1. ScienceDaily: “Dinosaur-Bird Link: Ancient Proteins Preserved in Soft Tissue from 80 Million-Year-Old Hadrosaur”

An incredible discovery that shocked the “millions of years” camp is back—with further verification.

Ten years ago, anyone—scientist or otherwise—claiming to have discovered soft (i.e., unfossilized) dinosaur tissue would have been ridiculed and dismissed by the scientific community as a quack or a young-earth creationist. Yet within the last decade have come two such crushing blows to the idea that dinosaurs died out some 65 million years ago.

The first was the discovery of unfossilized dinosaur tissue at the center of a T. rex bone by Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University. That discovery—and, specifically, papers published by Schweitzer and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center scientist John Asara—started an intense debate about whether the bones truly contained dinosaur tissue (see News to Note, August 2, 2008, item #2).

Now Asara and Schweitzer have supported their previous find by confirming the existence of proteins in the soft tissues of a hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur allegedly from 80 million years ago. Their new study, reported in Science, shows that “our T. rex discovery was not a unique occurrence,” said Asara, who continued:

“This is the second dinosaur species we’ve examined and helps verify that our first discovery was not just a one-hit wonder. Our current study was the collaborative effort of a number of independent laboratories, whose findings collectively add up to a robust conclusion.”

According to Asara, the team found nearly twice the number of amino acids that were found in the T. rex tissue. The fragments “showed marked preservation of original tissues and molecules, with microstructures resembling soft, transparent vessels, cells and fibrous matrix,” despite the fact that the fossil was found buried some 23 feet (7 m) deep in sandstone. The proteins the team confirmed were collagen, laminin, and elastin, as well amino acids including hydroxylated proline.

As with previous studies, similarities between the dinosaur proteins and those of chicken and ostrich are being held up as evidence that dinosaurs evolved into birds. Dr. David DeWitt responded to this claim the last time it was brought up.

Furthermore, it seems strange that dinosaur soft tissue from 80 million years ago would ever be a convincing exhibit in support of evolution (and the millions of years it would have required). “At the heart of the controversy is the idea that ancient protein can exist at all. When an animal dies, protein immediately begins to degrade and, in the case of fossils, is slowly replaced by mineral, a substitution process assumed to be complete by 1 million years,” ScienceDaily reports.

But evolutionists have their presuppositions, too, and one of them is the fixity of the fossil record and millions of years. ScienceDaily concludes, “But with this latest evidence, it appears that some proteins do indeed have real staying power.” The unchanging assumption is millions of years, even if the facts have to be bent to fit into that framework.

2. BBC News: “Africa’s Genetic Secrets Unlocked”

Africa may be the most genetically diverse place on earth. Is that evidence of evolutionary origins?

Evolutionists have long called Africa the “cradle of humanity,” a reference to several supposed apeman fossils found on the continent. Now, the largest genetic study ever undertaken on Africa reveals the extent of genetic diversity there.

The study began with more than 3,000 samples of genetic material taken from 121 African populations, including from remote groups. Among those, the researchers identified 14 “ancestral population clusters” whose members share ancestry/ethnicity as well as cultural and linguistic similarities.

Because of the evolutionary presupposition that the group with the most genetic diversity is also the oldest population (the idea being it has had “the longest to evolve,” BBC News explains), the researchers believe the study supports the idea that humankind first evolved in Africa. The scientists even go a step farther, claiming to identify an aboriginal group of Africans (the San) as possibly “descendents of a population ancestral to all modern humans,” said the University of Pennsylvania’s Sarah Tishkoff, the team leader.

Evolutionary assertions like Tishkoff’s remind us of why Darwinism (not necessarily Darwin) promoted and reinforced racism for more than a century: the idea that certain groups’ ancestors diverged earlier than others, showing them to be inferior to more “highly evolved” races. While even modern evolutionists dismiss such conclusions, the underlying principles remain.

Several factors could account for the wide range of genetic diversity in Africa, including the fact that it is the second-largest continent with a wide range of geography, as well as that its history includes ongoing trade and migration between Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Furthermore, it is not clear whether studies of equivalent rigor have been conducted on other continents (for instance, targeting remote groups as this study did).

After Noah and his family departed from the Ark, their descendants would have steadily diversified, especially after the Confusion event at Babel. In the millennia since, a litany of factors—wars, mass migrations, trade, disease, and more—have continued to alter genetic diversity. What we observe today is a result of both biology and history, all of which we can understand through the biblical worldview.

3. National Geographic News: “New, Fast-Evolving Rabies Virus Found—and Spreading”

An “evolving” virus is in the news again—but this time, skunks and foxes are at the center, not swine.

The virus in this case is rabies, the infamous disease that is perhaps less feared today but still around. A new strain of rabies found in northern Arizona has a mutation that allows it to be contagious among skunks and foxes, meaning it’s “[e]volving faster than any other new rabies virus on record,” National Geographic News reports.

The difference is that unlike previous forms of the rabies virus, the mutated variant may be transmissible by simple socializing among animals. Previously, the virus could only be passed through bites or scratches. Bats have long been the target of most concern, since they can live in such places as attics and often carry the rabies virus.

Obviously, that’s a considerable problem, since the old variant of the virus quickly killed the host, meaning it could only be passed on in violent attacks. Northern Arizona officials have seen rabies in skunks for eight years in a row, while the Flagstaff, Arizona, area has seen 14 rabid foxes so far this year. The situation presents a danger because the infected animals are turning up so close to people, with one (a bobcat) even chasing pool players at a bar in Cottonwood, Arizona.

“We’re watching evolution in action on the ground,” claims David Bergman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In response to the situation, Flagstaff has instituted a 90-day pet quarantine requiring all dogs to remain on leashes and all cats to stay indoors. Meanwhile, the state is increasing efforts to vaccinate wildlife (efforts previously deemed successful). Another concern is that foxes travel in a much wider area than skunks and other smaller wildlife, increasing the speed at which a new form of rabies could spread.

