1. MSNBC: “Tooth Discovery Suggests Neanderthals Traveled”

They may not have traveled in minivans and RVs, but a tooth found in Greece suggests Neanderthals roamed the earth more than was once thought, according to research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The tooth, allegedly 40,000 years old, belonged to the only Neanderthal remains discovered in Greece. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology analyzed the enamel for ratios of strontium isotopes. Strontium, a metal, occurs naturally in food and water, but exact levels fluctuate from area to area. By examining the enamel, the scientists determined that this particular individual grew up at least 12.5 miles from where the remains were found.

Some scientists, such as paleoanthropologist Katerina Harvati of the Max Planck Institute, hailed conclusions from the find: “Our findings prove that their mobility was significant and that their settlement networks were broader and more organized than we believed.” Harvati added that such mobility would increase the contact between so-called “modern man” and Neanderthals.

On the other hand, Neanderthal expert and museum director Clive Finlayson expressed skepticism over the significance of the find, sarcastically downplaying the find, “I would have been surprised if Neanderthals didn't move at least 20 kilometers [12.5 miles] in their lifetime, or even in a year. . . . We’re talking about humans, not trees.”

Our knowledge of early historic travel and transportation is limited, of course, and 12.5 miles over unpaved terrain—especially if by foot—is obviously a “longer” distance, in a sense, than it sounds now. Whether this distance was the edge of this human’s territory or half of a normal day’s journey, this research reminds us that Neanderthals were not cave-bound proto-humans, but rather—in every respect—displayed the same abilities, intellectually and physically, as (we would say “other”) modern humans. The evidence suggests that ancient man, Neanderthal and non-Neanderthal, were separable only by superficial differences, just as skin color or stature identifies us today—both being descendants of the original man and woman, and thus also bearing the sin of the original man and woman.

2. BBC News: “Bat Fossil Solves Evolution Poser”

Evolutionists’ question of which came first, bat echolocation (like sonar) or bat flight, has finally been answered—we just know that’s a question that’s been on your mind for a while!

A team reporting in Nature describes the Wyoming fossil that answered the question, reversing a widely held view that bats learned to echolocate (that is, using a sonar-like system to track prey) before learning to fly.

All of today’s thousand-plus species of bat have the ability to echolocate, though some larger bats use it less exclusively, relying instead on other senses. But the new fossil find, Onychonycteris finneyi, is “in a category all on its own,” according to the BBC News report. It differs from existing bats by its large claws, “primitive” wings (though the BBC News report does not identify what is primitive about them), broad tail, and an “underdeveloped” cochlea. The cochlea, part of the inner ear, is what gives bats their ability to echolocate. Thus, the team concluded that this supposedly ancient specimen had the ability to fly but not the ability to echolocate. (Although the “underdevelopment” could have been a malformation specific to this individual, rather than a genus-wide trait.)

Without even looking at any other fossils, we must ask the question: since we already know some present-day bats don’t rely on echolocation, and since we know the new fossil differs in many ways from other bats, could it not be that there was once a unique kind (baramin) of non-echolocating bats that were created at the same time as all other bat kinds? Or, even ignoring this possibility, could it be that this bat merely had a reduced ability to echolocate? After all, it is impossible to determine exactly what capabilities the bat had judging solely from the fossilized remains.

Now comes a twist: in 1960, another bat fossil was unearthed from what evolutionists consider the “same” time: the Early Eocene subepoch, some fifty million years ago. Yet this fossil, Icaronycteris index, is “drastically different” than this more recent find. As is common in evolutionary paleontology, when a (presumably) extinct variant of a modern-day creature is discovered in the fossil record, it is labeled “primitive” even when there’s evidence it lived side-by-side with “modern-day” kin. One wonders, if all humans over seven feet tall died out and some were somehow fossilized, would hypothetical future paleontologists deem them a “primitive” variant relative to the rest of us who aren’t so tall? This is similar to what we see with scientists’ treatment of Neanderthals. Yes, there are morphological differences, but there is no evidence that they were in any way more “primitive.”

And as for the common criticism that creationists start with the conclusion and find evidence to match it, the story includes a question from study coauthor Kevin Seymour, a Royal Ontario Museum paleontologist: “when and how,” the BBC article puts it, “bats made the transition from being terrestrial to flying animals.” Talk about presuppositions!

3. National Geographic News: “Modern Birds Existed Before Dinosaur Die-Off”

Birds were around long before the downfall of the dinos, according to new research that studies “discrepancies between results from fossils and genetic analyses” of birds.

Evolutionary interpretations of the fossil record show “modern” birds originating sixty million years ago, five million years (give or take a day) after the supposed dinosaur die-out.

