Archive of items from Evidence News

Homo naledi burial challenged, according to an article in Scientific American 8 April 2016. When the discovery of a new fossil hominin named Homo naledi was announced in 2015 the research team claimed the bones had been deliberately buried, and this was evidence that the fossils belonged to archaic humans, rather than apes.

Now Aurore Val, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, has written a paper in the Journal of Human Evolution, published online 31 March 2016, criticising this claim. According to Scientific American, “In it she argues that it is impossible to establish—based on the evidence presented in the team’s paper on the geologic context of the H. naledi fossils and bone features that hint at their fate—that the complete bodies were disposed of inside the chamber or at its entrance in the manner the team proposes”.

Scientific American also noted that others had expressed doubts about deliberate burial but until now these were not written up as formal journal articles.

Scientific American

Editorial Comment: We said it first, and we can prove we said it first, when we showed the skeletons couldn’t be a burial site in answers to questions on our website Ask John Mackay. However, we didn’t get written up by Scientific American.

See our answers to the questions:

NEW APE MAN? Is the discovery of Homo naledi in South Africa evidence for apes evolving into humans? Answer by John Mackay and Diane Eager, published 6 October 2015, here.

APE MAN FOSSILS? Are the bones of Homo naledi actually fossilised, and is this relevant or not? Answer by John Mackay, published 13 October 2015, here.

Evidence News, vol. 16, No. 7
27 April 2016
Creation Research Australia

Echolocation origin revealed, according to articles in Discovery News, Monash University News 13 April 2016 and Tech Times 15 April 2016 and Biology Letters 12 April 2016.DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0060. Dolphins, porpoises and other toothed whales, collectively named odontocetes, use high frequency sounds to communicate with one another, and also to navigate and find food by echolocation. To do this their inner ears must have the structure to receive high frequency sounds.

Scientists at Monash University have studied the ear bone from a fossil toothed whale known as a xenorophid, dated as 26 million years old. They were able to examine the internal structure of the bone using a CT scanner, and found it had the structure needed for hearing high frequencies, just like living echolocating whales. Travis Park, who led the study, commented: “When I first looked at the inner ear of the xenorophid, I was blown away by just how similar this incredibly old toothed whale was to a modern echolocating dolphin”.

According to Discovery News “The similarity between the ancient toothed whale’s inner ear and that of today’s dolphin, the researchers say, solves a long-running mystery of just when dolphins first evolved their ability to echolocate”.

Erich Fitzgerald, Museum Victoria’s Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology, who was also involved in the study, commented: “Our paper shows even the earliest known fossil odontocetes have all the tools for echolocation seen in living dolphins. But they must have evolved from something that didn’t quite have all the tricks of the odontocete trade. What were those animals like and how did they start down the path to sonic supersenses? The quest for the origins of this extraordinary group of creatures continues”. (emphasis in original)

The Monash University News article is entitled “Fossil reveals the origin of dolphin hearing and communication”.

Discovery News, Monash News, Tech Times

Editorial Comment: Hey, did you notice the difference between what the scientists actually found, and the twist the media headlines put on it? Unfortunately, most people only get to see popular news headlines such as “Fossil reveals the origin of dolphin hearing and communication” and media comments claiming this fossil “solves a long-running mystery of just when dolphins first evolved their ability to echolocate”.

However what scientists actually found was a fossil whale ear bone that has the same structure as living whale ear bones. Therefore they concluded, quite reasonably, the fossil whale had the same echolocating ability. Furthermore, they admitted they had not found how a non-echolocating whale turned into an echolocating whale, even though they did assert their already held evolutionist belief that it must have happened.

This vast gap (missing link) between the actual discoveries and the story told about them is one of the reasons we publish Evidence News, and we encourage you to pass it onto students (and get them to sign up for it here) so that they can learn what science can and can’t tell us about the history of life on earth.

The other reason we send out this newsletter is to show how scientific discoveries confirm the Biblical history of the world, not undermine it. In the case of whales, Genesis tells us God created all sea creatures, including whales, as fully functioning creatures according to their kinds. One direct prediction about evidence based on this, is that fossil odontocetes (dolphins, porpoises, whales etc.) should have ear bones designed for echolocation, just like their ‘after their own kind’ descendants, the living odontocetes do, and that is exactly what this new research confirms. (Ref. cetaceans, sonar, fossils)

Evidence News, vol. 16, No. 7
27 April 2016
Creation Research Australia

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Blood sucking bed bugs beat bug sprays, according to reports in ScienceDaily, BBC 13 April 2016 and PLoS doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153302. For many decades bed bugs were kept under control with chemical sprays, but over the last two decades the bugs have been making a comeback.

