Friday, 20 October 2017

Early Bird Preened Its Feathers – Just Like Modern Ones

An early bird could have looked like this. Image courtesy of El fosilmaníaco, CC BY-SA 4.0..






Joel Kontinen

Birds have not changed their habits – or anatomy – for ”48 million years”.

A paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B describes a fossilized bird found in the Messel Pit in Germany.

An article in Phys.org discloses what was special about this bird:

Upon examination of the remains, the team discovered an object near where its tail feathers had once been, which looked similar to the uropygial gland in modern birds—it produces an oil for feather preening. Preening with an oily material waterproofs feathers, and in some cases, can help birds ward off bacteria and fungi.”

The discovery calls into question two icons of evolutionary thought: millions of years and the Darwinian concept of evolution. Soft tissue should not last tens of millions of years and birds should not be able to resist change for aeons.

Source:

Yirka, Bob. 2017. Fatty bird gland preserved over 48 million years. Phys.org (18 October).


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Religion According to Evolution: Replacing One Just-So Story with Another



Atheists have a hard time trying to figure out why religion is a global phenomenon.




Joel Kontinen

When it comes to religion, evolutionists have a huge problem: religious faith is not about to become extinct even though western society is getting increasingly secularised.

Since the days of Darwin and Freud, they have seen religion as belonging to the more primitive stages of human history.

Writing in The Conversation, Associate Professor Peter Kevern discusses the old Darwinian story of the origin of evolution:

”Our brains are hardwired with cognitive biases that have evolved in order to help us to survive, but which have the side-effect of making it natural to develop religious belief. For example, we are cognitively predisposed to imagine that every rustle in the bushes is a creature watching our every move: this hyperactive agency detection device was of real benefit to early humans alone in the jungle. It might have caused our early ancestors to run away from a few imaginary tigers, but they also will have escaped one that might otherwise have eaten them. The side effect, however, is that we see unseen watchers everywhere. From this point, it is a relatively easy leap to believe in gods that watch over us, unseen.”

Then he suggest that this is merely a just so story.

He proposes a new approach in which religion means different things to different individuals. It is a need-centered model that also fits the label of ”just-so story.”

In the world of evolution one gets to pick a story that is no more convincing than all the others. It fails to disclose why many people tend to embrace a religion. It does not delve into our inner search for meaning and truth.

Source:

Kevern, Peter. 2017.Could it be that religion is more like sex than school? The Conversation (29 September).

Monday, 16 October 2017

Epigenetic Changes, Not Mutations, Cause Mexican Cave Fish Lose Their Eyesight

Image courtesy of Johnston DJ, CC BY-SA 3.0.


Joel Kontinen

Mutations do not explain why some Mexican cave fish (Astyanax mexicanus) have lost their eyesight.

New Scientist reports on recent research of these fish:

"Aniket Gore of the US’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleagues haven’t found any disabling changes in the DNA sequences of eye development genes in the cavefish.

Instead, the genes have been switched off by the addition of chemical tags called methyl groups. This is what is known as an epigenetic, rather than genetic, change.”


It would not be honest to call this Darwinian evolution, as it isn't.

New Scientist calls it an unexpected evolutionary process, but it would be more appropriate to call it a non-evolutionary process or a non-Darwinian process.

The fish did change, they lost a feature they had (eyesight), but the cause of their adaptation to darkness is anything but Darwinian.

Source:

Le Page,Michael. 2017. Blind cave fish lost eyes by unexpected evolutionary process. New Scientist (12 October).


Saturday, 14 October 2017

Dwarf Planet Hammea Has a Ring That Suggests Young Age

Image courtesy of Stephanie Hoove, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

No one expected that a dwarf planet orbiting the sun some 2 billion kilometres beyond Pluto would have a ring.

Somewhat smaller than Pluto, Hammea is egg-shaped and it also has two small moons.

Astronomers know that at least one other dwarf planet has a ring.

Recent obsevations suggest that Hammea's ring is 70 kilometres wide and roughly 2290 kilometres from its centre.

If the solar system really were 4.5 billion years old, we would not expect to see any rings circling any planet, regardless of whether it is giant or small. Thus, secularists have had to invent a planet or other object that crashed into Hammea, creating the ring.

Convincing?

No, but as naturalism is the only gane in town (or the universe), design (not to mention creation) is strictlty verboten, at least until it becomes too obvious to reject.

Source:

Ken Croswell, Ken. 2017. Distant dwarf planet near Pluto has a ring that no one expected New Scientist (11 October).




