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ABOUT ORIGINS, CREATION, AND EVOLUTION

Scientific discoveries
2005-SEP to 2006-JUN

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bullet2005-SEP-25: Thailand: Animal evolution: Tiny dinosaur egg fossils found: Eric Buffetaut of the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, France, and co-workers, found four dinosaur eggs, two of which contained the remains of embryos, at Phu Phok in northeastern Thailand. They are about 18 mm (0.7 inches) long, the size of bullfinch eggs. They come from a theopod, the type of dinosaur that included Tyrannosaurus Rex, and from which birds are believed to have descended. Buffetaut suggested that the eggs are from a tiny dinosaur-bird which form a transition species between dinosaurs and birds. Their eggshells have certain characteristics like dinosaur eggs, including knobs on the surface. However the eggs have three structural layers and is oval in shape like bird eggs. (Dinosaur eggs are blimp shaped). He wrote:

"These eggs are from an animal that was somewhere along the transition from dinosaurs to birds, and where exactly it should be placed is still unclear."

[The beast who laid the egg may have been] "a bird-like small theropod, similar perhaps to some of the feathered dinosaurs described from rocks of comparable age in northeastern China" but smaller. 1

bullet2006-MAR-29: NY: Cosmology: Do we live in one of multiple universes?: The American Museum of Natural History in New York, NY, held a debate among five senior physicists and astronomers who debated the existence of multiple universes, of which our universe is only one of many.
bulletMichio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at City College of New York supported the multiple universes, or multiverse theory. He believes that new universes may be continually appearing in a "continual genesis." He added: "The multiverse is like a bubble bath" in which each bubble corresponds to a single universe. There are "multiple universes bubbling, colliding and budding off each other" all the time.
bulletAndrei Linde of Stanford University suggested that our universe could have spawned countless "baby universes" during the inflation period. That period is believed to have been a superheated explosion which occurred in a miniscule fraction of a second immediately after the big bang, when the universe expanded at an unimaginatively fast rate.
bulletA third argument in favor of the mulitverse theory evolves from string theory. That theory has resolved conflicts between Einstein's relativity theory and quantum mechanics. It suggests that we are

"...trapped in a three-dimensional zone within a space of higher dimensions. Other three-dimensional zones, called 'branes,' could also exist, less than an atoms� width away yet untouchable. The branes are sometimes called different universes, though some theorists say they should be considered part of our own because they can weakly interact with our brane in some ways." 2

The multiverse concept might solve the anthropic principle: the observation that we appear to live in a universe that is fine-tuned to support life as we know it. Some have suggested that this principle proves the existence of a creator. If there were an extremely large number of universes in existence, it would be quite possible for one of them to have accidentally come into existence in a way that supports life. We and other species of life would then be the result of this chance happening.
 

bullet2006-APR-05: A fossil of a "missing link" was found in Canada: Paleontologists found a fossil of a previously unknown species that scientists believe lived during the transition time circa 385 to 365 million years ago when fish were first moving out of the ocean and onto land. Called "Tiktaalik roseae" the fossil was found on Ellesmere Island in the northern territory of Nunavut, far North of the Arctic Circle. Its head resembles a crocodile; its body is like a fish. It has scales like a fish. But it also has the ribs, neck, head, and jointed arm bones of a land animal. The name Tiktaalik means large, shallow water fish in the Inuktitut language. 12
 
bullet2006-MAY-03: World: Animal evolution: Near transition fossil found? Meemannia eos is a recently discovered fossil of a species of fish who lived about 405 million years ago. It might be closely related to the unknown species from which ray-finned bony fishes and lobe-finned bony fishes evolved. Scientists believe that most modern fishes evolved from the ray-finned ancestors. A minority of fishes and land animals evolved from the lobe-finned fishes. 3
 
bullet2006-MAY-12: Universe: Cosmology: Was the big bang preceded by a big bounce? There is a general consensus among scientists that our present universe can be traced back to a big bang event some 15 billion years ago. Unfortunately, Einstein's general theory of relativity does not offer any insight into the events (if any) that preceded that event. A Penn State University report states that:

" 'General relativity can be used to describe the universe back to a point at which matter becomes so dense that its equations don�t hold up,' says Abhay Ashtekar, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Physics and Director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics and Geometry at Penn State. 'Beyond that point, we needed to apply quantum tools that were not available to Einstein.' By combining quantum physics with general relativity, Ashtekar and two of his post-doctoral researchers, Tomasz Pawlowski and Parmpreet Singh, were able to develop a model that traces through the Big Bang to a shrinking universe that exhibits physics similar to ours."

