1. Futurity.org: “Flowers ‘optimized’ colors for bee vision

Pollinating bees prefer the same colors on any continent.

Bees tend to prefer certain flower colors. According to bee expert Adrian Dyer and colleagues from Australia’s Monash University, bee color perception drove the evolution of flower color to be the same worldwide. As a result, the flower petal colors in Australia and Europe look the same to bees.

“Australia’s long-term isolation [34 million years by evolutionary reckoning] means that species of plants here and in Europe independently evolved to have similarly colored petals,” says Dyer. “Our research shows that the common factor here is the known color vision discrimination abilities of bees. The plants have, over time, developed petals that will attract bees to act as pollinators.”

Yellow flower
Bees’ eyes are equipped with different kinds of receptors than humans. This is a reconstruction of how a bee would see a yellow flower. (Credit: Monash University; Image from http://www.futurity.org/science-technology/flowers-‘optimized’-colors-for-bee-vision/)

Bees prefer what they can distinguish best. They are able to see ultraviolet light and a limited part of our visible spectrum. “Bees have trichromatic vision based on ultraviolet, blue and green photoreceptors, so what they see is very different from what we see.” Dyer explains. “However, bees from around the world all appear to have very similar color vision.”

So which came first, bee color perception or petal color? In the evolutionary scenario, it was bee color perception. Dyer says, “Previous research has determined that color vision present in modern bees actually evolved before angiosperms, meaning the plants probably adapted their flower color to take advantage of pre-existing conditions.”

The research demonstrating that bee color vision evolved prior to flower colors is described in Chittka’s 1996 study, “Does Bee Color Vision Predate the Evolution of Flower Color?” Those familiar with order in the fossil record can probably predict the answer. Chittka reported that many insects and crustaceans possess various combinations of the receptors seen in bees. Therefore, Chittka writes, “we can infer that the Cambrian ancestors of extant insects and crustaceans possessed UV, blue, and green receptors. . . . Hence, insects were well preadapted for flower color coding more than 500 Ma [million years] ago, about 400 Ma [million years] before the extensive radiation of the angiosperm [flowering] plants which started in the middle Cretaceous (100 Ma ago), although the origin of the angiosperms might have to be placed in the Triassic.”1

Because evolutionists interpret the fossil record in light of their unverifiable presupposition that molecules-to-man evolution occurred over billions of years, they believe being buried deeper proves an organism evolved before another organism. And because they believe organisms diverged from common ancestors, they believe shared traits (such as color receptors) present in living organisms were once found in their earliest common ancestors. In this case, that means bee ancestors evolved their particular kind of color vision during the Cambrian explosion. And it means that when flowers eventually evolved, only those with the right colors to be distinguishable and appealing to ancestral pollinators survived, being naturally selected by the insects. The current study simply asserts that the long evolutionary history of bee vision guided the evolution of flower color the same way on continents long separated, with the presence of bees on those continents already established before the separation.

When we view the fossil record in light of biblical history, however, we see that the layering of fossils predominantly represents the order in which organisms, which had all lived at the same time just before the Flood, were catastrophically buried as a result of the global Flood. Furthermore, organisms vary within their created kinds and do not evolve into new kinds.

So, what came first, bee vision or flower color? The answer is in Genesis. God made all kinds of plants on the third day of Creation Week and flying creatures on the fifth day, all about 6,000 years ago. God created plants and animals to reproduce successfully, so we can conclude that He created some organisms capable of forming productive partnerships such as we see here. The genetic capacity to vary would enable some organisms to establish mutually favorable partnerships as conditions changed. But the flowers came first.

It comes as no surprise that God, our Common Designer, equipped many organisms with the same sorts of visual receptors. And it is also no surprise that bee attraction to certain sorts of flowers would, through the process of natural selection, cause proliferation of flowers most attractive to pollinators. None of this supports molecules-to-man evolution but nicely illustrates the proper functioning and interrelationship of the organisms God made.

