MSNBC.com is reporting on the discovery of a jawbone of an ancient whale in Antarctica: the oldest fully aquatic whale yet discovered. The news story reports,
The jawbone of an ancient whale found in Antarctica may be the oldest fully aquatic whale yet discovered, Argentine scientists said Tuesday.
A scientist not involved in the find said it could suggest that whales evolved much more quickly from their amphibian precursors than previously thought.
Argentine paleontologist Marcelo Reguero, who led a joint Argentine-Swedish team, said the fossilized archaeocete jawbone found in February dates back 49 million years. In evolutionary terms, that’s not far off from the fossils of even older proto-whales from 53 million years ago that have been found in South Asia and other warmer latitudes.
Those earlier proto-whales were amphibians, able to live on land as well as sea. This jawbone, in contrast, belongs to the Basilosauridae group of fully aquatic whales, said Reguero, who leads research for the Argentine Antarctic Institute.
“The relevance of this discovery is that it’s the oldest known completely aquatic whale found yet,” said Reguero, who shared the discovery with Argentine paleontologist Claudia Tambussi and Swedish paleontologists Thomas Mors and Jonas Hagstrom of the Natural History Museum in Stockholm.
Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist who wasn’t involved in the research, said that if the new find withstands the scrutiny of other scientists, it will suggest that archaeocetes evolved much more quickly than previously thought from their semi-aquatic origin in present-day India and Pakistan.
“The important thing is the location,” Sereno said. “To find one in Antarctica is very interesting.”
As many readers will doubtless be aware, the evolution of the whale has previously raised substantial problems because of the extremely abrupt timescale over which it occurred. Evolutionary Biologist Richard von Sternberg has previously applied the population genetic equations employed in a 2008 paper by Durrett and Schmidt to argue against the plausibility of the transition happening in such a short period of time. Indeed, the evolution of Dorudon and Basilosaurus (38 mya) from Pakicetus (53 mya) has been previously compressed into a period of less than 15 million years.
Previously, the whale series looked something like this:
Such a transition is a fete of genetic rewiring and it is astonishing that it is presumed to have occurred by Darwinian processes in such a short span of time. This problem is accentuated when one considers that the majority of anatomical novelties unique to aquatic cetaceans (Pelagiceti) appeared during just a few million years – probably within 1-3 million years. The equations of population genetics predict that – assuming an effective population size of 100,000 individuals per generation, and a generation turnover time of 5 years (according to Richard Sternberg’s calculations and based on equations of population genetics applied in the Durrett and Schmidt paper), that one may reasonably expect two specific co-ordinated mutations to achieve fixation in the timeframe of around 43.3 million years. When one considers the magnitude of the engineering fete, such a scenario is found to be devoid of credibility. Whales require an intra-abdominal counter current heat exchange system (the testis are inside the body right next to the muscles that generate heat during swimming), they need to possess a ball vertebra because the tail has to move up and down instead of side-to-side, they require a re-organisation of kidney tissue to facilitate the intake of salt water, they require a re-orientation of the fetus for giving birth under water, they require a modification of the mammary glands for the nursing of young under water, the forelimbs have to be transformed into flippers, the hindlimbs need to be substantially reduced, they require a special lung surfactant (the lung has to re-expand very rapidly upon coming up to the surface), etc etc.
With this new fossil find, however, dating to 49 million years ago (bear in mind that Pakicetus lived around 53 million years ago), this means that the first fully aquatic whales now date to around the time when walking whales (Ambulocetus) first appear. This substantially reduces the window of time in which the Darwinian mechanism has to accomplish truly radical engineering innovations and genetic rewiring to perhaps just five million years — or perhaps even less. It also suggests that this fully aquatic whale existed before its previously-thought-to-be semi-aquatic archaeocetid ancestors.
Another day; another bad day for Darwinism.
182 Replies to “A Whale of a Problem for Evolution: Ancient Whale Jawbone Found in Antartica”
I’m not clear why it’s a “bad day for Darwinism”.
Why isn’t it a bad day for Richard Sternberg?
Looks like he may have plugged some bad assumptions into his model.
Well Elizabeth there still isn’t any evidence that a land mammal can evolve into a fully aquatic mammal- so that would be a major problem for Darwinism, neo-darwinism and any other claims about universal common descent.
Good article, Jonathan M. And, Lizzie, did you read this bit?
With this new fossil find, however, dating to 49 million years ago (bear in mind that Pakicetus lived around 53 million years ago), this means that the first fully aquatic whales now date to around the time when walking whales (Ambulocetus) first appear.
If this new fossil find is correct, then this clearly demonstrates that the evolutionary whale tale was science fiction, not fact: Something that many ID proponents have been saying all along! Where do you think this leaves Ambulocetus? And where’s Doveton? This is a bad day for him, you and all the other evolutionists who believed in the myth of the evolutionary whale tale. That much is crystal clear.
Oh, there is lots of evidence, Joseph, not least being the cladistics of whale evolution, as illustrated above.
Or do you think the data from which those cladograms are derived are just Made Up?
Here’s a better link to Durrett and Schmidt:
Why does it “clearly demonstrate…that the evolutionary whale tale was science fiction, not fact”?
Where is the “demonstration”?
It may result in an interesting tweak to the model, but how does that make the existing model “science fiction”?
(Recall that all models are provisional, not “facts”).
He does not know how science works, surely 🙂
A 49 million year old, fully aquatic ancient whale fossil would clearly demonstrate that the younger so-called ‘transistional’ fossils were, in fact, nothing of the sort. To claim otherwise is science fiction. If you think you can “tweak” Ambulocetus back into this picture then think again.
Here’s a puzzle for me about the article.
“Those earlier proto-whales were amphibians, able to live on land as well as sea.”
So their early ancestors were some sort of mammal wolf/deer-like creature(whatever – choose your favourite fable) which I assume already had mammal reproductive systems, mammary glands, etc. But then it turned back into an Amphibian which would include the previous vestigial sex froggy/salamandish/toady reproduction systems which I assume includes egg laying, etc, but then morphed back to a mammal of the whale/dolphin variety with fully functional mammalian componants once again ???
I also find it entertaining the way they can magically animate a full pic from just one bone to give us an entire creature. Never underestimate the old ‘Lucy’ factor.
Then their apparent ability to employ the powers of a Wiccan to channel these things dead spirits which evidently reveal a mythological world which is totally foreign to anything we relate to today. Wonder if Speilsberg Studios help any ???
On a further note, I enjoyed this piece in one of the last paragraphs:
“Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist who wasn’t involved in the research, said that if the new find withstands the scrutiny of other scientists, . . ”
Let’s be honest here, we’re not talking “scrutiny”, we’re talking other competitor’s ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, ‘bigotry’ and all motivated by this inner circle’s lust for fame glitter and glory by whatever means. Almost like something out of an “Indiana Jones” script.
It’s sort of identical to the business world’s corporate ladder climbing which includes stepping on the fingers and toes of others(you know – whatever it takes) where everyone is trying to achieve the same obsessive goal.
Cladograms are based on similarities and as such can be used as evidence for a common design. As I said there isn’t any evidence that a land mammal can evolve into a fully aquatic mammal and the claim cannot be tested- it has to be assumed and then “confirming” evidence is found. But that “confirming” evidence can also “confirm” alternative scenarios.
The data for cladograms is not made up, but because cladograms are constructed on the basis of presumed evolutionary relationships (such as those shown in the diagram of the presumed evolution of whales), they hardly constitute validation of the presumed evolutionary relationships. Such circularity in reasoning can’t confirm anything.
The reasoning isn’t circular.
Just as we fit a diagonal to a scatter plot to find out whether there is a significant correlation, we can fit a tree to character data to see whether there is a significant depth of branching – deeper branching then would be expected under the null hypothesis of no nested hierarchy.
Repeatedly, analysis of character data from fossils and extant living things reveal a tree, as Linnaeus discovered.
Some of the details of the tree may be subject to tweaking as more data become available, just as the equation for the diagonal fit to a scatter plot is constantly adjusted as more data are available, but we don’t then say: oh, that is circular reasoning, and any way, you keep changing your linear equation.
In both cases, tree and linear fit, we have a clear fit of model to data that is much better than under the null assumption of no relationship.
Looks like it Eugene. He should read more of my posts 🙂
Imagine you find a human hip bone. Could you draw the animal it came from?
There isn’t any evidence that the transformations required are even possible.
BTW Linnaeus was a Creationist searching for the Created Kind. And we wouldn’t expect a tree as we don’t know how many founding populations there were.
You keep saying “there isn’t any evidence….” Joseph. But whenever you are presented with any, you just ignore it.
Descent relationship is not the only possible way to explain observed similarities. When I look at two specific engines for similarities, I conclude they must have been a result of common engineering practices. Nothing miraculous.
I say there isn’t any evidence because there isn’t. And I have yet to be presented with any evidence that demonstrates the transformations required are even possible.
IOW Elizabeth I cannot ignore what does not exist.
I didn’t say they couldn’t be used as evidence for a common design, Joseph.
But they are certainly evidence for a hierarchy, and, given the mapping onto geological strata, for a hierarchy that reflects a family tree – common ancestry.
But that doesn’t mean, in itself, that Darwinian evolution is responsible for longitudinal adaptation or speciation.
I think there’s plenty of reason to think it is (and no reason to think it isn’t), but let’s decide about whether we are arguing about whether the tree exists, or about what causes the tree.
Eocene, pretty sure the author means “amphibious.”
Passing through an amphibian intermediate really would be something.
No, but it’s pretty powerful when you note:
1) The mapping of the tree on to geological strata and therefore time and
2) The almost complete absence of transfer of “solutions” from one lineage to another once a branching has occurred.
This is not true of, for example, human designs.
BTW, if I were less convinced of the power of Darwinian processes than I am, I would still be completely convinced by the evidence for common descent.
And I would, if really wanted to postulate some kind of Intelligent Input into the process, that the Designer’s role was to arrange for appropriate variants to be generated at key points in the history of each lineage, to set it off down a reasonably fruitful adaptation path.
I think this is Behe’s position, BTW.
Of course I also think he is wrong 🙂
“Imagine you find a human hip bone. Could you draw the animal it came from?”
Why not ??? All that’s necessary is to take a script right out of Dr Owen Lovejoy’s playbook!
“Lucy: Evolution By Powersaw”
Fossil record is a very bad piece of evidence for evolution. It is a far better evidence of design.
Well, could you? My guess is, yes.
You’ve never seen the rest of the skeleton, yet you can deduce it is probably female, that it has a partner on the other side, the size will give you a height estimate, your knowledge of female human anatomy will give you the right kind of jaw and brow, and you can take a reasonable guess at the rib-cage dimensions.
Oh, and the age.
Same with the occasional extrapolations from a single bone. If it can be identified as a humerus, for instance, and if its features fall neatly between two animals with archaic humeruses (humeri) then you can probably take a stab at the rest of the body by comparing the animals on either side.
But clearly you couldn’t make any conclusions about the animal based on data you don’t have. If its apparent ancestor had 3 toes and its apparent descendent 2, you wouldn’t be able to infer the number of toes it had.
This idea that all palaentology is based on single bones is a canard. Sometimes there are different parts of several animals available, with enough information to show that they were part of the same population.
Palaentology is a model-fitting science (actually all science is, but it’s worth being especially aware for that fact when it comes to palaentology). Models are not The Thing Itself. That doesn’t mean the aren’t useful.
I disagree 🙂
IF they are then it is a hierarchy of traits and the theory of evolution does not predict/ expect such a thing. And BTW real family trees are a mess.
The tree doesn’t exist and many things can cause one.
What is a “transitional” fossil, in your view, Chris?
BTW, if it turns out that ambulocetus is on a separate twig from this animal that isn’t a problem for Darwinism. Darwin’s theory predict the tree, merely a tree.
It’s just like the objection that those Polish fossil footprints are a “problem” for the “transitional” fossil, Tiktaalik. They aren’t. They just mean that the clade has to be rearranged a little.
“Palaentology is a model-fitting science (actually all science is, but it’s worth being especially aware for that fact when it comes to palaentology).”
Let’s be honest. More often than not Palaentology has some of the worst fabricators pf myth manufacturing the world has ever known and I don’t care if their an Evolutionisy, Creationist or IDist. Nobody was there and nobody can say for sure without inserting their own personal feel good bias into the thing.
However, not all Palaentologists follow the rule above.
” Models are not The Thing Itself. That doesn’t mean the aren’t useful.”
Yes computer models can do offer whatever the programmer wants it to. Again, I couldn’t care less which side is using it.
Darwin’s theory cannot predict a tree because it is silent on the origin of life and the origin of life is what determines how many trees there will be.
Also tiktaalik can’t be a transitional because it was found in the wrong strata to be a transitional.
Put it this way, Ambulocetus cannot possibly be a transitional fossil between land mammals and whales if fully-aquatic whales were swimming in the Antartic at the same time as Ambulocetus was frolicking on the shores like a sea-lion.
But, of course, this fact won’t trouble evolutionists the way it should do because they will simply move the goalposts:
“Yes, yes, we said Ambulocetus was an important transistional fossil but we privately suspected all along that it couldn’t possibly be and this latest ancient whale fossil discovery simply confirms that. Isn’t it wonderful how science is self-correcting and evolution is always true?”
If whales couldn’t have evolved from Ambulocetus, then Ambulocetus cannot be considered a transistional fossil between land mammals and whales. Not a big problem for evolutionist beliefs, I admit, but certainly a big problem for evolutionary science.
Yes, it predicts a tree, starting with whatever the common ancestor was. It says nothing about the OOL.
The chance that any fossil, or fossil population is directly transitional is vanishingly small. In palaeontology, the word is used to describe fossils that share features with two other taxonomic groups. It doesn’t mean that that organism was in the direct line of descent between the two, and indeed, may have lived later than either.
It looks as though the Tiktaalik population that was found by Shubin et al was descended from a population that branched off from other tetrapods before the Zachelmie fossil footprint-makers did.
All scientific theories and hypotheses are models.
That is not the same as “myth manufacturing”.
The key thing about a scientific model is that it must be fitted to data. That’s where the rigor comes in.
if the new whale lived contemporaneously then certainly they must be in different lineages.
But “transitional” in paleontology does not mean “in direct line of descent between two populations”. If it did, all fossils would be “transitional” except for those who died without issue.
It means “shares transitional features between two taxonomic groups” and transitional fossils are important in that they allow palaeontologists to pin down more closely where branchings must have occurred.
So no problem for evolutionary science, just a problem for the myths about evolutionary science!
But myth-busting is good.
“I’m not clear why it’s a “bad day for Darwinism”.
Do you see a trend here? The range of occurrence of everything is increasing! Look where this is headed. The points in your theory are changing. Let me guess, if you ask an evolutionist how long it takes to change from this thing to another thing they’ll look at the latest chart and by golly it takes as long as it says there. If you ask how long it should take, a valid question since this is all so well understood – No answer, sometimes fast, some times slow sometimes just right.
Do these finds not change your rate for evolution??
