Cambrian explosion

Steve Meyer: Cambrian gaps not being filled in

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Compare it to paint samples at the hardware, to see the problem.

Darwin's Doubt Further to Steve Meyer vs. hostile reviewer Charles Marshall, from Darwin’s Doubt:

Over th past 150 years or so, paleontologists have found many representatives of the phyla that were well-known in Darwin’s time (by analogy, the equivalent of the three primary colors) and a few completely new forms altogether (by analogy, some other distinct colors such as green and orange, perhaps). And, of course, within these phyla, there is a great deal of variety. Nevertheless, the analogy hlds at least insofar as the differences in form between any member of one phylum and any member of another phylum are vast, and paleontologists have utterly failed to find forms that would fill these yawning chasms in what biotechnologists call “morphological space.” In other words, thy have failed to find the paleolontogical equivalent of the numerous finely graded ntermediate colors (Oedleton blue, dusty rose, gun barrel gray, magenta, etc.) That interior designers covet. Instead, extensive sampling of the fossil record has confirmed a strikingly discontinuous pattern in which representatives of the major phyla stand in stark isolation from members of other phyla, without intermediate forms filling the intervening morphological space. (p. 70)

63 Replies to “Steve Meyer: Cambrian gaps not being filled in

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    Amen. This is because there was never any descent from evolutionary processes. It never happened and won’t be found in any creatures in intermediate stages.
    A prediction being fulfilled as each decade passes.

  2. 2
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Meyer, and you guys, are wrong. And apparently too lazy to even do the first basic research steps in checking the no-transitional-fossils claim.

    See point #2 of: http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....edved.html

  3. 3
    Mapou says:

    NickMatzke_UD @2,

    Wow, Panda’s Thumb, eh? What a bastion of neutrality and unbiased opinions! Not.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    NickMatzke_UD, apparently too lazy to check fossil claims?:

    A Graduate Student (Nick Matzke) Writes – David Berlinski July 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Matzke writes, “for the basic idea that the Cambrian ‘Explosion’ is really the radiation of simple bilaterian worms into more complex worms, and that this took something like 30 million years just to get to the most primitive forms that are clearly related to one or another living crown ‘phyla,’ and occurred in many stages, instead of all at once.”

    This is a view championed by Matzke in defiant isolation. The University of California’s Museum of Paleontology makes the obvious case to the contrary:

    When the fossil record is scrutinized closely, it turns out that the fastest growth in the number of major new animal groups took place during the as-yet-unnamed second and third stages (generally known as the Tommotian and Atdabanian stages) of the early Cambrian, a period of about 13 million years. In that time, the first undoubted fossil annelids, arthropods, brachiopods, echinoderms, molluscs, onychophorans, poriferans, and priapulids show up in rocks all over the world.

    Matzke is pursuing his PhD at the University of California. He is apparently indisposed to visiting museums.
    – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....1rxnU.dpuf
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74221.html

    It gets far worse for Matzke,,,

    A One-Man Clade – David Berlinski – July 18, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74601.html

    Hopeless Matzke -David Berlinski & Tyler Hampton August 18, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....75631.html

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    Meyer, and you guys, are wrong. And apparently too lazy to even do the first basic research steps in checking the no-transitional-fossils claim.

    Hi Nick,

    In Darwin’s Doubt, where does Meyer assert that “there are no transitional fossils?”

  6. 6
    Mapou says:

    I did not read the book yet (I will soon) but I doubt that the ID camp or Stephen Meyer is arguing that there are no intermediate fossils in the Cambrian but that it took a geological blink of an eye for new animal groups to appear, not nearly enough time for the Darwinian process to do its poof magic, punctuated equilibrium poofery notwithstanding. So-called “transitional fossils” do not falsify ID. On the contrary, intelligent design over time always result in an evolution of forms that can be organized hierarchically.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Darwin’s Doubt (Part 3) by Paul Giem – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....Ow3u0_mK8t

    Discussion of Stephen Meyer’s new book continues with chapters 4 & 5, which includes non-missing links and genetic time scales.

    Part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....Ow3u0_mK8t

  8. 8
    TSErik says:

    Meyer, and you guys, are wrong. And apparently too lazy to even do the first basic research steps in checking the no-transitional-fossils claim.

    LMAO! Hi Dr. Nick! Shamed Matzke back again, and shamed again. Thanks Dr. Nick! You’re always great for a laugh.

  9. 9
    coldcoffee says:

    NickMatzke_UD,
    I have Dr.Meyer’s book. Chapter 4 is devoted entirely to fossils supposedly supporting Cambrian biota and why they are not adequate to explain the Cambrian explosion. It also shows how Sam Nobel Science Museum issued disclaimers and scheduled a official lecture to preempt the screening of documentary on Cambrian explosion.

  10. 10
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Wow, no one has even read point #2 of my post. It’s not about me, it’s about the Legg et al. 2013 study. There are pictures and everything. Follow the evidence where it leads, people.

    Mapou writes,

    “I did not read the book yet (I will soon) but I doubt that the ID camp or Stephen Meyer is arguing that there are no intermediate fossils in the Cambrian”

    What??????? From the opening post of this very thread, quoting Stephen Meyer:

    Instead, extensive sampling of the fossil record has confirmed a strikingly discontinuous pattern in which representatives of the major phyla stand in stark isolation from members of other phyla, without intermediate forms filling the intervening morphological space. (p. 70)

    Does anyone read anything around here?!?!

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    I followed your link and looked at your charts and arguments. Very interesting. I notice that you still call the Cambrian Explosion the “Cambrian Explosion.” I wonder why you do that. Since you believe it all worked out exactly as predicted by Neo-Darwinian theory, shouldn’t you start calling it the “Cambrian gradual expansion over vast expanses of time with species almost imperceptibly transitioning into other species just as we predicted”?

    You seem to be suggesting there is nothing anomalous about the Cambrian Explosion? (Like the cop at the traffic accident: “Nothing to see here folks. Move along”). This is, of course, absurd, as evidenced by the “explosion” metaphor itself.

    No matter how red-faced you get, no matter how many “Bams!” you interject into your polemics, the fact remains that if Darwin were correct transitional species would predominate in the fossil record. They do not. Darwin understood this and admitted it in Origin, and he suggested that the problem would be solved as the fossil record was studied more extensively. 154 years later, it has not been solved. Transitional species do not predominate the fossil record.

  12. 12
    Alan Fox says:

    Chapter 4 is devoted entirely to fossils supposedly supporting Cambrian biota and why they are not adequate to explain the Cambrian explosion.

    The Cambrian period spans approximately eighty million years. That’s an awfully slow explosion. It’s longer than from the last major extinction event that saw off the dinosaurs till the present.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Matzke states,

    “It’s not about me”

    A little background as to why it is about you Matzke and the ‘credibility bridge’ that you burned long ago with ID proponents:

    Nicholas J. Matzke is the former Public Information Project Director at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and served an instrumental role in NCSE’s preparation for the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial,,,
    After the trial he co-authored a commentary in Nature Immunology,,,
    He wrote a lengthy paper about the evolution of flagella[8] and has challenged intelligent design claims that flagella are irreducibly complex.,,,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Matzke

    And in regards to all that ‘help’ he provided in Dover as to supplying evidence, how did all that evidence pan out? The following podcast is very informative as to the theatrics orchestrated by Matzke and his cohorts:

    “A Masterful Feat of Courtroom Deception”: Immunologist Donald Ewert on Dover Trial – audio
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....1_03-08_00

    In careful study , of the ‘literature bluff’, there was not one piece of evidence that stood up to scrutiny. In this following podcast, Casey Luskin interviews microbiologist and immunologist Donald Ewert about his previous work as associate editor for the journal Development and Comparitive Immunology, where he realized that the papers being published were merely comparative studies that had nothing to do with evolution of the systems at all.

    What Does Evolution Have to Do With Immunology? Not Much – April 2011
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....9_03-07_00

    The deception (literature bluff), from neo-Darwinists at Dover, did not stop with immunology;

    The NCSE, Judge Jones, and Bluffs About the Origin of New Functional Genetic Information – Casey Luskin – March 2010
    http://www.discovery.org/a/14251

    Assessing the NCSE’s Citation Bluffs on the Evolution of New Genetic Information – Feb. 2010
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....ion_b.html

    Hopeless Matzke -David Berlinski & Tyler Hampton August 18, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....75631.html

    The same disingenuous presentation of evidence by Matzke is found for the flagellum

    Calling Nick Matzke’s literature bluff on molecular machines – DonaldM UD blogger – April 2013
    Excerpt: So now, 10 years later in 2006 Matzke and Pallen come along with this review article. The interesting thing about this article is that, despite all the hand waving claims about all these dozens if not hundreds of peer reviewed research studies showing how evolution built a flagellum, Matzke and Pallen didn’t have a single such reference in their bibliography. Nor did they reference any such study in the article. Rather, the article went into great lengths to explain how a researcher might go about conducting a study to show how evolution could have produced the system. Well, if all those articles and studies were already there, why not just point them all out? In shorty, the entire article was a tacit admission that Behe had been right all along.
    Fast forward to now and Andre’s question directed to Matzke. We’re now some 17 years after Behe’s book came out where he made that famous claim. And, no surprise, there still is not a single peer reviewed research study that provides the Darwinian explanation for a bacterial flagellum (or any of the other irreducibly complex biological systems Behe mentioned in the book). We’re almost 7 years after the Matzke & Pallen article. So where are all these research studies? There’s been ample time for someone to do something in this regard.
    Matzke will not answer the question because there is no answer he can give…no peer reviewed research study he can reference, other than the usual literature bluffing he’s done in the past.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-453291

    Of related note, the primary piece of evidence, at the Dover trial, trying to establish chimp human ancestry from SNPs (Single Nuecleotide Polymorphisms) evidence was overturned:

    Dover Revisited: With Beta-Globin Pseudogene Now Found to Be Functional, an Icon of the “Junk DNA” Argument Bites the Dust – Casey Luskin – April 23, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....71421.html

    Thus perhaps Matzke can start to see why ‘it is about him’, and why people now severely question anything he has to say about ID?

