It’s been a busy few weeks with lots of writing and talk preparation – and I’ve managed to come down with my third cold since October – hence the absence of blog posts lately. But by way of “catch up” here are a few items that have come across my desk.
First up is a partial skeleton of a new dinosaur species from the Ischigualasto Formation of Argentina (Martínez et al. 2011). Named Eodromaeus murphi, it is one of the first theropods to show up in the fossil record (along with Herrerasaurus). Interestingly, this new study also reinterprets Eoraptor (from the same formation and thought by many since its discovery to be a basal theropod) as a basal sauropodomorph similar to the recently described Panphagia (Martínez and Alcober 2009).
The January edition of the Journal of the Geological Society has two papers on the Barrovian metamorphism of the Scottish Grampians. The first examines zoning patterns in metamorphic garnets, concluding that the compositional variations were the result of c. 1000 µm Mn diffusion in sillimanite-grade garnets, plus additional smaller-scale Mn diffusion (c. 100 µm) between sillimanite-grade rims and lower-grade cores (Viete et al 2011a). The other paper derives a thermal duration of between one and ten million years for the Barrovian metamorphism in the biotite zone from 40Ar/39Ar apparent age spectra (Viete et al 2011b). One of the reasons these papers piqued my interest is that data from zoned garnets has played a part in the development of a creationist alternative to the conventional Barrovian interpretation of regionally metamorphosed terrains. You can read more in Snelling (1994a, 1994b).
There’s also a new contribution to the Answers Research Journal that’s definitely worth a look (Upton 2011). James Upton’s paper, “Beyond distant starlight” very helpfully sets out the kinds of data that any creationist cosmology of the future must seek to explain. Creationist cosmology is very under-developed, and is perhaps still awaiting its “Whitcomb and Morris” moment, although the time dilation theories of Humphreys and Hartnett may provide the beginnings of a research framework. But there are big challenges to be faced and I hope the astronomers will rise to them. While it’s worth considering whether the biblical and theological objections to “old universe, young biosphere” type models are insurmountable, I wouldn’t want to see creation astronomy going down that route prematurely until other scientific options have been more fully explored.
Finally, I wanted to draw attention to the publication of Todd Wood’s response to Phil Senter in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology (Wood 2011). The discussion centres on the baraminology of coelurosaurian dinosaurs and its implications for dinosaur-bird relationships. For those without access to the online journal, you can read Todd’s summary here.
Martínez R. N., Alcober, O. A. 2009. A basal sauropodomorph (Dinosauria: Saurischia) from the Ischigualasto Formation (Triassic, Carnian) and the early evolution of Sauropodomorpha. PLoS ONE 4(2):1-12.
Martínez R. N., Sereno P. C., Alcober O. A., Colombi C. E., Renne P. R., Montañez I. P., Currie B. S. 2011. A basal dinosaur from the dawn of the dinosaur era in southwestern Pangaea. Science 331(6014):206-210.
Snelling A. A. 1994a. Towards a creationist explanation of regional metamorphism. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 8:51-77.
Snelling A. A. 1994b. Regional metamorphism within a creationist framework: what garnet compositions reveal. In: Walsh R. E. (editor), Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, PA, pp.485-496.
Upton J. 2011. Beyond distant starlight: next steps for creationist cosmology. Answers Research Journal 4:1-9.
Viete D. R., Hermann J., Lister G. S., Stenhouse I. R. 2011a. The nature and origin of the Barrovian metamorphism, Scotland: diffusion length scales in garnet and inferred thermal time scales. Journal of the Geological Society, London 168:115-132.
Viete D. R., Forster M.A., Lister G. S. 2011b. The nature and origin of the Barrovian metamorphism, Scotland: 40Ar/39Ar apparent age patterns and the duration of metamorphism in the biotite zone. Journal of the Geological Society, London 168:133-146.
Wood T. C. 2011. Using creation science to demonstrate evolution? Senter’s strategy revisited. Journal of Evolutionary Biology no. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02208.x