The entire whale lineage story is flight of fancy.
Also, the ‘chart’ – never fails to amuse!
“Nested hierarchy, Nested hierarchy” “Clade , Clade, clade”
You made a chart, and you placed some animals on it, some of them imaginary – Overwhelming evidence that.
Yes, the finding, if confirmed, would change the estimates for the rate of whale evolution.
No, it does not predict a tree because a tree depends on the origin of life. The OoL determines how many ancestors there will be.
If this is what you think palaeontologists do, no wonder you aren’t persuaded by the “evidence”.
I suggest you find out what palaeontologists actually do!
One amazing feature of most echo-locating dolphins and small whales is the ‘melon,’ a fatty protrusion on the forehead. This ‘melon’ is actually a sound lens—a sophisticated structure designed to focus the emitted sound waves into a beam which the dolphin can direct where it likes. This sound lens depends on the fact that different lipids (fatty compounds) bend the ultrasonic sound waves traveling through them in different ways. The different lipids have to be arranged in the right shape and sequence in order to focus the returning sound echoes. Each separate lipid is unique and different from normal blubber lipids, and is made by a complicated chemical process, requiring a number of different enzymes. U. Varanasi, H.R. Feldman, and D.C. Malins, Molecular Basis for Formation of Lipid Sound Lens in Echolocating Cetaceans, Nature 255(5506):340–343, 22 May 1975.
Whatever side of the fence you’re on
Given a few, or one, the theory predicts a tree stemming from that ancestral population or populations (“few forms, or one” as Darwin said).
Given the universality of the genetic code, a single universal ancestral population seems more likely.
How convenient, Lizzie. We spent 150 years looking for “missing links” and “transistional fossil” and didn’t find any. But instead of being discouraged by a whacking failed prediction, evolutionists comfort themselves with mantras like:
“The chance that any fossil, or fossil population is directly transitional is vanishingly small.”
But, if evolution were actually true, that statement would obviously be false. Even Darwin realised that! After all, the majority of our ancestors, be they ape-like, shrew-like, reptile, fish or microbe were transitional species. The chances are, the fossil record would be littered with them.
The fact is we only find fossils of creatures that went extinct (ie. left no descendanats) including the odd ‘hopeful monster’ that used to be paraded as a crucially important missing link/transitional fossil. Like Tiktaalik. The rest of the fossils we find are of creatures that are the same today as they were tens of millions of years ago.
Which is exactly what you’d expect to find if evolution never really happened.
So you were fine with 20 million years of evolution in between and you’re fine with half that and half that again will be fine. To start its slow evolution and then its not. I see this as a problem.
So if I plant a few acorns I can only expect one oak tree? Do you ever think?
It isn’t that universal and common design and convergence explain it also.
Here is a cool animated video showing a sperm whale using ‘designed’ echolocation to hunt a giant squid:
Moreover, identical forms of echolocation show up in widely divergent species. This finding is unexpected from an evolutionary perspective, yet this finding is exactly what we would expect to find from presupposing a Creator to reuse optimal designs:
As well, It seems the entire neo-Darwinian argument for inferring the supposed fossil sequence for whale evolution, in the fossil record, is primarily based on the extremely biased readings of ‘bone homology’, or bone similarity, between different species. Yet this entire line of reasoning, for establishing scientific certainty for any proposed evolutionary sequence of fossils, is anything but ‘certain’, as this following video and quote clearly point out:
If you want to make evolutionist Henry Gee mad at you remind him that he once wrote this following ‘true’ statement:
This following video takes a honest look at just what evolutionists are up against to satisfactorily explain whale evolution:
Its forensic science, not observational science. It by very nature can lend itself to crazy speculation like the epicycles to the nth degree mess that ‘evolution’ is
“The entire whale lineage story is flight of fancy.
Also, the ‘chart’ – never fails to amuse!
“Nested hierarchy, Nested hierarchy” “Clade , Clade, clade”
You made a chart, and you placed some animals on it, some of them imaginary – Overwhelming evidence that.”
In the past when fabricating charts to pimp worldview they’ve lined up various Dinosaur fossils or Rhino fossils or whatever to infinity, some of those SUPPOSED transitionals were found to be young juveniles of the similiar creature. But never underestimate their ability to back up spin on short notice. Remember, Science is the ever evolving ever self-correcting mechanism where by morphed truth always rises to the surface like fluff in a cesspit.
And when it comes to Evolutionist’s favourite charts, let’s not forget those Mud-to-Man Evo charts depicting other races(usually dark Negroid) of human beings right below a white Studly Englishman or German/Nordic example where they are depicted as living transitionals between a white European and a long since extinct Apeman creature. At some point people around the Earth are going to get tired of this crap and rebel. I work with African, Mideastern, Indian/Pakistani and South American students and they literally hate the spin illustrated through such racist depictions of their supposed imaginary ancient heritage.
And these folks here will fight tooth and nail to defend such sludge.
The following video reveals the extreme bias and misrepresentation that neo-Darwinists have used to reconstruct a purely imaginary Darwinian transition to whales.
This following studies provides solid support for Dr. Terry Mortenson’s critique of the ‘imaginary’ evidence for whale evolution in the preceding video:
As well, This following article shows how misleading to the general public Darwinists can be with the ‘whale’ evidence:
This following sites is a bit more detailed in their dismantling of the whale evolution myth:
“All scientific theories and hypotheses are models.”
Correct, but of all the supposed different sciences only evolution gets a giant universe of latitude for embellishment.
“The key thing about a scientific model is that it must be fitted to data. That’s where the rigor comes in.”
“That is not the same as “myth manufacturing”.”
Yes and Captain Kirk and his elite band of merry troopers came back from the future and hijacked several whales to appease some future Aliens who were pieved at their extinction and threatened the Earth with an extinction of their own.
Possibly, Joseph, possibly. At this stage I am simply pointing out the evidence for a tree. If you accept that, then we can discuss possible explanations for the tree.
Who was looking for “missing links”? And of course we found “transitional fossils”.
It’s not a “mantra”, Chris, it’s a simple statement. How likely is it that you would find a fossil on the direct line of descent to an extant organism, given the rarity of fossilisation, and the frequency of extinction?
The answer is: remote. However, we can still look for – and, indeed, find – transitional fossils in the related sense of fossils that have features of two already known taxonomic groups. And far from “failing”, we have many clear transitional series, and an increasingly populated Tree of Life.
Your scoffing is quite unwarranted.
All our ancestors were “transitional”. Not “transitional species” though, because “species” is a horizontal concept, not a vertical one.
So, if fossilisation were extremely common, then yes, the fossil record would be littered with them. Unfortunately, fossilisation isn’t common, it is rare, and only certainly habitats lend themselves to fossilisation, so the sparse sampling we have is also a biased sampling.
Fortunately we have genetics as well, so that fills in some of the blanks.
Tiktaalik’s lineage probably did go extinct eventually, we don’t know when. But then most lineages do. Therefore, most fossils will be on lineages that went extinct before the present.
Nothing surprising about that.
And I have no idea what “hopeful monster” you are talking about. What “hopeful monster” was “paraded”? What do you even mean by the term? Saltation theories were abandoned a long time ago in favour of Darwin’s incremental process, because they are not supported by any evidence or mechanism.
Evolutionary change varies in speed.
If a population is at an optimum, conservative selection will tend to keep it there. If it is not at an optimum, selection will tend to move it to an optimumum.
Evolutionary change is a function of, among other things, environmental change.
Environmental change rates vary, either because a population migrates to a new environment or niche, or because of change in the actual environment.
If we see a population evolving rapidly, that indicates that it was exposed to a rapid environmental change. Like adopting a new habitat, the ocean, for instance.
Of course it’s “observational science”. All science is “observational”. You can’t do science without data, aka observations.
And any “crazy speculation” has to be tested against those data.
You seem to think evolutionary scientists don’t know how to do science.
ba77: “vestigial” doesn’t mean “serves no function”.
It means that a feature is the “vestige” of some earlier feature, possibly with a different function, and the clue lies in homologies between the two.
The vestigial feature may or may not serve some useful function. If it does, it will tend to persist.
We are all looking at the same evidence and much of it doesn’t support the tree as postulated. And we already are discussing possible explanations, which are also consistent with the evidence.
Elizabeth, this quote from the expert,,,
,,, does not strike me as ‘tending to persist’
Oh alright then, no-one was looking for missing links, Lizzie. Not even Charles Darwin himself! In fact, “missing link” is just some term that a crazy Creationist coined yes? So, keep on telling yourself that and don’t worry about it. Just don’t think too much about things like Piltdown Man and Coelacanth and Tiktaalik.
And, would you Adam and Eve it, you and I share a very Great Grandmother and it was a shrew-like mammal. Of course, apart from our very Great Grandfather, she lived totally alone in isolation while the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. There just wasn’t another specimen of the shrew-like mammal anywhere to be seen so no wonder that entire species didn’t leave any fossils behind! But it is plain to see, we don’t need any fossil evidence for the existence of our shrew-like ancestor: she must have existed otherwise where did you and I come from? Just look at our genes (but only at the similar ones, and certainly don’t look in the 95% of our DNA that is just junk – there’s nothing to see there, move on).
Anybody who is still demanding inconvenient things like “evidence” and “reason” need only look at the “clear transitional series” offered up by whale fossils… but please, ignore the one mentioned in the OP. That just muddies the water and there’s nothing worse than ugly facts slaying a beautiful hypothesis, right Lizzie?
Chris, we know that passenger pigeons numbered in the billions then went extinct. Can you point me to any fossils of passenger pigeons?
May indicate issues with dating and assumptions regarding that…Think, revise archeopteryx (I wonder if they held off as long as possible…)
Certainly begs for a mechanism to account of it. Maybe the mechanism has simply been lost over time. Sounds like that may be a conclusion soon to be entertained. Aricle Head:
Mechanism Accounting for Body Plan Diversity Sans Design Lost to Deep Time (Sub) “But we still know it was a natural phenomena.”
Hey Folks, first post here. I used to be a theistic evolutionist as I always accepted evolution as a fact because it was engrained into me in my high school and college biology classes.
As a new convert to the ID movement it feels like my eyes have been open and I owe to a year of following this blog.
Great article and it clearly shows that the so-called evolution of the whale is clearly micro-evolution and not the fairy tale macro evolution. Keep em coming folks:)
Acipenser, are you claiming that there is a scientific equivalent between knowing that passenger pigeons existed and knowing that missing links existed? Because there isn’t.
We only know that passenger pigeons existed because we were around to observe them. That extra source of evidence is vital. Without observational evidence for missing links in the fossil record, what extra source of vital evidence are you offering?
Yes, Chris, I know that the only reason we know that passenger pigeons existed is because humans observed them alive at one point in time. The point is that you have a population that numbered in the billions with no fossil evidence to indicate that they ever existed. The scientific take-home point is that fossilization is a rare event and the current collection is far from complete as evidence by the lack of a fossil of a species we know existed in large numbers for many years. That bit of information is vital in evaluating the fossil record and any such claims of ‘lack of missing links’ (whatever they are).
By the way what would a ‘missing link’ look like? For example in the hominid linage.
There is a correlation between the NFC team winning the SuperBowl and a rise in the stock market. So what if you end up with an eigenvalue solution. What if it is an eigenvalue solution to a data set that is nonsense? Then what? You’re stuck with circularity.
This is just like Eohippus. And Gould has demonstrated the groundlessness of that.
Elizabeth @ 18.104.22.168.1:
But the age of the geological strata are determined by their fossils. Therefore, there is a 1 to 1 correspondence. How is this powerful? It’s, instead, unavoidable.
I’m not sure what you mean by this. But what about homologies, and convergent evolution, etc? There have been separate lines that have solved problems with almost the same final solution, but with varying starting solutions. This is unexpected from a Darwinian perspective, is it not?
What about Berra’s Blunder?
Why do you bring up this article, Petrushka? It’s rather embarrassing for evolution.
I actually don’t understand this post!
Scientific methodology is to fit models to data. A tree fits the data well.
There is no circularity.
Elizabeth @ 22.214.171.124:
Yes, and we call the rearrangement of the clade an “epicycle”.
The only evidence darwinists has for the tree is that common descent led naturally to the nested hierarchy of traits instead an orchard model not necessary led to that nested hierarchy. Thats all. All the other so called evidence is nothing more than circular reasoning.
PaV: the ages of the strata are not determined by their fossils.
Convergent evidence from many sources is used to date strata, one being radiometric dating of intervening volcanic layers.
Once layers have been dated, “index fossils” can then be used to date other layers.
But the fossils themselves are not the primary source of the dating.
“Convergent evolution” is when a similar feature with a similar function evolves separately in two lineages. But they are rarely homologous – for instance flippers evolved several times, but from different structures. Ditto eyes.
Homologies are what palaentologists look for – the evolution of a bone, say, or a sinus.
No, it isn’t PaV. It’s quite a good article.
But if it’s a good article, it doesn’t matter whether it’s “embarassing” for evolution or not. Evolution is just a scientific theory. It doesn’t get “embarassed”, nor do the scientists who think it’s a pretty good theory.
If it’s right, cool. If it’s wrong, even cooler.
Yes, indeed, the fact that features of living things are distributed in nested hierarchy is strong evidence for common descent.
I’m not sure of your point. What part do you think is “circular reasoning?”
I see it as more evidence that evolution does not rely (exclusively) upon random exhaustive searches as many have assumed. There are ways in which natural processes can narrow the search space and thus the time to find a solution (for examples, see Evolutionary Computation). Note, however, that how such scoped-search systems arose is still unanswered.
What evidence doesn’t support the tree as postulated, butifnot?
But sure, design is consistent with the evidence. That’s the trouble – there is no evidence that would be inconsistent with design. It really is unfalsifiable.
So disconfirming evidence is taken AS evidence that evolution can work fast, like magic. Lovely.
Elizabeth @ 126.96.36.199.8:
This is possible, possibly plausible.
But, the problem for evolution isn’t “related species”. The problem is, and always will be, the amount of time involved in the onset of these species. That is, we’re dealing with “explosions”. There’s the Cambrian Explosion. Now there’s a “Mammalian Explosion”. And there will likely be others.
It appears that this new form fits in perfectly with the growing sense of the Mammalian Explosion.
Petrushka cited Durrett and Schmidt’s paper, where, in almost bizarre fashion, they quibble with Behe’s EoE statistics. They tell us that using a effective populations of 500,000, and assuming mutation rates of 10^-9, that their “Theorem 1 predicts a waiting time of 31.6 million generations for one prespeci?ed pair of mutations in one species . . ..”
We’re talking about two amino acid substitutions. And they think they’re onto something because it will only take 31.6 million years?!!
So, take your Ambulecetus and add 31.6 million years. That will gain you a two amino acid change.
Now, is this going to change a “walking whale” into a fully “aquatic whale”?
There is no person of faith, of religion, that would buy that whopper. Only smart scientists are dumb enough for that.
Please allow for a little scoffing. I think some is in order here.
Yes, because we know what the human skeleton looks like.
