1. NSF: “Details of Evolutionary Transition from Fish to Land Animals Revealed”

The supposed missing link Tiktaalik is back in the news again, rearing its ugly “evolutionary” head on the supposed transitional element of a mobile neck.

A new study published in Nature takes a look at skeletal features other than the fish’s fins, which have previously been the centerpiece for claims that it was evolving into a land dweller. Specifically, the new study looks at the specimen’s internal head skeleton.

According to the paleontologists who discovered Tiktaalik, the fossil has just the right combination of features that overlap between fish and primordial tetrapod—the perfect missing link, as it were. Of course, since evolutionists need to find missing links to corroborate Darwinism, it’s perhaps no surprise that this latest study turned up more overlapping features.

Jason Downs, a scientist at the Academy of Natural Sciences, was lead author of the new study. According to Downs, “the braincase, palate and gill arches of Tiktaalik help reveal the pattern of evolutionary change in this part of the skeleton.”

The first such patterns listed by the news release are “[t]rends in head shape include a flattening of the skull and a lengthening of the snout.” Yet consider, for instance, the variation in the head shapes of the many, many types of fish and aquatic creatures. To describe Tiktaalik’s head as part of a trend is 100% evolutionary interpretation.

Reuters reports, “It was a large aquatic predator, measuring up to 9 feet long, with sharp teeth and a flattened head like a crocodile and unlike primitive fish.” And that’s exactly what we can actually know from the fossils (except the predator bit, which the fossil only hints at with its sharp teeth). Anything more is speculation based on the observer’s underlying presuppositions.

The interactions between other parts of the head skeleton are also described as “changing,” something clearly impossible with fossilized skeletons. The change isn’t in the fossil record; it’s occurring in the minds of those who already believe in evolution. And even if there’s a clear evolutionary explanation for why a particular structure would be advantageous, that doesn’t mean it evolved.

So when the University of Chicago’s Neil Shubin (one of the codiscoverers of Tiktaalik) claims, “Tiktaalik neatly fills this morphological gap, and helps to resolve the timing of this complex transition,” it is only because he presupposes that morphological similarities indicate where a creature belongs in an evolutionary lineage. This is the same logic that says a middle-sized horse must be the intermediary between a small horse and a large horse, when in fact we see all three alive today. But when a creature is only known from the fossil record, evolutionists are free to speculate about its role in the evolutionary process.

Don’t believe us? We’ve heard the story before, with coelacanths, a fish once known only from the fossil record. The lobed fins on the fossil specimens fueled evolutionary claims that it walked on the ocean floor and evolved into a land-walking tetrapod.

Imagine evolutionists’ surprise when, in 1938, a live coelacanth was found swimming—not walking!—in the ocean off the African coast. Apparently the coelacanth was unaware that it was supposed to have been a transitional form extinct for 65 million years! More have been found in recent years, and the lobed fins are clearly used just to help the fish swim.

Besides, evolutionists still haven’t shown they can explain how random genetic mistakes (mutations) can account for the genetic information to create working, useful anatomical features.

So while National Geographic News reports that Downs said, “What’s most surprising about Tiktaalik is that, really, it’s not surprising at all” and added that “Tiktaalik fits so neatly into the fossil record,” we’d say it actually fits so well because evolutionists have interpreted the sparse Tiktaalik fossils into the evolutionary mold they already had in mind.

2. Tufts University: “Researchers Uncover World’s Oldest Fossil Impression of a Flying Insect”

The world’s oldest (allegedly) fossilized impression of a flying insect wasn’t found in a rock quarry in an exotic setting; it was found behind a strip mall in suburban Massachusetts.

Paleontology lecturer Jake Benner and geology student Richard Knecht from Tufts University learned of a fossil location in Massachusetts from a master’s thesis authored in 1929. Now located in a wooded field behind a strip mall, the site yielded an interesting treasure: the fossilized impression of a flying insect they believe is the oldest ever found.

While the news release calls the flying insect “primitive,” fossil impressions are merely rough indications of the creatures that made them—not the remains of the creatures themselves. Thus, we can imagine an evolutionary interpretation helping the scientists “flesh out” the fossil impression and giving them the idea that it was primitive. With the help of University of Kansas entomologist Michael Engel, the scientists have concluded the insect may be related to the mayfly.

The impression, which is about three inches long, has been labeled 300 million years old. (See a LiveScience photograph of Knecht with the impression.) This is apparently based on dating of the layer, as the impression was found in rock associated with the Carboniferous Period. Benner and Knecht also found the tracks of amphibians and other creatures at the site.

According to Benner, the fossil impression “captures a moment in time over 300 million years ago when a flying insect just happened to land on a damp, muddy surface leaving almost a perfect impression of its body behind.” The press release also points out that bodies of “primitive flying insects” are rarely preserved.

Of course, as most readers are probably aware, ordinary conditions do not result in muddy surfaces turning into rock—or tracks and other impressions becoming fossilized. The rare impression was likely made just before or during catastrophic processes that transformed the sediment into a layer of what is now rock. Add in the old-age interpretation of that layer’s age, along with the evolutionary corollary of how “primitive” the find must be, and—voilà!—we’ve got news.

3. Cell Press: “Despite ‘Peacenik’ Reputation, Bonobos Hunt and Eat Other Primates Too”

They may not be outright cannibals, but even so, bonobos are decidedly less “humane” than once thought.

