Design inference Evolution Intelligent Design

Design inference: Animal’s movement pattern inferred from trace fossils

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"The suspect is a 66-legged caterpillar-like Cambrian creature."

From “Half-Billion-Year-Old Predator Tracked: Multi-Legged Creature Ruled the Seas” (ScienceDaily, Nov. 8, 2011), we learn:

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) have followed fossilized footprints to a multi-legged predator that ruled the seas of the Cambrian period about half a billion years ago.

Tracks, trackways, burrows, bite marks, feces etc. are called trace fossils. They don’t provide a physical look at the animal but they tell us it lived at a certain place and time, and paleontologists can learn some things about an animal before they actually find it. Here, there was already a suspect, though not found on the scene.

In this case, size of the tracks and the number of legs needed to make them left only one suspect: Tegopelte gigas. This caterpillar-like animal sported a smooth, soft shell on its back and 33 pairs of legs beneath. One of the largest arthropods of its time, it could reach up to 30 cm in length.

By analyzing both the fossilized remains of Tegopelte and the trackways, the researchers were able to reconstruct how this animal would have moved. The creature was capable of skimming rapidly across the seafloor, with legs touching the sediment only briefly, supporting the view that Tegopelte was a large and active top carnivore.

If they find a fossil surrounded by shelly detritus, call it a smokin’ gun.

5 Replies to “Design inference: Animal’s movement pattern inferred from trace fossils

  1. 1
    Jello says:

    If such design inferences are being made in palaeontology then why does the ID movement not do this in the biological realm?

    If trace fossils can reliably indicate the attributes of an unseen organism then why, after 20 years or so, hasn’t the ID camp offered or sought so much as a hint at the nature of this putative unseen designer?

    Archaeology is often touted as an example of a design inference. But archaeologists don’t just excavate a site, confirm its artificial status and walk off. No, they attempt to find out as much as they can about the people that lived there.

    Not so with ID. Why is this?* Why the pathological resistance to drawing logical conclusions about the ‘designer’ drawn from ‘his’ productions?

    *(The answer is obvious; sectarian religious commitments. I just wonder how the supporters of ID interpret this silence)

  2. 2
    Joseph says:

    Jello:

    If trace fossils can reliably indicate the attributes of an unseen organism then why, after 20 years or so, hasn’t the ID camp offered or sought so much as a hint at the nature of this putative unseen designer?

    Because ID isn’t about the designer.

    But archaeologists don’t just excavate a site, confirm its artificial status and walk off. No, they attempt to find out as much as they can about the people that lived there.

    Right, by studying what they left behind. And THAT is what Intelligent Design is all about- the detection and study of design.

    Intelligent Design does NOT stop anyone from trying to figure out who the designer was nor what processes were used. It just makes them separate questions and prove that ID is NOT a scientific dead-end as it obviously opens up new questions for new venues to explore.

    Not that you would understand any of that…

  3. 3
    Maus says:

    “*(The answer is obvious; sectarian religious commitments. I just wonder how the supporters of ID interpret this silence)”

    Sure, I agree with that; and I’ll go you one stronger. It’s logically impossible for this end of it to be any part of science as there’s no credible manner in which to speak of design or a Designer based on current DNA projected into the past on the wings of our religious biases. It is now, and can never be, anything other than a Creation Myth. A fairy tale.

    And no less is true of the historical narrative of Darwinism. That’s simply the Atheistic Creation Myth.

    Therein lies the great hitch in everything. If we skip the historical narratives and treat these things as science proper we need to construct predictive models for what the current DNA will do in the future. What are the odds of this, that and the other. What are the limits to things. What are the engineering risks and safety margins to novel organisms. Especially given all the current ID going on at Monsanto and other such joints. Of course Behe and his ilk are doing that whole unnecessary modeling thing that’s so dreadful important.

    Not so with Darwinism*. Why is this?

    *(Notable exception of Chaitin, natch. A century late, but it’s a start.)

  4. 4
    M. Holcumbrink says:

    Not so with ID. Why is this?* Why the pathological resistance to drawing logical conclusions about the ‘designer’ drawn from ‘his’ productions?

    Actually, I draw those kinds of conclusions all the time, especially when I consider the exquisite pleasures the human body is designed to experience from all five senses: taste, smell, touch, sight and sound. From food, to scenic beauty, to music, etc. I consider all of these grand examples of the nature of the designer.

  5. 5
    M. Holcumbrink says:

    …pretty sure that’s a little subjective to be considered science, though. Yet there it is.

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