Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Homo naledi Turns Out to Be Much Younger Than Expected


Homo naledi. Image courtesy of Lee Roger Berger research team, Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

This has been an interesting week for the evolution of two assumed human ancestors.

First, the journal Science suggested that Australopithecus sediba should be tossed out of the human family tree. Then, National Geographic acknowledged that Homo naledi is “only” 200,000 – 300,000 years old, making it far too young to be a direct human ancestor.

Both discoveries were known to be very controversial.

In 2010 Lee Berger and his team discovered Australopithecus sediba that was once touted as a human ancestor but was later practically tossed aside by some other anthropologists.

Then, in 2015 Professor Berger and colleagues published a paper on what they claimed to be a new human species. Found in a cave in South Africa, their discovery consisted of 1,500 pieces of teeth and bones that were not dated, and some experts thought they might be too young to fit into our family tree.

One of the estimates put their age at 912,000 years BP (before present).

Now, in an interview published in National geographic, Berger suggested that H. naledi might be a lot younger.

For evolutionists, the curved ape-like fingers, small skull and other primitive features of H. naledi are an enigma. They believe that modern H. sapiens appeared some 200, 000 years ago, leaving practically no time for evolution.

Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London thinks that H. naledi might be “a relic species, retaining many primitive traits from a much earlier time.”

Prof. Berger has likened it to the Coelacanth, (Latimeria chalumnae) the living fossil that was supposedly able to retain primitive features for 400 million years.

Others have compared it to the hobbit or H. floriensis that has been the source of heated debate since its discovery in 2003.

And least one thing is sure: there’s no end in sight for updates to our assumed family trees, and artists will hardly have to fear for their jobs until the day comes when Darwinian evolution will be tossed out as pseudoscience.

Source:

Barras, Colin. 2017. Homo naledi is only 250,000 years old – here’s why that matters. New Scientist (25 April).

Monday, 24 April 2017

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Time to Remember What Science Gone Wrong Can Do and What Some Heroic Dissenters Did

The Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. Image: Public Domain.





Joel Kontinen

Just two days after Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many others praised the wonders of consensus science, it’s time for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It is a stark reminder of how far science can go astray. Just over 70 years ago, eugenics was seen as a valid field of research, and Josef Mengele was conducting scientific experiments on Jews at Auschwitz.

Historians will tell us that the Holocaust was inspired by Darwinian evolution. German Nazis sought to help natural selection to get rid of the “unfit”.

Fortunately, among all the destruction, Oskar Schindler and other brave dissenters saved the lives of hundreds of Jews.

Sir Nicholas Winton shipped 669 Jewish children to Great Britain.

Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, teamed with 20 others and smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, some in ambulances and trams between October 1940 and April 1943 and placed them in Catholic homes.

Under the pretext of inspecting the ghetto's sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Mrs Sendler and her assistants went inside in search of children who could be smuggled out and given a chance of survival by living as Catholics,” the Daily Mail reported in 2008, when she died at age 98.

She risked her life in the brave operation and despite being caught in 1943 and tortured, she refused to betray any of her helpers – and outlived those who tried to stop her.

Source:

Dead at 98: Heroic Irena Sendler, who helped save 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis. Daily Mail 12 May 2008.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Does Mother Earth Day Inspire the March for Science?

Mother Earth has become a cultural icon.




Joel Kontinen

It used to be known as Earth Day. The United Nations has gone a step further and re-named it The International Mother Earth Day.

The green ideology behind this move could hardly have been more obvious.

Some would even say that the mushroom is our brother.

Some others want to give apes and rivers the same rights we have.

The post-Christian world wants its share of holy days, such as Darwin Day and Earth Day.

It is probably no coincidence that the March for Science takes place on 22nd April or (Mother) Earth Day.

To mark the day, we have a celebrity scientist (Neil deGrasse Tyson) warning of the dangers “science denial”.

If this sounds like the newspeak introduced by George Orwell, the most likely explanation is that it indeed is.

By this he means being sceptical of consensus science, i.e. Darwinian evolution and human-induced climate change.

It seems that most of the marchers are leaning left politically. Some of them are probably worried about the war on science, which, as we know, is another illustration of Orwellian newspeak.

We should not forget that while we have a mandate to care for Earth, we should certainly not worship it – that would be idolatry.

Sources:

International Mother Earth Day

Staedter,Tracy. 2017. Neil deGrasse Tyson Warns Science Denial Could 'Dismantle' Democracy. Live Science (20 April).


Thursday, 20 April 2017

LHS 1140b: Newly Discovered Super-Earth Might Not Be a Good Place for Life

LHS 1140b. Image courtesy of ESO/spaceengine.org.




Joel Kontinen

The naturalistic worldview can’t tolerate the possibility that we are unique or that our planet might be very special. It requires a universe that is teeming with alien life.

After all, if life evolved on Earth, it should have evolved elsewhere as well, the naturalist thinks.

Thus, from time to time we are bombarded with the news of the discovery of an Earth-like exoplanet that might harbour life.

The latest candidate is LHS 1140b. Described as a “rocky, temperate super-Earth,” it orbits a red dwarf every 25 days, some 40 light years from us.

Red dwarfs tend to be anything but calm, throwing our flares that would soon snuff out all emerging life, but astronomers assume that the star LHS 1140 is unusually calm.

They hope it has liquid water. However, we can’t be sure of that. It might well be wishful thinking.

NASA and other space agencies have made so many false alarms in the past, so it’s best to remain a bit sceptical.

New Scientist discusses five of the best candidates for alien life. None of them are very convincing.

The Trappist system turned out to be a big disappointment after the initial excitement died off, and the other recently discovered “Earth-like” planets – Proxima b, Kepler 186f and GJ 132b – have not fared well, either.

What we know is that Earth’s twin is still missing and will probably remain so, as life only comes from life. It cannot be produced by Darwinian mechanisms.

