Archive of items from Evidence News

Desert ants keep their cool, according to Science Shots and Science doi: 10.1126/science.aab3564, 18 June 2015. Saharan silver ants can live in desert regions where the temperature of the sand can reach 70°C (158°F). However, to survive, the ants must keep their own body temperature below 53.6°C (125.5°F).

The ants are able to do this because they have dense covering of uniquely shaped triangular hairs on their backs and sides that reflect most of the light that impinges on them. These also convert any light that is absorbed into longer wavelengths that are radiated away from the ant’s surface. The ants’ undersides also have a smooth silvery surface that reflects heat coming up from the ground.

According to Science Shots “Saharan silver ants give new meaning to survival of the fittest”.

Science Shots

Editorial Comment: This truly is a spectacular example of survival of the fittest, but please don’t use it as an example of evolution. These ants could only survive these incredibly harsh conditions if they already had the silvery light reflective hairs and undersurface. There would be no time for a black hairless ant to evolve these features if it found itself in the Sahara desert.

But before any intelligent design proponents start claiming how well designed these ants are for living in deserts we would remind them that in the beginning the whole world was “very good”, and deserts with 70°C sand are not very good, and do not date back to the beginning. It was not until after Noah’s flood that extreme environments developed, and living things had to survive with whatever features they already had. Any that couldn’t cope in an extreme environment, such as a desert, died out, leaving only those that could survive due to pre-existent abilities. This is natural selection at work, but natural selection occurs only as a result of the degeneration of the world, and can only eliminate the unfit. It is not a creative process that can build a world of living things from nothing, or even from other living things, such as non-silvery ants, even when you throw mutations into the mix!

So, why would ants have such a reflective surface if there were no hot deserts? Just because it can survive in the desert doesn’t mean it can’t survive elsewhere. The reflective surface is good for thermoregulation, which is a process needed to live in the very good world. In the post-Flood degenerate world these ants can live in the desert because there is no competition from other ants that use different methods of thermoregulation. We recommend they be put into competition with non-reflective ants to see who wins in a normal environment, and we predict that some other factor such as competition for food, including the others eating them will soon show. (Ref. insects, arthropods, thermoregulation)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 12
15 July 2015
Creation Research Australia

Not totally blind spot, according to Scientific Reports 26 June 2015 doi:10.1038/srep11862. The “blind spot” is a small area in the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye) where nerve fibres are gathered together to form the optic nerve. It has been assumed the blind spot is insensitive to light because it has no rods and cones, which are the light sensitive cells that are used to convert light to electrical signals. Although this spot is in the middle of our visual field, we do not perceive a black hole in our view of the world because the brain can fill in the deficit by using visual information from the other eye, and from the surrounding retina in the same eye.

Two Japanese scientists have now discovered that although the blind spot has no rods and cones, it seems to have some light sense. In order for us to see well our eyes need to adjust to the amount of light by changing the size of the pupil in the front of the eye. This is controlled by an unconscious reflex that constantly adjusts the pupil in response to changing light. The scientists made a careful study of how the eye responds to variations in intensity and colour of light, and found that the blind spot “unexpectedly” contributes to the pupillary light reflex.

Their experiments involved shining a disc of light onto the blind spot and surrounding retina, and then shining a ring of light with the same outer diameter of the disc, but with a dark central region the same size as the blind spot. Therefore, the ring was only shining light on the rods and cones around the blind spot, but not onto the blind spot itself. They found the disc, which exposed the blind spot to light, elicited a larger pupillary response than the ring which did not shine light onto the blind spot.

They concluded: “These results suggest that some physiological mechanism, presumably the retinal cells containing the photopigment melanopsin, receives the light projected inside the blind spot and enhances pupillary light reflex”.

Editorial Comment: The blind spot has been the subject of scorn by atheists who use it as an example of “unintelligent design”. Richard Dawkins was particularly scathing in his book The Greatest Show on Earth where he described the blind spot as “the design of a complete idiot”. (See our report An Idiotic Eye here) However, even Dawkins admitted that the blind spot does not hinder our conscious vision because our brains compensate for it. Now he should ‘humbly’ concede that it is not completely useless. We may not be aware of the pupillary light reflex, but it is essential for good vision. Too much light can damage the retina, so it is important that the eye responds rapidly to bright light. Having the “blind spot” involved in the system makes the light reflex more efficient, and reminds us that the eye is exquisitely designed by a complete genius.

How tragic that Dawkins and his colleagues cannot see this – but the problem is not their eyes, but in rebellious hearts and minds that do not want to acknowledge the Creator and Saviour, who will also be their Judge. (Ref. vision, reflexes, optics)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 12
15 July 2015
Creation Research Australia

Triceratops had complex teeth, according to a report in ScienceDaily 5 June 2015 and Science Advances doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500055. A team of palaeontologists and engineers have studied the teeth of Triceratops and found they are more complex than living reptiles and mammals. Living reptiles have fairly simple teeth that are useful for grasping, and then coarsely slicing and crushing their food, but their teeth do not come together in a way that enables the modern reptile to chew its food. Furthermore, reptile teeth have only two layers, consisting of a hard enamel layer surrounding a softer orthodentine core.

The most complex mammal teeth are those of herbivorous mammals. These have four layers, (enamel, orthodentine, secondary dentine, and coronal cementum), and the teeth self-wear as they grind on one another as the animal chews, producing complex cutting and shredding surfaces. The research team found Triceratops teeth are even more complex, being made up of five layers (enamel, hard mantle dentine, orthodentine, vasodentine, and coronalcementum).

