News to Note, April 13, 2013

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on April 13, 2013
Featured in News to Know

Clocking humans Of apes and men Dinosaur embryology Eco-evolutionary rescue Global warming questioned

1. Tinkering With the Molecular Clock

Tinkering with the molecular clock: which assumptions should we accept?

Do you have a temperamental clock in your house? A timepiece you hang onto for sentimental reasons even though you have to frequently adjust it to match a more reliable standard, like your cell phone or your atomic clock?

2. Where Did Morality Come From?

Never take your theology from a chimp.

Prominent primatologist Frank de Waal of the Yerkes Primate Center has, on the basis of his observations of primates, shared with the world his answer to the question, “Where did morality come from?” De Waal is an atheist but doesn’t mind it if other people cling to religious ideas because he believes religious ritual strengthens community ties. His book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, asserts that morality evolved as humans evolved. He further holds that humans eventually invented religion in order to codify a blueprint for moral behavior.

3. Jurassic Embryos Suggest Rapid Growth of Sauropod Embryos

Most known dinosaur eggs have been excavated from Cretaceous rock layers, but scientists examining a square meter of an outwash from a hillside in Lufeng, Yunnan Province, China, are excited to report their analysis of a much older batch of miscellaneous disarticulated dinosaur embryo bones and eggshells. They report these embryos are associated with 195 million year old early Jurassic rock, about 125 million years older than previously discovered dinosaur eggs.1 Because this batch of fossils contains bones at a variety of developmental stages, they can draw some conclusions about dinosaur embryology. Their analysis suggests these sauropod bones belonged to the fastest growing vertebrate embryos known to history.

4. Evolutionary Changes Said to Offer Insight on Wildlife

Rapidly occurring “hard-wired evolutionary changes” said to offer game-changing insights for wildlife management.

Ecology Letters has just published the first study to clearly demonstrate, according to the authors, that environmental change can directly cause rapid “evolution” of animals. They say this is an “example of evolutionary rescue”2 in a population threatened with extinction. The authors believe the changes they observed in soil mites should help “predict species responses over ecological or evolutionary timescales”3 and fulfill the “need to bring evolutionary biology into population management”4 of fisheries and wildlife.

5. Climate Change Predictions Prove Miscalculated

Climate change in the news

The Daily Mail, Der Spiegel, the Telegraph, and the Economist have all reported in recent weeks that our collective goose is not cooking as precipitously as predicted. Headlines about the past decade’s significant shortfall of world surface warming have further fueled the fires of climate change controversy. The Daily Mail, for instance, titled its headline: “The Great Green Con no. 1: The hard proof that finally shows global warming forecasts that are costing you billions were WRONG all along.”5

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • pots

    Pots from Ice Age Japanese hunter-gatherer cultures were used to cook fish. Images: (left) Tokamachi City Museum; (right) Wakasa History and Folklore Museum, Fukui, Japan, Science.

    Late Pleistocene Japanese pottery is puzzling researchers as they try to fit it into evolutionary anthropological models of early man. Analysis of residue from ceramic pots and fragments recovered from Ice Age sites spanning the length of Japan reveals that the pots were used for cooking. The nitrogen and carbon isotopes suggest that at least 75% of them were used to cook aquatic creatures. The fatty acids cooked onto the surface are those found after cooking freshwater and marine fish, shellfish, and mammals. Carbon dating was used to assign dates of 15,300 to 11,200 years BP (before present). The pots ranged in size from about one to four liters. The researchers note that up until now, excavations worldwide have shown that pottery was associated with hunter-gatherer cultures before agricultural societies developed, but just what those pots were used for (cooking versus storage versus “ritual use,” for instance) has remained a mystery until now.6 The researchers express surprise that these foragers whose Ice Age culture was well-established on the Japanese islands had developed such a “widespread technology integral to everyday culinary practices.”7 Their surprise results from the conventional evolutionary approach to anthropology, a mindset that equates “ancient” with “primitive” and “less evolved.” From biblical history, however, we know that all people alive today descended from Noah’s family. That family had been charged with building the Ark. Their descendants built the tower of Babel, and soon after the dispersion from Babel some of their descendants built pyramids in Egypt. Ancient man—even those who maintained nomadic cultures for some time—should not by definition be presumed to be backward, primitive, uncivilized savages too un-evolved to figure out how to cook their food or to want to cook it. (Apparently sashimi is a more modern innovation.) For more information about the erroneous assumptions associated with carbon dating see “Carbon-14 Dating,” “Carbon-14 in Fossils and Diamonds,” and “A Creationist Puzzle,” and to learn more about “cavemen” see “Neanderthals vs. Humans: Are They Different?When Did Cavemen Live? and Were Cavemen Real?

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  1. Other sorts of eggs have been found in deeper geologic layers—such as Permian mesosaur eggs (see—but these are the deepest known specimens of fossilized dinosaur eggs.
  2. T. Cameron et al., “Eco-evolutionary dynamics in response to selection on life-history,” Ecology Letters (2013)
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  6. O. E. Craig et al., “Earliest evidence for the use of pottery,” Nature (2013), doi:10.1038/nature12109.
  7. Ibid.


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