It has to be created. In the beginning God createdis still the best explanation for why there is life anywhere in the universe.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2017. The five best exoplanets in the galaxy to check for alien life. New Scientist (19 April).

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Amber Discloses “99-Million-Year-Old” Symbiosis Between Beetles and Termites


An artist’s impression of an ancient niche. Image courtesy of Chenyang Cai et al, 2017. Early Evolution of Specialized Termitophily in Cretaceous Rove Beetles, Current Biology.




Joel Kontinen

Symbiosis is not a modern invention. A paper published in the journal Current Biology re-writes the known history of symbiosis between beetles and termites:

Tracking the relationship between ancient termites and symbionts like rove beetles has proved challenging; this new evidence indicates that rove beetles partnered with termites 80 million years sooner than previously thought,” Live Science reports.

The previous record-holding termitophiles were “19 million years” old.

Found in a mine in Burma (Myanmar), Cretotrichopsenius burmiticus are only 0.7 millimetres (0.03 inches) long and look like today’s rove beetles that live in symbiosis with termites.

This shows that there’s hardly anything new under the sun. Most insects trapped in amber look practically the same as today’s animals.

Beetles are living fossils that haven’t changed since the heydays of the dinosaurs.

New discoveries are pushing back the dates when animals lived. If this trend continues, we will sooner or later have all kinds of organisms living at the same time and Darwinian evolution will be in big trouble.

Source:

Weisberger, Mindy. 2017. Amber Tomb Trapped Ancient, Termite-Loving Beetles. Live Science (13 April).

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Live Science Tries to Explain the Ten Plagues of Egypt "Scientifically", and Fails



The Plague of Flies, c. 1896–1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot. Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Easter is the season when sceptics try to cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible.

One of their strategies is to explain away the miraculous in the Bible, but often their brave new theories lack substance.

Jesus’ death is their favourite, but they also have naturalistic versions of other events, such as Saint Paul’s conversion, which according to their view was caused by a meteor.

This time Live Science attempts to give a scientific explanation for each of the 10 plagues described in the Old Testament book of Exodus:

The 1st plague, blood, was probably caused by a red algae bloom colouring the Nile red.

The 2nd plague, frogs, is not so special as frogs tend to drop from the sky every now and then.

The 3rd plague, lice, might be associated with the bubonic plague.

The 4th plague, flies, might have been any wild animal, including some bigger ones, such as snakes, lions or bears.

The 5th plague, livestock disease, could have been caused by rinderpest.

The 6th plague, boils, could have been smallpox.

The 7th plague, hail, might have been caused by an eruption on the Greek island of Santorini.

The 8th plague, locusts, might be a consequence of the Santorini eruption.

However, according to some estimates the volcano on Santorini might have erupted 300 years before Moses' time.

The 9th plague, darkness, was could have been caused by a solar eclipse (which, however, never last for three days) or by ashes from the Santorini eruption.

The 10th plague, death of the firstborn, might have been caused by eating grain infected by the poisonous algae bloom.

But why would this only kill the firstborn, some of whom were still babies, and no one else?

For Live Science, the answer is not even blowin’ in the wind.

In 2010 the National Geographic Channel aired a programme that featured rather similar explanations.

It is probably needless to say that their solutions were not at all credible.

Source:

Live Science Staff. 2017. The Science of the 10 Plagues. Live Science (11 April).

Friday, 14 April 2017

Easter: The Resurrected Christ Lives in Spite of Conspiracy Theories and Fake News


Image: El Greco (1580): Jesus Carrying the Cross, Public domain.




Joel Kontinen

Easter seems to be a difficult time for unbelievers. While Christians celebrate the passion of Jesus Christ that brings salvation for all who believe in Him, atheists and other sceptics try to explain why they are unwilling to accept the testimony of hundreds of reliable witnesses who saw the Lord Jesus alive after the resurrection.

They have invented several conspiracy theories as an excuse for not believing a historical fact.

The Apostle Paul says that Jesus is the Last Adam.

The first Adam brought death into the world by eating from a tree.

The Last Adam overcame death by dying on a tree.

Just in time for Easter, Graham Lawton asks whether atheism is a religion. While he would not agree with my conclusion, atheism requires faith. It relies on a speculative and ever-changing narrative of how we got here.

In contrast, the Bible is based on true history. Jesus’ empty tomb confirms that He is truly risen.

Have a blessed Easter time!

Source:

Lawton, Graham. 2017. Faith of the faithless: Is atheism just another religion? New Scientist (11 April).

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Fractals: Complex, Soothing Beauty in Nature

Fractals are seen in fern leaves.




Joel Kontinen

First, we see an overall pattern. Then, when we take a closer look, we see that the very same pattern is repeated at a smaller scale, and then on an even smaller one.

These patterns are called fractals and they occur everywhere in nature, from fern leaves to the branches of a tree, snowflakes, ocean waves, animal colouration patterns and even Saturn’s rings.

Writing in The Conversation, University of Oregon physics professor Richard Taylor describes this phenomenon:

My scientific curiosity was stirred when I learned that many of nature's objects are fractal, featuring patterns that repeat at increasingly fine magnifications. For example, think of a tree. First you see the big branches growing out of the trunk. Then you see smaller versions growing out of each big branch. As you keep zooming in, finer and finer branches appear, all the way down to the smallest twigs. Other examples of nature's fractals include clouds, rivers, coastlines and mountains.”

Fractals are often seen in tree branches. Image courtesy of Ronan, Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

The great beauty we see everywhere in nature, for instance in the form of fractals, the golden ratio or Fibonacci numbers, challenges naturalistic thinking.

Even in a world that is groaning from the consequences of the Fall, we see amazing beauty in all kinds of everything, from giant galaxies to deep sea creatures.

Source:

Taylor, Richard. 2017. Fractal patterns in nature and art are aesthetically pleasing and stress-reducing. The Conversation (31 March).

