Caveman instincts may explain our belief in gods and ghosts
By Steve Kelly, Strathclyde University
Notions of gods arise in all human societies, from all powerful and all-knowing deities to simple forest spirits. A recent method of examining religious thought and behaviour links their ubiquity and the similarity of our beliefs to the ways in which human mental processes were adapted for survival in prehistoric times.
It rests on a couple of observations about human psychology. First, when an event happens, we tend to assume that a living thing caused it. In other words, we assume agency behind that event. If you think of the sorts of events that might have happened in prehistoric times, it’s easy to see why a bias towards agency would be useful. A rustling of a bush or the snapping of a twig could be due to wind. But far better to assume it’s a lion and run away.
The survivors who had this tendency to more readily ascribe agency to an event passed their genes down the generations, increasingly hard-wiring this way of making snap decisions into the brain. This is not something that people need to learn. It occurs quickly and automatically.
The second trait is about how we view others. While living together in a tribe would have had many advantages for survival in prehistoric times, getting along with everyone would not always have been easy. Comprehending others’ behaviour requires you to understand their thoughts and beliefs, especially where these may be incorrect due to someone not knowing the full facts of a situation.
This is known as “theory of mind”. This idea says that we automatically assume that there are reasons behind others’ behaviour which we try to work out in order to better understand why they behave the way they do. Not having this ability has been proposed to underlie developmental disorders such as autism.
You may be wondering what these two hard-wired processes have to do with belief in gods. Imagine a pebble falling in the back of a cave. Our agency device tells us that someone caused that to happen. With nothing in evidence, could it be an invisible creature or a spirit? If so, why would it be sneaking around? To find out secrets about us or to discover if we are good or bad people?
Another example might be a volcanic eruption. In the absence of geological knowledge, our tribal ancestors’ agency system would have ascribed this event to a person – but one that surely has superhuman ability. And why would they want to cause such destruction? Perhaps the eruption signified a punishment, perhaps because the tribe had not acted in accordance with the being’s wishes.
Of ghosts and gods
These two very simplistic examples should help illustrate how these hard-wired mechanisms could lead to the beginnings of a belief in gods, as well as ghosts and other supernatural creatures. Our ancestors would have drawn conclusions about supernatural occurrences by fitting together these instincts towards agency and the theory of mind.
This even applies to the Abrahamic, all-knowing, all powerful god. He may seem very inhuman at first glance, but it has been shown that we reason about Him in a very human way. For example we depict Him helping one person before moving to the other side of the world to help someone else. Hard-wired reasoning processes helps explain how religious ideas are so durable, spreading across continents and down through generations.
Both these and other ancient instincts appear to be in evidence from observations of children. Very young children seem to show very accurate understanding of physical laws. For example they know that two solid objects cannot merge into one or that horses do not have metal gears inside them. Developmental psychologists have suggested that children are intuitive biologists, physicists and – using theory of mind – psychologists.
Concepts which violate these intuitive understandings seem to be more memorable than others. A rose that whispers in Latin violates an intuitive understanding that plants do not have minds or mouths and therefore cannot whisper in an ancient language – or any language for that matter.
It may be that violating an intuitive concept draws special attention and interest and therefore helps embed the idea in memory. Many religious stories contain concepts that seem to violate this special kind of intuition, such as a man walking on water or a burning bush that talks. These tales take advantage of this feature of memory to successfully propagate themselves and resist being forgotten.
Putting these ideas together is one way of explaining religious thought and behaviour. You could go further and suggest that, if these ideas are correct, religion is merely a by-product of mental processes operating in error.
But this assumes that religious/supernatural experiences are not true. If the human mind was to truly experience a god, then the theories of agency and mind and our memory for the counterintuitive would help us make sense of it. If that were to happen, the conclusions would not be in error at all.
Dr Kelly will be elaborating on these ideas at a lecture in Glasgow on the evening of Thursday May 22.
Steve Kelly does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Dinosaur Soft Tissue is Original Biological Material
Real Science Radio presents the scientific journals reporting, the kinds of biological material found so far, and the dinosaurs yielding up these exciting discoveries:
Scientific Journals: Nature, Science, PNAS, PLoS One, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Bone, the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, and others below in our chronological catalog, “the web’s most complete list of dinosaur soft tissue discoveries,” as published in many leading journals, according to a co-author of one of those papers.
Biological Material Found: As of March 2014, in fossils from dinosaur-layer and deeper strata, researchers have discovered flexible and transparent blood vessels, red blood cells, many various proteins including the microtubule building block tubulin, collagen, the cytoskeleton component actin, and hemoglobin, bone maintenance osteocyte cells, and powerful evidence for DNA.
Dinosaur and Dinosaur-Layer Creatures: The dinosaurs and other Mesozoic creatures that have yielded their biological material are hadrosaur, titanosaur, ornithomimosaur [ostrich-like dinosaurs], mosasaur, triceratops, Lufengosaurs, T. rex, and Archaeopteryx.
As you view the exciting scientific discoveries below in this chronological catalog, please feel free to listen to Real Science Radio co-hosts Fred Williams and Bob Enyart observe their annual tradition of presenting dinosaur soft tissue and other amazing discoveries including short-lived left-handed amino acids, DNA, and Carbon 14, all in bones and other specimens from dinosaur-layer Mesozoic and even deeper strata.
”65-million” Year Old T. rex Soft Tissue: The T. rex photos above are actually old news, whereas all the latest published journal papers, through 2013, are listed chronologically, below. As for these photos though, North Carolina State University discovered this original biological tissue from a supposedly 65-million year old Tyrannosaurus Rexthighbone, with transparent and pliable blood vessels containing red blood cells. See these and other T. rex photos atSmithsonian Magazine and MS-NBC, and see an early Nat’l Geographic report. Famed paleontologist Jack Horner of Montana State University worked the excavation site. In a 2011 development, ten leading universities and institutes including Harvard, the University of Manchester, and the University of Pennsylvania published in PLoS One, a peer-reviewed journal, that they had verified that presumed dinosaur material is indeed original biological tissue from a dinosaur! Creationists refer to dinosaurs as missionary lizards for many reasons including:
- the short-lived Carbon 14 everywhere including in dinosaur bones
- the 521-year half-life of DNA that helps date the actual age of fossils containing dinosaurian genetic material, and
- the mostly left-handed amino acids that should be equally right and left handed if they were “Jurassic”, and
- the research on Egyptian mummies that established 10,000 years as an upper limit for how long original biological molecules could survive. Interestingly, the renowned evolutionist PZ Myers ridiculed our Real Science Radio program by repeating what had been a widely-discredited secular hope that the “soft-tissue” dinosaur finds were “biofilm" contamination from bacteria. But as 60 Minutes shows and Bob Enyart sums it up, “This is dinosaur.”
Dinosaur-strata tissue from “70-million year old” Mosasaur: As below, and in this peer-reviewed report by researchers including from Lund University in Sweden and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, scientists confirm another biological tissue discovery using sophisticated techniques to rule out modern contamination, bio-film, etc., concluding that original biological collagen exists in a small bone from an extinct marine reptile called a mosasaur. Yet according to a report in Science Magazine as it relates to the discoveries of dinosaur tissue, scientists calculate themaximum survival time of collagen not in millions but in thousands of years.
* More Soft Dinosaur Tissue, Now from an “80 Million” Year Old Hadrosaur: Consistent with the expectations of biblical creationists, according to Nat’l Geographic, there’s yet another discovery of soft tissue in a dinosaur, this time, a hadrosaur, with soft blood vessels, connective tissue, and blood cell protein amino acid chains partially sequenced at Harvard University. This allegedly 80-million year-old non-fossilized duck-billed dinosaur tissue was discovered by a team led by researchers at North Carolina State University. Harvard, et al., wanted to get some soft dinosaur tissue so they put together a team and just went out and found some. Consider all the potential soft tissue, and perhaps even DNA, lost to humanity because of secular universities ignoring previous claims by young-earth creationists due to the false evolutionary timescale which so biased paleontologists that they would never even look for non-decomposed original biological tissue inside of dinosaur bones.
* Now Biological Material from a “150-Million” Year Old Archaeopteryx: One would think that these “dinosaur-era” finds would be trumpeted as the scientific discovery of our age. But as late as 2012, so many evolutionists whom we talk to at RSR:
1) have never even heard of these developments [Aug. 2013: this is starting to change]
2) initially deny them (soft-tissue deniers)
3) assume that it must be creationists who claim to have found them, and
4) repeat, as PZ Myers did when criticizing Real Science Radio, the repeatedly debunked claims that these are not dinosaur tissue but bacterial biofilm contamination.
Now, as cited below, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports the discovery of various types of original biological material in archeopteryx feathers and bones that allegedly has survived for 150 million years.
The New Scientist report, Soft tissue remnants discovered in Archaeopteryx, put it:
It boasts more than just… impressions of long-gone feathers. One of the world’s most famous fossils…Archaeopteryx – also contains remnants of the feathers’ soft tissue. … “It’s amazing that that chemistry is preserved after 150 million years.” … palaeontologists had long thought that only impressions remained. [But] “There is soft-tissue chemistry preserved in places that people didn’t expect it,” says [geochemist Roy] Wogelius. [RSR: Not enough biological material was discovered to call it tissue but only remnants of tissue.]