2. Yahoo! News UK: “Palaeolithic paintings: Europe's oldest cave artwork discovered

Who left their handprints in northern Spain?

Cave art in Spain is changing the way evolutionary anthropologists see Neanderthals and early modern humans. But which early Europeans get credit for the oldest known art in Europe is still up for grabs. The answer, in the minds of evolutionary anthropologists, depends on the dates for when Neanderthals and early modern humans lived, and dates newly assigned to the paintings.

Handprints
The sample known as O-83 was taken from the flowstone deposited over a large red stippled disk in El Castillo Cave. With a minimum uranium-series-dated age of 40,800 years, Dr. Pike considers O-83 “the oldest known cave art in Europe.”2 The minimum age measured from the calcite deposit over the adjacent handprint was 37,300 years. The similarity of style in over 50 motifs suggests they are contemporary. The yellow bison is superimposed atop the others and was added later. Image from supplementary material available at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2012/06/13/336.6087.1409.DC1.html

Handprints
Hand prints and stippled disks on cave walls in northern Spain could have been made by Neanderthals or early modern humans. Image from http://uk.news.yahoo.com/palaeolithic-paintings--europe-s-oldest-cave-artwork-discovered.html

Dr. Alistair Pike and colleagues report they have uranium-series-dated cave paintings in 11 caves in northern Spain and discovered the oldest known cave art in Europe. Their report follows close on the heels of an announcement that artwork in southern Spain is suspected of being equally ancient. Although the southern cave art—drawings of seals—awaits more definitive dating, radiocarbon analyses of charcoal found alongside it yielded dates of 43,500 to 42,300 years.3 Carbon-14 dating of the red handprints and red dots from northern Spain has produced dates clustering around 35,000 years in some of the caves.4

Carbon-14 dating of cave art is problematic, however. Only organic pigments can be carbon-14 dated. Only small samples can be taken without damaging the artwork. And small sample size often results in inconsistent and possibly contaminated results.5 The previous record-holder for European cave art was found by Jean-Marie Chauvet in 1994 in France. The 30,000 year carbon-14 date for paintings of bears in that French cave has been highly disputed.6

In a new approach to dating cave art, uranium-series isotope ratios were measured in tiny bits of calcite flowstone stuck to the painted surfaces. Because the paintings underneath had to be made prior to the formation of the flowstone adhering to them, the uranium-series method—if reliable—would establish a minimum age for the paintings.7 Using the uranium-series method in this way to date the flowstone stuck to paintings in the caves in northern Spain, Dr. Alistair Pike’s team reports that some artwork is at least 40,800 years old. Investigators found a range of dates spanning about 20,000 years, but those ages represent only the “minimum ages” for the paintings as the flowstone deposits could have formed anytime after the paintings were made. Similarity of artistic style in the red handprints, red stippled shapes, and other red motifs suggest the same cultural group made them. But which culture?

“We see evidence for earlier human symbolism in the form of perforated beads, engraved egg shells and pigments in Africa 70-100,000 years ago,” Pike says, ‘but it appears that the earliest cave paintings are in Europe.”

“Evidence for modern humans in Northern Spain dates back to 41,500 years ago, and before them were Neanderthals,” Pike explains. “Our results show that either modern humans arrived with painting already part of their cultural activity or it developed very shortly after . . . or perhaps the art is Neanderthal art. . . . That would be a fantastic find as it would mean the hand stencils on the walls of the caves are outlines of Neanderthals' hands, but we will need to date more examples to see if this is the case.”

While Neanderthal artifacts found elsewhere have included jewelry, pigments, and tools for applying pigments, no confirmed cave paintings have been found.8 Many evolutionary anthropologists have resisted the notion that Neanderthals possessed complex language or the capacity for abstract thought. Therefore, if these paintings come to be accepted as the work of Neanderthals, the brutish Neanderthal reputation may get an upgrade.

