Archive of items from Evidence News

Nanotech colours inspired by bird feathers, according to ScienceDaily 13 May 2015 and ACS Nano doi:10.1021/acsnano.5b01298. The brilliant colours of bird feathers has long been known to be the result of structural colour, and not just coloured pigments in the feathers. But how can you copy that? Structural colour is produced by the way microscopic structures reflect and refract light. This gives intense, and often iridescent colours in pure hues. Some birds get structural colour in their feathers from the way melanosomes, tiny packages of melanin, are organised in the feathers.

Nathan Gianneschi, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues were “directly inspired by the extensive use of self-assembled melanosomes to produce colours in avian feathers” and set out to produce structural colour using the same principles. The team used a similar molecule to melanin named dopamine, which they linked together to form meshes called polydopamine. The polydopamine formed tiny, almost uniformly sized spheres, which the scientists then formed into thin films of tightly packed particles. Depending on the concentration of particles and thickness of the films the researchers produced intense pure colours in red, orange, yellow and green.

Nathan Gianneschi summarised the research: “We synthesized and assembled nanoparticles of a synthetic version of melanin to mimic the natural structures found in bird feathers. We want to understand how nature uses materials like this, then to develop function that goes beyond what is possible in nature”.

Matthew Shawkey of University of Akron, another of the research team commented: “What has kept me fascinated for 15 years is the idea that one can generate colours across the rainbow through slight (nanometer scale) changes in structure”. He went on to say that biomimicry, the study and copying of living structures, can be used to solve practical problems. For example, the polydopamine, like melanin absorbs UV light, structural colours do not fade like pigments, and pure hues are useful in colorimetric sensors.

Link: ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Biomimicry is best defined as “God made it best, we copy it next”, and it is the ultimate evidence that it takes creative design and intelligence to make living things work. Biomimicry involves using our intelligence to study living things, and understand how they work, and then further using our intelligence to creatively design and make substances and structures that will have similar functions to the ones we studied in living organisms.

In spite of Gianneschi’s optimism, any results we do get are usually less effective than the structures and functions observed in living organisms. We know from trial and error copying, that chance random processes are completely useless in getting any results. Precise detailed intelligent copying does the trick. Therefore, any scientists making use of biomimicry are truly without excuse for failing to honour the God of Creation.

The bright colours of bird feathers always remind this editor of that classic hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. Like much that came out of Victorian England the hymn is over-sentimental, but the last verse is true and challenging: “He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.” For a less sentimental expression of the same thoughts see Romans 1:18-25. (Ref. ornithology, colours, nanotechnology)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 8
20 May 2015
Creation Research Australia

Bird beak evolution experiment described in Nature News, Science (AAAS) News and ScienceDaily 12 May 2015. During embryonic development of birds two bones that form in the front of the upper jaw region fuse together and grow forward to form the upper beak. In a developing reptile the two bones, named the premaxillae, remain separate and develop into the snout.

Palaeontologist Bhart-Anjan Bhullar and biologist Arhat Abzhanov and colleagues made a detailed study of the facial bones of birds, reptiles and dinosaurs. They then studied the pattern of gene expression in developing faces of emus, alligators, lizards and turtles. They found differences in expression of two genes labelled Fibroblast growth factor 8 (Fgf8) and WNT. In birds these are most active in the middle of the face. WNT seems to stimulate proliferation of cells in the mid of the face just before the bones form. In reptiles this gene is more active in the sides of the face.

The researchers then inhibited the expression of these genes in developing chicken embryos so that the patter of gene expression was more like that of a reptile. In some of the treated embryos the premaxillae stayed short and separate like that of reptiles and dinosaurs. Also, in some of the experimental embryos, the palatine bone, a bone in the roof of the mouth behind the upper jaw, developed to be more like that of a reptile. The researchers did not allow the eggs to hatch so they could not observe any further growth.

The ScienceDaily article summarised the experiment as: “Scientists have successfully replicated the molecular processes that led from dinosaur snouts to the first bird beaks.” The Nature News and Science articles are headed “How the Beak was Born” and “How birds got their beaks” respectively.

Link: Nature News, Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Honesty Check Time folks! Since they started with birds, not dinosaurs, these scientists have not replicated the process of turning dinosaur snouts into bird beaks. What they have achieved is made useful beaks into totally useless appendages by preventing the poor birds from developing normal beaks.