Carbon-14 Found Everywhere It’s Not Supposed To Be (even in dinosaur fossils): C-14 decays in only thousands of years and therefore cannot last for millions. Thus evolutionists did not expect to find C-14 EVERYWHERE it shouldn’t be if the earth were old (Answers, 2011). Carbon-14 is found in coal, oil, limestone, fossil wood, graphite, natural gas, marble, dinosaur fossils, and even in supposedly billion-year-old diamonds! A secondary assumption by old-earth scientists proposed that the C-14 in diamonds (coal, etc.) must have come from N-13 (or C-13, etc.) and neutron capture. Calculations can falsify this claim as Dr. Jonathan Sarfati argues, for scarce crustal radioactivity could explain less than one 10,000th of the C-14 in diamonds, and similarly, there would have to be thousands of times more uranium, thorium, etc. throughout the earth’s crust everywhere that these globally dispersed materials are found.) That Mosasaur (above, shown by researchers to have original biological material and not contamination, also contained five percent modern carbon. Radiocarbon also exists even in supposedly million-year-old two-mile deep natural gas wells (CRSQ Fall 2007): “Once again, fossil gas is not carbon-14 dead. Thus, the age of the gases is on the order of thousands, not millions of years.” See RSR 3-28-08. See more at RSR’s List of Not So Old Things and in Round Four of our debate with AronRa. C-14 in specimens supposedly millions or a billion years old is so ubiquitous that it is longer an anomaly. And while old-earthers had hoped they could attribute it to contamination, Dr. John Baumgardner, of Los Alamos National Labs has documented in Dec, 2010 Creation Matters that C-14 exists even in the hardest naturally-occurring, contamination-resistant substance on earth, within diamonds. The earth is young.
* RSR Offers $23,000 Grant to Paleontologist Jack Horner for C-14 Test: You can listen to our Real Science Radio conversation with famed paleontologist Jack Horner, curator at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies, who excavated the above soft tissue T. rex. Bob offered Jack Horner a $23,000 grant to carbon date his specimen. (See also the grant letter.)
Studies Carbon Dating Mosasaur and Dinosaur Bones: Saving RSR a lot of money, including in connection with soft tissue, scientists have begun reporting carbon dating of Mesozoic-layer (not era) fossil bones:
- Carbon 14 in a Mosasaur Bone: The 2011 peer-reviewed PLoS One paper excerpted below reported significant 14C measured in an allegedly 80-million year old dinosaur-layer fossil. However, they interpreted it in a manner inconsistentwith the primary finding of their paper, claiming that the 14C must be from contamination. This runs somewhat counter to their conclusion that the biological material in the small bone IS NOT from bacterial or other contamination. If the carbon 14 were from contamination, such a condition would make the claim of survival of allegedly 80-million year old biological material even more obviously impossible.
- 14C in 10 Dinosaurs Reported at 2012 AGU Conference: Real Science Radio interviewed a scientist returning from the American Geophysical Union’s conference in Singapore where his international team presented results from five respected laboratories documenting significant quantities of Carbon 14 in bones from ten dinosaurs excavated from Alaska, Europe, Texas, Montana, and China’s Gobi Desert. Radioactivity tests helped to discount neutron capture as a source for the modern carbon. And see also the reasons why contamination is not a valid explanation.
- Some Dino 14C from Contamination: The PLoS One 2008 study that had found bacterial biofilm carbon dated that specimen and found so much modern carbon, in excess of 1950 quantities, that it was rightly attributed to contamination.
- Mary Schweitzer 14C Rumor: A spring 2012 rumor has it that Mary Schweitzer has carbon dated soft tissue dinosaur specimens but has not released the results. Of course she may interpret the results as misleading or insignificant but let’s hope and pray that she makes the data public.
* JAN - NOV 2013 UPDATES: Historic DNA Discovery! Dr. Schweitzer has published her latest discovery in the journal Bone, documenting the presence of four proteins in dinosaur fossils and the presence of dinosaur DNA (see below and Dr. Jonathan Sarfati’s analysis at creation.com). Related: RSR will soon analyze the online edition of Schweitzer’s Jan. 2014 paper claiming that iron can preserve biological structures for millions of years. Also, Nature published the discovery of original biological material in the supposedly oldest dinosaurs yet (see below), allegedly 190 million year old sauropod embryos! Then there’s a preliminary report (look for a paper later this year) about the skin of, what else, a hadrosaur, from paleontologist Phill Bell working in Canada with physicist Mauricio Barbi, which not surprisingly may preserve original protein. And in July, the journal Acta Histochemica reports (see below also) on extraordinarily well preserved soft tissue, now from a triceratops horn. Here at Real Science Radio (and our dinosaursofttissue.com page that you’re reading right now), we scooped this journal by reporting on this find a year ago!
Comprehensively summarizing twenty years of journal research (and more), as one of the published authors below has stated, this single web page presents the world’s most complete catalog of peer-reviewed dinosaur soft-tissue discoveries. This RSR List can save you 100 hours of research with links to all papers and summary excerpts already collected for you!
1993 - Science: Dino DNA: The Hunt and the Hype reports that “biology graduate student” Mary Schweitzer discovered what appeared to be T. rex"red blood cells in blood vessels." From a bone provided by "paleontologist Jack Horner", she had "extracted a molecule that might be dinosaur DNA.” Of course they realized that it could also be DNA from contamination from some other source. But fast forward twenty years and Schweitzer’s 2013 paper in the journal Bone provides powerful evidence for the presence of dinosaur DNA! This Science Research News article also reports:
"Horner suspects the bones are thick enough to protect their internal cellular structure—and perhaps their genetic material—from water and oxygen…"But are the bones thick enough to protect such complex molecules from minor temperature variations and the randomizing effects of molecular motion?
1993 - Journal of the American Medical Association: Hunting Dino DNA—Mary Schweitzer puts T rex bones under the microscope by famed JAMA journalist Dennis L. Breo on the work that has spawned scores of peer-reviewed papers.
1995 - Science: Detecting dinosaur DNA by Hedges, S. Blair, Dept. of Biology, Institute Molecular Evolutionary Genetics, Penn. State University; Schweitzer, Mary H., Montana State University.
“The fact that DNA sequence can be obtained from fossil organisms has opened new windows of opportunity for research… Recently, S. R. Woodward, et al. sequenced DNA from… bone fragments apparently from a dinosaur… However, the likely source of those DNA sequences appears to be human contamination. [However] support has been presented for other findings of DNA surviving for millions of years (10)…”
That reference #10 includes an impressive list of peer-reviewed publications in the 1990s asserting the survival for millions of years of measurable quantities of original biological deoxyribonucleic acid, in:
- The Proceedings of the Nat’l Academy of Sciences
- Medical Science Research
- Science, and
All these journals published reports claiming that recovered DNA segments have survived for millions of years (despite extensive previous evidence of its rapid deterioration). Fast forward then to the year 2013 and not only have dinosaurianstill-soft original biological structures and proteins been confirmed by sequencing, immunological experiments, etc., but also, dinosaur DNA has now been identified!
1997 - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Preservation of Biomolecules in Cancellous Bone of Tyrannosaurus rex by Schweitzer, Horner [and three other authors from Los Alamos National Labs; and Montana State University].
"…analysis of extracts from the bone tissues revealed the presence of molecules with light absorbance maximaconsistent with nucleic acids and peptides/proteins. Analyses of bone extracts for amino acid content yielded ratios similar to those found for modern ostrich and horse bone. … bony tissue samples from the T. rex suggests the presence of collagen type I remnants. … … bony tissue samples from the T. rex suggests the presence of collagen type I remnants. Results indicate that the analyzed tissue contains numerous biomolecules. While some of the biomolecules are most likely contaminants, the probable presence of collagen type I suggests that some molecules of dinosaurian origin remain in these tissues.”
2003 - Journal of Applied Genetics: Molecular phylogenetics employing modern and ancient DNA by Pusch, Carsten M.; Broghammer, Martina; and Blin, Nikolaus.
"The field of molecular palaeobiology was initiated in 1954, when Abelson successfully recovered ancient amino acids from fish dating back from the Devonian period” [400 mya].
While some atheists say that humans are apes (chickens are dinosaurs, and everything is everything, so dinosaurs are fish?), still, we wouldn’t use this last reference as evidence of soft-tissue from dinosaurs. But we include this reference as an example of the widespread interest (JAG no less) in paleobiology, and also to show that despite ongoing widespread disbelief among evolutionists and atheists, it’s been over half-a-century since scientists have been recovering original biological material from specimens allegedly tens and hundreds of millions of years old. The Darwinist bias led to:
- decades wasted when research into the alleged vestigial organs was discouraged
- many years wasted when research into alleged Junk DNA was discouraged
- a century and a half of additional decomposition of fossil soft tissue that has forever been lost to science, all because of that same stifling evolutionary bias.
2005 - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Molecular preservation in Late Cretaceous sauropod dinosaur eggshells: by Schweitzer, et al. [including scientists from the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, London University, and the Journal of Immunology]
"Exceptionally preserved sauropod eggshells discovered in Upper Cretaceous… in… Argentina, contain skeletal remains and soft tissues of embryonic Titanosaurid dinosaurs. …mineralization may also have been rapid enough to retain fragments of original biomolecules in these specimens. To investigate preservation of biomolecular compounds in these well-preserved sauropod dinosaur eggshells, we applied multiple analytical techniques.Results demonstrate organic compounds and antigenic structures similar to those found in extant eggshells.”
