Sunday, 27 May 2018

Like to Eat Insects? Thank Our Assumed Ancestors for Your Gourmet Choices

Pangolin, Manis javanica. Image courtesy of Piekfrosch, CC BY-SA 3.0 .




Joel Kontinen

Why do some people like to eat insects? Reporting on a new paper published in the journal Science Advances, Phys.org proposes an answer.

It has to do with our (assumed) ancestors – “small, furry creatures that scurried around the feet of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago” – who were mostly insect eaters.

“The scientists inferred this because the genes for the enzymes that allowed these early ancestors of all mammals to digest insects are still hanging around in nearly all mammal genomes today.”

These enzymes are called chitinases. Scientists think that humans also have a chitinase gene as well as “remnants of three other chitinase genes in their genome, though none of them are functional.”

This does not signify common descent, however.

While the paper never even suggests that there might be a better and more logical explanation than a typical Darwinian just-so story, common design is a far more credible one.

Source:

University of California - Berkeley. 2018. What we inherited from our bug-eating ancestors. Phys.org (16 May).


Friday, 25 May 2018

The Human Brain Continues to Puzzle Evolutionists

Image courtesy of Patrick J. Lynch, CC BY 2.5.



Joel Kontinen

The human brain is a Darwinian enigma.

In 2008 Harvard professor Richard Lewontin admitted that scientists did not know anything about brain evolution.

That did not put an end to speculations, however. From just-so stories about our assumed lizard brain to more sophisticated – but not necessarily brainy – assumptions, evolutionists have brought up new hypotheses and resurrected some old ones.

Neuroscientists are willing to admit that the human brain is a wonderful organ, capable of surprisingly complex interactions,” as the journal Neuron put it in 2016.

Our large brain continues to puzzle scientists. A paper published in Nature attempts to explain how it came to be so big, six times as large as those of mammals of comparable size.

According to the abstract, “establishing causes for brain-size evolution remains difficult. Here we introduce a metabolic approach that enables causal assessment of social hypotheses for brain-size evolution. Our approach yields quantitative predictions for brain and body size from formalized social hypotheses given empirical estimates of the metabolic costs of the brain. Our model predicts the evolution of adult Homo sapiens-sized brains and bodies when individuals face a combination of 60% ecological, 30% cooperative and 10% between-group competitive challenges, and suggests that between-individual competition has been unimportant for driving human brain-size evolution.” (internal references omitted).

The authors go on to conclude: “Our model indicates that brain expansion in Homo was driven by ecological rather than social challenges, and was perhaps strongly promoted by culture.”

The problem with all evolution-inspired brain research is that it assumes that our brain evolved from chimpanzee-like brains.

But if the human brain never evolved from an ape-like brain, then all Darwinian explanations turn out to be mere storytelling masquerading as science.


Source:

González-Forero, Mauricio and Andy Gardner. 2018. Inference of ecological and social drivers of human brain-size evolution. Nature 557, 554–557.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Australian Wrens Co-Operate with Individuals of a Different Species

A splendid fairy-wren male (Malurus splendens). Image courtesy of Aviceda, CC BY-SA 3.0.



Joel Kontinen

Who hasn’t heard the expression 'Birds of a feather flock together'? However, sometimes birds form mixed flocks.

What is more, they often live their lives as though they belonged to the same species.

A paper published in the journal Behavioral Ecology looks at how two small Australian songbirds – variegated fairy-wrens and splendid fairy-wrens – “not only recognize individual birds from other species, but also form long-term partnerships that help them forage and defend their shared space as a group.”

These wrens have a lot in common. According to Science Daily,

Both species feed on insects, live in large family groups, and breed during the same time of year. They are also non-migratory, meaning they live in one area for their entire lives, occupying the same eucalyptus scrublands that provide plenty of bushes and trees for cover.

When these territories overlap, the two species interact with each other. They forage together, travel together, and seem to be aware of what the other species is doing. They also help each other defend their territory from rivals. Variegated fairy-wrens will defend their shared territory from both variegated and splendid outsiders; splendid fairy-wrens will do the same, while fending off unfamiliar birds from both species.


These tiny birds take a very un-Darwinian approach to life.

The paper obviously fails to mention that the term ‘species’ can occasionally be rather fuzzy.

A case in point is a Darwinian icon. Even at best, the differences between the various varieties of Darwin’s finches are vague, and the birds don’t comply with Darwinian expectations.

Moreover, the term 'species' is anything but an accurate description of a particular type of organism.

The great number of hybrids, such as ligers, zonkeys, wholpins, geeps, grolars and leopons, supports the view that the biblical concept ‘kind’ differs considerably from the biological term ‘species’, being more inclusive.

The Australian fairy-wrens confirm the Genesis after its kind principle in that they most probably belong to the same 'min' or kind.


Source:

University of Chicago Medical Center. 2018. Birds from different species recognize each other and cooperate: Researchers show for the first time how birds from two different species recognize individuals and cooperate for mutual benefit. Science Daily. (21 May).

