Thursday, September 08, 2005

First Four-Legged Animals Inched Along, etc

Here are brief science news excerpts, with my comments in square brackets:

First Four-Legged Animals Inched Along, LiveScience, Bjorn Carey, 31 August 2005. ... A reconstruction of the skeleton of the first four-legged land animal suggests that it didn’t move too nimbly on land - it either shuffled along or crept like an inchworm. 360 million years ago, Ichthyostega ... crawled out of the water onto land. Although it was an amphibian, many of its skeletal features were fish-like. But it also had sturdy shoulders and hips, capable of supporting the body’s weight on land. The specialized shoulders and hips also allowed it to move its limbs out of water, making them useful for getting around on land. ... Also at CNN, New York Times and Nature. I regard the fact that tetrapods like Ichthyostega and Acanthostega developed limbs under water, that already had "sturdy shoulders and hips, capable of supporting the body’s weight on land", as conceded by Dawkins (again with no detailed Darwinian natural selection of random mutations explanation):

"But what did Concestor 17 look like: the ancestor that amphibians share with reptiles and ourselves? Certainly more like an amphibian than an amniote, and more like a salamander than a frog - but probably not much like either. The best fossils are in Greenland which, during the Devonian Period, was on the equator. These possibly transitional fossils have been much studied, among them Acanthostega, which seems to have been wholly aquatic (showing that `legs' originally evolved for movement in water, not on land." (Dawkins R., "The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 2004, pp.297-299)
and the limbs already "show .. [the] characteristic limb of walking Vertebrates ... forelimb: upper arm (humerus), forearm (radius and ulna), wrist (carous), palm (metacarpus), and digits, hind limb: thigh (femur), lower leg (tibia and fibula), ankle (tarsus), sole of the foot (metatarsus), and toes":
"The actinistian crossopterygians remained unchanged from the upper Devonian to the Jurassic. They were much too conservative and specialized, judging from the modern Latimeria, to have played a part in the genesis of tetrapods, the "conquerors" of terrestrial environments. This role was presumably played by the rhipidistian crossopterygians which, like the tetrapods, possessed internal nares (choanae). The earliest known amphibians, the ichthyostegalian stegocephalians, appeared in the upper Devonian (Old Red Limestone of eastern Greenland); they are unquestionably similar to the rhipidistians, especially to the Osteolepiformes, but they show characteristic tetrapod limbs (called autopodia) ["The characteristic limb of walking Vertebrates (tetrapods) which is composed of successive articulating segments; forelimb: upper arm (humerus), forearm (radius and ulna), wrist (carous), palm (metacarpus), and digits;. hind limb: thigh (femur), lower leg (tibia and fibula), ankle (tarsus), sole of the foot (metatarsus), and toes. ..."] The intermediate links between the crossopterygian fin and the tetrapod limb are missing. Anatomists have been trying to identify in the fin the bones which formed the autopodium. Their task is not an easy one. Each lobed pectoral fin of a crossopterygian is composed of a proximal bony element, homologous to the tetrapod humerus, followed by two bony elements to which are attached rows of ossicles. The fin articulates with a girdle consisting of five bones, different from that of other fishes. The anterior, scapular girdle is attached to the head on either side by two bones, whereas that of amphibians is free." (Grasse P.-P., "Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation," [1973], Academic Press: New York NY, 1977, pp.73-74)
as yet another problem for evolution and more evidence for my theory of Progressive (Mediate) Creation.]

Researchers hopeful of finding missing Peking Man, ABC September 6, 2005. Chinese researchers are hopeful of finding the remains of the world's most famous cave dweller, the 500,000-year-old Peking Man, more than 60 years after they disappeared, state media said today. Several interesting clues have come to light in recent months, according to members of a recently established committee charged with looking for the Peking Man's bones and other missing relics, the China Daily reported. ... [This could be very interesting if they do find the lost Peking Man fossils after all this time.]