Bonobos, siblings to the common chimpanzee, were once thought to be the “hippies” of the primate world. For example, the Encyclopedia Britannica claims, “In rare instances, they have been observed eating bats, flying squirrels, and even young duikers (small antelopes). Unlike chimpanzees, bonobos do not hunt monkeys but instead play with and groom them.” Despite the fact that they still hunted at times, they were nonetheless quite civilized, right?

Wrong. Researchers recently observed (on multiple occasions) bonobos capturing small tree monkeys—and not to play with them or groom them, mind you! A news release reports that “both bonobo sexes play active roles in pursuing and hunting monkeys.” These first observations back up previous indirect evidence that bonobos indeed feast on monkeys.

The data was gathered in Congo by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and reported on in Current Biology. Gottfried Hohmann, one of the scientists, explained, “In [common] chimpanzees, male-dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting, and meat consumption. By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat eating in bonobos. Our observations suggest that, in contrast to previous assumptions, these behaviors may persist in societies with different social relations.”

In a bit of dark humor perhaps, primatologist Elizabeth Lonsdorf of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, who was not involved in the study, commented, “The second I read this, I thought: Oh good, finally! Bonobos being so peaceful never sat well with me. We see all species of captive apes, including bonobos, hunting animals, like squirrels, that wander into their enclosures. I was just waiting for something like this to come up.”

For years, bonobos’ passive disposition and egalitarian communities were considered reminders of the evolutionary belief that the “sophisticated” apes were “humans’ closest relatives,” as the news release calls them. With this newest revelation, however, we have a stark and gruesome reminder of the effect the Fall has had on all life, as many of God’s creatures—including humans, tragically—have “fulfilled” Genesis 9:5. In that sense, we see that human behavior can be just as bad as animal behavior—or vice versa.

4. “Detroit Free Press: “Taubman to Give U-M $22 Million More for Research”

A generous alumnus of the University of Michigan is set to fund more embryonic stem cell research. But will a state political proposal doom the research?

Alfred Taubman, an 84-year-old businessman and alumnus of the University of Michigan, has just pledged $22 million to fuel disease research at the university’s new A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research institute. This adds to $60 million previously donated to the university by Taubman.

While his largesse is certainly inspiring, Taubman and the institute’s approach to research emphasizes embryonic stem cell experimentation. The Detroit Free Press reported that Taubman recently invited former President Bill Clinton to join a fundraiser in defense of Proposal 2, an issue on the Michigan ballot this November. Proposal 2 would loosen restrictions against embryonic stem cell research for the entire state.

In fact, three of the five newly designated “Taubman Scholars” at the institute incorporate stem cells in their research.

Ann Arbor News reports that “embryonic stem cell research in Michigan is effectively banned outside of using the federally approved lines because of a state law that prohibits research that would destroy embryos, and because of the difficulty in obtaining other lines with non-federal monies.” Proposal 2 would overturn the relevant state restrictions against embryonic stem cell research.

For proponents, the chief argument seems to be economic. The News article also notes, “There is also the perception that Michigan, with a nearly 9 percent unemployment rate, has what some scientists describe as an inhospitable climate for research of any sort.”

Michigan voters should be aware that embryos aren’t the only source of stem cells—and, in fact, they are not the best source. Other sources of stem cells, such as those from skin and teeth, have been proven to be as effective or more effective than embryonic stem cells, but avoid the moral quicksand.

The clear biblical reason to avoid embryonic stem cells has nothing to do with their efficacy or inefficacy, however. The creation—and required destruction—of embryos for the sake of research is a macabre undertaking disguised by the technical details and the promise that it may one day lead to medical breakthroughs. But where’s the morality in cheapening, abusing, and destroying God-sanctioned life in alleged pursuit of a better life for some?

Be sure to watch our special edition Video on Demand called Cloning, Stem Cells, and the Value of Life to hear the complete story about this important topic.

Please download the flash player to view this video.

5. AP: “Suit Against God Thrown Out Over Lack of Address”

A cantankerous Nebraska legislator’s attempt to sue God was stymied this week by a judge who blocked the suit on account of not knowing God’s home address!

State senator Ernie Chambers filed the lawsuit nearly a year ago, seeking a permanent injunction against God because of the fear and terror He (allegedly) inspired and the “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants” He (allegedly) caused. We would say Chambers actually lacks a fear of God, however.

Unsurprisingly, the suit was filed as a sort of publicity stunt. The Associated Press reports that Chambers wanted to “make the point that everyone should have access to the courts regardless of whether they are rich or poor.”

This week, District Court Judge Marion Polk ruled, “Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice.” In other words, since the defendant can’t be served papers, it’s not a valid lawsuit (per state law).

Chambers apparently considers this a victory, since he claims “the court itself acknowledges the existence of God”—even though it seems clear Judge Polk was likely merely trying to find a clever way to dismiss the suit. The Associated Press coverage concludes by noting that Chambers, a long-time fixture of the Nebraska state house, “skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians.” We’re none too surprised!

But while this weird news borders on humorous, it’s likewise quite sobering to see such flippancy and lack of fear of God. We presume Sen. Chambers is atheistic, and thus doesn’t take the situation seriously. Sadly, we know he is indicative of a growing segment of American society (Bill Maher comes to mind), all of whom are in need of God’s saving grace.

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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