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News to Note, October 15, 2011

A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on October 15, 2011

Skink link, comet-created oceans, twincredibles, evolution of bubble wrap. sugary signatures

1. African Reptile First With a True Placenta

The skink that breaks the rules

2. Comets Had a Role In Forming Earth’s Oceans, Study Shows

Kuiper comets capture credit for watering the early Earth

3. Twin Mixes Becoming More Prominent

Twin mixes are on the rise in the U.K.

4. Snails and Their Unique Genetic Variations

The story of the three snails

5. Sugar Molecules As Early Human Evolutionary Segregators

Sugary sialic acid signatures seen as evolutionary segregators of early humans

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • The number of dinosaur kinds may be in for some debate and revision based on “a growing body of research on the changes Late Cretaceous dinosaurs underwent as they grew up.” Paleontologists Nicolás Campione and David Evans examined 23 specimens of Edmontosaurus, for instance, and after accounting for “individual variation and anatomical changes due to growth,” they reclassified the group down to just two species from the same genus. Earlier papers by Jack Horner and colleagues have suggested that other named dinosaurs were really just juvenile forms of Triceratops and Pachycephalosaurus. Such proposals have been controversial, particularly when a beloved favorite gets retired. Creationists, in explaining how representatives of all the dinosaur kinds were carried on Noah’s Ark, have long pointed out that there were not nearly as many kinds of dinosaurs as commonly supposed. Ken Ham, in his Answers Book chapter What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? explains, “Dinosaur names have tended to proliferate, with new names being given to just a few pieces of bone, even if the skeleton looks similar to one that is a different size or found in a different country. There were probably fewer than 50 distinct groups or kinds of dinosaurs that had to be on the Ark.”
  • A huge theropod trackway was recently discovered in Arkansas limestone. The tracks of multiple dinosaurs, some identified as Acrocanthosaurus, “spanning the length of two football fields” are preserved in Cretaceous rock dated by evolutionists at 120 million years old. According to University of Arkansas geoscientist Stephen Boss, “The tracks were likely left by multiple dinosaurs and must have been filled in fairly quickly—if they'd been exposed for long, the prints would have eroded beyond recognition.” The global Flood (about 4,500 years ago, not 120 million) and the cement-like nature of calcium carbonate (limestone) explain findings like these. During the time in which Floodwaters were rising, as described in Genesis 7:17–18, surges of ocean water would have brought in carbonate-laden water and left behind sediments into which animal footprints could have been pressed. Additional surges bearing more loads of sediment could then rapidly bury tracks set in the cement-like carbonate-rich sand, preserving the fossil impressions. Read more about track fossilization at News to Note, September 17, 2011 and Fossilized Footprints—A Dinosaur Dilemma.
  • Reporter Brian Switeck has made a few choice comments about the quality of science journalism. His critique, “The giant, prehistoric squid that ate common sense,” was prompted by a proliferation of recent reports about a giant “kraken” which supposedly arranged the bony remains of its ichthyosaur meal. The information came from a Geological Society of America meeting, but Switeck notes that “there was not a shred of actual evidence to back up the claims” and that “there is no paper yet or anything specific for those not in attendance at GSA to look at.” While he is skeptical about the quality of the scientific conclusions offered by the McMenamins at the GSA meeting, he is most critical of media colleagues who simply recycle press releases and “repackage sensationalist, evidence-lite speculations and print them without further thought or comment.” Describing the unpublished reports, Switeck says, “There is no direct evidence for the existence of the animal the McMenamins call ‘the kraken.’ No exceptionally preserved body, no fossilized tentacle hooks, no beak—nothing. The McMenamins’ entire case is based on peculiar inferences about the site. It is a case of reading the scattered bones as if they were tea leaves able to tell someone’s fortune. Rather than being distributed through the bonebed by natural processes related to decay and preservation, the McMenamins argue that the Shonisaurus bones were intentionally arrayed in a ‘midden’ by a huge cephalopod nearly 100 feet long (how the length of the imaginary animal was estimated is anyone’s guess). But that’s not all—the McMenamins speculate that this ‘kraken’ played with its food.” We would only want to add that similar inferences are made on a regular basis—and published as facts—building whole animals or villages on scanty evidence and even contriving elaborate descriptions of behavior and diet that conform to unverifiable assumptions. The “kraken complaint” should provide a cautionary caveat with wide application. To be fair, the case for the crafty kraken is described at

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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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