    Also of interest is the blatant censorship of ID by neo-Darwinists (i.e. Darwinist apparently can present evidence against ID but a fair response by ID proponents showing why that evidence falls apart is not allowed):

    ID theorist Mike Behe was refused a response in Microbe – September 22, 2013
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-microbe/

  14. 14
    Alan Fox says:

    Transitional species do not predominate the fossil record, and if you say they do you are a liar.

    Where does the word “predominate” in discussions about transitional fossils. It follows from evolutionary theory that initial populations of bifurcating species (or at least one of them) would be small and,stumbling upon a “green field” of a niche, initial evolutionary pressure for change would be greater than when adaptation has brought closer correlation between species and niche. Both processes would mean the raw material for transitional fossils will be rare.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW Nick, Meyer never says there are no fossils that might possibly be considered intermediate. Did you even read his book? His point is that intermediates do not predominate, and they do not. As for the handful of plausible intermediates that may exist, on page 12 he writes: “thus, even the discovery of a handful of plausible intermediates allegedly linking a Precambrian ancestor to a Cambrian descendant wouldn’t come close to fully documenting Darwin’s picture of the history of life.”

    Nick, setting up straw men and knocking them down may by fun, but it does not convince anyone but your already-convinced BFFs over at the Thumb.

  16. 16
    Alan Fox says:

    Where does the word “predominate” in discussions about transitional fossils.

    Oops missed a word out.

    Where does the word “predominate” occur in discussions about transitional fossils.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox: “transitional fossils will be rare”

    So at least you admit they are rare. That’s progress of a sort.

  18. 18
    TSErik says:

    Wow, no one has even read point #2 of my post. It’s not about me, it’s about the Legg et al. 2013 study.

    Surely this means Matzke will come back to readdress the comments made about point #2.

    Does anyone read anything around here?!?!

    I could ask the same of you, oh captain of the H.M.S. Literature Bluff.

  19. 19
    Barry Arrington says:

    Uh, how about in Darwin’s Origin of Species? Darwin said that if his theory were correct transitional species should predominate in the fossil record. He admitted that they do not and he admitted that their relative absence was a powerful argument against this theory. He suggested the problem would be solved as the record was studied more extensively. It has not. Is this really news to you Alan? If so, that is astounding.

  20. 20
    Alan Fox says:

    “thus, even the discovery of a handful of plausible intermediates allegedly linking a Precambrian ancestor to a Cambrian descendant wouldn’t come close to fully documenting Darwin’s picture of the history of life.”

    That we have any fossils at all is a very lucky happen-stance, given the many ways which bodies (especially tiny ones) can disappear without trace or remain forever undiscovered. What would be a problem for evolutionary theory is anomalies within the fossil record. Haldane’s Cambrian rabbit fossil, for example.

    A better explanation of the molecular and morphological nesting of extant and extinct species, such as a genuine theory of”Intelligent Design” would also be interesting to see.

  21. 21
    Alan Fox says:

    Uh, how about in Darwin’s Origin of Species? Darwin said that if his theory were correct transitional species should predominate in the fossil record. He admitted that they do not and he admitted that their relative absence was a powerful argument against this theory.

    Well it’s a matter of fact that can be easily settled whether Darwin wrote that “transitional fossils should predominate in the fossil record”. It doesn’t show up as an exact quote or quote-mine. Notwithstanding, evolutionary theory is no longer Darwin’s theory. Darwin thought blending inheritence was an issue, being unaware of Mendel’s work. Now we have genetics, molecular biology and evo-devo.

  22. 22
    Alan Fox says:

    BTW Darwin does not use the word “predominate” in chapter six of Origin of Species

  23. 23
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox: “That’s an awfully slow explosion.”

    Seriously Alan? Dismissive hand waving is not an argument. Does it never bother you that so much of what you say on these pages amounts to just that? I think it would bother me.

    80 million years. The most recent estimate of the length of the explosion is five million years. If the three billion years life has been on earth were a 24 hour day, all of the major animal phyla would have appeared in one minute of that day. That’s why they call it an “explosion” Alan (BTW, “they” in the previous sentence includes Darwinists back to Darwin himself).

    It is true that some Darwinian apologists try to stretch out the time available to 80 million years by adding events in the pre-Cambrian and late Cambrian that are not part of the explosion. OK, if that makes you feel better we can add time to the explosion that was not really part of the explosion. That gets you to 16 minutes out of that 24 hour day in which all of the major phyla appeared. Still think it was “awfully slow” Alan?

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    “That we have any fossils at all . . .”

    Does it never bother you that Darwinists are constantly “explaining away” the fossil record instead of standing on it? I think it would bother me.

  25. 25
    Alan Fox says:

    Does it never bother you that Darwinists are constantly “explaining away” the fossil record instead of standing on it? I think it would bother me.

    No. I find the seemingly endless rolling out of new discoveries absolutely fascinating. My problem is I have no preconceptions or incompatible beliefs that jar with the evidence. And I really don’t see any “explaining away” going on. What anomalies do you think need “explaining away”?

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW Darwin does not use the word “predominate”

    [sigh]

    You’ve got me Alan. He did not use that exact word. This is what he wrote:

    Consequently, if the theory be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum was deposited long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than, the whole interval from the Cambrian age to the present day; and that during these vast periods the world swarmed with living creatures. Here we encounter a formidable objection; for it seems doubtful whether the earth, in a fit state for the habitation of living creatures, has lasted long enough . . . To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.

    Does it not bother you that your arguments so often depend on focusing on irrelevant minutia instead of the main thrust of the issue under discussion? I think it would bother me.

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox at 9:01 AM on why the fossil record does not show more than a handful of plausible intermediates allegedly linking a Precambrian ancestor to a Cambrian descendant wouldn’t instead of the overwhelming number of transitionals predicted by Darwin:

    “That we have any fossils at all is a very lucky happen-stance . . .”

    Alan Fox at 9:22 AM on what he just said:

    “I really don’t see any “explaining away” going on.”

    Doesn’t it bother you that in order to cope with your cognitive dissonance you have to deny what you did only 21 minutes after doing it? I think it would bother me.

  28. 28
    Alan Fox says:

    That a lawyer should accuse me of focussing on minutiae!

    I was making two points together. I’ll separate them:

    1. What you now quote from Darwin does not gel with what you were paraphrasing him as saying.

    2. What Darwin said, reasonable at the time, is not that relevant to evolutionary theory as it stands currently. The fossil record, notwithstanding the fact that it is usually only hard parts such as bones, teeth and shells that tend to fossilize, has expanded hugely, without anomaly, with Tiktaalik, since Darwin’s day.

  29. 29
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW, Alan, my above quote from Origin was about the Cambrian in particular. Regarding the absence of transitionals generally Darwin wrote:

    But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.

  30. 30
    Alan Fox says:

    Just a point of clarification. If evolutionary theory is true there must of course be an unbroken chain of organisms from the first self-sustaining self-replicators to all organisms that survive today and to all those that have gone extinct.

    It is unrealistic to expect to see a full record of all those individual organisms that fit into that pattern. Fossilisation is a rare event, rarer still if an organism has no hard parts. The Cambrian has a proliferation of organisms, possessing shells and cuticles that did fossilise in an environment that favoured such fossilization. Nonetheless, there is no anomaly that falsifies evolutionary theory to my knowledge.

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington says:

    Charles Darwin: “Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against my theory.”

    Alan Fox: “What Darwin said, reasonable at the time, is not that relevant to evolutionary theory as it stands currently.”

    Are you suggesting that the fossil record now reveals the “finely graduated organic chain” that in Origin Charles Darwin predicted would be ultimately revealed as the fossil record was explored further? And you base that on a single fossil. Do you not understand how absurd that is? Does it not bother you that you rely on a single fossil to prove a point that could, in principle, only be proven by the existence of countless thousands of transitional fossils? I think it would bother me.

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan Fox: “It is unrealistic to expect to see a full record of all those individual organisms that fit into that pattern.”

    More of that “not explaining away” the fossil record to which you alluded to earlier. I understand.

  33. 33
    Alan Fox says:

    I understand.

    I’m not so sure.

  34. 34
    Barry Arrington says:

    Alan, you say you don’t try to “explain away” the fossil record, and then in two separate posts proceed to do exactly that. I understand two things. You are in denial about the fossil record and you are in denial about being in denial about the fossil record.

  35. 35
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW Alan, you didn’t answer my question in 31. I will ask it again:

    Are you suggesting that the fossil record now reveals the “finely graduated organic chain” that in Origin Charles Darwin predicted would be ultimately revealed as the fossil record was explored further?

