Salmon said to have evolved rapidly.
Migratory cycles are often timed so as to take maximum advantage of seasonal conditions. In the case of Pacific pink salmon, the migratory spawning pattern is closely associated with water temperature. Over the past several decades, these fish have started migrating about two weeks earlier. But has this change been associated with any genetic changes? Results of a long-term study indicate it has.
Organisms must of course adapt in order to thrive in changing conditions over time. Often this adaptation to environmental pressures is accomplished without genetic alterations. Such adaptation is called phenotypic plasticity. Population ecologist Ryan Kovach, who led this investigation, describes the difficulty in documenting actual genetic alterations associated with adaptations. He says, “It has been extremely difficult to determine whether any of the multitudes of observed phenological [cyclic or seasonal phenomena] changes in nature are due to rapid microevolution within a population. This study is the first empirical example using genetic data to confirm this theory, and so addresses a key research gap that has been acting as a thorn in the side of the field.”
The researchers assessed changes in salmon population genomes by following the prevalence of a genetic marker bred into late-migrating salmon in the 1980s. The marker itself was unaffected by natural selection. By examining genomes from 17 generations of fish over 32 years, the researchers concluded that the population’s genetic makeup actually did change. The late-migrating fish genome did decrease within the population as the early-migrating fish genome increased. The population remained stable. Therefore, even though any advantage to earlier migration is unknown, it appears the population did not suffer from the one-degree increase in overall water temperature and did respond to the change by an actual genetic alteration.
The researchers term this change microevolution. They do not of course claim salmon changed into non-fish or even a non-salmon. Such variation within created kinds of organisms is observable in nature and may be influenced by natural selection as well as other factors (genetic drift, founder effects, etc.). Creation scientists do not disagree that such change occurs and is even a way in which speciation sometimes occurs.
Implicit in the term microevolution, however, is the idea that the sorts of change observed in these salmon could eventually add up to produce non-fish, given enough time. As creation scientists, therefore, we tend to avoid the use of the term microevolution because evolutionists often say that macroevolution—the supposed evolution of one kind of organism into another—is just “microevolution writ large.” In other words, they tend to use the observable and often rapid occurrence of genetic changes and variation within created kinds of organisms as evidence that new genetic information can be acquired to enable evolution of new kinds of organisms. As Karl Giberson and Frances Collins have written, echoing this evolutionary thought, “Macroevolution is simply microevolution writ large: add up enough small changes and we get a large change.”1
Macroevolution, however, has not been observed. Mutations may certainly contribute to genetic variation, but they represent a loss of information, not an acquisition of new genetic information. And since the reshuffling of existing genetic information and its mutations does not provide the information to evolve new organisms, it is not logical to use observable microevolution as evidence for the occurrence of unobservable macroevolution. Such a “proof” is analogous to the rather foolish sentiment associated with expecting to profit by selling all products at a loss but making up for losses in volume.
God created all kinds of creatures, including fish, about 6,000 years ago to reproduce after their kinds. The adaptive abilities of such creatures may depend on non-genetic or genetic means. It is interesting to see such an example of adaptability in these salmon. We look forward to further studies elucidating how environmental temperature exerts its influence on these fish that seem eminently equipped to adapt to warmer waters.
Tiny tracks trouble evolutionary rate.
A trail of tiny tracks in Uruguay’s Tacuarí Formation has evolutionary pundits scratching their heads to sort out the rate of evolution of early complex life-forms. University of Alberta geologists Ernesto Pecoits and Natalie Aubet have traced the trails left by a miniscule slug-like creature back to a time before such bilaterally symmetrical creatures should have been crawling around.
The tracks, which are about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) long, suggest the creature that made them was only about 4–7 millimeters (0.2–0.3 inches) long and 1–2 millimeters (0.04–0.08 inches) wide. It’s not the size but the shape that has attracted attention. The complex creature that made the tracks appears a little too early for the conventional evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record.
