April 19, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

Archive: Caveman Rock, Body Time, Primate with Dinosaurs

Articles we printed in April 2002 lead to a question: have evolutionists changed in the last 22 years?

Note: some embedded links may no longer work.


Arms Race and First Aid Starts in the Cave   04/23/2002
A Neanderthal got hit on the head with a rock, but healed, decides European paleoanthropologists writing in the April 23 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Scientific American even has a reconstruction of the probable scar.) They conclude, “These findings add to the evidence that Neanderthals used implements not only for hunting and food processing, but also in other behavioral contexts. It is hypothesized that the high intra-group damage potential inherent to weapons might have represented a major factor during the evolution of hominid social behavior.”

Being translated, this means: cavemen not only skinned deer with rocks, they beat each other on the head with them, and this made them smarter.

These storytellers have taken a bone fragment and woven a novel out of it. Read the paper, and you see them making up a whole society’s behavioral evolution out a fragmented skull. You couldn’t tell if a rock fell off the cave roof and hit Alley Oop on the head, but they’ve got it all figured out that tight living quarters or competition between rivals caused societal stresses that erupted in violence; one guy hits another with his stone tool, but the others come to the rescue and help (the evolution of compassion), and all this works into the grand scheme of human societal evolution. Incredible. This is Far Side fodder. You’ve got a bone, you’ve got a cave – that’s it. How did this tall tale pass peer review in a scientific journal? Imagine our descendants finding a teenage skeleton with an MP3 player and concluding he was a tribal shaman using the device to conjure up the spirits. (On second thought, let’s think of better example.)Maybe the NRA can glean something out of this paper. Rocks don’t kill people; people do.


Body Organs Beat Different Drums, Yet March Together   04/22/2002
Imagine an orchestra where each section has its own conductor, yet the music still comes out sounding good (a lot better, at least, than Charles Ives’ Central Park in the Dark which requires two conductors). Scientists are finding that humans and animals operate this way. Rather than having a single biological clock controlling circadian rhythms (sleep cycles, eating cycles, etc.), it appears that each organ responds to its own genetic timekeepers. In some unknown way, the brain as master conductor coordinates all the sub-conductors. The report is summarized in Nature Science Update.  For details, see the paper in the May 2 issue of Nature.

The body has systems of systems of systems in an immense hierarchy that makes human corporate management look simple by comparison. Modern physiology amplifies the impact of Paul’s analogy of the church as a one body with many members, who all need each other to function.


For Such a Worm (or Fruit Fly?) as I   04/22/2002
Scientists at Penn State Eberly College of Science think we are more closely related to fruit flies than roundworms. They base this conclusion on comparison of 100 genes from three completely-sequenced genomes. This contradicts a five-year old hypothesis based on an earlier, less-detailed study that made worms a closer ancestor, they claim. They believe this finding can impact medicine, evolutionary biology, astrobiology, or any other field concerned with inheritance of traits.

They argue that it is also important for textbooks to present the right family tree, “because it has an effect on how crucial events in the development of animals are understood by future generations of scientists.” But team leader S. Blair Hedges cautions, “We could be completely wrong. I prefer to view our result as the best supported, based on the weight of the evidence, rather than as a proven fact. It is always better to keep an open mind about these things, not to become married to one hypothesis or another, and to let the data speak for themselves.”.

That’s great advice, if they would follow it. They don’t seem to realize the circular reasoning embedded in their methodology. They compared “slowest-evolving” and “fastest-evolving” genes as part of the analysis, for instance, which of course assumes evolution rather than proving it.

This team needs to be made aware of how many other genetic comparisons have produced controversial and counterintuitive results. In actuality, this team just reverted to an old hypothesis which is sure to be championed again by others. Hedges was surprised by the “rapid abandonment” of the older, long-standing hypothesis and acceptance of the new one, “without the intense scrutiny that is typical in science.”  We would say that intense scrutiny is rare in evolutionary studies. They accept evolution as a given, without ever considering alternatives. The result is conflicting stories about the unobservable past that merely assume evolution rather than prove it. Which of these dubious tales should be put into the textbooks, to influence future generations of scientists? “To let the data speak for themselves” requires the courage to doubt one’s presuppositions.


Creation Research In Action: Evidence for Catastrophism Mounting   04/19/2002
Exclusive  During the last few days, the editor of Creation-Evolution Headlines joined a research scientist on an expedition in a remote area gathering evidence for catastrophism. The evidence that this scientist and his co-workers has been collecting for several years now indicates catastrophism on a scale far beyond anything explainable by uniformitarian assumptions.