A study that appeared in a recent issue of BMC Biology analyzes research that disagrees with the fossil record, however, dating birds instead through the so-called “molecular clock.” Through this method, teams have dated the origin of birds back to a hundred million years ago—a not-so-minor divergence from what the fossil record supposedly indicates. Lead study author Joseph Brown of the University of Michigan explains that the team’s goal was to “reconcile” all the different estimates.

The team concluded that because of the many different bird families and orders, the molecular clock is “sloppier” than was once thought, according to Brown. Thus, “bad assumptions” about birds’ rates of genetic mutations accounts for the difference between paleontological and genetic dates of birds’ origin.

Commenting on the news, an Ohio University paleontologist, Patrick O’Connor, who was not affiliated with the research, emphasized that “the information we glean from both the fossil record and [living] animals represent complementary data sets—ones that can, and should, be integrated more so than is currently done.”

The study reminds us of the presuppositions and interpretations involved in evolutionary science. When faced with divergent “evidence,” evolutionists come up with explanations for why things are not as they seem, etc. To an evolutionist, this is perfectly reasonable; yet when creationists reconcile various data in the same manner, we are accused of stretching the evidence (said to speak for itself) to fit our underlying, presupposed dogma. But it’s plainly obvious evolutionists do the exact same thing when faced (so often, it seems!) with evidence that doesn’t line up with their dogma. And which changes, their dogma or what the evidence supposedly says? Time and time again, it’s the latter.

4. LiveScience: “New Tape Mimics Sticky Gecko Feet”

A team of scientists publishing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface has come up with an adhesive tape that sticks easily but releases just as easily. The inspiration? Gecko feet.

The tape, which contains millions of plastic fibers, is super-strong, with just a square inch able to support nearly a pound. Furthermore, the material gets stronger with use, tightening its hold, for instance, as it slid along a glass surface. The adhesive detaches with ease when lifted, however, making it ideal for a variety of applications.

Lynn Preston of the National Science Foundation, which funded the team, credit creation (not intentionally, we imagine) for the breakthrough:

“The results of this project are an impressive example of how teaming engineers with biologists results in a better understanding of the role of ‘engineering’ in nature. This is a perfect example of how to turn that understanding into products that are as sophisticated as those developed by ‘Mother Nature.’”

Once again, we listen sadly as a scientist identifies the “creator” of life as Mother Nature but ignores the real Engineer behind all of the incredible designs around us.

For more information:

5. Slate: “Peer-Reviewing the Bible”

Answers Research Journal, our new peer-reviewed journal that publishes papers on aspects of the biblical Creation/Flood model, is still receiving flak from mainstream media.

Slate’s Bonnie Goldstein examined the Instructions to Authors Manual, a multi-page PDF we provide for prospective authors. Goldstein writes, “Here the goal is not to ensure that research meets academic standards of scientific inquiry, but rather to ensure that the scholar's conclusions conform to a literal interpretation of the Bible.” On the contrary, those two are not mutually exclusive; we want to ensure that only good science makes it in ARJ as well as only permitting papers that further the Creation/Flood model—just as secular publications only allow papers that advance the dominant evolutionary viewpoint. At least we’re open about our “bias”!

Goldstein also attacks the opportunity ARJ authors have to suggest peers to review their manuscripts. However, this is a common practice in many journals and has its advantages and disadvantages, just like any system of review. For example, the requirements for the journal PLoS Biology ask, “Have you identified potential reviewers whose e-mail addresses you can provide?” Likewise, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences submission guidelines state, “Authors must recommend three appropriate Editorial Board members, three NAS members who are expert in the paper’s scientific area, and five qualified referees.” Is Goldstein holding creationists to a separate standard, or has she just not done her research?

Finally, Goldstein refers to ARJ’s allowance of pen names for researchers at secular universities. While we would prefer this were unnecessary, the stories of such scientists as Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State University being denied tenure even for vague intelligent design beliefs shows that continuing pseudonymity is important for “closet creationists” trying to successfully earn their credentials before speaking out publicly for creation. This was the case with (for example) AiG’s Dr. Jason Lisle, who published as Robert Newton before earning his doctorate.

The fact of the matter is, creationists have fewer choices when it comes to developing our worldview scientifically; nonetheless, journals such as ARJ offer opportunities to publish well-researched, peer-reviewed scientific papers. As long as creation-model papers are suppressed in “mainstream” science, there is little else creationists can do.

For more information:

6. WDC Media: ”Answers in Genesis Programming Coming to the NRB Network”

Satellite provider DIRECTV’s NRB Network is now broadcasting Answers in Genesis programming on their Tuesday Nature/Science Night.

The NRB Network, channel 378, is available to all DIRECTV subscribers through their base “Total Choice” package. To learn more about the Answers Creation Hour, visit our write-up earlier this week, Tune in to Answers Creation Hour—AiG’s New Television Program. And tune in during the debut hour on this Tuesday, February 19!

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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