Archive of items from Evidence News

Mud dragon escapes explosion, according to BBC News, Science (AAAS) News, ScienceDaily and Scientific Reports, 2016 doi: 10.1038/srep35780 published online 10 November 2016. The fossil of a sheep-sized theropod dinosaur was found by a Chinese construction crew who came close to blowing it to pieces when they were setting explosives at a construction site. Some of the fossil was destroyed by a dynamite blast, but most of it remained intact. The missing pieces included the ends of both forelimbs.

The fossil has been identified as being a member of “a family of feathered dinosaurs called oviraptorosaurs”. It was preserved lying on its belly with its limbs splayed out on either side of its body and its head and neck raised up. The scientists who studied it suggest it got trapped in mud and died while struggling to get up again. An artist’s reconstruction shows a hairy creature lying on a miry forest floor with outstretched arms covered in feathers and its head raised up looking towards the sky. The research team have named it Tongtianlong limosus, which means “muddy dragon on the road to heaven”.

BBC, Science, ScienceDaily 

Editorial Comment: Let us quickly review the evidence. All its bones, except for those damaged by the modern day explosion, are intact and connected to one another in the anatomical position. If it had died and then lay in the mud with most of its body above the surface it would have been destroyed by scavengers and decomposition processes. However, its head is not bent right back in the drowning death pose seen in many dinosaur fossils so it may not have drowned in water either. It is most likely it was buried suddenly in a large mass of muddy sediment, and technically ‘suffocated’ or drowned in a muddy mass which would account for the unusual splayed out position as well.

It is interesting to note that most reports about this fossil, including the Scientific Reports article, had the artist’s reconstruction showing its body covered in filaments and its forelimbs covered with feathers arranged like a bird wing. This is pure wishful thinking by people obsessed with the theory that dinosaurs evolved into birds. Although this dinosaur was described as being part of a “family of feathered dinosaurs”, this particular fossil did not have any feathers, or even any filaments that could be misconstrued as feathers.

Finally, here we have another example of the Chinese giving a dinosaur a name meaning dragon. They regularly name dinosaurs “something-dragon” and refer to dinosaur bones as dragon bones when talking about them in everyday speech. The Chinese recognise a dragon when they see one, because, unlike the fanciful feathers, somewhere in their history people have seen real dragons and described them. (Ref. reptiles, fossilisation)

Evidence News vol. 16 No. 23
6 December 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

Dinosaurs had camouflage colours, according articles in Science (AAAS) News 14 September 2016, BBC News and ScienceDaily 16 September 2016 and Current Biology doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.065, published online 15 September 2016. Researchers from the University of Bristol, UK, along with colleagues from Hong Kong, USA and Germany, have studied the distribution of pigment in an “exquisitely preserved” fossil of a Cretaceous dinosaur named Psittacosaurus. This is a fairly small dinosaur with a beaked mouth and cone shaped structures, called jugal bosses, projecting sideways on either side of its face.

The researchers found the pigment distribution would have made it dark on its back and head, but light on its underside. This pattern of dark and light shading is called countershading, and is considered to be useful for camouflage as the dark back counteracts illumination by light coming from above.

With the help of an artist they constructed a model of the dinosaur, including the pattern of pigment in the skin, which they then studied in various locations in the Bristol botanical gardens. They also constructed a uniformly grey model which they also placed in various light conditions and studied the pattern of shadows falling on it. They concluded the dinosaur had a pigment pattern that would have provided good camouflage in forest conditions.

According to Jakob Vinther, who led the study. “These colour patterns are a testament to an arms race [between predator and prey] that took place 120 million years ago”. However, the researchers suggested the head pigmentation was also involved in signalling, especially as the face and jugal bosses were heavily pigmented and the jugal bosses seem to be made of softer material than normally forms hard horns.

BBC, Science, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: If any so called evolutionary “arms race” did take place, such a conflict could only be survived by creatures that already had camouflage colouring. Animals without it would be eliminated in the process of natural selection, because selection can only work on what already exists. It does not and cannot make any new characteristics. The pigmentation pattern may explain why creatures survive in a struggle for existence, but that does not explain how they got the patterns in the first place. The theory also assumes any pigmentation occurring before the “arms race” took place had no other function.

Now let’s take off your blind faith evolutionist glasses, and consider these dinosaurs in the light of Biblical history. In the beginning the world was very good, with no predators. As suggested by these researchers, the pigmentation of this dinosaur would have been for communication, i.e. species identification and attracting mates. The melanin on its back would also provide protection from any ultra-violet rays, just like melanin in our skin.

