Archive of items from Evidence News

Tree shrews evolve slowly, according to an article in Scientific Reports doi: 10.1038/srep18627, published online 14 January 2016. Two Chinese scientists have studied fossilised jaw fragments and teeth found in Yunnan Province, China, which they have identified as belonging to a tree shrew that is “strikingly similar” to a living tree shrew named Ptilocercus lowii. The fossils have been given the name Ptilocercus kylin. Kylin refers to the place where the fossils were found.

The fossils are dated as 34 million years old, almost twice as old as the previous oldest fossil tree shrew. According to the scientists, “It demonstrates that Ptilocercus tree shrews have undergone little evolutionary change in their morphology since the early Oligocene”. They go on to say, “This discovery provides an exceptional example of slow morphological evolution in a mammalian group over a period of 34 million years”. Their report is entitled: “An early Oligocene fossil demonstrates tree shrews are slowly evolving ‘living fossils’”.

Living Ptilocercus tree shrews inhabit the rainforests of southeast Asia, where they have a symbiotic pollinator relationship with the bertam palm. The fossils were found in a more northerly region and much colder region of Asia. The researchers suggest their fossil indicates rainforest environments were more widespread in the past.

Scientific Reports

Editorial Comment: These finds do not indicate tree shrews are evolving slowly. They are evidence that tree shrews are not evolving at all, and by calling them ‘living fossils’ the scientists are admitting this. The older the scientists want to claim the fossils to be, the more the fossils prove that tree shrews have multiplied after their kind, just as Genesis says.

The scientists are right in their comment about rainforests being more widespread in the past. The fossil record of plants indicates the world was once covered with lush vegetation. Genesis tells us the world was originally created very good, but the environment was devastated after Noah’s flood and extremes of climate set in after that, which meant there were fewer places for palm trees to grow, and therefore fewer places for an animal that lives on palm nectar and pollen to live. This is not the evolution of an environment, it is degeneration, and a reminder that we live in a world that is going downhill, not evolving upwards. (Ref. mammals, degeneration, after kind)

Evidence News vol 16, No.2
10 February 2016
Creation Research Australia

Oldest caddisfly larval cases found, according to a report in Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep1921, published online 14 January 2016. Caddisfly larvae live in water and build cone shaped cases from silk and hard materials including sand grains, plant fragments and shell fragments, gathered from the surrounding environment. As such, these structures are more easily preserved as fossils than the larvae themselves.

Scientists in Brazil have found fossilised larval cases in a formation known as the Campáleo outcrop in southern Brazil. This is dated as Early Permian (289-284 million years old), making them the oldest record of caddisflies. The scientists claim “these finds not only push back the fossil record of true caddisflies, but also indicate that their larvae constructed cases at the very beginning of their evolution in marine environments”.

The scientist noted that the shale layer containing the fossils also contained “hexactinellid sponges, brachiopods, gastropods, bivalves, crustaceans, actinopterygian fishes, coelacanth scales, shark teeth, conodont elements, scolecodonts, insects, as well as coprolites and plant fragments”. They concluded: “Such a fossil assemblage, and especially the presence of terrestrial elements such as sporomorphs, plant remains and insects, point to a marine environment close to land”. (Sporomorphs are pollen grains and spores)

Scientific Reports

Editorial Comment: Feel free to add that this find indicates nothing about the evolution of caddisflies, which were found whole in situ with the sea shells etc. The observations we can make on present day caddisflies constructing cases shows it is a complex behaviour, and no-one has ever observed a non-case-building insect larva develop into one that does build them. These fossils add yet more evidence that caddisflies have always been caddisflies, and their larvae have always made cases, irrespective of how old they are claimed to be.

Once again creation after their kind is a better and simpler explanation of the actual evidence than evolution from some other kind of insect.

Ponder also the description of a “marine environment close to land”. Then ask “what is a good explanation for the mix of land dwelling and marine organisms in the rock layer”. For land and marine organisms to be buried in the same rock layer they had to be mixed up together, not just living beside one another. A better explanation is that the land organisms got washed into the sea, mixed together with marine creatures and mud, and the whole lot rapidly dumped together. For that you need catastrophe, i.e. you need flood, the first of which would have been Noah’s. (Ref. insects, fossilisation, South America)

Evidence News vol 16, No.2
10 February 2016
Creation Research Australia

Peachy fossils found, claim scientists in a report entitled “Peaches Preceded Humans: Fossil Evidence from SW China” in Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/srep16794, Published online26 November 2015 and, ScienceDaily 1 December 2015. Four Chinese scientists and one American scientist claim to have found the oldest fossil peach pits on record, dated at 2.5 million years old. They state in their report, “The fossils are identical to modern peach endocarps, including size comparable to smaller modern varieties, a single seed, a deep dorsal groove, and presence of deep pits and furrows”. (“Endocarp” is the scientific name for the large pits in fruits such as peaches and cherries.) They also go so far as to say “the well-preserved fossil endocarps show no differences from the living peach and could be assigned to the extant species”.

Due to its supposed age that pre-dates the arrival of human species Homo erectus and Homo sapiens, the authors of the study believe that, “This discovery of the oldest fossil peaches provides important evidence for the origins and evolution of the modern fruit”. ScienceDaily quotes one of the study’s authors, Peter Wilf, who asked, “Is the peach we see today something that resulted from artificial breeding under agriculture since prehistory, or did it evolve under natural selection? The answer is really both”. They give a more detailed answer in their report: “These fossils show that China has been a critical region for peach evolution since long before human presence, much less agriculture. Peaches evolved their modern morphology under natural selection, presumably involving large, frugivorous mammals such as primates. Much later, peach size and variety increased through domestication and breeding”.