Monday, 10 April 2017

Language Evolution Is Still a Naturalistic Mystery

No comprendo. Image courtesy of Thomas Lersch, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.5).



Joel Kontinen

Introducing a new book on language evolution, New Scientist contributor Alun Anderson writes: “I much prefer a speculative account of how language might have evolved to an invocation of miracles.”

Despite its name - The Truth about Language: What It Is and Where It Came From (University of Chicago Press, 2017) - Michael Corballis does not disclose the truth about language.

Anderson begins his review by acknowledging that our language skills are extraordinary:

HUMAN language has long appeared miraculous. It has enabled us to accumulate knowledge, build cultures and conquer the planet, making us a creature seemingly apart from the rest of the animal world.”

Anderson says that Corballis, an emeritus professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, mentions two plausible explanations, only to reject them:

During the 19th century, Alfred Russel Wallace doubted whether natural selection could explain such a unique power. In our century, Noam Chomsky, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology academic who has dominated linguistics for 60 years, has supported a hypothesis that language and thought arose suddenly within the past 100,000 years.

In The Truth About Language, Michael Corballis rejects all such ‘miraculist’ explanations. He lays out a plausible route by which spoken language might have evolved, not from the calls of our primate ancestors, but through stages in which a language of gesture and mime dominated
.”

Corballis suggests that humans acquired language by thinking back on what they had done, for instance on the details of a hunting trip, and on what they planned to do in the future.

This might merely be a just-so story, as both Corballis and Anderson admit. But they have nothing better to suggest.

Language evolution continues to be an enigma for Darwinists for several weighty reasons:

Monkey brains were not made for talking.
Apes cannot learn grammar.
Darwinian stories cannot explain why we speak while apes cannot do so.
Darwinian explanations are merely speculations.
• The Darwinian theory of mind fails to account for language acquisition.

Source:

Anderson, Alun. 2017. How the brain’s ability to time travel may have led to speech. New Scientist (5 April).

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Spider-Man Snail Catches Prey with Lasso

The shell of Thylacodes squamigerus, a close relative of the newly discovered snail. Image courtesy of Chad King (SIMoN / MBNMS), public domain.




Joel Kontinen

All is not well in Darwinland. Several kinds of animals defy evolutionary expectations:

Marsupials should not look like placental mammals, but some do.

Mammals should not lay eggs, but the platypus and the spiny anteater break this rule.

Fish should not sing, but some do.

Spiders are not expected to fly, but spiderlings (i.e., young spiders) can take to the air and let the wind carry them for hundreds of kilometres.

Then there’s the latest discovery of a tiny worm snail called Thylacodes vandyensis. Found in the Florida Keys, it uses its slime in an exotic way. Live Science explains:

T. vandyensis … casts mucous strands in Spidey-style nets to trap plankton and other organic material. Afterward, it hauls in its prizes, eats the gooey net along with whatever food it was able to catch, and recycles the slime to produce a new snare.”

It seems that the lowly snail invented the lasso – or something very much like it.

Source:

Weisberger, Mindy. 2017. Newfound 'Spider-Man'Snail Is an Expert Web Slinger. Live Science (5 April).

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Spiders Defy Darwinian Expectations


Image courtesy of Little Grove Farms, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Spiders keep on amazing us with their skills, Some can glide for over 20 metres, some gather water with their webs.

As David Attenborough puts it, we have yet to invent a material that would be as strong, light and elastic as spider’s silk.

Using their webs, spiderlings can climb hundreds of metres into the air, and with a little help from strong winds, practically fly for thousands of kilometres.

There’s more:

Bagheera kiplingi is a Central American spider that mostly eats vegetables.
Peacock spiders are astoundingly beautiful.

Spiders have remained practically unchanged for aeons. A ”49 million years” old specimen trapped in amber looks very much like today’s spiders, as does an older one dated at ”165 million years”.

They remind us of the wonders of creation as well as the consequences of the Fall.

Source:

BBC Earth. 2017. When Baby Spiders Leave the Nest, They Take to the Air. (1 April).

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Ticks and Blood Cells Haven’t Evolved in “20 Million Years,” Amber Discovery Suggests


Image courtesy of George Poinar, Jr., Oregon State University.




Joel Kontinen

Some animals change over time. Others don’t.

Most of the creatures buried in amber show little or no change in “tens of millions of years”.

Examples include insects such as ants (see an image here; the text is in Finnish), beetles and spiders,things like bird feathers and even flowers.

A new paper by Emeritus Professor George Poinar, Jr. published in the Journal of Medical Entomology adds to the list.

Science Daily attempts to reconstruct what happened:

Two monkeys grooming each other about 20-30 million years ago may have helped produce a remarkable new find - the first fossilized red blood cells from a mammal, preserved so perfectly in amber that they appear to have been prepared for display in a laboratory.”

Discovered in the Dominican Republic, the amber also held a tick and the parasite Babesia microti that still makes life uncomfortable for humans and animals.

Two small holes in the back of a blood-engorged tick, which allowed blood to ooze out just as the tick became stuck in tree sap that later fossilized into amber, provide a brief glimpse of life in a tropical jungle millions of years ago.”

Nothing much new under the sun, it seems. While the dates are inflated, the discovery shows that life in the fallen world has its disadvantages.

Source:

Oregon State University. 2017. Monkey business produces rare preserved blood in amber fossils. Science Daily. (3 April).


Sunday, 2 April 2017

New Darwinian Water to Land Transition Story: Big Eyes Did It

Tiktaalik: I spy with my little eye something beginning with m. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).



Joel Kontinen

Science Daily calls it a provocative study, and it is.

Darwinian tales tend to be goal-oriented or teleological.

Why do we have four limbs? an evolutionist might ask. The answer: because we have a belly.