Evolutionary anthropologist Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum recently described the importance of dates to the human evolutionary story. He said, in connection with the La Sima fossils in northern Spain’s Atapuerca cavern system, “If we cannot correctly fix the age and identity of the remains then we are in trouble. Getting that wrong even affects how we construct our own evolution.”9 These cave paintings are not accompanied by fossils, so, from the perspective of evolutionary anthropology, the dates must determine who could have made the pictures.

The dates assigned to varieties of humans such as Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis are based on unverifiable, uniformitarian assumptions inherent in conventional dating methods. Human fossils are found in Pleistocene deposits alongside typical Ice Age animals. Neanderthals are found in Middle Pleistocene deposits in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Maps
Maps from Answers magazine showing the locations of some of the people groups whose fossils are found in Pleistocene (Ice Age) deposits. “The last Neanderthal fossils are found in locations in southern France and Gibraltar … Apparently, Neanderthals and their cousins died off about the same time that the Ice Age ended.” 10

Human Fossils in Ice Age
This illustration shows how some of the human fossils found in Ice Age sediments fit into the biblical timeline. Whether Neanderthal or Homo heidelbergensis, the people buried at La Sima were descendants of Noah’s family who arrived in Europe sometime after the dispersion from Babel. Homo heidelbergensis, not pictured on this diagram, are found in the Middle Pleistocene. Illustration from Answers magazine part of a feature complete with helpful diagrams explaining how “cavemen” can be explained within the biblical timeline. See them all in the special feature: “Finding a Home for Cavemen: Who were they?, When did they live?, How are they different?

All human beings since the time of the global Flood—including all the humans buried and fossilized during the Ice Age in Pleistocene layers—were descended from Noah’s family. The group of humans we know as Neanderthals apparently died off by the end of the Ice Age. There is no reason to suspect they were some lower form of brute just because they apparently left us no writing or cleverly designed artifacts. We know from Scripture that they did possess language because God had confused the language of the people who were building the Tower of Babel, forcing different language groups to separate. (Genesis 11:6–8). Neanderthals were descendants of one of those groups dispersed from Babel.

We, like Dr. Pike, are excited about the possibility that these handprints may have been made by Neanderthals, though not to sort out our evolutionary past. If the handprints are Neanderthal, then—like their graves, jewelry, tools, and pigment kits—the prints serve as a reminder that people, despite superficial differences, are all descended from the first Adam. Thus, we are all more alike than different and all answerable to our Creator God who, according to Acts 17:24–31, “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

People like Neanderthals and early modern humans dispersing from Babel (at God’s “insistence”) were replenishing the earth just a few hundred years after the judgment of the global Flood. But God’s plan for humanity didn’t end with man’s rebellion and God’s judgment. All along, God had plans to send Jesus Christ into the world as Savior, a blessing to all people. Be sure to read more about these early players in humanity’s story in the series of articles, “Finding a Home for Cavemen: Who were they?, When did they live?, How are they different?

3. Futurity.org: “Angry birds may reveal evolution in action

Angry birds are genetically wired for aggression . . . but they’re still birds.

“Individual variation is the raw material of evolution,” says Indiana University’s Kimberly Rosvall. “We report that free-living birds vary in aggression and the more aggressive individuals express higher levels of genes related to testosterone processing in the brain.” Rosvall’s study of wild junco birds demonstrates that individual variation in brain sensitivity to hormones, not the actual amount of hormone present, correlates with behavior. The study also uncovers a mechanism by which hormones like testosterone promote aggression. The researchers believe their results help explain the evolution of aggressive behavior.

The well-known fact that hormones affect behavior is the basis, of course, for such practices as the gelding of animals. “But very few people have looked to see if individuals actually do vary in expression of these genes [related to hormonal sensitivity], and whether this individual variation means anything, in terms of an animal’s behavior,” Rosvall says. “Our work shows that it does.”

