1. BBC News: “New Dinosaur Gives Bird Wing Clue”

Last week we reported on a solid scientific study that dismissed dinosaur-to-bird evolution. Of course, some researchers have yet to catch on.

A new study in Nature tries to answer a question related to how dinosaur hands could have evolved into wing bones in modern birds. From “ancestral” species with five fingers, how could their descendants—other theropod dinosaurs (such as T. rex) and birds—end up with just three?

The question itself is steeped in evolutionary presuppositions, as even “seeing” evolution from five digits to three requires one first to assume evolution has happened. The same goes for imagining that three dinosaur fingers became the distinctly different wing bones in modern birds.

Nonetheless, the Nature study focuses on the discovery of a ceratosaur described as “primitive” (another presupposition-filled word), called Limusaurus inextricabilis. The fossil is missing a fifth digit, while the first is small and contains only one bone. To the reporting scientists, that suggests that ancient dinosaurs lost their first and last digit, with only the middle three surviving in later dinosaurs and birds.

There’s a problem, though. Because each digit contains a specific number of bones, other paleontologists have matched ancestral digits one, two, and three to the three existing digits in other dinosaurs. This fossil appears to be losing digits one and five—rather than four and five—which throws a wrench in that entire hypothesis.

The solution? “Identity shift,” which is described as “shifting patterns of gene expression from one limb or digit to another.” It sounds a bit too convenient to us, especially when the BBC notes that identity shift makes “the conflicting theories of bird hand origin suddenly align.” This is what identity shift is alleged to have allowed:

The third finger is made up of the four phalange bones that the second should have, and it is presumed that the second would lose one bone to become like the first finger that was missing in the fossil.

In this case, the more logical conclusion is that bird and dinosaur kinds were created uniquely for specific functions; this explains the significant differences in anatomy. One evolutionary presupposition seems to be that the Creator couldn’t have used the same number of digits on any two creatures. Without this presupposition, why would it seem strange to find the same number of digits on two creatures?

Also, within the kinds, it is possible that (through mutations, etc.) digits have been lost. Loss of digits (entirely or in part, as with the first digit of Limusaurus) would not prove evolution, but rather show the degenerative result of most mutations.

So, then, when the BBC says that this new fossil “appears to offer a snapshot of evolution,” it’s certainly correct in one sense. To those who assume evolution accounts for the gaps, the fossil can be inserted—thanks to the claim of historical “identity shift”—into a hypothesized (and imagined) lineage.

One other note: LiveScience reports that Limusaurus stood only 5 feet (1.5 m) from nose to tail-end. That reminds us that the average size of dinosaurs was probably similar to a sheep, posing no difficulty fitting representatives of the dinosaur kinds on the Ark.

2. LiveScience: “Microbe Wakes Up After 120,000 Years”

After tens of thousands of years trapped in ice, an ancient species “wakes up.” Is it science news or the plot of a low-budget movie?

A team from Penn State University has purportedly revived bacteria found two miles (three kilometers) beneath a Greenland glacier. Based on the depth of the ice, the team believes the bacteria to be some 120,000 years old.

Noting the harsh conditions many bacteria can survive, team member Jean Brenchley said, “They could’ve been dormant, or they could’ve been slowly metabolizing, but we don't know for sure.” In either case, the bacteria were stimulated to normal growth by incubating the bacteria at 36˚F (2 C) for seven months, after which the heat was turned up to 41˚F (5 C) for four months. “We were able to recover it and get it to grow in our laboratory. It was viable,” Brenchley explained.

Named Herminiimonas glaciei, the bacteria provide an example, say the scientists, of how bacteria-like life-forms could survive on hostile planets. “These extremely cold environments are the best analogues of possible extraterrestrial habitats. The exceptionally low temperatures can preserve cells and nucleic acids for even millions of years,” said team member Jennifer Loveland-Curtze.

In related news, LiveScience reports on research into the oldest that life could possibly be (within the big bang / evolution model). Concluding that life could be as old as its constituent “biogenic elements,” the scientists are investigating the big bang model of element formation to determine the earliest date all of the elements might have existed. Based on models with mostly hypothetical parameters, they conclude that it only took between 100 and 500 million years after the big bang before life may have been possible.