Once again, however, there is no evidence that the rabies virus is “evolving” in the same way that could turn a fish into a philosopher, as evolutionists often mean by “evolution.” Rather, mutations in the virus are merely rearranging or reducing its genetic information. Also, note that very little research—and nothing peer-reviewed—has been done on this possible new rabies virus.

As for the rest of us, remaining safe from rabies takes mostly common sense, such as keeping distance from wildlife and ensuring pets do, too. If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, wash the wound with soap and water immediately and seek medical attention. If caught soon after infection, rabies can be treated, but if left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.

4. Weizmann Institute of Science: “True Grit”

An element of nature “designed”—a slip-up or a rare admission?

“Sea urchin digging teeth are designed to stay sharp,” begins a news release from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Two of the Institute’s scientists, in conjunction with researchers elsewhere, have spent more than a decade studying how urchins dig holes into the seabed floor. The mystery is, how can urchins dig into solid limestone again and again without their five specialized teeth becoming blunt? The news release pitches the puzzling question:

The amazing part, however, is that the teeth, which need to be harder and stronger than the rocky limestone being dug out, are themselves made almost entirely of calcite—the same calcite that makes up much of the limestone. How is this possible?

The answer is a “combination of ingenious design strategies.” First, the scientists discovered crystals of strong magnesium calcite at the grinding tip of each tooth, which are in turn surrounded by a matrix of regular calcite crystals. This softer supporting structure allows the magnesium calcite crystals to remain at the surface of the tooth for maximum grinding effectiveness.

Second, the researchers used X-rays and other imaging technology to determine that the crystals are carefully aligned in two different arrays. The two arrays are interlocked right at the tip of the tooth in a way that resembles a file, augmenting the grinding capabilities of the tooth. Not only that, but the feature keeps itself sharp; wear on the tooth causes the crystals to break off in such a way that the tooth remains uneven and sharp.

We may never know exactly what God’s original purpose was in designing the urchin teeth. What is clear, however, is that the teeth are yet another marvelous design—a word the news release can’t avoid—and that this discovery adds to the ever-growing burden of complexity that evolution can only explain with time and chance.

For more information:

5. The Telegraph: “Scientists Reveal Face of the First European”

The mock-up represents the “earliest known modern European,” supposedly 35,000 years old—yet he looks just like what creationists would suggest.

Built for the BBC television program The Incredible Human Journey, the head is based on a partial skull and jawbone discovered in Romania. The Telegraph reports:

The skull appears very like humans today, but it also displays more archaic traits, such as very large molar teeth, which led some scientists to speculate the skull may belong to a hybrid between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals—an idea discounted by other experts.

The Mail also notes that the face has “a larger cranium [and] is more robust” than modern humans, while program presenter Alice Roberts adds that the skull “doesn’t look European or Asian or African. It looks like a mixture of all of them.”

While we’re often wary of artists’ impressions (which can suggest evolutionary interpretations more easily than actual bones), every element of this recreation supports the biblical worldview head-on. First, the skull mixes Neanderthal and other human elements (in line with what we’ve long said—that Neanderthals were just a larger-skulled variant of modern humans). Second, the sculpture suggests ethnical ambiguity, more likely in the days shortly after Babel before millennia of natural selection had reduced the genetic information in each human group. The sculptor even chose a mid-brown skin shade to match. Perhaps this is the face of one of Japheth’s great-grandchildren!

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Many have already seen the Internet sensation of the dancing bird—though it’s worth watching a second time. Not only does it remind us of bird intelligence (a “pet” topic of ours), it also shows us a human behavior that chimps cannot duplicate.
  • Two weeks ago we covered the latest chapter in the ongoing debate over the Indonesian hobbit, a diminutive human fossil. Now two new papers argue that the hobbit was a unique species, with both human and “primitive” traits. (Watch out for evolutionary assumptions any time the word “primitive” floats around.)
  • Asteroids may be younger than they appear (to old-agers, anyway): space weathering doesn’t take billions or even millions of years, as some thought.
  • A new bill in Alberta, Canada, would reaffirm parent rights to exempt children from classes on evolution and homosexuality.
  • In related news, a California student has won his lawsuit against his former high school teacher who, the student argued, violated the First Amendment by calling creation “superstitious nonsense” (among other attacks on religion). The lawsuit did not seek monetary damages, with the goal instead to prohibit the teacher’s onslaught on religion in history lectures.
  • At 1.8 million years, a patch of Israeli desert is claimed to be the oldest surface on the planet. Scientists know this based on ongoing video surveillance of the entire surface of the earth for the past 2 million years. Wait, our notes were mixed up—it’s actually radiometric dating that gave scientists the idea.
  • Along the same sarcastic line, a new physics device will be able to travel back in time to the “first trillionth of a second after [the] big bang.” But we jest; rather, the device will travel through the imagination of astrophysicists’ minds, with interpretations riding on the presupposition that there was a big bang.
  • Why do evolutionists believe life originated by chance despite the astounding odds to the contrary? “But life DID begin!” cries the circular reasoning of one “scientific” blogger.
  • In a strange “coincidence,” evolutionists are increasingly crediting snakes with enlightening humankind—giving us the “evolutionary nudge . . . to communicate for social good, a critical step toward the evolution of language, and all that followed.” Including the knowledge of good and evil, perhaps (Genesis 3:1–4)?
  • The New York Times gets tripped up on the canard that the swine flu virus is “evolution in action,” a claim we rebutted last week.
  • Resurrecting an ancient gene—will it be evolution at work or natural selection at work?

For more information: Get Answers

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