Friday, 13 October 2017

New Origin of Life Hypothesis Fails Despite Invoking Meteorites and Warm Little Ponds


Image courtesy of NASA.




Joel Kontinen

While Charles Darwin's idea of a warm little pond has been discarded several times, it has recently made a comeback. This time it is combined to meteorite strikes, another contentious hypothesis.

A report issues by McMaster's University has the gist of what they believe could havehappened:

”The spark of life, the authors say, was the creation of RNA polymers: the essential components of nucleotides, delivered by meteorites, reaching sufficient concentrations in pond water and bonding together as water levels fell and rose through cycles of precipitation, evaporation and drainage. The combination of wet and dry conditions was necessary for bonding, the paper says.”

The number of logic-defying gaps in this hypothesis is no smaller than in previous ones, for instance in the ones featuring hypothermal vents or things like that.

The heat produced by meteorite impacts would almost certainly destroyed all incipient building blocks of life and the lack of any ozone would have killed of anything that could have survived.

In other words, even the latest scenario is a total disastre. It could not have produced life.

Source:

Hemsworth, Wade. 2017. Meteorites may have brought building blocks of life to Earth.McMaster University (2 October).

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wikipedia Expells Distinguished Scientist for Doubting Darwin


Dr. Bechy is a dragonfly fossil expert, but that wasn't notable enough for Wikipedia's non-scienctist contributors. Image courtesy of Daderot, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

The message of Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is as timely now as it was almost a decade ago.

The latest installment of Darwinian censorship features Günter Bechly, a distinguished German paleontologist.

Dr. Bechly was a curator at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, but he lost his job when he became disillusioned wth Darwinian evokution.

Now, some evolutionists want to make him invisible as well. Wikipedia editors, most of whom are non-scientists, have erased his Wikipedia page, ostensibly for trivial reasons, but the real reason seems to be that he embraces intelligent design.


Source:

Klinghoffer, David. 2017. Wikipedia Erases Paleontologist Günter Bechly.
Evolution News & Science today
(10 October).

Monday, 9 October 2017

Human Evolution: Just Add Some Exploding Stars, Savannah, Lightning and Wildfires?

Image courtesy of Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Darwinian explanations tend to make headlines – not because they are plausible but because they are bizarre.

Secular scenarios are often so full of gaps that to go from a to b (say, for instance, from an ape-like creature to a human being) requires good jumping skills and a fair amount of imagination.

Origin of life scenarios are particularly interesting, as they tend to be remarkably short-lived, but almost every stage of evolution has its impassable hurdles.

A new study looks at the environment that assumedly made our ancestors’ evolution possible. It suggests that some exploding stars, savannah, lightning and wildfire were needed to kickstart hominid evolution.

Would this be plausible? No, nothing except pre-programming could even in theory turn assumed ape-men into humans, and in practice that just didn’t happen, as in contrast to what the folks over at BioLogos claim, there is no programmer in evolution.

In other words, apes are designed (and created) to be apes, and humans are designed (and created) to be humans.

We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made.

Source:

Barras, Colin. 2017. Exploding stars could have kick-started our ancestors’ evolution. New Scientist (9 October).

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Amazingly Beautiful Deep-Sea Toad Defies Darwinian Expectations

Sea toad or coffinfish (Chaunacops). Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts




Joel Kontinen

In September 2017, during one of Okeanos Explorer’s recent expeditions in the central Pacific, its remotely operated vehicle (ROV) spotted and filmed an unusual creature at a depth of 3,148 meters (1.96 miles).

The creature, identified as a sea toad or coffinfish (Chaunacops), was bright red.

For evolutionists, beauty in places where practically no one can see it, is bound to be a huge mystery in a world that ought to be be indifferent to everything that looks like it was made by a superb artist.

Natural selection can hardly explain it, and it fares even worse for sexual selection.

Beauty in all kinds of places and creatures is exactly that what we would expect to find in a created world:

He [God ]has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, New International Version).

Recent NOAA expeditions have filmed many other deep-sea creatures that are astoundingly beautiful. (See, for instance, here, here, here and here.)

Source:

Mundy, Bruce. 2017. The Mysterious Identity of the Bright-Red Sea Toad. Okeanos Explorer, NOAA (12 September).

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Are City Mice Evolving to Eat Pizza – Or Do News Outlets Use the E-word Misleadingly?

John Tenniel, 1871: Humpty Dumpty from Through the Looking Glass, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

A lot of water has flown in the world’s rivers since Lewis Carroll penned those words in 1872, but at least in some respects there is little if anything completely new under the sun.

