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Scientists were surprised to find that DNA was still intact after a supposed 250 million years.
In 2000, scientists claimed to have “resurrected” bacteria, named Lazarus bacteria, discovered in a salt crystal conventionally dated at 250 million years old. They were shocked that the bacteria’s DNA was very similar to modern bacterial DNA. If the modern bacteria were the result of 250 million years of evolution, its DNA should be very different from the Lazarus bacteria (based on known mutation rates).
In addition, the scientists were surprised to find that the DNA was still intact after the supposed 250 million years. DNA normally breaks down quickly, even in ideal conditions. Even evolutionists agree that DNA in bacterial spores (a dormant state) should not last more than a million years. Their quandary is quite substantial.
However, the discovery of Lazarus bacteria is not shocking or surprising when we base our expectations on the Bible accounts. For instance, Noah’s Flood likely deposited the salt beds that were home to the bacteria. If the Lazarus bacteria are only about 4,500 years old (the approximate number of years that have passed since the worldwide flood), their DNA is more likely to be intact and similar to modern bacteria.
Some scientists have dismissed the finding and believe the Lazarus bacteria are contamination from modern bacteria. But the scientists who discovered the bacteria defend the rigorous procedures used to avoid contamination. They claim the old age is valid if the bacteria had longer generation times, different mutation rates, and/or similar selection pressures compared to modern bacteria. Of course these “rescuing devices” are only conjectures to make the data fit their worldview.
Andy Coghlan, “Eternal Life,” New Scientist, October 18, 2000, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn82-eternal-life.html.
Russell H. Vreeland, William D. Rosenzweig, and Dennis W. Powers, “Isolation of a 250 million-year-old Halotolerant Bacterium from a Primary Salt Crystal,” Nature 407 (2000): 897–900, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v407/n6806/abs/407897a0.html (link to abstract).
R. H. Vreeland and W. D. Rosenzweig, “The Question of Uniqueness of Ancient Bacteria,” Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 28 (2002): 32–41, http://mail.uadec.mx/~bnagamani/bac-ancient_uniqueness.pdf.
David C. Nickle, et al., “Curiously Modern DNA for a “250 million-year-old” Bacterium,” Journal of Molecular Evolution 54 (2002): 134–137, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11734907 (link to abstract).
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.