Elizabeth @ 3.1:
Yes, because we know what the human skeleton looks like. When it comes to Lucy, we’re left guessing.
Read Gee’s book, “Search for Deep Time”.
There’s another way of looking at it, Acipenser: that the past isn’t actually the key to the present, that catastrophism better explains geology than uniformitarianism. So, the catastrophic processes that created most of the fossils we see today aren’t actually happening right now.
Nonetheless, we have discovered literally millions of fossils and we are still discovering them. There are plenty of them out there. But the funny thing is, they are all either of creatures which are still around today (and unchanged) or of creatures that went extinct (ie. did not leave descendants, indeed their fossils may have been created in their own extinction event).
Don’t you think it is a strange coincidence that none of the million of fossils we do know about have any evolutionary significance whatsoever? And why are you asking me what a missing link would look like? Charles Darwin himself predicted their existence. I tell you what they don’t like: Ida. But that didn’t stop David Attenborough making a feature-length documentary all about the most important “missing link” ever discovered. Why don’t you ask poor old David what a missing link looks like!?
Elizabeth @ 188.8.131.52:
This is a completely meaningless statement. Why? Because if they see a large number of sequence changes in a short period of time, then they say it was “fast evolution”. If it is a small number of sequence changes in a short period of time (based on supposed evolutionary relationships), then they say evolution was “slow”. It’s circular reasoning. As is all of Darwinism.
Another nonsense statement, I’m afraid.
Every year in southern California, as in almost all parts of the world, the environment changes. I golf at a golf course where Canadian Geese are here during the winter. They’re not here during the summer. It rains and is cold in the winter; it’s warm and dry in the summer. So what of this “environmental change” that you’re talking about? In what does it consist? How do you quantify it?
I just explained why, PaV!
Because adaptation will track changes in environment. If the environment changes rapidly, then adaptation will happen rapidly (if it can keep up – the other thing that may happen is exctinction); if the environment remains stable, no adaptation will take place, and all selective pressures will be in the direction of maintaining the population at the optimum.
It isn’t “circular reasoning” at all. There is no principle of “Darwinism” that says adaptation has to occur at a constant rate, quite the reverse. Adaptation will track the rate of change in the environment to which adaptation is occurring.
This is easily modelled.
And my statement is not “nonsense”. Have you read Jonathan Weiner’s book “The Beak of the Finch”? In it he reports the Grants’ work on the Galapagos finches, which shows that adaptation is observable from one year to another.
Clearly annual changes are not going to affect an annually breeding population, but rapid cyclical changes only slightly slower than the breeding cycle (e.g. El Nino events in Pacific) result in observable adaptation by the finch population to different distributions of seed sizes.
As for quantifying it: do read Weiner’s book. In this case, what the Grants measured was beak depth in relation to mean seed sizes.
That is all fine, Chris, but there is a problem with your premise. For example what catastrophic processes existed in the past that do not exist today. We have floods. We have earthquakes, and last time I checked we have volcanic eruptions. So what process is missing that results in no fossils formation today or in the recent past (say 10,000 years or so)?
Yes, Chris, there are many fossils that have been found and many left to be found but none have been found for a organism that we know numbered in the billions. Isn’t that curious that on one hand you demand that the fossil record is complete yet can not point to a single example (outside a few found thousands of miles away in the tar pits) that document the existence of the passenger pigeon. Don’t you think that demonstrates what Elizabeth, and otehrs, have stated about the fossil record?
No, Chris, I do not think the millions of fossils ahve no evolutionary significance. The hominid linage alone demonstrates that this is false. You brought up the concept of the ‘missing link’ so I was curious how you would recognize one if it showed up in a fossil collection. Apparently, you wouldn’t be able to recognize one because you have no idea what one would look like yet you insist that it must exist. Funny that.
Darwin never used the term ‘missing link’ in any of his writings although some people who wrote to him did use that terminology. He did, however, posit that there would be transitional fossils found. Chris, what would a transitional fossil look like to you? What characteristics would you use to determine that a fossil of one organism was transitional to another?
You state why it isn’t circular reasoning…
And then you reaffirm why it is.
Yes, the finches’ beaks change. No one even knows whether that is natural selection.
But when it comes to any more substantial change, adaptation and environmental pressures are each the measure of and the evidence for the other. Birds have beaks because of environmental pressure that made beaks beneficial. This is evident because birds have beaks.
Why is the glass 40% full? Because it’s 60% empty. Sounds nice, explains nothing.
I could train a small child to do this. Why do birds have beaks? “Because beaks are good for them!” Here’s a piece of candy.
In what way is that “circular reasoning”, Scott?
And yes, finch beak sizes correlated with seed sizes.
In this case we can infer causation, because we have a clear mechanisms by which seed size influences mean finch beak size, and absolutely no conceivable mechanisms by which finch beak size could influence mean seed size.
Not only that, but the Grants’ tracked the family tree of every finch, and was able to show heritability in finch-beak size.
Do read the book, it’s excellent.
Hmm, that made me think of Cod stocks. The average adult Cod size has been going down, and the suggestion is that it is due to fishing regulations over the size of the holes in fishing nets so that only larger fish get caught – so there is a survival advantage in being a small fish in a big pond so to speak 😉
Hypothetically, the ability of finches to eat seeds could influence seed size because finch populations that share certain behavioral or morphological traits would tend to eat some size seeds more than others – the seeds not eaten are the ones that produce trees.
Just a random thought after a glass of wine 😉
Nice reasoning DrBot 🙂
But we can rule it out in this case, because the Grant’s correlated with available seeds in a given year.
Filling my own glass right now….
No-one is claiming the fossil record is complete, Acipenser. I am merely observing the fact that the fossil record does not contain any missing links/transitional fossils (the terms are interchangeable by the way, don’t get hung up on terminology. It detracts from the important points).
The point you are missing is this: why is it that all the gaps in the fossil record are the important ones from an evolutionist point of view? Why is that all the fossils we do see are either of extant (and, crucially unchanged) species or of truly extinct species (like dinosaurs which never evolved into anything else at all)?
Another point you’re missing is this: if evolution were true, there would be no missing links. Why? Because the fossil record would show a continuous evolution of species (albeit with some gaps due to its incompleteness). The problem for evolutionists is this: the fossil record shows the complete opposite: it shows the sudden appearance of creatures where there were none before. Furthermore, it is characterised by discontinuity and stasis.
You won’t take my word for it, so I’ll let Charles Darwin tell you all about missing links instead:
On this doctrine of the extermination of an infinitude of connecting links, between the living and extinct inhabitants of the world, and at each successive period between the extinct and still older species, why is not every geological formation charged with such links? Why does not every collection of fossil remains afford plain evidence of the gradation and mutation of the forms of life? We meet with no such evidence, and this is the most obvious and forcible of the many objections which may be urged against my theory. Why, again, do whole groups of allied species appear, though certainly they often falsely appear, to have come in suddenly on the several geological stages? Why do we not find great piles of strata beneath the Silurian system, stored with the remains of the progenitors of the Silurian groups of fossils? For certainly on my theory such strata must somewhere have been deposited at these ancient and utterly unknown epochs in the world’s history.
I can answer these questions and grave objections only on the supposition that the geological record is far more imperfect than most geologists believe.
To hide behind the “imperfect” fossil record was a weak excuse then. Trying the same tactic now is just embarrassing, don’t you think Acipenser?
You’d still be extrapolating, PaV. And did you read the rest of my post?
On the one hand we have commenters scorning evolutionary interpretations made on the basis of single bones; on the other, the entire thrust of the article is that Darwinism is supposed to be traumatised by just such a bone. It seems that single-bone analysis is only relevant if it is purported to support the anti-Darwinian case.
But really, it does no such thing. Even if aquatic and precedent to Ambulocetus, all it calls into question is a particular interpretation among palaeontologists. Ambulocetus may not be directly ancestral to whales, without troubling “Darwinism”. This fossil may equally be an earlier aquatic side-shoot that left no modern descendants.
Further, insisting that all of the features of modern whales must have been present in that individual, and therefore evolved in an ‘impossibly’ short time period, is not a justified inference.
Good, Chris, I’m glad you aren’t making the claim that the fossil record is complete. We agree!
What does a transitional fossil look like? What attributes would it have that we would recognize.
If you can’t answer those questions how are you in any position to declare that no transitional fossils have ever been found (false by the way)?
If, as we agree, the fossil record is incomplete why would you make this declaration: “it shows the sudden appearance of creatures where there were none before. “. If the record is incomplete,as we agree, then it is quite premature to declare that any creature appeared suddenly..whatever that might mean….100 million years….50 million….5 years…1 year….a day?
How geologic time frame do you consider as being sudden?
Scott, what I think is embarrasing is your making conflicting declarations all within a few sentences of each other.
Scott, have you ever raised, or watched, chickens? Do you think birds are descended from theropod dinosaurs?
I can completely understand where you’re coming from. I too was an ‘evolutionist’ of sorts, until becoming a Christian some 5 years ago and discovering that ‘evolution’ wasn’t all it was made out to be. And I have to say that I too had my eyes opened, largely through following this website over the past two years.
I don’t post very often, perhaps asking the odd question here and there, although very rarely, but I do spend a lot of time going through the various posts as well as reading all the comments. And I think it would be fair to say that it is through the ‘comments’ that I gain a better understanding of what is actually being discussed. I keep a very open mind while doing so, weighing up the evidence from both camps, and as impartially as I can decide who in my eyes is making the most sense.
This article is an excellent example of what I don’t like to see from the ‘evolutionist’ camp. The diagram for instance shows how whales supposedly evolved over 65my, when this clearly contradicts the ‘parts’ of it that are the most important. For instance Elizabeth doesn’t seem to be bothered about the fact that the whale in question lived at the same time as Ambulocetus, and instead of striking Ambulocetus off as a transitional (Because at the end of the day, it didn’t have to evolve into anything did it) she still clings to the belief that it deserves to be there. It is somehow still an example of ‘evolution’ when, as Joseph touches on in some previous posts, there isn’t any physical evidence that it did evolve. Why keep it there, especially in light of this find ?
Also Basilosaurus, isn’t thought to have evolved into anything. There is no evidence linking it to the modern day whale, in fact Basilosaurus is believed to have become extinct. But still it is on that diagram. Why?
Elizabeth seems to think that this causes no problems for ‘whale evolution’; simply a ‘tweeking’ of existing data is all that is required.
Not from where I’m sitting.
It is evidence like this, countered with arguments like Elizabeth’s, which convince me even more that Darwinian Evolution is very wrong.
Well, to me, Peter, what seems to be “very wrong” is what you think the theory of evolution actually postulates, so that you see as a refutation something that is simply not.
You are right that I am “not bothered” about the possibility that ambulocetus was contemporary with a more modern-whale like cetacean, for exactly the same reason as I am “not bothered” about the fact that there are still chimpanzees, even though the chimpanzee is, in palaeontological parlance, a “transitional” between orang utans and humans.
The usage doesn’t mean that our ancestors were chimps! It does mean that the chimp lineage branched off our lineage more recently than the orang utans did.
Every time we discover a new fossil, it allows us to pinpoint lineage divergences more clearly. In this case, it is possible that we can now place ambulocetus on a divergent branch to that of modern whales. Or possibly the new animal is on a divergent branch. We don’t know yet, until we have more details.
But please do find out a bit more about how these lineages are inferred. They are not set in stone (pun not intended) because their simply aren’t enough fossils for us to have a definitive lineage that is unaltered by subsequent finds.
Imagine a jigsaw puzzle – you can find a piece that fits nicely in amongst a bit of foliage, and be broadly right, except that you may at some stage pick up a new piece that makes it clear that while you had correctly identified the earlier piece of foliage, it fits with the tree on the tree next to the one you’d originally thought it belonged to
So I’d agree with you that Darwinian Evolution, as you clearly conceive it, is “very wrong”. However, it seems to me you have unfortunately misunderstood what the theory is, and what it predicts 🙂
We had a go round here at UD several years back about a recent paper by the Grants.
If you look at the fundamental data, you will find that beak size changes quite often, and that over a twenty to thirty year period, the beak increases and then decreases in size. Is this evolution? Are the finches now a new breed/race/species of finches because the beak size has enlarged?
Further, while you will find that the Grants show “statistically significant” differences in beak size, looking closer at the data reveals that the ‘statistical’ change can easily be introduced by a few individuals (population sizes are small), and that the overall differences in beak size is something you could probably hardly detect from one year to the next.
In the end, I’m not really sure what their studies demonstrate. Have “gene frequencies” really changed, or is it entirely an environmental effect, with a changing diet resulting in a changed beak size—IOW, an ‘epigenetic’ change.
If this is Darwinism in action, and if this is all you can show, then Darwinism (as we already know) is in trouble. Firstly because the changes are of such a small nature, and, secondly, because it might have nothing to do whatsoever with genetic changes.
If the Grants really want to know what’s going on, then they should collect a feather or two from the little birdies and do a sequence check on them. While this is still somewhat costly, it is becoming cheaper by the second. This means that these kinds of studies will start happening. I would predict (from my own intuition about how impotent Darwinism really is, and not from an ID perspective) that these kinds of future studies will demonstrate very little “gene frequency” changes.
Another day, another bad day for Darwinism!
So how does ID explain the whale?
Have you ever thought about taking a course in biology and then evolution? As this is just risible:
I mean, really? You can’t really imagine what “environmental change” means?
Here’s a quick example. Let’s say the average temperature of the earth went up 1000 degrees. Where would the Geese fly then?
Write a rebuttal paper. You might even get a couple of citations if it’s good enough. But despite your obvious ability to shred the paper and it’s conclusions I predict you’ll never so much as put pen to paper with regard to sharing your insights into why they are so very very wrong.
What a shame! Science thrives on things being disconfirmed, you are a great loss to the scientific endeavor Pav!
No, rather they will defend it until somebody comes up with a better idea at which point they’ll abandon it and take up the new idea instead.
It’s up to you to come up with that better idea, rather them complaining about “mud to man” with all the obvious religious connotations that has.
It’s funny but “mud to man” is exactly what you are claiming happened, remember?
What the frack are you talking about??? The word “amphibian” refers to both the biological group “amphibians”, and to the state of being amphibious, i.e. living in both water and land. All that is meant here is the second meaning. Seals and sea lions are currently-living mammals that are “amphibians” in this sense.
we also know what the skeleton of many other hominid skeletons look like and fit together. The data base is not limited to humans.
That’s amazing! It’s not as if it is IMPOSSIBLE (assuming no mistakes) for a stratigraphic range of a taxon to go the other way. Oh, wait, it is impossible. New fossils can only increase a range or fill in the existing range, they can never reduce it. Where’s the news story here?
As for the rest of this incredibly silly discussion — this crap is EXACTLY why creationists/IDists get no respect, and deserve to get no respect. Any mildly competent discussion of whether or not this fossil “contradicts Darwinism” or whatever would have to recognize:
(1) except in very rare cases, all fossil species are treated as sister groups, since direct ancestry is usually impossible to prove
(2) they are evidence for common ancestry either way, because they fall into statistically-well-supported treelike structure (note: any discussion of “incongruence” that does not measure the degree of congruence/incongruence is basically worthless and incompetent. Small incongruence does not equal “no tree structure in the data” or whatever silliness creationists/IDists usually imply.