This brings us to the new water-to-land transition story:

A new study suggests it was the power of the eyes and not the limbs that first led our aquatic ancestors to make the leap from water to land. The researchers discovered that eyes nearly tripled in size before -- not after -- the water-to-land transition. Crocodile-like animals saw easy meals on land and then evolved limbs that enabled them to get there, the researchers argue.”

So, marine animals were able to direct their evolution to get “easy meals”.

This is exactly what biologist Aldemaro Romero warned researchers of in an essay he wrote in 2016: He pointed out that they should not expect to see predestination or preadaptation in biology, as evolution had no plan or purpose.

In other words, the blind watchmaker can’t see.

However, everything in us and the animal kingdom looks designed and the most logical explanation is that it is designed.


Source:

Northwestern University. 2017. Vision, not limbs, led fish onto land 385 million years ago. Science Daily. (7 March).

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Tasmanian Tiger Is an Enigma for Evolution


Those were the days, my friend. Image courtesy of Baker; E. J. Keller, public domain.



Joel Kontinen

The last Tasmanian tiger or thylacine died in captivity in a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania, way back in 1936.

Or that is what we were told.

Now, with rumours of sightings as well as actual sightings of at least four dog-like mammals that could very well be Tasmanian tigers, some of these strange marsupials might still be alive in the wild.

The animals were spotted in northern Queensland at close range, at a distance of 6 metres or 20 feet, and they most probably were not dingoes.

Scientists at James Cook University are investigating whether the animals really are Tasmanian tigers.

For Darwinists, Tasmanian tigers are enigmas. Despite their name, they are not big cats. They look a bit like wolves or dingoes, but like kangaroos, koalas or Tasmanian devils, females carry their offspring in pouches.

The Darwinian explanation for the close resemblance between marsupials and placental mammals is convergent evolution, which really doesn’t explain anything.

They are not closely related, so they should not look alike.

But they do.

Perhaps the best synonym for convergent evolution is Darwinian storytelling. Where there is no evidence, there always is a story, regardless of how unbelievable it might sound.

Source:

Weisberger, Mindy. 2017. Ghost of the Tasmanian Tiger: Scientists Investigate Sightings. Live Science (31 March).

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Early Dino-Era Bird Eoconfuciusornis Looked Like a Modern Bird



Eoconfuciusornis zhengi might have looked like this. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Bird evolution is a fascinating topic, as birds have hardly evolved since they “flew over the heads of dinosaurs,” as an article in Science Daily put it way back in 2015.

For instance, the early Cretaceous bird Hongshanornis longicresta had very modern traits.

Some birds that are assumed to be “130 million years” old looked startlingly like today’s” birds, as the journal Science acknowledged.

Dino-era birds come in many shapes and sizes.

Their feathers haven’t changed in “100 million years.”

Recently, soft tissue was found in Confuciusornis sanctus.

Now, with the discovery of Eoconfuciusornis that Science Daily describes as “the most exceptionally preserved fossil bird discovered to date,” the non-evolution of birds is becoming even more obvious.

Reporting on the discovery of this bird that is assumed to be 130.7 million years old, Science Daily repeatedly pointed out its similarity to modern birds:

This new specimen of Eoconfuciusornis, housed in the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature, in Eastern China, is a female. The ovary reveals developing yolks that vary in size, similar to living birds…

Eoconfuciusornis and its kin, like living birds, was able to cope with extremely high metabolic demands during early growth and reproduction.

Traces of skin indicate that the wing was supplemented by flaps of skin called patagia. Living birds have numerous wing patagia that help the bird to fly… Even more unique is the preservation of the internal structure of the propatagium which reveal a collagenous network identical to that in living birds. This internal network gives the skin flap its shape, allowing it to generate aerodynamic lift and aid the bird in flight
.”

There is a major problem with the article, though. Its title “Scientists make new discovery about bird evolution” is highly misleading. It needs correction.

How about “Scientists make new discovery about the non-evolution of birds”?

Source:

Oxford University Press USA. 2017. Scientists make new discovery about bird evolution. Science Daily (24 March).

Monday, 27 March 2017

Saturn’s Moon Enceladus: Trying to Save Billions of Years by Appealing to Cosmic Collision


It looks youngish. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.





Joel Kontinen

If our solar system were 4.5 billion years old as we’re told, the big moons of Jupiter and Saturn as well as dwarf planets like Pluto and Ceres should be sleepy worlds.

They should definitively not have active volcanoes or sprouting geysers.

But some of them do.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is one of these worlds that do not act their (assumed) age.

New Scientist explains:

Enceladus’ south pole is wounded, bleeding heat and water. Its injury may have come from a huge rock smashing into this frigid moon of Saturn less than 100 million years ago, leaving the area riddled with leaky cracks.”

There seems to be no evidence for this collision. But evolutionists need to explain why the moon looks too young:

The region near Enceladus’ south pole marks one of the solar system’s most intriguing mysteries. It spews plumes of liquid from an interior ocean, plus an enormous amount of heat. The south pole’s heat emission is about 10 gigawatts higher than expected – equivalent to the power of 4000 wind turbines running at full capacity. The rest of the moon, though, is cold and relatively homogeneous.”

Enceladus might also have a global ocean.

This likewise challenges belief in billions of years.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2017. Enigmatic plumes from Saturn’s moon caused by cosmic collision. New Scientist (24 March).


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Soft Tissue Found in Dino-Era Bird Confuciusornis


Confuciusornis. Image courtesy of Laikayiu, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Finding soft tissue in fossils assumed to be tens, if not hundreds of years old, has become so commonplace that evolutionists have begun to believe that soft animal parts can last for aeons.

They have found them in birds, fish, marine reptiles, salamanders, mammoths, and, of course, dinosaurs.