This full paper is free to read online but for some it will be easier to read the New Scientist report which states: Protein recovered from dinosaur eggs:
Traces of protein have survived for more than 70 million years in dinosaur eggs from Argentina. They bear strong similarities to proteins from chicken eggs. … The eggs were laid by massive long-necked plant-eaters called titanosaurs. Buried by floods, the eggs fossilised unusually fast, preserving the soft tissues and tiny bones within.
For atheists like AronRa, PZ Myers, at Talk Origins, and those at League of Reason who deny (or doubt) the existence of original biological material, this paper explains that researchers injected rabbits with these apparent dinosaur egg proteins. The animals developed antibodies similar to those they produce in experiments with similar modern protein.
2005 - Science, Soft-tissue vessels and cellular preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex by Schweitzer, Horner, et al.
"The vessels and contents are similar in all respects to blood vessels recovered from extant ostrich bone… we demonstrate the retention of pliable soft-tissue blood vessels with contents that are capable of being liberated from the bone matrix, while still retaining their flexibility, resilience, original hollow nature, and three-dimensionality. …we have identified protein fragments in extracted [T. rex.] bone samples, some of which retain slight antigenicity.” [referring to the ability to provoke antibodies in immunological tests]
2005 - Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: Manipulating dinosaurian soft tissue: methods for handling soft tissues, vessels and cells in fossil specimens by North Carolina State’s Mary Schweitzer and Jennifer Wittmeyer.
"…soft tissues could be preserved in the fossil record, not just by replacement… but as intact structures retaining flexibility and resilience. …additional fossil material, including other tyrannosaurs [and] hadrosaurs… indicates that this is not an isolated phenomenon. The challenge of trying to manipulate, process and analyze vessels and cellular structures millions of years old is not a minor one. … We have tested a variety of methods for… extracting soft tissue and cellular structures… to characterize preservation at cellular and sub-cellular levels.”
2005 - Langmuir: A Journal of the American Chemical Society: Preservation of bone collagen from the late Cretaceous period studied by immunological techniques and atomic force microscopy by R. Avci [and five other authors from MSU, NCSU, Argentina Universitad Nacional].
"Late Cretaceous avian bone tissues from Argentina demonstrate exceptional preservation… to the microstructural and molecular levels. Bone tissues respond to collagenase digestion and histochemical stains. …we have applied atomic force microscopy to address the integrity and functionality of retained organic structures. …measurements not only support immunochemical evidence for collagen preservation for antibody recognition but also imply preservation of the whole molecular integrity. … The conclusion that the fossil section is organic is further supported by ToFSIMS [ion mass spectroscopy] analysis (not show) and the collagenase digestion experiments… Imaging ToFSIMS shows an abundance of organic fragments…”
2007 - Science: Protein sequences from mastodon and Tyrannosaurus rex revealed by mass spectrometry, J. Asara [of Beth Israel Med. Center, Boston and today at Harvard]; Schweitzer, Mary H.
"We used mass spectrometry to obtain protein sequences from bones of a… 68-million-year-old dinosaur(Tyrannosaurus rex). The presence of T. rex sequences indicates that their peptide bonds were remarkably stable.”
This paper generated much controversy, as colorfully reported by Wired, which concludes, “Asara and Schweitzer, in other words, have done just what the critics asked. They’ve built a rigorous scientific case for the survival of 68 million-year-old proteins from a beast that animates children’s imaginations.”
For this next reference, remember that osteocytes are bone cells that live in the organism itself, and filipodia are tentacles that extend from various types of cells when migrating.
2007 – Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Soft tissue and cellular preservation in vertebrate skeletal elements from the Cretaceous to the present by Schweitzer, Wittmeyer, Horner.
“Soft tissues and cell-like microstructures derived from skeletal elements of a well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex [include] transparent, hollow and pliable blood vessels; intravascular material, including in some cases, structuresmorphologically reminiscent of vertebrate red blood cells; and osteocytes with intracellular contents and flexible filipodia… in bone from specimens spanning multiple geological time periods [to 70+ mya] and varied depositional environments. … the surprising presence of still-soft elements in fossil bone… suggest that… soft tissue elements may be more commonly preserved… than previously thought.”
These naturally-pigmented T. rex images depict tissue containing osteocytes and interconnected, flexible, transparent vessels similar to modern vessels.
And remembering that biomineralization is the process by which organisms produce minerals to harden tissue (such as an animal making calcium for bone), this same 2007 paper on dinosaurs pointed out that scientists had long considered the fossilization “of non-biomineralized tissues.” But now scientists should try to:
"…explain the detailed preservation of still-soft, transparent, hollow and flexible tissues and cells over geological time, given that natural processes such as decay and degradation… and chemical and/or enzymatic degradation (Lindahl 1993; Riley & Collins 1994; Collins, et al. 2000, 2002) act in concert to rapidly degrade both the molecules and the tissues they comprise.”
And “structures observed in most fossil specimens are similar in morphology, size, location and content to erythrocytes [red blood cells] observed in related extant [still living] taxa [group of animals].”
The paper also describes the original biological material in “Sue,” the largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, now permanently exhibited in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. From Sue:
"Small regions of soft tissue were recovered," and "Osteocytes with long filipodia and distinct, well-defined ‘nuclei’ were restricted to pliable regions of matrix…"
"Hollow, transparent and flexible vessels [which] were slightly pigmented" and its "Osteocytes… had pigmented elongate cell bodies, some with internal contents and short, stubby filipodia."
Of the various dinosaur soft tissue types, the paper says:
"As arguably the most labile and easily degraded of the structures we observed, the presence of soft vessels is enigmatic. They are neither biomineralized nor have any obvious inherent characteristics that would favour preservation…”
And of bacterial contamination and biofilms, in the year before the publication of the primary opposing theory, Schweitzer, et al., wrote:
"The possibility that microbes may have invaded bone and vascular channels after death, secreting extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that subsequently mineralized, was also considered. If deposition of mineral upon microbial biofilm allowed retention of flexibility in one case, it is feasible to propose that the same process contributed to the preservation of the original vessel walls."
And back in 2007, the authors write that while they remain open to further pending analysis of the osteocytes, they “consider these cell-like structures to be remains of original cells.”
Then a few months later the journal Science published a peer-reviewed paper from a team of scientists including from Harvard and the University of Chicago marking a significant development in the history of this breakthrough field. For this excerpt, remember that the word endogenous means originating within, of course, as opposed to an external contamination.
[Triceratops Update: Now published. See ScienceDirect.com! Earlier notice: An unpublished preliminary report from the director of the electron microscope lab at the Northridge campus of California State University indicates the first-ever discoveries in 2012 of soft tissue from a triceratops horn, and more significantly, apparently of osteocytes (bone cells) in matrix, that is, not found after demineralization while floating in isolation, but still in situ, where they would have appeared in the living animal.]
2007 - Science: Analyses of soft tissue from Tyrannosaurus rex suggest the presence of protein by Schweitzer [and six other authors from NCSU; MSU; Beth Israel Med. Ctr.; Harvard School of Med.; Univ. of Chicago].
"We performed multiple analyses of Tyrannosaurus rex (specimen MOR 1125) fibrous cortical and medullary [pregnancy-related bone] tissues remaining after demineralization. The results indicate that collagen I, the main organic component of bone, has been preserved in low concentrations in these tissues. The findings wereindependently confirmed by mass spectrometry. We propose a possible chemical pathway that may contribute to this preservation.” And the team considers the implications of the “presence of endogenous protein in dinosaur bone…”
"…it has been hypothesized that original molecules will be either lost or altered to the point of nonrecognition over relatively short time spans (well under a million years) (1–7). However, the discovery of intact structures retaining original transparency, flexibility, and other characteristics in specimens dating at least to the Cretaceous (8, 9) [65+ mya] suggested that, under certain conditions, remnant organic constituents may persist across geological time.” -Science 2007, Schweitzer, et al.
The standard explanation by atheists and evolutionists that I’ve seen, including at League of Reason, is that the biofilm interpretation published in 2008 has “refuted” the soft-tissue claims. Apparently that’s your explanation too. I can’t be sure because rather than provide evidence for me and the readers you have simply stated that the soft tissue has been “refuted.” And whereas I’ve been posting all along extensive evidence of my assertion, you’ve left us guessing as to how, when, where, by whom this has been “refuted.” The 2008 biofilm paper is a worthwhile scientific endeavor: exploring whether bacteria could create these dinosaur artifacts. But on its primary goal it was given far too much credit because itvirtually ignored the following positive evidence from this same 2007 paper (and from elsewhere):
…collagen [type] I has unique characteristics… making validation of its presence relatively straightforward.
This finding suggests that the bone mineral is virtually unchanged from the living state and has undergone little if any alteration. … the elasticity of dinosaur tissues was similar to that of demineralized extant bone.
…bone extracts showed reactivity to antibodies raised against chicken collagen… We confirmed the antibody reactivity data by in situ immunohistochemistry…
Additionally, antibody reactivity (Fig. 2J) was significantly decreased after we digested dinosaur tissues with collagenase…
Immunohistochemistry performed on sediments was negative for binding.
In situ TOF-SIMS [ion mass spectroscopy] analyses were performed to unambiguously detect amino acid residues consistent with the presence of protein in demineralized MOR 1125 [T. rex] tissues.
Sandstones entombing the dinosaur, subjected to TOF-SIMS as a control, showed little or no evidence for these amino acids.
… that molecular fragments of original proteins are preserved in the mineralized matrix of bony elements of MOR 1125 is supported by peptide sequences recovered from dinosaur extracts, some of which align uniquely with chicken collagen… The amount of protein or protein-like components… was ~0.62% for cortical bone and 1.3% for medullary bone.