Both of these news stories concern evolution-presuming research that shares a major flaw: ignoring how life itself could have originated. In the research on H. glaciei, the scientists are eager to imagine hardy bacteria thriving on desolate, far-flung planets. But they ignore the fundamental question of how life could have formed on such planets. Likewise, the research on the elements necessary for life seems to presume that wherever such biogenic elements are, life will quickly follow. The implication is that “life” is just a random, disorganized collection of the right elements mixed together. With each century humans have discovered how incorrect that idea is.

In fact, this flaw extends to almost all evolutionary research. Faced with the impossibility of life’s components randomly self-organizing into a sophisticated, microscopic factory (complete with mini-machines, instructions and decoders, defense systems, and so on), evolutionists throw out wild ideas but claim “we’ll figure it out someday.” Until that hypothetical day, however, every evolutionary research program—and every evolutionary researcher—takes on faith that the great miracle of materialism occurred: that life spontaneously self-organized against all odds.

3. PhysOrg: “Odd Discovery May Help Refine Theories About How Planets Form”

A planet with a “steeply tilted” orbit—will it help refine theories of planetary formation or reveal their flaws?

Calling planet XO-3b “strange” might be an understatement. Like most other exoplanets discovered so far, it is large—an incredible 13 times as massive as Jupiter. But its orbit around its star takes only 3.5 days, far less than even Mercury. That makes it “unusual, even by the standards of exoplanets,” noted physicist Joshua Winn of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Even stranger is the angle of XO-3b’s orbit relative to its star’s rotation. Based on spectrographic techniques, Winn’s team discovered that XO-3b’s orbit is tilted 37 degrees off of its star’s equator.

Traditional long-age theories of planetary formation are based on observations of our own solar system, in which the planets (excepting dwarf planet Pluto) orbit in the plane of the sun’s equator. These theories posit a spinning disc from which the sun and all the planets coalesced, explaining the common plane and orbital direction. Any discrepancies (such as Venus’s retrograde rotation) are typically blamed on cosmic collisions or atmospheric anomalies.

But how could XO-3b have ended up so far off the mark in its orbit, yet so close to its parent star? While astronomers guess at possible gravitational influences, Winn believes it will take more research to understand “how the dice get rolled in other solar systems.”

That’s where we come in. Obviously, Winn presupposes that dice do get rolled when it comes to solar system formation. But creationists aren’t limited to the role of chance. When we discover anomalies, we aren’t committed to torturing the facts to support a naturalistic explanation. Of course, this difference may seem minor when the issue is the tilted orbit of planet XO-3b, or even Venus’s retrograde rotation. But the difference is substantial when the question is why Earth is uniquely habitable, or when secular astronomers suggest an infinite number of universes to explain why physical constants are “just right” for life.

4. BBC News: “‘Genius’ Claim for Sticklebacks”

Chimpanzees, dolphins, crows: out o’ the way! There’s a new “genius animal” in the spotlight.

Stickleback fish have been featured in News to Note before: on May 24 and September 6 of last year, along with a brief mention this past February. Each of those times the stickleback were allegedly providing an example of “evolution.”

But we didn’t expect that sticklebacks would be the latest intriguing example of animal intelligence, even earning the title “geniuses” thanks to research at St. Andrews University and Durham University.

A St. Andrews team observed 270 sticklebacks in an experiment designed to test the fishes’ learning capabilities. In one aquarium, fish were given worms from two feeders, one at each end of the tank. At the start, one of the feeders was supplying more worms, so the fish stayed around that feeder. But then the fish observed another group of fish in the same two-feeder setup. For this second group of fish, the opposite feeder was supplying more worms.

After observing that scenario, three-quarters of the fish from group one flocked to the opposite feeder—the one they had watched give more food to the other group. This is despite the fact that it contradicted their own, initial experience with the feeders. To the researchers, this demonstrated that the fish could observe a peer group and learn foraging-like skills and “best practices” from observation.

In a twist, the researchers repeated the experiment. This time, however, the second group of fish received the same amount of food from both feeders. After watching, the first group stuck with their original feeder, apparently determining that there was no reason to switch if there would be no potential gain.

