Archive of items from Evidence News

Making mother of pearl from nanoparticles described in ScienceDaily 16 January 2016 and Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 10097 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10097. Stephan Wolf of University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and colleagues have studied the structure of nacre (mother of pearl) from a clam shell using high-resolution images from a scanning transmission electron microscope to see how nacre is formed. Nacre is a hard substance made from calcium carbonate, but it is not formed by crystallisation, where atoms or ions are deposited from a saturated solution. Instead, the scientists found that nacre was formed from calcium carbonate nanoparticles of 50 – 80nm in an organic matrix, which are grouped together to form crystalline aragonite platelets, which are then organised to form nacre platelets. (Aragonite is a particular form of Calcium Carbonate).

Stephan Wolf explained, “If we compare the growth process of mother-of-pearl to building a house, the clam uses a kind of prefabricated construction method, while crystallisation is like building a wall out of individual bricks.”

The platelets are embedded into an organic matrix that holds them together. This structure makes the nacre very strong and resilient. Wolf went on to explain “The fact that this layer structure is made up of smaller particles that also include organic material has a significant influence on the mechanical properties of the clam shell. A comparable crystalline material made of individual ions would break much more quickly.”

Materials scientists are working on developing high performance ceramics based on “templates found in nature”. According to Stephan Wolf, “We are looking at not only the form and resistance of the materials but also their energetic advantages. After all, mother-of-pearl doesn't form in an oven, it forms in cold sea water.”


Editorial Comment: Time to admit it you evolutionists: making anything using prefabricated components involves design upon design. The prefabricated components have first to be designed and built using the properties of the raw materials to make components with the correct structure. Then these components have to be fitted together according to an overall design, using even more designed structures to hold them all together. Neither the components nor the overall structure are made by chance random processes.

This will become much more obvious if materials scientists ever do manage to make ceramics with properties similar to mother of pearl using techniques similar to how the shellfish makes nacre in cool sea water. And that will require much creative design and intelligent engineering. Any success will be a triumph of biomimetics – the new science of creating structures and devices based on natural substances and living organisms. As such, biomimetics reminds scientists, engineers and laypeople alike they are without excuse when they fail to see the creative design in the living world around them, and doubly guilty if they fail to give honour to the Creator Christ who made the living things we are trying to copy. (Ref. seashells, ceramics, biomimicry)

Evidence News vol. 16, No. 1
20 January 2016
Creation Research Australia

Heat control for hummingbirds reported in BBC News and Royal Society Open Science doi: 10.1098/rsos.150598, 16 December 2015. Hummingbirds are known for their very high wingbeat, which can be up to 70 times per second when they are hovering. All this activity generates a lot of heat, which must be dissipated or the bird will overheat. Birds’ feathers form very efficient insulators, and keep body heat in, so they must have some way to let heat out when necessary.

Donald Powers of George Fox University, Oregon, USA, and colleagues studied flying hummingbirds with a thermal camera and particle image velocimetry to test the effects of flight speed on heat loss from specific body regions. They found the birds shed heat from around their eyes, shoulder regions and feet. During hovering the birds dangled their feet, which enhanced the heat loss. Using their measurements the scientists concluded “that hummingbirds actively alter routes of heat dissipation as a function of flight speed.”

Donald Powers explained, "As flight power requirement increases- it is highest when hummingbirds hover - the amount of heat generated increases. But these 'windows' are sufficient at moderate temperatures to dissipate all excess heat across the full range of flight speeds in hummingbirds."


Editorial Comment: This is a reminder that flying involves more than a powerful engine (muscles) and the right aerodynamic surfaces. A good understanding of the whole functioning creature is needed. Small creatures like birds need good thermoregulation as they lose heat easily when they are resting, but their intense activity produces enormous amounts of heat, which is equally hazardous. Therefore, getting the right balance of insulation and heat dissipating sites is important, and hummingbirds would not survive unless they already had it right, before they tried to hover. (Ref, ornithology, thermoregulation, flight, design)

Evidence News vol. 16, No. 1
20 January 2016
Creation Research Australia

Toothy whale fossil found, according to reports in BBC News 9 December 2015, ABC News 10 December 2015, and PLoS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135551. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, USA, have studied the skull of a fossil sperm whale that had been found in 1909 in California. It had been stored in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where it has been incorrectly labelled as the skull of an extinct walrus. The whale has been named Albicetus oxymycterus and is dated as 15 million years old.

