News to Note, August 6, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on August 6, 2011

Human (kind) “nature"? murine misappropriation, progressive perambulation? plant protein progress, big Bang or bust

1. Evolutionists Attempt to Explain Human Generosity

What’s in it for me?

2. Mutant Mice and their Super Powers

How mighty mutant mice got their super-powers

3. Mosasaur: Lizard or Whale?

A whale of a tale.

4. Scientists Map Plant Protein Interactions

A cellular roadmap for the mustard plant reveals some secrets.

5. The Elusive God-Particle Teases Physicists But Tantalizes Theistic Evolutionists

The elusive god-particle teases physicists but tantalizes theistic evolutionists.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • The movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released yesterday. A prequel to the Planet of the Apes saga, it explains how the apes evolved to surpass humans. Caesar the chimp, portrayed by actor Andy Serkis, is presented as “an unknowing, very innocent child” who exhibits human emotions and even learns to read and write. When Caesar “confronts humanity’s dark side,” he organizes a revolt. As in the original series, common ancestry between apes and humans is assumed as fact. The computer graphics giving Caesar extremely expressive human features reinforce that theme. Viewers should notice the whites of Caesar’s eyes, a human feature, along with other subtle human features and a suggestion of increased cranial capacity. One trailer shows a time when Caesar assumes a human gait instead of the side-to-side rocking ape-walk that a chimp must assume in order to walk upright. (The anatomy of the muscles and bones in the ape pelvis make this gait unavoidable.) Also, viewers should keep in mind that the genetic limitations of chimpanzees make the “evolutionary” advances depicted impossible. Read more about the real differences between humans and chimps at Are Humans and Chimps Related?, If human and chimp DNA are so similar, why are there so many physical and mental differences between them? and News to Note, July 9, 2011.
  • Neanderthals and “modern humans” coexisted in both time and geography, leading anthropologists to wonder why Neanderthals became extinct. To find the answer, Cambridge archaeologists surveyed a database of Neanderthal and H. sapiens sites in southwestern France. Modern sites outnumbered the Neanderthals 147 to 63. The modern sites were double the size of the Neanderthals even though dwelling sizes were comparable. The density of tools and animal bones—an indicator of meat consumption—were also about double in the modern sites. The researchers believe these factors indicate the modern humans outnumbered Neanderthals ten to one. They conclude that competition for resources likely drove the Neanderthals to extinction. Some anthropologists disagree, however, pointing out that the two groups may have utilized resources differently, eliminating mere competition as the cause of the Neanderthal demise. Since recent genetic evidence suggests the two groups interbred, we could say that although Neanderthal culture, like many other human cultures, mysteriously died out, their descendents are within us and among us, for we are all descendents of Adam and Eve. See also News to Note, May 21, 2011 and Recovery of Neandertal mtDNA: an evaluation.
  • The spring tide in southeastern Alaska unveiled a fossilized thalattosaur, a marine lizard traditionally dated to be 220 million years old. Time and tide wait for no man, so experts had only a few hours to excavate the fossil. They removed two huge slabs with rock saws and sent them on to Fairbanks for the arduous process of chipping out the skeleton. As the photograph shows, the fossil is “reasonably complete.” Hopefully the skull is hidden in one of the slabs. The thalattosaur group includes several species of lizards with an eel-like body and a long flattened tail. The few specimens found have all come from the Triassic layer, a distinctive part of the geologic column seen all over the world. The extensive fossil population and sedimentation pattern of the Triassic layer1 is consistent with its formation during the early part of the global Flood.
  • The rapid resolution of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been a mystery, albeit a good one. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has figured it out. Bacteria “inside the slick degraded the oil at a rate five times faster than microbes outside the slick—accounting in large part for the disappearance of the slick some three weeks after Deepwater Horizon’s Macondo well was shut off.” The WHOI team had been pessimistic about the prospects of microbial clean-up because nutrients the microbes require—nitrogen and phosphorus—are scarce in the slick. These oil-eaters process the oil using cellular respiration to produce carbon dioxide and energy, but what they do with all that energy is another mystery. “They didn’t use it to multiply.” The bacterial population remained strangely stable, perhaps due to the lack of nutrients. WHOI was almost afraid to release the news, fearing oil companies would assume a cavalier attitude toward environmental protection. We must marvel that the microbes God created fulfilled their function by processing our debris, helping us clean up our mess.

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Footnotes

  1. News to Note, July 30, 2011

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.