  36. 36
    Mapou says:

    NickMatzke_UD:

    Mapou writes,

    “I did not read the book yet (I will soon) but I doubt that the ID camp or Stephen Meyer is arguing that there are no intermediate fossils in the Cambrian”

    What??????? From the opening post of this very thread, quoting Stephen Meyer:

    Instead, extensive sampling of the fossil record has confirmed a strikingly discontinuous pattern in which representatives of the major phyla stand in stark isolation from members of other phyla, without intermediate forms filling the intervening morphological space. (p. 70)

    Does anyone read anything around here?!?!

    As far as I can tell, Meyer is claiming no transitional fossils prior to the Cambrian explosion. I’m sure he knows that there was some kind design evolution during the Cambrian era. This is what I meant.

    Furthermore, from what I’ve read from your link, claiming that the fossils in the ediacaran are direct Darwinian precursors of Cambrian era phyla is stretching the truth to the breaking point. Ediacaran fossils don’t have any resemblance to Cambrian fossils. Besides, all the major ediacaran lifeforms apparently became extinct millions of years before the Cambrian explosion began, thereby destroying any hypothetical common descent pathways. Wishful thinking is a major trait of the Darwinist religion.

  37. 37
    Alan Fox says:

    Not sure what you think I am supposed to be denying, Barry.

    First, like you, I am no expert in Palaeontology. But I am not arguing finer points or details.

    Second, I say the fossil record is patchy and incomplete, though much has been discovered since Darwin’s day and much has been revisited (Conway-Morris with the Burgess shale fossils, for example).

    Thirdly I say nothing in the current fossil record is incompatible with current evolutionary theory.

    What do you think I am in denial about?

  38. 38
    Alan Fox says:

    Hard parts, Mapou, hard parts.

  39. 39
    Alan Fox says:

    Are you suggesting that the fossil record now reveals the “finely graduated organic chain” that in Origin Charles Darwin predicted would be ultimately revealed as the fossil record was explored further?

    As far as it reveals anything, yes. The current record is certainly not incompatible with gradual evolution over vast periods of time. It doesn’t fit with six days of creation. That’s for sure.

  40. 40
    Mapou says:

    Alan Fox:

    Hard parts, Mapou, hard parts.

    Exactly. There should have been transitional fossils with hard exoskeletons, anuses and eyes prior to the Cambrian. There are nowhere to be found.

    As far as it reveals anything, yes. The current record is certainly not incompatible with gradual evolution over vast periods of time. It doesn’t fit with six days of creation. That’s for sure.

    Stephen Meyer is an old earth creationist. That you should even bring up the 6-day creation claim of Christian fundamentalists shows where your head is at. It’s certainly not in the science. You got an axe to grind.

  41. 41
    Alan Fox says:

    There should have been transitional fossils with hard exoskeletons, anuses and eyes prior to the Cambrian.

    Anuses, there is evidence of aplenty (think worm tracks). Eyes and hard exoskeletons suggest predation, attack and defence, evolutionary arms races. Current thinking about the proliferation of eyes and armour in the Cambrian suggests this evolutionary pathway.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    Despite the frantic handwaving of Darwinists on this thread, the true state of the fossil record is a far cry from what Darwin predicted:

    Undead: The Myth of the 80-Million-Year Cambrian Explosion – November 13, 2013
    Excerpt: the trick is premised on “including as part of the Cambrian explosion (a) the origin of the Ediacaran organisms in the late Precambrian (which no serious scientist considers to be ancestral to the Cambrian animals), and (b) the small shelly fossils at the base of the Cambrian and (c) the main pulse of morphological innovation in the early Cambrian, and (d) subsequent diversification events right up until the end of the Cambrian period.”,,, – Meyer notes that Marshall himself elsewhere excludes the precious small shellies.,,,-
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....79081.html

    Plant or Animal? Mysterious Fossils Defy Classification
    Excerpt: “Animals in the Ediacaran Period are almost universally bizarre, and it is very difficult to place them in any modern animal phyla,” Xiao told LiveScience.
    http://www.livescience.com/128.....ation.html

    The Avalon Explosion:
    Excerpt: Ediacara fossils [575 to 542 million years ago (Ma)] represent Earth’s oldest known complex macroscopic life forms,,, A comprehensive quantitative analysis of these fossils indicates that the oldest Ediacara assemblage—the Avalon assemblage (575 to 565 Ma)—already encompassed the full range of Ediacara morphospace. (i.e. they appeared abruptly in the fossil record and retained their same basic shape and form throughout their tenure in the fossil record before they went extinct prior to the Cambrian explosion.)
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....19/5859/81

    Ediacaran embryos in retrospect – David Tyler – January 28, 2013
    Excerpt: “there is currently no convincing evidence for advanced animals with bilateral symmetry in the Doushantuo biota”. This particular quest for animals preceding the Cambrian Explosion has drawn a blank. Needless to say, Darwin’s dilemma remains in full force.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....retrospect

    Cambrian Explosion Ruins Darwin’s Tree of Life (2 minutes in 24 hour day) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQKxkUb_AAg

    Pre-Cambrian Explosion – Jonathan Wells – (How do you change a jellyfish into a trilobite?) – video
    https://vimeo.com/32428029

    Instant Body Plans: The Case of Jellyfish – July 26, 2013
    Excerpt: Cubomedusae (box jellyfish) are particularly interesting. They have eyes that are almost human-like! “As the name depicts, Cubozoans have a squarish shape with four tentacles and four rhopalia. Each rhopalium contains six eyes of four different types, two of which (the upper lens eye and the lower lens eye) are highly developed image-forming eyes with cornea, pupil, lens, and retina, much like our own….”
    “The earliest widely accepted animal fossils are rather modern-looking cnidarians, possibly from around 580 million years ago, although fossils from the Doushantuo Formation can only be dated approximately.” So it’s not clear that the dates are right, but even if they precede the main (Cambrian) explosion by 40 million years, they are already “modern-looking.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74861.html

    Deepening Darwin’s Dilemma – Jonathan Wells – Sept. 2009
    Excerpt: “The truth is that (finding) “exceptionally preserved microbes” (and Jellyfish) from the late Precambrian actually deepen Darwin’s dilemma, because they suggest that if there had been ancestors to the Cambrian phyla they would have been preserved.”
    http://www.discovery.org/a/12471

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    What they had actually proved was that Chinese phosphate is fully capable of preserving whatever animals may have lived there in Precambrian times. Because they found sponges and sponge embryos in abundance, researchers are no longer so confident that Precambrian animals were too soft or too small to be preserved. “I think this is a major mystery in paleontology,” said Chen. “Before the Cambrian, we should see a number of steps: differentiation of cells, differentiation of tissue, of dorsal and ventral, right and left. But we don’t have strong evidence for any of these.” Taiwanese biologist Li was also direct: “No evolution theory can explain these kinds of phenomena.”,,,
    “In Chen’s view, his evidence supports a history of life that runs opposite to the standard evolutionary tree diagrams, a progression he calls top-down evolution.” Jun-Yuan Chen is professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology
    http://www.fredheeren.com/boston.htm

    “So, where then are those ancestors? Fossil preservation conditions were adequate to preserve animals such as jellyfish, corals, and sponges, as well as the Ediacaran fauna. It does not appear that scarcity is a fault of the fossil record.”
    Sean Carroll developmental biologist

    Indeed, Simon Conway Morris notes in his book Crucible of Creation that in the Burgess Shale fossil collections which document the Cambrian explosion, “about 95 per cent are either soft-bodied or have thin skeletons.” [p. 140].

    “I think the Cambrian fossil record is surprisingly complete. I think it may be more complete than we realize. The reason for that is, for instance, if you look at the stratigraphy of the world, if I go and collect Cambrian rocks in Wales and find certain fossils, if I then go to China, I don’t find the same species but I find the same sorts of fossils. If I go into Carboniferous rocks, I go to Canada, they are the same as what I find in this country. So there is a clear set of faunas and floras that take us through geological time. The overall framework is falling into position.” –
    Simon Conway Morris

    A Graduate Student (Nick Matzke) Writes – David Berlinski July 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Representatives of twenty-three of the roughly twenty-seven fossilized animal phyla, and the roughly thirty-six animal phyla overall, are present in the Cambrian fossil record. Twenty of these twenty-three major groups make their appearance with no discernible ancestral forms in either earlier Cambrian or Precambrian strata. Representatives of the remaining three or so animal phyla originate in the late Precambrian, but they do so as abruptly as the animals that appeared first in Cambrian. Moreover, these late Precambrian animals lack clear affinities with the representatives of the twenty or so phyla that first appear in the Cambrian.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....74221.html

    In Explaining the Cambrian Explosion, Has the TalkOrigins Archive Resolved Darwin’s Dilemma? – JonathanM – May 2012
    Excerpt: it is the pattern of morphological disparity preceding diversity that is fundamentally at odds with the neo-Darwinian scenario of gradualism. All of the major differences (i.e. the higher taxonomic categories such as phyla) appear first in the fossil record and then the lesser taxonomic categories such as classes, orders, families, genera and species appear later. On the Darwinian view, one would expect to see all of the major differences in body plan appear only after numerous small-scale speciation events. But this is not what we observe.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....59171.html