Neither have they explained how birds came to have beaks. The fact that the partly developed (and unusable) bird faces resembled a developing reptile face is no surprise, as they had set out to manipulate the gene expression so it would be like a reptile. Full marks guys, but don’t lie about your results! You have proved that intelligent scientists can creatively manipulate gene expression, which has nothing to do with your pet evolution process that is supposed to have happened by chance randomness. Furthermore, you have not explained how the regulation of gene expression, or the genes themselves, came into being.

We predict that if you had allowed the eggs to hatch all they would have had is chickens with malformed faces that could not eat properly, so they would have been better eaten as a malformed omelette first. This is because our knowledge of bird and reptile genes, and their regulation, is woefully inadequate compared with the Creator who made them with proper beaks in the first place.

If by intelligent research we do happen to learn more about bird and reptile genes, and their expression, that should further confirm that living things are the product of creative design involving vast amounts of information, and scientists should give the credit to the One who made both birds and dinosaurs. Fess up guys, because you are going to have to one day! (Ref. ornithology, embryology, genetics, ontogeny)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 8
20 May 2015
Creation Research Australia

Water gathering webs described in Nature News 3 Feb 2010, Nature, vol. 463, p640 and BBC News 4 Feb 2010. A group of Chinese scientists have studied the microscopic structure of spider silk in wet and dry conditions to see how spider webs collect water droplets when exposed to mist and fog. The researchers found that dry spider silk consists of a series of rounded puffs linked together by short narrow strands called joints. The puffs consist of bunches of randomly tangled fine fibres. When the silk is exposed to fog the puffs condense to form tightly packed spindle shaped structures. As water condenses on the silk it moves towards the puffs and coalesces into drops. The difference between the rough puffs and smooth joints makes the water move along the joints and stick to the puffs. The shape of the puffs also draws the water towards their centres so that the water droplets coalesce and grow.

To confirm that it was the joint and puff structure that enabled the drop formation, the scientists also examined silkworm silk and nylon fibres, which do not have the puffs, under wet and dry conditions, and found these did not collect water like the spider silk. They then made an artificial thread with a similar structure of spindle shaped knots and smooth joints using nylon fibres and found this could collect water, but did not form as large drops as the spider silk. The researchers are hoping to use their findings to develop artificial materials that could be used as catalysts or filters to draw substances out of chemical reactions. Brent Opell commented: "It is impressive that they were able to produce an analogue of wetted [spider] thread that duplicated the properties that they observed."

The spider silk’s efficiency at collecting water did not impress spider silk expert Brent Opell of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, who has commented: "From a spider's perspective, this is a bad thing because it reduces the web's ability to capture prey." Fritz Vollrath, a zoologist and spider-silk expert at the University of Oxford commented: "The authors of this paper are studying an artefact, which is still interesting although it has no biological function".


Editorial Comment: Since all animals need water, collecting water is a biological function. To an evolutionist kill or be killed mentality, water collecting webs make little sense. But, pause and change the perspective first to an original good world that God made where a mist rose up every day to water the earth (Genesis 2:6). The study above shows spider webs are particularly well designed to collect such water. Whenever they do this today in wet and misty weather, the spider will then eat the web, water and all. Many Australian spiders take in their web every morning and many spiders also regularly eat their webs to keep up their levels of protein.

Secondly, add the Genesis data that the original good world was a place where all animals were vegetarian (Gen 1:26-31). Even today spiders will eat pollen and other plant matter, but in a world which is no longer good due to man’s rebellion, both water and protein are scarcer, so spiders have taken to sucking on careless bugs and other creatures that stray into their predesigned sticky webs.

We agree with Opell's comment that producing water collecting threads is an impressive feat. However, what we really have is that an original function - to catch and hold water and pollen, is now also able to be used for another function - to trap careless insects whose juices will supplement “Incy Wincy Spider’s” now diet-challenged existence.

