Fossil Hunting in the Badlands of South Dakota

A portion of a jawbone I picked up off a hillside in the badlands of South Dakota. Photo: Joel Duff

So many highlights from our vacation but I am going to hold off on some of my favorites until I am able to work through my images and develop more back story to go with them.  Instead, I will start with a short stop we made at Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  We were there all […]

NH Summer Update: Vacation, Ark Encounter and Coming Attractions

Devils Tower in Wyoming. Photo: Joel Duff, June 2016

The past month has been quite an adventure.  It has been good to get a break from my job and this blog, which was starting to feel like a job.  Hopefully I am refreshed and bring some new perspectives – and photos – to share with you in the coming months.  Below are a couple of highlights […]

Cave with Structures Made from Stalagmites Another Problem for YEC Chronology

cavestructurestalags

It seems like every month there is an amazing new discovery of ancient human activities.  Last week it was revealed that “structures” built from stalagmites deep – more than 1000 feet – in a French cave are much older than previously thought.  You can read about these strange structures in many places. I found this article in The Atlantic to be […]

The Toba Super-Eruption: The Global Catastrophe that Creationists Ignore

Comparison of material emitted for a number of famous volcanic eruptions. All the ones that emitted 100 cubic kilometers or more and considered super-eruptions.    Toba has erupted more than once but the one shown is the youngest.   Image credit: USGS - http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/images/pglossary/eruptionsize.php

Sudden catastrophic events are not unknown in Earth’s history.  Large craters are evidence of past cosmic impacts.  Widespread layers of volcanic ash are a testimony of massive volcanic eruptions.   But when did these catastrophes occur and could they have impacted human history? Standard geological models place the largest catastrophic events many eons ago.  So long […]

Glyptodonts, Armadillos and Ken Ham’s Hyper-Speciation Model

Fossil of a large glyptodont on display. By Ryan Somma - Panochthus frenzelianus, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4987310

Armadillos are curious little animals but were all of them as small as they are today?  DNA extracted from a 12,000 year old bone of an extinct glyptodont the size of a small car revealed a genetic code that clearly places this huge animal inside the group (clade) of diverse animals we collectively call armadillos. These results just published […]

2500 Year Old Human Footprints Discovered: Insight into the Formation of Fossil Footprints

If-drTSmith

Countless numbers of footprints made by hundreds of kinds of organisms are preserved in hundreds of individual layers of the geological column.   Millions of these tracks have been identified from just the tiny fraction of the rocks that are exposed at the surface of the Earth.   But how were so many footprints preserved? In conversations with […]

A Tale of Taphonomy: Clam Shrimp Fossils and the Age of the Earth

A clam shrimp.  This has a nearly clear carapace (the clam shells) and has a large number of eggs in its brood pouch over its back.

One of the great privileges of my job is that I get to participate on graduate student committees. This allows me to get up close and personal with data from a variety of sub-disciplines of biology that sometimes extend far from those of my particular expertise.  You know by now that I carry a particular […]

Titanosaurus: Largest Dinosaur Ever Found But is it the Largest Animal?

A single femur from the newly found titanosaurus. PR photo:  MEF

What is the largest animal to have ever lived on the Earth?  Most people will answer “dinosaurs” or “sauropods” in particular.  While some titanosaurs may have been the heaviest land animals they were not the largest animals to have lived on Earth. That distinction goes to an animal that is very much alive today:  the […]

Are Ruminants Derived from a Common Ancestor? Ruminating on the Meaning of Noahic “Kinds”

Gazella_thomsonii

What do giraffes, cows, sheep, antelope, and deer have in common?  Foremost, they all share a specialized digestive system that includes a four-chambered stomach that allows them to obtain nutrients and energy from vegetation that is inaccessible to most mammals.  This ability and other shared morphological traits are used by scientists to classify all of […]

Dodging Darwin: How Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is Slowly Embracing Evolution

MacMillan-Evolution-Creationism-Ken-Ham-Ancestors-full

As the strict young-earth creationists at Answers in Genesis work to complete their Ark Encounter “theme park,” they have expended an impressive amount of energy organizing the millions of species of land animals alive today into a handful of small groups they call “baramins.” Creationists insist that while adaptation or speciation within a particular “baramin” is observable (and, indeed, necessary in order to account for the present observed diversity of life), there is never any overlap between separate kinds. Unfortunately for the young-earth model, the push to minimize the number of animals riding on the Ark has exposed a major problem with this view.

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