Archive of items from Evidence News

Seeing with sea stars reported in ABC News in Science 27 August 2015. Scientists have known for many years that sea stars, or starfish, have simple eyes at the tip of each arm, but they always assumed that these merely enabled them to tell light from dark and orientate themselves towards darker regions in their environment. This is a useful function as they can find food on rocks and reefs, but not on the sandy bottom of the sea. Starfish only have a simple nerve net, rather than a proper brain, so scientists assumed they could not form an image of their surroundings. However, over the last few years research has shown that starfish can see better than we gave them credit for.

Ronald Petie of the University of Copenhagen removed the eyes from some crown of thorns starfish and placed them on the sand away from their reef home. Starfish with eyes headed straight back to the reef, but those without eyes wandered at random. He also recorded the electric signals from the eyes in different coloured light, and found they were most sensitive to blue light – a useful feature for a reef dwelling creature.

Petie commented: “Everybody thought starfish only used smell for orientation. But now we know this is not true for the crown of thorns starfish and one more species”.

The one more species is the blue sea star, Linckia laevigata, which was studied by Anders Garm at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and reported in ScienceDaily and New Scientist 5 July 2013. He carried out a series of similar experiments where he removed eyes from some starfish and left others intact, and then moved them off their rocky habitat and placed them onto the sandy bottom. The eyeless stars wandered around at random, whilst the one with eyes quickly went back to their reef home.

According to Garn: “From an evolutionary point of view it is interesting because the morphology of the starfish eyes along with their optical quality (quality of the image) is close to the theoretical eye early in eye evolution when image formation first appeared. In this way it can help clarify what the first visual tasks were that drove this important step in eye evolution, namely navigation towards the preferred habitat using large stationary objects (here the reef)”.

New Scientist commented: “The discovery is another blow to creationist arguments that something as complex as a human eye could never evolve from simpler structures”.

ABC, New Scientist, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Now let’s get this straight. You pull the eyes out of a starfish and discover those that still have eyes see better than those without and this leads to the claim that this “discovery is another blow to creationist arguments that something as complex as a human eye could never evolve from simpler structures”.

Come on guys - such studies are no blow to creationists at all! We have no trouble explaining how the all-wise Creator gave sea stars ‘simple’ eyes that were most sensitive to the right kind of light, and could form a good enough image to enable stars to find their way home.

How about the evolutionists try explaining how “visual tasks” could drive a creature that did not have any vision at all to evolve eyes. The presence of blue light and the difference in light between the rocky reefs and sandy bottoms is not going to give any eyeless creature the genetic information needed to build even simple eyes, as well as connect them to its nervous system, and enable it to interpret the visual information collected by the eyes.

Furthermore, evolutionists don’t have a clue how the simple eye of a starfish later evolved by chance into the ‘complex eye’ and visual system of the human eye and brain. In both cases it makes far more sense that the Creator gave each creature with eyes the most appropriate eyes and brain for its needs. (Ref. vision, optics, echinoderms, sea stars)

Evidence News vol. 15 No.17
23 September 2015
Creation Research Australia

Flexible beetle brains found according to National Geographic 24 August 2015, PhysOrg 25 August 2015 and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1501272112, 24 August 2015. Dung beetles are well known for collecting pieces of animal droppings, rolling them into a ball and then rapidly and purposely rolling the ball in a straight line to their nest, where they bury the dung. To do this they have to navigate across variable terrain, so before rolling their dung ball away they climb on top of it, look around and get orientated. Previous experiments have shown that beetles get navigation clues from the position of the sun and moon, from polarised light, and even from the position of the Milky Way galaxy.

A group of scientists in Sweden and South  Africa have studied the brains of beetles to see how they respond to these navigational clues. They studied two kinds of beetles – diurnal beetles that are mainly active during the daylight hours, and nocturnal beetles who mostly carry out their dung rolling activities at night. By using various experiments with mirrors they worked out that diurnal beetles used the position of the sun and moon to navigate, but the nocturnal beetles used the sun by day but switched to using the pattern of polarised light in the sky at night. Polarised light results from sun or moon light being scattered as it bumps into atoms in the atmosphere with the end result being that the light waves vibrate in only one plane.

The researchers then studied the neurones (brain cells) of the beetles under various light conditions and found that the nocturnal beetles’ brain cells responded to the position of the sun by day, but in low light conditions they switched to responding to polarised light. The brain cells of diurnal (daytime) beetles did not make this switch.

The research team wrote in their summary: “This flexible neural tuning in the nocturnal species provides a simple mechanism that allows it to use the most reliable available orientation cue”. The scientists suggested the nocturnal beetles adapted to the low light conditions by switching from relying on the sun and moon to using polarised light.

National Geographic, PhysOrg

Editorial Comment: Adaptation simply means the ability to cope with changes in the environment or with changes in activity. Therefore, when the nocturnal beetles change from orientation by the sun in daylight to orientation by polarised light after it gets dark, that is an adaptation, but it has nothing to do with evolution. It only works if the necessary means to make the change already exists. The daytime dung beetles do not have the ability to use polarised light, so their brain cells don’t make the change, and they never will unless an outside creator adds the necessary information and reprograms the cells.

If any change has occurred in dung beetle brain cells it is more likely that the daytime beetles lost the ability to adapt at night, and therefore prefer to work during the day. The ‘polarising detector mode’ won’t evolve by itself in beetles that didn’t have it in the first place, since the presence of polarised light will never add anything to the beetles’ brain cells.