Additionally, experiments have been conducted independently in at least three different labs and by numerous investigators, and the results strongly support the endogeneity [internal origin] of collagen-like protein molecules. -Science 2007, Schweitzer, et al.
Contrary to Evolutionary Expectations: The propaganda now likely to come (like denying the Junk DNA claim, and like denying that NASA feared deep moon dust) is that Darwinists will begin to deny ever having doubted the ability of soft tissue to survive for millions (and billions) of years. So, preemptively against the same likely development regarding dinosaur soft tissue, we remember the Discover magazine report that “all hell broke loose” when “Schweitzer’s dangerous discovery… erased a line between past and present.” And we quote the above authors, admitting in the journal Science what already we are beginning to see some evolutionists deny:
The presence of original molecular components is not predicted for fossils older than a million years…
-Science 2007, Schweitzer, et al.
2007 - Expert Reviews of Proteomics: Will current technologies enable dinosaur proteomics, by Gary B. Smejkal [then associate professor molecular biology, University of New Hampshire]; Schweitzer.
"The preservation of proteinaceous materialsover millions of years has caused paleobiologists to reconsider current models of fossilization. … Conventional wisdom held that, under normal circumstances, decomposition occurs so rapidly and completely that, after a relatively short period of time, no molecular fragments (let alone cells or tissues) would remain. However, the observation of these components in multiple specimens of geological age, supported by amino acid sequence data from collagen preserved in the skeletal elements of T. rex, provide evidence for molecular preservation over millions of years.”
Because actual dinosaur soft-tissue protein biological material was being studied, a paleontologist (Schweitzer) teamed up with an associate professor of biochemistry andmolecular biology from the University of New Hampshire (now the visiting scientist, genetics, at the Harvard School of Public Health) to publish in the peer-reviewed ERP which reports “from the field of proteomics [proteins] to advance scientific understanding of the many varied roles protein expression plays in human health and disease.”
Now to the popular anti-soft-tissue biofilm paper (which PZ Myers still thinks is the latest word on the topic). The authors examined fossils from 15 genera and found no original soft tissue but only bacterial biofilm contamination. Back in 2008 of course these authors were unaware of all later soft-tissue confirmations, but unreasonably even for then they glossed over the previously published immunological and protein sequence findings.
2008 – Public Library of Science - PLoS One: Dinosaurian Soft Tissues Interpreted as Bacterial Biofilms: by T. Kaye (of the Burke Museum of Natural History), et al.
"bacterial biofilms… mimic real blood vessels… This explanation… represents a plausible alternative hypothesis."
The paper does acknowledge something that FALSIFIES the surprisingly common misperception of atheists of what is being claimed in the many published papers. Some atheists (like our RSR debate opponent AronRa) claim, without offering evidence, that the soft tissue finds have “been refuted.” Many other atheists (like those commenting on the League of Reason in the companion thread to the AronRa debate) are somehow interpreting all these findings as not even claiming that original dinosaur biological tissue has been found. This PLoS One paper falsifies that surprisingly common interpretation among extant Darwinians :) in that the paper’s authors sought to reinterpret the still-soft elements as something other than endogenous dinosaur tissue, and they therefore directly acknowledge what has been claimed all along by the above published papers, that the previous papers claimed:
"discovery of soft, pliable tissues recovered from… Tyrannosaur [involve] preserved biomolecules [of] preserved dinosaurian soft tissues [which if true would hold] the promise of biologic investigations of extinct animals.”
From the paper:
"The hollow [voids] of the tyrannosaur femur supported the general idea that an exceptionally well-preserved bone may act as a containment vessel for biomolecules. … To test this concept, a perfectly preserved turtle phalange [finger bone]… was pressure fractured and directly examined…."
The authors found bacterial biofilm and other structures that visually looked similar superficially to the structures found in the soft tissue findings. And their infrared investigation suggested that their dinosaur fossils were more similar to biofilm than to modern collagen. The primary helpful effect of their results was to add increased emphasis on the effort to exclude bacterial contamination from studies of dinosaur tissue.
For example, in the biofilm paper:
…demineralized specimens… displayed small red spheres clustered in the tubular structures (Fig. 4A). Discovery of these spheres in an ammonite [extinct mollusk] suture [a rigid joint] indicated they had no relationship to iron derived from blood. … The second structure category consisted of soft, pliable, branching tubules with morphology closely resembling blood vessels.”
However, the apparent biological heme from Jack Horner’s T. rex was injected into lab rats and they produced antibodies for hemoglobin, something they would not do if the iron were not biological and only the “iron-oxygen spheres” reported in this biofilm paper. This is why Schweitzer was working with immunologists.
RSR’s Bob Enyart Speaks with Jack Horner: Steven Spielberg had famed paleontologist Jack Horner on the set as a technical advisor during the filming of all three Jurassic Park blockbuster movies. This YouTube video presents the Real Science Radio phone call by which we offered Jack Horner a grant of $23,000 to carbon date either their Wankel T. rex(which exhibit, incidentally, has been moved from MSU’s Museum of the Rockies to the Smithsonian) or their pregnant (at the time of its death) B. rex:
Regarding the claim of Kaye’s 2008 paper, for the bacteria to help preserve the endogenous tissue requires its presence contemporaneously or shortly after the animal’s burial. This timing might be inferred also because these species of bacteria might prefer to be feeding on the decaying animal carcass. (Salzberg and Kaye’s still unfinished 2011 JVP paper might help here.)
These Contrarian Authors Losing Defenders: Following the soft tissue developments carefully, it appears to us here atReal Science Radio that the frequency is declining of scientists linking to Kaye’s 2008 paper as evidence against actual dinosaur soft tissue. Even Michael Buckley, for example, who in 2008 in the journal Science strongly opposedSchweitzer’s discovery, as of 2011 has become an advocate for the validity of the soft tissue finds. Still, it is wrong to lump the above contrarian authors in with the many soft-tissue deniers including AronRa, Talk Origins, and League of Reason, who say things like Nigel Deplege. In September 2011, Deplege called us here at RSR “delusional”, while writing that, “…soft dinosaur tissue has never been discovered or reported. What you perhaps refer to is the discovery of fossilised impression of soft tissue structures.” This typifies Darwinist science deniers and soft-tissue deniers whom creationists encounter on forums everywhere, as shown by the examples at rsr.org/soft-tissue-doubters, including PZ Myers still in 2013.
Recent discoveries [Genome-based identification… of collagen-related… motifs in bacterial… proteins] of collagen-like proteins in bacteria and viruses  add to the problem of unambiguous identification of vertebrate biomolecules.”
Apparently, many atheists believe that this (and perhaps the Salzberg 2011 unfinished paper) has refuted all the soft-tissue finds, protein sequencing, immunological tests, etc., from specimens extracted from various dinosaurs (and all the other reported dinosaur-era soft-tissue finds). But a dozen institutions both before and after this 2008 paper, disagree and continue to publish their confirmations.
Fun YouTube Video Interlude: About this time, it seemed like many evolutionists would rather these discoveries never have happened even though they are the greatest paleobiological finds ever in history. So YouTube videos like this were produced to bring attention to the peer-reviewed findings that it seems our evolution-minded culture would rather ignore:
2009 - Science: Biomolecular Characterization and Protein Sequences of the Campanian Hadrosaur B. canadensis by Schweitzer in a group of sixteen authors from North Carolina State, Harvard University, Montana State, Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dana Farbar Cancer Institute, London’s Matrix Science Ltd., Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and Harvard Medical School.
These authors report finding original biological tissue in the leg bone of a Hadrosaur, i.e., a duck-billed dinosaur:
"Microstructural and immunological data are consistent with preservation of multiple bone matrix and vessel proteins…"
Then, reaching out to Darwinist soft-tissue deniers with the required reassurances, the authors offered comfort to the evolutionist camp regarding their own commitment to common descent:
"…phylogenetic analyses of Brachylophosaurus collagen sequenced by mass spectrometry robustly support the bird-dinosaur clade…"
2012 Hadrosaur Update: Duck-bill dinosaurs actually had “as many as 1,400 teeth” which were “more complex than those of cows, horses, and other well-known modern grazers.” Teeth made of a mix of various tissue types can better fit an ecological niche as the different kinds of tooth tissue wear down at different rates, providing a constantly rough chewing surface optimized for grinding various kinds of food. The team from the American Museum of Natural History and FSU found “that hadrosaurids actually had six different types of dental tissues — four more than reptiles and two more than expert mammal grinders…” Allegedly, according to a paper in Science, this multiple-tissue grinding design “evolved repeatedly in mammals (such as horses, bison, and elephants)” and “a similar innovation occurred much earlier… within the duck-billed dinosaur group… hadrosaurids broke from the primitive reptilian archetype and evolved a six-tissue dental composition that is among the most sophisticated known.” Florida State University biology professor Gregory Ericksonsaid, ”We were stunned to find that the mechanical properties of the teeth were preserved after 70 million years of fossilization… if you put these teeth back into a living dinosaur they would function perfectly.”
2009 - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Mineralized soft-tissue structure and chemistry in a mummified hadrosaur from the @#!*% Creek Formation, North Dakota (USA) by Manning, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of 17 authors from the University of Manchester, UK, Manchester Museum, University of Liverpool, Manchester Metropolitan University, Yale University, and the University of York].
