Recent headlines in hominin origins

It seems like forever since I started writing The Quest and put off blogging, and in that time, a couple of mildly interesting research on human "evolution" have appeared.  So let's see what we have.

First up, Aurore Val and colleagues have a paper on the deposition of the Australopithecus sediba fossils at the Malapa site.  Nothing earth shattering here, but it's an interesting study.  Like the Homo naledi fossils, the fossils show no evidence of predator or scavenger damage.  Val and colleagues propose that the bodies had partially mummified when they were washed into their final resting place.

Next, DeSilva and colleagues have a new paper on the Dikika juvenile, Selam (above), originally discovered back in 2000.  It's a magnificent fossil with a number of traits that are intermediate between living humans and apes.  The authors suggest that A. afarensis might have retained some climbing ability even though they could walk erect like we do.  Yet more evidence …

What I do with my summer vacation?

Due to my part-time job as a teacher, I am regularly asked what I do on my summer vacation.  It always amuses me, because I guess people think teachers sleep in, watch TV, and generally lollygag their summers away.  So it's been a while since I posted here, and this seems as good a time as any to answer that question.  What do I do with my summer vacation?

Short answer: I work.  A lot.  I catch up on all the stuff I can't get done during the school year while I'm teaching.  A typical summer includes travel (professional and personal), conferences, lots of writing, and some organizational brainstorming.  Here's my latest summer:

As soon as school let out, my wife and I drove to Grand Canyon and did some filming.  It was a long drive.  We also stopped to pick up a substantial library donation in Arkansas on the way back.

After that trip, I spent most of my time working on my new book, The Quest: Exploring Creation's Hardest Problems.  (Thus, I have not taken much ti…

A baby from Dinaledi

National Geographic updated us today on Lee Berger's announcement of the remains of an infant found at the bottom of the chute in the Dinaledi chamber.

“The more we find, the more we don’t know.” — National Geographic (@NatGeo) June 14, 2018 Yet more evidence that the Dinaledi chamber is a cemetery of the very young and very old.

Homo naledi is as human as you and I.

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Are all animal species really the same age?

Everybody's talking about a news reports that all animal species are basically the same age.  I've seen it on my social media feed.  I've gotten questions about it by email.  Creationists really want to know what this means.  So let's dive in.  (I should warn you to brace yourself.  This is going to be long and pretty technical.  Scroll down to the end for what I would tell the average person about these headlines.)

The research paper comes to us from the journal Human Evolution by authors Stoeckle and Thaler.  It describes the results of something called DNA barcoding, which started out as a means of classifying species using a small bit of DNA.  For animals, this DNA is a 600 bp region of the mitochondrial COI gene.  As you might imagine, barcoding wasn't really popular among taxonomists when it was proposed.  Barcoding was basically the young startup that thought it could replace years of expert study with a simple DNA sequence.  At least that was how it was pe…

The goodness of God's design

Back in March, I went to see the documentary The Riot and the Dance with Gordon Wilson, and I was deeply moved by what I saw (read my thoughts here).  I really had no idea what to expect from the movie, but what I got was a joy, a thrill, a celebration of God's wonders in creation.  I can't even put my feelings into words.  I want it to change not just the way I think but the way I am.  I want to react and feel and perceive and eventually think about creation as the amazing splendor of a loving Creator.  I want Gordon's perception of creation to become so natural to me it's just a reflex.  I think putting my reaction to The Riot and the Dance into words doesn't do the movie justice.  This is a film you should experience.

That doesn't mean people won't try to review the film, though, and that's understandable.  Ronny Nalin's reaction on the GRI blog was one such attempt that tried to boil down the emotion of the film to propositional truth.  Like me…

International Conference on Creationism 2018 Schedule!

The ICC posted their schedule today, and you can find it at their website.

And if you're thinking, "It sure would be nice to have a printable version where I could highlight my planned schedule," have I got a deal for you!  Check it out!
Download a PDF of the ICC 2018 schedule!
Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com. If you enjoyed this article, please consider a contribution to Core Academy of Science. Thank you.

Who are the creationists?

This year brings us yet another survey trying to diagnose what's wrong with creationists.  Oh goody.  I've commented on such studies before, and I'm always interested in what else I can find from the survey data that the authors of the research didn't really highlight in their publications.  Here's a sample of past "fun with surveys":

Post-Seculars and the war between science and faithMajority of Protestant pastors aren't sure, says BioLogos surveyWhat can we learn from polls?
So here we go again, this time with Weisberg and colleagues from the March issue of BioScience.  In a survey of 1,100 people, they tried to examine factors that influenced respondents to be creationists and found several of the usual suspects.  For example, they found that the more religious you are, the less likely you are to accept evolution.  Likewise, those who self-identify as liberal or very liberal are more likely to accept evolution, and conservatives and "very cons…