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A bony business

Fossil hunters declare a new human species, but some experts say otherwise

Aaron Favila/AP

A bony business
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For at least the fourth time in two decades, evolutionary researchers have found fossils they say represent a new species of human. But intelligent design experts and young-earth creationists agree that, once again, the find represents just one more ape.

The Homo luzonensis fossils, named after the Philippine island of Luzon on which the researchers found them, consist of seven teeth, two finger bones, three foot bones, and a thigh fragment. Researchers believe the fossils came from two adults and one juvenile. In their study, published April 10 in Nature, scientists dated the fossils to be about 50,000 years old.

Günter Bechly, a paleontologist with the Discovery Institute, an intelligent design organization, believes the fossils most closely resemble the apelike Australopithecus and present a “frustrating mess” for evolutionists. They appeared at the wrong place, at the wrong time, he wrote on the institute’s blog. Scientists can offer no explanation for how such primitive “hominins” found their way to the Philippines, or how (according to evolutionary theory) they could have existed at the same time period as modern humans.

“So much for the popular evolutionist myth that there are no out-of-place fossils thwarting Darwinian expectations,” Bechly wrote.

Gabriela Haynes, a paleontologist with the young-earth creation organization Answers in Genesis, noted scientists cannot prove the fossils represent any sort of new species without skull specimens or DNA evidence, none of which the scientists found. Evolutionists will always interpret their discoveries through the lens of the evolutionary worldview, she said on the organization’s April 15 podcast. But take that lens away, and all that remains is “curved finger and toe bones which clearly point toward an ape.”

Deficient no more

Researchers have conducted the first clinical trial of a gene therapy that restores immune function in infants suffering from X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (X-SCID), a rare, inherited disorder.

In infants with the disorder, infection-fighting immune cells don’t develop or function. Unless they are treated, such babies suffer chronic infections and usually die before age 2.

In a clinical trial involving eight babies with X-SCID, described April 18 in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers took blood-forming stem cells from each infant’s own bone marrow, genetically modified the cells, and then infused them back into the baby. Within four months, seven of the infants were producing normal numbers of immune cells. —J.B.

Driving high?

About 1 in 7 Washington state drivers with children in the car have recently used marijuana. That’s according to a new study analyzing a roadside survey conducted in 2014 and 2015, after the state legalized recreational marijuana sales.

The degree of possible driver impairment was unclear in the survey, since detecting THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in blood or saliva does not correspond to impairment the same way detecting alcohol does. But the results, published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, highlights the potential for impairment and the risks for children in states where the drug is legal.

“States’ policies protecting young children from alcohol-impaired drivers are ineffective,” said study co-author Tara Kelley-Baker in a statement. “Now we are legalizing another drug which may further increase risk to the most vulnerable group.” —J.B.

Julie Borg

Julie is a WORLD contributor who covers science and intelligent design. A clinical psychologist and a World Journalism Institute graduate, Julie resides in Dayton, Ohio.


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