The allegation that birds evolved from dinosaurs is frequently treated as factual by evolutionists. Now, researchers have refuted that notion—and it starts with an unexpected discovery about bird anatomy.
In the study, Oregon State University scientists Devon Quick and John Ruben identified a connection between the way birds breathe and the relative lack of movement in birds’ upper leg bones. While most walking animals (including humans) move the upper leg bone as they walk or run, birds essentially keep it still, using their lower legs only.
Quick and Ruben’s breakthrough was in recognizing that this “knee running” anatomy, where the upper leg bones are fixed, is crucial in keeping birds’ lungs from collapsing. Thus, if birds walked like us, they would not be able to support the sophisticated pulmonary system that helps enable flight.
“This is fundamental to bird physiology,” Quick explained. “It’s really strange that no one realized this before. The position of the thigh bone and muscles in birds is critical to their lung function, which in turn is what gives them enough lung capacity for flight.”
In the next phase of research, the scientists examined whether theropod dinosaurs’ skeletons would have allowed a similar pulmonary system. But the evidence shows that skeletal differences—including a mobile femur—meant dinosaurs couldn’t have given rise to birds. “Theropod dinosaurs had a moving femur and therefore could not have had a lung that worked like that in birds. Their abdominal air sac, if they had one, would have collapsed. That undercuts a critical piece of supporting evidence for the dinosaur-bird link,” Ruben said.
Intriguingly, Ruben commented on the widely held dinosaur-to-bird-evolution model: “Frankly, there’s a lot of museum politics involved in this, a lot of careers committed to a particular point of view even if new scientific evidence raises questions.” A startling reminder—especially since it comes from an evolutionist—of how presuppositions play a role in determining science!
You can read our full response in Birds Did Not Evolve from Dinosaurs, Say Evolutionists.
Creationists don’t claim that dinosaurs are still alive today. But because we believe at least two of each dinosaur kind survived Noah’s Flood (i.e., were on the Ark), we view the possibility as distinctly more likely than evolutionists.
Until recently, evolutionists insisted that dinosaurs disappeared from the earth entirely some 65 million years ago. But just last month we reported that some evolutionists are now questioning that idea. Nonetheless, no one who believes in millions of years can countenance the idea that dinosaurs might be living among us, today; if so, it would undermine the reliability of the fossil record in supporting millions of years.
So when LiveScience columnist Benjamin Radford asks “do dinosaurs still exist?” it’s no surprise that it’s a part of his Bad Science column. He writes, “[S]ome believe that giant dinosaurs still exist today, just beyond the reach of scientific proof.” Among the modern-day dinosaur candidates are the Loch Ness monster and its purported cousins in Lake Okanagan (Canada), Lake Champlain (the U.S.), and Lake Nahuel (Argentina), along with rumors of Africa’s Mokele-Mbembe.
The lake monsters, if they exist at all, are usually said to be plesiosaurs or ichthyosaurs, both large, dinosaur-like sea reptiles. Mokele-Mbembe is based on African rumors of a “dinosaur-like creature said to be up to 35 feet long, with brownish-gray skin and a long, flexible neck,” said to prey on elephants, hippos, and crocodiles. However, no solid evidence for its existence has been discovered.
[T]he fatal flaw in the idea that giant dinosaurs still lurk in remote jungles or cold, deep lakes is that all the evidence suggests they died out about 65 million years ago. . . . Yet scientifically speaking, not all dinosaurs died out. Most of us see dinosaurs every day, and some people even have them in their homes. Birds are the modern version of dinosaurs[.]
Apparently Radford needs to read last month’s news on the dinosaur extinction date as well as this week’s news item #1 (above)! As for us, we emphasize that there’s no definite reason creationists should believe dinosaurs are still among us. Granted, it’s obviously more likely than in the evolutionary worldview, since we believe dinosaurs were alive at least after the Flood, and much anthropological evidence (such as dragon legends) suggests more “recent” encounters (within the past 2,000 years).
Even so, it may be hard for us to ever know. Not only are there dense jungles that have yet to be exhaustively explored, but the vast depths of the oceans—home to such elusive, previously legendary creatures as the giant squid—could potentially hide living plesiosaurs. Furthermore, we would not expect to find recent fossils except in the context of catastrophic events.
That said, if any ancient reptile is discovered alive, creationists will be able to accommodate the news without issue, while evolutionists will have some major backtracking to do. But perhaps it wouldn’t “undermine the reliability of the fossil record in supporting millions of years,” as we speculated above. After all, evolutionists also said coelacanths had been extinct for millions of years—until they turned up alive in 1938!
Scientists have honed a geological technique to piece together the history of tectonic plates.
The technique focuses on the magnetic signature formed when magma fills in cracks formed as continental plates move. The scientists say they can determine the orientation and latitude of the resulting basalt by studying the rocks’ magnetic signature. Furthermore, when combined with radiometric dating, different sets of rocks can be matched up from around the globe, showing which were part of the same volcanic or tectonic event.
The problem is that the technique requires the extraction of tiny mineral crystals that may be less than 100 microns (millionths of a meter) long. Previously, this was a significant complication. But now, the BBC reports, new methods permit successful recovery of these minerals.
One such mineral is baddeleyite, which is used for radiometric dating because of its uranium content. Uranium radioactively decays into lead at a certain rate; so, the uranium and lead content of a rock is often used to determine its age. The disagreement between old-earthers and young-earthers on this issue centers on such questions as whether we can know if the rate has always been the same and how we can know whether other factors influenced the elemental composition of rocks.
“All we need to do is measure the amounts of uranium and lead very precisely,” said Michael Hamilton, one geologist on the project. Of course, considering the sizes and weights of the extracted minerals, that’s no small task.