This is the first proven example of a “hill climbing” strategy in animals, though LiveScience reports that chimps and some crows may also have the capability.

“These fish are obviously not at all closely related to humans,” commented Durham University’s Jeremy Kendal. “Yet they have this human ability to only copy when the pay off is better than their own.”

In other news of “surprising animal intelligence” this week, scientists have learned that rats mimic human behavior when gambling and that bacteria can plan ahead. In each case, the examples of unexpected animal wits remind us that God gave each creature the capability to do what it was designed to do, and that intelligence is more than an evolutionary by-product.

For more information:

5. BBC News: “Who Goes to a Creationist Museum?”

Just a few weeks after the Creation Museum’s second anniversary, the BBC asks, “So who goes to America’s biggest and best attended creationist museum and why?” (We could have answered, but they didn’t ask us!)

The BBC’s Peter Jackson starts off by reviewing the basics: what the Creation Museum has, where it is, and who’s behind it. “As museums go, the Creation Museum in Petersburg is not short on attractions,” he concludes.

Jackson not only gets the facts right; he does so without any apparent malice. Articles like this put a smile on our collective face. It’s encouraging to read a journalist who is able to put personal thoughts (whatever they may be) aside long enough to objectively report the basics, which is often not the case with British journalists who visit the museum and report (mockingly) about us.

Jackson then turns to four Creation Museum visitors—all creationists—who each give their reasons for visiting:

  • Dan Schoonmaker, 26, from Alabama—“I’m a creationist in training, I don't really go to church but I'm curious about Genesis. . . . I personally don’t know, but natural selection seems to be the only thing people go on [to support evolution].”
  • Robert Mailloux, 68, from Colorado—“The Bible says God created the Earth in six days and we flat believe that. [Darwinism is] not even a low-grade hypothesis.”
  • Laurie Geesey, 57, and her husband, Richard, from Wisconsin—“I believe the Earth is around 5,500 years old. If you don’t believe in Genesis, you don’t believe in anything else.”
  • Scott Rubin, 42, from Illinois—“What I do know is God's changed my life. I believe God created the world in six days, I do believe that. It makes sense why people believe in evolution, especially if they’ve not had the encounter with Jesus I’ve had.”

Next, Jackson asks what “creationists make of the scientific evidence that claims to undermine their theories.” However, he seems to misstep by mentioning Ida as one such evidence when, in fact, even evolutionists were skeptical about Ida’s significance. He concludes by quoting an excerpt of what we originally said about Ida back on May 16: “Because the fossil is similar to a modern lemur, it’s unlikely creationists need any interpretation of the ‘missing link’ other than it was a small, tailed, probably tree-climbing, and now extinct primate from a kind created on Day Six of Creation Week.”

For years now, News to Note has been quoting the BBC. It’s nice that they returned the favor!

6. And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Woolly mammoths survived in Britain until up to 14,000 years ago. But wait—that’s outside the timeline of history the Bible gives. Don’t worry, this is the “new” date based on a new method of removing contamination to allow radiocarbon dating. Yet, in noting the fallibility of one “old” method of radiocarbon dating, scientists remind us that all radiometric dating rests on fallible assumptions.
  • ScienceNOW tells how a single genetic change may lead one bird species to become two. Rather than confirming evolution, this example of rapid speciation explains how we could see so much biodiversity in the 4,400 years since the Flood.
  • An intriguing design—found in both animals and plants.
  • WorldNetDaily does a nice job reviewing some of the findings in one of our newest resources, Already Gone.
  • Fingerprints: an “evolutionary mystery”?
  • It isn’t a dinosaur-bird, but the “parrot reptile of the Gobi” does look like it might have been designed to do something similar to what modern parrots do.
  • “Examples of same-sex behavior can be found in almost all species in the animal kingdom,” reports LiveScience. First, as we’ve said before, there are many animal behaviors humans should not normalize. Second, the same-sex behaviors are often associated with “missing genes” (such as in fruit flies) or are “costly” behaviors (such as in locusts).
  • A defensive behavior that causes worms to escape the ground whenever they detect what could be an approaching mole. But natural selection could explain the pervasiveness of such behavior—no evolution needed.

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