After the world degenerated and became filled with violence, animals that already had pigmentation patterns would have benefitted from any camouflage protection this provided. This protection would have been enhanced after Noah’s flood, when the environment was devastated and predators became common due to a lack of plant foods. In other words, the fact that animals have pigmentation patterns that can serve as camouflage is evidence of a degenerate world, not an evolving one. It simply can never explain where the pigment patterns came from in the first place. That is better explained by a creative designer who made living things to communicate with one another, and also to look attractive, and any post-fall and post-flood benefit is a plus. (Ref. skin, colour, reptiles)

Evidence News vol. 16 No. 23
6 December 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

Plant roots see the light, according to reports in ScienceDaily 3 November 2016, and Science Signalling, doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aaf6530, 1 November 2016. Light is a source of energy for plants, and is also a stimulus for plants to grow and develop. In order to detect changes in the light environment plants have photoreceptors that detect light and send chemical signals that stimulate growth and development in the whole plant. The optical receptors are most sensitive to red and far red light and are found in both the shoots and the roots.

Having photoreceptors in roots, which are buried in soil where there isn’t any light, seems rather odd, so a group of biologists and physicists set out to see if light can be conveyed to the roots through the plant stems, and if it makes a difference to the growth of the plant.

The research team developed a highly sensitive light detector that could detect any light conveyed from the shoots to the roots. Chung-Mo Park, who led the research explained: “With this approach, we could show clearly and without ambiguity that light is transmitted into the roots via vascular bundles”. Vascular bundles are the internal pipes that carry water and dissolved minerals and nutrients through the plant.

The researchers also studied the effect of light on genetically modified Arabidopsis plants that did not have the photoreceptors in their roots, but still had them in their shoots. This meant the roots could receive chemical signals sent from the shoots, but not direct light stimulus, i.e. the roots were blind to light. The blind rooted plants did not develop roots as well as normal plants even though the above ground parts of the plant were illuminated and the roots could receive chemical signals sent from the shoots.

Ian Baldwin, another scientist on the team commented: “Our work proves that roots are able to perceive light, even though they are usually found below ground. Photoreception in the roots triggers a signalling chain which influences plant growth, especially the root architecture”.

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: And we thought we invented light pipes, otherwise known as fibre-optic cables. These are not the first living things to be found that use light pipes. We have some in the retina in our eyes, as do all vertebrates. They are also found in sponges that live on the bottom of the sea.

Furthermore, there is no point in having a fibre-optic system unless there is something at the other end that needs the light, such as the root photoreceptors, but the light receptors are useless without the light pipes to convey light to them.

These “what came first” questions, aka the Chicken and Egg Syndrome, are a chronic problem for evolutionists, because they just keep cropping up the more research we do into how living things work. However, they are no problem for the God who created the light on the first day, and made the plants as complete fully functioning organisms well designed to use the light, on the third day. (Ref. botany, photoreceptors, plant physiology)

Evidence News vol. 16, No.22
24 November 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

‘Dinosaur age’ bird keratin found according to reports in ScienceDaily 21 November 2016, ABC News 24 November 2016 and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1617168113, published online 21 November 2016. In recent years scientists studying the microscopic structure of fossil birds and dinosaurs, have found small structures that look like melanosomes, granules containing the pigment melanin. There has been some debate as to whether these really are melanosomes, or microbes that were preserved along with the fossil.

In order to find evidence that these were melanosomes researcher Mary Schweitzer worked with Yanhong Pan, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues to study the microscopic structure of feathers of a fossilised bird named Eoconfuciusornis dated as Early Cretaceous, 130 million years old.

Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University explained: “If these small bodies are melanosomes, they should be embedded in a keratinous matrix, since feathers contain beta-keratin. If we couldn’t find the keratin, then those structures could as easily be microbes, or a mix of microbes and melanosomes - in either case, predictions of dinosaur shading would not be accurate”.

The fossil bird was found in the Jehol Biota site in China and has well preserved feathers. The researchers examined the feathers using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and also used a technique known as immuno-gold labelling to identify any preserved keratin. They also examined the distribution of sulphur and copper in the feathers. Sulphur is found in beta-keratin and a number of other proteins, but copper is only found in melanosomes. They found widespread sulphur in the fossil feathers, but copper was found only in the melanosome-like structures. According to ScienceDaily “These findings support both the identity of the melanosomes and indicate there was no mixing or leaching during decomposition and fossilisation”.

The research team wrote in the summary of their report: “Retention of original keratinous proteins in the matrix surrounding electron-opaque microbodies supports their assignment as melanosomes and adds to the criteria employable to distinguish melanosomes from microbial bodies. Our work sheds new light on molecular preservation within normally labile tissues preserved in fossils”. In their conclusion they suggest their methods could be used “to distinguish between keratinous feathers and skin-derived collagen fibres”.

Yanhong Pan commented: “This study is the first to demonstrate evidence for both keratin and melanosomes, using structural, chemical and molecular methods. These methods have the potential to help us understand - on the molecular level - how and why feathers evolved in these lineages”.