Take the word evolution, for instance. A few weeks ago, New Scientist suggested that losing eyesight was 'regressive evolution'.

More recently, the magazine proposed that rats living in New York City might be evolving to eat pizza.

However, some animals are opportunistic: they eat what they can find. They are adapting to city life, but this doesn’t have anything to do with Darwinian (molecules-to-mice) evolution.

Sources:

Baraniuk, Chris. 2017. New York City mice may be evolving to eat fast food like pizza. New Scientist (4 October).

Knowles, Elizabeth. (ed). 2004. Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Ceres’ Spots: The Dwarf Planet Is Younger and Geologically More Active than Expected

Much younger than expected. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.




Joel Kontinen

The evidence against a 4.5 billion-year-old solar system keeps on growing:

It includes Saturn’s rings, Pluto’s atmosphere, oxygen on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, geysers on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, as well as ice on Mercury on the asteroid 24 Themis.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has enigmatic plumes.

And then there’s Ceres.

The dwarf planet is geologically active though it shouldn’t be in a very old universe.

New research features Ceres’ bright spots. According to New Scientist:

These spots are telling a story of a younger, more geologically active Ceres than researchers expected. That’s because we would expect material ejected by impacts to mix eventually and create a uniform surface.”

The most logical explanation is that there hasn’t been enough time.

Source:

McKinnon, Mika. 2017. The mysterious bright spots on Ceres may have a common origin. New Scientist (2 October).

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Big Cretaceous Frog May Have Eaten Small Dinosaurs, Study Suggests

Dino eater's descendent? Image courtesy of Mauricio Rivera Correa, CC BY-SA 2.5.




Joel Kontinen

Named after an ancient Canaanite god, an extinct frog that lived in Madagascar could probably bite so hard that small dinosaurs were in danger of ending up on its menu.

'Bite force research reveals dinosaur-eating frog' was the title of a recent article in Science Daily.

The article is a report on research published in the journal Scientific Reports on how hard modern South American horned frogs could bite.

The study authors assume that the frog Beelzebufo lived some “68 million years” ago and resembled modern South American horned frogs in many ways.

They propose that it could have had a bite force of almost 2200 Newtons (N), which is roughly the same as that of wolves or tigresses.

Frogs have amazing design features and they confirm the after its kind principle introduced in the Book of Genesis.

The study shows that frogs, whether big or small, are frogs, and at least some frogs haven’t yet had the time to turn into princes.

Dinosaurs were supposed to rule during the Cretaceous Era, but research suggests that modern mammals and modern birds were also living at that time.

Source:

University of Adelaide. 2017. Bite force research reveals dinosaur-eating frog. Science Daily. (20 September).

Friday, 29 September 2017

Live Science Features the Eiffel Tower but Fails to Disclose the Inspiration Behind Its Structure: Our Thighbone

Image courtesy of Benh LIEU SONG, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Biomimicry or copying design features seen in living organisms has become a lucrative research field, as the originals are almost always better than what human engineers could have come up with.

One of the oldest examples of biomimicry is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. French engineer Gustave Eiffel studied the work of anatomist Herman von Meyer.

Eiffel was especially interested in the strength of the human femur. Writing in Answers magazine, Dr, Don DeYoung explains:

In the 1850s, Meyer had studied the human femur, or thighbone, which connects to the hip. This bone, the largest in our body, has an unusual off-center ball joint that fits into the hip socket. For strength, the bone’s curved head has many internal bone fibers, called trabeculae. These bone fibers crisscross each other in layers and are precisely aligned to withstand the varying forces of tension and compression. As a result of this ingenious design, the femur efficiently supports and transfers the off-center weight of the person. The femur’s ball joint may look awkward, but it functions superbly for a lifetime of movement unless bone disease interferes.”

He goes on to say that Eiffel made use of Swiss engineer Karl Cullman’s discovery, viz. that the “trabeculae fibers closely resembled the struts and braces used in buildings.”

Thus, the Eiffel Tower could “be built with a minimum amount of iron for maximum strength.”

Built in 1899, at 324 metres (1,063 feet), it was the once highest building in the world.

In a longish article, Live Science omits the source of this design.

However, it could be more honest to give credit to whom credit is due.

It is no secret that inventors have copied most of their basic designs from creation.

We can see examples of amazing design and hi-tech solutions almost everywhere.

Let us not forget that God is the original Inventor. Humans merely copy his designs.

Sources:

DeYoung, Don. 2009. One Leg Up On Architects. Answers 4 (4): 58–59.

Palermo, Elizabeth. 2017. Eiffel Tower: Information & Facts. Live Science (September 28).

