Monday, 25 September 2017

Blind Kiwis: Is Losing Eyesight Evolution or Orwellian Newspeak?


Image courtesy of Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

It seems that Darwinists are hoping to convince the unconvinced that evolution can go backwards. In doing so, they might resort to Orwellian newspeak, i.e., change a word’s meaning to the opposite of what it originally meant.

Recently, researchers found three completely blind kiwis. The birds were otherwise healthy.

New Scientist suggests that losing eyesight is 'regressive evolution'
. It attempts to give a reason for why this might be thought of as evolution:

The flightless nocturnal birds may be evolving to lose their eyesight altogether, suggest the researchers. The blind kiwis seem able to survive just as well using other senses such as touch, smell and hearing, so maintaining good eyesight might be a waste of energy.”

Some cave salamanders, crabs and arachnids can get along well in their dark world although they can’t see.

Kiwis are nocturnal birds. Flightless, they don’t look like the average sparrow. They lack flight feathers and their bones are heavier than those of most birds.

Archaeopteryx, for instance, had feathers that are more “modern” and birdlike than the ones kiwis have.

So, losing a trait can hardly be called evolution, unless, of course, evolution refers to all kinds of change, but then it will no longer be of the Darwinian variety.

Source:

Coghlan, Andy. 2017. New Zealand’s iconic kiwi birds may be losing their sight. New Scientist (22 September).

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Tent-Making Bats Can Vary Their Heart Rate from 200 to 1,000 Beats per Minute


Uroderma bilobatum. Image courtesy of Charlesjsharp, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

The tent-making bat (Uroderma bilobatum) is a tiny creature, weighing 20 grams (0.7 oz.) or less and has a body length of roughly 6 centimetres (2.4 in).

It gets its name from building tent-like structures from giant leaves.

The amazing thing about this Panaman bat is that it can vary its heart rate from over 1,000 beats per minute to 200 beats. A slower heartbeat helps to save energy.

A recent paper in the journal eLife by Teague O’Mara, an ecologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and colleagues analysed the lifestyle of these bats.

Reporting on the study, an article in Science says:

But the big surprise was that when the bats were resting, their hearts periodically slowed down sharply, O’Mara and colleagues report this week in eLife. Several times each hour, the bats lowered their already slowed heart rates from about 300 beats per minute down to 200 beats per minute for about 6 minutes. Over the course of a day this saves 10% of their daily energy budget, the researchers report.”

We might call this fuel efficiency or the preservation of energy, and it looks like the bat has been designed to be efficient in varying circumstances.

It is not alone in this. We can see intelligent behaviour both in plants and animals, as well as hi-tech solutions almost everywhere, including in us.

Bats pose several other problems to Darwinism. They can fly really fast. Some fruit bats have a smart navigation system that tells them where to go.

Echolocation is another. It seems that even the earliest bats could echolocate.

Source:

Pennisi, Elizabeth. 2017. To avoid starving, this bat varies its heart rate from 1000 to 200 beats per minute. Science (22 September).

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Older Than the Universe? Methuselah Star HD 140283 Is a Big Problem for the Big Bang

Image courtesy of Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO, CC BY 4.0.





Joel Kontinen

The Methuselah Star, or more formally known as HD 140283, is an enigma for those who believe the universe began with a big bang some 13.8 billion years ago.

At just 190 light years away, we can measure its luminosity, surface temperature, and composition very precisely; we can also see that it's just beginning to evolve into the subgiant phase and towards becoming a red giant. These pieces of information, combined, allow us to get a well-constrained value for the star's age, and the result is disturbing, to say the least: 14.46 billion years,” astrophysicist Ethan Siegel writes in Forbes magazine.

And that is not its only problem. HD 140283 does not look like it is among the earliest stars:

Yet some of the other properties it displays, like an iron content of 0.4% the Sun's, suggest that it's very old, but not quite among the very oldest stars of all. Although there is an uncertainty on the age of around 800 million years, that still places it uncomfortably early, and hints at a potential conflict between how old the stars are and how old the Universe is.”

In other words, some stars have to be older than HD 140283, if Big Bang cosmology is true.

HD 140283 is a population II star that has relatively little metal. The BB model postulates that these stars were preceded by population III stars, which are assumed to be extremely massive and hot with hardly any metal.

The Big Bang model is built on questionable assumptions, such as the initial quantum fluctuation, cosmic inflation, the elusive dark matter and missing dark energy as well as antimatter that is likewise missing.

In addition, the earliest galaxies formed too quickly.

The Genesis model does not have these problems.

Source:

Siegel, Ethan. 2017. The Greatest Cosmic Puzzle: Astronomers Find Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe. Forbes (7 September).

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Artists Copy Perfectly Preserved Cambrian Clam

Space alien? Image courtesy of Dwergenpaartje, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Few researchers would expect Cambrian creatures to be perfectly preserved. After all, they are assumed to be over “500 million years” old.

However, some specimens of Agnostus pisiformis were so well preserved that Mats E. Eriksson, a geology professor at Lund University, Sweden, says: "The incredible degree of preservational detail means that we can grasp the entire anatomy of the animal, which, in turn, reveals a lot about its ecology and mode of life."

