Showing posts from July, 2011

Origins 2011: Day 2

The second day of the Origins 2011 conference was dedicated to the technical geology presentations. We got an update on the Coconino sandstone project from John Whitmore, and we had a lively session on the Flood/post-Flood boundary. Since we had a few talks cancelled, we decided to use the extra time to tour the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

We closed the day with John Morris's reflections on The Genesis Flood. That was a great opportunity to recall the importance of the book, and we learned that Walter Lammerts was tough to sit next to in the car. Who knew?

At our business meeting, we voted in a new member of the Executive Council of the Creation Biology Society: Tom Hennigan. Welcome, Tom! We also announced next year's conference venue, Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.

We've got one more day of the conference, beginning with my plenary on "Frontiers in Creation Biology."

Feedback? Email me at toddcharlesw…

Origins 2011: Day 1

The first day of Origins 2011 was a great success! The technical talks sparked a lot of interesting discussion and debate, and Art Chadwick's plenary on his dinosaur dig at the Hanson Research Station was well received. The crowd was also one of our biggest.

Of special interest to me was Lantzer and Daniels's survey of Christian high school biology textbooks. They argued (shockingly) that when discussing origins (i.e. creation/evolution), Christian texts spend too much time on apologetics rather than science. Remedy? Talk more about science. What a brilliant idea. I'm looking forward to seeing their full paper.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Origins 2011: Field Trip and Abstracts

I went on my first geology field trip today, which was fascinating. Perhaps more culturally fascinating to me than scientifically fascinating, but I still enjoyed myself. (I admit that a lot of the geological detail was over my head.) Here we are at an outcropping of the "Great Unconformity:"

Speaking as a biologist, I thought the Unconformity was pretty good. I don't know about "great," but that's probably because I haven't seen it across most of the continental United States, which I guess would make it pretty great. Steve Austin interpreted the Great Unconformity in the Grand Canyon as the onset of the Flood, where the initial Flood waters eroded off the existing rocks from the pre-Flood world.

Meanwhile, the conference abstracts are available at the JCTS website, along with a short editorial from Tim Clarey on the launch of JCTS Series C: Earth Science.

Creation Biology Society 2011 Abstracts
Creation Geology Society 2011 Editorial and Abstracts

Origins 2011: South Dakota!

Despite an unscheduled 24-hour layover in Chicago, I have safely arrived in Rapid City for Origins 2011. It's a little overcast, but otherwise fairly pleasant. In about two hours, I will head off to the Black Hills to look at rocks with a bunch of geologists, which I think will be more fun than it sounds.

Check back later for a brief rundown of the field trip, and then tomorrow we start the conference.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Another pitcher plant symbiosis

Regular readers might recall my interest in carnivorous plants (see posts on toilets, bacteria, and tiny frogs). If the world was originally created with plants to provide food for immortal animals, how did we end up with plants that actually eat animals? That's a great question that I can't yet answer definitively, but I am becoming more and more intrigued by reports of unusual functions of Nepenthes pitcher plants. I previously noted the report of tree shrews using Nepenthes as toilets, with the plants getting nitrogen from the feces. Normally, pitcher plants get their nitrogen from digesting insects. Recently, there a new report of what appears to be a symbiosis between Nepenthes rafflesiana elongata and Hardwicke's woolly bat (Kervoula hardwickii hardwickii).

According to the report by Grafe et al., the pitchers of Nepenthes rafflesiana elongata are pretty poor at catching insects. They also have an unusually elongated structure, and they don't have the same …

Warm-blooded sauropods

I was just reading yesterday a creationist paper skeptical of warm-blooded dinosaurs, and today, there's a new paper from Science providing yet more evidence that dinosaurs could regulate their body temperatures. From the abstract of Eagle et al.'s Dinosaur Body Temperatures Determined from Isotopic (13C-18O) Ordering in Fossil Biominerals:
We used clumped isotope thermometry to determine body temperatures from the fossilized teeth of large Jurassic sauropods. Our data indicate body temperatures of 36° to 38°C, which are similar to those of most modern mammals. This temperature range is 4° to 7°C lower than predicted by a model that showed scaling of dinosaur body temperature with mass, which could indicate that sauropods had mechanisms to prevent excessively high body temperatures being reached because of their gigantic size.Now I'm off to South Dakota for a short vacation before the Origins 2011 conference. There's still time to register if you are interested in com…

Bara min!

Well, this was unexpected.

I was working on my plenary talk for Origins 2011 the other day, and I stumbled across a book called Bara Min!, written by Lin Hallberg. Oddly enough, the book is not about creationist biology. Google Translation tells me it's about:
Santos is ridskolans unruly horse. But Sofia loves him! She is saving money and fantasize about the lonely, derelict little barn by the hands cottage. What if she could buy Santos and having him there. One day an ambulance outside the indoor arena. Santos was thrown by a student and ridskolechefen talking about the slaughter ... Sofia's dream is suddenly about life and death. She must save Santos!Apparently the title is Swedish for "Just Me!" or so says Google Translation.

