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1. BBC News: “Duck-billed dinosaur had big bite”
Trips to the dentist might have been out of the question for the 800-toothed Gryposaurus monumentensis, a two-legged dinosaur discovered in Utah in 2004. The dinosaur’s 800 teeth lined a “very large, strong jaw and beak,” explains the Utah Museum of Natural History’s Terry Gates, one of the authors in a recent Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society study of the creature.
Gryposaurus is the “Arnold Schwarzenegger of duckbilled dinosaurs,” adds Scott Sampson, another Utah Museum paleontologist who contributed to the study. In addition to the dinosaur’s “powerful, strengthened jaw,” it boasted a length of more than 30 ft (10 m).
Frightening as it may sound, though, the scientists describe Gryposaurus as a “very formidable plant eater that “could have sliced through large amounts of fibrous or woody plant material.” However, the researchers are not entirely certain what the dinosaur’s diet was:
“We just don’t know what this dinosaur ate,” [Gates] said.
But whilst the food preferences of the toothy Gryposaurus monumentensis remain a mystery, the diet of other creatures alive at the time do not.
Interestingly, this brings to mind the attacks evolutionists (and compromisers) levy against the Bible’s teaching that all animals were created as vegetarian (Genesis 1:30). Often, animals whose jaws and teeth appear to be suited for eating meat are instead mostly or exclusively plant-eaters, as in the case of the giant panda and certain types of bats and bears; here, the toothy, powerful-jawed Gryposaurus has been categorized as plant eating as well, based on its genus (although its diet is unknown). The argument that certain creatures, such as T. rex, just “couldn’t have been” vegetarian before the Fall is contradicted by creatures we know are plant eating, despite teeth and jaws that appear ferocious. Furthermore, our current uncertainty about what Gryposaurus ate is a refreshingly candid admission that it is difficult/many times impossible to know exactly what happened in the past (particularly what animals ate in Eden) without relying on an eyewitness (which we have in God’s Word: the Creator).
2. Wired Science: “Scientists Mimic Beetle’s Liquid Cannon”
If you’ve been hanging out in creationist circles for some time, it’s almost a sure thing that you have heard of the bombardier beetle (made semi-famous by biochemist Duane Gish in his creation lectures of decades past). For those who aren’t familiar with this impressive (and dangerous!) little bug, here’s an explanation from chapter two of Gary Parker’s book Creation: Facts of Life:
The bombardier is an ordinary-looking beetle, but it has an ingenious chemical defense mechanism. Imagine: here comes a mean ol’ beetle-eater, a toad, creeping up behind the seemingly unsuspecting beetle. Just as he gets ready to flash out that long, sticky tongue, the beetle swings its cannon around, and “boom!” It blasts the toad in the face with hot noxious gases at the boiling point of water, and coats the toad’s tongue with a foul-tasting residue. Now that doesn’t actually kill the toad, but it surely kills its taste for beetles! Pictures show the toad dragging its tongue across the sand trying to get rid of the foul taste.
Successful firing of the bombardier beetle’s cannon requires two chemicals (hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinones), enzymes, pressure tanks, and a whole series of nerve and muscle attachments for aim and control. Try to imagine all those parts accumulating by time, chance, and natural selection. One crucial mistake, of course, and “boom!” the would-be bombardier beetle blows itself up, and there’s surely no evolutionary future in that! Trial and error can lead to improvement only if you survive the error!
In another example of scientists taking design cues from nature (and ultimately nature’s Creator), a team at the University of Leeds in England has engineered a spray nozzle that replicates the bombardier beetle’s (in)famous defense mechanism.
Led by professor of thermodynamics and combustion theory Dr. Andy McIntosh, the team built a nozzle containing a 4/5 inch (2 cm) chamber—about the size of a toy army man’s gun—that can propel liquid an incredible 13 feet (4 m)! The nozzle can also create an extremely fine mist with droplets as small as 2 millionths of a meter. All this based on the bombardier beetle’s rear half!
Swedish Biomimetics 3000, which co-funded the project, believes the technology could be put to use in fuel injection, medical, and agricultural settings.
Also, the name Andy McIntosh may be ringing a bell for some of you readers. Prof. McIntosh is one of many professional research scientists who is also a Bible-believing, young-earth creationist (though we wish that phrase were seen as redundant!). You can read Dr. McIntosh discuss creation in a chapter from In Six Days, or you can watch and listen to him in such AiG DVDs as The Intricacies of Flight and Genesis, Babel & the Chinese Language.
3. National Geographic News: “Plant Networks Can Send Warnings, Spread Viruses”
There’s little doubt that many of us regard the internet as one of humankind’s most notable achievements. But humbling humankind are the seemingly high-tech networks of plants, reports a team from the Netherlands’ Radboud University. According to research recently conducted by Radboud ecologist Josef Stuefer and colleagues, plants such as strawberry and clover use near-ground and underground networks to communicate and share resources.
The plants use horizontal stems known as “runners” that bud off new plants, remaining connected to old plants via the runners. The connections allow plants to communicate such dangers as a hungry caterpillar or insect, prompting the plants to counteract the threat with chemical and physical responses that reduce the overall damage to the plant system.
The information is passed along through the phloem, which plants use to transport organic compounds. That suggests the information is represented by organic chemicals as well.
But just as computer viruses can propagate through a computer network, the plant networks can also spread botanical viruses.
Evolutionists chalk up amazing capabilities like the plant internet to “selective pressures,” as ecologist and evolutionary biologist André Kessler of Cornell University explains, even when they can’t explain the origin of such a complex system that requires information to be encoded by one plant and interpreted by another. Of course, this is one of many examples of nature around us exhibiting far greater complexities than humans could have imagined even decades ago—complexities of design that extol the creative genius of the Creator.
4. LiveScience: “Bird Makes Longest Non-Stop Flight”
[We covered an update to this story in the October 25, 2008, edition of News to Note.]
In addition to the Internet, humankind loves to marvel at machines that go faster and farther, it seems, with each passing decade. The century of the airplane eventually gave rise to craft that could fly incredible distances with only in-flight refueling or no refueling whatsoever, although these remain the exception rather than the rule.
But a recent shorebird’s flight reminds us that human engineering is merely an attempt to re-create God’s original designs. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey tracking a female Bar-tailed Godwit last month were amazed to “observe” (via satellite) its flight from New Zealand to Alaska and back. The trip covered a distance of 18,000 miles (29,000 km); the birds “commute” between summer breeding grounds in Alaska to winter homes in New Zealand and Australia (where it is summer during the northern winter).
The flight included the longest recorded nonstop flight for a land bird, lasting eight days and stretching for an incredible 7,200 miles (11,600 km).
Once again, human achievements are put to shame by these birds’ almost unbelievable capabilities. And in case you didn’t catch it last week, be sure to read about how these birds “see” the earth’s magnetic field as they navigate such vast distances.
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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