An extremely well-preserved dinosaur (Cf. Edmontosaurus sp.) found in the @#!*% Creek Formation (Upper Cretaceous, North Dakota) retains soft-tissue replacement structures and associated organic compounds. … Amino acid composition analyses of the mineralized skin envelope clearly differ from the surrounding matrix… The presence of endogenously derived organics from the skin was further demonstrated by pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry (Py-GCMS), indicating survival and presence of macromolecules…
2010 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Archaeopteryx feathers and bone chemistry fully revealed via synchrotron imaging by Bergmann, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of eight authors from Stanford Nat’l Accelerator Laboratory, the Middle Waters Institute, University of Manchester, University of Pennsylvania, and the Black Hills Institute].
These authors report finding original biological material feathers in an Archaeopteryx fossil from the Solnhofen limestone, although only enough to make identification of the appropriate compounds at the appropriate parts of the animal’s anatomy including skull, claws, feathers, feather shafts, postcranial skeleton, and teeth. They report:
"…striking and previously unknown details about the chemical preservation of soft tissue, elemental distribution patterns most likely related to the organism’s life processes, insights into the chemistry of soft tissue, elemental distribution to the organism’s life processes…
Most striking is that, in addition to the bone material, the chemical remains of the rachises (shafts) from the flight feathers are now revealed: The P [phosphorus] distribution is clearly controlled by both bone as well as soft tissue remnant from the original organism. Although phosphatized muscle tissue has been re-ported from the Solnhofen (21), the phosphorus and sulfur levels responsible for the rachis images presented here do not require the addition of P or S from elsewhere.
…iron zoning in the feathers… is probably NOT an original feature of the organism. [However] the evidence strongly implies that the rachises [feather shafts] are at least in part the chemical remains of the original organism.
…the high zinc levels in the Archaeopteryx bone have been inherited from the original organism.
…phosphorous point levels measured from the [feather shafts] … strongly supporting the inference that part of the feather chemistry is preserved.
Zinc apparently was present in appreciable concentrations in the original bone (as in many extant organ-isms) and has been well sequestered within the bone over 150 million years of burial.
Other work (31) thus supports our most striking result: that elevated Zn levels associated with the skull and other bones have persisted over geological time and most likely, along with phosphorous and sulfur, are remnants of the original bone chemistry.
Ca [calcium] removal from some parts of the Archaeopteryx is negligible…
…feather barb patterns are not merely topographic impressions…”
2010 - PLoS One: Influence of microbial biofilms on the preservation of primary soft tissue in fossil and extant archosaursby Peterson, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of three authors from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Northern Illinois University].
Preservation of GROSS soft tissues is extremely rare, but recent studies have suggested that primary soft tissues and biomolecules are more commonly preserved within preserved bones than had been presumed.
Some of these claims have been challenged… suggesting that some of the structures are microbial artifacts, not primary soft tissues.
The identification of biomolecules in fossil vertebrate extracts from a specimen of Brachylophosaurus canadensis [Hadrosaur] has shown the interpretation of preserved organic remains as microbial biofilm to behighly unlikely.
This study experimentally examines the role of microbial biofilms in soft-tissue preservation…
The identification of biomolecules with vertebrate signatures[2,3] in the extracts from fossil vertebrates providescompelling evidence countering the argument that these structures are simply microbial biofilm .
both primary soft tissue and microbial biofilms are composed of organic carbon, control samples and biofilm samples possess a similar EDS signature that is unreliable for differentiation. However, primary soft-tissues in control samples are morphologically different from biofilm samples. Primary soft- tissues analyzed by SEM show red blood cells and vessels at relatively low magnifications (<100x) (Figure 6) whereas biofilms on bones shows smooth, undulating surfaces at similar magnifications…
Phosphatized soft-tissues in the basal ornithimimosaur [sic, bird-mimic ostrich-like dinosaurs], Pelecanimimus polydon, have also been described in the form of muscle and skin . The results of this study strongly suggest that microorganisms play a role in the preservation of primary soft- tissues in vertebrate organisms, without extensive secondary mineralization. … biofilms may directly enhance the preservation of vertebrate primary soft-tissues. …exquisite preservation of pliable soft-tissues may be related to a microbial masonry process whereby the formation of microbial biofilms wall off internal surfaces of bones during early taphonomic stages.
The claim of the presence of primary soft-tissues in fossil vertebrates has been supported by the identification by mass spectroscopy of biomolecules in the form of collagen and [other] proteins…
A great paper, but the authors failed to report something that should be routine, the carbon 14 date of their specimens and the percentage of right and left-handedness of the amino acids.
* Mostly Left-Handed Amino Acids in Amber, Shale, Chert, Titanosaur & T. rexEggshells: Like hands and hockey sticks, some molecules are right or left handed. Life uses 100% left-handed amino acids to build proteins (and purely right-handed sugars to build DNA). The laws of chemistry demonstrate that after death, amino acids racemize back to a 50-50 mixture of right- and left-handed acids. England’s Royal Society published a time range for this physical process which, “produces totally racemized amino acids in 10(5)-10(6) [100,000 to 1,000,000] years in most environments on the Earth.” (So researchers have even begun dating whale carcasses by the spherical growth patterns in the eye by measuring the percent of left-handed acids in each lens layer.) However, a paper published in a Royal Society biology journal reports regarding T. rex specimens obtained from the University of California at Berkley that, “in the dinosaur eggshells… all of the detected amino acids have low D:L ratios…” (emphasis added), i.e., they are not millions of years old. Yet, even more unexpected for the evolutionist, allegedly far older insects in amber also yield mostly left-handed amino acids! This led evolutionist researchers, shockingly, to suggest a half-life of a billion years for racemization in amber! Whereas almost all of the research on this dinosaur soft tissue webpage is reported from secular sources, we encourage you to see this creationist report of primarily left-handed amino acids in Wyoming oil shale (in the Green River region) and also in the supposedly three-billion year old Fig Tree Chert (flint-like sedimentary rock that can contain small fossils) in South Africa. So just as scientists have begun reporting on the carbon dating of dinosaur soft tissue, and as they’ve found unracemized amino acids in Pleistocene egg shells and in allegedly 70 million year old titanosaur eggshells from France, RSR joins with the Royal Academy (although for different reasons) in calling for continued biomolecule research on dinosaur fossils including in determining their degree of left handedness. We also call for Carbon 14 dating of some of our “oldest” amber specimens. And finally, while even brief heating can speed the racemization process, nonetheless, RSR predicts much more left-handedness will be found in supposedly ancient dinosaur tissue.
2011 - PLoS One: Microspectroscopic evidence of cretaceous bone proteins by Lindgren, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of twelve authors from Lund University, Sweden; Southern Methodist University; and Midwestern University].
"…direct spectroscopic characterization of isolated fibrous bone tissues, a crucial test of hypotheses of biomolecular preservation over deep time, [previously] has not been performed. Here, we demonstrate thatendogenous [originating from the mosasaur itself] proteinaceous [pertaining to protein, biological] molecules are retained in a humerus from a Late Cretaceous mosasaur (an extinct giant marine lizard). In situ immunofluorescence of demineralized bone extracts shows reactivity to antibodies raised against type I collagen, and amino acid analyses of soluble proteins extracted from the bone exhibit a composition indicative of structural proteins or their breakdown products. These data are corroborated by synchrotron radiation-based infrared microspectroscopic studies demonstrating that amino acid containing matter is located in bone matrix fibrils that express imprints of the characteristic 67 nm D-periodicity typical of collagen. Moreover, the fibrils differ significantly in spectral signature from those of potential modern bacterial contaminants, such as biofilms and collagen-like proteins. Thus, the preservation of primary soft tissues and biomolecules is not limited to large-sized bones buried in fluvial sandstone environments, but also occurs in relatively small-sized skeletal elements deposited in marine sediments.
…to facilitate comparisons with a relevant modern reference, bone tissue samples from an extant monitor lizard (LO 10298) were prepared in the same way as the mosasaur tissues.
…numerous free- floating, vessel-like structures [from the mosasaur] joined in a discrete network… similar to those previously reported in dinosaurs [6,10]. Associated with the vessel-like forms were cell-like features… and a fibrous substance that, in modern bone, would represent the organic phase of the extracellular matrix; i.e., the osteoid [organic bone material] (Figure 1G). The fibrous organization of the organic matter was demonstrated by optical and scanning electron microscopy (Figures 1A, B and H). Furthermore, application of a standard histochemical dye (Aniline blue) revealed that the fiber-like structures take up stain as does recent connective tissue (Figure 1L)…
Fiber-like forms with a similar typical axial periodicity were also found coiled obliquely around some canal walls (Figure 1K) and are, in modern animals, comprised primarily of mineralized fibrillar collagens (Figure 1J)… The amino acid profiles we obtained have a composition potentially indicative of fibrous structural proteins… such as collagen , suggesting that the proteinaceous molecules isolated from IRSNB 1624 [the mosasaur] may contain this protein…
Rationale for excluding fungal growth and animal glue as potential collagen sources: …histological sections of untreated bone revealed that the
fibrous microstructures were deeply embedded… and DNA analyses failed to detect any ergosterol or nucleic acids attributable to fungi…
…the amount of finite carbon was corresponding to 4.68% +/- 0.1 of modern 14C activity (yielding an age of 24 600 BP), and most likely reflect bacterial activity near the outer surface of the bone (although no bacterial proteins or hopanoids were detected, one bacterial DNA sequence was amplified by PCR…)”
2011 - PLoS One: Dinosaur Peptides Suggest Mechanisms of Protein Survival by San Antonio, Schweitzer, [and six other authors including from Orthovita, Inc.; University of Pennsylvania; NCSU; North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; Montana State University; the Illinois Institute of Technology; Harvard Medical School; University of Manchester; University of York; and MIT].
