The Surprises Will Never Stop

Great catchupIn Circular RNAs Increase Cell Bio-Complexity (5 April 2013) Jeffrey Tomkins makes the arguement we’ve seen so many times even in the last week: something has been found to be biologically functional, therefore “bio-complexity” has increased, therefore design, therefore God.

The specifics are thus not hugely important. DNA can code for a variety of “RNAs” as well as just proteins – the function of these “circular RNAs” is apparently to act as a sponge for another RNA type, microRNAs. It doesn’t strike me as something that would be all that difficult to evolve, I have to say. Here’s a slightly more detailed summary, if you’re still interested. Continue reading


A Very Old Worm

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Ancient Fossil Looks Like Today’s Acorn Worms (8 April 2013) Brian Thomas makes a living fossil claim – sort of. “Acorn worms” are more formally known as “enteropneusts,” which is a taxonomical class containing four families and around 90 living species. The rediscovery of a collection of old finds from the Burgess Shale apparently pushes the age of the earliest acorn worms back 200 million years to around 500 million years ago, i.e. the Cambrian explosion. Continue reading

Optimisation is not Always Perfection (or Vice Versa)

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Yeast Survive as They ‘Fail to Optimize’ (10 April 2013) Brian Thomas stumbles upon an important biological truth: what looks better on paper, when considering only a single part of a biological system, can still be bad for the survival of the organism as a whole.

He’s talking about a news article in Nature from February summarising two papers investigating how differing choices in codons that code for the same amino acid can affect the efficiency of the (here, circadian rhythm-related) proteins that they create, one studying a type of fungus and the other a bacterium. Continue reading

The Beta-Globin Pseudogene

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Beta-Globin Pseudogene Is Functional After All (12 April 2013) Jeff Tomkins says… well, it’s in the title, really. This is the older article that Monday’s post alluded to, and it’s really quite similar. Again, we have a pseudogene. Again, it’s been shown that its sequence is being actively preserved by natural selection, as if it were actually useful. Again, it has been found that the pseudogene infact codes for functional RNAs. The biggest difference is that this pseudogene (“HBBP1”) is not a “processed pseudogene” like ψPPM1K was, but that’s not significant here. Continue reading

Fibroblast growth factor 8

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Embryology Gene Control Confounds Evolution (15 April 2013) Jeffrey Tomkins talks at length about a Developmental Cell paper called “An Integrated Holo-Enhancer Unit Defines Tissue and Gene Specificity of the Fgf8 Regulatory Landscape.” No, I don’t know what that means either. Continue reading


The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Striking It Rich with ‘Instant Gold’ (17 April 2013) Timothy L. Clarey points us to a Nature Geoscience paper called “Flash vaporization during earthquakes evidenced by gold deposits.” The gist is as follows:

The two scientists found that faulting events are key to gold deposit formation, where rocks split apart and quickly slip past one another, causing earthquakes. Faults through solid rock are never straight. Instead, they follow zigzag patterns that look like chain lightening and create small voids—openings in the rocks called “jogs.” Fast-forming jogs create instantaneous drops in pressure during movement, causing superheated deep waters to almost instantly “flash vaporize,” leaving behind thin coatings of gold and quartz.

Repeated earthquakes could build up the gold to levels that would be economical to mine. Continue reading

Primitive Eggs

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Evolutionists Scramble ‘Fossil-Egg Evidence’ (19 April 2013) Brian Thomas challenges the conclusions of a recent Nature paper, “Preservation of ovarian follicles reveals early evolution of avian reproductive behaviour” (not open access, but a Nature News article is).

Bird fossils do not generally ruffle paleontologist’s feathers, but some amazing specimens from China’s Jehol province—preserving eggs inside fossil bird bodies—might do just that. Researchers suggested that the bird egg features lend themselves to an evolutionary progression from crocodile-like reptile to chicken-like bird eggs. But if God made birds and reptiles according to separate kinds as clearly stated in Genesis, then they were and are unrelated. Which history does this recent evidence best match?

You can tell what he thinks the answer is right away, of course. Thomas explains the situation as he sees it: Continue reading

Catch-up Time

The Great 2013 Catch-upIt has indeed been a while – more than a month since I last posted, and much more than that since I was properly up-to-date. It’s time to get back to that, and time to try to get caught up with what I missed.

So, I’m launching a project: my aim is to publish one catch-up post per day, starting tomorrow morning (my time), until I run out. I haven’t actually counted how many ICR articles there are that I need to do something on yet, so we may be here for some time. The posts will be of varying length – I’ve taken so long to get back in the saddle in part because a good-sized amount of the stuff put out by the ICR lately just hasn’t been all that interesting, but there are gems here and there. All catchup posts will be marked with the image to the right (at least until I decide that it looks horrible) and will be in this category. I’ll start by taking the DpSUs in reverse chronological order, and we’ll see how it goes from there.

I haven’t been entirely unproductive in my absence. You may remember that it was around the time that I last posted that Google announced the demise of it’s Reader, and since then I’ve decided that The Old Reader fits the bill as a replacement perfectly. I’ve also followed the lead of patheos blogger James McGrath and started sharing some of the things I read, sometimes with brief commentary: my “TOR” profile is here, and the rss feed can be found here if you don’t use that system but still want to follow. (N.B.: My sharings aren’t quite as cerebral as McGrath’s, with topics ranging from creationism to webcomics – and yes, there’s plenty of overlap there.) Does anyone else do the same thing? I’m very interested in adding to my “following” folder. I may also replace the “YOM tweets” feed down below and to the right with this, but I haven’t decided either way.

The other project I’ve been working on is an attempt, over at RationalWiki, to annotate the transcript of the Kitzmiller trial. It’s a lot of work, and it’s going to take us a very long time, so help would be appreciated. I’ve also been doing schoolwork, but that’s not all that interesting.