The supposed earliest evidence of four-legged animals—at 395 million years old—sounds like a boon for evolutionary research. So why is it causing evolutionists problems?
Scientists led by University of Warsaw paleobiologist Grzegorz Niedz'wiedzki uncovered the fossilized footprints of a four-legged animal in southeastern Poland. Important features of the well-preserved prints are the impressions of digits (meaning the creature had feet) and a “diagonal, coordinated gait impossible for finned creatures.”
Why a finned creature would be thought to have a gait is, of course, a by-faith element of evolutionary thinking, which postulates that fish-like creatures were the first land-walkers. For that reason, evolutionists previously hailed fossils such as Tiktaalik—a fish-like creature—as representative of the water-to-land transition and a key “missing link.” (Read an example of the evolutionary enthusiasm in Meet Your Ancestor—the Fish that Crawled.)
But the discovery presents a major problem for the evolutionary status of Tiktaalik and similar fossils, which supposedly date back to around 370 to, at most, 380 million years ago. If Tiktaalik represents the earliest adaptation of sea life for land walking, then how was Niedz'wiedzki’s finding—which he calls “an animal with four limbs, unique for true tetrapods”—walking across Poland almost ten million years earlier?
Facing up to the find, other paleontologists have been forced to retract previous praise for Tiktaalik as “the” missing link, instead considering it an evolutionary dead end. “We thought we’d pinned down the origin of limbed tetrapods, [but now w]e have to rethink the whole thing,” explained Cambridge’s Jennifer Clack. Young-earth creationists reject the assumptions that underlie the millions-of-years dates given to the fossils mentioned; in our view, both Tiktaalik and the fossil footprints are from the past 4,500 years or so. Nonetheless, this is one such case where even accepting evolutionary assumptions dethrones an iconic “missing link.”
Hot, hot, hot, hot, and hot—meet the first exoplanets found by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.
The five planets—dubbed Kepler 4b, 5b, 6b, 7b, and 8b—are the first discovered by the Kepler Mission, which launched last March. They were originally discovered shortly after the telescope’s launch, and their existence has since been confirmed by separate methods. The telescope has also identified several hundred other candidate exoplanets yet to be confirmed.
But for evolutionists searching for earth-like worlds outside our solar system, the newly found planets fail to fit the bill. Because each planet orbits close to its host star, their temperatures range from 2,000 to 3,000?F (1,090 to 1,650 C)—hotter than molten lava. As such, they are “certainly no place to look for life,” emphasized Kepler principal investigator William Borucki. Nonetheless, the scientists are glad Kepler is working properly.
Also interesting is the low density of some of the new worlds. Kepler 5b is less dense than water, while Kepler 7b has approximately the density of Styrofoam. National Geographic News offers an informative illustration showing the newly found planets’ temperatures and sizes relative to some planets in our own solar system.
Scientists also announced a new hypothesis on the origin of super-hot planet CoRoT-7b, which we first discussed last February and further in September. BBC News reports on research suggesting the planet began as a gas giant, but had “much of its mass boiled away by [its nearby host] star’s heat.” Additionally, scientists believe the planet could be a literal hotbed of volcanic activity. So while each new exoplanet seems to present a unique riddle, the question of whether life exists on any found so far is still rejected even by most evolutionists.
Microbial resistance to antibiotics is commonly provided as an example of “evolution in action.” But when it comes to Neisseria meningitidis, scientists haven’t observed such “evolution” in years.
N. meningitidis is already well known to medical researchers, for it can cause meningitis; and as a target for antibiotics, some have worried the bacterium may evolve increased antibiotic resistance. However, a new study from Sweden’s Örebro University indicates that the rate of resistant bacterium has not increased in more than a decade. That is, while resistant N. meningitidis individuals do exist, they are not spreading—at least, not in Sweden.
Biomedical researcher Sara Thulin Hedberg conducted the study for her doctoral dissertation. She concluded that the reason resistant strains are not spreading is that resistance is not particularly advantageous for the bacteria. Resistant bacteria cannot multiply as rapidly as other strains and do not infect hosts well. They are easily out-competed for resources by other strains in antibiotic-free environments.
That conclusion is notable for creationists, who point out that nearly all common examples of “evolution in action” do not demonstrate the increase in genetic information that true molecules-to-man evolution would require. The fact that the antibiotic-resistant N. meningitidis are less fit than their susceptible siblings suggests that their resistance probably involves a loss of genetic information or else no change in information.
Can non-life evolve? Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have discovered that infectious protein particles called prions can adapt to new environments and compete with one another.
Prions, known for their role in causing diseases such as “mad cow,” are similar to viruses in that they are not alive, yet are able to replicate themselves through the assistance of a host. Specifically, abnormal (disease-causing) prions multiply by corrupting normal prions in the body.
In the Scripps study, scientists transferred prions from brain cells to other cells. Some prions successfully “adapted” and quickly overran other prions. However, when transferred back to brain cells, the prions that had adapted were unable to compete, and the prions still suited for brain cells became dominant again.
Scripps’ Charles Weissmann explained, “On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses. This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active.”
Are the prions “evolving”? We echo Weissmann in that, “on the surface,” it would be fair to consider the prion population in the experiment to be “evolving”—in the sense of “changing” based on a selective process. However, we note, first, that even the simplest single-celled life-forms are astoundingly complex compared to prions, and, second, the way the prions are “adapting” is by corrupting other prions more rapidly—which does not sound like a constructive equivalent of the information-adding mutations Darwinists need evolution to produce. Thus, even if we assume that no minority of “adapted” prions was in the experimental population to begin with, prion evolution offers a poor analogy to Darwin’s eons-long process.
Bible-believers have spent a great deal of time considering the design of Noah’s Ark. Is it possible that they—and Genesis—have it all wrong?
A Babylonian clay tablet telling the Flood account describes Noah’s Ark as a “giant circular reed raft,” the Guardian reports. The artifact was found in the mid-twentieth century, but was only much later translated by the British Museum’s Irving Finkel.
As for which account came first—the Hebrew or the Mesopotamian version—the Guardian confidently declares that the latter “became” the former (i.e., that the Genesis account is an altered version of an ancient tale). This conclusion presumably rests on the dating of Mesopotamian accounts—such as the one in question—to around 1700 BC, although such dates do not preclude the Genesis account from being older. On the contrary, the proliferation of Flood accounts beginning in the mid-second millennium BC reflects corrupted retellings of the true Flood story (recorded in Genesis) as people groups spread away from Babel. Each of these accounts, although imperfect, provides further evidence for the historical reality of the Ark and the Flood.
Describing the significance of the find, Finkel explains, “In all the images ever made people assumed the [A]rk was, in effect, an ocean-going boat, with a pointed stem and stern for riding the waves—so that is how they portrayed it. But the [A]rk didn’t have to go anywhere, it just had to float, and the instructions are for a type of craft which they knew very well.” However, Finkel’s conclusion that the round Ark reflects a type of craft known to ancient Mesopotamians could just as well mean the Flood account in the artifact had been altered (corrupted) to accommodate a boat shape better known to its writers.
The article concludes by quoting John D. Morris of the Institute for Creation Research, who says of (possibly) finding the Ark that “no significant art[i]fact could ever be of greater antiquity or importance.” Morris previously expounded on such thoughts in the Answers magazine article Has Noah’s Ark Been Found?
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