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News to Note, July 30, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on July 30, 2011
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Dino-bird confusion, Terror in Norway, Triassic burp, Diamond tectonics, and more in this week’s News to Note.

1.Dinosaur-Bird Confusion

It’s a bird … It’s a dinosaur … It’s a ???

2. Is Norway Terror Suspect a Christian Fundamentalist?

Norwegian terror suspect’s call for an armed crusade by “cultural Christendom” creates confusion in early news reports.

3. Did Greenhouse Gases Help Create Dinosaurs?

Global greenhouse gases: paving the way for dinosaurs or documenting the upheavals of the global Flood?

4. Diamond Data Shows Begininning of Colliding Continents

Diamond data testifies to tectonic history—or does it?

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • Aneuploidy—an incorrect number of chromosomes—is the most common human genetic defect. It occurs in 1 of every 160 live births and many prenatal deaths. Consequences range from death and Down’s syndrome to many “less severe” manifestations such as Turner’s syndrome and even conditions without major consequences. Embryos being cultured for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) can be genetically screened, and those abnormal at three days are routinely discarded. Professor William Kearns of Johns Hopkins has found that many embryos with aneuploidy on day three will self-correct by day five. He says, “These results suggest that there is a dynamic process of genetic normalisation that occurs in the developing human embryo. It is likely that there is considerable cellular mosaicism in many cleavage stage embryos and that there are mechanisms in place that cause marginalisation of abnormal cells while allowing growth of normal cells.”1 We marvel that God even put in place a way for something as major as an incorrect number of chromosomes to correct itself.
  • An unusual mix of features on insect fossils from Brazil’s Crato formation has prompted scientists to designate a new insect order, Coxoplectoptera.2 (The Crato fossil graveyard is known for the exceptional insect fossils it contains. This Cretaceous collection is considered 120 million years old by secular paleontologists.) These extinct insects most closely resemble the mayfly, but unlike the mayfly, they were equipped to eat. They have forelegs resembling the praying mantis and wings like a dragonfly. Perhaps we should think of them like the platypus of the insect world: an animal designed with features we commonly associate with a variety of creatures. Yet the platypus is not a transitional form but a complex creature equipped for the unique aspects of its life, as was the Coxoplectoptera.
  • Everything is getting its genome sequenced these days! Coral has joined this group as Acropora digitifera’s genome has been reported by a group in Okinawa. 3 The researchers assume that the coral and other cnidarians (jellyfish, sea anemones, and hydras) share a common ancestor. On the basis of that assumption, cnidarian genomes were compared. Molecular clock calculations disagreed with calculations based on evolutionary assumptions about the fossil record. The molecular clock suggested the coral evolved 500 million years ago, but the “earliest” known coral fossils are dated only 250 million years ago. Both sets of calculations are based on certain assumptions: that evolution actually occurred, that a common ancestor really existed, and that the mutation rate needed to diverge genetically from the common ancestor can actually be known. In this case, the two sets of circular reasoning failed to land in the same place. Of more significance from an ecological standpoint, the 23,688 protein-coding genes identified did not include one for the manufacture of cysteine, making cysteine an essential amino acid for this coral. The coral’s symbiotic partnership with dinoflagellates supplies this need.

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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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Footnotes

  1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705071546.htm
  2. http://www.livescience.com/15100-insect-frakenstein-fossil-order-coxoplectoptera.html
  3. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/07/scienceshot-coral-genome-reveals.html

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