Deep Impact exposes a fragile, empty comet, ABC/AFP, September 7, 2005. Comet Tempel 1, the target of NASA's Deep Impact mission, turns out to be quite fragile, with no more substance than a snowbank, scientists say. Scientists crashed an offshoot from Deep Impact into Tempel 1 in July, freeing a plume of primordial material from its nucleus, the first time astronomers have been able to glimpse the interior of a comet. "The comet is mostly empty, mostly porous," said Michael A'Hearn, a comet specialist ... Comet mission rewrites cosmic history, ABC/AFP, Richard Ingham, 7 September 2005 ... Chief scientist Professor Michael A'Hearn says this discovery buttresses a contested theory about the origins of life on Earth. Under the 'pan-spermia' [sic] idea, comets pounded the early Earth billions of years ago, bringing the planet organic molecules that reacted with light and heat from the sun, eventually providing the rich chemical soup from which all life began. The pan-spermia theory, initially opposed as outlandish by some scientists, is steadily winning converts, although it remains reviled by fundamentalist Christians as an assault on creationism. ... [This is not even panspermia, which is that living microrganisms (e.g. bacteria) arrived accidentally (undirected panspermia), or were sent deliberately by aliens (directed panspermia), to Earth. This is news to me that panspermia is particularly "reviled by fundamentalist Christians as an assault on creationism," No creationist AFAIK denies that organic (i.e. carbon-based) molecules exist in space and arrive on Earth via meteorites and comets. As even Dawkins points out, organic compounds such as "amino acids ... the building blocks of proteins" are produced on Earth from "a few simple gases in the atmosphere and ... volcanoes, sunlight, or thundery weather":

"Chemists have tried to imitate the chemical conditions of the young earth. They have put these simple substances in a flask and supplied a source of energy such as ultraviolet light or electric sparks-artificial simulation of primordial lightning. After a few weeks of this, something interesting is usually found inside the flask: a weak brown soup containing a large number of molecules more complex than the ones originally put in. In particular, amino acids have been found-the building blocks of proteins, one of the two great classes of biological molecules. Before these experiments were done, naturally-occurring amino acids would have been thought of as diagnostic of the presence of life. If they had been detected on, say Mars, life on that planet would have seemed a near certainty. Now, however, their existence need imply only the presence of a few simple gases in the atmosphere and some volcanoes, sunlight, or thundery weather." (Dawkins R., "The Selfish Gene," [1976], Oxford University Press: Oxford UK, New Edition, 1989, p.14)
And why would A'Hearn bother to mention it even if panspermia was "reviled by fundamentalist Christians as an assault on creationism"? Sounds like an attempt by him to gain support by creationist-`bashing' on `the enemy of my enemy is my friend' principle! That scientists need to resort to panspermia, is an indication of how bad things are going in origin of life research!]

Too Many People in Nature's Way: Natural Disasters Getting Worse Because Too Many People Are in Nature's Way, Experts Say, Charles J. Hanley, ABC News/AP, Sep. 5, 2005 - The dead and the desperate of New Orleans now join the farmers of Aceh and the fishermen of Trincomalee, villagers in Iran and the slum dwellers of Haiti in a world being dealt ever more punishing blows by natural disasters. ... By one critical measure, the impact on populations, statistics show the planet to be increasingly unsafe. More than 2.5 billion people were affected by floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters between 1994 and 2003, a 60 percent increase over the previous two 10-year periods, U.N. officials reported at a conference on disaster prevention in January. Those numbers don't include millions displaced by last December's tsunami, which killed an estimated 180,000 people as its monstrous waves swept over coastlines from Indonesia's Aceh province to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, and beyond. By another measure property damage 2004 was the costliest year on record for global insurers, who paid out more than $40 billion on natural disasters, reports German insurance giant Munich Re. Florida's quartet of 2004 hurricanes was the big factor. But generally it's not that more "events" are happening, rather that more people are in the way, said Thomas Loster, a Munich Re expert. ... [This increasing toll of natural disasters is more evidence that, as per my previous post, we are in the period covered by Luke 21:24-28 (NIV):