Hormones, like testosterone and estrogen, are chemical messengers. They circulate throughout the body in the blood and therefore can affect many target organs, including the brain. The cells of target organs must have receptors for a particular hormone in order to react to it. Those receptors are manufactured when genes directing their construction are expressed. Therefore, if high levels of messenger RNA (mRNA) associated with a particular gene are found, that gene is strongly expressed.

Dr. Rosvall’s team found that wild junco birds with high levels of mRNA for several hormones demonstrated more aggressive behavior toward birds of the same sex. Elevated sensitivity to the hormones was present in areas of the birds’ brains associated with aggressive behavior and song control. Both sexes demonstrated predictable behaviors such as flyovers, dive-bombing, and territorial singing. For example, males with more mRNA for estrogen receptors sang more songs at intruders. Dive-bombers of both sexes had more testosterone-related mRNA.

Even though hormones are known to affect behavior, circulating levels of the hormone testosterone do not correlate well with aggression. From this study, for junco birds at least, it seems that genetically mediated brain sensitivity to testosterone influences aggressive behavior, rather than the amount of testosterone present.

“On the one hand, we have lots of evidence to suggest that testosterone is important in the evolution of all kinds of traits,” Rosvall explains. “On the other hand, we know that individual variation is a requirement for natural selection, but individual variation in testosterone does not always predict behavior. This conundrum has led to debate among researchers about how hormone-mediated traits evolve.”

Finding this strong relationship between individual genetic expression and a behavior that affects reproductive success prompts evolutionary scientists to claim discovery of a mechanism by which “evolution could shape behavior via changes in the expression of these genes.”

Why these genes are expressed more strongly in certain birds remains an open question. There is a possibility, researchers note, that environmental pressures could up-regulate or down-regulate such genetic expression. Similar epigenetic controls have been found in other areas of animal and human biology. While that idea has a somewhat Lamarkian ring to it, the increase of various traits within a created kind or even a species has nothing to do with evolution of new kinds of animals. Environmentally influenced genetic expression—if that turns out to be the case here—would only help explain how behavioral variations occur within a created kind.

The findings in this study, whatever the cause of variation, help explain how behavioral variations can occur within a kind. However, change within a created kind is not evidence for evolution of one kind into a new kind. Such “new kinds” would require new genetic information, not just an altered expression of existing information. Evolutionists have never provided a valid biological mechanism for producing new genetic information.

No evolution in the molecules-to-man sense is required to produce an angry bird. And neural sensitivity to hormones is quite inadequate to even begin to produce a non-bird. Birds, like all kinds of animals, were created to reproduce after their kinds and given the ability to change within those kinds. Studies like this show us one of the ways such variation can occur, even producing more aggressive varieties and species.

4. The Nation: “What’s the Matter With Creationism?

“The best place to go for original thinking on the left” drips with insults and common misconceptions about creationism.

Popular liberal columnist Katha Pollitt, whose “Subject to Debate” column was called “the best place to go for original thinking on the left” by the Washington Post, decided to rant about creationists in general and Answers in Genesis in particular in her June 14 column in The Nation. Responding to a recent Gallup poll (See And Don’t Miss section for details.) reporting “46 percent of respondents are creationists” (defined by Gallup as agreeing that “God created human beings pretty much in the present form at one time within the last ten thousand years or so”), Pollitt indicts the American educational system for its abysmal failure to convince college graduates that evolution is undeniable. In the course of her essay she not only uses groundless insults as her strongest arguments but also demonstrates her own misunderstanding of the creationist position.

Pollitt is alarmed that “the proportion of college graduates who are creationists is exactly the same as for the general public.” She writes that those who reject evolution refuse to use their brains and sarcastically refers to a typical “pastor with a Bible-college degree or a homeschooling parent with no degree at all” as among those so foolish as to flatter themselves by thinking they can see the “obvious holes” in evolutionary arguments.