A paper published in Nature Communications discusses a recent discovery:

Here, we document a fossil of an Early Cretaceous bird, Confuciusornis sanctus, which has some strikingly well-preserved soft tissues around its ankle joint. Microscopic analyses of these tissues indicate that they include tendons or ligaments, fibrocartilages and articular cartilages, with microstructure evident at the cellular level.”

This would imply that the bird is at least “100 million years” old.

The paper goes on to say,

Further chemical analyses reveal that even some of the original molecular residues of these soft tissues may remain, such as fragments of amino acids from collagen, particularly in the fibrocartilage. This concurs with accruing evidence that some biomolecules may survive, under exceptional circumstances, over many millions of years.”

A more logical explanation would be that the fossils are not that old. Soft tissue might last a few thousand years in exceptional circumstances, but not for many millions of years.

Source:

Jiang, Baoyu et al. 2017. Cellular preservation of musculoskeletal specializations in the Cretaceous bird Confuciusornis. Nature Communications 8:14779.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Tree-Climbing Crab Fits Nicely into the Creation Model But Is a Big Surprise for Darwinists

It looks like a crab but it climbs trees. Image courtesy of Dr. Peter K. L. Ng;Creative Commons(CC-BY 4.0).






Joel Kontinen

The Genesis kinds can vary more than we might expect. We would tend to believe that crabs live near the beach and burrow tunnels in the sand.

However, that is not the whole story. Recently, researchers found a new species called Haberma tingkok that likes to climb trees.

An article posted on Science Daily introduces this bizarre creature:

Among the crab's characteristic traits are squarish predominantly dark brown carapace, very long legs and orange chelipeds. The species is less than a centimetre long, with the studied specimens measuring between 8 and 9 millimetres, irrespective of their sex. However, the chelipeds of the males appear stout, while in females they are distinctly more slender.

The scientists who found the new species (Haberma tingkok), Dr. Stefano Cannicci, the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong, and Dr. Peter Ng, National University of Singapore, have placed the new species in a small genus, which now contains merely three species …

The discovery of the tiny crustacean once again proves how little is known about the diversity of these crabs in Hong Kong
.”

Haberma tingkok is not the only crab that climbs trees. The enormous coconut crab does so also.

Some crabs are blind and live in caves.

Still, they are all crabs. Like other animals, crabs were created according to its /their kind. Thus a crab will never evolve into a non-crab.

Source:

Pensoft Publishers. 2017. New species of terrestrial crab found climbing on trees in Hong Kong. Science Daily (21 March).

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Human Rights for Ganges River


Image courtesy of Babasteve, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0).




Joel Kontinen

In a world seeped with Darwinian thinking, it is difficult for some people to see that humans are special, made in the image of God.

Animal rights activists, who tend to embrace evolutionary thinking, have for years tried to blur the differences between humans and animals.

In January 2008 a chimpanzee named Matthew Hiasl Pan made headlines throughout the world as activists attempted to get the Austrian High Court to grant it the status of a person. The court refused to do so, however.

In June 2008 the environmental committee of the Spanish parliament approved a resolution that called for the right to life and freedom for great apes.

In early 2010, Thomas White, a professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, caused a stir by suggesting that dolphins should be treated as ”non-human persons."

In 2014, Professor Peter Singer wanted to re-define chimpanzees as people.

In April 2014 animal rights activists claimed that two research chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, were being unlawfully detained.

Some activists are not content with giving human rights to animals. They also want to give them to rivers.

Last week, the Whanganui River in New Zealand became the first river to get human rights. India was quick to follow suit.

BBC News reports:

A court in northern Indian has given the Ganges and Yamuna rivers the status of ‘living human entities’.

The high court in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand said this would help in the ‘preservation and conservation’ of the highly polluted rivers.

It added that the ‘legal status’ ensures that polluting the rivers would now amount to harming a human being
.”

While the motive behind the decision might be excellent, only humans can be “living human entities.

Rivers will remain rivers, regardless of whether they are deemed to be sacred by adherents of a religion or not.

Pollution is a serious issue and so is pretending that inanimate things can be persons.

Source:

BBC News. 2017. India court gives sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers human status. (21 March).

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Brambles Defy Naturalistic Expectations: They Can Crawl

Some brambles like to move. Image courtesy of Anthony Appleyard, public domain.



Joel Kontinen

Flowers and other plants do not fit in well with Darwinian expectations.

Charles Darwin was puzzled by the lack of evidence for the evolution of angiosperms or flowering plants.

The earliest flowers look more or less like today’s flowers.

And plants defy Darwinian thinking in other ways as well. They communicate with other plants. Trees sleep.

Some plants thrive in almost impossible conditions. Some use a clever trick to avoid being eaten. Some use colour to get more energy from the sun.

Recently, BBC Earth introduced yet another feature that makes plants special: brambles can crawl up to 7,5 centimetres (3 inches) a day.

It's their branches that move. Obviously, their roots have to stay where they are.

It seems that even thorny plants that remind us of the Fall described in Genesis 3 defy Darwinian expectations by doing the seemingly impossible.

Source:

BBC Earth. 2017. Time-lapse footage reveals a bramble ‘crawling’(14 March).

Friday, 17 March 2017

Fishy Fish Evolution Story in New Scientist: Blenny Fish Are Evolving into Land Creatures


Tasmanian Blenny (Parablennius tasmanianus). Image courtesy of Nick Eades. Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

New Scientist describes it as evolution in action. A little blenny fish is probably seeking refuge from predators by climbing up and around wet rocks when the tide comes in.

This prompts the popular science magazine to remind its readers of the assumed evolutionary transition from sea to land:

Fish first began crawling onto dry land about 400 million years ago, kicking off an evolutionary chain of events that led to humans.”

Darwinian stories tend to be entertaining but they are often a bit fishy.

But without them, evolution would be boring.

