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1. BBC NEWS: “Ape gestures ‘show human links’”
Simian use of gestures is the latest evidence of evolution—at least, that’s the impression given by a BBC NEWS article (and others) this week that describes research into how bonobos and chimpanzees gesticulate as a form of communication.
A team of researchers from Yerkes Primate Center at Atlanta’s Emory University, reporting in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describe various gestures apes use to express desires between one another. For instance, “[a] male chimpanzee may beg for food from another chimpanzee by gesturing with an extended arm and open hand.” The article also outlines other meanings of the same gesture.
How does this relate to human evolution? The BBC explains:
The scientists found the apes used gestures more flexibly than the way they used facial and vocal expressions.
They say the findings support the theory that human language developed through the use of hand gestures.
The research team also noted that apes gesture using their right hands, which are controlled by the brain’s left hemisphere—the same hemisphere housing the language control center. This, of course, is treated by evolutionists as further support of the ape-gestures–human-speech connection.
The problem with using these findings to “support” evolution, however, is that one must already accept the evolutionary hypothesis to accept that ape gestures are the foundation of human language. For an evolutionist—who already believes common ancestry explains the similar morphology and mildly similar behaviors between apes and humans—such further similarities are merely “more evidence” of our connection. For a creationist—who accepts that similarities in physical features, behavior, or intelligence are the result of common design—apes’ gesturing abilities are merely further evidence of common design. Specifically, this behavior was merely chosen by the Designer for apes to exhibit, just as He bestowed language on the first man.
Ultimately, comparisons of similar ape and human behavior support the evolutionary hypothesis no more than similarities in high-end and low-end car models support the idea that one evolved out of the other. Common design explains both scenarios.
(One last note: a similar article last week applied evolutionary theory to canine behavioral intelligence. Rather than convince us of evolution, the article merely gives another example of the relative intelligence many creatures have been given.)
2. LiveScience: “Parasites Evolve from Bad to Good”
Charles Q. Choi, writing for LiveScience, describes the “surprisingly rapid” evolution many parasites exhibit that causes them “to become helpful instead of harmful.” In particular, Choi reviews research evolutionary biologist Andrew Wells and colleagues at the University of Melbourne have conducted into Wolbachia, a microbial parasite that—the team discovered—actually aids its host by boosting its host’s fertility.
Wells’s theory is that, while parasites are traditionally thought as disabling their hosts’ survivability (as Wolbachia can do), parasites can also benefit from boosting their hosts’ rates of reproduction and, thus, improving their own chances of spreading to new hosts:
[I]ntuition suggests that in order to prosper, these microbes should try and evolve ways to crank up the number of offspring that their hosts birth in order to infect more victims.
“We had a very thorough theoretical analysis which suggested that this could and should evolve, but we had no idea of the timeframe that this might take,” Weeks said.
In other words, Wells et al. expected Wolbachia may eventually evolve from a detrimental parasite to a beneficial symbiont, but, per evolutionary preconceptions, thought this transformation would occur over a long timetable (thousands or millions of years). Imagine the team’s surprise after discovering that, during the 20 years that Wolbachia’s effects have been studied, its effects have dramatically shifted from a 20% reduction in host fertility to a 10% boost.
“We just didn't expect it to happen so quickly,” Weeks told LiveScience. […] Such a dramatic evolutionary change is traditionally thought to take place over thousands to millions of years, and not in just two decades, “although it is becoming clearer that evolution does work on such short time scales,” Weeks said.
Chalk this up as yet another example of rapid “evolution”—the sort that not only goes against traditional evolutionary thought, but also supports the idea of rapid post-Fall and post-Flood speciation that explains the diversity of animal species existing today that have descended from the original created kinds.
Also, although Wells and his team are “uncertain how exactly Wolbachia triggers such fertility,” we are confident Wolbachia’s ability (and, hence, its “evolution”) is not the result of information-gaining mutations, but instead the result of natural selection sustaining the existing, successful Wolbachia genomes that already contain the genetic information to boost host fertility.
3. National Geographic News: “Photo in the News: Oldest Lobster Fossil Found in Mexico”
The “living fossil” for this week is “the world’s oldest lobster,” according to National Geographic News, which reports on a fossil lobster found in Mexico in 1995. In a press release on Monday, scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico announced that the late crustacean had been dated “at 110 million years old,” some 20 million years older than other specimens have been dated. (National Geographic News does not report what method scientists used to date the lobster.)
This announcement echoes the two standard “living fossil” discoveries: first, scientists express awe that this creature’s supposed evolutionary process started earlier than once thought:
“The important message that we can give is that the evolution of these groups of crustaceans needs to be reviewed, since the specialists of the world thought that it started much later[.]”
And second, scientists express amazement that the creature’s morphology has remained largely unchanged throughout the alleged millions of years:
“We could call them living fossils, since they have had a consistent morphologic pattern throughout many millions of years.”
Living fossils, surprises to evolutionists, confirm the creationist view of biological history as represented by the “orchard” as opposed to the single “tree” of evolution. Rather than finding transitional forms in the rocks that clearly depict steady, gradual evolution over time, scientists mostly discover fossils that are easily identifiable and closely resemble life-forms that survive to this day with only minor differences.
4. AP: “ New Noah's Ark ready to sail”
Johan Huibers’ one-fifth-scale replica of the famous boat opened its big door to visitors last Saturday in the Dutch city of Schagen. The replica was built “mostly with [Huibers’s] own hands” as “a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible.”
The Associated Press describes the cedar-and-pine Ark replica in “old biblical measurements,” putting it at “150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide […] two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house.” Huibers began construction just two years ago.
Unsurprisingly, the AP reports visitors “stunned” reaction to the Ark replica. One quotation is particularly telling:
“It’s past comprehension,” said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when they saw the ark looming over the local landscape.
“I knew the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big.”
If people are so surprised at the size of a one-fifth-scale replica of the Ark, imagine the awe that the real Ark would inspire! Yet sadly, ignorance of the size of the Ark has led many to doubt the historicity of the Flood account in Genesis. Flooded by images of small, sea-unworthy “bathtub arks,” many assume the true Ark could never have accommodated enough animal life. In reality, careful consideration of the actual size of the Ark, its dimensions, and the animals it was required to host confirms the historicity of the Ark account.
We applaud Huibers for his stand for truth and the hard work he invested in what we hope is an evangelistic effort.1 Huibers’ Ark contains a 50-seat film theater, life-size models of numerous animals, and various exhibits, and will eventually host a top-deck petting zoo.
Meanwhile, stateside, the Creation Museum is set to open in less than one month (May 28). The museum will include a replica of a “small” section of the Ark, in addition to a slew of other fascinating “scenes” from the Bible, science exhibits, and interactive activities.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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