(3) In general, cladograms and stratigraphy are significantly correlated. They are generally so both before and after some neat new fossil is found. This whale was found 49 million years ago, not in the Cambrian. It’s a minor adjustment to the range.
If one doesn’t want to be talking nonsense, you’ve got to start calculating the Consistency Index, Stratigraphic Consistency Index, etc., AND (this is key) statistically comparing them to the null hypothesis of no tree signal.
Scientists who know this stuff have absolutely no reason to take you seriously when you completely ignore these basics of the field.
Chronology of fossils:
OT; Music: Natalie Grant – Alive – Music Videos
I liked your analogy of the evolutionary tree and a linear fit to data points. You would agree with me that the closer the points are to the average line, the stronger the case one has for saying that there is a correlation, right? So if the points tend to move farther and farther away, and become more circular than linear, it would weaken the case for the correlation. So here’s my question, I seem to be remembering that the tree of life keeps getting bushier and less connected; am I wrong?
On a different point, can you please point to a fossil that is a direct ancestor to humans. I am really curious. I mean, Wikipedia says, “While some other, extinct Homo species might have been ancestors of Homo sapiens, many were likely our “cousins”, having speciated away from our ancestral line.” So what species (for humans or other animals) can we definitely say are ancestors to other species? This isn’t a challenge, just a sincere question.
I don’t think anyone would dispute that the ‘extrapolations’ are biased to some extent. ‘Transitional’ attributes are favored. I would be willing to bet that a survey would show
less bones = more transitional ,
More bones = less transitional
and also as more complete skeletons are found the posited animal becomes less ‘transitional’ in nature and not the other way around
You mean there are actually people who believe that Mesonychids actually turned into Odontocetes through random evolutionary processes AND in a very short amount of evolutionary time to boot? WOW!
Thanks for the good article. It highlights the fact that the available time for huge evolutionary change keeps shrinking, making the already incredible story even more unbelievable – if that is even possible. But for evolutionists, “nothing is too difficult for Evolution.” I prefer this statement: “Nothing is too difficult for God.”
The faith of Darwinists never ceases to amaze!
I’m sure my faith amazes them too, but articles like this show that it is the more logical position. At least we have a sufficient cause for the miracles we believe in.
“When one considers the magnitude of the engineering fete, such a scenario is found to be devoid of credibility. Whales require an intra-abdominal counter current heat exchange system (the testis are inside the body right next to the muscles that generate heat during swimming), they need to possess a ball vertebra because the tail has to move up and down instead of side-to-side, they require a re-organisation of kidney tissue to facilitate the intake of salt water, they require a re-orientation of the fetus for giving birth under water, they require a modification of the mammary glands for the nursing of young under water, the forelimbs have to be transformed into flippers, the hindlimbs need to be substantially reduced, they require a special lung surfactant (the lung has to re-expand very rapidly upon coming up to the surface), etc etc.”
The devil is in the details! Most people have no idea what is involved in the type of transition necessary for Mesonychids to turn into Odontocetes. This article explains some of those changes, but there are many more as well.
Personally, I find it incredulous that anyone could actually believe in this!
You may be right, but please give me a cite with evidence.
I had a friend say, “you don’t know what time can do.” Just substitute the word “time” with the word “god” and you can see how it is a faith-based statement.
That’s amazing! It’s not as if it is IMPOSSIBLE (assuming no mistakes) for a stratigraphic range of a taxon to go the other way. Oh, wait, it is impossible. New fossils can only increase a range or fill in the existing range, they can never reduce it.
Right. Can you support what is due to increasing sample size and that which just inconsistent (in the real world) with your theory?
I would like to see some bold evolution predictions here – This ancestor with these attributes should take a minimum of blank myears to descend into this. Don’t look at the chart. Being great with whatever the latest time span is found to be, is sketchy, but typical of all evolution.
When is it not a minor adjustment? Time span halved, quartered, what? It is a problem at some point.
(1) except in very rare cases, all fossil species are treated as sister groups, since direct ancestry is usually impossible to prove
And lots of other ancestries. On it’s face arranging things is just not what you want to make of it.
Please be honest here: if the fossil record contained even one missing link, you wouldn’t be asking me what it looked like. You’d be telling me the fossil’s name, exactly what it is a transition of, where it was discovered and how old it is. Verified observations: that’s how science works. Science doesn’t work by simply appealing to things that exist only in the evolutionists’ imagination. So, no more evasive tactics: it’s put up or shut up time for you, Acipenser.
Just because you don’t have the complete set of pieces for a jigsaw, it doesn’t mean you can’t put what you do have together and get it a very good idea of what the whole picture would look like if you did have all the pieces. The same applies to the fossil record. Or do you think that palaeontology is just a waste of time? Remember, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Even the most ardent evolutionists are troubled by the Cambrian explosion. It’s the last thing that the theory of evolution would predict we’d find in the fossil record. Have you seen Darwin’s Dilemma? If not, you should.
‘Well, to me, Peter, what seems to be “very wrong” is what you think the theory of evolution actually postulates, so that you see as a refutation something that is simply not’
I personally think I have a good enough grasp of what the ‘Theory of evolution actually postulates’, and to be honest I didn’t necessarily view this as a refutation of it. Not on its own anyway. However I do see the argumentation by various evolutionists as quite circular, and at times extremely poor in actual content, concerning this particular article and many others like it.
Over the two years I have been following this site, as well as one or two others, I see more and more that evolutionists just don’t have that vital piece of evidence that can actually win the debate. Which to be honest is something I find very hard to grasp – If neo-Darwinian evolution is a fact, as people like you are continually inferring, then why are we still discussing it, especially with all the technology available to us in the 21st century?
Sometimes you come across an article where the arguments put forward seem to really stretch the limits of ID, but then what you always find is that nothing is ever really ‘proven’ or ‘won’, or that either side has ‘conceded’. It just seems to go back and forth, without anything definite being put forward that everyone can agree on.
This find is just very typical of that. That is all I was implying really.
Why should we look at the evolutionary tree concerning the whale, and believe that it evolved from a land dwelling creature, when there is no real evidence that it did?
This find is undoubtedly a major problem for Darwinism.
I’m glad you agree with me that the finding is not a refutation of the theory of evolution.
However, you specifically referred to my own posts. Can you explain what you consider “circular” about my “argumentation”? I see no circularity.
I certainly do not regard “neo-Darwinian evolution” as a fact. Theories are not facts. In fact, tbh, I would argue that facts are not in fact (heh) facts either. What we have and models and data – what is “given”. And and data at one level is a model at another. Measurement itself, is a “modelling” process.
I do consider “neo-Darwinian evolution” (if I am right in my assumption as to what you mean by that) as extremely well supported by data. I do not regard it as a “fact”; in any case, all models in science are provisional. It is a fundamental tenet of science.
So we will still be discussion our theories until they are falsified. Then we may stop. There are no “clinchers” in science, there are simply more data and more incremental (occasionally radical) modifications to our existing models to better fit the new data.
There is a great deal of evidence that it did. That evidence is the distribution of the characters of whale and whale-like organisms into a crown group with a clear land-dweller at its basal node. Where exactly the sub-nodes are within that crown group are clearly subject to adjustment as new data becomes available. Nothing about the new find suggests that it is not a member of that crown group.
What would be a “serious problem”, not for Darwinism but for whale phylogeny would be a whale-like animal that lived earlier than the time when artidactyls are thought to have split from the mesonychids, as molecular phylogeny suggests that whales evolved from the artiodactyl branch.
There’s a nice clear cladogram here:
Finally: can you explain why you think the new find is a “major problem for Darwinism”, and not merely a good (and welcome) opportunity to improve our model of whale descent?
There’s a good primer on the methodology here:
Elizabeth @ 184.108.40.206.6:
Eigenvalues are used to draw “diagonals” through data. It basically amounts to a least-squares method.
The point is this: statistical correlations don’t understand what they’re correlating. So they can correlate anything to anything, just as in the case of a particular football team winning and the direction the stock market will take that year.
Therefore, statistical methods require those using them to truly understand the nature of the data being correlated prior to doing any kind of statistical matching. So, “junk-in”, “junk-out”. IOW, the basis for the data points used in the correlations you’re speaking of involves Darwinian assumptions to begin with. So is it any surprise that the resultant statistical correlations are amenable to Darwinian thought? This hardly represents the ‘proof’ of anything.
Chris, please explain what you mean by “missing link”.
It is not a technical term, and if you want to claim that there are none, you need to define what you mean by it.
As you say yourself, we certainly do not have a fossil record of every living thing, or even an unbiased sampling.
If the hypothesis of Universal Common Descent is correct, then every single organism is a “link” in the line of descent from the Universal Common Ancestor to the last organism in each lineage. Therefore every single that is not the last of its own line and every single living thing with offspring is a link. All those that we don’t have a record of are “missing”, and every one that we do find is a no-longer-missing “link”.
What we have, as I said, is a biased sampling of all those alleged “links”, and, interestingly, when we try place them on a putative family tree, we find that that is what they readily form – a tree.
It is, as you say, like a jigsaw puzzle, and we already have enough pieces to see that the overall pattern is, indeed, like a tree, ever diverging from branches closer to the postulated trunk.
The Cambrian life forms can also be placed on this tree, coherently, although obviously there are important missing pieces above that level. However, the Ediacaran life forms have hugely filled out that part of the jig-saw.
So the important question to my mind is not: “where are the missing links?”, but “given the organisms we have, are they more consistent with a tree than with other patterns?”
And the answer, it seems to me, is that the tree pattern is overwhelmingly supported. If it were not, cladistic analysis simply would not work.
That does not prove Darwinian evolution of course, but it does support universal common descent extremely strongly.
A while back I wrote two programs, one of which generated pseudowords by a common descent algorithm, and one of which used mix’n’match algorithm. I asked someone whether they could tell which had been produced by common descent, and which by mix’n’match.
The person was able to tell, easily, which was the common descent set, because he was able to map the results on to a deeply nested cladogram. The other simply didn’t did not resolve, and the best tree he could produce was not only full of conflicts but very shallowly nested.
However, interestingly, the cladogram he made for the common descent set was not entirely accurate i.e. was not the actual lineage as generated by my program.
In other words, it is possible to infer a tree from the data you have, even if you do not have enough data to retrieve the true tree in all its details.
I submit that the fossil and molecular data overwhelmingly supports a tree, even though we simply do not have enough data to be confident that every node is in the right place.
No we don’t, PaV.
The “epicycle” model was based on a fundamentally different principle to the heliocentric model. Changing the place of a node in a tree structure is not the same as having to replace the tree with, say, a small world network.
Although interestingly, the epicycle model fits the data just fine. The problem with it as a model is that it doesn’t lend itself to a coherent underlying theory of orbital motion. In other words, it wasn’t an explanatory model, just a descriptive one. The geocentric model did however, as Kepler and Newton discovered, and that theory turned out to have huge predictive power.
Elizbeth Liddle @ 220.127.116.11.6:
Liz, when I said that strata are determined by their fossils, I was saying that each strata has its own characteristic fossils, used to discover this same strata elsewhere. So there is a one-to-one correspondence between the strata and these characteristic fossils. All this tells us is that A came before B, and B before C. What is the relevance of this to anything. IOW, how does Darwinian theory ‘predict’ one the next strata is going to produce, i.e., the next life forms that will develop? It doesn’t. So, what you see is what you get. No more. It’s no more than simply a fact.
As to homology and convergent evolution, I wasn’t trying to suggest they are the same thing. But here were talking about whales and this is, of course, a perfect illustration of what I was trying to point out: you have a land animal returning to the sea. It’s the Devonian where we see the proliferation of fish. And now, in the age of mammals, you have them returning to the sea. How can Darwinian evolution have foreseen this? Impossible. Again, you get what you get. So in what way, then, does the fossil record support Darwinian assumptions? I don’t see any. In fact, as we well know, the intermediate forms that Darwin anticipated remain undiscovered. The Pre-Silurian period, that was to be the lead up to the Cambrian, is devoid of fossil intermediates, contrary to Darwinian expectations.
So, if the fossil record shows anything, it shows that the evolution of life forms had a direction. And, of course, this suggests there was a “Director” involved. But it doesn’t really have anything to say about Darwinian assumptions one way or the other—although Darwinists freely ‘interpret’ the fossil record in accordance with the theory. But let’s remember that Darwin saw the Fossil Record as a “Difficulty on the Theory”. I don’t see how this “difficulty” has been resolved. He had the Cambrian Explosion in mind when he wrote. But now we know that there was a Mammalian Explosion. It only gets worse for poor old Darwins!
As to Common Descent, I think it is wrong to think of it as a continuous process. I think there is a version of Common Descent, but that it is stochastic, with vital interventions occurring throughout time, and what I would term Common Inheritance.
I submit that the fossil and molecular data overwhelmingly supports a tree, even though we simply do not have enough data to be confident that every node is in the right place.
Sorry Lizzie, but that’s nonsense. The fossil record is a story of discontinuity, extinction and stasis. There is nothing remotely tree-like about it unless you want to talk about an upside town tree that begins with the Cambrian explosion… but we both know that that does atheistic evolutionists no favours!
I feel no need to indulge your goalpost moving word games about missing links any further. I said it all in 18.104.22.168.9.
Did I say it was a “bad” article? Did I say it wasn’t “good”?
I said it was embarrassing for Darwinism. And it is.
Eugene S has the temerity to say that I don’t know how science works. I suspect that it is Eugene who doesn’t know how science “should” work. In the case of Darwinian science, it doesn’t work. Darwinism should have been jettisoned a long time ago. So it is something other than science that is propping up an otherwise antiquated theory.
And you say, “If it’s right, cool. If it’s wrong, even cooler.” Ah, what dispassionate love for the truth. But if you were truly dispassionate, one simple look at the article should tell you that Darwinism is devoid of relevance, that it is impossible to explain the evolution of life via Darwinain mechanisms. The authors themselves should have so concluded.
But, no, what we get instead is ‘politically correct’ type of thinking. And this in science. And we see this PC type of thought all over the place when it comes to global warming (oh, I’m sorry, I mean “climate change”). And it is also present in all of academe, illustrated by the “consensus thinking” that revolves around HIV and AIDs. Almost thirty years of research, and still no HIV vaccine. Why? Every other viral disease has its vaccine, why not HIV? This, too, is an embarrassment to science.
So, pleeeeeeeease, let’s not hear any more about who, or who doesn’t, know “how science works”! We should, instead, be talking about why science isn’t working these days. Here’s my assessment: it’s because of “consensus thinking”, peer-review, and government funding, which is, itself, driven by consensus thinking.
This is really an apt characterization of Darwinian theory.
Cladistics is a subset of Paleontology. It’s not a Darwinian theory or any other kind of theory. It’s a method of classification. You’ll remember that the Linnean Classification scheme predated Darwinian theory by quite some time.
