In 1994 an experienced bushwalker and rock climber abseiled into a remote gorge in Wollemi National Park, west of Sydney and found himself in a narrow canyon. He realized that the trees growing along the creek were unusual. The large, glossy evergreen trees had bark that peeled from young stems in red-brown scales and the older bark resembled bubbling chocolate (or coco puffs). Male and female cones were found at the tips of branches on the trees, with a majority of the female cones at the top of the trees.
They proved to be a tree new to science and, prior to this discovery of living trees, the genus was known only from fossils. The Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) belongs to the ancient conifer family Araucariaceae. The other two genera in this family are the Araucaria (that includes the bunya, hoop pine, monkey puzzle tree and Norfolk Island pine) and the Agathis (that includes the kauri). The Wollemi pine has some structural characteristics of the Araucaria and the Agathis, but it also has some unique features. The genus is thought to be about 100 million years old under the uniformitarian (geologic) time scale. So prior to this discovery, these pines were thought to be extinct for millions of years. (more…)
Coin flipping is a way of choosing between two alternatives. The person who calls correctly wins. It’s often used to make decisions at the beginning of games and sports. But if someone says “heads I win, and tails you lose”, then you always lose! That’s not fair. But it’s how people often treat the Bible. They are willing to accept many ideas, as long as they aren’t based on the Bible.
For example, Australian researchers have investigated Aboriginal stories describing times when sea levels were lower than today (Reid et al, 2014). The orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories were written down after Europeans arrived in Australia in 1788. The stories describe coastal flooding which the researchers identify with the rise in sea level since the last ice age to its present level about 7,000 years ago on the geologic time scale (Appendix A). See Appendix B for the equivalent biblical dates. The team analyzed the contours of the land where the stories were told and used reconstructions of prehistoric sea levels to date the origins of each of the stories. They claim that these stories can be 10,000 years old which represents accurate oral transmission across 400 generations. Nunn and Reid (2015) expanded their analysis to 21 stories about coastal drowning that in most cases was considered likely to recall the effects of postglacial sea-level rise more than 7,000 years ago. They also noted that “no Aboriginal stories are known that talk of the sea level falling and exposing coastal lands”. (more…)