She misrepresents creationists as foolish enough to think an ancient ivory flute recently discovered in southern Germany and dated at 43,000 years old was just “some old bone left over from an ancient barbecue,” and she ignores the creation scientists’ position that the dating of such objects is based on unverifiable assumptions. She also does not acknowledge that creationists publish scientifically reasonable, biblically consistent explanations of how the makers of such a flute fit into the biblical timeline. 11

The Creation Museum’s latest addition gets a particular mention. Pollitt writes, “To celebrate its fifth anniversary, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, has installed a holographic exhibit of Lucy, the famous proto-human fossil, showing how she was really just a few-thousand-year-old ape after all.” (Be sure to read more about the exhibit, the evidence presented by the evolutionists, and the true significance of Lucy in A Look at Lucy’s Legacy. ) Pollitt is under that impression that creationists rely on a “fundamentally paranoid worldview” and believe “almost every scientist on earth” is “engaged in a fraud so complex and extensive it [involves] every field from archaeology, paleontology, geology and genetics to biology, chemistry and physics. . . a massive concatenation of lies and delusions.”

Pollitt joins outspoken evolutionary biologist Kenneth Miller in fear that humanity is endangered by the existence of so many who refuse to jump aboard the evolutionary bandwagon. “Science education has been remarkably ineffective,” Miller told her. “Those of us in the scientific community who are religious have a tremendous amount of work to do in the faith community. . . . There’s a potential for great harm when nearly half the population rejects the central organizing principle of the biological sciences. It’s useful for us as a species to understand that we are a recent appearance on this planet and that 99.9 percent of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct.”

The columnist did have access to information about the importance of worldview—the decision to accept or reject God’s Word as reliable history—in interpreting scientific observations regarding origins. Though she did not mention it in her column, she did interview Dr. Andrew Snelling of Answers in Genesis. Dr. Snelling holds a PhD in geology from the University of Sydney in Australia. As in his recent interview with a UK radio show host, Dr. Snelling explained that the origins issue doesn’t turn on the evidence but upon the worldview through which the evidence is viewed. Creation scientists, such as the professionals at Answers in Genesis, do not ignore science and scientific evidence. Neither do we claim to “prove” the events described in Genesis 1–11 happened using science. We instead point out that the Creation and global Flood described in Genesis are consistent explanations for scientific observations. Dr. Snelling also reports that he explained to her in great detail about the unproven assumptions involved in the radioactive dating methods, including radiocarbon, to demonstrate that creationists’ objections to the grossly inflated ages for fossils like Lucy are based on solid, empirical (testable) evidence.

The “overwhelming evidence of evolution” to which Pollitt refers does not “prove” that life randomly evolved from non-living chemicals, that organisms evolved from other kinds of organisms, or that the earth has existed for billions of years, either. Instead, evolutionists choose to ignore the biblical eyewitness record provided by our Creator. They replace God’s account with a story of their own making in an attempt to explain life without God. We as creationists do not believe the world is full of scientists perpetrating a fraudulent web of lies. No, we believe that each scientist involved in historical/origins science brings along various untestable presuppositions that color his or her interpretation of data.

Taking a biblical stand does not undermine science or place humanity in jeopardy. Our recent discussion of ad hominem attacks on the renowned surgeon Dr. Ben Carson described equally uninformed prejudices. Experimental science involving the ability to make observations, develop and test hypotheses, and devise possible solutions for the world’s medical and environmental challenges does not rely on acceptance of untestable evolutionary beliefs about events long past.

Be sure to read more about why creation scientists are real scientists at Chapter 14: Can Creationists Be “Real” Scientists?, the difference between experimental/operational science and historical/origins science at Feedback: Evolutionary Call to Arms, the real nature of Tennessee’s new law affecting education at The Teacher Protection Academic Freedom Act, News to Note, June 9, 2012 concerning myths about the Scopes trial, the significance of Lucy in A Look at Lucy’s Legacy, and the biblical timeline explaining where the human fossils belong in When Did Cavemen Live? and don’t miss An Evaluation of the Myth That “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”, an insightful refutation of Kenneth Miller’s assertion that evolution is the “central organizing principle of the biological sciences.”