According to Science, the journal in which the report appears, “Direct fossil evidence of animals from Ediacaran period—the time in Earth’s history just before extensive animal diversification in the Cambrian—is scant. However, the remains of animal activity in sediment, which remain intact through geologic time can provide clues about animal behavior and evolution. . . . The complex morphologies of the fossil burrows suggest that these animals actively grazed and had the ability to burrow deep within sediments.”2
The nature of the tracks suggests their maker was bilaterally symmetrical—with “a front and back as well as a top and bottom, unlike corals and sponges.” As explained in a “Perspectives” article—“Old and Groovy”—in the same issue of Science, “Evidence of sediment furrowing over extended distances has been widely accepted as evidence of bilaterian life: Flatworms may glide along a surface and deep-sea protists can produce short furrowed surface traces, but making a long furrowed trace fossil with evidence of backfill requires a bilaterian body plan.”3
Pecoits says they discovered the tracks in 2007, “But at that point we didn't realize the importance of this discovery, because we didn't know the age of these rocks.” Body fossils and tracks of such “advanced multicellular life-forms” with bilateral symmetry have previously been dated as early as 555 million years ago. Uranium-lead dating of zircons in granite intrusions within the sedimentary rock near the tracks (within about 5 meters)4 push the date for the evolution of bilateral symmetry back to at least 585 million years ago, according to evolutionary interpretations. Such a date encroaches uncomfortably close to the conventionally accepted date of 635 million years for the evolutionary emergence of simpler life-forms such as sea sponges.
As the authors of “Old and Groovy” explain, “The principal argument in their paper . . . is at odds with previous suggestions that bilaterian traces first appear at the same time as putative bilaterian body fossils of motile organisms. It is unlikely that the bilaterian record pre-dates that of organisms like sponges and soft corals.”3
Pecoits team writes, “Therefore, it appears as though a maximum interval of 50 My exists between the earliest definitive evidence of sponges and the bilaterians found in the Tacuarí Formation, which implies that early animal evolution took place on a geologically rapid time scale once environmental conditions proved favorable for higher forms of life to colonize the ocean realm.”4 The researchers expect their findings to be met by skepticism because evolutionary thinking presupposes the simpler organisms would have required much longer to evolve into complex bilaterally symmetrical mobile ones.
From a biblical perspective, however, the findings make sense. The vast ages obtained from the radiometric dating methods are interpretations based on unverifiable assumptions. (See Radiometric Dating: Back to Basics, Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions, and Radiometric Dating: Making Sense of the Patterns to learn more.) God created all kinds of living things—both simple and complex—about 6,000 years ago. The fossil record preserves a record of the order in which many creatures were buried—many of them during the global Flood—not the record of their evolutionary emergence. The fossil record preserves many distinct kinds of organisms, but it does not demonstrate evolution of simple kinds of organisms into more complex ones. Thus, the presence of preserved tracks in rock dated inconveniently early for evolutionists is no problem for creationists as those tracks are simply a remarkably preserved record of the fact these creatures lived, not of their evolutionary emergence on earth’s evolutionary tree of life.
Fine filaments on Bavarian theropod boasted to “bridge the considerable gap”5 between “feathered dinosaur” groups.
This fossil of a baby dinosaur dubbed Sciurumimus albersdoerferi is getting a lot of attention thanks to an article published July 2 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When examined with ultraviolet light, the fossil, dug from a quarry in Bavaria, Germany, appears to have patches of skin with very fine, non-branching filaments. Coauthor Mark Norell says:
This is a surprising find from the cradle of feathered dinosaur work, the very formation where the first feathered dinosaur Archaeopteryx was collected over 150 years ago.6
(See News to Note, July 30, 2011 for a discussion of the reclassification of Archaeopteryx, an extinct bird, as a “feathered dinosaur.”)
According to lead author Oliver Rauhut, the filaments, which are no more than 0.2 mm thick, 7 are “very similar” to those found on a number of other dinosaurs. Even though they do not bear any resemblance to actual feathers, evolutionists call such filaments “protofeathers,” a name reflecting the evolutionary belief that they represent an early stage in feather evolution.
So if these “protofeathers” are just like other known “protofeathers,” why the big headlines? What makes the find “surprising”? Well, the authors believe this dinosaur belongs to a dinosaur category not previously known to possess them—megalosauroids.
