Intelligent Design

For Every 1000 Species That Has Ever Lived…

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Fun facts you should know.

For every 1000 species that has ever lived during the history of our planet, 999 of them became extinct in an evolutionary dead end street (no species descended from them). Estimates range up to 5 billion species that have walked, crawled, swam, flew, rooted, or slimed our planet in the past. About 10 million are alive today and we have names for about 1 million of those. The average lifespan of a species is about 10 million years. Most species enter the fossil record abruptly and disappear abruptly looking mostly the same at both entrance and exit. The next time you’re thinking of how random mutation and natural selection works keep in mind that in the vast majority of cases it keeps a species looking pretty much the same for about 10 million years then kills it without leaving any descendents.

18 Replies to “For Every 1000 Species That Has Ever Lived…

  1. 1
    IDist says:

    Sometimes when I think about it, the estimated age of the Earth is about 4.5 billion years, if the number of species that existed is about 5 billions, then we are talking about a new species every year!
    And for a new species to appear every year, that’s alot of work for RM to do :D, and also ignoring the stasis in the fossil record.

  2. 2
    Jehu says:

    For every 1000 species that has ever lived during the history of our planet, 999 of them became extinct in an evolutionary dead end street (no species descended from them).

    I have heard that number before but I have never seen a reference. I was surprised to read this contrary exchange between Kurt Wise and David Menton

    Dr. David Menton: There’s one area where evolutionists and creationists do agree, I think there are several, but there is one important one we ought to bring up now and that’s this matter of extinction. Here we have no argument. Both sides agree that the vast majority of those organisms that have ever existed on earth are no longer with us and have become extinct.

    Wise: No. I don’t agree. That’s incorrect.

    Menton: Is that right?

    Wise: The fossil record has 250,000 species, more or less, in its record, we…

    Menton: What percentage do you think are extinct?

    Wise: What percentage? I believe a very small percentage. We have over a million and half species living today, 250,000 fossil species. I mean, if we take things literally, most species exist today and not in the fossil record.

    Kurt Wise is a creations with Ph.D. in paleontology from Harvard where he studied under Gould, he has a reputation of being a straight shooter. Even Dawkins calls him an “honest creationist.”

  3. 3
    DaveScot says:

    jehu

    I was working from memory. Raup puts the bottom at 5 billion not the top.

    Raup (1991) Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck

    5-50 billion species over all time – up to 40 million alive today

    The numbers pretty squishy depending on how you define species and extrapolate from available evidence but they don’t seem too unreasonable from what I’ve read of methods and assumptions.

    Raup has done a lot of good work in paleontology, especially related to past extinction, in a wide range of peer reviewed journals.

    http://scholar.google.com/scho.....#038;hl=en

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Raup was Wise’s mentor, and Raup was the one who wrote Wise recommendation to Stephen Gould and tricked Gould into thinking Wise was Darwinist by saying nothing of Wise’s creationist leanings (so the legend goes). Gould had a fit, but being a fair minded man, he took over where Raup left off in Wise’s training….

    Futhermore, Raup was part of the Pajaro Dunes conference which began the ID movment, even though Raup himself did not join….

    The number 50 Billions species cited by Raup in his book is based on an extrapolation of some 250,000 specimens (that was the number Wise cited). The extrapolation is based on the amount of Darwinism needed to evolve all the species today….

    We really don’t have 50 Billion species in hand, and some assumptions are needed. However, whichever number is adopted is problematic for Darwinism. Phil Johnson points out why at ARN: Extinction of Darwinism

  5. 5
    Jehu says:

    I understand there are about 1.5 million species alive, and that is stretching it.

    The Smithsonian has the current list of mammal species in Excel format.

    http://nmnhgoph.si.edu/msw/

    If you look at it, one of the things you immediately notice is that there are only 5419 mammal species. And that includes many dubious definitions of “species.” There are for example, 102 species of mouse eared bats,67 species of “flying fox” bats, 27 species of tree squirrels, 61 species of small eared voles, 171 species of musk shrews, and so on. When you get down to what is actually a species based on reproductive compatibility, the list of species is far smaller than the hype we ofter hear from Darwinists.

  6. 6

    “The Smithsonian has the current list of mammal species in Excel format.”

    Very cool list of the 5418 “species.” I presume this is supposed to be relatively exhaustive? Does anyone know of any similar resources for other classes?

  7. 7
    StuartHarris says:

    IDist,

    Actually we’re talking about 10 or so new species coming into existence very year. My reasoning is that for the first 4.5 billion years of Earth’s existence life did not exist or only simple single celled organisms existed. Things didn’t really get interesting until the Cambrian explosion of about 500 millian years ago, and I think when scientiosts talk about there having been 5 billion species they’re talking about the last 500 million years. So, 5,000,000,000 species divided by 500,000,000 years is 10 species per year. It seems we should have witnessed speciation events every once in awhile, but we haven’t. How come?

  8. 8
    Jehu says:

    Very cool list of the 5418 “species.” I presume this is supposed to be relatively exhaustive? Does anyone know of any similar resources for other classes?

    Suprisingly these things have not been catalogued very well. What have all those prof.’s of zoology been doing all these years?

    Here is a site that has a reptile list.
    http://www.embl-heidelberg.de/.....ecies.html

    and an interesting paragraph on vertebrate species.

