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Tick Tock Molecular Clocks

Tick Tock Molecular Clocks

Intermediate

In recent years, people have become really interested in genetics.  They ask questions like “Who were my ancestors?  What can I learn about my family through our genes?  What mix of nationalities do I have?”  As the genomes of various species, including humans, have been mapped, scientists have reflected on many issues.  One of those issues is molecular clocks.

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Flowers That Fly!

Flowers That Fly!

Introductory

Insects! Some people give them a wide berth on principle. Nasty, creepy, crawly flying things! Even the magnificent giant moths elicit only screams from some people. But the insects under discussion are guaranteed to cause no such sensation. Initial disbelief, amazement, titillation and delight are the sensations to be expected from an encounter with these exotic “bugs”.

Among the insects, at least 800,000 species have been described. One would expect plenty of variety in life-style and shape within a class this big. Indeed, this is the case. Articles on insects are always well illustrated with exotic beetles, flies and butterflies. Among these, cicadas represent an insect family which is seldom discussed on the prairies for the simple reason they do not live there. But in eastern and central Canada and in the United States (except the northwest quarter of the country) summers in woodlands reverberate with the loud clatter, clatter of male cicadas’ courtship calls.

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The Sea Dragon: What is it?

The Sea Dragon: What is it?

Introductory

Sea dragons (or seadragons) have long had the honor of being on the list of ugliest animals on Earth. The foot-long (from 30-to-45 centimeters) sea dragons, although classified as a fish, look like no fish an ichthyologist has ever seen. They look more like large worms with leaf appendices, a design that has baffled taxonomists and evolutionists alike ever since they were discovered over 200 years ago. This has been a major problem in not only classification, but in producing a plausible evolutionary tree. They do not fit into the category of  insects and other water life, so, by default, they are classified as fish. The reason for this classification is they spend their life in water, have fin-like structures like fish to help them move, their young hatch from eggs, and they breathe by gills.[1] Aside from these traits they are very unlike fish.

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HeadStart is a completely new tool available for high school students and their teachers (and postsecondary students). Written and developed by the Creation Science Association of Alberta, this tool is free and easily accessed.  Check it out at www.create.ab.ca/headstart

Many people recognize that it is a privilege to learn about God, the Creator and his Creation. That is why, besides observing the natural environment in which we find ourselves, it is a pleasure to go beyond mere observations to discover how things work and why. Most young people undertake to study some science, at least at the high school level. But there is a problem, most programs of study include a lot of evolutionary concepts that point away from God and his work. Even seemingly innocent terms like microevolution, convergence, nucleus, fossil record and plant biology are loaded with evolutionary concepts. However, these phenomena themselves actually point overwhelmingly to the work of God, the Creator as described in Genesis and throughout the Bible. It was to communicate this message, that HeadStart was developed.

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Owls, although birds, are unique compared to other airborne avians.  Called the greatest hunters, they are one of the rare bird species that regularly hunt at night.[i] They also have eyes that face forward rather than being located on the sides of their head like most other birds. Also, unlike most other birds, when not flying, owls sit straight up supported by their two legs. Many of the bones that are separated in mammals are fused together in owls, making them strong enough to support their weight when on the ground. They also have large, broad heads surrounded by a collection of feathers around the eyes. Called a “facial disc”, it functions like a satellite dish to amplify sound.[ii] The facial disc is their distinctive trait, possessed by all owls but by no other bird. Also, in contrast to most birds, they do quite well in very diverse habitats, from deserts to forests and even in locations near the arctic, where they are appropriately named snowy owls.[iii] They are also critically important in keeping the rodent population, especially rats, under control.[iv]

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Beauty is a Gift from God

Beauty is a Gift from God

Introductory

Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not neither do they spin. Yet even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

No doubt everyone has stories of times when they saw beautiful plants or animals which quite took their breath away. Flowers are particularly good examples of this phenomenon. In the prairies of Saskatchewan and by roadsides there in June, the beautiful Western Red Lily (Lilium philadelphicum) is guaranteed to claim your attention. No wonder it is the provincial flower of that prairie province in Canada.

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Most Canadians are rightly proud of the beaver, their iconic national emblem.  Indeed, the beaver is a remarkable animal with exceptional talents! Its lifestyle is made possible not only through the wonderful design of its body, but also through in-built skills. The fact is that beavers are the only animals anywhere which can change the landscape to suit their own needs and desires.

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The ubiquitous spiders are the unsung friends of humans. Although spiders are widely feared, very few species are dangerous to people. Spiders bite humans only in self-defense, and unless you are allergic to the venom, few spider bites cause stinging worse than a mosquito bite or even a bee-sting (Vetter, 2008). Spiders feed on our most-common indoor pests, including roaches, mosquitoes, flies, and moths. Only one type is a herbivore, the rest are carnivores. An estimated up-to-800-million tons of insect prey are annually consumed by the spider community, reducing the need for dangerous pesticides (Nyffeler and Birkhofer, 2017). Read the rest of this entry »


Always use the offered help!

Always use the offered help!