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

More Soft Tissue: Original Pigment Found in Late Cretaceous Dinosaur Eggs

See any colours here? Image courtesy of Wiemann et al. PeerJ, 2017.





Joel Kontinen

Darwin’s theory never predicted the discovery of soft tissue in fossils assumed to be tens if not hundreds of millions of years old.

Yet hardly a month goes by without the news of original protein or some sort of unfossilised bone being dug up.

We would definitely not expect to find so old soft tissue.

Researchers have found soft tissue in dinosaurs, fish, marine reptiles, birds and even Cambrian creatures.

A paper recently published in the journal PeerJ features the discovery of original pigment in a Late Cretaceous (i.e. “70–66 million year” old stratum).

According to the abstract,

The eggshell parataxon Macroolithus yaotunensis can be assigned to the oviraptor Heyuannia huangi based on exceptionally preserved, late developmental stage embryo remains. The analyzed eggshells are from three Late Cretaceous fluvial deposits ranging from eastern to southernmost China. Reevaluation of these taphonomic settings, and a consideration of patterns in the porosity of completely preserved eggs support an at least partially open nesting behavior for oviraptorosaurs. Such a nest arrangement corresponds with our reconstruction of blue-green eggs for oviraptors. According to the sexual signaling hypothesis, the reconstructed blue-green eggs support the origin of previously hypothesized avian paternal care in oviraptorid dinosaurs. Preserved dinosaur egg color not only pushes the current limits of the vertebrate molecular and associated soft tissue fossil record, but also provides a perspective on the potential application of this unexplored paleontological resource.”

Pigment has been found in even “older” fossils.

The expression ‘fluvial deposits’ almost always refers to burial by an abundance of water. The most likely period for this was the global flood that devastated the early earth in Noah’s days.

Source:

Wiemann Jasmina, Tzu-Ruei Yang et al. 2017. Dinosaur origin of egg color: oviraptors laid blue-green eggs. PeerJ 5:e3706.

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).

|

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).


Monday, 11 September 2017

Fossil Fish Discovery Suggests the Darwinian Water-to-Land Crawl Is Flawed


Latimeria chalumnae is a lobe-finned fish that did not leave the sea.




Joel Kontinen

The evolutionary story we have written to explain our ancestors’ move from sea to land may need a rethink,” Colin Barras writes in New Scientist.

But then he continues with the very story that he says needs a rethink, or has to be thrown out due to a dire lack of evidence:

Roughly 360 million years ago, one group of lobe-finned fish began evolving into four-legged, land-living animals that resulted in reptiles, amphibians and mammals like us.”

Perhaps it would be good to remember that the original dino fish or the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae is a lobe-finned fish that did not leave the sea.

Evolutionists once assumed that it became extinct together with the dinosaurs, but some 200 living specimens have been found. This hardy living fossil has hardly changed in “380 million years”.

A paper recently published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution looks at a lobe-finned fish known as Hongyu chowi. Discovered in China in 2002, the 1.5 metres (5 feet) long creature does not fit into the Darwinian tree of life.

As it has features that it shouldn’t have, researchers had to invoke convergent evolution to hammer it onto the fallen tree.

Convergent evolution is often used in attempts to fix Darwinian dilemmas, but it often serves to make them worse.

Rhizodus, A distant relative, might have looked like this. Image courtesy of DiBgd, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Source:

Barras, Colin. 2017. Weird fish fossil changes the story of how we moved onto land New Scientist (4 September).

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Humans Are Still Evolving, New Study Claims

Reconstruction of Homo habilis. Many paleoanthropologists now believe that this species doesn’t even exist. Image courtesy of Lillyundfreya, CC BY-SA 2.5.





Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists seem to have a hard time pondering whether or not we are still evolving.

Last year, research suggested that human evolution has not stopped.

Now, Joseph Pickrell at Columbia University in New York and colleagues published a paper in PLoS Biology, suggesting that we are indeed evolving, albeit slowly.

How did they discover this?

They found that a variant, of the gene CHRNA3, which is often associated with heavy smoking, has become rarer.

An article in New Scientist also mentions that a variant of the gene ApoE4 that is “known to increase the risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cardiovascular disease, may also be getting rarer.”

So, it seems that researchers have noticed some tiny changes in human gene variants. But it is still a long way to Tipperary (or anywhere else).

There are better explanations for why people smoke less (or not at all) or have become less prone to Alzheimer’s: epigenetic changes resulting from leading a healthier lifestyle (i.e., more exercise and a wholesome diet).

