News Media Swallow 830 Million Year Old Life Claim
The extreme gullibility of scientists and reporters
displays their blind love for Darwin and deep time
The latest record-breaking claim for preserved life is so off the charts that even one staunch evolutionary biologist calls it “outlandish” and “bombastic.” But the GSA (Geological Society of America) published it, so it must be true, right? It passed peer review. Isn’t that the gold standard for scientific credibility? You can laugh now – or later, after you read the quote below.
Ancient Microorganisms Found in Halite May Have Implications for Search for Life (GSA, 11 May 2022).
Boulder, Colo., USA: Primary fluid inclusions in bedded halite from the 830-million-year-old Browne Formation of central Australia contain organic solids and liquids, as documented with transmitted light and UV-vis petrography. These objects are consistent in size, shape, and fluorescent response to cells of prokaryotes and algae, and aggregates of organic compounds. This discovery shows that microorganisms from saline depositional environments can remain well preserved in halite over hundreds of millions of years and can be detected in situ with optical methods alone. This study has implications for the search for life in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial chemical sedimentary rocks.
The paper in the GSA’s prestigious journal Geology 6 May 2022 is titled “830-million-year-old microorganisms in primary fluid inclusions in halite” and is authored by Sara I. Schreder-Gomes, Kathleen C. Benison, Jeremiah A. Bernau.
These three claim that little round objects they looked at in their microscopes are cells, and they might still be alive! How do they know they are 830 million years old? Because they are found in 830-million-year-old rocks. How do they know the rocks are that old? Because that’s what the evolutionary timeline requires. Darwin, you see, needs lots of time for lucky accidents to add up and create brains from lifeless chemicals.
Evolutionary biologist Dan Graur isn’t buying it. He tweeted a link to a similar claim published in October 2000 by Nature that he says has been discredited: “Isolation of a 250 million-year-old halotolerant bacterium from a primary salt crystal” by Vreeland, Rozenzweig and Powers. Suspecting another pushback is needed, he tweeted a suggested title for it: “The Neoproterozoic Microbe That Isn’t.” If the claim of a living bacterium from Permian rock is outlandish, how much more one over three times older?
Needless to say, rational thinkers are going to wonder how anything could remain alive for such a huge amount of time. Wouldn’t cells trapped in rock have died and decayed a long time ago? How could they survive in salt? How could they carry on metabolism and keep their DNA repaired? The authors thought about these questions and tried to brush them away with brief suggestions. The high perhapsimaybecouldness index in their Discussion section is glaring, as is their reliance on the Vreeland paper that Graur says has been “discredited.”
Possible survival of microorganisms over geologic time scales is not fully understood. It has been suggested that radiation would destroy organic matter over long time periods, yet Nicastro et al. (2002) found that buried 250 Ma halite was exposed to only negligible amounts of radiation. Additionally, microorganisms may survive in fluid inclusions by metabolic changes, including starvation survival and cyst stages, and coexistence with organic compounds or dead cells that could serve as nutrient sources (e.g., McGenity et al., 2000; Schubert et al., 2009a, 2010; Stan-Lotter and Fendrihan, 2015). One such organic compound, glycerol, produced by the cellular breakdown of some algae, may provide energy for longevity of coexisting prokaryotes (Schubert et al., 2010; Lowenstein et al., 2011). Furthermore, both non–spore-forming and spore-forming prokaryotes may have advantages for long-term survival in fluid inclusions. Non–spore-forming prokaryotes are continually, but minimally, metabolically active, so they are able to repair DNA should it be necessary (Johnson et al., 2007). Alternately, spores formed by prokaryotes may provide another way of longterm survival in a dormant state (Vreeland et al., 2000; Lowenstein et al., 2011).
It may be this. It could be that. It has been suggested.
And yet even spores and cysts are not entirely dormant. Cells have DNA subject to constant radiation from below (e.g., soil radon) and above (e.g., cosmic rays). Without maintenance and repair mechanisms intact, a spore decays into dust.
If Graur doesn’t buy this claim, should anyone? Graur insists that evolution is a fact and thinks that anyone who doesn’t believe it is ignorant and stupid.
We note in passing that Dan Graur was a prime suspect in the junk DNA myth. He lambasted the ENCODE project that found 80% of non-coding DNA was translated by cells, suggesting it had functions. So confident was Graur that evolution left junk DNA behind in its path, he dared to say, “If ENCODE is right, then evolution is wrong.” (Evolution News, 9 July 2015).
As preposterous as this new claim is, it wasn’t too preposterous for Big Science and Big Media to swallow it whole. This was not like swallowing a goldfish; it was like swallowing a pufferfish. To add ridiculousness to the claim, the authors think it will inform astrobiologists as they search for life on Mars.
The results of our study suggest the possibility of similar long-term preservation of biosignatures on Mars…. Mars once contained saline lakes that precipitated chemical sediments, including halite (e.g., Osterloo et al., 2008). Microorganisms that may have existed in surface brines on Mars in the ancient past may be trapped as microfossils in chemical sedimentary rocks (Benison, 2019).
The usual suspects in Big Science Media either repeated the claim uncritically or failed to report it. Search on “halite bacteria” in the past month and thousands of hits turn up. Write CEH if you find any of them criticizing the paper as stupid.
If creationists were this gullible as to swallow a claim like 830-million-year-old bacteria living in salt, the world would hear no end of it. Pseudoscience! Idiocy! Gullibility to the nth degree! But like the double standard that protects Leftists in the media, Darwinists get a pass, while creationist claims are routinely ridiculed, persecuted and censored.
We don’t want to see Big Science just ignore this new claim or sweep it under the rug. We want to see them outraged at it, and take steps to ensure the three authors are thoroughly refuted to the point of having to retract the paper. And we want to see Big Media shame them openly, not with personal attacks, but by stating facts that rebut the claim. That’s how free speech works: don’t censor, but answer. That’s how science is supposed to be a “self-correcting process.”
But they won’t do it. The Darwin Party has already accepted as fact the claim that dinosaur soft tissues, up to an including DNA, can last for 80 million years or more. They already believe that original, un-permineralized soft tissue preservation is possible all the way back to the Cambrian explosion. They ignore the implications of carbon-14 in diamonds. Deep Time is sacred to them. Preserving it against all falsification is part of their Law of the Misdeeds and Perversions that cannot be altered. If Deep Time were ever doubted by a significant number of key scientists, Humpty Darwin would come tumbling down.