Recombination “Defies Evolution”

Homologous recombination in meiosisWe’re back to genetics, and Jeffrey Tomkins thinks he’s disproved evolution once again in Genetic Recombination Study Defies Human-Chimp Evolution. He says:

Results from a recent study in human and chimpanzee genetics have shipwrecked yet another Darwinian hypothesis.

Some parts of the chimp and human genomes are more similar to each other than others. According to Tomkins, the process of genetic recombination is supposed to have produced these differences. He points to a new paper – Recombination Rates and Genomic Shuffling in Human and Chimpanzee—A New Twist in the Chromosomal Speciation Theory – that shows, among other things, that recombination rates are actually lower in places where there are more differences. Or, in his own words: Continue reading

Bone Sniffer

Here’s an interesting take on the soft tissue issue: Brian Thomas writes Can this Dog Sniff out Fossils?

Migaloo is a dog from Queensland, Australia, that has been trained as an “Archaeology dog” by dog trainer Gary Jackson. She sniffs for human remains, and apparently holds the record for the oldest bones found via this method – a 600-year-old Aboriginal grave. Jackson also claims to have trained a cancer-detecting dog, called Chance, but he has recently retired his research program due to expense and difficulty in finding test subjects. Continue reading

Intact Dinosaur Skin

Canadian dinosaur skin (cropped)On Monday Brian Thomas wrote Scientist Stumped by Actual Dinosaur Skin. The topic is a sample of “intact” dinosaur skin – one of only three known worldwide – which is to be examined by the Canadian Light Source* (CLS) synchrotron. This is therefore a “soft tissues” topic, a subject which we last examined only last week.

Thomas’ title is pleasingly alliterative, but it is clear that he is misrepresenting the tone of the CLS press release – which seems to be all the source material we have to go on, unless this Flickr link starts working again before I finish here [just in time, it has – here’s the relevant gallery, including the picture above right, though it doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already know]. The scientists are not “baffled,” but they are instead intensely curious, and there is quite a difference between those two responses. Continue reading

Two Years

WordPress tells me that I just passed the second anniversary of this blog. Yay me? Last year I wrote a long post detailing what I’d learnt since starting, timed to go out at the exact moment. This year I clean forgot (not least because I thought, as I originally did last year, that the anniversary date was the 29th) and have no time now to prepare any sage thoughts.

Probably the biggest change between this year and last is that I currently have a bit of a backlog, something which I was fairly well over this time last May. So I think I had better get back to writing an actual post, don’t you?

If you have any comments or suggestions for me – or want to know anything about how these sausages are made – now is as good of a time as any to speak up.

Prime Numbered Cicadas

2013 Brood II cicadaRight now, the northeastern US is experiencing a plague of cicadas. These are no ordinary cicadas, however – these are “Brood II” of the famous 17-year periodical cicadas (a collection of species under the genus Magicicada). There are 15 distinct living broods, which can also have 13-year periods as well as 17. Brood II is far from the most wide-spread: for 17-year broods that goes to X, while for the 13s it’s XIX.*

Noting this, Brian Thomas writes Cicadas Make Great Mathematicians. Really now? Continue reading

Breaking Eggs

A new That’s a Fact video has at last arrived. It’s called Jurassic Omelette – or, according to their website, “Jurassic Omemette.” They have at least fixed that now, though they’re yet to change the URL.

The subject matter should be broadly familiar. The video starts off with asking “which came first – the chicken or the egg?” before moving on to the dinosaur egg protein issue from the other week. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however. Continue reading

I Agree

Belgian blueAlmost entirely, in fact. Jeffrey Tomkins writes “Marketing Myostatin Inhibitors with Fake Science,” about nutritional supplements being marketed to reduce the activity of a protein called Myostatin (literally “muscle stop”) with the intent of increasing muscle mass. According to Tomkins, one claim made is that myostatin is somehow “vestigial”: Continue reading

What are the odds?

Another “soft tissue preservation” article from Brian Thomas today: “Scientists Broom Challenging Discoveries Beneath ‘Contamination’ Rug.” He means “sweep” there instead of “broom,” which I don’t think it supposed to be a verb. Thomas hasn’t got a new find since last week’s, but instead does a more general overview of the concept:

Recent years have witnessed many revolutionary discoveries of original tissues in fossils. Each new find challenges the widely held notion that fossils formed millions of years ago. After all, lab tests repeatedly show proteins and other biological materials lasting no longer than hundreds of thousands of years—millions are out of the question. As a result, these fossils clearly look like recent deposits. What tactics do evolutionists use to accommodate these original organic remains into their entrenched belief in deep time?

The claim that “lab tests repeatedly show proteins and other biological materials lasting no longer than hundreds of thousands of years” is one of the great ironies of young Earth creationism: as Ken Ham would say, “were you there?” Continue reading

Gene Tales

MRNA structure

It’s not an overly interesting “tale” today: Jeffrey Tomkins writes Long Complex Gene Tails Defy Evolution. His topic is a new paper announcing the discovery that mice and humans can both have longer and more numerous 3′ UTRs (messenger RNA untranslated regions in the 3′ direction relative to the coding sequence – i.e. the magenta section of the above image) than previously thought. The new sequences that have been “conservatively” determined to be of this nature total 6.6 million bases in mice and 5.1 million in humans, which is quite a lot – something along the lines of 0.2% of the size of the entire human genome, though I’m not certain that they can be directly compared. Individually,

they identified 2035 mouse and 1847 human genes that have 3′ UTR tails ranging from 500 to 25,000 bases long. In some cases, they were even longer than the protein-coding areas of the genes themselves.

Tomkins points to the “hundreds to thousands of built in regulatory switches per gene RNA copy.” As you can tell from the title alone he is making a “that’s complex, so it’s out of reach of evolution” argument, which we’ve looked at ad nauseam. Given this, there are only two things that are worth clarifying: first, while the individual tails had lengths up to 25,000 bases long the vast majority were much shorter and the average was only a few thousand; second, while Tomkins claims that “[t]hese incredibly long gene tails literally contain hundreds to thousands of genetic switches within each single mRNA,” (emphasis added) the paper only says that “these extensions collectively contain thousands of conserved miRNA binding sites [Tomkins’ “switches”]” (emphasis added). The results are therefore not quite as impressive as they might be, and as Tomkins is selling them.

Edible Eggs?

LufengosaurusWhat with all the genetics articles lately we haven’t seen a soft tissue DpSU from the ICR in a while. For today, Brian Thomas writes The Incredible, Edible ‘190 Million-Year-Old Egg’. To nitpick, these eggs are 190-197 million years old, fairly unusual if not necessarily “incredible,” and almost certainly not edible. I cannot determine the origin of the image Thomas has put at the top of his article, but I doubt that it is of this find.

Their age places them in the “Lower Jurassic,” giving them the position of first-equal for oldest known dinosaur eggs with a South African find, and were found in China. It’s difficult to match fossils of the bones of adults with other fossils like eggs and tracks, but these eggs were probably of the early Jurassic sauropodomorph Lufengosaurus. Thomas claims that there is evidence that they are not 190 million years old, but instead were fossilised as a result of the Global Flood: Continue reading