Evolutionists assert that most of the known “feathered dinosaurs” are coelurosaurs, a diverse group of theropods in which they now include T. rex and birds. Filamentous “protofeathers” have also been found in another group, the ornithischians. (Ornithischians are dinosaurs that—unlike saurischian dinosaurs classed with birds—actually have hip bones constructed somewhat like bird hips; however, evolutionists do not consider the ornithischian group, with its many unusual members, ancestral to birds.) Although the authors describe some difficulty determining this juvenile fossil’s place in the evolutionary phylogenetic tree, they ultimately classified it as a megalosauroid theropod.8
Evolutionists consider megalosauroids to be “a group of archaic sharp-toothed dinosaurs near the base of the theropod family tree.” Therefore, these researchers write:
If one assumes homology between the protofeathers found in coelurosaurs and these ornithischians, the Sciurumimus specimen helps bridge the considerable gap between both filamentous integument structures.8
What gap? The gap in presumed evolutionary relationships between dinosaurs, not the gap in evolutionary feather development.9
Note that the authors are not claiming the filaments are transitional structures between filaments and bona fide feathers. Instead, they are saying that Sciurumimus is in a dinosaur category they believe to be more primitive than other known feathered dinosaurs—or as Rauhut says, “much more basal within the dinosaur family tree.”6 Their “considerable gap” is the lack of an ancestral connection between dinosaurs which evolutionists think are ancestral to birds and those which they believe are not, since members of both groups have been found with filaments of some sort associated with their skin.
Evolutionists also call filamentous “protofeathers” type 1 feathers, still reflecting faith in the evolutionary story. Co-author Helmut Tischlinger, for instance, simply calls the fine-caliber filaments “feathers,” saying, “Under ultraviolet light, remains of the skin and feathers show up as luminous patches.”6
The authors also write:
These structures are identical to the type 1 feathers that have been reported in some ornithischians, the basal tyrannosaur Dilong, the basal therizinosauroid Beipiaosaurus, and, probably, in the basal coelurosaur Sinosauropteryx.8
Despite such assertions, however, these so-called “feathers” bear no resemblance to the size or intricate structure of what we know as a feather. Such “dino-fuzz” (like that on the Sinosauropteryx mentioned above) is even deemed by some evolutionists to be consistent with collagen fibrils,10 considerably different from the keratin of which feathers are composed. But whether these filaments were made of collagen, keratin, or some other substance, whether they were originally connective tissue within the dermis or some sort of filamentous skin appendages, the point is they are not the evolutionary ancestors of feathers. They exist as the miniscule filamentous remnants of something in or on the skin of some dinosaurs, and nothing about them demonstrates evolutionary progression to genuine feathers.
Evolutionists have been unable to document evolutionary progression in feather morphology over time, despite their insistence that filaments like these were the evolutionary prototypes of actual feathers.11 Sciurumimus has the same simple filaments we’ve heard about before. None of the complex anatomy seen in feathers nor even any feather follicles have been found. The authors point to “vertical skin structures that might represent follicles,”12 and in their journal article they sketch an “interpretative drawing showing possible follicles”12 (emphases ours), but they actually found none.
And why do the authors think these unidentified skin structures “might represent follicles”? They explain, “The only comparable structures in the avian skin are the follicles associated with the feathers, so we tentatively suggest that these structures might represent follicles.”12 In other words, birds have follicles, and because these evolutionists are sure that birds evolved from dinosaurs, these must be follicles. The authors even describe their findings as “filamentous plumage.”12 But as anatomist Dr. David Menton, who details the incredible design of actual feathers in his DVD Formed to Fly, comments, “Filaments are not feathers. But evolutionists want to see feathers, so they see feathers.”
Under ultraviolet light these filaments (marked with arrows) look green. (scale bar = 10 mm) Image from www.pnas.org.
Excitement over this new dinosaur discovery rests entirely on the evolutionary assumption that dinosaurs evolved into birds. The impossibility of acquiring genetic information to produce feathers is only one of many problems with this supposed transition. (See Did Dinosaurs Turn Into Birds? for more.) God’s eyewitness account records that God created birds on the fifth day of Creation Week, just one day before He created the land animals, including dinosaurs. And He did it all about 6,000 years ago, making all the kinds of creatures fully equipped with everything needed to thrive and reproduce after their kinds.