    Jerry Coyne’s Chapter on the Fossil Record Fails to Show “Why Evolution is True” – Jonathan M. – December 4, 2012
    Excerpt: Erwin et al. (1987), in their study of marine invertebrates, similarly conclude that,
    “The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, orders before that of families. The higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa.”
    Indeed, the existence of numerous small and soft-bodied animals in the Precambrian strata undermines one of the most popular responses that these missing transitions can be accounted for by them being too small and too-soft bodied to be preserved.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....67021.html

    The unscientific hegemony of uniformitarianism – David Tyler – May 2011
    Excerpt: The pervasive pattern of natural history: disparity precedes diversity,,,, The summary of results for phyla is as follows. The pattern reinforces earlier research that concluded the Explosion is not an artefact of sampling. Much the same finding applies to the appearance of classes. These data are presented in Figures 1 and 2 in the paper.
    http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.....niformitar

    Disparity preceding diversity is not limited to the Cambrian Explosion:

    Scientific study turns understanding about evolution on its head – July 30, 2013
    Excerpt: evolutionary biologists,,, looked at nearly one hundred fossil groups to test the notion that it takes groups of animals many millions of years to reach their maximum diversity of form.
    Contrary to popular belief, not all animal groups continued to evolve fundamentally new morphologies through time. The majority actually achieved their greatest diversity of form (disparity) relatively early in their histories.
    ,,,Dr Matthew Wills said: “This pattern, known as ‘early high disparity’, turns the traditional V-shaped cone model of evolution on its head. What is equally surprising in our findings is that groups of animals are likely to show early-high disparity regardless of when they originated over the last half a billion years. This isn’t a phenomenon particularly associated with the first radiation of animals (in the Cambrian Explosion), or periods in the immediate wake of mass extinctions.”,,,
    Author Martin Hughes, continued: “Our work implies that there must be constraints on the range of forms within animal groups, and that these limits are often hit relatively early on.
    Co-author Dr Sylvain Gerber, added: “A key question now is what prevents groups from generating fundamentally new forms later on in their evolution.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-s.....ution.html

    Here is a page of quotes by leading paleontologists on the true state of the fossil record:
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=15dxL40Ff6kI2o6hs8SAbfNiGj1hEOE1QHhf1hQmT2Yg

  44. 44
    Mapou says:

    Anuses, there is evidence of aplenty (think worm tracks).

    LOL. Worm tracks, eh? That’s your evidence for pre-cambrian transitional fossils?

    Eyes and hard exoskeletons suggest predation, attack and defence, evolutionary arms races. Current thinking about the proliferation of eyes and armour in the Cambrian suggests this evolutionary pathway.

    So what? Of course, there was an arms race. The designers were just having fun during the Cambrian. I imagine it was party time and those trilobites and other organisms were more like experimental toys. Designers can have fun too, you know, unlike those boring Darwinists. It’s no different, really, than a human arms race from bows and arrows to catapults and firearms. Evolution is all about designing.

    The point is that there was not enough time during the Cambrian for all that complicated stuff to evolve by itself.

  45. 45
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Mapou writes,

    As far as I can tell, Meyer is claiming no transitional fossils prior to the Cambrian explosion. I’m sure he knows that there was some kind design evolution during the Cambrian era. This is what I meant.

    That’s not what the Meyer quote says, which is the topic of this thread. Meyer says, “paleontologists have utterly failed to find forms that would fill these yawning chasms in what biotechnologists call ‘morphological space.'” Nothing there about talking about the Precambrian. Nothing there about “predominately”. Nothing about looking for absolutely continuous gradations between sister species (which is what the Punk Eek literature and the quotes from the 1970s/early 1980s are about, and which do not address at all the question of whether or not there are fossils with morphology transitional between higher taxa; all of these authorities would admit there are.)

    Meyer says there are no fossils transitional between the phyla. He is wrong, I’ve shown you a publication that demonstrates this. Please just admit cleanly Meyer was wrong here. Then we can move on to other issues.

    Furthermore, from what I’ve read from your link, claiming that the fossils in the ediacaran are direct Darwinian precursors of Cambrian era phyla is stretching the truth to the breaking point. Ediacaran fossils don’t have any resemblance to Cambrian fossils. Besides, all the major ediacaran lifeforms apparently became extinct millions of years before the Cambrian explosion began, thereby destroying any hypothetical common descent pathways. Wishful thinking is a major trait of the Darwinist religion.

    Point #2 of my post said nothing about the transitionals being in the Ediacaran (the earlier point mentioned simple worms and the earliest small shellies, both of which are known in the late Ediacaran). These fossils can be placed in-between phylum Onychophora and phylum Euarthropoda. The fossils occur in the early Cambrian, which, accepting the most conservative/”literal” interpretation of the fossil record (as I am happy to do, following Graham Budd), is when these groups evolved.

    If you think I’m trying to interpret the classic Ediacaran fossils like Spriggina as proto-arthropods or something, you are not paying attention to what I wrote. Look at point #1 of my post for what I think the relevant fossils are from the Ediacaran.

    There are various other errors in what you say (it’s not true there are no similarities between classic Ediacaran forms and later ones, it’s apparently not true that they all drop out of the fossil record before the Cambrian, and even if it was true, it wouldn’t disprove a connection between the classic Ediacarans and the early Cambrian animals, given the fragmentary nature of the fossil record for that period. The main issue with connecting the classic Ediacarans like Spriggina to the early Cambrian relatives of the modern phyla is that Spriggina are not clearly bilaterian (they do show that multicellularity existed, and that larger bodies were evolving). The late Ediacaran worms, though, are clearly bilaterian, and they are followed by evidence of more and more complex worms and skeletons, ending up with the earliest relatives of the modern phyla.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    NickMatzke_UD, even if the fossils did provide the nice smooth gradual transition from worms, to skeletons, to the ‘earliest relatives of the modern phyla’, which you claim/imagine they do, and which I don’t buy for a moment, but if the fossils did provide such a smooth gradual transition as you imagine they do, what empirical evidence can you provide that it happened by the purely random, ‘bottom up’, materialistic processes that are postulated by neo-Darwinists? I can find no solid empirical evidence that such radical transitions in form (body plans), ‘from worms, to skeletons, to the ‘earliest relatives of the modern phyla”, are even possible in reality.

    Scant search for the Maker
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms. – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.
    http://www.timeshighereducatio.....ode=159282

    Response to John Wise – October 2010
    Excerpt: A technique called “saturation mutagenesis”1,2 has been used to produce every possible developmental mutation in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster),3,4,5 roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans),6,7 and zebrafish (Danio rerio),8,9,10 and the same technique is now being applied to mice (Mus musculus).11,12 None of the evidence from these and numerous other studies of developmental mutations supports the neo-Darwinian dogma that DNA mutations can lead to new organs or body plans–because none of the observed developmental mutations benefit the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....38811.html

    Experimental Evolution in Fruit Flies (35 years of trying to force fruit flies to evolve in the laboratory fails, spectacularly) – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Despite decades of sustained selection in relatively small, sexually reproducing laboratory populations, selection did not lead to the fixation of newly arising unconditionally advantageous alleles.,,, “This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve,” said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.
    http://eebweb.arizona.edu/nach.....l_2010.pdf

    Gene Regulatory Networks in Embryos Depend on Pre-existing Spatial Coordinates – Jonathan Wells – July 2011
    Excerpt: The development of metazoan embryos requires the precise spatial deployment of specific cellular functions. This deployment depends on gene regulatory networks (GRNs), which operate downstream of initial spatial inputs (E. H. Davidson, Nature 468 [2010]: 911). Those initial inputs depend, in turn, on pre-existing spatial coordinate systems. In Drosophila oocytes, for example, spatial localization of the earliest-acting elements of the maternal GRN depends on the prior establishment of an anteroposterior body axis by antecedent asymmetries in the ovary. Those asymmetries appear to depend on cytoskeletal and membrane patterns rather than on DNA sequences,,,
    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=7751

    Seeing the Natural World With a Physicist’s Lens – November 2010
    Excerpt: Scientists have identified and mathematically anatomized an array of cases where optimization has left its fastidious mark, among them;,, the precision response in a fruit fly embryo to contouring molecules that help distinguish tail from head;,,, In each instance, biophysicists have calculated, the system couldn’t get faster, more sensitive or more efficient without first relocating to an alternate universe with alternate physical constants.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11.....038;st=cse

    Darwin or Design? – Paul Nelson at Saddleback Church – Nov. 2012 – ontogenetic depth (excellent update) – video
    Text from one of the Saddleback slides:
    1. Animal body plans are built in each generation by a stepwise process, from the fertilized egg to the many cells of the adult. The earliest stages in this process determine what follows.
    2. Thus, to change — that is, to evolve — any body plan, mutations expressed early in development must occur, be viable, and be stably transmitted to offspring.
    3. But such early-acting mutations of global effect are those least likely to be tolerated by the embryo.
    Losses of structures are the only exception to this otherwise universal generalization about animal development and evolution. Many species will tolerate phenotypic losses if their local (environmental) circumstances are favorable. Hence island or cave fauna often lose (for instance) wings or eyes.
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/7ece8/

    Understanding Ontogenetic Depth, Part II: Natural Selection Is a Harsh Mistress – Paul Nelson – April 7, 2011
    Excerpt: The problem may be summarized as follows:
    — There are striking differences in the early (embryonic) development in animals, even within classes and orders.
    — Assuming that these animals are descended from a common ancestor, these divergences suggest that early development evolves relatively easily.
    — Evolution by natural selection requires heritable variation.
    — But heritable variations in early development, in major features such as cleavage patterns, are not observed (and the variations that do occur early in development are always catastrophic).
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....45581.html