Introductory

The Bible tells us that Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He used this training when he was called upon, later in life, to lead the Children of Israel through the desert and to write an account of their history. Obviously, Moses did not adopt the pagan philosophy in which his training in Egypt was couched. He evaluated what he heard.

In similar fashion, young Christians are encouraged to pursue modern learning, according to the talents with which they have been given. Like Moses too, they are expected to evaluate the modern explanations. In the light of the complexity of many modern disciplines however, it is obvious that students need help. They need trusted advisors to help them sort through the onslaught of information.

To this end, Creation Science Association’s Margaret Helder has developed a novel tool to assist students embarking on new courses in biology. Since much of the material taught in these courses is based on studies conducted since the year 2000, there are many new terms and concepts involved.All of them are defined in terms of evolutionary assumptions. The definitions available, on-line, all come from an evolutionary agenda. But the data themselves actually support creation! Read the rest of this entry »


One of the most abundant wild mammals living in moderate latitudes is the common squirrel. Squirrels thrive in almost every habitat, from tropical rainforest to semiarid desert. They avoid only the cold polar regions and the driest deserts. Squirrels are also one of the very few mammals that thrive in cosmopolitan areas. Some wild squirrels have even become pets of a sort, or at least comfortable around people, if the human is patient and not aggressive towards the animal (Rose, 2014). As two of the leading squirrel authorities observed, “one can only marvel at how well adapted squirrels are to exploiting a forested environment” and, one could add, an urban environment as well (Steele and Koprowski, 2001, p. 11). Read the rest of this entry »


Preserving the Joy of Creation

Preserving the Joy of Creation

Introductory

A lot of people in these COVID times, especially young people, are growing tired of the same old scene, the same four walls, the same view out the windows. No matter how beautiful the scene, it soon ceases to interest us if that is all we see. Nevertheless, even in our same old environments, it is still possible to maintain the flame of interest in the creation. Some young people in Alberta recently shared with me some of their interests in the creation. Clearly their stories show how they are keeping their interests alive. Indeed, these stories can help enhance our appreciation of the creation too. Read the rest of this entry »


Exciting Coelacanths

Exciting Coelacanths

Introductory

There is a fascination with living organisms that closely resemble fossils dated at millions of years old. The classic definition of a living fossil is an extant organism that closely resembles fossil specimens.

In 1938 Miss Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer of South Africa recognized that among recently caught fish, one specimen was unfamiliar. It turned out to be “the only living member of an ancient group of lobe-finned fishes that was known previously only from fossils and believed to have been extinct since the Late Cretaceous period approximately 70 million years ago (Myr ago)”1 Much later, in 1997, a second species of this fish was discovered in the seas around Indonesia. The two species were named Latimeria chalumnae and L. menadoensis respectively. Read the rest of this entry »


I remember hearing a biologist from Bristol in England. He was talking about his studies on diatoms (algae with glass walls). He described how he set out to study the activities of these cells on the nearby seashore. To collect the diatoms, he said, he used English toilet paper which was scratchy and impervious to water. The English students laughed uproariously at this. The Canadians, sitting straight-faced, did not realize this was a joke! At any rate what he found was that the algae emerged from below the sand surface during low tide in the day, but they then moved back under the sand before the tides returned at a different time every day. This is the kind of timekeeping ability in organisms that biologists were beginning to study. There were studies on people living alone in dark caves, studies on algae that glow in the dark, and fruit flies that emerge from the pupa at a certain time of day. How do they keep track of time? Read the rest of this entry »


Pterosaurs (Greek pteron and sauros, meaning “wing lizard”) are constructed from a combination of the characteristics of mammals, birds and dinosaurs with one of the weirdest looking beaks possible added on. This example points to the problem of taxonomy, the science of classifying life. Pterosaurs fly like birds and can flap their “wings” like a bird. They also can soar like an eagle using bat-like wings made from a flap of skin stretched between their body and a long fourth finger called the wing finger. They also have many body traits like dinosaurs. For this reason, they are often referred to as flying dinosaurs, or dragons of the air (Unwin, 2006, p. 2). Ironically, they are classified as reptiles likely because birds supposedly evolved after them.

Pterosaurs were first discovered in 1784 in the German Solnhofen limestone quarries. This is the same location where another strange creature, Archaeopteryx, originally identified as a pterosaur, was found (Clarey, 2015, p. 66). Twenty-nine pterosaur species, over 26% of the 110 pterosaur species currently known (in about 85 genera), have been found in Solnhofen limestone quarries alone.

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Wonderful New Book from Dr. Bergman

Wonderful New Book from Dr. Bergman

Introductory

Dr. Jerry Bergman, who needs no introduction to readers of Dialogue, is the author of a delightful new book for families and animal-lovers and all who enjoy fascinating details from nature. Readers of Dialogue, for more than fifteen years, have been blessed with little known insights into some well-known creatures. His new book Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms and Creation is a collection of the “best of Bergman” from Dialogue plus a few completely new chapters. The twenty-three chapters present each creature with pictures and highlights. This is an attractive and well documented book in full colour, which will inspire much reflection and discussion. Many will want to buy several copies, one for personal use, and others for those special people in their lives! Read the rest of this entry »

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