Of course no one admits that. And no one needs to be a scientist to see it either.
Here, for example, from ScienceDaily:
The discovery of a tiny, 170-million-year-old fossil on the Isle of Skye, off the north-west coast of the UK, has led researchers to conclude that three previously recognized species are in fact just one.
Differences in tooth shape that had been thought to distinguish three different species were in fact all present in the single lower jaw found on the Isle of Skye. ‘In effect, we’ve “undiscovered” two species,’ explains Dr Close. ‘The new find shows that we should be cautious about naming new types of animals on the basis of individual teeth.’ In a paper published in Palaeontology, the team identifies their find as Palaeoxonodon ooliticus — the name given to the first of the three species to be described back in the late 1970s.
Too bad for anyone who suspected the evidence for separate classification was flimsy to begin with, but was forced to keep quiet for decades.
‘Towards the front, three sharp cusps allow the animal to slice up the food, while at the back a flatter, grinding surface crushes it,’ explains Dr Close. ‘It’s an evolutionary innovation that allowed much more versatile ways of feeding to evolve, and it may well have contributed to the long-term success of this group of mammals.’ More.
So do we know that:
– there were no “much more versatile ways of feeding” before?
– similar life forms that did not have this dentition died out, whereas this one survived?
– that few or no similar life forms survived without this dentition?
Maybe we do know all that. But no one bothers to explain because Darwin wuz right, no matter what the fact base, so we drag his sacred name and beliefs into it as is expected.
It wouldn’t be a bit surprising if we don’t know all that, and/or if subsequent research casts doubt. Few would draw attention to the fact. So things go on. And speciation is whatever classifiers say it is. Or isn’t.
This is happening all the time. It’s brought down major Darwin shrines, like Darwin’s finches (hybridization). I remember when Peter Grant was predicting a new “species” every 200 years.
Yet no re-evaluation is attempted because, when a mess becomes catastrophic, none can be dared.
See also: Oxford: Half of museum specimens have wrong name?
Note: I remember the sneery explanation offered me a decade and a half ago by a Christian apologist for Darwin (a “theistic naturalist,” as Phil Johnson put it). that, ahem, ahem, some classifiers are “lumpers” and some are “splitters,” s, heh, heh,o whatever the rest of you are told, just shut up and believe (and holler louder fer Jesus and Darwin).
Sorry, Bible Study, but that train doesn’t stop here any more. You people are entitled to whatever cockup of a system you please; you are not morally entitled to call it “science” just because it reeks of Darwin—and expect support, funding, and indoctrination from those who know better.
Here’s the abstract:
The Middle Jurassic was a key interval of mammalian evolutionary history that witnessed the diversification of the therian stem group. Great Britain has yielded a significant record of mammalian fossils from this interval, represented by numerous isolated jaws and teeth from the Bathonian of Oxfordshire and the Isle of Skye. This record captures a key period in early cladotherian evolution, with amphitheriids, peramurans and ‘stem zatherians’ displaying intermediate talonid morphologies that document the evolutionary assembly of tribosphenic molars. We present a mandible with near-complete dentition from the late Bathonian (c. 167.4–166.5 Ma) Kilmaluag Formation, near Elgol, Skye, representing the amphitheriid Palaeoxonodon ooliticus, previously known only from isolated teeth. The specimen sheds new light on the taxonomic diversity of British Middle Jurassic stem therians, as the morphological variation within the preserved tooth row encompasses that previously ascribed to three distinct species within two genera: Palaeoxonodon ooliticus, P. freemani and Kennetheridium leesi. Thus, both P. freemani and K. leesi are subjective junior synonyms of P. ooliticus. The dental formula of P. ooliticus (i4:c1:p5:m5) is intermediate between the primitively larger postcanine count (p5:m6–7) of Amphitherium and the reduced number in peramurans and tribosphenidans (p5:m3). Phylogenetic analyses of P. ooliticus generally confirm a close affinity with Amphitherium, but highlight the lack of strong empirical support for hypothesized patterns of divergences among early cladotherians. (paywall) – Roger A. Close, Brian M. Davis, Stig Walsh, Andrzej S. Wolniewicz, Matt Friedman, Roger B. J. Benson. A lower jaw ofPalaeoxonodonfrom the Middle Jurassic of the Isle of Skye, Scotland, sheds new light on the diversity of British stem therians. Palaeontology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/pala.12218
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