Source:

Le Page, Michael. 2017. Alzheimer’s and smoking genes suggest we’re still evolving. New Scientist (5 September).


Thursday, 7 September 2017

A Third of UK Adults Question Evolution

Not from rocks. Many atheists question the evolutionary origin of consciousness.



Joel Kontinen

Darwinism does not fare well in Darwin’s homeland. An online survey of 2,129 UK adults conducted by YouGov between 12th May and 6th June 2017 indicated that almost a third of Brits over 16 question evolution.

A similar study was also done in Canada.

Both surveys had unexpected results. While most respondents believed in some sort of evolution, even many atheists had doubts about human evolution and the origin of consciousness.

According to the press release announcing the results:

Over 1 in 10 UK atheists (12%) and nearly 1 in 3 Canadian atheists (31%), somewhat agree, agree or strongly agree with the statement: ‘Animals evolve over time but evolutionary science cannot explain the origins of human beings’.”

And

"Nearly 1 in 5 UK atheists (19%) and over 1 in 3 of Canadian atheists (38%), somewhat agree, agree or strongly agree with the statement: Evolutionary processes cannot explain the existence of human consciousness.”

Commenting on the results, Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker says, “It is not just that some religious people have questions about human evolution it is that some humans have questions about human evolution!”

The survey also included a somewhat misleading ingredient, as it equated creationism with the option “Humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current form”.

9% of UK respondents and 15% of Canadians chose this view.

However, few, if any, creationists believe that animals haven’t changed since the days of Eden.

The fixity of species is a Darwinian myth. Genesis tells us that kinds don’t change into other kinds, but we still have hybrids like ligers (lion + tiger).

I suspect that many evolutionists won’t welcome the results. In 2009, after a survey found that most Brits doubted Darwin, Richard Dawkins diagnosed them as being pig ignorant.

And not much has changed since then, except that Dawkins has been referred to as the ultimate grumpy old man and has been banned by progressives for offending Muslims.

Sources:

Elsdon-Baker, Fern. 2017. A third of UK adults question evolution. Does that matter? New Scientist (6 September).

Hall, Alexander. 2917. Results of major new survey on evolution. Science and Religion Spectrum (5 September).

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, Lizards And Raven-Sized Birds Buried Together in Madagascar Mass Grave

An article in the journal Science suggests algae killed the dinosaurs and other creatures in Madagascar, but there is a better explanation. Image courtesy of Felix Andrews, CC BY-SA 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

How could we get a mixed assortment of animals into the same mass grave?

If we rule out the global flood of Noah’s day, we will have to resort to storytelling. This is exactly what Science recently did:

“Seventy million years ago, they all came to drink in the rapidly drying river: long-necked sauropods, fierce theropods, crocodiles, lizards, and raven-sized birds. They never left. The giant and the tiny were entombed together in the riverbed, forming what is now a spectacular series of mass graves in northwestern Madagascar. Last week, researchers proposed a culprit behind this ancient mystery: harmful algal blooms (HABs), in the very water that had lured the animals.”

The buried creatures display the classical dead dino pose, with the neck and head bent back, which suggests suffocation.

The Science article prefers to see algae as the cause thought there is no direct evidence of it.

A more plausible – and logical – explanation is the Genesis Flood that has left many other graveyards as well as other marks all over the world.

Source:

Gramling, Carolyn. 2017. Did tiny algae fell mighty dinosaurs? Science (29 August).

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Another Neanderthal Invention: They Made “First” Glue

Neanderthals spiced their food with herbs like these.




Joel Kontinen

Once upon a time, Neanderthals were thought to be very primitive. Darwinists initially hailed them as the first apemen.

But with an increasing number of their artefacts being discovered, Neanderthals are beginning to look fully human.

Many recent discoveries have shown that they were clever inventors.

New research published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that Neanderthals made the world’s oldest glue some “200,000 years” ago. They obviously extracted tar from birch bark and heated it above a fire.

They used it to fix the point of a spear to the shaft.

This follows a long string of inventions, including cave art, string and even abstract art –thousands of years before Picasso.

In the model based on Genesis, Neanderthals are descendants of Noah.

They mostly lived in caves during the harsh ice age winters after the global flood, but they obviously also knew how to sail.

Source:

University of Leiden. 2017. How Neanderthals made the very first glue. Science Daily. (31 August).

Friday, 1 September 2017

Engineers Copy ID Icon’s Technology in Robot with a Rotating Coiled Tail

Image courtesy of LadyofHats, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Bacteria are anything but simple. They are full of hi-tech devices, such as the bacterial flagellar motor.

