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Monday, July 17, 2006

Darwin is Dead Carnival - July Edition

Grrlscientist has the first entry - The Rise of The Feathered Dragons

In 1984, a paper was published in China (in Chinese) that described a new bird species from the early Cretaceous period, based on part of a fossilized left foot bone that had been discovered in northwestern China by a team of paleoichthyologists in 1981. This bone was determined to be part of an ancient tern-sized bird, later named Gansus yumenensis (for the Chinese province of Gansu, and Yumen, the nearest somewhat large town to where the fossil was found). This fossil bird appeared to be more closely related to modern (neornithean) birds than even its famous cousin, Archaeopteryx. Even though this bone gave paleontologists a tantalizing glimpse at an early neornithean bird, this fossil was too fragmentary to provide much more information than that.

Yet, despite this and several other exciting discoveries, these remote fossil beds were difficult to access so they remained virtually untouched for 20 years. Until recently, that is. Several years ago, an international team of Chinese and American scientists organized an expedition to the Xiagou Formation near Changma, in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, to search for more bird fossils, and their efforts were well-rewarded...

After cleaning and preparing the fossils, the scientists realized they had discovered five new partial skeletons of Gansus, which collectively include bones from every part of the bird's body except the skull and the first few neck vertebrae. Further, the team were surprised to find that this nearly complete composite skeleton of Gansus revealed a very modern-looking bird...

Click this link to read the entire article and view the many color illustrations from Grrlscientist's very stylish blog. The official title of the blog is Living The Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)


The second entry is also from the above blogger.

Another Origin of Species

Speciation typically occurs after one lineage splits into two separate and isolated breeding populations. But it is has been hypothesized that two "parental" species with overlapping ranges could hybridize, thereby giving rise to one new but reproductively isolated "daughter species" in the same area. However, this phenomenon has rarely been observed in animals, even though it is known that such "hybrid species" do occur in plants.

But recently, a group of scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama revealed that it took them only a few months in the lab to recreate the wing pattern color of the wild butterfly species, Heliconius heurippa (pictured, top), by hybridizing two closely related species, H. cydno and H. melpomene, that are found in the same area.

These butterflies all have wings that are primarily black, but the specific markings differ between each: H. cydno (left, above) has a pale yellow wing bar; H. melpomene (right, above) has reddish orange wing bar; and the hybrid daughter species, H. heurippa, has both reddish orange and pale yellow wing bars (middle, above).

A co-author of the study, Mauricio Linares from the University of the Andes in Colombia, suspected that H. heurippa was a hybrid daughter species of H. cydno and H. melpomene because H. heurippa's wing pattern is intermediate between these two species and because it naturally occurs where these other two species have overlapping ranges in northern South America (see map, right; blue lines; H. cydno; red lines, H. melpomene; green blob, H. heurippa. Click for larger view in separate window).

To test this hybrid daughter species hypothesis, wild specimens of H. cydno and H. melpomene were captured and crossbred in the lab. The wing color markings on the lab-created hybrid (pictured, right) are nearly identical to those of wild H. heurippa (compare to wild specimen at top...

Okay, you really can't get the feel for this unless you actually go to the article and read it along with the illustrations.

Thanks to the "Grrl" for the entries and kudos for the stylish, well-done blog!


The Institute for Creation Research sent me a few articles. One is quite appropriate as a counterpoint to the Grrl's entry:

A “100 Million Year Old Bird” Is Still a Bird

Birds are incredible flying (and occasionally non-flying) machines. The Creator has designed these creatures with specialized flight apparatus, an amazing respiratory system, not to mention unbelievable migration and navigation abilities. Creationists see these creatures as having been designed and created as 100% birds, while evolutionists are forever in heated debates regarding bird origin:

However, recent fossil discoveries have complicated the picture of bird origins and renewed the debate over which amniote [applied to a type (nontaxonomic) of development regarding extraembryonic membranes and a shelled egg] lineage was ancestral to birds (Hickman, Roberts & Larson 1997).

Another Bird Fossil
The secular scientific community has announced the recent discovery by American and Chinese paleontologists of an alleged “100 million year old” missing avian link, possibly with soft tissue. Despite claims that Gansus yumenensis is “the missing link on the evolution of birds,” all indications show it is in fact just a bird.

Creation Scientists are Ecstatic
Creation scientists are even more excited than their secular counterparts about recent bird fossils uncovered in the Xiagou Formation 1,200 miles west of Beijing. For not only are these fossils revealing 100% bird traits, but the tissue from some of these fossils is possibly still soft. Both of these physical manifestations are clearly within the creation model.

A recent story says “the new fossils demonstrate that Gansus clearly is a bird . . . . the oldest example of the nearly modern birds, . . . .similar to loons or diving ducks” ( 2006). With such repeated graphic descriptions, there seems to be no reason to claim this bird is a “missing link.” National crows that Gansus “is strikingly similar to today's birds, considering that it lived alongside dinosaurs” (Norris 2006). Indeed, a majority of evolutionists maintain birds evolved from dinosaurs and today, are dinosaurs: "So, in fact, birds are not some separate biological entity, distinct and apart from 'reptiles.' Birds are dinosaurs" (Fastovsky & Weishample 1996)...

Click here to read the entire article by Frank Sherwin.


