unearthed in a French cave. It was adhering to an ancient stone tool (60 mm, 2.4 in long) at an archaeological level representing the cave’s period of Neandertal occupation.
The production of three-ply string requires an intelligence seen only in humans. This example was made from inner bark fibre which can produce a very strong and fine string. The strands “were separated and twisted clockwise (s-twist) [then] twined counterclockwise (Z-twist) to form a cord.”
String production is not at all an intuitive, ‘natural’ skill. The researchers say it “requires detailed knowledge of plants, seasonality, planning, retting, etc. [and] an understanding of mathematical concepts”. Not to mention considerable dexterity; each composite strand needs to have the right thickness, the right twist—and the right tension, adjusted and maintained throughout.
Following the Babel dispersion, groups of people moving out into the wilds would have been dependent on good string to haft their axes, spears, and spear-throwers, for instance. Shoddy goods meant going hungry—or even dying if attacked when insufficiently prepared. Multi-ply cord also forms the basis of many other necessary items such as fabric, bags, and nets.
The study concluded that Neandertals were likely just as intelligent as modern humans.
- Hardy, B.L. and 5 others, Direct evidence of Neandertal fibre technology and its cognitive and behavioural implications, nature.com, 9 Apr 2020.
- 50,000-year-old string found at France Neandertal site, bbc.com, 13 Apr 2020.
On and on it goes
Bombarding the public with evolutionary teaching continues unabated. A recent wide-ranging article in The Conversation proclaimed:
- All life from algae to elephants evolved from a simple, single-celled common ancestor around 3.5 billion years ago;
- For billions of years organisms were ‘stuck’ as being single cells in the seas, then multi-cellularity evolved multiple (perhaps 25) times, independently;
- An unending ‘arms race’ between predators and prey helped drive evolution onto land, and into the air;
- A “sixth mass extinction” is now happening, for which humans are to blame, “wiping out the results of millions of years of evolution”;
- We might one day find that alien life has evolved on other planets, given that Earth shows “the transition to multi-cellularity may be an easy hurdle to jump”.
Astute readers of the article would note however that the evolutionary storytelling is very much ‘divided against itself’. The article states, “there is an apparent contradiction at the heart of evolutionary biology”. I.e. evolution should not be expected to generate increased diversity and complexity, yet according to the evolutionary storyline that’s exactly what happened. Also, “innovations were difficult to ‘uninvent’”, yet the one specific claimed evidence of evolution provided in the article is that of fish in unlit caves losing their eyes. (See creation.com/cave-fish on why it’s devolution, not evolution.)
Incidentally, lest anyone dismiss the article as errant journalism, the author is Matthew Wills, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath. A disclosure statement reveals he receives funding from the John Templeton Foundation (see creation.com/evangelical-colleges-paid-to-teach-evolution and creation.com/the-templeton-foundation-revealed).
- Wills, M., Evolution: why it seems to have a direction and what to expect next; theconversation.com, 2 Jun 2020.
Nodosaurs ate flowers
In 2017, an armoured nodosaur known as Borealopelta markmitchelli was found buried upside down in the Clearwater Formation northern Alberta, Canada. Much of its three-dimensional armour was intact. This 1,300-kg creature was buried in the same rock layers as marine reptiles such as an ichthyosaur, plesiosaur, polycotylid, and elasmosaur.
Now, new research has shed light on its last meal. Scientists studying the preserved stomach contents have identified around 50 plants, mostly ferns (85%), but also conifers, moss, and cycads. Some of the plants were halfway through their growing season, meaning that the burial event occurred around early to mid-summer. 6% of its diet was charcoal. Interestingly, this dinosaur was also found to have consumed several angiosperms (flowering plants).
Thirty years ago, most evolutionists taught that grass and flowers did not exist at the time of the dinosaurs because they had not yet evolved. This find adds to the many examples demonstrating that dinosaurs ate both flowering plants and grass. In Job, we read something of the diet of a mighty creature whose description fits that of a dinosaur.
Job 40:15, 21—“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox … Under the lotus plants he lies, in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh.”
Science has a habit of catching up with the Bible.