A new paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters features a robot designed to move through sand or snow.

By borrowing from biology, a new robot with a rotating coiled tail can move through loose powders at a good clip, making it useful for search and rescue missions or exploration,” New Scientist explains.

The article goes on to say:

Many bacteria use rotation to help them move through gooey fluids, powered by propeller-like tails. Similarly, seeds of some plants such as geraniums have a coiled appendage called an awn that helps push them deeper into the soil.

Enthused by these natural approaches, Baptiste Darbois Texier and his colleagues at the University of Santiago in Chile 3D-printed a plastic robot that can twist itself through granular substances. It is 12 centimetres long, with a hemispherical head and a helical tail. When moving, the head stays still as the tail rotates
.”

Biomimicry or imitating intelligent designs seen in nature has become a flourishing area of research. The bacteria and seed -inspired robots might be used for “collecting environmental information in areas that are inaccessible to people – for example, in disaster zones, battlefields or space,” New Scientist quotes Wonjung Kim at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea as saying.

Hi-tech features seen in the animal kingdom include fungi using a water cannon, the ladybird’s folding wings, the hatchetfish’s stealth technology, the chameleon’s tongue and the super sunscreen that some algae, bacteria and fish manufacture.

And many other things.

Source:

Supriya, Lakshmi. 2017. Lizard-bot spins its coiled tail to move easily through sand. New Scientist (31 August).

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Saturn’s Rings Look Too Young for an Old Solar System

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.




Joel Kontinen

New data gathered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft suggest Saturn’s rings might be “100 million years” old.

This would mean that for the first “4,5 billion years” Saturn had no rings.

Previous research has suggested that Saturn might be “2 billion years” younger than the solar system and that the rings may be younger than dinosaurs.

Several planets, such as Mercury and Venus, Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa, Saturn’s moons Titan, Mimas and Enceladus, as well as Pluto also look too young for a “4.6 billion-year-old” solar system.

Source:

Amos, Jonathan. 2017. Cassini hints at young age for Saturn's rings. BBC news (30 August).



Monday, 28 August 2017

Fungi Use Water Cannon to Fire Spores

Fungi use a cannon that is much more sophisticated than a Gatling gun. Image courtesy of Matthew Trump, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Fungi are assumed to be among the oldest living organisms, at least according to Darwinian thinking.

But they are definitely not stupid.

Recently, the Journal of the Royal Society Interface published a paper on how fungi use cannons to spread their spores. New Scientist discloses the gist of how these tiny creatures make use of the laws of physics:

Biologists have long known that the mechanism involved two drops of water interacting with the half-egg shape of spores launched in this way: an elongated drop that forms on its flat side, and a small spherical drop called a Buller’s drop that sits near the rounded base of the spore.

When the drops merge, the loss in surface area releases some of the energy that was maintaining surface tension in the original drops. That is converted into the kinetic energy required to launch the spore away from its parent fungus
.”

Chuan-Hua Chen at Duke University in North Carolina, who wrote the paper with his colleagues, says the fungi use a cannon-like device to fire a cannonball, but it’s a bit more complicated than that:

The Buller’s drop is like the ammunition, and the shared flat surface of the other drop and the spore is like the cannon bore that decides which direction it will go,” he says.

New Scientist explains what then happens:

The merger of the two drops imparts momentum that can have the spore moving at up to 1 metre per second, although air drag quickly slows it down.

Travelling just a centimetre horizontally is enough to allow it to be carried away by the breeze, instead of dropping back down close by
.”

This doesn’t sound very Darwinian.

The research also involves a biomimicry dimension:

Controlling the spore-launching process is also key to applying it in other areas, like self-cleaning surfaces where water droplets latch on to dirt and fling it into the air.”

Many other creatures, such as the bombardier beetle and the spider man snail, also use sophisticated physics.

And that’s not all. Plankton have an in-built device for catching prey. It operates like a Gatling gun that was used in the American Civil War.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2017. Fungi use water droplet cannons to fling spores into the breeze. New Scientist (26 July).




Saturday, 26 August 2017

Molecular Clocks Again Disagree with Fossils, This Time on the Diversification of Mammals


Molecular clocks are nowhere near as accurate as this timepiece. Image courtesy of Alves Gaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Radiometric dating of fossils and the molecular clock approach should in principle give identical dates or at least dates that are in the same ballpark.

In practice, they don’t. Research tends to find fault with molecular clocks, and dating methods are known to be more or less unreliable.

Usually more.