Geologists hope to collect 250 rock samples from around the world and use their technique to estimate the location of landmasses 2.5 billion years ago. Already, the team has “discovered” that Canada once bordered Zimbabwe.
Plate tectonics plays an important role in the creation model of geology, and most young-earth creationists certainly support the idea that the continents were once arranged differently; the primary difference between old-earthers and young-earthers concerns the timetable and exact mechanisms of tectonic events. But radiometric dating is founded on several problematic assumptions, and, thus, this new technique, as it is in part based on dating rocks, is likewise questionable.
The next test will be whether the result of the 250 rock samples supports other predictions of the plate tectonics model. If the evidence matches up, this method may have merit—despite the role of radiometric dating (indeed, similar radiometric “dates” may show rocks were formed in proximity, albeit not as long ago as some believe). However, if the evidence clashes with previously established ideas, the technique will demonstrate the flaws in radiometric dating—not that the mainstream scientists will interpret it as such.
What makes an animal wild or tame—is it only human intervention? On the contrary, a decades-long study seeks to identify a genetic basis for animals’ attitudes toward humankind.
Although the latest published result of the study appears in this month’s issue of the journal Genetics, the study itself began in 1972. Researchers in Novosibirsk, Russia, captured a large group of wild rats, then split the group at random into two lab groups. One was arbitrarily (at first) labeled “tame”; the other, “aggressive.”
Over the years, the scientists have continued to breed two new generations per year in each group. In the tame group, the friendliest rats are bred together; in the aggressive group, the meanest rats are bred together, resulting in two very different rat groups. LiveScience reporter Jeanna Bryner explains how differently the rats react to humans:
Demeanor in rats is tested with the glove test, in which a human hand protected by a metal glove approaches a caged rat. The tame rats tolerate the hand and even sometimes toddle across it. Aggressive rats try to escape, scream, attack and bite the person’s hand. The rats even perform boxing moves, standing on their hind legs while sort of punching the human hand away.
To move the study forward, the researchers created a third group by breeding some of the tamest rats with some of the most aggressive; their offspring were then interbred again. The researchers then examined the genes of pairs of rats pulled from this group that were not as tame as each other. Any genes that were identical could be ruled out as causing the difference. Likewise, any two rats that were equally tame could have their differing genes ruled out. The result is identification of “sets of genes” that could be responsible for tameness.
“I hope our study will ultimately lead to a detailed understanding of the genetics and biology of tameness,” said Frank Albert of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “If you think about dogs, they are such amazing animals. When you compare a dog with a wild wolf, a wolf has no interest in communicating [with] or tolerating humans. If you’re lucky a wolf in the wild wouldn’t care about you. But a dog does care and they even seek human presence. Dogs were all wolves at some point. How did they become these animals that need humans to exist?”
One caveat on the research: it seems the researchers are assuming that tameness does have a genetic basis, in which case their logic of breeding and genetic comparisons stands up. However, if tameness were due to epigenetic factors (for example, somehow connected with the interactions of a rat’s mother while the rat is in utero), then the sets of genes identified may not code for tameness at all.
But if there is a genetic basis for tameness, this would help us understand another factor that has increased biodiversity since the animals departed from the Ark. After all, as Albert points out, there is a significant discrepancy between not only the size, color, coat, etc., of dogs and wolves, but also between their respective behavior. Both may be understood through such factors as artificial and natural selection acting on inherited variations, including (possibly) tameness.
Ultimately, we know that the original animal kinds were created without the fear of man, which only came after the Flood (Genesis 9:2). That surely helped as Adam named the animals on Day 6 of Creation Week (Genesis 2:19–20)!
Apes have been laughing for 10 million years, showing that laughter originated in a common ancestor of apes and humans. Ha!
Scientists engaged in truly laughable research that took them around the world: investigating the laughter of apes. Psychologist Marina Davila Ross of Portsmouth University traveled to seven European zoos and a wildlife reserve on Borneo to record the sound apes made as their caretakers tickled them.
“In humans, laughing is a complex and intriguing expression. It can be the strongest way of expressing how much we are enjoying ourselves, but it can also be used in other contexts, like mocking,” Ross said. “I was interested in whether laughing had a pre-human basis, whether it emerged earlier on than we did.”
Ross’s team then used a computer program to analyze the recordings, a total of 21 taken from chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos—plus three from human babies. The software was designed to arrange the sounds in an “evolutionary tree” based on similarity. The laughter linked together in a way that matches the evolutionary tree: human laughter sounded closest to chimps and bonobos, farther from gorillas, and farthest from orangutans.
Of course, chimps and bonobos have already been identified as having more in common physiologically with humans than gorillas and orangutans; so, this shouldn’t be a big surprise. Moreover, the Guardian notes that “[h]uman laughter sounds very different from the noises produced by great apes,” a fact that the researchers ascribe to evolutionary changes after humans split from apes. Ape laughter often sounds more like a panting dog, a human asthma attack, or hyperventilation, according to the students of University of Maryland scientist Robert Provine, author of the book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.
Even the physical and contextual causes of laughter differ. While humans laugh in sophisticated response to humor, apes may laugh when excited or aroused. And while humans laugh with only outward breaths, apes laugh during both inward and outward breaths.
As with other anatomical and behavioral features that humans have in common with animals, the commonality of laughter only supports evolution if one presupposes evolution, then interprets the similarity within that framework and previously established beliefs about human evolution.
Don’t believe us? Consider parrots: they are able to talk convincingly like humans, yet evolutionists aren’t looking for a human-bird “missing link,” since birds are supposedly descended from dinosaurs and only distantly related to humans (but then again, see item #1 above).
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard 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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