Like all insects, bed bugs have a hard outer layer named the cuticle. Scientists at Sydney University investigated the thickness of bed bug cuticles, because, as they noted in their report, “Thickening of the integument (outer layer) as a mechanism of resistance to insecticides is a well-recognised phenomenon in the insect world”. The researchers tested common bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) for how long they could survive exposure to a pyrethroid insecticide. They then used a scanning electron microscope to measure the thickness of the cuticle in the bugs.

They found: “Mean cuticle thickness was positively correlated to time-to-knockdown, with significant differences observed between bugs knocked-down at 2 hours, 4 hours, and those still unaffected at 24 hours”. The most resistant bugs had cuticles that were 16% thicker than the least resistant bugs. This research fits with previous research that showed pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs had overexpression of cuticle depositing proteins.

The researchers commented in their report: “Insecticide resistance is a genetic change in response to selection by toxicants that impairs control in the field and is considered to be a natural evolutionary response to human-induced environmental stress”

BBC, ScienceDaily, PLoS

Editorial Comment: Did you spot this one? The researchers’ comment has the conclusion backwards. The genetic changes referred to did not happen in response to selection. They never do, and indeed cannot. Natural or artificial selection can only choose between individuals who already possess the appropriate genes.

Furthermore, the genetic changes referred to by the researchers are not evolution. They are merely variations in already existing genes that control cuticle thickness. Those bugs that are already producing extra cuticle depositing proteins due to more active genes are the ones which survived the onslaught of insecticides, i.e. were selected and lived to pass on genes that made the extra proteins, so that eventually the thick skinned bugs dominated the population.

This is a good example of survival of the fittest, (or in this case, survival of the thickest), but has nothing to do with Darwinian or Dawkinsian Origin of Species since the bugs themselves are still the same species. Again the only thing evolving here is researchers’ choice to call all change evolution, when it actually isn’t. It used to be called dishonesty. (Ref. insects, resistance, artificial selection)

Evidence News, vol. 16, No. 7
27 April 2016
Creation Research Australia

Artificial comet key to origin of life, according to articles in ScienceDaily 7 April 2016, Science Alerts 8 April 2016 and Science doi: 10.1126/science.aad8137. In order to explain the origin of life by natural processes many scientists have tried to make the chemicals that are essential for function of living things. One of these is a sugar named ribose. This is similar to another molecule named deoxyribose – better known as the D in DNA. Ribose is part of a molecule named RNA, which is just as essential to life as DNA as it carries the information stored on DNA to the rest of the cell.

According to current theories on the origin of life, the earth did not have the right conditions for forming ribose before life started, so some scientists have suggested it formed on comets in outer space. There is evidence the chemical precursors of ribose exist in outer space, so scientists at Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale made an artificial comet using a mixture of water, methanol and ammonia, which they placed in a vacuum chamber at minus 200 degrees C to simulate the formation of cometary ice. They then exposed it to ultra-violet light and gradually warmed it to simulate a comet approaching the sun.

Another research team at Institut de Chimie de Nice analysed the chemicals in the warmed irradiated mix and found numerous organic molecules including ribose. The researchers commented that precursors of proteins and genetic material have been found in outer space and went on to say “if delivered from meteorites in the Earth’s environment, their coevolution may be considered one of the standing issues in prebiotic chemistry”.

The ScienceDaily article is entitled “Origin of life: An artificial comet holds the missing piece” and summarised the results as, “Their findings shed new light on the emergence of life on Earth”.

Science Alerts, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Take note of two very important ‘left outs’.

Firstly, this piece of clever chemical manipulation and analysis is the latest in a long list of experiments claimed to show how life could evolve from non-living molecules, beginning with Miller’s famous amino acid experiment. However, all they really prove is that intelligent organic chemists can design experiments that produce organic molecules. Ribose on its own is simply a molecule. Setting up a chemical environment that will produce it tells us nothing about how it came to be made and put to use in a living cell.

The second left out is indeed ‘LEFT out’. Ribose, like many organic molecules comes in two different forms, called right and left handed. These are chemically the same, but slightly different in shape. In living cells the ribose is all right handed, but ribose made by natural random chemical processes is always a mixture of left and right handed molecules, and that is what these new experiments produced. Producing exclusively right or left handed organic molecules requires carefully planned and designed processes. Furthermore, when a pure solution of left or right handed molecules is made, it is not long before natural processes begin to degrade it into a mix of left and righted handed. Natural chemical processes always produced mixtures, and even one wrong handed molecule in the mix will ruin its function in a living cell.