"Eleven collagen peptide sequences recovered from chemical extracts of dinosaur bones were mapped onto molecular models of the vertebrate collagen fibril derived from extant taxa. The dinosaur peptides localized to fibril regions protected by the close packing of collagen molecules…
Four peptides mapped to collagen regions crucial for cell-collagen interactions… Dinosaur peptides were not represented in more exposed parts of the collagen fibril…
Thus functionally significant regions of collagen fibrils that are physically shielded within the fibril may be preferentially preserved in fossils. These results show empirically that structure-function relationships at the molecular level could contribute to selective preservation in fossilized vertebrate remains…
This non-random distribution supports the hypothesis that the peptides are produced by the extinct organisms…
Type I collagen peptides were extracted and sequenced from ~68 million years old fossils of Tyrannosaurus rex… despite multiple lines of evidence to support the presence of collagen, including in situ antibody binding, the endogeneity of MOR 1125 peptides was disputed, and the sequences instead were suggested to arise from either microbial invasion , extant collagens introduced in laboratory experiments , or even statistical artifact . Collagen peptide sequences were subsequently derived from a second dinosaur, Brachylophosauraus canadensis(MOR 2598) , and included many of the earlier lines of supporting evidence as well as independent replication of data in multiple labs. Surprisingly, advances in collagen biology also support the authenticity of the fossil peptides. The molecular structure of collagen favors preservation.
Our results add to the evidence provided by sequence data…, molecular phylogenetic analyses…, microstructure… and immunoreactivity to anti-collagen antibodies… that supports persistence of elements of native collagen fibril structure…”
2011 - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: (abstract only, paper still unavailable as of Oct. 2012) DNA, Dinosaurs, and Metagenomics: A new tool for mass identification of DNA from fossil bone by Steven Salzberg, University of Maryland;Tom Kaye, Burke Museum; et al.
"The idea that endogenous soft tissues are preserved in Mesozoic fossil bone remains contentious after 6 years of research. Here, full characterization of DNA is reported using ‘Metagenomics’ techniques from a section ofBrachylophosaurus canadensis [hadrosaur] fossil, JRF 56, from the Judith river formation near Malta, Montana. Soft tissue structures similar to those reported as dinosaurian blood vessels and bone cells are observed…
Previous studies have focused on long-lasting proteins since it is generally accepted that DNA can not survive such time scales. Here metagenomics data is presented that identifies ALL the DNA in the sample giving proportionate rank of endogenous molecular species.
The sample was processed to isolate organic remnants from the intravascular cavities of the fossil’s cortical bone, excluding possible contamination from sediments on the bone surface. DNA from various species of bacteria, plants, fungi, and chordates was detected in the bone and therefore longer lasting proteins from these species can be expected. Critically, avian molecules identified as modern bird DNA were found in the organic isolates [including chicken apparently; and an allegation, reasonably leveled since Schweitzer used ostrich material as a control, that she contaminated her specimen with ostrich DNA and hemoglobin.].
Bacteria DNA provides support for the production of biofilms within the fossil…
The presence of modern bird and other chordate DNA provide a large analytical obstacle to identifying possible endogenous molecules.
Replying to popular YouTube atheist AronRa in Real Science Radio’s League of Reason Evolution Debate, Bob Enyartreplied to Aron: “I reject this claim that dinosaur soft-tissue has not been identified. You attribute my conclusion to my creation bias, but I would offer as evidence the reasons presented above in peer-reviewed publications in PNAS, Science, PLoS One, Expert Reviews of Proteomics, Journal of Applied Genetics, Langmuir: A Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Proceedings of the Royal Society, and below, in the journal Nature. I also expect that the soft-tissue dinosaur claims will be fully vindicated because I believe what Jesus Christ said that, ‘from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ And I doubt also anti-dinosoaur-tissue claims because as you’ll recall from above, the left-handedness of amino acids even beneath dinosaur layers, the 14C everywhere it wasn’t expected, the evidence of rapid stratification, the unexpected genome discoveries, for example, from kangaroos, worms, the chimp Y chromosome, and sponges, which findings make the Salzberg and Kaye assessments here questionable.”
2011 - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Infrared mapping resolves soft tissue preservation in 50 million year-old reptile skin by Edwards, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of eight authors from Manchester University, University of Pennsylvania, Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, and Stanford’s National Accelerator Laboratory].
Mapped organic functional units within this approximately 50 Myr old [lizard] specimen from the Green River Formation (USA)… are most probably derived from the original beta keratin present in the skin… Maps and spectra from the fossil are directly comparable to extant reptile skin. Furthermore, infrared results are corroborated by several additional quantitative methods… Taken together, all the analyses performed in this study strongly suggest that the fossilized reptile skin… is not a simple impression, mineralized replacement or an amorphous organic carbon film, but contains a partial remnant of the living organism’s original chemistry, in this case derived from proteinaceous skin.
2012 - Nature: New evidence on the colour and nature of the isolated Archaeopteryx feather by Carney, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of five authors from Brown University, University of Texas, University of Akron, and from Carl Zeiss in Germany].
Even this paper on something as delicate as Archaeopteryx feathers disproves the somewhat bizarre claim made for years by many evolutionists in America and over in Britain as for example on the League of Reason website (regarding the AronRa/Bob Enyart Evolution vs. Creation Debate) that scientists have never even claimed to have discovered actual original biological material. In the following excerpts, of course a biomarker is an indicator of a biological state. And organocopper is a compound in organic chemistry. And within organic chemistry is the specialty of biomolecular chemistry that looks for biomarkers which are indicators of biological processes. Archaeopteryx had black melanin in its feathers (darker at the tips) as determined by the distribution and the dimensions of its melanosomes which were measured at only a quarter of a millionth of a meter (250 nanometers) wide.
"We interpret the feather’s dark trace to be a melanic organosulphur residue, based on the following.
First, we detected no manganese among nine point analyses throughout the feather, indicating that preservation was not due to precipitation of the inorganic mineral, manganese dioxide (MnO2), as has been suggested…
Second, a potential organocopper biomarker for melanin was previously detected in this specimen; this biomarker has also been correlated with the presence of melanosomes in three fossil bird taxa. We hypothesize that melanosome structures fossilize simply by virtue of being solid aggregations of melanins… resistant to degradation.
Third, the dark trace is associated with sulphur, which may have derived from the sulphur-rich feather keratin and crosslinked with the melanin; this is consistent with the sulphurization mechanism responsible for high-fidelity organic preservation in the fossil record.”
2013 - Nature: Embryology of Early Jurassic dinosaur from China with evidence of preserved organic remains by Reisz, et al. [a non-Schweitzer group of twelve authors from the Univ. of Toronto Mississauga, Ontario; Nat’l Universities in Taiwan: Central, Chung Hsing, and Cheng Kung; James Cook University, Queensland, Australia; Inst. of Vertebrate Paleontology, Beijing; Steinmann Inst. of Geology, Bonn, Germany; Nat’l Synchrotron Radiation Research Ctr, Taiwan; Lufeng & Chuxiong Prefectural Museums, Yunnan, China.].
NOW, Allegedly 190 Million Year Old Biological Material! An inherent prediction of evolution is that the “older” the dinosaur fossil, the less likely that biological material will survive (due to even minor temperature variations and the randomizing effects of molecular motion). Conversely, the Real Science Radio hosts, Bob Enyart and Fred Williams, presume that the alleged age of the dinosaur-layer (and lower) fossils will have little bearing on the existence and condition of endogenous dinosaur biological material. Thus we are happy to present to you a finding from Nature, made while studying 200 disarticulated bones, including rib fragments, scapulae, and skull elements, of sauropod Lufengosaurus embryos.
"In contrast to previous studies of organic residues based on extracts obtained by decalcifying [demineralizing] samples of bone, our approach targeted particular tissues in situ… This made it possible to detect the preservation of organic residues, probably direct products of the decay of complex proteins, within both the fast-growing embryonic bone tissue and the margins of the vascular spaces… This is indicated… by both infrared… and Raman spectroscopy…
Previous reports of preserved dinosaur organic compounds, or ‘dinosaurian soft tissues’ have been controversial because it was difficult to rule out bacterial biofilms or some other form of contamination as a possible source of the organics. Our results clearly indicate the presence of both apatite and amide peaks within woven embryonic bone tissue (Fig. 5a) [see above image], which should not be susceptible to microbial contamination or other post-mortem artefacts.”
2013 - Bone: Molecular analyses of dinosaur osteocytes support the presence of endogenous molecules by Schweitzer [and three other authors from North Carolina State University, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, and Palo Alto Research Center].
NOW, research has strongly indicated T. rex and hadrosaur DNA! Also, four dinosaur proteins were identified including the cytoskeleton component actin and the microtubule building block tubulin. After providing powerful evidence for the finding of dinosaur DNA, the authors needed to deal with the apparent contradiction of the inability of DNA to last for 80 million years. Creationists often note the circular reasoning of evolutionists who date the strata by the fossil, and the fossil by the strata. With the following excerpt from this paper, Mary’s group perfectly illustrates the circular reasoning that created and maintains the evolutionary time frame.