A recent paper on the radiation of placental mammals around the assumed time when the dinosaurs went extinct illustrates this tendency. The authors acknowledge:

The timing of the diversification of placental mammals relative to the Cretaceous–Paleogene (KPg) boundary mass extinction remains highly controversial. In particular, there have been seemingly irreconcilable differences in the dating of the early placental radiation not only between fossil-based and molecular datasets but also among molecular datasets.”

They suggest that the catastrophe that assumedly killed off the dinosaurs left mammals unscathed:

A birth-death-shift analysis suggests that placental mammals underwent a continuous radiation across the KPg boundary without apparent interruption by the mass extinction, paralleling a genus-level radiation of multituberculates and ecomorphological diversification of both multituberculates and therians. These findings suggest that the KPg catastrophe evidently played a limited role in placental diversification, which, instead, was likely a delayed response to the slightly earlier radiation of angiosperms.”

I would suggest a much more logical explanation for the demise of the dinosaurs: the global flood of Noah’s day that was followed by the ice age made conditions very challenging for big reptiles.

Source:

Liu, Liang et al. 2017. Genomic evidence reveals a radiation of placental mammals uninterrupted by the KPg boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (published online on 14 August).

Thursday, 24 August 2017

New Scientist: Thou Shalt Not Bash Darwin

New Scientist tries to defend this Victorian gentleman by bashing his recent biography.




Joel Kontinen

Evolutionists are not pleased with A. N. Wilson’s soon-to-be released book Charles Darwin: Victorian mythmaker, in which this prolific writer and biographer accuses Darwin of plagiarism, bad science and says his thinking led to bad consequences, such as giving inspiration to eugenics and Nazi race laws.

Writing in New Scientist, John van Wyhe takes issue with all of this, claiming that Wilson’s portrayal of Charles Darwin is “error-strewn and tendentious.”

Now, Wilson might have made a few small mistakes in his biography, such as attributing the emergence of the giraffe’s long neck to Darwin’s ideas (it was Lamarck’s), but Darwin made some huge ones, and these cannot be overlooked.

What is more, some of the alleged mistakes van Wyhe mentions, for instance, overlooking “hundreds, thousands of examples of transitional fossils,” are not mistakes at all.

Many alleged transitional fossils, such as Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik, are highly suspicious.

Image courtesy of the Institute for Creation Research.

And when Wilson describes evolution as an “ersatz religion”, he is exactly right. This is attested by statues, such as the one in London’s Natural History Museum. and the importance given to Darwin Day.

Sources:

van Wyhe, John. 2017. ‘Radical’ new biography of Darwin is unreliable and inaccurate. New Scientist (21 August).

Wilson, A.N. 2017. It’s time Charles Darwin was exposed for the fraud he was. Evening Standard (4 August).

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Researchers Discover the Non-Evolution of MRSA

Human neutrophil ingesting MRSA. Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Antibiotic resistance is a prominent argument used by evolutionists. While the journal Nature acknowledged in 2011 that research results “show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use,” the argument has not become extinct.

In 2012, research published in the Journal PLoS ONE found that bacteria that had been isolated from human contact for more than four million years” in a cave in New Mexico were already resistant to antibiotics."

The date is suspect but the discovery – as well as others after it – nonetheless suggested that evolution had nothing to do with antibiotic resistance.

A recent study published in the journal Genome Biology shows that MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) “emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice,” as Science Daily puts it.

The article goes on to say:

The researchers found that S. aureus acquired the gene that confers methicillin resistance -- mecA -- as early as the mid-1940s -- fourteen years before the first use of methicillin.”

While still giving the nod to evolution, Science Daily merely relates how MRSA appeared:

To uncover the origins of the very first MRSA and to trace its evolutionary history, the researchers sequenced the genomes of a unique collection of 209 historic S. aureus isolates. The oldest of these isolates were identified over 50 years ago by the S. aureus reference laboratory of Public Health England and have been stored ever since in their original freeze-dried state. The researchers also found genes in these isolates that confer resistance to numerous other antibiotics, as well as genes associated with decreased susceptibility to disinfectants.”

Bacteria are known to borrow stuff from other bacteria, but horizontal gene transfer or using pre-existing genetic material is not Darwinian evolution.

Source:

BioMed Central. 2017. MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered. Science Daily. (20 July).


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Elon Musk: AL Is a Bigger Threat to Us than North Korea

Image courtesy of Gnsin, CC BY-SA 3.0.




Joel Kontinen

Who’s afraid of artificial intelligence?

"If you're not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea," Elon Musk tweeted on 11 August.

The billionaire businessman has previously suggested that
humans are living in a computer simulation
.