    Moreover, it is found that these developmental gene regulatory networks (dGRNS), although they are found to be the hardest part to change of a organism (even though they are required to be changed in a neo-Darwinian scheme of things), are found to be vastly different even between what are supposedly (in a neo-Darwinian view of things) closely related species:

    The mouse is not enough – February 2011
    Excerpt: Richard Behringer, who studies mammalian embryogenesis at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas said, “There is no ‘correct’ system. Each species is unique and uses its own tailored mechanisms to achieve development. By only studying one species (eg, the mouse), naive scientists believe that it represents all mammals.”
    http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57986/

    Evolution by Splicing – Comparing gene transcripts from different species reveals surprising splicing diversity. – Ruth Williams – December 20, 2012
    Excerpt: A major question in vertebrate evolutionary biology is “how do physical and behavioral differences arise if we have a very similar set of genes to that of the mouse, chicken, or frog?”,,,
    A commonly discussed mechanism was variable levels of gene expression, but both Blencowe and Chris Burge,,, found that gene expression is relatively conserved among species.
    On the other hand, the papers show that most alternative splicing events differ widely between even closely related species. “The alternative splicing patterns are very different even between humans and chimpanzees,” said Blencowe.,,,
    http://www.the-scientist.com/?.....plicing%2F

  47. 47
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Nothing but dodges and attempts to change the subject from admitting that Meyer made an error. Typical behavior of pseudoscientists.

  48. 48
    bornagain77 says:

    Deliciously ironic NickMatzke_UD. I asked you a simple question, can you please answer it instead of stamping your feet.

    even if the fossils did provide such a smooth gradual transition as you imagine they do, what empirical evidence can you provide that it (the transition) happened by the purely random, ‘bottom up’, materialistic processes that are postulated by neo-Darwinists?

    Matzke, Surely with your extensive history in literature bluffing you can conjure up a few hundred papers to dazzle us with, so as to make your position somewhat less absurd than it apparently is now.

    Hopeless Matzke -David Berlinski & Tyler Hampton August 18, 2013
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....75631.html

  49. 49
    bornagain77 says:

    While you are at it Nick, can you also clear up a few more details so as to make Darwinism ‘scientific’ in the first place?

    Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details – Dr. V. J. Torley – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: Evolutionary biology has certainly been the subject of extensive mathematical theorizing. The overall name for this field is population genetics, or the study of allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four main evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. Population genetics attempts to explain speciation within this framework.
    However, at the present time, there is no mathematical model – not even a “toy model” – showing that Darwin’s theory of macroevolution can even work, much less work within the time available. Darwinist mathematicians themselves have admitted as much.,,,
    We have seen that there’s currently no good theory that can serve as an adequate model for Darwinian macroevolution – even at a “holistic” level. As we saw, Professor Gregory Chaitin’s toy models don’t go down to the chemical level requested by Professor James Tour, but these models have failed to validate Darwin’s theory of evolution, or even show that it could work.
    At this point, there is an alternative line that (Nick) Matzke might want to take. He could claim that macroevolution is ultimately explicable in terms of bottom-level laws and physical processes, but that unfortunately, scientists haven’t discovered what they are yet. From a theoretical perspective, reductionism would then be true after all, and the chemical explanation of macroevolution demanded by Professor Tour could be given. From a practical standpoint, however, it would be impossible for scientists to provide such an explanation within the foreseeable future.
    If Matzke wishes to take this road, then he is tacitly admitting that scientists don’t yet know either the scientific laws (which are written in the language of mathematics) or the physical processes that ultimately explain and drive macroevolution. But if they don’t know either of these, then I would ask him: why should we believe that it actually occurs? After all, mathematics, scientific laws and observed processes are supposed to form the basis of all scientific explanation. If none of these provides support for Darwinian macroevolution, then why on earth should we accept it? Indeed, why does macroevolution belong in the province of science at all, if its scientific basis cannot be demonstrated?
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....e-details/

  50. 50
    PaV says:

    Nick MatzkeUD:

    Meyer says there are no fossils transitional between the phyla. He is wrong, I’ve shown you a publication that demonstrates this. Please just admit cleanly Meyer was wrong here. Then we can move on to other issues.

    I’m supposing you’re reacting to this from the OP:

    In other words, thy have failed to find the paleolontogical equivalent of the numerous finely graded ntermediate colors (Oedleton blue, dusty rose, gun barrel gray, magenta, etc.) That interior designers covet. Instead, extensive sampling of the fossil record has confirmed a strikingly discontinuous pattern in which representatives of the major phyla stand in stark isolation from members of other phyla, without intermediate forms filling the intervening morphological space. (p. 70)

    This is from Meyer’s section on “Statistical Paleontology,” and should be understood in that context.

    Now, as to Legg, et. al., and your Point#2 over at PT, let me just ask you this:

    Was there a reason that you included clades (a) and (b), but not ( c)—all on the same page of the supplemental data?

    Because if anyone looks at clade ( c), he will notice that there are connections to other clades– (d) through (h), which include five “subphylums” of the Phyla Euarthorpoda, and then looking at these separate clades on the following pages of the supplemental data, you will see all kinds of “classes” of Euarthropoda arising immediately from the “subphylum.”

    Now, juxtaposed to (b), which you, Nick, suggests that there were many intermediates from “arthropoda” to “euarthropoda”, one notices that the “subphylum” arise almost immediately—that’s right: NO INTERMEDIATES!!

    Again, Nick, why didn’t you include clade ( c) ? Was there something to hide?

  51. 51
    TSErik says:

    PaV asks:

    Was there a reason that you included clades (a) and (b), but not ( c)—all on the same page of the supplemental data?

    Because if anyone looks at clade ( c), he will notice that there are connections to other clades– (d) through (h), which include five “subphylums” of the Phyla Euarthorpoda, and then looking at these separate clades on the following pages of the supplemental data, you will see all kinds of “classes” of Euarthropoda arising immediately from the “subphylum.”

    Now, juxtaposed to (b), which you, Nick, suggests that there were many intermediates from “arthropoda” to “euarthropoda”, one notices that the “subphylum” arise almost immediately—that’s right: NO INTERMEDIATES!!

    Again, Nick, why didn’t you include clade ( c) ? Was there something to hide?

    Quite a good question, PaV. I would like to know the answer to this as well.

  52. 52
    PaV says:

    First, a correction: “Now, juxtaposed to (b), which you, Nick, seem to think suggests . . . .

    Here’s what you put at the bottom of your figure 4 over at PT:

    Phylogeny of panarthropoda (just parts a & b).

    When you look at clades (d) through (h) and realize they all connect up to clade ( c), the impression is that of an “explosion” of body-plans. Yes, the Cambrian Explosion! Right, Nick?

  53. 53
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Now, as to Legg, et. al., and your Point#2 over at PT, let me just ask you this:

    Was there a reason that you included clades (a) and (b), but not ( c)—all on the same page of the supplemental data?

    Because if anyone looks at clade ( c), he will notice that there are connections to other clades– (d) through (h), which include five “subphylums” of the Phyla Euarthorpoda, and then looking at these separate clades on the following pages of the supplemental data, you will see all kinds of “classes” of Euarthropoda arising immediately from the “subphylum.”

    Now, juxtaposed to (b), which you, Nick, suggests that there were many intermediates from “arthropoda” to “euarthropoda”, one notices that the “subphylum” arise almost immediately—that’s right: NO INTERMEDIATES!!

    Again, Nick, why didn’t you include clade ( c) ? Was there something to hide?

    What are you talking about? Not everything in caps is a “subphylum” or whatever. This analysis, like most modern research, has abandoned Linnaean ranks. Clades are just named as convenient, or to correspond with historical meanings of taxa.

    Creationist attention is mostly on the origin of “phyla” and bodyplans, so I focused on the part of the tree near the base that deals with that. WITHIN a phylum, everything is supposed to have the “same” bodyplan, on the common understanding of what “bodyplan” and “phylum” are supposed to mean.

    But we find the same thing about transitional fossils higher up in the tree. E.g., chelicerates and trilobites are two huge, major clades of arthropods, usually designated as subphyla. But, as you can see (look at TRILOBITA and CHELICERATA in Figure 4d-4e), they are separated by dozens of transitional fossils.

  54. 54
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    First, a correction: “Now, juxtaposed to (b), which you, Nick, seem to think suggests . . . .

    Here’s what you put at the bottom of your figure 4 over at PT:

    Phylogeny of panarthropoda (just parts a & b).

    When you look at clades (d) through (h) and realize they all connect up to clade ( c), the impression is that of an “explosion” of body-plans. Yes, the Cambrian Explosion! Right, Nick?

    There are supposed to be basically two bodyplans there: the arthropod bodyplan and the onychophoran bodyplan. These are two of the 20 or so bodyplans in the “time of phylum appearance”-type charts that Meyer relies upon.

    Or do you want to abandon the convention that the way you identify a phylum is by its members sharing a common bodyplan?

  55. 55
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hey Nick, do you agree with Eldredge? Man up. Take your medicine.

