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bullet2007-JAN-14: USA: Federal government agnostic on age of Grand Canyon: The organization "Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility" (PEER) issued a news release on 2006-DEC-28 which has been covered on thousands of web sites and made it into the Doonesbury comic strip for JAN-14. It complains that park rangers at the Grand Canyon National Park are "... not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park. ... " 'In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,' stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. 'It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is "no comment".' " More info.
bullet2007-FEB-22: Chimp use spears for hunting: Anthropologists Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University and Paco Bertolani from the University of Cambridge in the UK documented 22 cases of chimps making spears to use in hunting smaller primates. They removed live branches from trees and sharpened one end with their teeth. Adolescent females used spears the most. This discovery lends support to a theory that females may have played a role in the evolution of tool technology among early humans.
bullet2007-MAR: Mathematical model developed for galaxies: Scientists at the W.M. Keck Observatory on the Big Island in Hawaii examined 544 galaxies and developed an equation that links their mass to the velocities of their stars. Sandra Faber of the University of California, a co-author of the report, said: "We were truly surprised at how well" the pattern fits a wide variety of galaxy types including graceful spiral-shaped galaxies, elliptical galaxies, and "train wrecks." The latter are believed to have been caused by collisions of two galaxies. 3
bullet2007-MAR: Human evolution continues and is accelerating: The traditional viewpoint suggests that humans evolved rapidly, and then stabilized about 200,000 years ago when anatomically modern humans first emerged.  Gregory Cochran of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT and John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have co-authored a new study suggesting that human evolution has continued to the present time, and even accelerated. They argue that change "is visible even in the last tens of thousands of years." Back in the year 2000, anthropologist Jeffrey McKee of Ohio State University predicted the accelerated evolution of humans because as population grows, more opportunities are created for new positive mutations. Also as the population expands, they move into new environmental niches which will drive evolution in new directions. Anthropologist John Kingston of Emory University in Atlanta GA suggests that evolution may be speeding up because we are actively changing our own environment. 4
bullet2007-MAR: Role of early mammals after the extinction of the dinosaurs: In the absence of detailed evidence, scientists had assumed that when the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, the then existing mammals immediately flourished. However, the MAR-29 issue of Nature magazine contains the results of a study by the Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London. They found that it took ten million years, until there was a sudden increase in the planet's temperature, for the diversification of mammals to be established.

Andy Purvis of Imperial College said:

"For the first 10 or 15 million years after the dinosaurs were wiped out, present-day mammals kept a very low profile, while these other types of mammals were running the show. It looks like a later bout of global warming may have kick-started todays diversitynot the death of the dinosaurs. This discovery rewrites our understanding of how we came to evolve on this planet, and the study as a whole gives a much clearer picture than ever before as to our place in nature." 5

bullet2007-APR-13: Indications that birds evolved from dinosaurs: Most biologists had concluded that dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds because of the architecture of their bones. Now, new evidence have linked the two in a more conclusive way.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston examined protein found in 68 million-year old dinosaur bones. It had been believed that protein in fossils was replaced with minerals by the time that the bones were one million years old. This caused scientists to assume that all evidence of protein was lost; they didn't look for such evidence until recently.

Scientists have been able to extract proteins that formed part of the dinosaur's collagen -- a part of the cartilage and other connective tissue. The researchers found that the protein fragments seemed to most closely matched amino acid sequences found in modern-day chickens. The evidence was not absolutely conclusive, because they were unable to obtain a sufficient number of sequences from the dinosaur protein. Their findings were published in Science journal.

Mary Schweitzer of North Carolina State University and her team published a paper in the same issue that provides additional evidence. They found that extracts of dinosaur bone reacted with antibodies to chicken collagen. 6

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References used:

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

  1. "How old is the Grand Canyon? Park Service won't say," Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 2006-DEC-28, at: http://www.peer.org/
  2. "Chimps found using spears," World Science, 2007-FEB-22, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  3. "Unifying principle said to govern all galaxies," World Science, 2007-MAR-06, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  4. "Human evolution, radically reappraised," World Science, 2007-MAR-27, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  5. "Even after dino dieoff, our mammal forebears laid low: study," World Science, 2007-APR-28, at: http://www.world-science.net/
  6. "Dinosaur molecules decoded," World Science, 2007-APR-14, at: http://www.world-science.net/

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Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2007-JAN-13
Latest update: 2007-APR-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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