Just one more thing, please name one single extant species that is ancestral to another named but markedly different species (found only in the fossil record). If “the fossil data.. overwhelmingly supports a tree” then this would be easy.
I doubt that Lizzie will rise to this challenge so it is open to any evolutionist.
For whatever reason, your other post wasn’t up when I wrote my reply.
Yes, we would still be extrapolating, but your underlying premise is that we can make reasonable estimations of what other parts of the skeleton looked like. But when you’re dealing with an intermediate form, or what is thought to be one, then how, and where, will it be “intermediate”. It becomes just guessing at this point. If you had four or five pieces of the skeleton, all from different parts of the skeleton, then, in homology with other known skeletons, you could make some fairly good estimates. But that’s not what we have in the case of Lucy.
Let’s leave atheism out of this, right, Chris? We are talking about science, are we not?
Certainly the fossil record is a story of extinctions. That doesn’t make the pattern un-tree-like, or rather, it has no effect whatsoever on the nesting of the hierarchies. They are still nested.
Certainly there is a story of periods of stasis. Again, what about stasis violates treesomeness? Not only does it not violate nested hierarchies, it is entirely consistent with the Darwinian mechanism of adaptation.
As for “discontinuity”: as you agree, we expect some discontinuities, because fossilisation is both rare, and only possible in certain habitats. So “discontinuities” in themselves are not a problem, just as it is perfectly possible to get the general picture of a jig-saw puzzle, even if whole sections are missing.
So what makes you think the pattern of what we do have is not tree-like? What is not tree-like about the deeply nested hierarchies into which the characters of organisms readily fall?
I am not playing “games” Chris. I find the suggestion that I am, somewhat offensive. But thanks for the reference to your earlier post. Unfortunately it doesn’t address my question.
You appeared to claim that there was not “one missing link in the fossil record”. So I asked you to say what you meant by “missing link”, because on the only interpretation I can make, the fossil record is all “missing links” – or at least, they are missing until we find them!
And if what you actually mean is “new transitional fossils”, again, there are a great many – fossils that are found to have characters shared with two already known taxonomic groups. They don’t have to be in direct line of descent between the two, what they have to do is represent what must be an intermediate branch.
I do wish you wouldn’t be so aggressive, Chris. I don’t know what I did to upset you, but it was clearly something.
The fundamental problem seems to be that you lack a clear understanding of what evolutionary biologists actually claim. This is evidenced by this very question. Obviously no extant species can be ancestral to another! Extant species are the descendents of ancestral species, they don’t have any descendents yet! And clearly no extant species can be ancestral to a species that lived earlier (i.e. is only found in the fossil record!)
So there is clearly confusion here. What can you mean?
One issue, clearly, is the word “species” – normally this is regarded as a horizontal concept, not a vertical one, although sometimes when one lineage remains very unchanged and a branching lineage changes a lot, we do say that the little-changed population is a “living fossil” that is “ancestral” to some other extant population. But this would be very loose terminology.
But assuming this is what you mean: coelocanths, which are very little (but not un-)changed from their Devonian ancestors, are lobed-limbed fish, as were the lobe-limbed fish that are thought to have evolved into what we now called tetrapods, and from which all modern tetrapods, including ourselves, are thought to have descended, and also including extinct tetrapods, like Tyrannosaurus Rex.
So that’s my example – coelocanths are an extant species that has changed very little since its Devonian ancestor, and that Devonian ancestor was (or, if you prefer, is postulated to be) also ancestral to a very different now extinct animal called Tyrannosaurus Rex.
But clearly modern coelocanths are not the ancestors of an extinct species! Moreover, it is worth noting that coelocanths have been subjected to just as much selective pressure as we have, over our lineages since our (alleged) lobe-limbed aquatic Devonian common ancestor. The difference is that those pressures have tended to maintain coelocanths at their local optimum, and they still, accordingly, inhabit the kind of habitat our Devonian common ancestor did. In contrast, we, and T. Rex, adapted to very different environments, and thus bear far less resemblance to that aquatic ancestor.
Earlier, I said “please name one single extant species that is ancestral to another named but markedly different species (found only in the fossil record).”
My apologies, as Lizzie points out, I’ve muddled up extinct/extant and the line of descent (teach me to write posts at the same time as watching Liverpool v United!)
So, let me try again:
Please name one single extinct species (ie. found only in the fossil record) that is ancestral to another named but markedly different extant species.
Coelacanth absolutely doesn’t count: it’s a living fossil that has been in stasis for at least 70 million years! The fact that, before we discovered living Coelacanths, it was considered a vital missing link between fish and amphibians is a huge embarrassment for evolutionists (not that they learned from their mistake).
Let’s leave atheism out of this, right, Chris? We are talking about science, are we not?
If only that were true. But given the fact that you are an atheistic evolutionist, we are reduced to talking about atheism and its scientific pretensions. We know this because you ignore the scientific evidence and refuse to admit that the fossil record does not contain all (or, even any) of the missing links that would be in abundance if evolution were true. That is why you also ignore the fact that the Cambrian Explosion turns any would-be “tree” upside down.
The fossil record simply does not support atheistic evolution. On the contrary, it undermines it entirely. If you admitted that fact and moved on, then we could follow the evidence wherever it leads rather than you pretending it leads somewhere else.
OK, that makes more sense.
Obviously “coelocanth doesn’t count” but it was the only thing I could think of that was an “extant” species that could, in some sense, be considered “ancestral” to an extinct species! So having graciously acknowledged your error (football is acceptable as an excuse), please don’t then attempt to blame me for doing my best to answer an unanswerable questions!
But note in any case, that the coelocanth has not been “in stasis for at least 70 million years”. It is not identical to its 70 million year old ancestor, and, more to the point, “stasis” as much as it exists, is as much a result of natural selection as change is.
Which is why molecular clocks, interestingly, tell us that “living fossils” like coelocanths have done as much “evolving” as relatively new-looking organisms like human beings.
It’s just that the best-reproducing variants have tended, not surprisingly, to be those that are like their parents rather than those that are less like their parents, the ancestral group being pretty well adapted to that particular aquatic niche.
OK, to answer your actual question: You want an extinct species that is ancestral to a very different looking species.
Well, I’m going to start with three caveats:
The first is that “species” is a potentially misleading term in the context of the question. Strictly, “species” are non-interbreeding populations that exist at the same time, i.e. they do not interbreed, despite the fact that time-travelling issues wouldn’t prevent them.
So to talk of one “species” being ancestral to another “species” is a bit of an oxymoron. It only really makes sense if you consider that when speciation occurs, one branch becomes a new “species” and the other remains the same “species”, in which case the original “species” may continue to exist even after the sub-population has gone on to form a new “species”, and can thus, like the coelocanth, be considered “ancestral” to an earlier population!
Much less confusing to talk about populations, so let’s do that.
The second caveat is that given the paucity of the fossil sampling, it is pretty unlikely that you’d ever find fossils from different time points in exactly the same lineage. To compare: imagine a picture of a large winter tree. Now, randomly delete about 99% of the pixels. What chance do you think that, of the remaining pixels, two will be in direct line, i.e. that taking one, and following up to each successive branching, you will meet another one?
I suggest low, and I suggest that in the cases of the tree that we postulate represents the Family Tree of Life, that the probability is vanishingly small. Nonetheless, enough “pixels” are available that we can at least figure out some nodes, and place known populations close to those nodes.
My third caveat is that your question is still an potentially an oxymoron! If a species/population is extinct that means it left no living descendents, right? And yet you are asking for a population of descendents from an extinct population! So perhaps you mean an ancestral population for which we have no extant and similar descendent population, and that is ancestral to another extinct population. Alternatively, you mean a population that left no currently living descendents but did leave now-extinct, but very different-looking descendents.
With those caveats, and on the assumption you mean “an ancestral population for which we have no extant and similar descendent population, and that is ancestral to another extinct population”, I nominate Myllokunmingi, which is (probably) the oldest proto-vertebrate, and I don’t think any modern comparable creatures exist. If so, then it may well have been directly ancestral to all subsequent vertebrates, so for its extinct descendent populations, I nominate T. Rex, as I’m pretty sure T.Rex populations have no living descendents.
If you meant “a population that left no currently living descendents but did leave now-extinct, but very different-looking descendents”, then that’s trickier, simply because I’d need to find an extinct population (of which there is a great choice) with a very different ancestral that left no other surviving lineages.
Clearly, the further back you go, the more likely it is that any one population will have left at least one non-extinct lineage. So I’ll pass on that, hoping you meant the first.
But if you meant the second,then I’m not sure what the point of your question is – populations spawn divergent descendant lineages, many of which end in extinction, but those that don’t in turn spawn their own set of divergent lineages etc.
I once saw a very nice graphic, but I can’t find it right now – it showed radiation of lineages from earliest times, punctuated by the great extinctions in which almost all branches were terminated, but a few kept going, radiated in turn, etc, until the next great extinction.
I could probably find you an approprate pair of populations on that, but right now, my google fu seems to be failing me.
Collin, as to:
Well despite the magical ‘god-like’ power that atheist give to time, we do know exactly what time actually does ‘do’, with solely energy and matter to work with, and no input of information from any Intelligence, What time does is irresistibly decay things:
No, I am not an “atheistic evolutionist”, Chris. My atheism has absolutely nothing to do with evolutionary theory, and I just as vociferously rejected the label “theistic evolutionist” when I was a theist, as, ditto.
I wouldn’t even describe myself as an “evolutionist” – merely as someone who accepts that evolutionary theory is a theory that is hugely supported by data.
I have accepted that ever since I was old enough to understand the evidence, and at no point did that theory clash with any theological position I have ever held, or, until recently, met. The catholic church remains accepting of evolutionary theory, and a great many catholics, and other Christians are evolutionary biologists.
Theologically, my position is that ID arguments lead to appallingly bad theology, witness Dembki’s extraordinary recent contortions to fit “backwards causality” into the doctrine of the Fall, none of which is necessary if you make the simple assumption that Genesis is a parable, not a history.
Except that your premise is false. I am not talking about atheism, I am talking about science. Atheism has no “scientific pretensions”. It’s simply what people call themselves when they don’t find evidence of God or gods convincing.
I do not “ignore the scientific evidence” Chris. Indeed, from my PoV it looks as though it is you who are doing so. And if you do not understand why it should seem that way, consider the vast number of scientists who think the evidence supports evolutionary theory, and consider that many of them are theists.
Moreoever, when I asked you what you meant by “missing links” that you claim should not be missing, you brushed me off by accusing me of playing word games. No I am not. You raised a challenge: it’s up to you to spell out what that challenge is. I have answered you inasmuch as I could: every single fossil is a (non)missing link in the tree of life, and every new transitional fossil i.e. a new organism that has characteristics of two known taxonomic group enables us to plot the tree more precisely. The claim that there are no fossil “missing links” is false as far as I can see, and if you want to claim that it is true, then please define precisely what it is you think would count as one.
If only that were true. But given the fact that you are an atheistic evolutionist, we are reduced to talking about atheism and its scientific pretensions. We know this because you ignore the scientific evidence and refuse to admit that the fossil record does not contain all (or, even any) of the missing links that would be in abundance if evolution were true. That is why you also ignore the fact that the Cambrian Explosion turns any would-be “tree” upside down.
Except that it doesn’t. Have you ever even looked at a tree on which Cambrian life forms are plotted? It’s not “upside down” at all.
I’ll try to find that graphic, but you could try drawing it yourself!
It supports common descent, because it can be plotted on a tree. Common descent is well accounted for by Darwinian evolution, although other explanations remain possible. It neither supports nor undermines atheism because it has nothing to do with atheism whatsoever.
I’m not going to “admit” a “fact” that is not a “fact”, Chris!
For some reason you, unlike most scientists, seem to think that the fossil (and molecular) record does not suggest a tree. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to present it as a “fact”.
I do not present evolution as a “fact”, although I do present it as a “fact” that the vast majority of biologist consider Common Descent supported by the fossil evidence, so much so that statistical cladistics is an extremely advanced methodology.
And I get pretty annoyed when you insist on dragging “atheism” into the discussion. Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with religion. It neither supports theism nor undermines it (although it does undermine specific religious propositions, such as Young Earth Creationism). But evolutionary biology has absolutely nothing to say about the existence of God.
Thanks for answering the question, Lizzie:
I nominate Myllokunmingi, which is (probably) the oldest proto-vertebrate, and I don’t think any modern comparable creatures exist. If so, then it may well have been directly ancestral to all subsequent vertebrates, so for its extinct descendent populations, I nominate T. Rex, as I’m pretty sure T.Rex populations have no living descendants.
Just to highlight something you may have overlooked in the initial confusion created by my original wording: I’m looking for a fossil of an extinct species that is ancestral to an extant species.
But, I assume you believe that, for example, humans are descendants of some member of the Myllokunmingi genus or even species. If that assumption is correct, then please can you provide observational evidence or experimental results that support your claim that you and I have a very, very Great Grandparent that was a Myllokunmingi.
If my assumption is incorrect, then you have not yet named an extinct species that is ancestral to a (markedly different) extant species.
Could you explain your point? What “disconfirming evidence” are you talking about? What do you think is “disconfirmed”?
Heh, OK, Chris.
In that case, as you say, I would say that Myllokunmingi is probably ancestral to all extant vertebrates, including us.
The observational evidence is the fossil record (supplemented by molecular evidence) that demonstrates the phylogenetic tree of vertebrates.
In other words, when you plot the relationships between characters (anatomical or molecular) of known vertebrates, you get a crown group with something like Myllokunmingi at the basal node.
There’s a paper on molecular phylogenetics of vertebrates here:
And here is the graphic I was looking for:
It can be viewed in closeup if you click on the magnifying glass.
You can see where the vertebrates start, near the beginning of the Cambrian explosion (radiating from about 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock on the circumference).
What you are saying, Chris, I should point out, is that this detailed chart is, essentially, fiction.
My position is that it is not fiction – it is a model, as all scientific propositions are – that fits the data better than any other competing model, and, moreover, fits it extremely well.
What you are saying, Chris, I should point out, is that this detailed chart is, essentially, fiction.
You’re absolutely right, Lizzie, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Because connecting all of the dots (where each dot is a distinct species) is not something we are entitled to do if we rely upon the scientific method alone. You can only connect the dots if you assume that common ancestry is true. But even then, the fossil record doesn’t provide enough dots to plot the kind of lines your fictional chart contains. The fossil record is characterised by discontinuity (i.e. unbridgeable gaps between the dots) and stasis (ie. the exact same dot cropping up throughout the ages).
And then there’s the Cambrian Explosion where the majority of body plans all appeared at the same time and therefore were already too distinct from each other to be related.
So, all those lines of descent exist only in the evolutionist imagination, not in the real world.
Without any prior assumptions, you can “plot the relationships between characters” to identify species that belong to a higher grouping such as a genus, family or phylum. But that’s as far as the science goes (and as far as Linnaeus went). Shared characteristics alone do not imply common ancestry. In fact, wherever we see shared characteristics in all other design series they usually are not the result of common ancestry (rather, they are the result of common design or plagiarism).