    “Vertebrates are certainly the best-studied animals of which most species have been identified. Accordingly there are comprehensive compilations that list all known 4,675 mammal species (Wilson & Reeder 1993; Hutterer 1995), all 9,702 birds (Sibley and Monroe 1993), 4,780 amphibians (Frost 1985; Duellman 1993; Glaw and Köhler 1998) and 23,250 fish (Eschmeyer et al. 1998). Nevertheless, new fish, amphibians and reptiles continue to be described at a rate of about 200, 80 and 60 species per year, respectively (Eschmeyer et al. 1998; Glaw and Köhler 1998; Bauer 1999; this work). Few comprehensive lists of reptile species have been attempted recently (Ananjeva et al. 1988; Frank and Ramus 1995) which list 7712 and ~6700 reptile species, respectively. However, both have shortcomings: they are mere lists of names that do not distinguish between original and secondary names (Frank and Ramus 1995) or do not give the year of description (Ananjeva et al. 1988); they do not list synonyms, statistics, or distribution data; and they provide no references to individual species. ”

    IMO the number of species has been dramatically over sold.

  9. 9
    IDist says:

    Suprisingly these things have not been catalogued very well. What have all those prof.’s of zoology been doing all these years?

    writing books promoting atheism

  10. 10
    tribune7 says:

    So are there 4,675 mammal species or 5,419 mammal species?

  11. 11
    Jehu says:

    Who knows? The Smithsonian list had 5,419. The Heidelberg site had this to say about the problem of determining the number of species:

    “Another problem are different species concepts: what exactly is a “species”? A species may contain many individuals of different appearance (“variations”) but as long as they interbreed they can exchange genetic information and therefore form a genetic continuum. This biological species concept is increasingly challenged by the “evolutionary species concept” which rather considers populations of very similar specimens as species. As a result, many subspecies have been raised to “full species” status and therefore the number of species increases just because of that.”

  12. 12

    Jehu alludes to the difficulty of determining exactly what constitutes a species. Charles spent a fair amount of time at the beginning of the “Origin” discussing this issue (with 1850’s examples, of course), and used this as one of his arguments against the “fixity of species.” He came back to the theme several times, citing the difficulties of clearly delineating species as evidence for his proposal that there was no clear delineation between species and that organisms were almost “plastic” (again, his word, not mine) in their ability to change.

    I think the intervening years have tended, if the evidence is viewed objectively as a whole, to cast doubt on Darwin’s proposal, as the barrier between organisms, particularly at the genus and higher levels seems more and more insurmountable the more we know (at least through RM+NS). Interesting, however, that the challenges of identifying species remain. I am not at all optimistic about the “evolutionary species concept” the authors cite, and expect it will result in even more wanderings down unfruitful paths that will eventually have to be retraced.

  13. 13
    tribune7 says:

    Who knows?
    Fortunately they are certain beyond a shadow of doubt that all life came from a common ancestor and of the means by which that happened 🙂

  14. 14
    idnet.com.au says:

    I asked the question about where the number of extinct species comes from, some years ago after reading Dawkins.

    The assertion about 99.9% of species being extinct is based on the number of intermediate forms that would be theoretically necessary to fulfil the gradualist myth of Darwin. Most extant land dwelling species are insects.

    If we use only physical evidence, and there are about 300,000 fossil species, then we can only estimate the probability of any species being preserved in fossil form, and compare the fossil species with living species and see the proportion that are still living and go from there.

    The phrase “your guess is as good as mine” comes to mind.

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    I wonder how many of them are actually species that cannot under any circumstance or number of trials produce fertile hybrids. There has been virtually no verification of hybrid sterility between closely related species due to the difficulty of breeding in captivity. It’s for this reason that the gold-standard in species identification (hybrid sterility) is hardly ever used and rather reproductive isolation (they’re not seen at a casual glance producing fertile hybrids) is used to discriminate between sub-species and species.

  16. 16
    tribune7 says:

    There has been virtually no verification of hybrid sterility between closely related species due to the difficulty of breeding in captivity. It’s for this reason that the gold-standard in species identification (hybrid sterility) is hardly ever used and rather reproductive isolation (they’re not seen at a casual glance producing fertile hybrids) is used to discriminate between sub-species and species.

    Good point. I don’t think it’s even ever been demonstrated that the famous ring species Ensatina eschscholtzii group — which is often cited as slam-dunk proof of evolution — can’t create fertile hybrids.

    Of course, micro-evolution doesn’t need to be proved.

    Of course, the salamanders are cited as proof of macro-evolution by people who hope the difference is not noted.

  17. 17
    Jehu says:

    Idnet,

    If we use only physical evidence, and there are about 300,000 fossil species, then we can only estimate the probability of any species being preserved in fossil form, and compare the fossil species with living species and see the proportion that are still living and go from there.

    If there were really 5 billion extinct species, you would think that the millions of fossils we dig up would be distributed across those 5 billion species in a statistically significant sample reflecting the actual prior existence of 5 billion species, instead we keep seeing the same fossil species over and over again, even over alleged 100’s of millions of years of evolutionary time.

  18. 18
    idnet.com.au says:

    Jehu, that is a very good point. If we have many fossil examples of relatively few species, we should conclude that there were only relatively few species. Why otherwise should we expect that a particular species should be over represented in the fossil record?

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