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News to Note, February 5, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

on February 5, 2011
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All the same to us, Darwin’s zombies, RIP chimp II, and more!

1. Perfect Cosmic Constants

Two weeks ago, we looked at the argument—and responses to it—that certain cosmological constants are perfectly “fine tuned” for life, thus proving the existence of an intelligent designer. Now comes another rebuttal.

2. They're All the Same to Us

Is it a jackal or a wolf—or just another reminder of an original created “dog” kind?

3. Darwin's Zombies

A marsupial frog from South America may not realize how special it is, but a team from Stony Brook University does.

Gastrotheca guentheri, one of a group of frogs known for carrying fertilized eggs in pouches, is the only ranine species known for sporting teeth on both upper and lower jaws. That trait is unusual because frogs are said to have been missing their lower teeth for some 200 million years.

4. Mourning Chimpanzees

Last May, we covered research that suggested chimpanzees “provide special attention to loved ones before they die and grieve afterward,” which unsurprisingly prompted comparisons to human behavior.

New research follows up on the same topic, documenting how a chimpanzee mother in Zambia’s Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust responded to the death of her infant.

5. Biology Teachers and Creation

More than one in ten high school biology teachers in the U.S. “advocate” creationist beliefs in the classroom. But that’s not the biggest news.

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Last month, we commented on research positing that Homo sapiens were living in Israel some 400,000 years ago. News this week adds to the wrinkles in evolutionists’ neat timeline of human origins: researchers have claimed early humans left tools on the Arabian Peninsula about 125,000 years ago. Such dates, of course, make it even more difficult for old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists to harmonize their views with God’s Word in Genesis.
  • Back in May 2009 we reported on research by Jim Fassett of the U.S. Geological Survey that suggested some dinosaurs had survived the so-called K–T extinction event, a catastrophe when, according to old-earth scientists, an asteroid smashed into the Gulf of Mexico killing most life on earth and driving dinosaurs into the history books. Fassett’s team has published new evidence supporting this “alternate history,” although other scientists remain skeptical. (The linked article also provides an interesting look at some of the assumptions of and problems with a new radiometric dating technique.)
  • We told you last week about the inhospitality of the exoplanets so far discovered, and a new batch of six planets found in the same solar system does nothing to change that. Five of the planets orbit “much closer” to the star than Mercury does to our own sun, while the sixth orbits at about Venus’s distance. But astronomers looking for life have 54 “possible planets” (newly identified by NASA’s Kepler telescope) on which to search for life. But “[j]ust because a planet is in the habitable zone doesn’t mean it has life,” the Associated Press informs us—something most people may forget, given the way many evolutionists (and journalists) talk.
  • Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have improved upon techniques for generating stem cells from adult cells. The new technique promises more reliable stem cells that are less likely to lead to tumor formation. The research augments the argument that stem cells derived from adult tissues—rather than those harvested from viable embryos (which are then discarded, a form of abortion)—can have great medical promise without compromising on the value of human life. Related research announced this week came out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University.
  • However similar to “modern” humans Neanderthals may have been, they are usually portrayed by the media as not only dim-witted, but also ugly. New research shows that Neanderthal sinuses “were no larger, relative to the skull size, than in Homo sapiens who lived in temperate climates,” indicating that reports of their ugliness have likely been overstated.
  • Titanoceratops: no, it’s not a typo; it’s a purported new species of ceratopsian dinosaur that originated from a re-analysis of a fossil discovered in 1941. But the relatively minor differences with other ceratopsians suggest membership in a common created kind, and rather than Titanoceratops being an ancestor of the widely known Triceratops, perhaps they were all contemporaries with only minor morphological differences.

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Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard 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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