So, if you want to scientifically establish that you are descended from Myllokunmingi you need to produce a lot more than mere resemblance. After all, if that is the highest standard of evidence you can produce then it can easily be refuted by pointing out that the differences vastly outweigh the similarities.
Are you an atheist, Lizzie? Yes. Do you believe that your ancestors were microbes? Yes. Guess what? That makes you an atheistic evolutionist. I’m glad we finally sorted that out.
Now then, appealing to “scientific consensus” instead of producing observational evidence and experimental results doesn’t impress me one single bit. In fact, it achieves the opposite and convinces me that you are bluffing.
If evolution were true, and the fossil record supported evolution, the oldest fossils would all share a few or one body plan. The younger the fossils became, the more body plans we would see being gradually added to the fossil record. Until we reached present day when (extinctions excepted) we would see the most body plans.
But, the evidence of the Cambrian Explosion turns that on its head. Virtually all of the body plans appeared at the same time, without any related (let alone fewer) predecessors. You won’t take my word for it so watch “Darwin’s Dilemma”, it will help you to understand this indisputable fact.
And you forget one vital and killer detail, Lizzie. Yes, if evolution is true, then it is easily reconciled with theism. But, if evolution is not true, then there is no way that atheism can be. So, as a theist, I can go wherever the evidence leads. As an atheist, the evidence has to be made to fit into an evolutionary picture… even when things like the fossil record clearly don’t fit into that picture.
No, it doesn’t, Chris, or not in any sense that makes any sense.
You might as well say: are you female, Lizzie? yes. Do you accept the theory of evolution as well supported by data? Yes.
That makes you a female evolutionist!
Well, sure, but the two properties are totally unrelated, so why call me an atheist evolutionist? Why not a Scottish evolutionist? Or a cycling evolutionist? Or a slightly over-weight evolutionist?
The atheist part is entirely irrelevant.
And it’s not even strictly true that I’m an atheist. I do think it’s very unlikely that there is an afterlife, and I do think that it’s very unlikely that there is a human-like brainless being who interferes occasionally with the working of his/her creation. But I do have a concept of God, and the numinous, and justice, and fairness, and love, and truth, and honesty, and all that, and I certainly believe that prayer is powerful, although not in the sense that you probably do.
But above all, it’s totally irrelevant to whether I think a model fits the data. If it fits well, I accept it as a good model. In the case of evolution, the model seems to me to fit the data remarkably well.
Well, you are reacting very oddly, in that case, Chris. When you go to the doctor, do you accept the “medical consensus” on your condition, or do you insist on reading up on the entire body of medical evidence yourself?
And in any case, your charge is unfounded. I have referred you to specific studies, and specific arguments, and specific data. I am obviously not an expert in evolutionary biology, but I’m not an ignoramus either, and some parts of the field I do encroach on myself, professionally, including the computational side.
No, this is false, Chris, for a number of reasons, and again betrays your misunderstanding of the theory you find fault with.
Firstly, very simple life forms do not readily fossilise. Organisms with hard parts are much more likely to fossilise than, for example, single celled creatures. Nonetheless, the very earliest fossils traces of the reefs built by single-celled cyanobacteria.
Secondly, you forget extinction events (did you look at that graphic?) Nonetheless, the pattern you suggest does in fact show up in the cladograms, with extinction events followed by rapid radiation of forms.
Thirdly, you are equivocating with “body plans”, I think. To say that all the “body plans” show up in the Cambrian, with no new ones thereafter is to completely ignore the countless variations that have appeared since then. Tetrapods, to take an obvious example.
You seem to have arbitrary categorised all “body plans” based on those of the Cambrian, then insisted that no new ones appeared after that, and that they were all unprecedented! That’s circular reasoning of the highest order!
Why not categorise “body plans” by Ediacaran fossils? If you do that, then you can lump all the Cambrian ones as variations on bilateria.
Here’s a relevant paper, btw, that combines both genetic and fossil evidence:
Or categorise “body plans” by those in the Devonian, in which case there would be a huge increase relative to the Cambrian. Ditto with the Jurassic, or virtually any other era in which there was a big radiation.
Sheesh. “If evolution is not true, theism must be?”
Why on earth? And what aspect of evolution would have to be not true for theism to be demonstrated true?
Are you seriously arguing that ID proponents are on the brink of a scientific demonstration of God?
I thought ID had nothing to do with God, it was just science?
And which particular God is demonstrated to be true if (some not yet specified) aspect of evolutionary theory is false? And how many gods would it imply? What are their characteristics? How do we know they are gods?
Sorry, Chris, but this is just silly!
It would appear that my criticism of your position has caused you to modify it. That’s good. There’s still a ways for you to go before you get things entirely right. :;
Oh, but it is circular reasoning.
What do you call a sequence change occurring in a short period of time? Fast evolution. What is fast evolution? It’s when sequences change in a short period of time.
This is merely a description. And a definition. There’s a ‘before’ and ‘after’. That’s it. It proves absolutely nothing.
In a mathematical argument, you don’t “prove” what you “define”.
OK. So your thesis is that adaptation does not have to occur at a constant rate. And that, further, adaptation will track the rate of change in the environment.
Well, it seems flies (Drosophila), which breeds year round, also experiences changing environments ALL THE TIME! So, obviously, it must be changing all the time (or it might go extinct!).
When animals that mate once a year “adapt”, are they adapting to springtime conditions, or winter time conditions? Do you see what nonsense all of this is as a kind of predictive theory? You end up with nothing more than “just-so” stories. No more.
It’s time to abandon the mindless orthodoxy of Darwinism.
Well, thank you! You must be very, very smart to notice all of this.
Would you like to look at my B.A. in biology from UCLA? I can send you a photo.
But I did “imagine” it. I imagined it getting cold, and then getting hot. I imagined it being wet, and then being dry. I can imagine all kinds of things. And that’s the point: Darwinism, for the most part, is no more than imagination.
I can imagine myself flying around in a room. I can imagine myself having wings like an eagle. I can imagine myself swimming like a dolphin.
And, if I try really, really hard, I can imagine that a small ring of light sensitive cells, given enough time, can become a human eye. I can imagine it. Can you?
And likely, no matter how good the paper, and how many the citations it contains, it will be rejected by the Darwinian thought police, otherwise known as “peer-reviewed” journals.
And, kellyhomes, why didn’t you comment on my suggestion to the Grant’s? Was it because it was spot-on?
And scientists who know the limitations of population genetics to explain marked sequence change, except for a huge passage of time, should realize that limiting the amount of time available for significant changes in the whale lineage proves a death knell for Darwinism.
And that’s “EXACTLY why
creationists/IDistsDarwinists get no respect, and deserve to get no respect.
What do you think I’ve modified, PaV?
Of course not, and I’m not even trying to “prove” anything here (remember we don’t “prove” things in science?)
But I think the misunderstanding is revealed in your word “sequence change”. I didn’t mention “sequence changes”. I am talking about mean changes in phenotypic features, averaged over the population.
I’m certainly not arguing (in case you thought I was) that somehow mutation rate rises as the rate of environmental change rises. I’m saying that mean phenotypic features will tend to change as the environment changes, because as the environment changes, alleles within the population, including new alleles as they appear, that tend to produce, singly, or, more often, in combination, phenotypic features that enhance replication in that new environment, will become more prevalent in the population.
In contrast, if the environment is not changing, allele frequencies will tend to remain at an optimum, and only the odd rare new allele that makes things better still will become more prevalent. All others will tend to be deleteriouis relative to the status quo, and be weeded out.
Quite possibly, PaV. If fruitflies breed throughout the year in some places, regardless of changes in weather, it’s quite possible that in the winter, the allele frequencies will be different than in the summer. However, as the weather is presumably a regularly cycling phenonmena, alleles that tend to favour summer weather will tend to remain in the gene pool over winter, if at lower prevalence, just as alleles that tend to favour winter weather will tend to remain in the gene pool over summer, if at lower prevalence.
It’s an interesting idea. I wonder if anyone has tested it?
No it’s not nonsense at all. Obviously with animals that mate once a year, and produce offspring at a particular time of year (why do we always talk about animals? Plants are the really interesting organisms in this respect) alleles that favour birth at an optimum time (spring, for example) will tend to become prevalent and stay that way.
Nothing “mindless” about it at all! In fact, you just used Darwinian theory to derive an interesting prediction! Let’s find out if it’s true 🙂
heh, looks like you scored a hit, PaV!
Who would have thought an ID proponent would score a goal for the predictive power of Darwinism in a post claiming that Darwinism has no predictive power 😉
Maybe I should return the favour?
You didn’t used to include the part about going extinct.
But that’s not the metric that is used to determine “fast/quick evolution” from “slow evolution”. They use sequence divergence.
It’s impossible for gene frequencies to change that rapidly. What is more likely is an epigenetic effect brought about by a changed environment. A sort of Lamarkian version of things; something Darwin shifted to as the years went by, and the criticisms built up.
What’s really interesting here is that ID would predict that per se gene frequencies would not change. As I said above, you would expect epigenetic effects, if anything at all. IOW, IDists would say, basically, why waste your time studying it.
I’ve said for a long time now that eventually Darwinism will die, and something resembling a true theory of biodiversity will take its place, but that, in the meantime, Darwinism will just end up wasting all kinds of time and effort—not to mention the money.
But, if someone ran the test, the results could be very illustrative.
However, let me just add that I recently linked a paper here that showed that back in 1962 they mutated the heck out of Drosophila without adding to its overall fitness whatsoever. So, already, you would expect nothing based on that result. But if someone out there wants to to the study, well, we’ll evaluate the results right here at UD! 😉
Strange then that still aren’t any observations that support Darwinism/ neo-darwinism.
Hmm, Ambulocetus, and Rodhocetus at about 47-48 million years ago are about 50% of the way to being fully aquatic. That’s quite a jump.
Elizabeth @ 22.214.171.124.8:
I’ve looked at the paper. The results are rather inconclusive. They say that the results could be a result of a change in population size, selection, or a combination of both. Many of the techniques used, and population genetics metrics used, are right out of the 70’s, and 80’s, and sometimes even out of the 40’s. And the data used strangely, for a paper published in 2007, relies principally on the year 2003-2003. Was it an extreme weather year? 2001 and 2002 doesn’t show much change from autumn to spring.
It could be argued that they simply “found” what they set out to find; just as you set out to find a paper you thought ought to be out there.
But let’s assume that there is some kind of measurable change; further, let’s assume that this change is directly related to a change in the environment; does this then mean that you have a fly population that has one fitness level for winter, and one for spring? But if the population is decimated during wintertime, changing the genetic make-up of the population, then how is it, exactly, that they are going to survive the spring?
The authors tell us that it is well-known that Drosophila have seasonal changes in levels of recombination. But how can we rule out an epigenetic component to this change? IOW, how do we know that this doesn’t represent anything more than an environmental stimulus that effects a built it regulatory system that resets the amount of recombination that occurs. That is, the mutation rate changes as the organism reacts to a changed environment. This, then, is not any kind of Darwinian mechanism at work; but, rather, “natural genetic engineering” a la James Shapiro.
So, bottom line, we don’t know enough to really say what is going on here. We can guess. And if we’re predisposed to see Darwinian mechanisms at work everywhere, then that’s how you interpret the results. For me, the jury is still out.
And, sadly, I think the entire experiment is a big waste of time, money and effort. The results are hardly more than meaningless.
“Of course it’s “observational science”. All science is “observational”. You can’t do science without data, aka observations.”
Thank goodness we’re on the same page, then with respect to those computer models. Amen to observations and real-world data.
The only part of your response that was not painfully silly was this bit:
Sorry, Chris, but this is just silly!
That bit was true, but not in the way you intended it to be! Reading your recent posts to me reminded me of the same old dialogues I’ve had with atheistic evolutionists over the years. The short version of it is this:
Me: How do we determine the age of dinosaur fossils?
Them: Carbon dating.
Me: No, we don’t.
Them: I don’t believe you.
Me: Let’s not argue about things that better informed atheistic evolutionists than you would agree with.
Them: But you’re wrong.
Me: I’m not actually.
Them. So, what did the Devil just plant them there to fool us?
I want you to understand that that yawn conveys the head-shaking weariness I feel when dealing with atheistic evolutionists who either don’t know what they’re talking about or, for some strange but private personal reason, give the overwhelming impression that that is the case. The only benefit I get from such exchanges is a small, but further confirmation that the atheistic evolutionist position is completely and utterly wrong. And that most atheistic evolutionists fail to even understand the magnitude of the problems that undermine their beliefs, let alone address those problems. The fact that such atheistic evolutionists do not make a single challenging or interesting point just leaves me feeling like I’m wasting my time.
So, unless you, or anyone else, responds to this post with something worth responding to this will be my final word on the matter.
why call me an atheist evolutionist? Why not a Scottish evolutionist? Or a cycling evolutionist? Or a slightly over-weight evolutionist?
The atheist part is entirely irrelevant.
This is so silly that I’m shocked that even you said it, Lizzie! I scarcely know where to begin and am not remotely convinced that it would do any good to even try. But, here goes nothing. Step up the guy who you confused with Charles Darwin himself… the one and only atheistic evolutionist zealot, Richard Dawkins:
An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Now Lizzie, try replacing the final word in the proposition that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist” with “Scotsman”, “cyclist” or “slightly over-weight person”. Any dawning realisation yet? No? Okay, how about BioLogos? Here’s a Q+A from their website:
If there are Theistic Evolutionists and that is a meaningful and entirely relevant description, then how can an Atheistic Evolutionist not be an equally meaningful and entirely relevant description? That’s a rhetorical question by the way. Attempting to answer it would be like trying to convince me that we carbon-date dinosaur fossils.
So, the reality Lizzie, is that a purely unplanned and unguided process of evolution is at the heart of Atheism’s creation myth. If it turns out that evolution really did happen and that it was a planned, deliberate, Intelligently Designed process then that’s fine by me. But, for all you Atheistic Evolutionists, that would change everything. People like you would be demanding an explanation from people like Richard Dawkins: “How did you get it so wrong?”
On to your continued appeals to “scientific consensus” (with the occasional citation bluff thrown in for good measure). Again, the silliness of this line of argument has got the Benny Hill theme tune running around my head. When your argument relies upon an Appeal to Authority, it is an invalid argument: the conclusion does not follow from the premise (even if the conclusion is true)! Did you really not know that? It’s basic stuff, Lizzie and I don’t see how you can expect to be taken seriously in debate if you do not accept this. Once again, I feel like you’re trying to persuade me that we carbon-date dinosaur fossils! Anyway, by now, it is clear that you are not open to a word I’m saying so maybe Michael Crichton will get through instead:
Finally, the Cambrian Explosion. You’re not just carbon-dating dinosaur fossils here, you’re re-offering Coelacanth as the missing link between fish and amphibians! I can only conclude that you simply don’t know enough about the Cambrian Explosion. Do yourself a favour and watch Darwin’s Dilemma. In the meantime, understand that there really is a major scientific controversy over the Cambrian Explosion. Appealing to “simple life forms” that exist only in your imagination sheds no light on the controversy whatsoever. And soft-bodied creatures are also represented in the Cambrian, as Simon Conway-Morris points out:
Not only are there animals such as trilobites and molluscs with tough, durable skeletons, but completely soft-bodied animals are also preserved. These remarkable fossils reveal not only their outlines but sometimes even internal organs such as the intestine or muscles.