These studies reveal the genius of the Creator, who knew the world needed dung beetles to be at work all the time, so we wouldn’t always be putting our foot in it, so He built in the required abilities in the beetles’ brain cells. (Ref. neurology, navigation, arthropods, ecology)

Evidence News vol. 15 No.17
23 September 2015
Creation Research Australia

TNT resistant plant appears according to articles in Science Shots and ScienceDaily 3 September, and Science Vol. 349 pp. 1072-1075 doi: 10.1126/science.aab3472, 4 September 2015.

Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is used as an explosive in many industrial and military applications. Residual TNT left in the ground in sites is toxic to plants, and is a problem for those trying to restore polluted sites such as old mine sites, waste sites, military test grounds and former battlegrounds.

A group of scientists at the University of York have worked out how TNT poisons plants, and have found a mutant plant that tolerates TNT in the soil. It turns out that TNT reacts with a plant enzyme named MDHAR6 and forms a nitro radical that reacts with atmospheric oxygen, generating reactive superoxide that damages plant cells. The mutant plants lack this enzyme, but they still absorb TNT into their roots.

The researchers suggest mutant plants could be used for bio-remediation on contaminated sites. Now that they understand how this enzyme works, their research could also lead to development of new herbicides. Since MDHAR6 is a plant specific enzyme it may be possible to find chemicals that react with it in the same way as TNT, but can be degraded in the environment. These could be then aimed at specific weed infestations but without causing long term pollution.
ScienceDaily, ScienceShots

Editorial Comment: Yet another classical example of Darwinian Devolution, so before anyone suggests these plants have evolved resistance to TNT we need to look at what really happened – they have lost the use of an enzyme. It is a good example of what mutations really do – they cause loss of function, not evolution of new functions.

The fact that this mutation may be put to use by human beings does not make it a good mutation. This was pointed out by one reader’s comments in the Science news website: “Saving plants from TNT toxicity also disables Vitamin C recycling. Releasing that mutation into the world may be of limited cleverness overall, ye scurvy dogs”.

This degenerate plant, and the fact that we need to clean up chemical pollution, is another reminder that the whole world is going downhill, not evolving upwards. (Ref. botany, environment, biochemistry)

Evidence News vol. 15 No.17
23 September 2015
Creation Research Australia

Notable Quotable On Richard Dawkins in Nature vol.525, pp184–185, doi:10.1038/525184a, 10 September 2015. Militant atheist Richard Dawkins has released a new autobiographical book, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science.

In a review of the book historian Nathaniel Comfort writes: “In the early 2000’s, he saltated from popularizer into evangelist. His 2006 book The God Delusion (Bantam) was an ecclesiophobic diatribe, published around the same time as Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great (Twelve, 2007) and similar books by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris. The gospels of Christopher, Daniel, Sam and Richard form the scripture of the ‘new atheism’, a fundamentalist sect that has mounted a scientistic crusade against all religion”.

Editorial Comment: “Ecclesiophobic diatribe”? We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. “Ecclesiophobic” means “fear of the church”, and considering the history of the many man-made institutional churches that could be warranted. What Dawkins and other atheists really need to be is Theophobic! They need to fear God who as their Creator has the authority and power to judge them, but also the love to save them from their rebellion against Him, if they would only turn to Him rather than writing angry diatribes. If they did this they would find the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) Sadly, Christopher Hitchens has already found this out the hard way – he died in 2011. (Ref. quote, sceptics, atheists)

Evidence News vol. 15 No.17
23 September 2015
Creation Research Australia

Killing sharks causes climate change, according to articles in ABC News 29 September 2015 and Nature Climate Change doi:10.1038/nclimate2763, Published online 28 September 2015. Peter Macreadie of Deakin University and colleagues have been studying “blue carbon ecosystems”, i.e. seagrasses, salt marshes, mangroves. According to Macreadie “they're among the most powerful carbon sinks in the world. Therefore they will capture and store carbon at a rate 40 times faster than tropical rainforests like the Amazon and they'll store that carbon in the ground for millennial time scales”.

The research team found that in areas such as the Cape Cod region in northeastern USA and Australian Mangroves, where there has been overfishing of predatory fish and sharks, there was an increase in other marine creatures such as turtles, crabs, worms and stingrays, which eat the vegetation and release the carbon.

Macreadie explained: “If we just lost 1 per cent of the oceans’ blue carbon ecosystems, it would be equivalent to releasing 460 million tonnes of carbon annually, which is about the equivalent of about 97 million cars. It’s about equivalent to Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions”.

The research team wrote in the their report: “We identify an urgent need for further research on the influence of predators on carbon cycling in vegetated coastal habitats, and ultimately the role that these systems play in climate change mitigation”.

According to Macreadie: “Sharks, believe it or not, are helping to prevent climate change”.


Editorial Comment: We do need further research into marine ecosystems, especially coastal communities such as salt marshes, mangroves and seagrass meadows, and we need to find ways of fishing in more sustainable ways, but not for the reasons Macreadie’s research team claim.

We should study how these ecosystems work and how they recycle nutrients, and then come up with ways of working with that system to sustain both people and animals. Wisely managing the resources of the sea is part of the mandate given to man at creation when God gave us the command to rule over the fish of the sea. (Genesis 1:26-28) This does not mean ruthlessly exploiting, but using wisely for the benefit of both people and animals, whilst giving thanks to God who provides our needs.

We have control of how we catch fish and what we do to coastlines, but there are many environmental factors we do not have control over, such as rainfall, ocean currents, clouds, winds and the sun – all the factors that really change the climate, and are controlled by God who invented weather, and therefore has the right to use it to bless or to judge. To sustain coastal ecosystems we must use our intelligence to work wisely on the things we can control, and humble ourselves before God who sustains the world with powerful forces that are beyond our control, and ask His blessings on this planet. (Ref. climate, ecology, coastlines)

Evidence News vol. 15 No.18
7 October 2015
Creation Research Australia