News to Note, August 9, 2008

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

Featured in News to Know

Martian life spoils quickly, the snaky logic of evolution, crazy pseudoscience, and more!

1. Soil on Mars Might Not Be Suitable for Life

In the emotional soap opera that is the search for life on Mars, one of the main players—the habitability of Martian soil—may have just lapsed into a coma.

2. Snake Fangs and Evolution

If the riddle of where fangs fit into snake evolution has been gnawing at you, biologists may have come up with an answer.

3. They Think the Earth is Flat?

They’re a tiny minority of untrained, pseudoscientific hacks who—partially based on an overly literal interpretation of Scripture—buy into a disproven, centuries-old myth rather than accepting well-established modern science.

4. Ancient Shark Has a Bite Stronger Than a T. rex

T. rex, stay out of the water: the ancient giant shark megalodon had a bite far more powerful than yours!

5. MSNBC/AP: “Ancient Moss, Insects Found in Antarctica”

Antarctica may be a barren, largely deserted land of ice today, but remains of moss and insects that once lived there have been uncovered.

Geoscientist Adam Lewis of North Dakota State University was studying Antarctica’s ice cover when he and colleagues encountered the “essentially freeze-dried”—not fossilized, that is—remains of moss at the bottom of a valley.

“We knew we shouldn’t expect to see something like that,” Lewis told the Associated Press. Along with the moss, further study revealed the remains of tiny crustaceans, midges, and beetles—and pollen from beech trees and other plants.

Previously, some mosses and insects have been found in the coastal edges of Antarctica, but this is the farthest inland any signs of life have been uncovered.

Speaking to the fact that the remains aren’t fossilized, Lewis commented, “The really cool thing is that all the details are still there. These are actually the plant tissues themselves.” This is despite the fact that Lewis and his colleagues believe the remains are from a warmer and wetter Antarctica 14 million years ago.

The global flood would have caused substantial climate change not only during its reign, but also long after the waters receded (as climatologist Michael Oard outlines in The Genesis flood caused the Ice Age). The new continents, themselves formed in the wake (pardon any pun) of the Flood through catastrophic plate tectonics, would have undergone this climate change, one result of which was freeze-dried mosses and insects near the South Pole—from a few thousand years ago.

6. Reuters: “Ancestor of T-Rex Unearthed in Poland”

Paleontologists working in Poland have unearthed “the Dragon”—a supposed ancestor of T. rex with 2 inch (7cm) teeth.

According to codiscoverer Tomasz Sulej of the Polish Science Academy, the Dragon—which has yet to receive a formal name—lived around 200 million years ago and likely preyed on plant-eating, hippopotamus-like dicynodons. The team had previously found a dicynodon at the site.

Discussing the Dragon, Sulej said, “This is a completely new type of dinosaur that was so far unknown. Nobody even expected that members of this group lived in that time, so this gives us new knowledge about the whole evolution of the T. rex group.” Reuters did not report why Sulej’s team thinks the Dragon was an ancestor of T. rex, though we presume it is the simple combination of morphological similarity and, based on the geologic column, one fossil “preceding” the other.

Sulej’s team is also unwittingly (we presume) advertising a point young-earth creationists often make: dragon legends are most easily interpreted as actual accounts (sometimes corrupted over time) of real human encounters with dinosaurs. This is the best explanation for the otherwise uncanny resemblance of dragons to dinosaurs—and explains why, e.g., Chinese villagers have dug up dinosaur bones for centuries, believing them to be dragon bones.

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!

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