Pure one-sided molecules require creative intelligence. This was confirmed in 2001 when the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to scientists who developed methods for producing one-sided molecules. It never happens by itself – it always requires a creator.

Another issue being ignored altogether is the little problem that to make RNA, ribose has to be combined with two other molecules, a phosphate and a base, to make a component called a nucleotide. There are four different nucleotides in RNA, named A, U, G and C, depending which base was added to the ribose and phosphate.

This brings us to the most significant difference between the molecules in a living cell and those made in a laboratory, or in outer space. It is how they are organised and work together. RNA consists of a string of nucleotides. The function of a particular RNA molecule is determined by the sequence, i.e. the arrangement, of nucleotides forming the string. In a cell the RNA sequence is determined by pre-existing information on DNA. DNA information is also determined by the sequence of its component parts, not by the chemical bonds that hold them together. Information does not come from chemistry – it comes from the mind of someone who knows the properties of chemicals and uses them to store and transfer information. Therefore, even if there is ribose, amino acids and other molecules in comets, they won’t make life without a creative intelligence to assemble them in the right way. Actually forgive our sarcasm. This last point about getting all this to have information is not a little issue at all – it’s a killer point for all theories of naturalistic origin so don’t miss it! (Ref. abiogenesis, chemical evolution, sugars)

Evidence News, vol. 16, No. 7
27 April 2016
Creation Research Australia

Lights cause moths to evolve, according to articles in Science Shots 12 April 2016 and ScienceDaily 13 April 2016 and Biology Letters 12 April 2016, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0111. Moths are nocturnal but are well known for being attracted to bright lights. This is usually fatal for the moths, as they can be burned by the heat from the lights, or become more visible to predators. Swiss zoologists from the Universities of Basel and Zurich have tested two populations of moths to see if there are long term consequences to living in artificially lit night environments.

The researchers collected 10 different groups of larvae of the ermine moth Yponomeuta cagnagella, some from cities with lots of bright lights, and others from rural areas with very little artificial light, and reared them until they metamorphosed into adult moths. They then tested the adult moths for their “flight-to-light” response. They found “moth populations from urban areas with high, globally relevant levels of light pollution over several decades show a significantly reduced flight-to-light behaviour compared with populations of the same species from pristine dark-sky habitats”.

According to ScienceDaily, “The study results suggest that natural selection has changed the animals’ behaviour. Flight-to-light propensity is disadvantageous for moths in light polluted areas. Adapted moths avoid the light and thus have a survival advantage”.

According to Science Shots, “Overall, moths from the light-polluted populations had a 30% reduction in the flight-to-light behaviour, indicating that this species is evolving, as predicted, to stay away from artificial lights.”

According to ScienceDaily, “The study results suggest that natural selection has changed the animals’ behaviour”. The researchers suggest the decrease in flight-to-light behaviour is due to “reduced mobility”, i.e. the moths are flying less. This may enable the moths to survive, but the scientists commented: “As nocturnal insects are of eminent significance as pollinators and the primary food source of many vertebrates, an evolutionary change of the flight-to-light behaviour thereby potentially cascades across species interaction networks”.

The Science Shots article is entitled “Your porchlight is causing moths to evolve”.

Science Shots, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Did you spot it? If the decreased flight-to-light moths are less mobile in general, then they are not feeding as much, not pollinating flowers and not finding mates. The long term outcome will be fewer moths in cities. Therefore, whatever currently unknown change has occurred in the moths’ genes causing the decreased flight-to-light response, it won’t improve the species as a whole, and certainly won’t make it evolve into a new species.

The decreased flight-to-light behaviour in these moths certainly is a change, and seems to be a degenerate one, but it is not evolution. The moths are still the same species. Even if the loss of flight-to-light response in cities produces survival advantage for individual moths in a highly artificial environment full of hazards like bright burning lights, for the moth species over all, it is not an advantage, and while any original flight-to-light moths remain on the planet they can refurbish the population at any time.

This change is an example of selection – artificial rather than natural, but as we have said many times, selection is not evolution. Selection only chooses from already existing options – in this case pre-existing less active moths in cities, and pre-existing more active moths in the countryside. In a natural environment the “flight-less” moths would be at a disadvantage to the more active moths, who would find more flowers to feed from, and more mates to reproduce with. Therefore, less mobile moths would eventually be eliminated in the country as well. In either place, selection is removing living things, not making new ones. (Ref. natural selection, insects, Lepidoptera)

Evidence News, vol. 16, No. 7
27 April 2016
Creation Research Australia

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