When it comes to “body plans”, you accuse me of equivocation and arbitrariness. Fortunately, Casey Luskin has done me a time-saving favour when he highlighted a quote from evolutionists that refutes those accusations:
The indisputable fact that you are disputing Lizzie is that most major body plans, (ie. phyla) suddenly appeared during in the Cambrian. Not (as you, for some strange reason, seem to be implying) in the Devonian or the Jurassic.
I’ll give Stephen Jay Gould the last word, in a revealing comment he made about the fossil record:
We can tell tales of improvement for some groups, but in the honest moments we must admit that the history of complex life is more a story of multifarious variation about a set of basic designs than a saga of accumulating evidence.
“What the frack are you talking about???”
Don’t sugar coat it like that. Tell it to us straight. Oh that’s right, this forum has rules on language as opposed to the Swamp Gas forums. Got it!
“The word “amphibian” refers to both the biological group “amphibians”, and to the state of being amphibious, i.e. living in both water and land. All that is meant here is the second meaning. Seals and sea lions are currently-living mammals that are “amphibians” in this sense.”
Had they meant that definition, then the word adjective “amphibious ” would have been used. As it is they used the noun “amphibian” and the number one definition for ‘amphibian’ is ???
1: an amphibious organism; especially : any of a class (Amphibia) of cold-blooded vertebrates (as frogs, toads, or salamanders) intermediate in many characters between fishes and reptiles and having gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing adults.
The second definition deals ONLY with the usage of the word as an adjective “amphibious” for which the article clearly DID NOT USE or for that matter mean.
2: an amphibious vehicle; especially : an airplane designed to take off from and land on either land or water
The article DID NOT use the desciptive adjective “Amphibious”. It did however use the word noun “Amphibian”. Maybe you should vomit your outrage on the author and not someone who pointed out the glaring flaw in the article.
You gotta love the way this stuff gets under their skin when some of their own drop their pants and expose the flaws in their unholy ‘Unterhosen’.
Kellyhomes(no doubt another closet IDiot):
“No, rather they will defend it until somebody comes up with a better idea at which point they’ll abandon it and take up the new idea instead.”
WRONG, the religiosity of Darwinists is to never question anything any scientists comes up with wearing a Bearded Buddha T-shirt. And that’s no matter how asinine or absurd the fable.
“It’s up to you to come up with that better idea, rather them complaining about “mud to man” with all the obvious religious connotations that has.”
Gotta love it. Classic Atheist/Evolutionists “Burden Shift”. Asinine Fable gets exposed for the junk it is and realizing they have no flipper to steer with for a logical rational explanation, fall back on the old, *How would God have done it” ???
Kellyhomes the Closet IDiot:
“It’s funny but “mud to man” is exactly what you are claiming happened, remember?”
There’s is absolutely NO argument there, so it’s difficult to see what your point is. The real proplem is that you people need constant reminding of your number “1” on that list in your “Articles of Religious Faith” , which is “NO INTELLIGENCE ALLOWED” , Remember ???
*rolls up sleeves”
I readily concede that I misattributed a quotation, and did at the time – although it is no excuse, I had first come across the quotation, misattributed, and had failed to check the attribution. I am always ready to admit to my errors, and in this instance found it salutary to be reminded: always check secondary sources.
But I think better of you, Chris, than to expect you to hold that one, readily conceded error, as tantamount to some dolt on a message board who doesn’t know how dinosaur fossils are dated, and refuses find out when challenged.
And if that dolt was trying to make the argument that dinosaurs are carbon dated, therefore there is no god, well, that just confounds the stupidity.
As I said, I am not an “atheistic evolutionist” in any more cogent sense than I am a “slightly overweight evolutionist”. The two properties, in my case, are totally unrelated, and I certainly do not even attempt to make the (untenable) case that the evidence for evolutionary theory is evidence that there is no God.
More seriously, your contention that if evolutionary theory is falsified, so will atheism, is, IMO, quite wrong. Scientific falsification can offer neither evidence for, nor evidence against, the supernatural.
It may well be that good scientific explanations for phenomena that were previously attributed to divine intervention may allow an atheist to be “intellectually fulfilled”. But that is also true of theists, as you agree. It’s just that with atheism, instead of stopping at an explanatory gap and saying “oh, God probably does that bit”, the atheism can say: “that’s interesting, I wonder how that happens”. Which, I would argue, is probably rather more “intellectually fulfilling”. So my view, in contrast to Dawkins’ is that being an atheism keeps our curiosity alive where a theist might simply stop, and say “it’s a Mystery”. In other words, it’s not that evolution allows me to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist” but that atheism potentially allows me to be an intellectually fulfilled scientist.
But then I was anyway, because I never found any difficulty in reconciling theistic belief with scientific explanations.
Chris: an “appeal” to “scientific consensus” is not an Appeal to Authority. I am pointing not at what scientists say but at what they demonstrate. This is a crucial distinction. Let me give an example:
100 people measure the annual rainfall in their garden.
99 of them come up with a figure close to 900 mm.
One person comes up with 22 mm.
You come to me with that person’s report, and say: look, the annual rainfall in Britain is 22mm! The 900mm figure is a myth! I point to the “consensus” of all the other people who have measured the rainfall, and come up with figures close to 900mm. Not one figure is the same as any other – they all slightly disagree. But the “consensus” is around 900mm.
But that is Appeal to Authority! you say! You didn’t make all those measurements yourself! And truth is not established by majority vote!
True, I say. But I am not asking people to vote. I am asking them to measure. And I am also subjecting their reports to pretty rigorous multi-stage scrutiny.
Now, it is perfectly possible, and it occasionally happens, that the standard methodology (e.g. for measuring rainfall, in this instance) is radically faulty. Now all those 900 mm are thrown into doubt. Perhaps the outlying finding was not an error, but the only correctly measured quantity in the whole bunch.
We have to be constantly aware of that. But that does not invalidate the argument that if the vast consensus of scientific findings is that the molecular and anatomical characters of living things are distributed in a tree, that it’s probably true.
That is not Appeal to Authority. It is Appeall to Overwhelming Evidence, which is certainly not fallacious.
BTW, I’m getting a bit cross with this “citation bluff” things. I see a lot of “citationg bluffing”, and I know exactly what you mean. ba77’s posts, for instance, seem to me to consist entirely of “citation bluffing”, and I have simply given up following his links, which either lead to metacafe videos, or sometimes to papers that have nothing to do with his point or contradict it completely (like the that Lenski paper). I do not “citation bluff”. I give links to what I think are good primary or secondary sources, and that I think are relevant. If you have a different interpretation of the evidence presented than I do, I will be interested in hearing it. But I will not have it dismissed as a “bluff”.
You seem to have mistaken me for someone I am not.
I’ve asked you several times, Chris, what you mean by “missing link” which in my view is a meaningless term. I have attempted to answer your question in various ways, given various interpretations of it (not helped by the extinct/extant confusion). And I did not offer the Coelocanth as a “missing link between fish and amphibians”. I offered it as the relatively unchanged descendent of a population that is ancestral to both Devonian lobe-limbed fish and to the early tetrapods. Amphibians evolved from those early tetrapods, as did we.
And all that happened long after the Cambrian explosion.
So what are those 3.5 billion year old cynobacteria fossils then, Chris? I didn’t make them up!
Yes, indeed. And in the Ediacaran as well.
But “phyla”, Chris, is just an arbitrary term for a level of nesting. What’s special about “phyla”? Why not express amazement about Classes, or Kingdoms?
Sure, there was a rapid radiation in the Cambrian. I showed you a picture. What is the problem supposed to be?
Are you Arguing from Authority here, Chris? 😉
But let’s look at the context of that quotation:
In other words, Gould, in the quote you gave, is setting up a problem with Darwin’s conception of steady “upward” progress, and proposing a quite different view, that of “punctuated equilibrium” in which there is competition between populations, as well as between individuals within populations, and intermittent mass extinctions followed by rapid radiations.
I would also note that that article was written more than quarter of a century ago, since when there has been a huge amount of progress, not least being molecular phylogenetics.
Please look at that figure I found, Chris, and you will at least perhaps understand what the model actually is. And in return (or in fact anyway) I will look at Darwin’s Dilemma.
Three other points about the very silly arguments being made here —
1. You guys, from Sternberg on down, have not shown that the origin of whales would take some huge amount of extra sequence change, nor have you shown that it would take lots of simultaneous double mutations, triple=mutations, etc. There is no particular reason to think that either of these premises of the argument is true, but you are just brazenly pulling this assumption out of nowhere. What we know, though, is that the amount of genome change involved in adaptation via natural selection is a tiny amount of the total amount of genetic change that happens over, say, 10 million years, just due to random genetic drift. And it seems likely that most morphological change is due to not adaptive changes in gene sequences (although there is some of this), but due to regulatory changes that influence gene expression and development. Altering gene expression is essentially a matter of quantitatively bumping up or bumping down the strength of binding, which is just the sort of thing that single point mutations are good at.
2. Fossils only provide minimum ages for their groups, not maximum ages. The fact that Pakicetus has an age of 53 million years (or whatever — the graphic doesn’t say that) doesn’t mean that 53 million years was the starting line for whale evolution, because Pakicetus was in all probability a sister group, not the direct ancestor. That’s why it’s drawn that way in the friggin’ graphic, after all. Go read about collateral ancestry vs. direct ancestry. The actual starting line is the divergence point on the phylogeny between the walking whales and the aquatic whales. This timepoint can be statistically estimated — I do this kind of analysis myself in grad school — but it is a nontrivial research project and uncertainties are relatively high, depending on the available data and how far the DNA and morphology deviates from a clocklike model.
3. This newly-discovered whale is not the same thing as a modern whale, even though it was aquatic enough to swim to Antarctica. The whole discussion here seems to be based on the implicit misconception that this fossil is a fossil of a modern whale that appeared all of the sudden right at the beginning of whale evolution.
But, in reality, it is a member of the most primitive whale group, the archeocetes IIRC, and so is presumably rather like Basilosaurus. So, in other words: no baleen, still has teeth, the nose/blowhole is in an intermediate position, not all the way back on top of the head, and it still probably has hind limbs. Heck, it may well have had to haul out on land to give birth. Rather like modern sea lions, which also still have their hind limbs (which they walk on) and give birth on land, but are plenty aquatic enough to get to Antarctica.
All of these other “modern whale” features evolved later. In other words, what they’ve found in Antarctica is another transitional fossil.
Started watching Darwin’s Dilemma.
I really don’t feel like watching any further after hearing a quotemine like this:
Dawkins: “It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.”
What Dawkins actually then said was:
“Needless to say this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists. Evolutionists of all stripes believe, however, that this really does represent a very large gap in the fossil record, a gap that is simply due to the fact that, for some reason, very few fossils have lasted from periods before about 600 million years ago. One good reason might be that many of these animals had only soft parts to their bodies: no shells or bones to fossilize.”
Does the film even address this? Oddly, it goes out of its way to point out that the soft-bodied animals of the Burgess Shale were almost certainly fossilised by a rare event – a landslide that killed them and fossilised them. In most cases of course, soft-bodied animals are either killed by predators, who eat them, or die and are scavenged or rot.
Of course there was a radiation in the Cambrian, and it is fascinating. But the “dilemma” it, and other radiations present, is well resolved by Gould’s solution. Darwin’s conception, in this respect, turns out to be incorrect.
The film is therefore hugely out of date.
Why then, for the love of the Intelligent Designer, do the earliest fossil whales all have legs??? Is that not evidence of just the sort you are asking for??? Why do we even have to point it out, shouldn’t this be obvious to anyone who has spent 5 minutes reading about the origin of whales?
Let’s unpack that a little.
You say “likely” but you don’t actually know. So for a start you don’t even have the courage of your convictions. You refuse to even find out if that’s true but will go along with the “no point in even trying” group-think.
Let’s say you were to write such a paper and submit it to a journal. If they then reject that paper on spurious grounds then that’s hard evidence that the “establishment” is anti-ID even when the paper itself is well supported.
That rejection letter would then be valuable for the greater cause of ID – if publicized the journal in question would have to explain why they rejected a scientific paper on non-scientific grounds.
I’ve previously asked for examples of such rejection letters where papers are rejected solely because they support ID. You know know many examples I’ve been given? Zero. You don’t even have any evidence to support your claim that it would be rejected by the Darwinian thought police.
It’s interesting that when asked why they don’t publish many ID proponents say the same as you. But there are in fact several pro-ID journals where you’d not actually have to worry about anti-ID bias. There are no Darwinian thought police at Dembski’s evolab for example. Yet somehow I doubt we’ll be seeing anything from you in any of those places either.
So, PaV, which is it, you won’t publish because you know already you’ll get rejected or you will not publish because you know your arguments won’t actually stand the light of day (peer review) or withstand further scrutiny after publication?
The Darwinian thought police argument is simply bogus considering the fact that there are several ID journals desperate for content.
The only way ID will make headway is if it’s supporters stick to their guns and publish!
Publish or perish PaV, publish or perish.
Why don’t you suggest it to them instead? What difference will it make what I comment? Go write a paper. Get it published. Have your argument critiqued by experts in the field rather then random internet bods.
I understand you’d rather talk to me about it then them or write a paper but talking to me about it won’t advance your cause one jot in the only venue that matters.
But I’m getting the impression that nobody here actually minds that at all……
It’s funny but when Dr Dembski publishes a new paper nobody says “oh, I guess I can publish one too as the Darwinian thought police have been defeated”. I guess they are doing some selective policing huh?
It’s so obvious I forgot to point it out!
Nick Matzke above:
This is very cleverly worded so as to be true. But “adaptation” is not “evolution”. As I’ve said many times over, if Darwin had entitled his opus, Origin of Adaptations, there wouldn’t be very much to quibble with. So, Nick, I’m almost tempted to say that you’ve employed a kind of “bait-and-switch” tactic here.
But let us move on.
Nick, your description is no more than a form of “front-loading”, a concept ID has put forth for years.
Let me put it another way: you fail to present any mechanism for the creation of information—you simply say that this information (where ever it came from) is changed around as needed.
Once all this is pointed out, the rest of your post really has no strength.
Likewise you fail to present any mechanism for the creation of information apart from “design”. Which in and of itself is not actually very helpful, is it? Sure, it might be design or it might not. But given that you are unable to say a single thing about who how or why then you can hardly complain about what you perceive to be others failure to explain it. Can you? All you actually have is a label, “design”, no actual detail. No positive evidence.
