Coelacanth: Survival of the Dullest

A new fossil species of coelacanth was discovered in Canada. Scientists think from its tail fin shape that it was a fast swimmer–perhaps a hunter. Sadly, it was a "spectacular failure" in evolution. The luck of the evolutionary draw went to today's slow-moving, docile species.

Paradigm Shift: Impact Didn't Kill Dinosaurs

A new study casts doubt on whether asteroid impacts led to extinctions. It's based on re-interpreting geological evidence used to identify impacts. This finding, if sustained, would undermine the theory that an impact killed off the dinosaurs and a later impact led to the extinction of many large mammals. Even more significant, an overturn of the impact hypothesis would illustrate that scientists are capable of going off on wrong tangents for decades.

Cambrian Explosion: Sedimentary, My Dear Flotsam

"Then something happened." Question: are you reading a science article, or a fictional screenplay? Are you in the Science Department or the Humanities Department? Are you in the lab or the theater? Find out in today's episode of "Explain the Cambrian Explosion."

Is This Plant Really 30,000 Years Old?

A plant said to be 30,000 years old has been brought to life in Russia. A team resurrected a fruit from a rodent burrow in Siberian permafrost, getting it to grow into a whole plant that produces viable seeds. This is now the oldest age claim, by an order of magnitude, for plant material made to live again. Other scientists are startled that plant material could remain viable for so long, since cells have to repair their DNA continually. Other botany news bring different problems to evolutionary theory.

Dinosaurs Display Death in Watery Grave

Many dinosaur fossils show the animals with neck arched backward. This appearance is so common, it has been dubbed the "dinosaur death pose." Various theories have been invoked to explain it: dessication and final death throes among the most common. A study with chickens shows the arching neck is the automatic response of immersion in water.

Innovation as a Dodge

This is not a truck commercial. It’s not about a Dodge as an innovation, but innovation as a dodge. It’s about how a word, innovation, is used as a euphemism in evolution articles. The word seems to mean, “we have no clue how this evolved, but it must have for evolution to be true.” It’s a handy rhetorical trick, because without it, a reader might be tempted to think the evidence supports creation. Some recent articles show how the trick is employed.

Mouse to Elephant? Just Add Time

How do you evolve a mouse into an elephant? Just add 24 million generations. But you can shrink it back down in just 100,000 generations. This and other eyebrow-raising stories have been told in the secular science media recently.

News for the Birds

Our amazing feathered friends range from tiny hummingbirds to fast-running ostriches, from penguins to pigeons. In both living and fossil forms, they provide endless opportunities for study and fascination. Here are a few recent examples of news for the birds, in both good and bad connotations of the phrase.

More Evidence Cambrian Explosion was Un-Darwinian

The Cambrian Explosion (the abrupt appearance of animal phyla in the earliest fossil layers bearing multicellular body plans) remains unmuffled. Known by Darwin as a problem for his theory, it has become more problematic to his followers over time. There are now many more Cambrian fossils than Darwin knew of, and they continue the pattern: sudden appearance of complex animals, complete with legs, digestive systems, eyes, and nervous systems. Discoveries of Precambrian fossils have not helped: the ones that are more than microbial appear to be mere colonies of cells with no relationship to animals. Here are more discoveries that fit this pattern.

Science Grab Bag

Here's a random assortment of things floating around in the science news media – some fascinating, some informative, some disgusting. We’ll let the readers decide which is which. Since it’s Friday the 13th, a day to enjoy like any other day, we’ll give you a baker’s dozen to sample.

Darwinian Explanations: Show or Snow?

We all know the proverbial “snow job.” That’s putting on an entertaining song and dance without doing the assignment. A college sophomore (wise fool) writes a 15-page term paper full of jargon that, on closer inspection, didn’t follow directions or didn’t answer the question – it reveals ignorance of the subject. A job applicant makes an impression with humor or appearance without demonstrating ability to do the work. A junior makes up a fanciful story to cover up why he didn’t mow the lawn. Scientists are supposed to explain things based on observation and testable hypotheses. If Darwinians really believe that an unguided, impersonal, purposeless mechanism led to the diversity of life on Earth, they need to show the evidence. Here are a few recent examples of evolutionary explanations. Check whether they “show” evolution, or distract attention with a “snow” job.

Titanosaur Bones Found in Antarctica

Strange as it seems, large sauropods of the Titanosaur variety have been found in Antarctica. This is the highest latitude sauropod ever found. It means that the large reptiles inhabited every continent; they walked the globe.

What Do Scientists Know About Prehistory?

Evolutionary biologists and geologists speak of events happening millions or billions of years ago as concrete facts. They are not observational facts, though; they are inferences from indirect evidence. Indirect evidence can often lead to different conclusions; in fact, some philosophers like Duhem and Quine argue for “under-determination of theory by data,” meaning that data can never converge to support just one theory. Some can demonstrate logically that there are an infinite number of theories that can explain a set of data. Evolutionary scientists counter that there are only one or a few that are reasonable (implying that theirs is among the limited set of reasonable ones). Recent discoveries that threaten to overturn past reasonable theories, though, cast doubt on their confidence.

Hear Ye: Another Darwinian Prediction Falsified by Fossils

In a classic test of evolutionary “post-diction” (predicting what should be found in the fossil record), scientists made a bold prediction of what insect ears would look like before the evolution of bats. Believing that the presence of bats, a new predator with sonar, would spur the evolution of insect ears, the scientists predicted that earlier insects would have less-developed ears, or none at all. Then they found exceptionally-preserved insect fossils from the Green River formation in Wyoming, and compared the fossil evidence with their prediction. What was found?

Dino Expert Plays Chicken

Jack Horner, the dinosaur hunter who was science advisor to the Jurassic Park movies, wants to create a real dinosaur. He won’t use the movie method, trying to extract blood from Jurassic amber, because “DNA degrades too quickly,” he said. But he has a method he thinks will work: un-evolve a chicken back into its dinosaur ancestor.
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