Huge human brains puzzle evolutionists
Natural selection can’t explain why animal brains are so much smaller than ours
God created humans with a huge brain, three times larger than that of a chimpanzee. That difference puzzles evolutionists because our brains are much larger than they need to be and enable us to do far more than merely survive.
Now, scientists at St. Andrews University in Scotland are using computer simulations in an attempt to demonstrate mathematically why natural selection gave us such gigantic brains.
Because we need energy to survive, the scientists assumed evolution would select a large brain only if it could bring more energy into the body than the organ itself expends in performing its functions. For example, a bigger brain likely enabled our ancestors to gather more food to give energy to their bodies, leading researchers to look at whether the energy provided by a larger food source at least equaled the amount of energy a big brain would require.
Not surprisingly, the research results, published in the journal Nature, showed that stronger mental demands produce bigger brains. But, contrary to popular evolutionary theory, social challenges did not affect brain size. Instead, individual tasks such as finding, storing, and cooking food and making tools accounted for 60 percent of brain growth. Cooperative efforts to deal with the environment, such as group hunting, accounted for 30 percent, and the other 10 percent came from competition among groups of people.
According to Ann Gauger, a research scientist with Biologic Institute, evolutionists only see our brain as a huge organ because they compare it to the brain sizes of most animals. But, she said, “microscopic study of the human brain reveals brain structures, enhanced wiring, and forms of connectivity among nerve cells not found in any animal, challenging the view that the human brain is simply an enlarged chimpanzee brain.”
Any time we look at the small similarities between animals and humans, we also need to look at the large dissimilarities. It’s important that we don’t confuse “similarity with equivalence,” Gauger noted.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency convened a hearing to discuss two chemical contaminants that have invaded water systems nationwide. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals used in a variety of industries around the globe since the 1940s. They do not break down but accumulate in the environment and the body. Some animal studies link them to problems with reproduction and development, high cholesterol and cancer, as well as effects on the liver, kidney, thyroid, and immune system.
Many U.S. manufacturers no longer produce some PFAS chemicals due to a phase-out program begun in 2006. But other nations still produce the substances, contained in some imported consumer goods.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt labeled the issue a “national priority” and outlined four steps to begin dealing with the problem. Under a plan that won bipartisan praise, the EPA will initiate steps to ascertain a maximum safe level for the chemicals in drinking water and take the necessary steps to designate the chemicals as hazardous substances. Even now the EPA is developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for contaminated sites and plans to have the cleanup completed by this fall. Lastly, along with federal and state officials, the agency will develop toxicity values for these chemicals as well as GenX, a replacement PFAS.
“Americans count on the Environmental Protection Agency every time they turn on the tap,” Pruitt told the Detroit Free Press. “Protecting public health and ensuring the safety of our nation’s drinking water is one of the agency’s top priorities.” —J.B.
The Federal Drug Administration recently issued a warning about serious health risks associated with some teething medications.
“We urge parents, caregivers, and retailers who sell them to heed our warnings and not use over-the-counter products containing benzocaine for teething pain,” Scott Gottliebsaid, FDA commissioner, said in a statement.
Drug manufacturers use benzocaine in a variety of medications to treat conditions such as teething pain, sore throat, and canker sores under brand names Anbesol, Baby Orajel, Cepacol, Chloraseptic, Hurricane, Orabase, Orajel, and Topex, as well as generic drugstore products.
These drugs can cause a rare but deadly blood condition, methemoglobinemia, especially in children 2 years old and younger. Side effects include shortness of breath, headache, and rapid heart rate that can occur within minutes or up to two hours after using the medication. Officials reviewed 119 cases of the blood disorder linked to benzocaine, including four deaths, between 2009 and 2017.
If companies do not comply with FDA recommendations and stop selling the products, the agency said it will initiate regulatory action to remove them from the market.
The FDA previously warned parents and caregivers about a toxic substance found in certain homeopathic teething tablets and advised they seek advice from healthcare professionals for safe alternatives. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents treat their baby’s teething pain with teething rings or gum massage.
Adult products to treat toothaches and cold sores that contain benzocaine can remain on the market but companies must add new warnings. —J.B.
Sunken ships and treasure chests brimming with gold and jewels may be the things of fanciful pirate tales, but archaeologists have just discovered the real thing: a treasure-laden Spanish galleon on the bottom of the sea. The vessel carried gold and silver coins, and emeralds mined in Peru, loot worth between $4 billion and $17 billon today. Spain likely intended to use the valuables to help fund the long conflict the Spanish and French fought against the English in the War of Spanish Succession, Live Science reported.
A team of international scientists first discovered the vessel, partially buried in sediment 2,000 feet underwater, in 2015. But they could not immediately identify the craft, and affiliated government agencies only recently gave permission to make the details public. The discovery of bronze cannons uniquely engraved with ornate dolphins identified the vessel as the San José.
In 1708, warship escorts for the ship became delayed, but the commander decided to set sail anyway. Four English ships attacked the unprotected vessel in the Caribbean Sea, and during the ensuing cannon fight, the San José burst into flames and sank. —J.B.
The World Health Organization recently released a plan to eliminate industrially produced trans fats from the global food supply. Health experts believe trans fats increase blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Food processors create artificial trans fats by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it solid.
In 1911, Crisco shortening became the first trans fatty food marketed in the United States. Beginning in the 1950s, trans fats became increasingly popular because experts believed they were healthier than butter or lard, and food manufacturers began to use them in snacks and fried foods because of their long shelf life.
Three years ago, the Food and Drug Administration called for food manufacturers to stop selling trans fatty foods by June 18, 2018. The agency did not say how it plans to enforce the rule. —J.B.
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