And Don’t Miss …

  • As a further reminder that evolutionary explanations are routinely tacked on anything and everything, often to lend an air of scientific authority, Professor Michael Goran’s discussion of New York Mayor Bloomberg’s slam on sugary soda provides valuable information but ultimately resorts to evolution to get the point across. (Last week, we discussed how evolutionary biologist David Lieberman used authoritative statements about the evolution of the human sweet tooth to justify the need for governmental coercion to protect us from ourselves.) Goran, an expert on childhood obesity, offers an illuminating discussion of the sugary culprit commonly called “high fructose corn syrup.” He explains why the sugar commonly called “fruit sugar” is not nearly so healthy as the name might imply when it enters the human body minus the fruit. But while educating consumers about their nutritional choices, the author finally plays his evolution card when he says, “Studies show a strong link between high sugar consumption and obesity beginning in infancy. Why? Because from an evolutionary perspective babies are not programmed to handle fructose, which is not present in breast milk.” With all due respect to Goran’s otherwise helpful nutritional advice, evolution has nothing to do with the fact that human babies are designed to digest the kind of sugar in human breast milk. God designed human milk for human babies’ digestive systems, just as He designed cow’s milk to meet the needs of calves. A better use of the allotted word count might be to provide even more information about the actual effects of such a sweetener on young children. 12 The warnings Goran shares are clear and authoritative not because of evolution but because they are based on experimental/operational medical science. Evolution simply has nothing to do with it.
  • Be sure to read Are Mermaids Our Evolutionary Cousins? to be informed about a recent television special. Unlike ordinary science fiction in which the fictional nature of the material is clear from the beginning, this “docufiction” leads the reader on with subtle wording and the style typically found in documentaries. The program also promotes a form of the “aquatic ape hypothesis” and a number of more commonly accepted evolutionary assertions. One of the video clips promoting the series, for example, notes the fact that a polar bear can swim underwater as evidence that marine mammals evolved from terrestrial ones.13 It says this is “documented science” and asserts polar bears are “evolving into marine mammals” before our eyes. The clip also uses speciation as evidence for evolution of new kinds of animals, a common logical error. Additional footage on the promotional clip refers to the exceptional aquatic abilities of some native people as evolutionary vestiges demonstrating “part of our evolution took place in the water.” The lurking implication is that some people are at a different place on the evolutionary scale than others. Thus the program’s promotional material has both subtle racist implications and not-so-subtle assertions about supposed human evolutionary history that can be easily absorbed by the unwary.

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Footnotes

  1. http://www.culturaapicola.com.ar/apuntes/revistaselectronicas/Chittka/17.pdf Back
  2. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2012/06/13/336.6087.1409.DC1.html Back
  3. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21458-first-neanderthal-cave-paintings-discovered-in-spain.html Back
  4. A.W.G. Pike et al., “U-Series Dating of Paleolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain,” Science 336 (15 June 2012): 1409-1413. doi: 10.1126/science Back
  5. Ibid. Back
  6. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028093.900-bear-dna-is-clue-to-age-of-chauvet-cave-art.html Back
  7. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21925-oldest-confirmed-cave-art-is-a-single-red-dot.html?full=true Back
  8. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13536-neanderthals-wore-makeup-and-liked-to-chat.html Back
  9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jun/10/fossil-dating-row-sima-huesos-spain (Quoted in News to Note, June 16, 2012.) Back
  10. When Did Cavemen Live? Back
  11. To learn how various early humans fit into the biblical timeline see Who Were Cavemen? and When Did Cavemen Live? For a full explanation of the value and limitations of radiocarbon dating, see Carbon-14 Dating—Understanding the Basics, Carbon-14 in Fossils and Diamonds, and A Creationist Puzzle. See News to Note, June 2, 2012 for our discussion of that particular flute. Back
  12. http://www.parenting.com/article/corn-syrup-in-formula Back
  13. http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/did-we-evolve-from-aquatic-mammals/pas3p8v Back