"A recent paper by Allentoft et al. (2012) [Proc. Royal Soc. B] hypothesizes a half-life for DNA of ~521 years in an optimal depositional environment, suggesting that DNA should be degraded to single bases by a little under 7 million years, even though they also state that “considerable sample-to-sample variance in DNA preservation could not be accounted for by geologic age”. Their half-life estimate was based upon extrapolations of data taken from >150 relatively recent Holocene bones (less than 10,000 years old). Fossils older than this were not examined for DNA. All of our assays require at least 4 or more bases to generate reactivity… Therefore we suggest more rigorous testing of extrapolation models on actual fossil material from older specimens.”
[Related: When processed into papyri, the half-life of papyrus DNA is only 24 years.] The authors’ old-age beliefs aside, as far as the data goes, this paper is a tour de force falsifying the dying claim that all these scientists have been confusing contamination for endogenous dinosaur soft tissue.
* DinosaurSoftTissue.com Supplementary Material: Scientists publishing in this field have thanked Real Science Radio for assembling on this single webpage the world’s most comprehensive catalog of peer-reviewed journal papers documenting the existence of dinosaur soft tissue. To supplement the above chronology, courtesy of the team at the Institute for Creation Research including Brian Thomas, see the first three items below. Many additional publications document the existence of extensive dinosaur-layer and deeper original biological material:
- The foremost general soft tissue resource, ICR’s fresh fossils page
- ICR’s List of Soft Tissue Papers
- A text version of that ICR list with links and updates tiny.cc/ICRs-soft-tissue-list
- An electron microscope lab director brings dino tissue to RSR studio
- Mark Armitage’s 2001 CRSQ scanning electron microscope study of T. rex collagen
- The iDINO project from the Creation Research Society lab and electron microscope
* RSR Dinosaur Soft Tissue Predictions: From our Real Science Radio Predictions page, see especially those regarding soft tissue and other original biological material from dinosaur-layer (and deeper) strata, including that:
- Original dinosaur soft tissue, etc., will be found largely independent of the claimed age of the fossil.
- For now, dinosaur soft tissue will be found not only in rare circumstances, but rather easily, i.e., when looked for.
- Biological material will be found independent not only of alleged age (whether tens of thousands or hundreds of millions of years old), but also significantly independent of the specimen’s environment, that is, whether preserved by mummification or encased in amber, sandstone, marine sediments, etc. (Ice, of course, would do much better.)
- Evolutionists presuming that dino soft tissue lasts indefinitely will be surprised to find it decreasingly discoverable in the 2020s, 2030s, 2040s, etc.
- An awareness will set in that just as evolutionary assumptions led to the lost decades of dismissing function for a majority of our genome, and for dismissing exploration of function in vestigial organs, and for other irreparable scientific loss, also, a century of lost opportunity has passed during which vast quantities of otherwise discoverable biological material has disappeared forever, all because Darwinism led scientists to believe it was ridiculous even to look for it (just as they now claim it is ridiculous to carbon date diamonds, etc.).
- Even endogenous dinosaur soft tissue will have 14C (whenever tested for), arguing strongly against contamination.
- Unracemized (i.e., mostly left-handed) amino acids will be found extensively (whenever tested for) in dino tissue.
- The exact same specimens will be claimed to be both contaminated and uncontaminated. Where amino acid and radiocarbon testing is done on soft tissue, evolutionists will claim that (allegedly old) uncontaminated soft tissue is simultaneously contaminated by (short-lived) Carbon 14 and left-handed amino acids. The lack of contamination that enables the identification of original tissue is confirmed (by genetic sequencing, immunological tests, etc.) whereas the (allegation of) contamination of short-lived radiocarbon and non-racemized acids is usually not confirmed but only assumed. Evolutionists are thereby alleging that complex biological molecules endure not only with the randomizing effects of molecular motion, changes in temperature, etc., for 68M, 80M, 150M, 190M, 350M years, and more, but also multiple processes of contamination which (allegedly) include the introduction of left-handed amino acids and modern carbon.
* See more from Real Science Radio and our YoungEarth.org and our List of Not So Old Things including things that severely challenge million-year claims such as:
- Seven fossil layers of a school of jellyfish
- Honeybees that still communicate,
- Allegedly 150 Million Year Old Squid Ink
- mtEve and Y-chromosomal Adam surprised evolutionists
- Genome history of man, kangaroos, worms, chimps, and sponges undermine Darwinism
- Earth’s magnetic field decaying exponentially
- Deposits can harden into marble or sandstone rapidly
- 100 million years of strata MISSING from the Grand Canyon layers!
* Call for Renewed Investigation of Egyptian Mummies: Just as the advances in genetic science enabled forensic scientists to help police detectives solve many “cold cases,” so too, RSR now urges the scientific community to fully reopen the molecular analysis of Egyptian mummies.
Today’s Resource: Have you browsed through our Science Department in the KGOV Store? If you found this special RSR page interesting, then Bob Enyart and Fred Williams recommend for you the fascinating videos by Dr. Carl Werner titled Living Fossils and its prequel Evolution, the Grand Experiment! Just click to order or you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.
* Example of Media Underreporting: In July 2013, with Montana’s Museum of the Rockies and Jack Horner hosting an international symposium on paleohistography (microscopic study of cell anatomy in “paleo” fossils) with 60 scientists in attendance regarding arguably the greatest discoveries ever made in paleontology, the most excitement NBC of Montana musters is something that could have been written in 1859: “…after they gather the bones, the next step is to piece them together like a puzzle.” In the reporter’s defense, the discovery of DST is still an open wound for the evolution community. So, even given his flair for media, undoubtedly Dr. Horner played down this conference to journalists. In the scientific community, paleohistographers will continue for some time yet to be the black sheep.
* Call to Reassess Previously Ignored Finds: For decades these kinds of announcements have been mostly just ignored because of the old-earth evolutionary assumptions. But now that original dinosaur tissue has been repeatedly confirmed, the existence of biological material and even living bacteria in allegedly million-year-old specimens should be acknowledged and reassessed. As listed by Dr. Walt Brown…
- allegedly 17 million year old magnolia leaf contains DNA (Scientific American 1993)
- allegedly 18 million year old salamander muscle and vessels filled with blood (Proc. Roy. Soc. 2009)
- allegedly 40 million year old bee fossil contains LIVING bacteria (Science 1995)
- allegedly 120 million year old insect fossil contains DNA (Nature 1993)
- allegedly 200 million year old fish fossil contains DNA (Science. News 1992)
- allegedly 400 million year old fish amino acids (Journal of Applied Genetics 2003).
- allegedly 600 million year old rock contains LIVING bacillus (Nature 2000).
Harper government’s extensive spying on anti-oilsands groups revealed in FOIs
Independent federal agency, National Energy Board, directly coordinated effort between CSIS, the RCMP and private oil companies.
The federal government has been vigorously spying on anti-oil sands activists and organizations in BC and across Canada since last December, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show. Not only is the federal government subsidizing the energy industry in underwriting their costs, but deploying public safety resources as a de-facto ‘insurance policy’ to ensure that federal strategies on proposed pipeline projects are achieved, these documents indicate.
Before the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel hearings on the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline, the NEB coordinated the gathering of intelligence on opponents to the oil sands. The groups of interest are independent advocacy organizations that oppose the Harper government’s policies and work for environmental protections and democratic rights, including Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit.
Mandated as an ‘independent federal agency’, the NEB directed the police protection of their board members and officials from Enbridge and TransCanada Corporation, 140 pages of emails from December 2012 through April 2013 show.
In the emails, Richard “Rick” Garber, the NEB’s “Group Leader of Security”, marshals security and intelligence operations between government agencies and private interests, and says in a January 31, 2013 email that the NEB “Security Team has consulted today with Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) at national and regional levels; RCMP at national, regional and local levels.”
"The Security Team, together with our police and intelligence partners, will continue to monitor all sources of information and intelligence," he says.
The documents show the NEB working with CSIS and the RCMP to make “security plans” for the Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Prince Rupert hearings and actively coordinating with officials from Enbridge and TransCanada Corporation and a private security contractor hired by the NEB.
They also show Garber asking Sgt. Steinhammer of the Prince Rupert RCMP to provide a visible uniformed presence during the hearings there to deter “illegal activities.”
Sustained opposition to pipelines noted, especially in BC
On April 20, 2013, an email entitled “Security Concerns - National Energy Board” was sent to integrated security officials, and stressed the continued protection of NEB and private interests. The memo was from Tim O’Neil, Senior Criminal Intelligence Research Specialist with the RCMP, and then circulated to the NEB and associated stakeholders by Garber.
"There continues to be sustained opposition to the Canadian petroleum and pipeline industry," O’Neil said. "Opposition is most notable in British Columbia, with protests focused on the: Enbridge Northern Gateway; Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion; the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing, and proposed LNG facilities. Opponents have used a variety of protest actions (directed at the NEB and its members) to draw attention to the oil sands’ negative environmental impact, with the ultimate goal of forcing the shutdown of the Canadian petroleum industry."
O’Neil then ordered the escalation of RCMP and CSIS intelligence measures following the opening of an SPROS/SIR database file. According to the Government of Canada, SPROS is the new National Security Program’s primary database for the electronic storage, retrieval and management of national security criminal investigations and information, and on a required basis, classified criminal intelligence and other sensitive cases.
"It is highly likely that the NEB may expect to receive threats to its hearings and its board members," O’Neil, said. However, in the same memo he states that there is "no intelligence indicating a criminal threat to the NEB or its members" and "I could not detect a direct or specific criminal threat."
