News to Note, August 27, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

Chick-a-gator, sulfur-eating sandstone and Mars, big mouths to baleen, culinary secrets of evolutionary success, Galileo groans

1. Scientists Rewind Evolution With Unique Chicken Embryo

Jurassic spark part two: the chick-a-gator

2. Sulphuric Fossils Give Insight On Ancient Earth

Sulfur-based life: for real?? And what does Australian sandstone have to do with Mars?

3. Classifying the Blue Whale by Jaw Type

Another big mouth beast becomes an honorary member of the baleen club.

4. Cooking: The World’s Oldest Profession

Home-cooked meals: secret of our evolutionary leap

5. The Bible: Library or Book?

Galileo groans as he’s trotted out again.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Evolutionists believe the “daddy long legs” was one of the first creatures to crawl out onto land, evolving in the Carboniferous Period 305 million years ago. Virtual 3D images of rare fossils now show the creature is completely unchanged. Dr Russell Garwood of London’s Natural History Museum stated, “It is absolutely remarkable how little harvestmen have changed in appearance since before the dinosaurs. . . . We can't yet be sure why harvestmen appear so modern when most land animals, including their cousins such as scorpions, were in such a primitive form at the time. It may be because they evolved early to be good at what they do, and their bodies did not need to change any further.” Or is it that only 6,000 years ago they were “designed to do what they do, and what they do, they do well,” as a well-known phrase from Answers in Genesis declares?
  • Analysis of the Y-chromosomes of horses has revealed that wild male horses, in contrast to domesticated males, have abundant genetic diversity. Horse population studies, like most population studies, have been limited to information tracked through females, since mitochondrial DNA is much easier to work with. (The male/female differences in horses, genetically speaking, are significant, females having maintained substantial genetic diversity over the centuries, even in domesticated varieties.) Beth Shapiro of Penn State explains, “Most ancient DNA research until now has focused on a different part of the genome – the mitochondrion – which is much more abundant in cells and therefore much easier to work with when the DNA is degraded. This has been a serious limitation in ancient DNA research, because we generally only have a good idea what happened along the maternal line. Here, we've been able to look at what happened along the paternal lineage, and, probably unsurprisingly, we see something different going on in males than in females.” It is exciting to see how each new advance in genetic research uncovers another surprise. Who would have predicted that tracking populations would reveal gender-related differences? And we’ve already started seeing that the ability to look at the whole genome often produces surprises and that technology is sometimes a slave to the presuppositions of the researchers. The complexity of DNA necessitates certain “short-cuts” in its analysis. We have learned so much. Yet we need to be careful about the conclusions we draw from all scientific findings, remembering that even the most amazing discoveries are limited by the assumptions that underlie them.
  • Statistical analysis of vertebrate genomes has suggested that gene regulation outweighs gene mutation as a mechanism producing evolution. “Most of the changes that have happened during vertebrate evolution, as animals acquired new body plans and features like feathers and hair, were not the result of new genes but of new regulatory elements that turn genes on and off in different patterns,” according to the research team’s leader, Dr. Haussler. We would note that, like the chickosaur story above, a Common Designer used many of the same gene sequences in organisms—not surprising since all organisms must function in the world with the same basic biochemistry—and He chose to fine-tune their function with regulatory patterns specific to each created kind. Attributing evolution to gene switching still begs the question of where the information came from in the first place.

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