"As gravitational forces pulled this previous universe inward, it reached a point at which the quantum properties of space-time cause gravity to become repulsive, rather than attractive. 'Using quantum modifications of Einstein�s cosmological equations, we have shown that in place of a classical Big Bang there is in fact a quantum Bounce,' says Ashtekar. 'We were so surprised by the finding that there is another classical, pre-Big Bang universe that we repeated the simulations with different parameter values over several months, but we found that the Big Bounce scenario is robust'." 4

If this concept pans out, then there may be support to the concept that we are part of an oscillating universe that periodically goes through endless cycles of Big Shrinkages followed by Big Bangs -- expansions, and contractions, with the entire cycle lasting tens of billions of years.
 

bullet2006-MAY-18: World: Plant evolution: Missing link may have been found in the plant world: In the 19th century, Charles Darwin called the evolution of flowering plants from earlier species of non-flowering plants to be the "abominable mystery." For decades, evolutionary biologists attempted to solve the mystery had studied species of magnolia, believing them to be the oldest line of flowering plants. But DNA studies published in 1999 showed that Amborella, a plant native to New Caledonia island in the South Pacific, is even older. It appears to be the last surviving species of one of the most ancient lineages of flowering plants. Dr. William Friedman has found a unique feature in Ambprella plants that might represent a missing link between flowering plants and more ancient non-flowering seed plants, such as pines, ginkos and cycads. An article in the Christian Science Monitor states:

"Essentially, female plants among the unisexual Amborella plant build embryo sacs hosting cells common to all flowering plants. But these sacs also carry a sterile 'extra' cell that appears to tie Amborella back to its non-flowering ancestors. No other flowering plant known contains this unique combination."

However, this discovery may be a case of parallel evolution, in which two unrelated species develop similar features. 5

bullet2006-MAY-18: World: Human-chimpanzee interbreeding: According to The Register:

"A new study of chimpanzee and human genomes has revealed that the two lineages leading to the modern species interbred after they split. According to the report to be published in Nature today, the story of how we left our hirsute cousins behind is more complicated than previously thought. Researchers at MIT's Broad Institute used powerful statistical techniques to fit our DNA sequences against chimps', giving some surprising results....after the apes that would evolve into chimps and humans first separated, two got it together and mixed things up again. The star-crossed pair's kid became our ancestor."

"The timing of the initial separation was later than expected too. Fossil evidence had put the split at between 6.5m and 7.4m years ago, but the new genetic comparison brings the event forward probably less than 5.4m years ago. Past genetic studies had shown that different regions of the genome diverged at different times, but the new work is the first to put dates on the splits." 6

bullet2006-DEC-11: Australia: Another "living fossil" found: Living "Jurassic" shrimp whose scientific name is Neoglyphea neocaledonica, have been found. Scientists had not previously been able to find any fossils of this species of shrimp that lived more recently than 60 million years ago. The species was assumed to have been extinct for that time interval. A colony was found thriving on an underwater peak in the Coral Sea off of Australia's Great Barrier Reef during a massive effort by marine scientists to catalogue all life in the world's oceans.

They are about 5 inches (12 cm) long and have been described as a species intermediate between a shrimp and a mud lobster. Philippe Bouchet and Bertrand Richer De Forges made the discovery. Bouchet had been working in the region for two decades before this discovery. 11
 
bullet2006-MAY-30: World: Animal evolution: Evolutionary theory suggests that those animals possessing the strongest genes for survival and reproduction do succeeded in spreading their genes most widely. Altruism and generosity would seem to be counter-productive. Many scientists now believe that cooperation among individuals can outcompete similar groups who lack cooperation. But they had not been able to explain how altruism originally started, and what genetic changes introduced it.

