News to Note, August 4, 2012

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on August 4, 2012
Featured in News to Know

The missing-link snake? Squid solution Sticky feet “Eat mor chikin’!” Neander-eats

1. A Snake Version of Lucy

“It’s the ‘Lucy’ of snakes,” claims Yale paleontologist.

2. Squid’s Secret Countermeasure

The battle of the bottle-brush induces squid to unleash its secret countermeasure.

3. Gecko Diversity and Evolution

Gecko feet: Does their fabulous diversity make them the flagship for convergent evolution?

4. Protests About Chick-Fil-A

Protests over Chick-fil-A president’s non-hateful but biblical stand polarizing the public.

5. Vegetables for Neanderthals

Clues in dental calculus “banish many of the preconceptions we had of Neanderthals.”

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Sloths don’t exactly get around . . . much . . . and when they do they’re in no hurry to get there. Therefore, sloths simply don’t need a well-developed sense of balance, reasoned researchers who just published a study of sloth semicircular canals.1 Housed in the skull’s bony labyrinth, the semicircular canals, part of the inner ear, detect angular motion, a critically important sense for animals that move quickly through trees. By comparing the intra-species variability in the dimensions of the bony labyrinths of sloths and other mammals, investigators found sloths have twice the variability. Although they could not quiz sloths about their sure-footedness and susceptibility to motion sickness, they suspect sloth semicircular canals are so variable because sloths have a “reduced functional demand for a precise sensitivity to movement”2 due to their “slow and infrequent locomotion.”3 The idea is that natural selection has not acted to refine sloth balance abilities, since sloth survival seldom depends on their sense of balance. The journalist reporting the study in ScienceShot concludes, “The finding supports one of Charles Darwin’s notions about evolution: If an organ isn’t crucial, variations in its structure or performance aren’t lost over time, keeping the potpourri in the population.” But the finding has nothing to do with molecules-to-man evolution, only being an example of natural selection. Darwin believed natural selection would act on the variable “potpourri in the population” to select traits that would add up to new kinds of animals. The variations like those described here, however, as with all such variations, are only differences within created kinds and do not produce new information to fuel the evolution of new kinds. It’s not evolution; it’s just sloths. Read more about the difference between natural selection and molecules-to-man evolution at “Natural Selection vs. Evolution” and “Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution?

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  1. Sid Perkins, “ScienceShot: The Unbalanced Sloth,” Science, July 31, 2012,
  2. Guillaume Billet, Lionel Hautier, Robert J. Asher, Cathrin Schwarz, Nick Crumpton, Thomas Martin, and Irina Ruf, “High morphological variation of vestibular system accompanies slow and infrequent locomotion in three-toed sloths,” Proc. R. Soc. B (August 1, 2012): doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1212.
  3. Ibid.


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