Unfortunately, we cannot share the details of this project until it is published.  All we can say is that this expedition was successful and added more data points to the already impregnable body of evidence.  The final report is expected to be published in a secular peer-reviewed journal sometime within a year.  Suffice it to say for now that it is a good example of reputable creation research, and will be startling to those who assume slow and gradual processes can account for large-scale geological phenomena.  When published, you’ll hear about it here.  The editor can vouch for the fact that it took a lot of sweat and sore muscles to gather this data point!

Update 4/19/2024: We can now tell about it. The principal investigator has posted this public video on YouTube about his findings.


Cell Water Channels Continue to Amaze   04/18/2002
If you enjoyed our December 20 story about aquaporins, the water gates of the cell, you’ll want to read this update posted by the University of Illinois with a cool animation of how the complex channel (made up of more than 100,000 atoms) allows a water molecule through in a billionth of a second, but keeps smaller protons out. Summarizing their paper in the April 19 Science, they explain:

Aquaporins, a class of proteins, form transmembrane channels found in cell walls. Plants have 35 different proteins of this type. Mammals, including humans, have 10, with many of them in the kidney, brain and lens of the eye.

When working correctly, said Klaus Schulten, the Swanlund Professor of Physics at the UI, the transport of water between plant cells lets flowers bloom and leaves stand sturdily, for example. In mammals, the machinery processes water efficiently to help maintain optimum health.

They go on to describe the problems that broken channels can cause: diabetes, cataracts, and breakdown of other organs. The kidneys process 400 liters of water a day through these channels. A single aquaporin can process a billion water molecules per second without letting a single interloper through.

The study of channels in cell membranes is proving to be one of the most remarkable new discoveries about the cell.  More awe-inspiring design is sure to follow.


New Model Puts Primates With Dinosaurs   04/18/2002
A statistical model published in the April 18 Nature pushes back the time of the first primates beyond 80 million years, before dinosaurs are said to have gone extinct. Commenting on the model, Scientific American says it may force scientists to rethink the date of the origin of humans, since this makes primates at least 15 million years earlier than “conventional wisdom” assumed.

The model is an attempt to rectify molecular evidence (that puts the divergence as far back as 90 million years), and a “scrappy” fossil record that represents maybe 5% of the primate species thought to have existed. Trying to reconstruct the primate family tree from fossils has been like “trying to reconstruct a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle using just 50 pieces,” according to Robert D. Martin of the Chicago Field Museum, co-author of the study. This new statistical estimate, while moving molecular and fossil evidence closer together, raises new questions, such as why more primate fossils have not been found, and why humans evolved so late.

If you have ever worked a Rubik’s cube, you know how frustrating it is to have to undo prior successes to get colors to match. A similar frustration happens when evolutionists try to reconcile their molecular story with their fossil story. The cube is being tossed back and forth between the molecular biologists and paleontologists, who disagree with each others’ solutions, and now mathematicians are getting involved. What if their cube has no solution of the type they expect? Or to use their puzzle analogy, what if their mental concept of the finished picture is radically different than the actual one?

To an observer willing to question the conventional wisdom, it is easy to find overlapping error bars that allow an infinite set of curves to fit the data. The authors admit, “While our results agree broadly with a molecular estimate of the time of the strepsirrhine and haplorhine divergence, they contradict widely accepted palaeontological estimates.” Scientific American speculates about the missing fossils: “As to why such ancient primates have not turned up in the fossil record, it may be that their remains simply did not have the conditions necessary for preservation.” One would think more time would provide more opportunities for fossilization.

Evolutionists throw millions of years around with reckless abandon. Scientific American, for example, quips, “Conventional wisdom holds that primates arose no earlier than 65 million years ago (after the demise of the dinosaurs), a date based on the oldest accepted fossil representatives of the group, which hail from roughly 55 million years ago, plus a few million years thrown in for good measure.”

But pulling on that thread unravels another yarn at the other end. They attempt to put a hopeful spin on the story that it might help human evolution get its conflicts resolved, a hopeless shambles as Science reported February 15. Of course, any story is possible; this new scenario is written in if-then-else, but-maybe, and on-the-one-hand on-the-other language, with both hands waving in an evolutionary fog. It attempts to explain away missing evidence and fill in gaps between what should be and what is. Shouldn’t science be about what is found, not what is not found?

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