- Brown, C. and 6 others, Dietary palaeoecology of an early Cretaceous armoured dinosaur (Ornithischia; Nodosauridae) based on floral analysis of stomach contents, R. Soc. Open Sci. 7:200305, 18 May 2020.
Darwin figures in Japan constitution controversy
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party recently launched a ‘manga’ (cartoon strip) featuring a Darwin-like character, proposing constitutional revision, in light of evolutionary theory. The character named ‘Moyawin’ but drawn to resemble Charles Darwin argues, “This is what the theory of evolution says. … The only people who can survive are people who can change.”
The manga stirred up a torrent of accusations that the Party understands neither evolution nor the danger of applying the theory to politics. For example, psychiatrist Rika Kayama wrote, “In the 19th and 20th centuries, evolutionary theory was applied to human societies in what came to be known as ‘social Darwinism’, and natural selection based on ‘survival of the fittest’ was used to justify racism and eugenics. The Nazis based their massacre of Jews and disabled people on eugenics, and ever since then, everyone has understood that the simplistic application (of evolutionary theory) to politics is dangerous.”
Kayama is certainly correct in linking evolutionary theory to the dangers of eugenics and racism, though perhaps a little misguided in saying “everyone has understood”. See, e.g., creation.com/david-duke.
- Nomura, F., Japan ruling party manga using evolutionary theory to push constitutional change slammed; mainichi.jp; 23 June 2020.
‘Oldest known’ scorpion—100% scorpion
The ‘oldest known’ species of scorpion, Parioscorpio venator, was found among the Waukesha Biota from a rock layer in Wisconsin, USA. Described as an “exceptionally preserved fossil” it is claimed to be around 437 million years old.
The research team said: “Elements of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems are preserved, and they are essentially indistinguishable from those of present-day scorpions”—which exclusively breathe air.
This is not good news for evolutionists, who believe that scorpions were amongst the first animals to adapt from the sea to life on land. “Prior to this all of animal life is in the ocean,” Andrew Wendruff, one of the paper’s authors, said. “This is the beginning point of animals leaving the seas to utilize land!”
This was the point when they would have expected to see physiological changes associated with a marine-to-terrestrial transition.
There was no sign of this. Rather, it demonstrated evolutionary stasis (non-evolution) for an alleged 437 million years. In all that time there has been no change to the circulatory or respiratory systems.
The team admitted that “fundamental questions, including how and when they adapted to life on land, have been difficult to answer”.
Scorpions have always been scorpions, and these latest findings are another sting in the evolutionary tale.
- Wendruff, A.J. and 4 others, A Silurian ancestral scorpion with fossilised internal anatomy illustrating a pathway to arachnid terrestrialisation., Science Reports 10:14, 16 Jan 2020.
- Pullano, N., Terrifying fossil may be one of earliest air-breathing animals on earth; inverse.com, 16 Jan 2020.
Richard Dawkins controversially tweets on eugenics
Twitter reported “widespread backlash” after renowned evolutionist Richard Dawkins recently used that social platform to comment on eugenics. (Eugenics is the control of human reproduction to promote ‘superior’, or eliminate ‘inferior’, genetic traits—a logical outworking of evolutionary theory, see creation.com/defenceless-death).
Dawkins, the author of books such as The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, had tweeted:
“It’s one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It’s quite another to conclude that it wouldn’t work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn’t it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.”
The resulting criticism prompted Dawkins to respond the following day:
“For those determined to miss the point, I deplore the idea of a eugenic policy. I simply said deploring it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work. Just as we breed cows to yield more milk, we could breed humans to run faster or jump higher. But heaven forbid that we should do it.”
There is some irony in the world’s best-known atheist/misotheist using the expression ‘heaven forbid’. And in another tweet the same day Richard Dawkins warned against trying to oppose eugenics by denying “obvious scientific facts”, as this would lose or derail the argument. Rather, “Let’s fight it on moral grounds.”