ScienceDaily, Scientific Reports

Editorial Comment: Down to tin tacks! Just what do fossil peaches that are identical to modern peaches tell us about peach evolution? Nothing – even if you already believe in evolution. These fossils don’t even show how peaches could have evolved from any other kinds of plants. Note well: the evolutionary point of view is being forced on the fossil evidence.

The original report uses the words ‘domestication’ and ‘breeding’ to describe how peaches have changed under the influence of human-directed artificial selection. Since peaches have remained identical to their supposed wild ancestors, evolutionary researchers are forced to invent an evolutionary history of the peach that involves its slow development into its modern form as a result of natural selection, due to the activities of fruit eating monkeys and apes. However, this only explains how peaches have survived, not where they came from.

When we remove the evolutionary paradigm, however, we can clearly see the implications of the evidence: peaches have always produced peaches, so it’s not even religious to state that is just what Genesis states: “God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:11-12).

The scientists did get one thing right – peaches did precede humans, but only by three days, not a million years or so. (Ref. fruit, after kind, vegetation, diet)

Evidence News vol 16, No.2
10 February 2016
Creation Research Australia

Jurassic lacewings are like modern butterflies, according to reports on ScienceDaily, Science Shots 3 February 2016 and Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2016; 283 (1824): 20152893 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2893. A group of Chinese and American scientists have studied a collection of fossil kalligrammatids, winged insects similar to lacewings. The fossils were from two sites in northeastern China and one site in Kazakhstan, with dates ranging from 125 to 165 million years ago (Middle Jurassic to Early Cretaceous).

The research team found some of the fossils had “striking similarities” to modern butterflies, including a long tubular proboscis for feeding, and wings with “eyespots” and wing scales. Some specimens also had pollen grains on their faces, and hairy legs that would have been useful for carrying pollen. One of these specimens has wings that are very similar to a living owl butterfly, complete with “eyespots”.

In spite of these similarities the researchers claim the butterfly-like specimens are not butterflies, because butterflies did not evolve until 70 to 80 million years later, and according to Science News, because “the few flowers that existed at the time were the wrong shape”.

According to ScienceDaily: “The butterfly-like insects, which went on to evolve into a different form of insect from the modern butterfly, is an extinct ‘lacewing’ of the genus kalligrammatid called Oregramma illecebrosa. Another genus of this insect – of the order Neuroptera – survives into our modern era, and are commonly known as fishflies, owlflies or snakeflies”.

The researchers suggest the kalligrammatids fed on an extinct order of seed plants called bennettitales. The Science News article went on to state: “When flowering plants took over about 100 million years ago, both the kalligrammatids and the plants they fed on went extinct. Butterflies and tube-shaped flowers arose together about 50 million years later, showing how new players can evolve to fill ancient roles”.

The scientists claim the similarity of these fossils with modern butterflies is an example of convergent evolution. They wrote in their report: “We mapped the evolution of specific traits onto a kalligrammatid phylogeny and discovered that these extinct lacewings convergently evolved wing eyespots that possibly contained melanin, and wing scales, elongate tubular proboscides, similar feeding styles, and seed–plant associations, similar to butterflies”.

Science Shots, ScienceDaily, RSPB article

Editorial Comment: A word of caution: even if we accept the claim these fossil insects are not butterflies, honesty demands we admit they are not like living lacewings either. Present day lacewings have transparent wings similar to dragonflies, without scales or pigment, but these fossils were sufficiently well preserved for researchers to find scales and identify pigmented patterns like eye spots in some of them. Modern day lacewings also have mandibles (jaws) for feeding. Some feed on honeydew and pollen, but they feed mainly on sap sucking insects such as aphids and scale insects, and are therefore useful to have in the garden.

Any claim that these fossil insects evolved into modern lacewings is a pure faith belief to fit into evolution. No-one has observed these creatures with their feeding tubes and butterfly-like wings with eyespots and scales change into anything different. If it is true they no longer exist, it could more simply mean they have died out. (The photos with the ScienceShots article show the similarity of one of the fossils with a living owl butterfly. Click on link above to see this.)

When the research team drew up their phylogeny, i.e. their evolutionary tree, they did not discover anything new. They simply fitted these fossils and living lacewings and butterflies into their already believed evolutionary tree system.

The concept that butterflies with long proboscises evolved at the same time as the tube shaped flowers they could use their proboscises in is also a belief by blind faith. Darwin and his contemporaries may have had an inkling of an excuse for believing this possible in their ignorance, as the study of genetics was just beginning, but modern day biologists have no excuse. There is no way the shape of a flower, or its production of nectar and pollen, can change an insect’s genes so that the insect has a proboscis instead of jaws.

In the Occam’s Razor world of science where history tells us that the simplest explanation is 99% of the time the right one, note well it is much simpler to believe the Creator made both flowers and nectar-feeding insects so they could fit together. The extinct plants bennettitales, seem to have had a cone shaped reproductive structure that may have produced nectar, so these fossilised insects may have fed from them, but Genesis tells us God made all the different kinds of plants on Day 3, including flowering ones, ready for butterflies and other creatures to feed from them and to collect and deliver pollen, when they arrived on Days 5 and 6. Occam’s Razor wins again! (Ref. Lepidoptera, Neuroptera, diet, phylogenetics)

Evidence News vol 16, No.2
10 February 2016
Creation Research Australia

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.”

ScienceDaily

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

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