Science Round Up: Aquatic Deer to Artificial Sperm
As always, science marches on. Here are some of the stories that caught my eye this week. All of them are true, unlike my Ten Favourite Cryptids post where I made one of the cryptids up out of whole cloth. Both of my readers apparently missed that, but I guess when one is talking about semi-imaginary animals, an entirely imaginary one doesn’t stand out.
Speaking of animals, the non-mythical variety, a semi-aquatic deer has been documented. That’s a deer that hides from its enemies underwater! Interesting enough it its own right, this is also a significant clue to how land dwelling animals evolved into whales. In fact the fossil remains of the potential whale ancestor were recently discovered. And it was indeed a small deer-like animal. Not that the Theory of Evolution needed more proof, but it’s nice to see the gaps filled in. Speaking of gaps (actually, there’s no such thing as “missing links”) being filled in, three new species of dinosaurs have been discovered and described in Australia. Lots of pictures at the link. The new dinosaurs are extinct of course, although unlike most dinosaurs, these appear to have been wiped out around the end of the last Ice Age as their desert environment was flooded.
I’m joking of course, dinosaurs have all been extinct for millions of years. Well, except for the Coelacanth and horseshoe crab, but the first is a fish, the second, is, well, a crab. The Coelacanth is probably still around because it tastes terrible, it’s flesh exudes a nasty oil even after death. And no, I didn’t make that up. And the horseshoe crab doesn’t even look edible. Seriously though, when animals don’t evolve, it’s because they are perfectly suited to their environment. Nature also adheres to the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule.
In any event, I am going to slip in a rant here. I posted a link in the sidebar about this recently, the self styled Creation Museum. The thing that really makes my blood boil about stuff like this is their claim of “same evidence, different interpretation.” By that I mean that I don’t care what people believe. If one thinks the Earth is only seven thousand years old, no problem. As a general rule I don’t argue with people about their beliefs, because for the most part people’s beliefs aren’t open to discussion. However, if someone claims that the evidence says that the Earth is seven thousand years old, they are a charlatan or a fool. So it pisses me of that children are being bussed to this “Museum” to be told that scientists are wrong about virtually everything. Um, that’s like teaching kids that 2+2=5. No, 2+2=4, it’s not subject to interpretation. It’s frightening to me that some people of faith are making anti-intellectualism a tenet of their faith. I wasn’t around in the Middle Ages, and I don’t want to go there. God gave us brains for a reason, not just to keep our heads from caving in.
Moving right along, there’s been a breakthrough in the “Did we really need this?” category. Scientists have successfully created … artificial sperm. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that a sperm shortage isn’t one of humanity’s pressing problems. The opposite if anything. This will be nice for guys who are shooting blanks, but still, are we ready for this? We’ll find out I suppose. At the very least there’s some good fodder here for late night talk shows.
And lastly, in this weeks celebrity news … Neil Armstrong! (Who else would I be talking about?) I read this interesting article about him, or more, about why he has shunned the limelight for decades. This is a fellow who could make a million dollars in an afternoon signing autographs, yet for forty years has shunned publicity and refused to cash in on his fame. How can this possibly be? How could one of the most famous people in history fail to capitalize on their fame? Easy, he’s an honest honourable man who is not motivated by greed. He correctly believes the Apollo missions were the result of the efforts of tens of thousands of people, it was just the luck of the draw that he happened to pilot the first lander. The world could use more Neil Armstrongs.
No worries though. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, isn’t publicity shy. He’s just cut a rap song with Snoop Dogg. Yes, all is right with the world.
(The above image of a Super Sperm costume is used without permission. Since I am not profiting by its use and its use here in no way hurts the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image, the opposite if anything, I am claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. Credit: BuySuperheroCostumes.com. Yes, what a time we live in, a person can go out and buy a costume to dress up like a giant sperm cell! I’m just not sure if this indicates good times or bad times.)