"[24] … Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. [25] There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. [26] Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. [27] At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. [28] When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
i.e. between v.24, "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (which happened in 1967) and v.27, "At that time they will see the Son of Man [Jesus] coming in a cloud with power and great glory." That would be (and now is increasingly) a time of "nations will be in anguish and perplexity" (v.25), when "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world" (v.26). That would be (and now is increasingly) a time of "wars," "famines and earthquakes," "many will turn away from the faith," "many false prophets will ... deceive many," the "gospel ... preached in the whole world" (see also tagline quote):
Matthew 24:1-14 (NIV) "[1] Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. [2] `Do you see all these things?' he asked. `I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.' [3] As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. `Tell us,' they said, `when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?' [4] Jesus answered: `Watch out that no one deceives you. [5] For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. [6] You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. [7] Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. [8] All these are the beginning of birth pains. [9] `Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. [10] At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, [11] and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. [12] Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, [13] but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. [14] And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."]

New calculations downplay asteroid risk, ABC/AFP, September 6, 2005. ... An asteroid that triggered a scare last December when astronomers calculated that it ran a potential risk of smacking into earth is less of a peril than thought. The rogue rock, 2004 MN4, measures 320 metres across, making it big enough to wipe out a large city if it ever collided with earth. Last December, there were a few nail-biting days when NASA calculated, from early optical observations, that the asteroid had a more than one in 50 chance of hitting earth on April 13, 2029. In addition, astronomers could not rule out a risk that the rock could in fact hit earth when it made another swing around the sun in 2036. But ... John Giorgina of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the risk of a collision appears to be lower than first thought, even though the asteroid could pass closer to earth than scientists had tipped. The asteroid was tipped to pass within 36,000 kilometres of earth in 2029. But Mr Giorgina says new calculations suggest it will fly by at a distance of about 32,000 kilometres, making it an even narrower shave.... [As previously mentioned on my now terminated list CED, the threat of "damage on a regional scale ... equivalent to a 1000-megatonne explosion" bearing in mind that astronomers "don't know what the gravitational effect of the Earth will be," and even if it does not actually hit the first time, "the object could get into a resonance with the Earth ... MN4 could come close again in 2034, 2035, 2036, 2037, 2038..." fits very well with Jesus' prediction in Luke 21:25-26 (see also above): "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken". Although Jesus said of His return in Mat. 24:36 that "No one knows ... that day or hour," He did continue in Luke 21:28-32 (NIV): "`When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' ... `Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. `I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." One interpretation of "this generation" could be within the normal 70-year lifetime of someone born after Jerusalem was no longer "trampled on by the Gentiles" i.e. 70 years from 1967, which is 2037, when this asteroid may be buzzing Earth every few years. If I am still alive, I will be 91. What a privilege to be in that last generation that lives to see Jesus "coming in a cloud with power and great glory"!]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

"[Matthew] 24:1-25:46 The Last Things ... A few points are worthy of special notice ... The prophetic material found in this sixth discourse has reference not only to events near at hand (see, for example, verse 16) but also to those stretching far into the future, as is clear from 24:14, 29-31; 25:6, 31-46. Cf. Luke 21:24. ... By the process of prophetic foreshortening, by means of which before one's eyes the widely separated mountain peaks of historic events merge and are seen as one, as has been explained in connection with 10:23 and 16:28, two momentous events are here intertwined, namely, a. the judgment upon Jerusalem (its fall in the year A.D. 70), and b. the final judgment at the close of the world's history. Our Lord predicts the city's approaching catastrophe as a type of the tribulation at the end of the dispensation. Or, putting it differently, in describing the brief period of great tribulation at the close of history, ending with the final judgment, Jesus is painting in colors borrowed from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. ... It is not claimed, of course, that any exegete is able completely to untangle what is here intertwined, so as to indicate accurately for each individual passage just how much refers to Jerusalem's fall, and how much to the great tribulation and second coming. ... The main emphasis in both chapters is on the necessity of always being on the alert, active for the Master, faithful to him." (Hendriksen W., "The Gospel of Matthew: New Testament Commentary:," [1973], The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982, reprint, pp.846-848. Emphasis original)

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