According to an article in Molecular Biology and Evolution, scientists have traced an "altruism gene" in Volvox carterii -- a very primitive multi-celled animal -- to its one-celled ancestor. Volvox consists of about 2,000 cells linked to form a single globule. They have found that almost all of the cells give up any ability to reproduce in order to take on other jobs, such as moving the globule. World Science reports: "This can be seen as a profound form of altruism. By not reproducing, somatic cells commit evolutionary suicide to benefit the group." Scientists have found the gene that is responsible for the altruism. They found a similar gene in  Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a creature similar to the one-celled animal from which Volvox is believed to have evolved. 7
 
bullet2006-MAY-28: Universe: Cosmology: Scientists hope to detect 'dark matter':" Models of the universe show that every galaxy floats at the center of a blob of dark matter which accounts for over 80% of the galaxy's total weight. But it is undetectable except in its gravitational pull on visible objects. Scientists hope to learn more about dark matter when the Large Hadron Collider is started up near Geneva, Switzerland in 2007. 8
 
bullet2006-JUN-08: Australia: Oldest evidence of life: Scientists believe that stromatolites in western Australia were formed by micro-organisms that lived three billion years ago. Abigail Allwood at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology wrote in the scientific journal Nature that they show an early ecosystem and its response to environmental conditions across 80 million years. She said: "We believe many different types of organisms may have coexisted at this time, so we have not just the oldest evidence of life, but the oldest evidence of biodiversity." Her group's study has shown that the stromatolite formation could not have had a chemical origin, as some scientists believed. Dr. Gregory Webb of Queensland University of Technology in Australia said: "What is especially unique...is that they have been able to describe seven different microbial communities distributed through their natural environment." 9
 
bullet2006-JUN-29: Iran: Noah's Ark found? The Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration Institute (BASE) is a Christian archeology organization dedicated to looking for biblical artifacts. A team hiking in the mountains northwest of Tehran found an object that they believe to be the remains of Noah's Ark. Their discovery is approximately the size of a small aircraft carrier -- approximately the dimensions of the Ark as stated in the Bible. 10

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Tiniest dinosaur eggs may be found," World Science, 2005-SEP-25, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  2. "One universe or many? Panel holds unusual debate," World Science, 2006-MAR-30, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  3. "Fossil may lie near root of fish, land animal lineages," Nature & World Science, 2006-MAY-03, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  4. "Penn State Researchers Look Beyond the Birth of the Universe," Penn State University, 2006-MAY-12, at: http://www.science.psu.edu/
  5. Peter N. Spotts, "Ancient shrub unlocks a clue to Darwin's 'abominable mystery'
    Scientists have found a possible 'missing link' between flowering plants and their nonflowering ancestors." The Christian Science Monitor, 2006-MAY-18, at:  http://search.csmonitor.com/
  6. Chris Williams, "DNA reveals human-chimp crossbreeding," The Register, 2006-MAY-18, at: http://www.theregister.co.uk/
  7. "Researchers trace origin of an 'altruism gene'," World Science, 2006-MAY-29, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  8. "Machine could detect 'dark matter,' physicists say," World Science, 2006-MAY-28, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  9. "Rocks may be world's oldest fossils," Reuters, Toronto Star, 2006-JUN-8, Page A2.
  10. "Christian archaeology team believes it has found the ark," ABC News, 2006-JUN-29, at: http://abclocal.go.com/
  11. " 'Living fossil' found in Coral Sea. Shrimp-like creature was thought to have gone extinct 60 million years ago," Associated Press, 2006-MAY-19. at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12875772/
  12. "Fish fossils found in Nunavut bridge evolution gap," CBC News, 2006-APR-05, at: http://www.cbc.ca/

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2006-MAY-16
Latest update: 2006-DEC-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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