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New find, same old stumbling block

A Cambrian fossil discovery renews the challenge to evolution

The site of a Cambrian fossil discovery on the Danshui River in South China Pomona College/Photo by Robert Gaines

New find, same old stumbling block

Researchers in China have discovered a mass of fossils near the Danshui River that date to the Cambrian Explosion, a biological phenomenon that defies Darwinian evolution. A study published in Science on Friday describes the trove of 101 animal species preserved in exquisite detail, including soft tissue like gills, muscles, digestive systems, appendages, and even eyes. So far, 53 percent of the species found were previously unknown.

Paleontologists said mudflows quickly swallowed the animals and buried them in fine-grain soil. As sediment “cemented” around the tiny bodies, it locked out microbes and halted the process of decay, Robert Gaines, co-author of the study, told Live Science.

The Cambrian Explosion refers to the appearance of a huge diversity of complex animals in the fossil record in a relatively short period of time. Evolutionists date the event to about 500 million years ago.

The study’s authors say the discovery has “the potential to greatly inform the understanding of early animal evolution.” But discoveries of Cambrian fossils have never brought forth new explanations from evolutionary biologists, the Discovery Institute’s intelligent design experts wrote on the organization’s blog. New discoveries only highlight the fact that evolutionists, who contend that animals evolved into gradually more advanced forms of life over the course of 40 million to 50 million years, can offer no explanations for how these complex animals showed up so abruptly in the fossil record.

Hugh Ross, founder of the old Earth creationist organization Reasons to Believe, said the challenges the Cambrian Explosion poses for evolutionary scientists defy all macroevolutionary models. Evolutionists often ask him why God would choose to create Cambrian animals at the time and place they appear, he wrote on the organization’s blog. He answered that God desired to create a home for human beings where they could launch and sustain civilization.

“Unless God created the Cambrian animals in the greatest possible diversity at the greatest possible abundance levels at the earliest time permitted by the laws of physics and the history of the universe, human beings and human civilization would be impossible,” he wrote.

The newfound Cambrian fossils could exist in such detail and still possess soft tissue only if their burial occurred very rapidly, like during the global flood described in Genesis 7 and 8, said Elizabeth Mitchell, an expert with Answers in Genesis. Her organization supports a literal interpretation of the Biblical six-day creation story and other events in Genesis.

“The existence of the Cambrian fossils does not argue for our evolutionary origins, but quite the contrary,” Mitchell wrote on the organization’s website, noting that the fossils should remind us that observational science does not support the worldview of evolutionism. “It should remind us that God created remarkably diverse forms of life, memorialized for us in the Cambrian fossils.”


The heavens declare

A school bus–sized meteor that exploded over Earth with a force of 10 atomic bombs on Dec. 18 just came to the public’s attention last week during a presentation at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas. The celestial event, the second largest meteor explosion recorded since NASA started tracking them 30 years ago, went largely unnoticed because the fireball exploded over the Bering Sea between Russia and Alaska, many miles from inhabited land, Live Science reported.

U.S. Air Force missile-monitoring satellites detected the event and reported the meteor weighed about 1,500 tons, had a diameter of about 32 feet, and traveled through the atmosphere at 71,500 mph before shattering about 16 miles above the sea, according to NASA.

World asteroid-monitoring groups did not see the fireball coming because most modern telescopes only detect objects measuring at least several hundred meters in diameter. NASA mostly focuses on identifying near-Earth objects with a diameter of at least 460 feet.

In 2013, the largest recorded meteorite explosion occurred over mainland Russia with a force 2½ times greater than that of the recent fireball. That meteor measured 62 feet across, and its shockwaves injured more than 1,200 people.

NASA said fireball events happen frequently and the recent December meteor posed no threat to anyone on the ground. —J.B.


A checkup you can’t skip

Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology designed a toilet seat that can detect heart failure by monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, weight, and the amount of blood a patient’s heart pumps with every beat. During an experimental study, the measurements the toilet seats documented showed the same degree of accuracy as clinical measurements.

Doctors diagnose 1 million new cases of heart failure each year. About 25 percent of patients hospitalized for congestive heart failure are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, and 45 percent are readmitted in 90 days. Traditional in-home monitoring designed to prevent readmission often has limited success because patients don’t follow the requirements. But the new technology doesn’t require the patient to do anything different. The seat can alert health providers to a patient’s deteriorating condition before they experience symptoms, allowing less costly interventions than hospitalization.

Human-subject and pre-clinical trials are underway. Pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the team plans to market the product across the country. —J.B.

Why does time fly?

Ever wonder why time seems to go faster as we get older? Adrian Bejan, a mechanical engineer at Duke University, believes he found the answer. Bejan’s paper in the March 18 issue of European Review claims the explanation lies in the way our brain obtains and processes images as we grow older. As webs of brain cells age, they begin to deteriorate, giving more resistance to the flow of electrical signals and slowing down the speed at which we process new images. Older people can mentally process far fewer images in the course of a day than when they were younger, giving the illusion that time is passing more quickly.

“People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth,” Bejan said in a statement. “It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.” —J.B.

Cannabis-depression link

Adolescents who use marijuana are at an increased risk for depression and suicidal behavior later in life even if they have no prior mood disorder, according to a study published in February in JAMA Psychiatry. The researchers conducted an analysis of 11 studies with 23,317 individuals and found that about 7 percent of people in Canada and the United States between the ages of 18 and 30 suffer from depression and possibly suicidal behavior related to earlier cannabis abuse. Adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of marijuana because the adolescent brain continues to develop until the age of 25.

Cannabis is the most commonly used recreational drug for teens worldwide, with more than 25 percent of adolescents in the United State using it monthly. The researchers hope the finding will spur public health organizations to develop preventive strategies to reduce marijuana use among youth. —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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