Live Science suggests it looks like a space alien.

It takes great faith to believe that soft body parts could be preserved for half a billion years, but that is exactly what evolutionists have to believe in order to keep their faith.

Time and again we get to read about exceptionally well preserved Cambrian creatures, including a fossilised brain and a mass jellyfish graveyard.

Artists have now made a copy of A. pisiformis that was only a centimetre (0.4 inches) long.

Live Science explains why the tiny sea creature is important to evolution:

The odd little critter is also useful to modern scientists as what's called an index fossil. Index fossils are fossils that appear in only a particular time period, so they're used to date layers of rock: If the fossils appear in a rock layer, there's no question about when that layer formed.”

There is a not-so-flattering name for this kind of reasoning that is a sure way of ensuing that no one will ever find a rabbit in Cambrian strata, and evolutionists can pretend that they’re doing science.

It’s called circular reasoning.

Image courtesy of Dwergenpaartje, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Source:

Pappas, Stephanie. 2017. 500-Million-Year-Old Creature Looks Like Space Alien in Re-Creation. Live Science. (18 September).

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Egg-Shaped Exoplanet Is Extremely Hot and Pitch Black

An artist's impression of exoplanet WASP-12b. Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI).



Joel Kontinen

If you think that Earth is just an ordinary planet, you might probably want to think again.

Many exoplanets are weird. HD 131399 orbits in a system with three suns. HATS-14b is so strange that it has practically killed current planet-formation theories.

And then there are the hot ones. Some exoplanets are hot. Some are even hotter.

The temperate on the hot Jupiter WASP-12b 2600 is degrees Celsius. And that is not its only weird feature.

WASP-12b is egg-shaped and has a year slightly longer than one Earth day. It orbits it star some 1,400 light years from us. With almost no albedo, it hardly reflects any light and is in effect pitch black.

As far as we know, there is only one planet that is perfectly suited for life – the one we call home.

ESA/Hubble Information Centre. 2017. Hubble observes pitch black planet. Science Daily. (14 September).


Friday, 15 September 2017

Epigenetics Fuels Adaptation in Darwin’s Finches


Small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa). Image courtesy of Putneymark, CC BY-SA 2.0.




Joel Kontinen

Darwin’s finches should definitely be included in the list of arguments evolutionists should not use.

The tiny changes in beak size are not due to mutations and natural selection.

While they are featured in many Darwinian stories, facts do not support such storytelling.

New research suggests that the changes are due to epigenetics.

As a report posted on GenomeWeb puts it, “epigenetic variation between urban and rural populations of Darwin's finches … could underlie their adaptation to a new environment.”

The article goes on to say:

The Galápagos Islands only recently underwent urbanization, leading the researchers to wonder how organisms there are coping with speedy environmental change. By examining populations of two species of Darwin's finches, researchers from Washington State University and the University of Utah uncovered morphological differences between urban and rural populations of Geospiza fortis as well as epigenetic differences between urban and rural populations of G. fortis and G. fuliginosa. However, as they reported in BMC Evolutionary Biology last night, they found little genetic variation.”

They did not find much morphological change in the birds.

But when the researchers compared DNA methylation patterns — generated using methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) sequencing — they did find differences between rural and urban populations in both species.

The genes associated with the differentially methylated regions the researchers identified were typically involved in metabolism, cell signaling, and transcription, though they also differed by species. In particular, they noted that some differentially methylated regions were associated with genes in BMP/TGF-beta pathway. BMP4 expression, they added, has previously been linked to beak shape in Geospiza
.”

Earlier research has also discovered that epigenetic factors help organisms to adapt to their environment.

Source:

GenomeWeb. 2017. Epigenetic Differences Found Between Urban, Rural Populations of Darwin's Finches. (24 August).

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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Evolution as Storytelling: Evolutionary Biology Is “A Loose Collection of Narratives That Are Forged to Fit the Evidence — Any Evidence Whatsoever,” German Paleontologist Günter Bechly Says


Do Darwinian stories resemble the tales people tell around campfires? The answer might be yes. Image courtesy of Abc10, CC BY-SA 4.0).





Joel Kontinen

Discussing two recently published fossils (Including the fish Hongyu chowi that I wrote about recently), German paleontologist Günter Bechly laments how Darwinists try to turn all fossils into evidence for their pet theory, even when discoveries challenge it:

Dubious procedures like these would be unthinkable in other natural sciences, such as physics. They call into question whether evolutionary biology really qualifies as a hard science at all. Arguably it is not a testable theory, or even a well-defined one, but merely a loose collection of narratives that are forged to fit the evidence — any evidence whatsoever.”

Doctor Bechly is not the first to criticise the uncritical approach of Darwinists.

In a famous article published in The Scientist in 2005,
Professor Philip S. Skell
, who was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, took on natural selection:

Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive – except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed – except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.

And many other scientists have admitted that Darwinism doesn’t work.

Source:

Bechly, Günter. 2017. With Two New Fossils, Evolutionists Rewrite Narratives to Accommodate Conflicting Evidence Evolution News & Science Today (13 September).