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From four-finned dolphins to fossil finds used to foment evolutionary speculation, 2006 was filled with news that affected the creation/evolution debate. As the year draws to a close, we’re taking a look at some of the news that drew the highest coverage from within science circles.
March: People walking on all fours
Several members of a Turkish family unwittingly became the center of evolutionary attention early this year, when a BBC TWO TV documentary highlighted their abnormal method of locomotion: using both feet and hands to move along. The siblings, who seem to have some form of mental retardation, support part of their weight on their palms as they move-unlike our supposed ancestral apes, who knuckle-walk.
Of course, that distinction didn’t stop evolutionists from eagerly hypothesizing that these individuals had reverted to “an instinctive behavior deeply encoded in the brain but abandoned in the course of evolution.”
See A feet of imagination for AiG’s take on this unusual story.
A rash of “gloating” evolution-biased articles spread worldwide shortly after the April announcement of Tiktaalik roseae, a fossilized fish dated by evolutionists at 375 million years old. The media reports-even while interspersed with cautionary language-hailed Tiktaalik as a missing link in the supposed sea-to-land evolutionary transition. Unsurprisingly, papers such as the New York Times immediately used these claims to bash creationists; for example, the April 5 Times article on the find alleged that “the fossils are widely seen by scientists as a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who hold a literal biblical view on the origins and development of life.”
Of course, Answers in Genesis published a next-day preliminary response on the find, authored by anatomist Dr. David Menton and AiG-USA CCO Mark Looy. In it, the authors sort through the evolutionary hype to see what the fossil really shows:
All they have actually found is a fish that is another example of a lobe-finned fish (one of which still lives today-the coelacanth) that has bones similar in position to those seen in the arm and wrist of land-walking creatures-except these structures support fins with rays in them, not digits like fingers and toes (and as has been stated, they are NOT connected to the axial skeleton).
For the rest of this article, see Gone fishin’ for a missing link? (A preliminary response).
September: Selam: Lucy’s “child”?
(Originally reported on in the September 23 News to Note, item #1.)
A fossilized skeleton originally unearthed in 2000 finally reared its evolutionary head in September, when it was classified as an ancient Australopithecus afarensis, taxonomical home to the famous hominid Lucy. Due to evolutionary dating methods, the “youthful” find-nicknamed “Selam”-came to be known as Lucy’s “child.” Of course, this mostly added another layer of confusion to a topic riddled with evolutionary speculation.
In an in-depth examination, Dr. David DeWitt reviewed what the actual facts say about Selam (and Lucy):
Typically, a new fossil is discovered and receives a good deal of media attention as a new candidate for the “missing link.” The “human-like” characteristics are hailed as the specimen takes its place as an ancestor of man. Then, one of two things happens. Either (1) other researchers examine the specimen and report that it may not be quite so human like, or (2) a new, more complete specimen is found which provides more information and the human-like traits are downplayed.
According to the news reports, most of the characteristics have more similarity to chimpanzees and gorillas than to man including:
• The hyoid bone is exactly like that of a chimpanzee. The vocalization that the creature would be capable of would be like a chimpanzee’s.
• The organ of balance is chimp-like and not human-like. The excellent preservation of the material makes this conclusion reliable.
• The neck vertebra are short and thick like a gorilla. A slender neck as humans have helps to keep the head stable while running.
• The fingers are long and curved like a chimpanzee’s. These facilitate climbing ability. While this has been seen in other australopithecine specimens, the relevance is still a matter of debate.
• The shoulder blades are the same as a gorilla’s and not at all like a human’s.
• The cranial capacity falls in the range of a chimpanzee’s.
See Lucy (and her “child”)-look like extinct apes after all for more of the “real story” of this alleged ape-child and her kin.
September: Walking sharks
(Originally reported on in the September 23 News to Note, item #2.)
A video clip of a “walking” shark made waves in the science community in September. The video, taken during a diving expedition among reefs in Indonesian waters (an expedition that encountered some 50 new marine species), does indeed show a shark using its fins to push off the sea floor. But walking? This is quite a stretch-even for evolutionists. We explained at the time:
[M]ost news articles refer to “walking” sharks, with quotation marks around walking, to clarify that these sharks are not actually bearing weight on their fins, but rather simply appear to be walking. In the water, animals can propel themselves through the water without having to directly support their weight (since they’re surrounded by liquid); on land, limbs must support the weight of an animal’s body against gravity. As can be seen in a video, the shark is using fins in a unique way-but could not walk onto shore with much success. For legs to evolve from fins, the addition of significant muscle and bone mass-all organized properly with respect to the skeletal and muscular system-would be required.
Sadly, an otherwise innocent video segment, when accompanied with evolutionary propaganda and speculation, amounts to yet another “proof” of evolution.
November: The four-finned dolphin
(Originally reported on in the November 11 News to Note, item #1.)
A four-flippered dolphin found off the coast of Japan in early November excited evolutionists, some of whom claimed the dolphin “certainly is direct evidence of evolution.”
Of course, that was merely one interpretation of the discovery. Answers in Genesis’ own Ken Ham and Dr. David Menton explained shortly thereafter that:
[W]e know for sure this dolphin had an extra set of fins (not legs). Still, they state it “could be the remains of back legs.” Because of their obvious evolutionary bias, they have already jumped to a conclusion in interpreting these fins as back legs-before they have x-rayed the fins and carried out detailed research. (There is not even any mention of bones in these fins.) The article goes on to quote one researcher as saying, “I believe the fins may be remains from the time dolphins’ ancient ancestors lived on land … this is an unprecedented discovery.”
For a full analysis of this claimed proof of evolution, see Dolphin found with “remains of legs”: Should creationists surrender?
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 year!