Now, however, he has begun to echo Stephen Hawking, who has previously warned us of the very same danger.

The threat is more sci.fi that anything else. Machines can only do what they are programmed to do.

Could this fear stem from the naturalistic worldview in which mind is assumed to have arisen from matter?

In real life, it doesn’t.

Source:

Chow, Denise. 2017. Elon Musk: AI Poses Bigger Threat to Humanity Than North Korea. Live Science (16 August).

Friday, 18 August 2017

Flying Mammals Flew Over the Heads of Dinosaurs

The Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) just got a new ancestor. Image courtesy of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, public domain.





Joel Kontinen

The fossil record can be a nightmare for Darwinian evolution, as animals often appear fully formed in the wrong places, don’t evolve for aeons and any assumed intermediate forms (aka missing links) tend to be more or less suspicious.

The recent discovery of two Jurassic Era mammals – Maiopatagium furculiferum and Vilevolodon diplomyl – reminds us that Darwin-only textbooks are badly outdated.

What is more, Maiopatagium looked like modern flying squirrels.

We already knew that some mammals, such as Repenomamus giganticus that looked a lot like the Tasmanian devil, might have eaten small dinosaurs.

And then there were Jurassic squirrels and flowering plants.

Some mammals predated dinosaurs, if the fossil record is to be trusted.

The Book of Genesis shows us that God created all kinds of animals (but not species) at the same time, so dino-era flying mammals should not surprise us.

Source:

Gabbott, Sarah. 2017. First 'winged' mammals flew over dinosaurs. BBC News (10 August).

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Century Plant and Many Animals Challenge Convergent Evolution

Agave americana blooms only once, at the end of its longish life. Image courtesy of Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0.





Joel Kontinen

A recent article in Nature questions the concept of convergent evolution or the idea that unrelated species share traits.

Kevin Padian mentions a number of creatures “whose adaptations have never been duplicated: the kangaroo, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), the century plant (Agave americana, which blooms only once in its multidecade life) — and humans.”

He could also have mentioned the bombardier beetle, the aardvark, the star-nosed mole and the spiny anteater, for instance.

Agave americana, also known as the century plant, resembles an aloe though it is not closely related to them. While it can live up to 30 years, it only blooms once, at the end of its life, reaching a height of 8–9 metres (25–30 feet).

Like many other organisms, it defies Darwinian assumptions – in a big way.

Source:

Padian, Kevin. 2017. Evolution: Parallel lives. Nature 548, 156–157 (10 August).


Monday, 14 August 2017

Squid’s Vision and Other Designed Features Challenge Darwinian Stories

Fossil squid shows lack of evolution. Image courtesy of Didier Descouens, CC BY-SA 4.0.



Joel Kontinen

Squid are fascinating creatures. They use jet propulsion to dart through the water and can even fly above the surface over a short distance.

They can hide from predators by changing colour.

These are not the only design features in this animal that can rightfully be called a living fossil. Even its ink has not changed in “150 million years”.

Recently, Science published a paper on how squid can see clearly in water:

It’s hard to see underwater, and not just because of the chlorine. The image-producing light rays that enter our eyes have trouble bending and focusing when the water’s density is almost same as that of eye fluid. Sea creatures experience the same problem, but squid use a type of lens notorious for blurry images to correct that, researchers report today in Science. Spherical lenses, like the squids’, usually can’t focus the incoming light to one point as it passes through the curved surface, which causes an unclear image. The only way to correct this is by bending each ray of light differently as it falls on each location of the lens’s surface.”

So far, so good. But then they attribute a cleverly designed feature to blind evolution:

S-crystallin, the main protein in squid lenses, evolved the ability to do this by behaving as patchy colloids—small molecules that have spots of molecular glue that they use to stick together in clusters. The S-crystallins feature a pair of loops that act as the proteins’ sticky patches and attract the loops of other S-crystallins. Globs of six proteins link together during the squid’s larval stage and form a gel that eventually becomes the center of the lens. As the gel becomes too dense with protein clumps, smaller particles struggle to diffuse through, and a new layer of protein packages forms with just under six S-crystallins in each clump. The process continues until the outer edge of the lens is formed with pairs of S-crystallins. This allows light rays to bend a little differently in each region of the lens, which yields a clearer image.”

Invoking evolution is totally unnecessary. A protein does not have the ability to evolve anything.

It is clear that like the intricate trilobite eye, squids also defy Darwinian just so stories about eye evolution.

Source:

Sinclair, Kai. 2017. Watch the secret to a squid’s crystal clear underwater vision. Science (10 August).