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Time traveling tetrapod, planet Styrofoam, disease evolution, and more!
The supposed earliest evidence of four-legged animals—at 395 million years old—sounds like a boon for evolutionary research. So why is it causing evolutionists problems? Scientists led by University of Warsaw paleobiologist Grzegorz Niedz'wiedzki uncovered the fossilized footprints of a four-legged animal in southeastern Poland. Important features of the well-preserved prints are the impressions of digits (meaning the creature had feet) and a “diagonal, coordinated gait impossible for finned creatures.”
Hot, hot, hot, hot, and hot—meet the first exoplanets found by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. The five planets—dubbed Kepler 4b, 5b, 6b, 7b, and 8b—are the first discovered by the Kepler Mission, which launched last March. They were originally discovered shortly after the telescope’s launch, and their existence has since been confirmed by separate methods. The telescope has also identified several hundred other candidate exoplanets yet to be confirmed.
Microbial resistance to antibiotics is commonly provided as an example of “evolution in action.” But when it comes to Neisseria meningitidis, scientists haven’t observed such “evolution” in years.
N. meningitidis is already well known to medical researchers, for it can cause meningitis; and as a target for antibiotics, some have worried the bacterium may evolve increased antibiotic resistance. However, a new study from Sweden’s Örebro University indicates that the rate of resistant bacterium has not increased in more than a decade. That is, while resistant N. meningitidis individuals do exist, they are not spreading—at least, not in Sweden.
Biomedical researcher Sara Thulin Hedberg conducted the study for her doctoral dissertation. She concluded that the reason resistant strains are not spreading is that resistance is not particularly advantageous for the bacteria. Resistant bacteria cannot multiply as rapidly as other strains and do not infect hosts well. They are easily out-competed for resources by other strains in antibiotic-free environments.
That conclusion is notable for creationists, who point out that nearly all common examples of “evolution in action” do not demonstrate the increase in genetic information that true molecules-to-man evolution would require. The fact that the antibiotic-resistant N. meningitidis are less fit than their susceptible siblings suggests that their resistance probably involves a loss of genetic information or else no change in information.
Can non-life evolve? Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have discovered that infectious protein particles called prions can adapt to new environments and compete with one another. Prions, known for their role in causing diseases such as “mad cow,” are similar to viruses in that they are not alive, yet are able to replicate themselves through the assistance of a host. Specifically, abnormal (disease-causing) prions multiply by corrupting normal prions in the body.
Bible-believers have spent a great deal of time considering the design of Noah’s Ark. Is it possible that they—and Genesis—have it all wrong? A Babylonian clay tablet telling the Flood account describes Noah’s Ark as a “giant circular reed raft,” the Guardian reports. The artifact was found in the mid-twentieth century, but was only much later translated by the British Museum’s Irving Finkel.
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