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The Cambrian period and creation

A spine-headed sea creature is one more example of God’s design

An illustration of Capinatator praetermissus Royal Ontario Museum

The Cambrian period and creation

Paleontologists claim that 50 fossil remains they recently unearthed belong to a new species of marine predator that evolved 500 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion, a time during which multiple, anatomically distinct animal forms appeared suddenly in the fossil record.

Evolutionists going all the way back to Charles Darwin have struggled to explain how so many life forms could appear so suddenly at once during the Cambrian period. Intelligent design advocates say the Cambrian explosion offers evidence of God’s creative work. And young-earth creationists such as Frank Sherwin, a biologist with the Institute for Creation Research, argue that such fossils indicate that the flood of Noah’s time destroyed numerous populations of complex and completely formed animals.

“Apart from the greatly inflated ages, the Cambrian explosion is exactly what the flood geologist would predict based on Genesis Chapters 6-9,” Sherwin wrote on the ICR blog.

The study, published in Current Biology, describes the 4-inch creature, Capinatator praetermissus, as a carnivorous predator that swam along the ocean bottom and imprisoned its prey by enclosing it in the 50 spines protruding from its head, 25 on each side. The researchers believe Capinatator evolved into the much smaller arrow worms of today, which make up most of the plankton in our oceans. But Sherwin noted that although both Capinatator and today’s arrow worms sport food-catching spines on their heads, the similarity stops there. Capinatator’s spines doubled those of today’s arrow worms, and the creature also lacked the fins, eyes, and specialized teeth of modern arrow worms.

“Claiming the finless, eyeless, and toothless Capinatator is an arrow worm ancestor seems to be a subjective speculation at best,” Sherwin wrote.

Soft tissue still clung to some of the fossils, a rare discovery that amazed the scientists. Derek Briggs, lead researcher and a Yale University professor of geology and geophysics called the finding “the most significant fossil discovery of this group of animals yet made.”

But Sherwin noted that surely 500 million–year-old soft tissue would have rotted away by now. A massive flood that rapidly destroyed the animals offers a much better explanation for the fossils’ rare preservation, he said.


Hope for brain cancer patients

In the battle against cancer, two new treatment options show promise. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved use of the first gene therapy treatment for children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Doctors will insert a new gene into a patient’s own immune cells that can instruct them to kill the cancer cells.

A human trial involving 63 pediatric and young adult patients showed a remission rate of 83 percent three months after treatment. Because the therapy can also cause severe and life-threatening reactions, the FDA requires hospitals and clinics to gain special certification before they administer it.

In another cancer treatment development, a study published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine showed the dreaded Zika virus might actually help those suffering from brain cancer. Zika attacks stem cells and causes brain damage in unborn babies because fetal brains are rife with neural stem cells.

But now researchers want to harness the stem cell–killing power of Zika by turning it loose to destroy cancer stem cells in adults suffering from glioblastoma, the most common but deadly form of brain cancer and the type with which doctors diagnosed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., last July.

The Zika virus would not damage adult brains, which seldom contain any neural stem cells.

Most glioblastoma tumors reoccur within six months because glioblastoma stem cells survive traditional treatment and produce new tumor cells. “We see Zika one day being used in combination with current therapies to eradicate the whole tumor,” said Milan Chheda, one of the researchers, in a statement. —J.B.


3,500-year-old tomb of Egyptian goldsmith found

Egyptian archaeologists recently unearthed the 3,500-year-old tomb of Amenemhat, a royal goldsmith who lived in the province of Luxor and dedicated his work to the Egyptian sun god Amon-Re.

Researchers believe Amenemhat lived during the 18th dynasty, between 1567 and 1320 B.C. According to the calculations of Bryant G. Wood, Biblical archaeologist and research director for Associates for Biblical Research magazine, that may mean Amenemhat lived around the time of the Exodus, when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt in 1446 B.C.

The archaeologists uncovered the tomb in Draa Abul-Naga, a cemetery for noblemen and rulers located near the Valley of the Kings next to the Nile River. The tomb contained statues of Amenemhat and his wife seated on chairs and another statue of one of their sons, lead archaeologist Mostafa Waziri told The New York Times. The archaeologists also found ushabti, small human figurines Egyptians placed in tombs to serve the deceased in the afterlife. —J.B

Musician hums a tune during brain surgery

When a young musician developed a brain tumor, he and his doctors worried surgery might impair his musical ability. His surgeons then devised a plan in which the fully conscious patient hummed during surgery while the surgeons delivered a mild electric shock to certain areas of his brain. When the shocks disrupted the young man’s musical processing ability, the doctors knew they should avoid that area of the brain during surgery. Once the surgeons successfully removed the tumor, the patient played his saxophone flawlessly and the entire operating room burst into applause, Science Blog reported. —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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