Blenny fish come in many shapes, sizes and colours. New Scientist is reporting on the extraordinary behaviour of blennies living in the waters of Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands:

At low tide, blennies are commonly found swimming in rock pools around the edges of the island. But when high tide moves in, they climb up to dry land and shuffle around the rocks until the tide retreats.”

So, the fish are not moving permanently to land; they only spend some time out of the water, just like mudskippers do.

Some evolutionists thought they saw superfast evolution in mudskippers, but they forgot that these fish would dry out if they didn’t return to the sea.

Like mudskippers, blennies use gills to breath which are good for breathing in water but not so good on land. If they tarry too long on dry land, they will eventually die.

End of evolution.

While fish might behave in bizarre ways, it does not mean that they are evolving into something else.

Even walking fish will not solve the Darwinian enigma as they won’t leave their watery world.

Source:

Klein, Alice. 2017. These fish are evolving right now to become land-dwellers. New Scientist (16 March).


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Time Is Running Out for the Evolution of Multicellular Life

A false-colour image of the recently discovered red algae, courtesy of Stefan Bengtson; CCAL.





Joel Kontinen

Charles Darwin thought that the millions of years he believed in would give him all the time he needed for his theory to get complex creatures from simpler ones.

But recent discoveries are challenging this evolutionary truth. Many kinds of fossils appear way too early, leaving hardly any time for evolution.

And deep time has fatal problems of its own. Radiometric dating often gives too old dates, making the case for Darwinian evolution even more desperate.

New research published in the journal PLOS Biology suggests that the earliest plants resembling red algae are "1.6 million years" old, 0.4 million years older than the previous record-holders.

Scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History discovered the fossils “in uniquely well-preserved sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot in central India.”

Science Daily gives us some details:

The presumed red algae lie embedded in fossil mats of cyanobacteria, called stromatolites, in 1.6 billion-year-old Indian phosphorite. The thread-like forms were discovered first, and when the then doctoral student Therese Sallstedt investigated the stromatolites she found the more complex, fleshy structures. “

Cyanobacteria are a huge problem for evolution. Assumed to be the oldest living fossils, they already had hi-tech technology.

In 2015, an article posted on Phys.org stated:

have an ingenious system to prepare themselves for the coming daylight when it is dark by setting up a large 'antenna'. This antenna helps them capture light energy in an efficient way, while also providing protection against damage to the photosynthesis mechanism of the bacteria.”

The Science Daily article goes on to say:

The research group was able to look inside the algae with the help of synchrotron-based X-ray tomographic microscopy. Among other things, they have seen regularly recurring platelets in each cell, which they believe are parts of chloroplasts, the organelles within plant cells where photosynthesis takes place. They have also seen distinct and regular structures at the centre of each cell wall, typical of red algae.”

It seems that the more we get to know about fossils, the weaker the case for Darwinian evolution becomes.

Sources:

Phys.org. 2015. Blue-green algae efficient in 'harvesting' light (17 December).

PLOS. 2017. World's oldest plant-like fossils show multicellular life appeared earlier than thought. Science Daily. (14 March).

Monday, 13 March 2017

”37-Million-Year-Old” Catfish Fossil Found in Sahara


Catfish. Image courtesy of Derek Dsouza, Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

We might not expect to find fish fossils in the Sahara Desert, but recently researchers dug up a 2-metre (6.5 ft.) long catfish in Wadi Al-Hitan, southwest of Cairo.

It is roughly the same size as today’s largest catfish.

The creature is assumed to be “37 million years” old. Clearly a catfish, it was named Qarmoutus hitanensis.

Evolutionists believe that Sahara was once covered with water. We would agree, although they tend to give inflated dates.

The real watery episode occurred around 4,500 years ago.

The entire world was then covered by water. Thus, we should not be surprised if fossils and huge animal graveyards are found all over the globe.

For Darwinists, fossils are often found in the wrong places. Here are some examples:

Dinosaurs in Alaska, turtle fossils in the Andes, a whale graveyard in the Atacama Desert in Chile, a fossilised tropical forest in Norway and pollen from tropical trees in Antarctica.

The catfish fossil is not the only evidence for Noah’s Flood in the Sahara. The Aloba Arch in Chad, an imposing natural formation, also looks like it was carved by huge amounts of water.

Source:

Drake, Nadia. 2017. Giant Catfish Fossil Found in Egyptian Desert. National Geographic (10 March).

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Our Designed Bones Inspire Crack-Resistant Supersteel


Our bones inspire supersteel. Image courtesy of Sklmsta, Public domain.




Joel Kontinen

We are full of superbly-designed parts. From the tiniest nanomachine in our cells to our eyes, brain and big bones, everything in us is made wonderfully.

Even sceptics have a hard time in trying to doubt design in us, as design is so obvious that engineers are drawing inspiration from our body parts to build better devices.

An article in Science reports on “supersteel”, the latest invention based on the human body:

Our bones are light, tough, and fracture resistant. That’s because of the hierarchical way in which they are built. On the nanoscale, tiny collagen fibers have a laminatelike arrangement, with different layers of fibers oriented in different directions. On larger scales, bones have a latticelike structure and different patterns of voids that make them light and strong. These structures ensure that bone resists the propagation of cracks in any one direction.”

Researchers think that if they mimic the structure of our bones, they could produce a sturdier material than conventional steel. They believe that it is “far more resistant to cracks created by metal fatigue.”

This has far-reaching implications:

That could allow engineers to use the material to build everything from bridges to spacecraft that are less susceptible to catastrophic failure, which can happen when a tiny crack becomes a full-blown fracture.”

3,000 years ago King David said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).

Source:

Service, Robert F. 2017. ‘Supersteel’ modeled on human bone is resistant to cracks. Science (9 March).

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Weird Tully Monster Defies Darwinian Classifications


Reconstruction of T. gregarium. Image courtesy of Nobu Tamura, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).




Joel Kontinen

Some animals are so weird that they don’t fit into evolutionary classifications.