  56. 56
    PaV says:

    NickMatzke_UD:

    What are you talking about? Not everything in caps is a “subphylum” or whatever. This analysis, like most modern research, has abandoned Linnaean ranks. Clades are just named as convenient, or to correspond with historical meanings of taxa.

    First, every horizontal group in “cap” letters IS a “subphylum,” or whatever. Second, while distancing yourself from the term “subphylum,” seeming to prefer “clades”, later on you say that “major clades . . . usually designated as subphyla.”

    The point being that “subphyla” are major ways in which some basic ‘body-plan’ differs in a significant way–or so it would seem logical to infer. And very few steps, or, if you prefer, “nodes,” separate the Euarthropoda from its subphyla: 1 in the case of Euchelicerata, 2 in the case of Artiopoda (which, I believe, you would identify as Trilobita), and 5 and 6 in the case of Myriapoda, and Hexapoda and Crustacea, respectively. These are major distinctions in body types, and yet they happen suddenly. How many millions of years are we talking about? 5, maybe 10 at the most? In terms of neo-Darwinian mechanisms this is but a second of time.

    As to your indication that . . . we find the same thing about transitional fossils higher up in the tree. E.g., chelicerates and trilobites . . . are separated by dozens of transitional fossils.

    Let’s note, first, that I count only 19 intermediates. Next, however, there’s very little confidence as to these connections. The confidence levels of these associations are at times extremely low. E.g., there is almost “zero” confidence that “trilobytes” and the “chelicerytes” are of the same ancestry. You’ll notice that in section (e), for successive steps, here are the following confidence levels as percentages: 6,7,9,7,0,0,18,0,and 0. The chart certainly looks very nice, but what is it really telling us?

    And then, between “Arthropoda” and “Opabinia”, we have, again as a percentage, 5% confidence. That leaves about 19 fossils between Arthropoda and Euarthropoda, and only 8 nodes.

    Darwin would have expected a very large–huge, in fact–number of intermediate forms to have been located due to his view of extreme gradualism at play.

    So, I don’t consider the association shown here to have demonstrated the fine gradation of fossils Darwin expected based on his theory.

    But what is spectacular–and which you chose to freeze out–is the very sudden bursts of divergence that are seen from Euarthropoda and beyond. We’re dealing with explosive divergence.

    Getting back to Meyer’s original quote in the OP, his point was that per Darwin’s theory one would expect a whole host of intermediate forms to be found between major taxa (nodes, if you like) and fewer and you move up the taxonomic scale (or phylogenetic tree), but we find instead the opposite. That was what Foote had found statistically.

    Meyer methodically demolishes the “artifact” argument, and the “soft-body” arguments as to why fossils are not found. Fossils should be there. And they should be especially found between major taxa. But that’s not what we see when we look.

    And that major problems exist trying to arrive at any kind of consistent phylogenetic tree, has the effect of placing the entire method in doubt, and placing Darwin’s theory in doubt as well.

  57. 57
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    Hey Nick, do you agree with Eldredge? Man up. Take your medicine.

    Give me what you think Eldredge’s context is. I’ve told you what I think his context is. Act like a scholar, not like a lawyer engaging in the crudest sort of unintelligent badgering the witness by not letting the witness give any context. It’s a cheap, obvious, tired trick, and it’s beneath you.

  58. 58
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    First, every horizontal group in “cap” letters IS a “subphylum,” or whatever.

    Ain’t true. Many of these are names that were invented by people who accepted that phylogenetic complexity could not be fully represented by Linnaean ranks, and just started naming clades. That’s why many of them are modifications of the old-fashioned names, e.g. Panarthropoda, arthropoda, euarthropoda. Only some of these correspond to classic Linnaean ranks. You need to learn about modern stem-group/crown-group terminology before you will get this. See wikipedia.

    Second, while distancing yourself from the term “subphylum,” seeming to prefer “clades”, later on you say that “major clades . . . usually designated as subphyla.”

    This was specifically referring to chelicerates and trilobites, which are Linnaean-system names that have been in use for a long time, and which are still being used, because these groups turned out to be monophyletic. I said “usually” because I have seen e.g. textbooks from not long ago (e.g., the 1980s) that called Trilobites a “phylum”.

    The point being that “subphyla” are major ways in which some basic ‘body-plan’ differs in a significant way–or so it would seem logical to infer. And very few steps, or, if you prefer, “nodes,” separate the Euarthropoda from its subphyla: 1 in the case of Euchelicerata, 2 in the case of Artiopoda (which, I believe, you would identify as Trilobita), and 5 and 6 in the case of Myriapoda, and Hexapoda and Crustacea, respectively. These are major distinctions in body types, and yet they happen suddenly. How many millions of years are we talking about? 5, maybe 10 at the most? In terms of neo-Darwinian mechanisms this is but a second of time.

    Oh, I see what you are doing. You are counting from one capitalized name to the next one inside of it. That’s not really legitimate. None of the capitalized names represent actual specimens — only the names in italics represent actual specimens with morphological characters and dates. The capitalized names are just nodes that were convenient to name. A taxonomist from Mars could come along and take the same phylogeny, and come up with a different naming scheme, using different names, and choosing different nodes to name, and that would be equally defensible, as long as the groups were monophyletic on the tree. Or we could give a name to every node on the tree, if we wanted. So there is no particular significance to the distance between node names.

    The number of branches isn’t really the number of steps, either. The number of steps (character changes) was definitely calculated in the parsimony analysis, but it is not shown in this diagram.

    As to your indication that . . . we find the same thing about transitional fossils higher up in the tree. E.g., chelicerates and trilobites . . . are separated by dozens of transitional fossils.

    Let’s note, first, that I count only 19 intermediates.

    My bad…*only* 19 intermediate fossils!

    Next, however, there’s very little confidence as to these connections.

    …which is exactly what you expect, if you have a lot of very similar transitional forms that are the product of gradual evolutionary change! The more transitionals you get, the less clear the detailed relationships will be, because the changes between species are so dang small!

    The confidence levels of these associations are at times extremely low. E.g., there is almost “zero” confidence that “trilobytes” and the “chelicerytes” are of the same ancestry.

    Spelling!! And what does “of the same ancestry” mean??? The published analysis would support common ancestry with extremely strong statistical confidence. The CI, RCI etc. support values they report are actually pretty high for such a large tree, they are probably many, many standard deviations above the distribution expected under a null hypothesis of no relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a 50-sigma signal.

    You’ll notice that in section (e), for successive steps, here are the following confidence levels as percentages: 6,7,9,7,0,0,18,0,and 0. The chart certainly looks very nice, but what is it really telling us?

    Those aren’t percentages. Those are the differences in frequency of finding that branch during symmetric resampling, i.e. (the frequency of group being present – the frequency of the group being contradicted). This statistic can range from -1 to +1. Negative values indicate the group is contradicted by the data. 0 means the group is 50/50 in the resampling analysis. Anything above zero means the group is positively supported.

    The branches that get low support are probably branches based on just one or two differences in character states. During resampling, those characters won’t always get sampled, and thus the branch won’t always appear in the resulting trees. In other words, it’s hard to resolve the phylogeny of very closely related species with very few differences. This should be obvious, but for some reason, often isn’t.

    And then, between “Arthropoda” and “Opabinia”, we have, again as a percentage, 5% confidence. That leaves about 19 fossils between Arthropoda and Euarthropoda, and only 8 nodes.

    Darwin would have expected a very large–huge, in fact–number of intermediate forms to have been located due to his view of extreme gradualism at play.

    This paper is an analysis of basically *all* of the known Cambrian arthropod-type-thing species. You can’t have more transitions than you have species. And there are a lot of transitions to cover, so getting a dozen or so between what are now, in the present, two major modern clades, is pretty good (back then, they were minor clades compared to everything else that existed). And in this dataset we have a bunch of examples of big modern clades being connected in this way.

    Furthermore, even if you had thousands of species to look at, there are only so many morphological characters that are preserved in a fossil. In this paper, they have a few hundred characters. It’s impossible to get millions of transitions out of a few hundred characters described for a few hundred species.

    So, I don’t consider the association shown here to have demonstrated the fine gradation of fossils Darwin expected based on his theory.

    But what is spectacular–and which you chose to freeze out–is the very sudden bursts of divergence that are seen from Euarthropoda and beyond. We’re dealing with explosive divergence.

    It’s really just a few hundred closely-related species. On the most conservative/creationism-friendly interpretation of the fossil record and dating, they evolved from a common ancestor in the 10-20 million years before the Chengjiang deposit (actually, a fair number of these fossils come tens of millions of years after the Chengjiang, e.g. from the Burgess Shale, but we’ll make the most conservative assumption to benefit the creationists). Can a few hundred similar species evolve in 10-20 million years? Sure. Is it “fast”, evolutionarily speaking? Sure, it is definitely above the long-term average? Is it unheard of? No, such radiations are common and well-known, e.g. after mass extinctions, after the colonization of islands and lakes, etc. See ciclids, silverswords, etc.

    Getting back to Meyer’s original quote in the OP, his point was that per Darwin’s theory one would expect a whole host of intermediate forms to be found between major taxa (nodes, if you like) and fewer and you move up the taxonomic scale (or phylogenetic tree), but we find instead the opposite. That was what Foote had found statistically.

    Meyer doesn’t understand Foote or statistical paleontology, but let’s deal with the phylogenetics first. And you need to clarify what you mean by “up” and “down”.