PaV, this is an error you are making. Adaptation is evolution. Absolutely it is.
What else would evolution be? There is no “bait and switch”. Darwin could have entitled his book “Origins of adaptations” and written exactly the same book.
What Darwin didn’t quite get right was the diversification part, not surprising as he had no idea even of the mechanism of inheritance.
But what he described was how adaptation happens, and he was correct. Speciation is simply what happens when a sub-population adapts independently of the parent population.
If you go in for a front-loading-evolution explanation, you are giving up on all the bafflegab put forward in the initial post about how there was no time for whale evolution, Darwinian processes insufficient, etc. etc.
This has happened. http://www.uncommondescent.com.....er-review/
kellyhomes @ 19:
You can ‘huff and puff, but you won’t blow this house down’.
Open your eyes. Don’t be naive about things.
I once asked a girl if she would like to go out on Friday. She told me she was busy. Now, do you think she was really busy?
I’m supposing you’re smart enough to figure this out on your own.
Where to begin?
Without equivocating about the common sense understanding of information, please give me one instance where material processes brought information into existence. Can you do this?
Next: I suppose you would agree that an i-Phone is designed. Now do you know anything at all about who designed it, or how they designed it? Don’t say Steve Jobs, because he had engineers working for him that did the design work, probably using techniques and materials with which he wasn’t that versant. So, it becomes a bogus complaint to say, as you seem to suggest, that not knowing who and how something was designed makes it impossible to know that an object has nevertheless been designed.
Ahemmm. What “positive evidence” do you have that Darwinian mechanisms caused a land mammal to become aquatic? Could you point out how Mendelian genetics provided for the new information, the new mutations, etc., etc. Or, are you just simply going to use a label, “natural selection”, and provide no actual detail.
People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks! (I couldn’t resist.)
Elizabeth Liddle @ 126.96.36.199.2:
Very good. I propose that from now on, we at UD should only talk about Darwin’s theory of adaptation. Feel better?
If you study a little bit of the history of Darwin’s publication of OofSp, you quickly learn that he did so upon receipt of a letter from Alfred Wallace, who, basically, was proposing what Darwin would call the Principle/Law of Divergence. Was Wallace correct? Was Darwin correct?
Well, to answer this we need to look at the next statement you make:
Yes, Darwin “described” what adaptation looks like. He proposed NS as the causative agent. But, increasingly, cellular processes are being discovered suggesting that the cells themselves have built-in mechanisms of adaptation. So, is it really NS that is the causative agent, or the cell? ID predicts it will principally, if not exclusively, the cell. We shall see what we shall see!
According to Wallace and Darwin, the Law of Divergence tells us that a sub-species will, under changed circumstances, replace its parent species. And so Darwin declares that “subspecies” are really “incipient” species. But where do we see this happening in nature?
Let’s also remember that neither Wallace nor Darwin knew about Mendelian genetics. We know about recessive traits showing up in the f1 or f2 generation. They didn’t. This means that the phylogeny might change without the ontology (the underlying genetic structure) changing. Was this a mistake on their part, then?
So, without knowing more, and based on what we know fairly well now, your statement:
“Speciation is simply what happens when a sub-population adapts independently of the parent population.” should read:
“Sub-speciation is simply what happens when a sub-population adapts independently of the parent population.“
In fact, if Pav wrote a critque based on the idea that the traits the Grants measured “might have nothing to do whatsoever with genetic changes” he’d rightly be rejected. The Grants showed the traits in question are heritable, even given the environmental variance they recorded, and some of the genetic variance in the population came from migrants.
Being able to “sequence check” each bird they capture is in the realms science fiction for the time being.
Nick Matzke @ 188.8.131.52.3:
You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too!
OTOH, you seem to be willing to accept the ID notion of “front-loading”, while on the other hand, you want to make the claim that Darwinian mechanisms are sufficient to explain whale evolution.
But if you accept an ID understanding of how things got started, then how can you simply switch over to Darwinian mechanisms later on. You can’t have it both ways.
But even if “front-loading” is conceded, Darwinian mechanisms are still too feeble to explain whale evolution. Behe has recently pointed out the difficulty scientists had in taking an ancient protein configuration and mutating it to a modern (later) configuration. One, relatively simple, protein reconfiguration seems beyond Darwinian mechanisms. So in what way can they be used to explain whale evolution over a relatively short period of time.
So, instead of “having your cake and eating it too”, you’re really facing a “lose-lose” proposition.
But, PaV, based on the impeccable logic of many design critics, if something is not “perfect” design, or has “flaws”, or if there is something we can point to in the design and say “gee, why would anyone do that”, then it can’t have been designed. So, therefore, the iPhone was not designed. After all, you remember the antenna reception bungle, right? Imperfect, flawed, why on earth they put the antenna right there, etc. The iphone can’t have been designed.
And I’ll go you one further. Given that it can’t have been designed, it must have come about through purely natural and materialistic processes (please don’t ask me how that could happen in the real world). Further, all the good stuff about the iPhone — all the parts that work flawlessly — that just proves how amazing my bumbling natural process is. Why, my process is so great it can even create the illusion of design. 🙂
Where you were studying biology, did the course cover evolution as such? Where did you study? I’m genuinely interested because I have to wonder how you can say “natural selection” as if that’s all anybody knows about how life came to be.
Let me ask you, what “positive evidence” do you have that Intelligent Design caused a land mammal to become aquatic?
The explanation I have (or rather, which exists as I will not be spoon feeding you here or anywhere) is based on evidence.
Or a single reference
to some significant step forward in understanding in this subject based on ID. Can you provide such?
So who are you to talk about “positive evidence” in such a superior tone?
Scoff, as I know you will, but here goes:
Whatever you might think of the evidence and arguments presented on that page can you give me a link to a single page like that that makes the case for the Intelligent Design of Whales, supported by physical evidence (fossils etc)?
kellyhomes @ 21.1.2:
But you’ve already asked me that question. I simply turned it around and asked you. You think you have evidence. Well, where is it?
These putative “transitional forms” for the whale series demonstrate common ancestry; not necessarily common descent. But that’s not what is at issue here. What is at issue is how did the ‘transitions’ take place. IOW, what is the mechanism behind these transitions? This is a very different question.
You say this:
But then you say this:
Who’s guilty of the ‘superior tone’ here?
Along the way you cite a reference with the title:
“Fossil evidence for the origin of aquatic locomotion in Archaeocete whales.”
I’m asking for biochemical/genetic evidence to support a Darwinian scenario for what the fossils show. Hence, this reference misses the mark I’m afraid.
In the talk-origins quote you present, the author also conjectures that whale evolution took 10-15 million years. With this discovery, you have the archeoacete—that is the “ancient” whale—Pakicetus, with a head size of only one foot, that is said to be 52 million years old. And now we have a full aquatic whale that is 49 million years old. Instead of 10-15 million years, we have 3 million years, or LESS!
So it appears that the very learned author of the talk-origin article was way wrong. That’s the point of the opening post (OP).
I think you’ve been smoking something Eric.
It’s not the ID people who make such statements; rather it’s the Darwinists.
They’re the ones who say: “Oh, look at the human eye, why are the blood vessels in front of the retina! This is obviously a “flawed” design. Ergo, a “designer” is nonsense.” And, the ID people say: “Wait a minute. There may be some good reason for this.” And, of course, they are almost always right.
So, your premise is a straw man. And you’re conclusion about the i-Phone, flawed. Or, at least, imperfect!
And the second paragraph above, is but a description of Darwinism and the absurdities it contains. It has nothing at all to do with ID.
PAV… I may be wrong… but wasn’t EA joking?
PaV, we’re cool man. Re-read my comment a bit more carefully, especially the first line! 🙂
I’m glad you liked my analogy, so let me take it a step further. If our model – our hypothesis – is for a linear correlation between two variables, each data sample should give us a linear correlation. However, the parameters of the best fit line will differ with every dataset. And we n estimate the confidence bounds of the parameters.
But if new data tends to contradict our hypothesis, and repeatedly we do not find significant, or trend-to-significant linear fits, we may want to revise not only the parameters of our linear fit line, but the model itself. Perhaps a quadratic function will fit the model better. And with many bivariate correlations this is the case – the “inverted U” function is a fairly common relationship in empirical variables, for instance the correlation between arousal and performance.
To apply this to the tree model of biological characters: new data may well cause us to alter the parameters of the tree model; we may have to move nodes around, insert new branches, adjust the length of branches, etc. None of that falsifies the tree, just as adjusting the parameters of a linear fit falsfies the linear relationship.
But if our data seriously violated the tree – started to look like a network, rather than a tree, and tree models consistently produced a less good fit than network models – then we would have to concede that a network model was a better fit to the data than a tree model. That network would then become an explanandum – what processes would give rise to a network distribution of characteristics?
Now, as you point out, recent research has found some network characteristics at the base of the tree, specifically in molecular phylogenies, and most notably in cloning species. There is still a tree, but there are the branches also reconnect.
So that requires explanation. It cannot be explained by vertical heritability, a core feature of Darwinian processes.
So we look for an explanation – and we find it: horizontal gene transfer – means by which segments of genetic material are transfered between lineages, not down them.
However, this doesn’t make much different to the phenotypic trees because all this does is potentially introduce a new source of phenotypic variance, which will propagate through the populations in the usual way, and be selected if beneficial.
So certainly our understanding of the distribution of phenotypic and genetic characters has complexified, and required biologists to hypothesise new processes to explain the data.
But that is quite different from saying, oh, Darwinist just change the model to fit their preconceptions! (Not that you were doing that). Models must always be fitted to data, not the other way round, and if the best-fitting model requires new explanations, these must be sought. And are 🙂
This YEC creationist insists marine mammals are from land mammals in a post flod world.
Change was instant by innate triggers.
its fine and welcome to find fossils of these whales since all whales were here with a century or two after the flood.
once again its the geology that is the foundation for the evolutionists and ID folks biological conclusions.
Geology is not to be a player in biology where conclusions are made on remaining evidence.
ID and YEC creationists will fain to deny marine mammals are just land mammals adapted to the seas.
They clearly are alike to land creatures and simply filled a post flood empty sea because the great previous creatures were wiped out by the flood .
Talk about silly responses- Nick Matzke said::
Dude, buy a vowel. It isn’t up to anyone to demonstrate that the origin of whales is beyond genetic variation.
It is up to YOU to demonstrate that the transformations required are even possible via genetic variation. And guess what? To date the entire field of evolutionary biology has failed to do so.
IOW Nick, yours is just a bedtime story, but I bet you think it is scientific evidence.
What if the sea organisms weren’t wiped out by the flood?
What did God have against cetaceans, pinnepeds, fish, etc.?
The sea like the land was destroyed. God simply saved a remnant of everything himself.
After it was over different ratios of creatures came to dominate and extinction came also. However its possible somewhere is anything that ever exist in the seas.
Marine mammals did not exist before the flood. tHey are simple adaptations of land creatures.
In fact there was probably all sorts of land creatures that took to the sea and we now just have a few remaining.
After the flood diversity was fantastic and fossils from then show this. no intermediates but only types that quickly developed.
Hi Robert- Creationist organiizations like AiG disagree with you- that the sea was destroyed.
Marine mammals did not exist before the flood? It doesn’t state that in the Bible so where did you get that from?
You said there is a lot of evidence from cladistics for the evolutionary model… But is this so? I doubt that. As I know,regarding the transition from terrestrial mammals to whales, usually the evolutionists show a fossil transition from a wolf-like creature to whales; but from a morphological point of view, whales are more similar to pigs than to wolfs; and from a molecular point of view, whales have more affinity with hippos than with wolfs. Each line of evidence leads to a different conclusion, which argues against the validity of this particular story. See (or rather listen) also: http://www.reasons.org/podcast.....ike-animal .
How can you use an outdated phylogenetic tree?
So, the most we’re getting from evolutionists seems to be that this and other revelations still in no way disprove evolution. Well, I think it is enough for theists to get a tacit admission that evolution is so far from fact it isn’t funny and that you are not an IDiot for being a creationist. I mean how many times have we heard “Evolution is FACT! And you’re just ignorant and don’t understand evolution if you disagree” It is part con, part bluster, part denial. Yes, natural selection is fact. That’s a far as it goes. Period.
There should be 100’s if not thousands of transnationals compared to fully formed creatures – but their are NONE. There are 10K whale fossils, but you can only scrape up a few hopeful monsters – not to mention tails have been drawn on to the pictures, its junk science. Evolution requires more faith than a created creature – go down to the level of the internal organs and then down into the metabolic changes, and developmental embryonic changes that need to occur to make a car into a nuclear submarine and it is a bedtime story for atheists.
The Cambrian explosion and the specified information in DNA nullify neo-darwinian or any other type of naturalistic theory – I don’t really know why first life and the Cambrian simply did not end the debate – there is no debate – creatures were formed at different periods of time, fully formed, all at once. Just because its called supernatural, makes it no more so than the digital coding and self-repairing mechanisms of the DNA molecule… evonuts are lunatics. All predictions of this pseudo theory FAIL – game over.
Another walking whale found. What do you make of this UD?
I saw that article several months ago, probably about the time you posted it. What do I make of it?
Another extinct amphibious mammal that evolutionists are quick to say is an ancestor of another, fully aquatic mammal fully suited for the sea. With no proof that the former eventually became the latter. You either find these amphibious skeletons, or you find full blown whales. Why can’t the forms leading to the full-blown whale be found?
“four legs with hoofed toes that were likely webbed, making the creature well-adapted to both land and sea.”
I see a few “maybes” and “possibilities “. “It likely had webbed feet”, but there’s nothing to suggest that it actually did. And yet, the accompanying painting depicts the animal with webbed feet. Many would see the picture and take it as fact.
I see a partial skeleton, but no ball vertebra, which is the hallmark of true whales.
I had a sense of Deja Vu when I’d read the article and seen the picture. It reminded me of pakicetus, discovered by Philip Gingerich. When it was first discovered, there were only a few fragments of fossil: cheek teeth, parts of the back end a skull and a very small part of a lower jaw . So why was there a fully “reconstructed ” image of this animal on the cover of SCIENCE depicting it swimming with a fluked tail?
Evolutionists say that whales and hippos share similar DNA, this proving common descent. Long before evolution was dreamt of, it was said all life shares a common creator. One could argue creatures share similar traits because they have the same person “coding” them.
I would also like to comment on something someone said some time ago about the supposed imperfections found in organic structures proving that life was not designed by a perfect God. First of all, who are we to define what is “perfect “? Scientists have jumped to many conclusions about supposedly useless body parts only to be corrected later, or have at one time considered some elements of DNA to be “junk” only to find out differently.
I’m not actually saying that organisms of today at perfect in design. The Bible says that there originally was perfection throughout the earth–animal perfection obviously being different from man’s–but perfect in their own way. That perfection was lost. Any “imperfections ” evolutionists perceive today are probably a result of that loss of perfection.
I think it was the late Stephen J. Gould who claimed that scientists could better design the human anatomy than “nature ” has. Have they? Or do engineers turn to nature for design ideas?