Carbonaceous chondrites steal comets’ credit for watering the early earth.
Evolutionary scientists believe water was needed for the evolution of life but have long puzzled about the earth’s primordial water source. A team led by Carnegie Institute’s Conel Alexander expresses this thought by opening their report with these words:
Determining the source(s) of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen accreted by Earth is important for understanding the origins of water and life, and for constraining dynamical processes that operated during planet formation.13
Many evolutionary scientists have suggested asteroids bombarding the earth about 4 billion years ago brought organic compounds and water, supplying the raw materials for life to evolve. Just last year, however, scientists assessing the hydrogen isotopes present in a comet suggested that much of earth’s water came from comets.14 Analysis of the isotopes in carbonaceous chondrites (a type of meteorite) has now trumped the comet claim to fame by demonstrating the isotope content of earth more closely matches the isotopes in chondrites than in comets. These results challenge present theories about the formation of the solar system.
Conventional models of the origin of the solar system originally predicted the distribution of elemental isotopes in the solar system should have been determined by distance from the sun during its formation. However, analysis of solar wind particles collected by NASA’s Genesis spacecraft last year revealed that the isotopes on the earth didn’t match the sun’s.15 Therefore, “an influx of water ice from the outer Solar System . . . has been invoked to explain the non-solar oxygen isotopic composition of the inner Solar System.”13 If that ice came from comets and meteorites that formed at the same place and time, then their isotope compositions should match each other’s and that of the earth.
By way of testing this idea, the Carnegie team analyzed isotopes in hydrated mineral compounds in 86 carbonaceous meteorites. The meteorites were thought to have originated (along with comets) far from the sun. To everyone’s surprise, the isotope ratios in the meteorites did not match those in the comets. This result contradicts prevailing models for the solar system’s origins. To secular cosmologists, the similarity of the isotope ratios to earth’s ratios suggests carbonaceous chondrites and their parent asteroids between Mars and Jupiter supplied earth with water. Alexander said these findings “have important implications for the current models of the formation and orbital evolution of the planets and smaller objects in our Solar System.”
It is not surprising to find that the more information is gleaned about the composition of the solar system, the more discrepancies with secular cosmological notions emerge. Creation scientists have long pointed to problems with the nebular hypothesis, yet most secular scientists have clung to the solar nebula from which they knew we sprang despite the aberrant physics it demands.16 Secular cosmology represents an attempt to explain the origin of the universe without God. By rejecting the only eyewitness account of the universe’s origins, however, secular scientists reject the most reliable information available to them.
The Bible explains the origin of the water on earth and the origin of the entire universe. God, as the Creator, has told us that He spoke the earth into existence about six thousand years ago. It was initially completely covered with water for two days, contrary to the evolutionist view of a hot molten ball that would boil away its water. After providing the earth with an atmosphere, dry land, and plant life, God created the solar system and the other stars. He specifies that He made the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day of Creation Week. Studies of isotopes in space cannot unveil the secrets of the universe’s origins. The secrets thus revealed are only worldview-based interpretations.
Radicalization of the family imminent if amendment to California’s Uniform Parentage Act becomes law.
Already passed by the California Senate and presently in committee, SB1476 is a bill that would amend the California Uniform Parentage Act and threaten to re-define the term parent to a state of meaninglessness. Couched in terms of providing for the best interests of children, the bill, if passed, would allow the courts to appoint any number of adults as legal parents responsible for the support, safety, and nurturing of minor children. Such a law, rather than protecting children, would open a Pandora’s box for parenting possibilities and allow children to become pawns in any number of experimental approaches appealing to the adults in their lives.
Like many such ploys that seek to tinker with the fundamental principles of society, the bill is grounded in situational ethics. Situational ethics is an approach to ethics, standards, and morality based on circumstances rather than fundamental principles. In this case, California Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) says he decided to introduce the bill after he was touched by the plight of a little girl relegated to foster care when her lesbian “parents” became unable to care for her. (One went to jail; the other, to the hospital.) The court declined to appoint her biological father as a “legal parent” because the child already had her quota of legal parents.
Leno claims, “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ families today.” The increasing pressure to allow parental rights to same-sex couples combines with the skyrocketing divorce rate to create a disturbing variety of novel situations for children. These children often become victims of the decisions made by those most responsible for their welfare.