And you know how reliable Google Translation is.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Senter's at it again

Paul Garner points out that Phil Senter's got yet another paper out on creationism, this time from Reports of the NCSE. Here's part of Paul's reaction:
Speaking frankly, I found this perhaps the least satisfying of Senter’s recent contributions for a couple of reasons. First, to make his case Senter uncritically assumes that the conventional interpretations of the geological features described are correct and, to be fair to him, in doing so he is mostly following the lead of the creationists he cites. But I think that such interpretations demand careful investigation and it is not always wise to take them at face value. Second, I think this kind of analysis tends to miss the wood for the trees. The “big picture” of the stratigraphic record is of widespread sedimentary units of marine origin blanketing the continents and displaying evidence of rapid accumulation and long distance transport. That fits well with Flood geology and is much harder to explain by reference to mode…

From the Library: Hunter's Elements of Biology

For those just joining us, "From the Library" spotlights interesting items in the library of the Center for Origins Research at Bryan College.

While browsing in a local antique mall in Dayton recently, I stumbled upon a bookcase full of old textbooks. To my delight, I found George William Hunter's 1907 Elements of Biology, the predecessor to his 1914 textbook A Civic Biology that featured prominently in the famous Scopes trial. Best part? It was only $2. I love a good bargain.

I've only briefly skimmed the book, but it appears that the concept of evolution occupies a much lower place in this volume than in A Civic Biology. That's not to say that the later textbook covered evolution in great detail. Evolution appears briefly in A Civic Biology when classification and heredity are discussed.

In Elements of Biology, evolution appears to be barely mentioned. On page 7 of the introduction we read, "In the second half year the so-called evolutionary order m…

Origins 2011 Schedule

The full schedule for Origins 2011 is now available at the CBS website.

Registration information is here.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Marcus Ross wants you to come to Origins 2011

ORIGINS 2011 Creation Conference in Rapid City! from Marcus Ross on Vimeo.

Registration is available right here.

There's also still time to register for the CGS/CBS conference held in conjunction with Origins 2011. Register here for just the tech conference, or get a discount by registering for both the tech conference and Origins 2011.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

Correction on the Y chromosome

I got an email from Jeff Tomkins, wherein he pointed out an error in a previous post: got your SNP data backwards regarding the 2001 Nature paper. The SNP rate is much lower (Table 1) - about 4X for the Y-chromosome. The authors use a somewhat confusing "kb per SNP" rate rather than "SNP per kb" rate, don't ask me why.He's right. My apologies.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.

One "sensible creationist" on Senter's paper

As you probably know, Phil Senter published yet another paper on baraminology in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (here). AIG's Elizabeth Mitchell weighed in with her assessment over the weekend. An excerpt:
He is still misapplying baraminology to the point of absurdity. Since he acknowledges that "mathematics has no creed," he accepts the statistical aspects of baraminology. Then he analyzes the fossil record in such a way as to consider creatures with only sparse morphological similarities to be part of the same kind. He ignores all other pertinent baraminological principles to draw conclusions no sensible creationist would ever reach.Hmmmm.... I think he's mistaken about a couple of issues, but I don't think there's anything absurd about what he's done. Quite the contrary. Here's a real scientist who has actually taken the time to read creationist literature and try to understand it from the inside. He's not just reading books, either. …

Sediba, Senter, and a new journal

Back in February, I announced that we'd rebranded the BSG as the Creation Biology Society, since that makes more sense than an acronym that doesn't stand for anything. By dropping BSG, we also needed to change the name of our journal Occasional Papers of the BSG. We decided to use this name change as an opportunity to update the software to Open Journal Systems, and while we were making those changes, we invited the Creation Geology Society to join us in publishing this new online journal. We settled on Journal of Creation Theology and Science for the new name, with the CBS publishing JCTS Series B: Life Sciences and the CGS publishing JCTS Series C: Earth Sciences. Where's JCTS Series A? We're earnestly hoping and praying that within the next year or two, we'll be able to launch a new journal devoted to theological and biblical studies, and we've reserved Series A for that purpose.

The debut issue of JCTSB is now available (hosted by CORE at Bryan College…

Phil Senter does it again

And this time, he's attracted quite a bit of attention. His latest paper Using creation science to demonstrate evolution 2: morphological continuity within Dinosauria is nicely summarized by Paul Garner at his blog. Paul says:
In the new paper, Senter applied distance correlation to even larger datasets, and concluded that indeed morphological discontinuities were found that appeared to distinguish eight dinosaur kinds. However, he suggests that this raises other problems for creationists, namely: (1) that the diversity within these kinds is enormous and extreme, (2) that some morphological gaps appear to have been filled by subsequent fossil discoveries, (3) that at least one morphological gap identified by Todd Wood was filled when using more extensive datasets from existing museum specimens, and (4) that the basal members of all the major dinosaur lineages appear to be morphologically continuous.
Senter's paper has been highlighted by the BBC (Wonder Monkey, which has spaw…