In closing, O’Neill advises recipients to discuss their concerns with the security officials at the National Resources May 23rd classified briefing.
"What is particularly chilling about the Harper administration’s approach is the conversion of government agencies to private spy agencies for private sector corporations," Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May said, upon learning about the emails. "What is unacceptable is the marginalization, demonizing, and threat of criminalization of healthy debate in a democracy."
On May 23, 2013, Natural Resources Canada hosted a ‘Classified Briefing for Energy & Utilities Sector Stakeholders’ in collaboration with CSIS and the RCMP at CSIS’s headquarters in Ottawa.
The briefing has occurred twice annually since 2005 and its stated purpose is to discuss national security and criminal risks to critical energy infrastructure. Attendees include government officials, federal ministries, law enforcement agencies and energy stakeholders with high-level security clearances. These meetings have been described as an opportunity for government officials and companies to exchange information “off the record” and form “ongoing trusting relationships” in the protection of national energy infrastructure.
An agenda obtained by Tim Groves and Martin Lukacs at The Guardian last month revealed that breakfast, lunch and coffee was sponsored by Enbridge and a networking reception held at the Chateau Laurier was co-hosted by Bruce Power and Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners. Meetings during this conference included “challenges to energy projects by environmental groups.”
Given proof of CSIS and RCMP intelligence resources being afforded to the NEB, and evidence of disclosure across the private sector, it is undetermined how much information is being provided to corporations such as Enbridge and TransCanada Corporation, and to what extent international entities such as CNOOC are also benefiting.
Since coming to power, Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, has used his government apparatus to serve a natural resources development agenda, the Guardian recently wrote, “while creating sweeping domestic surveillance programs that have kept close tabs on indigenous and environmental opposition and shared intelligence with companies.
"Harper has transformed Canada’s foreign policy to offer full diplomatic backing to foreign mining and oil projects, tying aid pledges to their advancement and jointly funding ventures with companies throughout Africa, South America and Asia.”
The National Energy Board has no spying mandate, according to its website, but serves to function as a regulatory agency over the gas and oil industry, answering to Parliament and the Canadian people.
Correction: a previous version of the article attributed the May 22, 2013 agenda to have been obtained by the CBC. It was obtained by The Guardian and provided to CBC afterward.
Canada’s top spy watchdog lobbying for Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline
Chuck Strahl, Chairman of the federal body which oversees Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has registered to lobby on behalf of Enbridge’s ‘Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership’.
Strahl’s registration declares that he is targeting B.C.’s Minister of Natural Gas Development, Rich Coleman, to arrange a meeting with representatives from Northern Gateway Pipelines on the subject of “Energy”. Strahl stated that he is lobbying on their behalf until June 2014.
"I do some contract work for Enbridge," Strahl told the Vancouver Observer. "I’ve registered just in case I arrange a meeting, but no meetings to report".
Strahl is a former Conservative Member of Parliament for the B.C. riding of Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon and was first elected in 1993. While in federal government, Strahl served as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Transport and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.
Strahl retired from politics in 2011 and was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to head the non-partisan and independent Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) on June 14, 2012 for a five-year term. He also serves as Director and Chairman of the Conservative party’s Manning Centre, an organization “dedicated to building Canada’s conservative movement”.
Strahl replaced disgraced Chairman Dr. Arthur Porter, who is currently in a Panamanian jail facing a range of charges from money laundering, to taking kickbacks and conspiracy to commit fraud while acting as a middleman for SNC-Lavalin and other private business interests.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee reports to Parliament on all activities undertaken by CSIS – and with the exception of cabinet secrets, Strahl’s position affords access to all intelligence gathered by the organization.
Strahl’s move to represent Enbridge confounds prior assertions which downplayed the circumstantial relationships between CSIS, its oversight committee and the private sector. Former CSIS Assistant Director Ray Boisvert said at one point to the Vancouver Observer that “there is no collaboration between intelligence organizations and private industry. That is against the law”. Boisvert retired from CSIS in 2012 and is currently a security consultant in the private sector.
However, documents published by The Vancouver Observer in November 2013 revealed the extent to which the Harper government, CSIS and the RCMP monitored activists and organizations who opposed the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. At the same time, CSIS and the RCMP were cooperating with the private sector by holding ‘Classified Briefings for Energy and Utilities Sector Stakeholders’ at CSIS’s headquarters in Ottawa.
The May 23, 2013 ‘classified briefing’ was sponsored by Enbridge and brought together federal agencies, spies, and private industry stakeholders with high level security clearances – which included officials from energy companies in the oil, natural gas, pipeline, petroleum refinery and electricity sectors.
Strahl’s registration for lobbying activities on behalf of Enbridge raise questions about conflicts-of-interest and ethics, lobbying legislation and also the collusion of private interests within Canada’s security apparatus.
“What Stephen Harper has essentially done is to take the spy agencies of the federal government of Canada and put them at the service of private companies like Enbridge,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in November.
Strahl is listed as Consultant with ‘Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc.’ since 2011 and his duties are to “develop and provide communications, strategic and government relations advice to corporations, governments and NGOs”.
As a former minister, Strahl is a ‘Designated Public Office Holder’ under the federal Lobbying Act and is prohibited from lobbying the Government of Canada for a five year period post-employment. He is also required to declare his prior status as an MP in the lobbyist registry.
Strahl did not declare in his B.C. registration that he held federal public office from 1993 to 2011, as the provincial Lobbyists Registration Act only applies to previous officers of the B.C. government. He is not restricted from lobbying the province of British Columbia on behalf of Enbridge or other interests.
Strahl previously stated that he “won’t lobby” governments and has never done so, according to a story by Brian Hutchinson in the National Post following Strahl’s appointment to the Security Intelligence Review Committee in 2012.
However, a B.C. lobbying registration from December 2011 states: “Charles Strahl, a consultant lobbyist with Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc, is arranging meetings on behalf of his client, Cascade Aerospace Inc, with the Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation (and/or his staff)”.
In the same interview, he said that he “has a system of ‘double make-sure’ to protect himself and the public from conflicts of interest and questions around ethics”. In the event a problem does arise he said that he would “call up ethics commissioner (Mary Dawson) and consult her”, also stating that he spoke with her when he was offered the SIRC appointment.
Strahl’s son, Mark, is currently the Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.
Strahl also maintains close ties to the current B.C. government.
His former federal Chief of Staff, Laurie Throness was newly elected as MLA for Chilliwack-Hope in the 2013 provincial election.
In financial disclosures published last month, Throness declared income from consulting fees for Chuck Strahl Consulting Inc. Throness is a member of the provincial cabinet under Premier Christy Clark and serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Corrections.
In 2013, Strahl was publicly thanked by Christy Clark for his assistance in helping during her provincial election campaign. At a media event, Clark said that Strahl is an example of a retired federal politician who is “very actively helping us on this campaign and I’m really proud of the contribution (he’s) making”.
The acknowledgement raised immediate questions given his position as SIRC chair, with Clark clarifying her statement on the record the following day to protect his necessarily impartial relationships as Canada’s top spy watchdog.
Chuck Strahl resigns as Canada’s top spy watchdog
"Please accept this letter as formal notice of my decision to step down as Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee."
With that, Chuck Strahl stepped down as Canada’s top spy watchdog.
The embattled head of SIRC came under heavy scrutiny after the Vancouver Observer broke the story on Jan. 4 that Strahl had as a lobbyist for Enbridge Northern Gateway.
After further research, Strahl was found to have done contract work for Enbridge since 2011, and APTN news found that he had also registered in Alberta as a lobbyist for an Frog Lake Energy Resources Corp (FLERC), energy company with financial ties to China.
Only earlier this week, the CEO of FLERC dismissed the controversy as a "tempest in a teapot", but things boiled over with Strahl’s resignation.
Strahl defended his conduct, saying he had “fully compliant with all relevant rules and regulations, and have affirmed that all of my post-political activities were consistently appropriate and above board.”
He said he had contacted the ethics commissioner’s office on numerous occasions to give updates about his lobbying, and the office had always cleared him of conflict of interest.
But Strahl had registered to lobby for the Enbridge Northern Gateway only a month after news that Canada’s main spy agency, CSIS, coordinated with the RCMP and the National Energy Board to spy on pipeline criticsduring the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings. Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair urged Strahl to quit his lobbying for Enbridge or his work as the chair of Canada’s spy oversight agency.
"Despite the fact that my compliance with all relevant rules and regulations has been clearly demonstrated, I retired from politics three years ago and do not wish to be in the centre of the political fray," Strahl wrote.
"Nor do I want to be a distraction from the important work SIRC does everyday in ensuring the security of Canadians."
Read the full letter text.
The latest Climate Desk Live asked if pipeline opponents picked the wrong battle—and if that even matters.
| Wed Apr. 24, 2013 1:55 PM PDT
The protestors and organizers surrounding Keystone XL have often been criticized for picking the wrong fight by focusing on a pipeline that is unlikely to be defeated and, some claim, won’t significantly increase global carbon emissions. The activists argue back that the fight is important as a galvanizing battle, and that when it comes to wanton burning of fossil fuels, it’s simply time to take a stand.
Against this backdrop, the panel took up the question of what the impact this movement could have on the broader push for limiting carbon emissions. On that, everyone agreed that the notion that the Keystone XL protests will have any one clear effect, whether good or bad, is far too simplistic. The movement’s impact echo in complex ways—perhaps backfiring in some respects yet promoting progress in others. Caught up in the moment as we all are, we can’t fully say—but for that very reason, how sure are we that we can criticize?