Despite the glowing terms in which Leno describes the supposedly rare situations in which the bill would be applied, the legal ramifications complicating these children’s lives, combined with the lack of data on the long-term impact of “radical families” on children, are a concern to many, from legal experts to conservative groups taking a stand for the traditional, biblical family. In addition, “People in the adoption world get very concerned about a law like this,” according to Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. He points out that the focus should not be on redefining the meaning of parent but on creating a law that simply “permits the child to get what he or she needs.”
For millennia, cultures and families have found ways to allow members of extended family genuinely concerned about children to care for their needs when appropriate. How many have benefited from the helpful ministrations of grandmothers and granddads, aunties, uncles, and even “godparents” unrelated by blood but approved by parents? Yet these people have served the best interests of children for centuries without re-defining parent.
If the legislatures wish to make laws allowing particular individuals in a child’s life to act as “foster parents” or in some other capacity when difficult situations arise, they can do so without changing the meaning of parent. Frankly, in the situation Leno presented as his sympathy-gendering type-case, the problem arose because the laws have already redefined parent by permitting same-sex couples to have parental rights. If this biblically aberrant arrangement had not been legally sanctioned, the child’s biological father would have already been in a position to assist her. Furthermore, while the changes would apply whether the “parents” being defined were homosexual or heterosexual, the bill’s co-sponsorship by the National Center of Lesbian Rights reveals much of the real agenda behind it. There are better ways to care for children—legally, morally, emotionally, and spiritually—than by further destroying the institution God intended as the ideal protection for them.
Biblically, parents (whether biological or adoptive) occupy a unique place in a child’s life as those ultimately responsible for his needs and nurturing. Biblical principles—those provided for us by our Creator who loves us and truly knows what is best for all—would not even permit the possibility of same-sex couple being married and functioning as legal parents for a child. Biblical marriage is a commitment between a man and woman. The institution of marriage was—according to Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:4-6)—created by God in the beginning, though the effects of sin have taken their toll on the nurturing environment of the family. But the cure for the disastrous effects that family breakup has on children is not to further deconstruct and redefine the family and its parts but to return to a commitment to the kind of family God appointed from the beginning of Creation.
Be sure to watch our website for further analysis of this important issue.
Some months back we heard from the UK that people who accept the reality of a Creator God are insane.17 Now we are hearing that those who would dare tell a child that God is real, much less that His eyewitness account of the creation of a literal Adam and Eve is genuine, are guilty of “child abuse.” While sanctioning the teaching of common multicultural values, the author of a blog column in the Independent–UK says those who teach creationism as fact are “perverting education.” The blogger’s basis for this statement rests on her anecdotal experience—that the so-called “committed Christians” in her life “don’t for a moment believe that Adam and Eve were ever a physically living people”—and her conviction that there is “more than one sort of truth.” Yet, logically, contradictory things cannot be true at the same time. Furthermore, because fallible and rebellious human beings over millennia have often chosen to worship false gods, the fallible and rebellious human being who wrote this blog column believes “God” is only “man’s name for the almost unimaginable force which drove (drives) the process of evolution and change – a personification.” Yet God’s account of Creation and the global Flood are consistent with the biology and geology we see in this world. The blogger extols the virtues of teaching children “to think and reason for themselves.” It seems, however, that she is only in favor of allowing children this privilege after they have been thoroughly indoctrinated to believe there is no God. She derides those who would “withhold facts and information” from children. Yet she would withhold from them an honest and open exposure to the Word of God and an honest exposure to the multitudinous scientific criticisms of the myths of evolution and millions of years. Frankly, her hypocritical stand can be summed up like this: “Children should be taught to think and reason for themselves so long as it is certain they will accept as true the things their atheistic instructors tell them are true; then if they decide there is moral value buried in Bible stores, they are free to enjoy them.” How sad this blogger has not known “committed Christians” who actually accept the whole truth of Scripture. Christians who adopt compromise positions regarding evolution and millions of years cannot offer consistently defensible answers to this world. For more information see Feedback: “The Search for the Historical Adam” and Population Genomics.
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, the 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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