Of today’s creatures, the duck-billed platypus, the spiny anteater and the aardvark are huge puzzles for Darwinians.

There are more in history.

Last year researchers claimed that they had solved the mystery of the Tully monster or the Tullimonstrum gregarium. They believed it was related to lampreys.

However, recent research led by Lauren Sallan (University of Pennsylvania) suggests that this isn’t so. Science Daily quotes him as saying:

"This animal doesn't fit easy classification because it's so weird… It has these eyes that are on stalks and it has this pincer at the end of a long proboscis and there's even disagreement about which way is up. But the last thing that the Tully monster could be is a fish."

Evolutionists believe that T. gregarium lived “300 million years” ago. It probably grew to roughly 35 centimetres (14 inches). But what it was remains an enigma.
.

Source:

University of Pennsylvania. 2017. 'Tully monster' mystery is far from solved, group argues. Science Daily. (20 February).



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

“105-Million-Year-Old” Beetle Shows Lack of Evolution

Beetles come in many shapes and sizes, but they have been beetles for a very long time. Image courtesy of Didier Descouens, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).



Joel Kontinen

Amber might soon become a source of cognitive dissonance for evolutionists. It often shows that Darwin was wrong about change.

Regardless of their assumed age, practically all insects trapped in amber look practically the same as today’s animals, whether they are spiders, wasps or ants.

This stasis is also seen in bird wings and flowers, regardless of whether they’re supposed to be 15 million years old or 100 million years.

New research adds yet another insect to the list:

Named for Charles Darwin, the only known specimen of a newly discovered beetle, Darwinylus marcosi, died in a sticky gob of tree sap some 105 million years ago in what is now northern Spain. As it thrashed about before drowning, more than 100 clumped pollen grains were dislodged from its body and released into the resin. Five grains remained stuck to the beetle itself. Preserved with the beetle in the now-hard amber, the grains reveal that the beetle had been chewing a pollen meal with its jaw-like mouthparts just before it died.”

Symbiosis is a term that comes from the Greek noun συμβίωσις ‘living together’. It describes a win-win relationship involving two different species that both benefit from the relationship. An example would be figs and fig wasps. Without fig wasps we would not have figs, and without figs we would not have fig wasps.

This might also apply to Darwinylus marcosi, the recently discovered beetle, although some plants can be pollinated by a variety of pollinators.

Once again, research shows that animals haven’t changed their habits for aeons. This is exactly what we would expect, as Genesis describes real history, including the account of creation, with animals producing after their kinds.

Source:

Smithsonian. 2017. Mid-Mesozoic beetle in amber stirs questions on rise of flowering plants and pollinators: Smithsonian scientist, collaborators point to growing evidence of rich insect pollinator relationships in deep time. Science Daily. (2 March).

Sunday, 5 March 2017

French Team Claims to Have Partly Solved Darwin’s Abominable Mystery (i.e. the Origin of Flowering Plants)

Welwitschia mirabilis. Image courtesy of Michael O'Brien, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

For Charles Darwin, the origin of flowering plants was an abominable mystery. Beauty did not fit in well into a worldview where there was no design and no Creator. What is more, flowers tend to be very complex.

Evolutionists belief that flowering plants or angiosperms evolved from “simpler” plants called gymnosperms.

Recently, French researchers discovered that a hardy desert plant known as Welwitschia mirabilis might shed light on Darwin’s abominable mystery.

W. mirabilis is a living fossil that obviously can live for a thousand years despite very arid conditions.

Science Daily gives us some background information:

“Darwin long pondered the origin and rapid diversification of flowering plants, describing them as an ‘abominable mystery.’ In comparison with gymnosperms, which possess rather rudimentary male and female cones (like the pine cone), flowering plants present several innovations: the flower contains the male organs (stamens) and the female organs (pistil), surrounded by petals and sepals, while the ovules, instead of being naked, are protected within the pistil.”

Then the article describes the proposed solution to the Darwinian dilemma: Welwitschia mirabilis:

Like other gymnosperms, [it] possesses separate male and female cones. What is exceptional is that the male cones possess a few sterile ovules and nectar, which indicates a failed attempt to invent the bisexual flower. Yet, in this plant (as well as in certain conifers), the researchers found genes similar to those responsible for the formation of flowers, and which are organized according to the same hierarchy (with the activation of one gene activating the next gene, and so on)!”

We would not expect to see an exclamation mark at the end of a paragraph in a scientific article, but there it is.

The article goes on to say:

The fact that a similar gene cascade has been found in flowering plants and their gymnosperm cousins indicates that this is inherited from their common ancestor. This mechanism did not have to be invented at the time of the origins of the flower: it was simply inherited and reused by the plant, a process that is often at work in evolution.”

It’s a clever explanation in which facts and wishful thinking mesh.

While W. mirabilis might resemble some flowering plants, it does not follow that it shows how flowers evolved from gymnosperms.

Flowers appear suddenly and fully formed in the fossil record.

Even the earliest flowers look very modern.

Source:

CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). 2017. Where do flowers come from? Shedding light on Darwin’s 'abominable mystery'. Science Daily. (24 February).

Friday, 3 March 2017

Incredibly Beautiful Deep Sea Creatures Defy Darwinism


Yellow zoanthids. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa.





Joel Kontinen

Stunningly beautiful” might not sound very scientific but it is an authentic and accurate description of one of the deep-sea creatures NOAA’s recent expeditions have filmed.

We might think that the watery world several kilometres below the surface would be dull and grey, but it is not.

It appears to be a big Darwinian dilemma.

The creatures, including octopus, jellyfish, sea butterflies and others, are astoundingly beautiful.

Louis Armstrong recorded the song What a Wonderful World in 1967, and it now seems that the world is even more wonderful than we could have imagined.

As the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes puts it, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11, NIV).