Monday, 21 May 2018

Intelligent Communication Between Cells: Exosomes and Ectosomes



Exosomes (above) are extracellular vesicles that communicate with ectosomes. Image courtesy of miguelferig, Public Domain.




Joel Kontinen

Exosomes and ectosomes are tiny extracellular vesicles that all cells produce. Exosomes measure 50–150 nm and ectosomes 100–500 nm.

Previously, researchers assumed that both vesicles were remnants of dead cells, but a recent paper published in the journal Current Biology shows that they were wrong.

Exosomes and ectosomes can travel relatively long distances, and exosomes can deliver cargoes that include non-coding RNAs and DNA sequences to other cells.

Scientists are just beginning to learn about their function, but they already know that these vesicles

navigate through extracellular fluid for varying times and distances. Subsequently, they interact with recognized target cells and undergo fusion with endocytic or plasma membranes, followed by integration of vesicle membranes into their fusion membranes and discharge of luminal cargoes into the cytosol, resulting in changes to cellular physiology. After fusion, exosome/ectosome components can be reassembled in new vesicles that are then recycled to other cells, activating effector networks.”

Looks like a considerable infusion of intelligence is needed to bring this about. But, then, practically everything in our cells requires intelligence.

In other words, nothing about molecular machines makes sense without intelligent design.”

We also have two tiny postmen in our cells, i.e. dynein and kinesin, that carry cargo to specific addresses within cells.

Our cells are miniature cities running at 100 percent efficiency, and they produce 100,000 nanomachines per hour.

Source:

Meldolesi, Jacopo. 2018. Exosomes and Ectosomes in Intercellular Communication. Current Biology 28, R435–R444 (23 April).

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Earliest Stars Got a Lot Older


Star formation? Image courtesy of NASA & ESA, Public domain.





Joel Kontinen

New research by Takuya Hashimoto at Osaka Sangyo University and colleagues suggest that the first stars formed “250 million years” after the big bang. This is some “150 million years” earlier than previously assumed.

This was supposed to be too early for star formation, as the Dark Age was thought to continue until some “400 million years” after the big bang.

The big bang has other problems as well, for instance missing antimatter, cosmic inflation, quantum fluctuation, missing dark matter and the likewise elusive dark energy.

In addition, the earliest galaxies formed too quickly.

He [God] made the stars also,” Genesis tells us. That is by far the best explanation for the existence of the universe.

Source:

Crane, Leah. 2018. Some of the universe’s first stars have actually been seen. New Scientist (16 May).

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Superfast Water Plant: The Waterwheel Snaps Shut Ten Times Faster Than a Venus Flytrap

Aldrovanda vesiculosa. Image courtesy of Jan Wieneke, (CC BY-SA 3.0).




Joel Kontinen

Two plants – the Venus Flytrap and the waterwheel or Aldrovanda vesiculosa – use traps to catch prey. Evolutionists assume that this strategy evolved only once in plants, so they have to assume that one of them evolved from the other.

There is no fossil evidence for this, however.

What is more, the plants are very different and use a different mechanism.

Reporting on research on the waterwheel published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the BBC quotes study co-author Anna Westermeier at the University of Freiburg as saying: "It's very, very small and it's very, very fast, and this puts you basically to the limits of optical resolution."

The waterwheel is an amazing plant. The BBC goes on to say:

At just 2-4mm, the traps are about a tenth the size of a Venus flytrap's, but they close in a remarkable 0.02 to 0.1 seconds.

The lobes or leaves of the waterwheel also do not change shape when they snap shut, but rather close like two halves of a mussel shell. The Venus flytrap flexes its leaves from flat to curved when enclosing its prey.


So, a tiny plant can cause a big problem for evolution. The waterwheel looks like it was designed to cope in a post-Fall world.

The Venus flytrap knows how to count, and it’s not the only smart plant.

Trees communicate with each other, and the eucalyptus uses a clever trick to keep cool.

Source:

Mary, Halton. 2018. Waterwheel: Ten times faster than a Venus flytrap. BBC News (9 May).

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Carbonate Concretions Formed in Months or Years Instead of Millions of Years, New Paper Suggests

Image courtesy of Karsten Sperling, CC-by-sa-2.0.




Joel Kontinen

Concretions are spherical rocks that often contain well-preserved fossils. A new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that they “formed very rapidly, at least three to four orders of magnitude faster than previously estimated timescales.

Science Daily quotes study co-author Koshi Yamamoto, who says:"Until now, the formation of spherical carbonate concretions was thought to take hundreds of thousands to millions of years … However, our results show that concretions grow at a very fast rate over several months to several years."

How about during Noah’s Flood that has also formed many other kinds of geological formations, such as giant boulders, natural archways and water-formed gaps in mountains?

Sources:

Nagoya University. 2018. Cracking open the formation of fossil concretions. Science Daily (2 May).

Yoshida, Hidekazu et al. 2018. Generalized conditions of spherical carbonate concretion formation around decaying organic matter in early diagenesis Scientific Reports 8:6308.