The fossil whale had more robust jaws than modern sperm whales, and scientists estimate it was about six metres (20ft) long and weighed about five tonnes. This is smaller than present day sperm whales, which can grow to 18 metres (60ft). The fossil’s skull shape also indicates it had a smaller spermaceti organ, a round mass of waxy material that gives some whales a bulbous forehead.

Alex Boersma of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History, one of the research team, commented: “It was evident to us at first look that it was different from any other fossil sperm whale we had seen, which meant that it may hold the key to important titbits about the evolution of sperm whales”.

The researchers wrote in their summary: “Our results indicate that Albicetus was a large, stem physeteroid with a seemingly unique combination of diagnostic features observed in no other living or fossil physeteroid”. (Physeteroid is the scientific name for sperm whales.)

The fossil was very large and heavy, and embedded in rock, but Nick Pyenson, the curator of fossil marine mammals and colleagues were able to get an accurate picture of it using modern scanning techniques. To their surprise they found it has teeth in both upper and lower jaws. Alex Boersma explained: “Modern sperm whales only have teeth in their lower jaw, partly because their main food source is squid. To see a fossil sperm whale like ours that has these big prominent teeth in both the lower and upper jaws suggests they were feeding on something very different - possibly other marine animals”.

According to Alex Boersma, “The presence of large upper and lower teeth suggests that Albicetus was likely hyper-carnivorous, meaning that it fed primarily on other marine mammals such as smaller whales and seals”.

Nicholas Pyenson, commented: “I wouldn’t have wanted to be a seal in the Miocene oceans”.


Editorial Comment: This find tells us nothing about how sperm whales may have evolved. All the fossil and living sperm whales ever observed are fully formed sperm whales. The description of “seemingly unique combination of diagnostic features” fits with a creation based classification of living things, where each created kind is a unique combination of non-unique parts.

Did you catch the twist in the tail? This fossil whale had both upper and lower teeth, while modern day sperm whales only have lower teeth, as in the illustration above. If Albicetus was the ancestor of any modern sperm whales it is evidence that whales have degenerated, i.e. lost structures, rather than evolved any new features.

We also challenge the assertion that sperm whales have no upper teeth because they eat squid, instead of seals. It is more likely that they eat squid, because they have lost their upper teeth, and can’t eat things that need two sets of teeth to eat. Whales with both sets of teeth could still eat squid if they wanted to, so why should eating squid make them lose their teeth? My Grandmother did not eat steak after she lost her teeth but you are right, it wasn’t eating things less tough than steak that caused her to lose her teeth.

Furthermore, having two sets of teeth set in robust jaws does not make an animal a “hypercarnivore”. Teeth are just as useful for eating plant foods, and do not give a creature an aggressive nature.

Altogether this fossil is good evidence that the real history of whales is created kinds that have degenerated as the world has gone downhill from its original created perfection, just as Genesis tells us. (Ref. cetaceans, marine biology, diet)

Evidence News vol. 15, no 25
16 December 2015
Creation Research Australia

Weeds indicate early farming, according to articles in ScienceDaily 22 July 2015 and PLoS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0131422. Israeli and American scientists have analysed plant remains found at a site named Ohalo II, which they described as “a 23,000-year-old hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel”. They found seeds of wild emmer (a type of wheat), barley, and oats, along with pea and grass species. The researchers also found a grinding stone with cereal starch granules on it, and a distinctive pattern of distribution of the cereal grains around it indicating the stone was being used to process cereals for food.

The researchers also identified 13 species of weeds. According to the research team: “Because weeds thrive in cultivated fields and disturbed soils, a significant presence of weeds in archaeobotanical assemblages retrieved from Neolithic sites and settlements of later age is widely considered an indicator of systematic cultivation”.

Because of the very ancient date given to this site, the scientists claim the collection of plant species “provides the earliest evidence of a human-disturbed environment—at least 11 millennia before the onset of agriculture”. They went on to suggest “their presence indicates the earliest, small-scale attempt to cultivate wild cereals seen in the archaeological record”.