Source:

NOAA Okeanos Explorer. 2017. Daily Updates.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

UFO in the Sea Is a “Cosmic Jellyfish”

Cosmic Jellyfish. Image courtesy of NOAA.





Joel Kontinen

We have just begun to discover some of the most astounding and weird deep-sea creatures, thanks to the expeditions carried out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for instance, a ghost octopus, a deep-sea jellyfish, a sea butterfly and even Christmas lights.

During its ongoing Samoa Expedition, a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) spotted a weird jellyfish at 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) below sea level.

These discoveries challenge Darwinian assumptions. Why would nature care what creatures that practically no one ever sees look like?

They remind us of God who created everything beautiful.

Source:

Ghose, Tia. 2017. Mysterious 'Cosmic' Jellyfish Spotted in Remote Ocean Depths. Live Science (1 March).


Monday, 27 February 2017

Monkey Chants: Darwin’s Long Shadow on European Soccer

Charles Darwin believed that some races were more evolved than others.




Joel Kontinen

From time to time, spectators insult footballers who have a darker skin tone than others. Recently Brazilian midfielder Everton Luiz, who plays for the Serbian team Partizan Belgrade, got to hear monkey chants for a full 90 minutes from Rad Belgrade fans.

The obvious idea behind monkey chants is that dark-skinned people are less evolved than lighter skinned one.

We can thank – or blame – a Victorian gentleman called Charles Darwin for this trend. He gave us an entirely false idea of races.

Darwin introduced this idea in his book Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871):

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time, the anthropomorphous apes. . . will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.” (vol. 1, p. 201).

Descent of Man inspired many other works. The book that John Scopes of the monkey trial fame used in his classes was Hunter’s Civic Biology (1914). It includes some interesting speculations about humans:

"At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America."

Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences.

The Bible shows us clearly that there is only one human race. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve.

Source:

Racist Serb fans torment Brazilian footballer Everton Luiz. BBC News (20 February 2017).

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Weird Darwinian Story: Brightly Coloured Fruit Enabled Our Ancestors to See Colours


A recent Darwinian story features a rhesus macaque. Image courtesy of Einar Fredriksen, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).




Joel Kontinen

In Darwinian stories, the tail often wags the dog.

As the evolution of humans from ape-like creatures is dogma, Darwinists credit evolution for most if not all similarities we have with apes and monkeys.

The latest story features colour vision in us and in rhesus macaques. It is based on observing these monkeys in the wild.

An article in Science explains:

A common genetic variation makes some females have three types of cone cells and others have two. Studies with captive macaques has shown that trichromatic females are faster than their dichromatic peers at finding fruit.”

The article moves quickly from fact to fiction: We have colour vision because some macaques evolved this trait.

What these stories never include are our unique traits.

While apes might be good at swinging from trees, they could never run a marathon.

Unlike us, they were never created in God’s image to walk and run upright on two feet.

Unlike apes, we have a chin, and the golden ratio in us speaks of ornate design that cannot be explained away by Darwinian mechanisms.

Source:

Price, Michael. 2017. You can thank your fruit-hunting ancestors for your color vision.. Science (19 February),

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Trappist-1 System: Newly Discovered Exoplanets Appear to be Uninhabitable


An artist’s impression of two exoplanets orbiting Trappist-1. Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI).



Joel Kontinen


Few topics make headlines as easily as the discovery of Earth-like planets, especially if they are thought to be habitable.

And many people who subscribe to a naturalistic worldview think that the universe is teeming with exoplanets that resemble our good Earth.

Some put the number at 100 billion billion.

Every so often we hear that Earth’s alien cousin or perhaps even twin has been found.

In reality, however, even the most Earth-like exoplanet (Kepler-438 B) is not habitable.

Most exoplanets are more or less weird. For instance, superfast spinning stars show that our Sun is special – and so is Earth.

The latest exoplanet hype features seven supposedly Earth-like planets orbiting the star Trappist-1 discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

Some 39 light years from us, it is a cool dwarf star, and its roughly Earth-sized planets orbit it very close (1.5 to 12 days).

The Trappist-1 system. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.

All the Trappist-1 planets are thought to be habitable, at least in theory. While some astronomers hope to find liquid water on them, these alien worlds might be bombarded with intense solar radiation and they are probably tidally locked like Mercury in our solar system, with the same side always facing its sun.

It seems that just like the nearest exoplanet Proxima b, the Trappist planets might also turn out to be dead and unfriendly worlds.

In contrast, our world is special. God created Earth and filled it with life, just like Genesis tells us.

Sources:

Rincon, Paul. 2017. Star's seven Earth-sized worlds set record. BBC News (22 February).

Witze, Alexandra. 2917. These seven alien worlds could help explain how planets form. Nature News (22 February).


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Little Singing Fish: Big Darwinian Surprise?

Pomacentrus amboinensis is a singing fish. Image courtesy of Monica Gagliano, PLOS ONE 8 (2): e55938, Creative Commons (CC BY 2.5).



Joel Kontinen

According to the Darwinian story, fish should certainly not behave like birds, as they parted ways aeons ago.

However, in the real world animals don’t always follow Darwinian expectations. Just think of the pig-footed bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus), the duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) and the spiny anteater (Tachyglossus aculeatus).

They have mosaic features that make evolutionary classifications practically impossible.

Then there are two tiny dragons. One lives in the sea and the other likes to glide from trees.

And a little lemur also does the gliding trick.

We shouldn’t forget walking fish that are definitely not transitional forms.

But what about singing fish? In 2016, the journal Bioacoustics published a paper on several fish species in Australian waters that did exactly that.

It’s not as pleasant to our ears as most birdsong, though.

It would not be easy for Darwinists to invoke convergent evolution this time.

What it emphasizes is that nature is much more varied than Charles Darwin dared to believe.

Source:

Keenan, Greta. 2016. Fish recorded singing dawn chorus on reefs just like birds. New Scientist (21 September).