Don Batten posts as follows: Haldane’s dilemma has not been solved

The famous evolutionary geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892–1964) was one of the three founders of the field of study known as population genetics. Haldane articulated a serious problem for evolutionary theory in a seminal paper in 1957—the ‘cost of substitution’.1 When a beneficial mutation occurs in a population, it has to increase in the number of copies for the population to progress evolutionarily (if the mutation remained in one individual, then evolution cannot proceed; this is fairly obvious). In other words, it has to substitute for the non-mutated genes in the population. But the rate at which this can happen is limited. A major factor limiting the rate of substitution is the reproduction rate of the species. For a human-like creature with a generation time of about 20 years and low reproduction rate per individual, the rate of growth in numbers of a mutation in a population will be exceedingly slow. This is basically the ‘cost of substitution’.

… the evolutionary origin of organisms with low reproduction rates and long generation times is impossible, even given the usual millions of years …
Imagine a population of 100,000 apes, the putative progenitors of humans. Suppose that a male and a female both received a mutation so beneficial that they out-survived everyone else; all the rest of the population died out—all 99,998 of them. And then the surviving pair had enough offspring to replenish the population in one generation. And this repeated every generation (every 20 years) for 10 million years, more than the supposed time since the last common ancestor of humans and apes. That would mean that 500,000 beneficial mutations could be added to the population (i.e., 10,000,000/20). Even with this completely unrealistic scenario, which maximizes evolutionary progress, only about 0.02% of the human genome could be generated. Considering that the difference between the DNA of a human and a chimp, our supposed closest living relative, is greater than 5%,2 evolution has an obvious problem in explaining the origin of the genetic information in a creature such as a human.

However, with more realistic rates of fitness/selection and population replenishment, the number of beneficial mutations that can be accounted for plummets. Haldane calculated that no more than 1,667 beneficial substitutions could have occurred in the supposed 10 million years since the last common ancestor of apes and humans. This is a mere one substitution per 300 generations, on average. The origin of all that makes us uniquely human has to be explained within this limit...

The entire article is found here.


Challenging the Religious Right on Pollution

I want to challenge the religious right on pollution. Bare with me, here, as I play devil's advocate; I had an interesting thought/question/argument about the topic where I've seen the scientific community defend its ideas and explain them, but the right hasn't risen to my challenge.

A little while ago, I asked why it appeared that scientists and the left were standing up for conservationism when this seemed to go contrary to Darwin, whom they endorse so strongly. On the other hand, I also challenged the religious right as to how they can support hugely polluting corporations which contribute to evolution and disproving their support for intelligent design. Not to mention it isn't exactly loving your neighbour when you dump toxic chemcicals in his back yard.

Anybody on the religious right care to explain this to me?

Centrerion Canadian Politics has this entire post right here.


The last entry is The Real "Missing Link": Evolution "Theory" vs. Scientific "Law"

Earlier this month, I saw an article in Time Magazine about how fish crept on land ( To qualify my perspective, you should know that I am a Christian and believe that God created the world. You should also know that I have an open mind and will freely admit to evolution when I see irrefutable evidence of one species becoming an entirely new species. With our expertise in genetic engineering, I am SHOCKED that we haven't been able to demonstrate this phenomena with even the smallest organism.

When evaluating new claims about finding a "missing link" in the "Theory" of Evolution, I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Maslow:

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. [Some] choose to work as best they can with important problems rather than restricting themselves to doing only that which they can do elegantly with the techniques already available. " Abraham Maslow, The Psychology of Science (Harper and Row, New York), 1966

Of course, since the people interested in new fossil discoveries are Paleontologists, it's not surprising that every new fossil fits into the "Theory" of Evolution. What's interesting to me is that popular science uses the cafeteria method when pushing forward theories. For example, did you know that Darwin also believed that man was actually the more "evolved" form of the species?

The rest of this post is located at My Bubble Life.

Here's hoping that you read the entirety of all the articles, in order to get all the information, to see the illustrations and view the listed references. Thanks to all contributors and.......enjoy!!!


Amy Proctor said...

Absolutely great stuff. I really appreciate all the work you put into these posts, Radar. As a Catholic, I'm appalled by the acceptance of evolution. When you think of it, theistic Catholics and secular evolutionists are identical. They both believe God started the ball rolling and evolution took it from there. Since secular evolutionists, to include science, cannot explain HOW the ball came into existence, they must acknowledge that someone/something made the ball to roll. Yes?

Reminds me of something I heard recently:

Some scientists came up to God and said, "God, we finally have it figured out. We can be just like you and create from nothing, and prove to you that evolution started this way: first, you take some dirt..."

God interrupted, "Wait, get your own dirt."


creeper said...


"As a Catholic, I'm appalled by the acceptance of evolution."

There is no reason why Catholics should not accept the theory of evolution - nor why any Christian shouldn't accept it. In that statement I'm presupposing that you're aware of what the theory covers, and what it doesn't cover.

"When you think of it, theistic Catholics and secular evolutionists are identical."

No, not identical. A part of their worldview simply happens to overlap.

"They both believe God started the ball rolling and evolution took it from there."

Whoa, time out, Amy.

Could you explain why secular evolutionists would believe God started the ball rolling?

"Since secular evolutionists, to include science, cannot explain HOW the ball came into existence, they must acknowledge that someone/something made the ball to roll. Yes?"

1. Why must they acknowledge that?

2. More importantly, why does that something have to be a supernatural entity?

creeper said...

"Some scientists came up to God and said, "God, we finally have it figured out. We can be just like you and create from nothing, and prove to you that evolution started this way: first, you take some dirt..."

God interrupted, "Wait, get your own dirt.""

Cute, but what exactly is the connection supposed to be between the Thing That Originated Dirt and the personified God of the Bible?