But what ‘moral grounds’ can atheism sustain? Richard Dawkins is well aware of that problem. Years earlier, when challenged with the statement that evolution leads to a ‘moral vacuum’, Dawkins replied, “All I can say is, That’s just tough. We have to face up to the truth.” (creation.com/evolution-no-morality-dawkins)
- Biologist Richard Dawkins’ take suggesting ‘eugenics would work for humans’ sparks criticism; twitter.com, 17 Feb 2020.
Dusty galaxies challenge standard dust evolution theories
Over the past decade or so, several scientific papers have referred to the origins problem for evolutionists of too much cosmic dust. Some extracted quotes:
“The origin of dust in galaxies is still a mystery.”
“[I]t is unclear how and where dust grains condense and grow, and how they avoid destruction in the harsh environments of star-forming galaxies.”
“The large amounts of dust detected in sub-millimeter galaxies and quasars at high redshift pose a challenge to galaxy formation models and theories of cosmic dust formation.”
“This increase in the dust content of massive galaxies at high redshift is difficult to explain using standard dust evolution models and requires a rapid gas consumption time-scale together with either a more top-heavy initial mass function (IMF), efficient mantle growth, less dust destruction or combinations of all three.”
- Gall, C. and 8 others, Rapid formation of large dust grains in the luminous supernova 2010jl, Nature 511:326–329, 2014.
- Gall, C. and 2 others Production of dust by massive stars at high redshift, Astron. Astrophys. Rev. 19:43, 2011.
- Dunne, L. and 39 others, Herschel-ATLAS: rapid evolution of dust in galaxies over the last 5 billion years, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 417:1510–1533, 2011.
Central nervous system stunningly preserved
Exquisitely well-preserved fossils have been discovered from two Cambrian sites in the western USA, the Pioche Formation, and the Marjum Formation. The fossil Euarthropods, Alalcomenaeus, ‘thought’ to have lived around 500 million years ago, had dark staining down the central portion of their body. These were identified as the remains of the original central nervous system.
The team pointed out that the preservation of such tissues in fossils has come under intense scrutiny. They said, “the nervous system is prone to rapid decay, relative to other tissues, under controlled laboratory conditions”. However, the team were emphatic that people need to change their minds. They said it was time “to gravitate away from the preconception that nervous tissues are too labile [unstable] to become fossilized, as evidence keeps accumulating that neurological preservation is possible”.
Of course, such soft-tissue organs normally decay quickly. To be preserved they must have been rapidly covered in sediment. Such evidence points our thoughts towards Noah’s Flood, some 4,500 years ago. This provided the right conditions for the preservation of the fossil and the rock encasing it.
- Ortega-Hernández, J. and 2 others, Proclivity of nervous system preservation in Cambrian Burgess Shale-type deposits, Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 11 Dec 2019.
‘Earliest’ fossilized trees found
On the floor of an abandoned quarry in Cairo, New York, a research team discovered the fossilized remains of the ‘earliest’ known tree roots. The team said the site, supposedly 386 million years old, was once home to a forest of at least two types of trees with fern-like leaves: Eospermatopteris and Archaeopteris.
None of the root systems contain any of the original tree, but rather are trace fossils, indicating where the tree once briefly ‘stood’. Interestingly the exposed layer has scattered fragments of fish vertebrae and several well-preserved fish “recovered near the largest trees, seemingly impounded by them”. The research team proposed that as the flood water carried the fish and sediment to bury them it also wiped away the forest.
This proposal fits well with a biblical Flood interpretation. During the first half of the Noahic Flood, which occurred only 4,500 years ago, the prevailing waters fluctuated up and down due to waves, tides, and tectonic activity. A ripped-up floating forest carried by the Flood waters touched down on a newly formed sedimentary layer created by the Flood as the water briefly went down and exposed it. As the water level rose again, it wiped away the trees (later to be buried themselves and turned to coal), and rapidly deposited some of the fish in the sediment, which we now find as fossils.
- Stein, W.E. and 5 others, Mid-Devonian Archaeopteris roots signal revolutionary change in earliest fossil forests, Current Biology, 19 Dec 2019; cell.com.
- Foster, L., World’s oldest fossil tress uncovered in New York; bbc.co.uk, 19 Dec 2019.