Arthropod Brains

Fuxianhuia protensa from the Lower Cambrian Chengjiang FaunaThe latest article from Brian Thomas is Cambrian Creature Had Complicated Brain. It relates to a study that found that a Cambrian arthropod, Fuxianhuia protensa, had a “modern” brain (at least for an arthropod). But first, here’s Brian’s conception of the Cambrian explosion:

In the evolutionary scheme, Cambrian fossils represent creatures from an ancient time when they had only recently emerged from unidentified sub-animal life forms. As such, evolutionists expect Cambrian creatures to be more complicated in structure than their supposed precursors, but simpler than their more “highly evolved” descendants.

“Unidentified sub-animal life forms”? Continue reading

Methylomes

DNA methylation is the term for a modification to certain DNA bases that involves the addition of a methyl group. This slows down gene expression, which may or may not be advantageous in context – though if you remove it entirely in mice you kill them outright. To cut to the chase, in late August a paper – Divergent Whole-Genome Methylation Maps of Human and Chimpanzee Brains Reveal Epigenetic Basis of Human Regulatory Evolution (pdf, supplemental data) – came out comparing levels of methylation, concentrating on the brain, between humans and chimpanzees. They found differences, particularly in regions apparently associated with diseases that we suffer from more than chimps do. Here’s a figure stolen from their supplemental information:

"The mean fractional methylation levels (± S.E.) of different genomic regions." (From page two)

“NS” stands for “not significant,” but the ones with stars are. Something to note with that graph is that there is a hidden 20% below the axis, so the differences are not quite as large as they would appear. Continue reading

A Non Sequitur on the Road to Irreducible Complexity

As you will probably be aware from even the most basic familiarity with anti-evolutionary arguments, creationists are adept at demonstrating that this or that is ‘complex’. See, for example, the latest from Dr Jeffrey Tomkins: Brain Function Discoveries Support Creation.

Golgi-stained neurons in the cortex, from a macaque.

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Computers

Yes, folks: That's a Video!

It seems I need to get around to part 2 of Neural Nets. I wrote that post in response to the DpSU IBM Attempts to Build Computer ‘Brain’  back at the end of August, and said that I would make a part two. This isn’t it, but the most recent edition of the ICR’s That’s a Fact video channel – Imitating Humans – is on the same subject:

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Neural Nets, Part One

Today’s Daily (pseudo)Science Update from the Institute for Creation Research’s Brian Thomas is called IBM Attempts to Build Computer ‘Brain’, and waxes lyrical about how IBM – the folk who brought us the hard drive, the ATM, Deep Blue, Watson and appreciable portions of the Linux kernel, among much else – are taking as inspiration the human brain. Here’s his conclusion:

Some of the best and brightest engineering brains are involved in seeing this project to completion. If and when they succeed, they will also have succeeded in proving that the human brain they used as their model could only have been created through intelligently and purposefully directed power. Something that intricately designed could never have “just happened.”

This post has long been my go-to post whenever what Natural Selection can achieve is brought up in the context of what we as humans can design. Now is the time, I think, to expand on that.

Neurons Continue reading