    Meyer methodically demolishes the “artifact” argument, and the “soft-body” arguments as to why fossils are not found. Fossils should be there. And they should be especially found between major taxa. But that’s not what we see when we look.

    Meyer systematically misleads his readers into thinking that the only place to look for transitional fossils is the precambrian. But actually there are a bunch of them in the Cambrian. You’re looking at them right now. The vast majority of these were known before David Legg’s 2013 paper which put them all in one place. There were many previous cladistic analyses of this sort published. Why didn’t Meyer tell his readers about them? Is he afraid to follow the evidence wherever it leads?

    And that major problems exist trying to arrive at any kind of consistent phylogenetic tree, has the effect of placing the entire method in doubt, and placing Darwin’s theory in doubt as well.

    I’m a phylogeneticist, Meyer’s treatment of phylogenetics is ludicrous, and his understanding is almost null. He’s never done a phylogenetic analysis or a statistical test of said phylogeny, and doesn’t really even understand how these things work. See my posts at Panda’s Thumb for a summary of the problems.

  59. 59
    Box says:

    Nick Matzke’s main argument, see his post at Panda’s Thumb is about “small shelly” fossils in the latest few million years of the Precambium.
    Meyer, and many others, don’t regard them as important,

    Meyer: “In any case, treating the first appearance of the small shelly fossils as the beginning of the Cambrian explosion does little to explain the main pulse of the morphological innovation that occurs later during the 10-million-year window that paleontologists commonly designate as “the explosion.”

    Matzke on the other hand believes that small shelly fossils explain a lot: “At the very least, skeletons and skeletonization were evolving during the small shelly period, millions of years before the “Explosion”. How can this not be important? How could Meyer have left this out for his readers, none of whom would have checked the endnote, nor realized that a huge piece of the puzzle that was being elided there!”
    See Stephen Meyer on small shelly fossils

  60. 60
    Barry Arrington says:

    Still waiting for an answer Matzke. Why are you so afraid?

  61. 61
    PaV says:

    NickMatzke_UD:

    So there is no particular significance to the distance between node names.

    Yet you point out to us how many dozens of species lie inbetween this form and that. You admit that some of what I term “subphyla” are still considered “subphyla” (major clades) (i.e., they haven’t been mangled together via cladistics yet. More on that later.) I see no difference why the ‘distance’ between certain definitive forms and the ‘distance’ between these ‘subphyla’ should be treated in any way as different. This leaves you with “major clades” only TWO characters away from one another–i.e., both sudden, and MAJOR change has occurred.

    The number of branches isn’t really the number of steps, either. The number of steps (character changes) was definitely calculated in the parsimony analysis, but it is not shown in this diagram.

    While your distinction is true, the reality is that most “steps” will involve some kind of character–that is, a morphological trait–that is used to group and divide. Using ‘steps’, or ‘nodes’, or ‘branches’ all convey basically the same concept of ‘nearness’ or ‘distance.’

    I would invite you, Nick, to do what I did: count the number of nodes (“steps” at the bottom of the tree). You’ll find there are about 91 of them.

    …which is exactly what you expect, if you have a lot of very similar transitional forms that are the product of gradual evolutionary change! The more transitionals you get, the less clear the detailed relationships will be, because the changes between species are so dang small!

    Well . . . yes, and no.

    Yes, one would expect ‘similarity’. But what cladists do is to replace ‘similarity’ with ‘distance.’ What do I mean? Well, the definition of a stem-group is such, and even that of the crown-group, that a whole host of species is left dangling alongside one another, with no true knowledge as to whether they should be “connected” to one another.

    Then a cladist comes along and says, “This species is closer to this ‘crown-group’ than any other, so I’ll include it in this group’s ‘stem-group,’ or even the ‘crown-group’ even though the possibility exists that these animal forms arose independently of one another.

    Cladists simply use ‘common descent’/’common ancestry’ to force a fit. The theory comes before the ‘proof.’ Not good science.

    While I’m sympathetic to the position cladists find themselves–that is, a position of ignorance–I don’t endorse their methods. Or, rather, would simply say that their conclusions are all conditional and provisional.

    Douglas Venema website:

    The question then arises: is a “stem group” arthropod really an arthropod? Yes and no – such species are not a crown group arthropod, since they do not possess all of the characteristics that define modern-day arthropods (and their common ancestral population, and its descendants). However, they are more closely related to crown-group arthropods than to any other monophyletic group with living representatives, and they possess at least some of the characteristics of the crown group. As such they are arthropods in a sense, but better described as “stem group” species.

    And ‘trace fossils’ leave quite a bit to be desired, don’t they?

    The earliest unequivocal records of arthropods are provided by trace fossils dating from shortly after the beginning of the Cambrian, considerably before the first undisputed body fossil. The earliest form — simple scratches apparently made by arthropod limbs — belongs to the genus Monomorphichnus and is from the Early Cambrian in Newfoundland.

    These early traces are quickly joined by relatively large resting and burrowing traces from trace fossils assigned to the genera Rusophycus and Cruziana, which, although often thought to have been made by trilobites, may have resulted from the activity of any large animal with clawed limbs. [Budd, Telford 2008]

    If ever there was a doubt that ‘soft-bodied’ animals could not be fossilized, this doubt should forever be cast away.

    During resampling, those characters won’t always get sampled, and thus the branch won’t always appear in the resulting trees. In other words, it’s hard to resolve the phylogeny of very closely related species with very few differences. This should be obvious, but for some reason, often isn’t.

    But when a “fit” is being required (forced), and if were dealing with stem-groups (extinct) where few characteristics are shared, it can equally–and, I would argue, almost more properly be–said that it’s “hard to resolve the phylogeny of very distantly related fossil species; i.e., that don’t share ‘common descent’.” IOW, you could be making a big mistake.

    Furthermore, even if you had thousands of species to look at, there are only so many morphological characters that are preserved in a fossil. In this paper, they have a few hundred characters. It’s impossible to get millions of transitions out of a few hundred characters described for a few hundred species.

    If you look at clade C, you’ll notice that the Euchelicerata and the Antiopoda (two ‘subphylums’ = now major clades) are only two “steps”( = roughly to two “characters”) away. Isn’t that awful sudden diversification? And, again, the absence of fossils is what Darwin tried to explain away. But they’re not there. You say It’s impossible to get millions of transitions out of a few hundred characters described for a few hundred species, but the problem is is that were looking for a few hundred characters out of millions of species.

    Can a few hundred similar species evolve in 10-20 million years? Sure. Is it “fast”, evolutionarily speaking? Sure, it is definitely above the long-term average?

    We agree.

    Is it unheard of? No, such radiations are common and well-known, e.g. after mass extinctions, after the colonization of islands and lakes, etc. See ciclids, silverswords, etc.

    Isn’t it evident that this simply ‘multiplies’ the problems that Darwinism has? Darwin was somewhat aware of these other kinds of “explosions,” but not to the degree that we are today. The worst of these explosions was, of course, the Cambrian Explosion since no species were seen before it. But this is also true–but not to the same degree–of what was left of the biota after an extinction event.

    I see problems here, not answers.

    Meyer doesn’t understand Foote or statistical paleontology, but let’s deal with the phylogenetics first. . . . . . .
    Meyer systematically misleads his readers into thinking that the only place to look for transitional fossils is the precambrian. But actually there are a bunch of them in the Cambrian. You’re looking at them right now. The vast majority of these were known before David Legg’s 2013 paper which put them all in one place. There were many previous cladistic analyses of this sort published. Why didn’t Meyer tell his readers about them? Is he afraid to follow the evidence wherever it leads?

    BTW, you didn’t deal with Foote’s conclusions.

    That aside:

    As to Legg’s paper, the clades that you’ve referred to come from a 2008 paper by Budd. So it’s not a “2013” understanding of the Cambrian species. Also, the GC values on the clades come from–correct me if I’m wrong–the method of Goloboff. My sense, from looking around a bit, is that there were problems inherit in Goloboff’s method, one dealing with the amount of ‘homoplasy’ involved, and convex weighted averages being preferred to concave in dealing with said ‘homoplasy’, and also Goloboff’s contention that the “longer” the tree, the better fit, all of which resulted in cladists/phylogenists looking for better methods. This throws Budd’s results somewhat into question, especially as to what clade B is telling us.

    But, Budd already had reservations about his clades. Here’s this from Budd’s paper itself:

    These groupings — the lamellipedians, the megacheirans and the group containing Fuxianhuia — are now broadly accepted, but whether they are genuinely monophyletic or merely paraphyletic assemblages, as well as where they should be placed on the euarthropod and/or chelicerate and crustacean stem groups, remains unsettled. Much depends on the homology hypotheses made concerning the various anterior appendages and sclerites.

    There are a number of severe theoretical problems associated with phylogenetics and their trees. Common descent is not only assumed, but, in a way, insisted upon. There are to be no ‘left-over parts’ by the time a phylogenetic tree is erected (what I mean by being “forced fit”). Cladistics wants to tell us that even though there might not be much connecting an extinct fossil to a crown-group (extant), their use, by virtue of a number of these ‘left-over’ extinct fossils being fitted (‘forcibly’) into a tree, nonetheless delimits the branching of the tree sufficiently as to give us confidence as to the progenitors of this particular crown-group.

    But how do we know this? I don’t see why this is necessarily so.

