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How COVID Created Opportunities!

How COVID Created Opportunities!


The media are full of accounts of how people have used their unexpected “down time” at home during the COVID pandemic. What we chose, be it bread baking or house-cleaning or crafts or whatever, obviously reflected personal preference.  As far as I was concerned, this time was a golden opportunity to do some extra scientific reading. It all began with an article in Nature that promoted an ancestral relationship for red seaweeds with an organism that was the exact opposite of all the features in red seaweeds. Perhaps I lack imagination but I could not believe that this prestigious journal had indeed published such an argument. It seemed hilarious to me.

So, I began to research the relevant scientific literature. The reasons for the evolutionary argument came from the popular endosymbiotic theory for the origin of chloroplasts (plastids) in plant cells. However actual observations in the seaweeds and the “sister” organism did not fit the argument. I greatly enjoyed writing the article which admittedly was a little more technical than most of my recent work. The next question was who might be willing to publish this material?

CSAA provides a link to the website Creation Evolution Headlines. David Coppedge, its founder and editor, provides almost daily commentary on current scientific articles. The website has been functioning for 20 years and currently receives about 15,000 hits per month. Some of the discussion is technical and some is more light hearted. But it is always interesting and helpful for understanding the issues involved. I wondered whether this website might be interested in my article. Upon inquiry, David Coppedge graciously agreed to look at the item. Later he agreed to post it to his website. It duly appeared on February 10, 2020 under the title “Bad News for Plant Origins” (To find an ancestor for plant photosynthesis in red algae, evolutionists have to imagine a series of spectacularly improbable events.)

Well, you know how one thing leads to another. It so happened that an article appeared about this time in the scientific literature claiming that a recent fossil discovery could be a green alga ancestral to land plants. Some of the references that I had read for the first article turned out to be relevant to this topic including an October 31 cover story in Nature on evolutionary relationships in plants. Obviously, I could not resist doing the reading on that topic as well! And thus on March 13 my article “Flip Flops in Plant Ancestry” was posted to Creation Evolution Headlines. The article was entitled “Flip Flops in Plant Ancestry.”

By now COVID regulations were upon us and everyone was stuck at home. Naturally my thoughts turned to further claims in the Nature cover story on plant ancestry. Because of my interest in green algae and in mosses and liverworts (land plants with some unusual characteristics), I carried out yet more research and on March 27 and on March 30, there appeared parts I and II of “Plant Ancestry: Where are the Lines of Descent?” (How major differences in land plants pose challenges to evolutionary ancestry.) If you have ever longed to learn more about mosses and liverworts, these are the articles for you!

Another article in Nature which appeared at the end of March 2020, turned my thoughts in an entirely different direction. During the summer of 2004, my husband and I had visited the museum at Miguasha, Quebec where we learned about an amazing catastrophic deposit of fish and plant fossils. Many of the fish were buried whole, and some had their insides burst from the pressure. The tour guide emphasized that one fish species from the museum had long been considered ancestral to all four-footed animals. However, some other fish from elsewhere had more recently usurped this claim to fame.

Nevertheless, there were fossil remains at this site which might yet trump all the other claims to closest ancestor to the tetrapods. The name of this possible candidate for the ancestral title was Elpistostege. Well, here was a new article claiming priority for this very species! I could hardly avoid researching the merits of the claims of this specimen to fame. As it happens, I had some excellent resource material from Miguasha and I found more on-line. Thus on May 11 and May 12 CEH posted “Latest Tetrapod Ancestor Can’t Stand Up” and “Previous Ancestors Fell Flat too” (These articles examine the latest candidate fossil for ancestor to all land vertebrates).

You might think that the fishy fossil article could not possibly be connected to any plant related topics. But you would be wrong. It so happened that also this spring an item appeared in Current Biology that made big evolutionary claims for some plant fragments in some chips of rock that had been collected only a few miles from guess where?  Actually it was just across the river from Miguasha. You remember that I already mentioned that lots of plant debris was entombed with the fishes at Miguasha? But this new material is considered to lie at lower depths in the rock strata. Anyway, this topic called attention to a lot of articles about land plant origins, many of which studies are based on discoveries in Quebec and nearby New Brunswick.  Thus, on June 8 an article appeared “Evolution of Vascular Plants a Kaleidoscope, not a Tree” (It takes effort to rearrange pieces from a kaleidoscope into a tree, but evolutionists do that with the ‘evolution’ of plants.)

Most recently on June 29, 2020 an article appeared about which all students in post- secondary biology courses should be aware. The topic is endosymbiosis, a most important evolutionary theory. Few people realize the numerous most improbable ad hoc assumptions that evolutionists must make to try to accommodate their theory to actual data. See “Diatoms Defy the Evolutionary Endosymbiosis Theory.”

The easiest way to access these articles is via www.crev.info/author/mhelder/    To access many other exciting articles on this website, just google Creation Evolution Headlines. Many people check the website frequently to see what new topics are covered. The articles span the gamut of scientific disciplines. We really don’t need a COVID pandemic to find an excuse to expand our reading and our interests!

For Canadian Maritime articles from Dialogue see:



Margaret Helder
September 2020

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