Marcelo Sternberg of Tel-Aviv University commented: “While full-scale agriculture did not develop until much later, our study shows that trial cultivation began far earlier than previously believed, and gives us reason to rethink our ancestors’ capabilities. Those early ancestors were more clever and more skilled than we knew”.

ScienceDaily, PLoS ONE

Editorial Comment: Our early ancestors were highly skilled and clever, but not because they were evolving upwards from primitive hunter-gatherers. The real history of agriculture, complete with weeds, is clearly set out in the Bible.

In the beginning human beings were created to be gardeners, and lived in a garden with no weeds. After they rebelled against God they were expelled from the garden and became farmers, growing grains and tending animals. When God judged them He also cursed the ground, and some plants became weeds. Agriculture continued past the flood via Noah, who was described as “a man of the soil”.

After the rebellion at the Tower of Babel the population was split up, and small groups of people had to scratch out a living as best they could in new environments, drawing on whatever knowledge and experience they had in pre-Babel days. Some would have known how to grow crops, some would have had to experiment, building on partial knowledge, and some would have had no idea, and resorted to hunting and gathering as a means of survival.

This site in Israel is described as a “hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp” because archaeologists found remains of huts with stone and flint tools, beads, bone and wooden objects, and remains of fish, molluscs, birds and small animals. However these, along with evidence of food crops, indicate intelligent resourceful people making the most of the environment they found themselves in, and no doubt cursing the weeds like many other farmers and gardeners throughout history.

Yet even the weeds are a constant reminder we live in a world under judgement, and are in need of a Saviour. Praise God that the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ has come, and those who put their trust in Him can look forward to eternal life a new weed-free world. (Ref. botany, archaeology, cultivation)

Evidence News vol. 15, no 25
16 December 2015
Creation Research Australia

Chiton’s crystal eyes found, according to reports in Science (AAAS) News and ScienceDaily 19 November 2015, and Science doi: 10.1126/science.350.6263.899. Chitons are shellfish that can be seen clinging to rocks in the intertidal zone of many coastlines. They have a distinctive shell made up of a series of horizontal plates, usually eight, arranged over their body. If you look closely at the shell you may see a multitude of tiny dots. It turns out these are tiny eyes with lenses made from the same substance as the shell – a calcium mineral name aragonite. Most of the aragonite shell is opaque, because it is made up of small crystals that are arranged in an irregular fashion so they scatter light. However, the aragonite in the eyes is made of carefully aligned large crystals that transmit light.

A group of scientists from Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and MIT have examined the eyes of a chiton named Acanthopleura granulata to see how well it worked. They found they could project an image of a fish through the lens and get a somewhat fuzzy but recognisable image. Each eye has a retina of up to 100 cells below the lens to capture and process the image. It seems the chiton is able to detect the presence of a predatory fish or bird up to two metres away.

Don Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute, commented: “This study shows just how amazing nature is at solving complex problems in simple and elegant ways. By uncovering the design rules that this simple organism uses to self-assemble a multi-functional shell that simultaneously provides physical protection from the environment and an eye that can sense oncoming invaders, the team is now in a position to leverage these insights to engineer synthetic materials that could lead to entirely new solutions for both industrial and medical applications”.

Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Notice the admission: making chiton eyes requires complex problem solving and design rules. At the risk of yet another repetition, let’s hammer the point that all known design is a property of a mind, and is never result of random interactions of matter and energy. This is confirmed by the fact that it is the organisation of the aragonite crystals that makes the difference between the opaque shell and the transparent eyes, not just the substance itself.

Furthermore, the animal also has to have functioning retina cells under the lenses, and a brain programmed to interpret the images. Otherwise having transparent lenses that can make an image is of no use to the animal, and as the ‘crystal’ eye spots are more fragile than the shell, would be a potential hazard in the struggle to survive.

Once again, the evidence for design is so obvious that those who deny it are without excuse.

We also predict that the Chiton does even better, and most likely has a ‘fuzz remover program’ built in its brain that turns the fuzzy picture of birds or fish into a much better view. God sure is clever. (Ref. molluscs, optics, vision)

Evidence News vol. 15, no 25
16 December 2015
Creation Research Australia