Monday, September 22, 2014

The Joy of Discovery

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a large audience at Granger Community Church and present my views on creation and evolution.  What made this particular event interesting is that I had only 15 minutes to do all that.  Faced with this impressive time limit, which normally would be quite difficult for academics like me, I opted to forego trying to make a detailed argument and just go with a visceral, passionate plea for being a young-age creationist like me.  Personally, I think it worked out just fine.  The audience laughed and applauded and seemed to appreciate what I said.  I just hope the little taste I gave them inspired some of them to check out some of my other work, where they can learn about all those details I had to leave out.

So what does that have to do with that weird mushroom-looking thingy up at the top of this post?  That is Dendrogramma, and that is a big reason people get into science in the first place.  Ultimately scientists are curious folks, and we all get a charge out of new discoveries.  Wow, did I get a charge out of this one!

Now, I'm a little late to the reporting party on this one, so I'll just give a quick rundown of the facts.  According to a paper published in PLoS ONE by Just et al., these peculiar creatures were dredged from the ocean bottom off Tasmania in 1986.  They are definitely animals, but they don't look like anything previously known to science.  The authors classified their discoveries in a new family Dendrogrammatidae, but they declined to go any farther.  The specimens are probably a whole new phylum of animals, but we don't know for sure.  They could be really, really weird-looking worms or jellyfish or something like that.  Having DNA sequences would help clear that up, but the samples were treated with formalin, which makes recovering DNA difficult.  The authors note that they look sort of like fossils known from the Ediacaran fauna, but they note this only as a suggestion not as a classification.

So what?  It's cool, that's what.  Sometimes I get the sense that because I'm a creationist, I'm supposed to react to news like this by posting some kind of rebuttal, but for me, more often things are just cool.  I like that.  I like the joy of discovery.  The endless creativity of our master Creator is just thrilling, and the fact that we're still finding things like this is amazing!  Sometimes, passion, excitement, and celebration is good enough, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Creationists can enjoy science, too.

And if you're really into details, you can read them all in the free article:

Just et al. 2014. Dendrogramma, New Genus, with Two New Non-Bilaterian Species from the Marine Bathyal of Southeastern Australia (Animalia, Metazoa incertae sedis) – with Similarities to Some Medusoids from the Precambrian Ediacara.  PLoS ONE 9(9): e102976.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons, originally published in Just et al.)

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