ABC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: This was indeed a clever and meticulous study of fossil feathers, but it cannot show how and why feathers evolved. This fossil is definitely a bird, and no-one is claiming it is anything else. All this study can show is what fossil feathers are made of, and it revealed they are made of the same substances found in the feathers of living birds. Therefore, it is evidence that feathers have always been feathers, and have not evolved, no matter how old they are claimed to be.

The term “normally labile tissues” used by the scientists is a reference to the fact that proteins, like all large biological molecules degrade, due to normal chemical processes. The only reason people can stay alive for almost a century is because our proteins are being constantly rebuilt. Once a creature is dead its proteins break down. Keratin is a particularly tough protein because it is exposed to the outside environment as part of its normal function, but it will not last more than a couple of thousand years. Hair is made of keratin, and extremely fragile pieces of hair have been found in old graves and Egyptian mummies. However, even the toughest protein will decay over time by natural chemical processes. Proteins are long strings of small molecules called amino acids joined together by chemical bones known as peptide bonds. Peptide bonds have a half-life of around 400 years. (Ref: Ronald Raines of University of Wisconsin–Madison, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009; 611: xci–xcviii) This means in 400 years half the peptide bonds will have broken down, in another 400 years half of the remaining half will have decayed, and so on until after 10 half-lives, i.e. 4,000 years there is less than a thousandth of the original peptide bonds still intact, which for a protein with around 100 amino acids means there would effectively be none left. Therefore, the claim that some unknown chemical preservation processes have kept these fossil keratin fibres intact for 130 million years is pure wishful thinking, not observed science.

The reference to distinguishing between collagen and keratin is, no doubt, a challenge to Alan Feduccia, an expert in fossil birds who is sceptical of the claims about feathered dinosaurs made on the basis of dinosaur fossils associated with filaments. Feduccia suggested these are collagen fibres, which are found in skin, becoming flayed out during decomposition of buried creatures. See our report: Dinosaur Feathers or Fibres, here. Whatever the outcome of testing these fossils might show, it would not solve the dilemma of the protein decay time. Like keratin, collagen is also a tough fibrous protein, but not as tough as to endure for millions of years. In spite of this Mary Schweitzer and associates have claimed to have found collagen in dinosaur bones dated as 68 million years old. See our report: T rex Proteins, here. (Ref. fossilisations, biochemistry)

Evidence News vol. 16 No. 23
6 December 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

Why diving birds don’t break their necks revealed in reports in ScienceDaily 5 October 2016 and PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1608628113, published online 4 October 2016. A group of scientists at Virginia Tech have carried out a study of the biomechanics involved to find out why diving birds don’t break their slender, apparently fragile necks. Some diving seabirds, such as gannets and boobies, can plunge head first into the water at speeds of up to 24m/s. This would really be a “breakneck speed” for a human diver.

The research team studied the structure of the bones and muscles of a gannet’s head and neck, and made a 3D model of a gannet skull in order to study the forces impinging on the skull as it entered the water. They also made a simplified model using 3D printed cone on a flexible stem and plunged this into water, noting the effects of changing the cone angle, neck length, and impact speed.

They found a combination of factors that prevented the neck from buckling. These were the shape of the head, the material properties of the neck, and the impact speed. The birds also contracted their neck muscles, which not only stiffen the neck but straighten it out from its normal S-shape.

The researchers who led this study are working with a Virginia Tech design team on a “gannet-inspired underwater projectile for autonomous sensing.”

ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: Yes, we’ve said it before, but if the scientists and engineers do come up with a gannet-inspired underwater projectile, it won’t work until all the right structures and functions are in place. Note the number of structural and dynamic factors that have to be right before birds can succeed at plunge diving. They have to have the right head, neck and beak shape, with the right material properties, they need to know when to contract their neck muscles, and be able to generate enough speed to penetrate the water and overcome the drag in the water, but not so fast that they break their necks.

All of these factors have to be in place before diving gannets could pass the “survival of fittest” test, so they cannot have evolved one by one by chance evolution. Multiple combinations of structural and behaviour factors require plan and purpose.

We are not sure why the birds, who were all originally created vegetarian, (Genesis 1:26-31) would want to dive into water at high speeds. Maybe the tastiest seaweed for them was deep under water and they needed the extra speed, or then again, as someone who has climbed to the top of waterfalls simply so my mates and I could dive or jump off, purely for the thrill, these birds simply dive because they like it, and God does too. Any other suggestions?

Whatever the reason, they couldn’t do it unless they were the work of the Creative Designer Christ, who made the whole bird to be a fully functional shock avoiding machine from the very beginning. (Ref. ornithology, seabirds, biomechanics)

Evidence News vol. 16, No.22
24 November 2016
Creation Research Australia

 

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