One more comment can be made on the design function – and it is almost repetitious but necessary - if scientific researchers are going to improve man-made thread to match the efficiency of natural spider silk they will need to employ more creative intelligence, not leave their threads lying around waiting for them to evolve. (Ref. design, arachnids, biomimetics)

Evidence News 22 June 2011

Birds run on water but how? According to reports in Science (AAAS) News 22 April 2015 and Journal of Experimental Biology, doi: 10.1242/jeb.122838 April 2015, a team of researchers led by Glenna Clifton of Harvard University have studied the “rushing” behaviour of Western and Clark’s grebes, water birds that live on the lakes of the Pacific Northwest USA. The “rushing” is a courtship behaviour where pairs of birds rise up from the water, run across the top of the water for several metres, and then dive into the water.

Scientists were intrigued as to how these fairly heavy birds manage to stay on top of the water as they run. They found the birds used “three novel tactics to successfully run on water.” These are: they run with a high step frequency – up to 20 steps per second; they slap their feet down on the water with the toes spread out; and they then pull their feet out to the side with the toes folded together. Grebes have distinctive feet with wide lobed toes and flattened foot bones. Collapsing the toes together, combined with the flatness of the feet, reduces drag as they pull their feet from the water.

The research team claim “the mechanisms underlying this impressive display demonstrate that evolution can dramatically alter performance under sexual selection”.

Science, JEB

Editorial Comment: Come on guys, this is where evolutionist explanations really get dumb! If you want to mate attract a mate by running on water, you need to be able to do it first or your relationship will get that sinking feeling. The grebes’ unusual courtship behaviour reminds us that sexual selection, like natural selection, is a real process, but also like natural selection, it only explains why such behaviours are successful in creatures that already have them, and never explains how such structures and behaviours came into being.

Time to think, even for Nye the Guy, and admit that the desire to run on water can never create the genes to make flat lobed feet, or re-wire muscle control centres in the brain to make the correct movements. A popular evolutionary theory is that creatures co-opt features they already have for new purposes, and grebes’ unusual feet have been shown to be useful for efficient paddling. However, even if the birds already have correctly shaped feet, what would give them the desire to run on water, and think that at the same time such behaviour would attract a mate?

Here we have a good example of how both structure and behaviour go together, and it makes no sense trying to imagine how one would evolve without the other. In fact, the rushing behaviour of grebes, and their extraordinary feet, are good evidence that grebes are the product of a clever and humorous Creator, who also could walk and run on water because He made it and He made the Grebes also. (Ref. ornithology, mating, locomotion)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 8
20 May 2015
Creation Research Australia

Oldest modern bird found according to reports in BBC News 5 May, ABC News in Science 6 May 2015, Science 8 May doi: 10.1126/science.348.6235.617 and Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms7987, 5 May 2015. Palaeontologists in China have found two fossils of a previously unknown bird species they have named Archaeornithura meemannae. The fossils are very well preserved and have all the features of living birds – wings with a small projection on the front edge and fused bones at the ends, pennate wing and tail feathers, and a furcula (wishbone). All these indicate it was a good agile flyer. It also had long legs without feathers and feet like those of a modern wading bird.

The fossils were found in the Sichakou basin in Hebei province, and are dated as 130.7 million years. According to Wang Min of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “The new fossil represents the oldest record of Ornithuromorpha. It pushed back the origination date of Ornithuromorpha by at least five million years”. Ornithuromorpha is the group name for all modern birds.

The specialised features of A. meemannae caused a problem for scientists classifying the bird as it looks like it should have evolved from another specialised group named Hongshanornithidae, but the rocks it was found in make it the oldest dated modern bird. The researcher wrote: “These inconsistencies between stratigraphy and phylogeny require the presence of ghost lineages and a much earlier origination date for the Ornithuromorpha, which in turn pushes back the divergence time with enantiornithines and other primitive avian lineages”.


Editorial Comment: You heard it first from real scientists in a prestigious scientific publication: in order to believe this bird evolved from some primitive ancestor you have to believe what doesn’t exist – ghosts of the missing lineage kind! This is a very real admission that there is no evidence this fossil bird was ever anything else. The real evidence, rather than the ghostly evolutionary suggestions show that the only real difference between this fossil find and the birds we see wading and flying around today is that it is dead. To say it more simply this bird looks like a modern wading bird because that is what it was. Its extinction is a sad reminder that the world is going downhill and losing living creatures, not evolving upwards and gaining them. (Ref. ornithology, fossilisation)

Evidence News vol. 15, No. 7
13 May 2015
Creation Research Australia