Friday Falsehoods #5

Another week, another set of quotes from creationists for us to look at. We only have two from David Coppedge, one from Theology Archaeology, and one from Brian Thomas published at the website of Creation Ministries International (the weekly ad for the “Ark Encounter” was uninteresting this time, while Thomas’ ICR article for Friday is not easily quoted – I may write a proper post on it later). Let’s get right to it then: Continue reading

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How to Preserve an Ostrich Cell

ArteryWe have a long article – with an even longer back story – today from Brian Thomas, called Dinosaur Soft Tissue Preserved by Blood?

For many years now Mary Higby Schweitzer has been investigating soft tissue and other biomolecular remains from inside dinosaur bones that are 70 million or so years old. For equally many years young Earth creationists like Brian Thomas have been pointing to these soft tissues and insisting that they could not last nearly so long, and so therefore the Earth is young. In this article Thomas says:

The scientific community has long shown its desperation to defend mainstream fossil ages against the short shelf-life of soft-tissue fossils.

This is, of course, a gross mischaracterisation of the debate. Continue reading

Bloody Mosquito Redux

Culiseta annulataIn mid-October I started a list in a google spreadsheet of “Articles of Interest.” It’s already up to 162 entries right now, and contains news articles and blog posts from a wide variety of sources that I might need to find again. The news stories behind a couple of recent ICR articles – on Dmanisi and the ancient galaxy from Monday – feature, as do many other topics which are likely to come up. The ICR tends to operate on a time delay of a few weeks, so looking forwards in the seven days following the galaxy story we have new information on Titan’s lakes; some abiogensis research; better dating for Homo (erectus?*) rudolfensis; and also that silly “Junk DNA face” story. Looking back at things they seem to have missed, meanwhile, turns up items like a story about blue straggler stars, a topic about which Brian Thomas has previously made noises, and an interesting system of extrasolar planets.

My point here is that there is no shortage of fresh science news of the kind the ICR likes to talk about. And yet for the second time in as many weeks Brian Thomas has decided to revisit an older story in order to better make a fool of himself. For Wednesday we have Questionable Dating of Bloody Mosquito Fossil – my previous post on this can be found here. Continue reading

Not Quite Jurassic Park

Culiseta annulataWe return once more to “soft tissues” (and other organic molecules) with Brian Thomas’ new article, Bloody Mosquito Fossil Supports Recent Creation. You’ve probably heard of this already: a fossil mosquito, found in an oil shale deposit (and not amber, as you might have expected), appears to contain blood. Or something like that, anyway. Thomas opens his article:

Scientists recently found blood remnants in a mosquito fossil trapped in a supposed 46-million-year-old rock. Could blood really last that long?

Already, we have a problem. We’re not talking about “blood” here, but “remnants” thereof. This is a key difference: the soft tissue argument put most simply is the claim that various organic molecules and/or structures found in fossils would have turned to dust if they really were as old as claimed (so therefore they are much younger). You cannot very well make this argument if what you are pointing to is the selfsame dust that you claim should be there if the fossils were old. The key issue then is what is actually in this fossil, and we should avoid being distracted by how long we think liquid, cell-containing red blood could last. Continue reading

Lizard Remnants

Excuse me while I blow away some of this dust.

*Ahem*

On Friday, Brian Thomas published an article called Whole Lizard Encased in Amber. What we have is an approximately 23 million year old piece of amber from the state of Chiapas in Mexico which contains preserved within it an entire lizard, albeit quite a small one. Details are scarce, but one news piece claims that it has been “preliminarily identified as a new species of the genus Anolis” – this does not narrow things down particularly well, however, as Anolis already contains nearly 400 living species. Here’s a video which contains some pictures (though the image shown before the video loads is of something else):

Continue reading

Meet Brian Thomas

Apologies for the impromptu hiatus (I’m really bad at doing that, aren’t I?) – I had exams, and decided that it was best if I didn’t do anything here for the duration. They’re over now, and so it’s time for the lesser 2013 catch-up.*

From what I see, which is mostly their online stuff, the ICR has not been all that busy in the meantime. The That’s a Fact site, for example, has not only not published a new video but they have in fact ceased to provide information about when the next episode will appear. The Your Origins Matter site, meanwhile, hasn’t published a new post in a week. One that they did post during my hiatus was a short interview with Brian Thomas in which he talks about fossil biochemistry (i.e. soft tissues). Because it’s been long enough since they originally posted it the video has also been uploaded to youtube, meaning that I can embed it below: 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

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