The researchers then studied the way Triceratops teeth wore and developed a 3D wear model to work out how such teeth would respond to chewing. They concluded that Triceratops teeth would wear in way that produced a complex surface with a recessed area in the middle, which served to reduce friction during biting and make chewing more efficient. This enabled the animal to eat lots of different fibrous plants.

One of the scientists Gregory Erickson, commented: “It’s just been assumed that dinosaurs didn’t do things like mammals, but in some ways, they're actually more complex”.

Link: ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Finding complex teeth in a reptile goes against the usual evolutionary story of reptiles with simple teeth evolving into mammals with complex teeth. It also is great evidence that Triceratops is unrelated to other Dino Kinds. After all, evolution by chance cannot explain how Triceratops came to have five-layered teeth, when other reptiles only have two. Trying to eat fibrous plant material will not produce the extra tooth tissues needed to build the complex teeth, nor reshape and realign them so that they grind on one another.

These complex teeth really show us that Triceratops was well designed for a steady diet of fibrous plants that needed a lot of chewing. This makes perfect sense if both Triceratops and the plants were designed and made by the same Creator, who made animals and plants fully functional, designed to work from the beginning of creation, and certainly supports the thesis that the big horny triceratops used its massive horns to push down trees for food and its heavy duty beak to tear them up before quietly chewing them up with its well-designed teeth. (Ref. dinosaurs, diet, histology)

Evidence News vol.15, No. 10
26 June 2015
Creation Research Australia

Square tail tale reported in ScienceDaily 2 July 2015 and Science doi: 10.1126/science.aaa6683 3 July 2015. A group of researchers led by Michael Porter, a mechanical engineer at Clemson University, have studied seahorse tails to see why they have such an unusual shape. Seahorses are covered in rigid bony armour plating and their tails are made of a series of plates that are square in cross-section. This is most unusual as most animal tails are smoothly curved and round or oval in cross-section.

The seahorse’s square plates are each made up of four L-shaped corner plates that can pivot and glide on one another. They are also connected to the vertebrae inside the tail by strong fibrous connective tissue.

In order to work out how the tail worked the research team used 3D printing to construct a “tail” made of square segments like those in the seahorse tail. They then tested it for strength and flexibility and compared it with a tail made of round segments.

They found the square segments enabled the tail to be highly flexible for grasping, but strongly resisted compressive forces that would otherwise crush the tail as it has joints at the exact locations where the solid structures fail when crushed, which enables it to absorb more energy on impact. The plates also moved with twisting forces, and passively returned to their original configurations when the tail relaxed.

The researchers concluded: “Thus, the square architecture is better than the circular one in the context of two integrated functions: grasping ability and crushing resistance”.


Editorial Comment: Sometimes the best way to see how something works is to try to make one. To make a structure that worked like a seahorse tail involved some creative design, and the use of another cleverly designed machine – the 3D printer. Furthermore, the 3D printed tail only simulated the bony plates. It did not contain the vertebrae, muscles and connective tissue that are also essential for the real tail to work. To make one with contractile muscles and link it up to a control system would take much more clever design, and that should only remind these scientists of how great is the God who designed the seahorse in the first place. (Ref. design, biomechanics, fish)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 12
15 July 2015
Creation Research Australia

Dino fibres and blood cells found, according to reports in Science (AAAS) news, BBC News 9June 2015, ABC News 10 June 2015, and Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms8352. A group of scientists led by materials scientist Sergio Bertazzo and palaeontologist Susannah Maidment, of Imperial College London, have examined specimens of dinosaur bone from the collection in the Natural History Museum London and have found what appear to be protein fibres and red blood cells.

The researchers used a focussed ion beam to cut into the specimens, giving them a pristine surface to examine with an electron microscope and take samples for chemical analysis using a mass spectrometer. The microscopic study revealed fibres that look like collagen, a tough fibrous protein found in bone, tendons, joint capsules and other connective tissues. The researchers also found oval structures that looked like red blood cells. The mass spectrometer analysis of the fibres showed up amino acid fragments, consistent with those found in collagen. Analysis of the cell-like objects was similar to that of blood.

This is not the first time remains of fibres and blood cells have been found in dinosaur bones, but the previous finds were in exceptionally well preserved specimens. According to Susannah Maidment, the Natural History Museum specimens were “very scrappy, individual broken bones” that were not particularly well preserved. She went on to say: “If you’re finding soft tissues in these kinds of fossils, maybe this kind of preservation might be more common than we realised, and might even be the norm”.

The bones are estimated as being 75 million years old, and have been in the museum collection for over a hundred years. The research team concluded: “Using advanced material characterization approaches, we find that these putative biological structures can be well preserved over geological timescales, and their preservation is more common than previously thought. The preservation of protein over geological timescales offers the opportunity to investigate relationships, physiology and behaviour of long extinct animals”.

Links: BBC, Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Let’s be honest! The reason blood cells and protein fibres have not been found in dinosaur bones until recently is because no-one bothered to look for them, and the reason is simple. All present day observations show that proteins and cells break down in a lot less time than one million years, let alone the75 million years these specimens are believed to be. However, now that they have been found, evolutionary scientists are faced with a problem: Do they admit the presence of cells and proteins is evidence that these bones are not that old? Sadly, as the statement from these researchers indicates, scientists would rather believe by faith in some unknown mechanism that goes against our all known observations of how dead cells and proteins decay in order to prop up their belief, also held by faith, in millions of years. (Ref. dinosaurs, biochemistry, chemistry, ages)

For more information of dinosaur cells and tissues see the question: Tissue and cells in dinosaur bones just shows they last a long time. Why make a big thing of it? Answer here.

Evidence News vol.15, No. 10
26 June 2015
Creation Research Australia