    When you have two characters out of six, let’s say, that connect a stem-group to a crown-group, no matter how you slice it, one cannot have a high degree of confidence in the branches that result from the numerical/statistical methods being employed.

    I think that’s Meyer’s point to a certain degree. We don’t really know the relationships twixt some of these species. Question marks exist–like the question marks that some cladistic methods employ in the tables they erect.

    One major argument Meyer makes is that it doesn’t seem likely that arthropods would develop protective hard-shelled appendages last, since as ‘soft-bodied’ organisms they would be more vulnerable. It makes more sense that the “hard-body” came first.

    From this perspective then, Meyer basically says that we should have doubts about ‘soft-shelled’ organisms and ‘hard-shelled’ ones.

    What about intermediates, though?

    First, let me quote this from the Encyclopedia Brittanica (Wikipedia would have worked just as well):

    Sclerotization involves the molecular stabilization of the protein chains of the cuticles by establishment of cross-links. Sclerotin, the product of sclerotinization, is a kind of natural plastic. In its horny consistency it closely resembles keratin; both are cross-linked, or polymerized, proteins, but the chemical nature of the linkage is different in the two substances. It is probable that…

    Then, Budd (2008) tells us this:

    In recent years, Cambrian lobopodian diversity has expanded to include several taxa — Kerygmachela, Pambdelurion and Megadictyon — that share some features with the first animals widely recognized to be stem-group euarthropods: the anomalocaridids (Fig. 3c) and the related Opabinia. Anomalocaridids have clear euarthropod features such as sclerotized and articulating frontal appendages, large eyes on stalks and gut diverticula, but they lack other features, such as complete sclerotization of the cuticle.

    Nick Matzke writes:

    I’m a phylogeneticist, Meyer’s treatment of phylogenetics is ludicrous, and his understanding is almost null. He’s never done a phylogenetic analysis or a statistical test of said phylogeny, and doesn’t really even understand how these things work.

    Cladistics has been around for over forty years. The computer age has seen its rise. Untold numbers of trees have been erected, using all kinds of characters, using all kinds of statistical methods, and yet there isn’t a tree that’s been constructed which doesn’t come up with something at odds with what most biologists would consider a sensible classification system.

    Why make this point? Because as Meyer repeats time and again in the first chapters of Darwin’s Doubt, there is, per the hypothesis of ‘common descent’, only ONE phylogenetic tree. So, if someone had found that ‘tree,’ he/she’d have the Nobel Prize by now.

    Have you ever considered constructing clades as clades? IOW, as related groups which radiate, have connections to one another, and which are not connected to the rest of the tree? That is, that have separate existence, and that exhibit common ancestry while not exhibiting ‘common descent.’

    Wouldn’t that HYPOTHESIS solve most of your cladistic problems? I suspect it would. But, of course, who would consider such a ridiculous hypothesis?

    Only an IDist. But, they’re kept back from the academy, a la, Richard Sternberg.

    So, have at it for another sixty years. I’m sure it will provide a lot of income. But you’ll never solve the problems inherit with the limitations imposed by the very hypotheses for which you seek to validation.

  62. 62
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    There are all kinds of details wrong in almost everything you say, but the main problem is this:

    Cladistics has been around for over forty years. The computer age has seen its rise. Untold numbers of trees have been erected, using all kinds of characters, using all kinds of statistical methods, and yet there isn’t a tree that’s been constructed which doesn’t come up with something at odds with what most biologists would consider a sensible classification system.

    That’s just a ludicrous statement. If it were true, people wouldn’t be using cladistics. Instead, cladistics (and it’s more modern, probablistic relatives) has become the dominant method amongst biologists in systematics.

    Why make this point? Because as Meyer repeats time and again in the first chapters of Darwin’s Doubt, there is, per the hypothesis of ‘common descent’, only ONE phylogenetic tree. So, if someone had found that ‘tree,’ he/she’d have the Nobel Prize by now.

    I addressed all of this here:

    http://pandasthumb.org/archive.....ess-2.html

    Amongst the obvious things you are leaving out: trees have different degrees of similarity and difference, most trees from different datasets are actually statistically highly similar, you can’t just find one tiny difference between two analyses and conclude that the whole enterprise is bogus. All measurements of everything in science have some amount of noise, only the rankest amateur (like you and Meyer) could forget this. The tree signal is strong and it is real, even David Berlinski admitted this on the Discovery Institute blog. Phylogenetic methods have been tested in numerous ways, including: evolving populations in a computer and seeing if you can reconstruct the known phylogenetic history just from the sequence data; evolving populations in a lab and seeing if you reconstruct the history just from the sequence data; statistical comparison of DNA-based phylogenies with fossil data; statistical comparison of different molecular datasets with each other, etc. Phylogenetics has passed all of these tests.

    Have you ever considered constructing clades as clades? IOW, as related groups which radiate, have connections to one another, and which are not connected to the rest of the tree? That is, that have separate existence, and that exhibit common ancestry while not exhibiting ‘common descent.’

    This too is easily testable, and common ancestry wins against separate ancestry in every such test that has been done so far:

    Douglas L. Theobald (2010). A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry. Nature 465, 219–222 (13 May 2010) doi:10.1038/nature09014
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....09014.html

    Penny, D., Hendy, M. D. & Poole, A. M. Testing fundamental evolutionary hypotheses. J. Theor. Biol. 223, 377–385 (2003)

    Penny, D., Foulds, L. R. & Hendy, M. D. Testing the theory of evolution by comparing phylogenetic trees constructed from five different protein sequences. Nature 297, 197–200 (1982)

    White et al. (2013). “Beyond Reasonable Doubt: Evolution from DNA Sequences.” PLOS One, August 08, 2013. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069924. http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0069924

    Or see:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/?

    …for a introductory review and more references.

    Your oh-so-confident statements indicate that you don’t even know that this peer-reviewed, published literature exists, let alone that you have any kind of response. Why should anyone in the field take you seriously? You’ve declared their work to be bunk without even lifting a finger to learn the basics about how the statistical methods work.

    So, have at it for another sixty years. I’m sure it will provide a lot of income.

    LOL! This really shows you don’t know what you are talking about. People don’t go into evolutionary biology to make money. It’s minimally 5 years of poverty wages in grad school, followed by short-term postdocs, after which only a fraction of people ever get professor jobs, which don’t exactly make you rich, either.

  63. 63
    PaV says:

    NickMatzke_UD:

    PaV:

    Have you ever considered constructing clades as clades? IOW, as related groups which radiate, have connections to one another, and which are not connected to the rest of the tree? That is, that have separate existence, and that exhibit common ancestry while not exhibiting ‘common descent.’

    NickM_UD:

    This too is easily testable, and common ancestry wins against separate ancestry in every such test that has been done so far:

    I had forgotten about this Phys.Org article until the other day—after I posted.

    I looked it up this morning.

    Here’s the link.

    Let me quote from the article:

    The Tree of Life is a beautiful and elegant metaphor that has proven deceptively difficult to reconstruct. The main culprit may be the overwhelming reliance on so-called concatenation methods, which combine different genes into a single matrix and so force all genes to conform to the same topology. . . . .

    “To demonstrate that concatenation methods are actually underlying the controversies in the phylogeny of eutherian mammals, we need to find out what is wrong with concatenation methods,” Wu tells Phys.org. “This is a challenging topic since concatenation methods are to date the most dominant approach in the field of phylogenetics.” Wu points out that, “It would be difficult for people to admit that these well-established methods are the cause of controversies in phylogenetic relationships, since for a long time people believe that controversial relationships among eutherian mammals and other clades in the Tree of Life would be resolved as more taxa – groups of one or more populations of organisms – and/or genetic data become available.” “However,” he notes, “the persistence of these controversies in recent concatenation studies despite the increasing sampling of taxa and genes lead us to believe that something must be wrong with concatenation methods.”

    Concatenation methods are based on the assumption that all genes have the same or similar phylogenies. . . .

    Finally, Wu notes, incomplete linage sorting (ILS), a major source of gene tree heterogeneity, is relevant to deep-level phylogenies. “This is in contrast to the conventional assumption that ILS is only relevant to recent radiations,” he stresses. “ILS is prevalent in coding sequences, which is in contrast to recent suggestion that coding sequences may be less subject to ILS than noncoding sequences due to frequent selective sweeps, which tend to remove ILS.”

    Wu expands on the paper’s key conclusion – namely, that such incongruence can be resolved using phylogenomic data and coalescent methods that deal explicitly with gene tree heterogeneity. “The prevalence of gene tree heterogeneity in genomic data indicates that a good phylogenetic method should take this complexity into account when inferring species phylogenies,” he points out. “It’s clear that concatenation methods, which assume gene tree homogeneity, do not fit the complexity of phylogenetic reality – that is, that gene tree heterogeneity is common among all genes and taxa. In contrast, the multispecies coalescent model can explain 77% of gene tree heterogeneity observed in the mammal data set, indicating that the coalescent approach indeed gives a better picture of complex phylogenetic reality when gene tree heterogeneity is prevalent in the data sets.”

    In a previous article on the coalescent method, the abstract reads:

    Of the several factors that can cause gene tree heterogeneity and discordance with the species tree, deep coalescence due to random genetic drift in branches of the species tree has been modeled most thoroughly.

    Tell me, how do you differentiate this kind of “random drift” resulting in in gene tree “discordance”, and the intervention of an intelligent designer?

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