Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Evolution, Part 2 - Transitional Fossils

One of the regular claims of evolution-deniers is that there are "no transitional fossils" or missing links. This claim is absurd. There are many, many transitional fossils. Some deniers claim that transitional has to mean that one fossil is a direct ancestor (or descendant) of another. But such direct lineages are not required -- and they could not be verified even if found. A transitional fossil shows a mosaic of features from an older and more recent organism.

There are dinosaur to bird transitional fossils, including perhaps the most famous transitional fossil, archeaopteryx.

What about whales? There are many transitional fossils available that show the evolution of whales from one form to another. Click on the graphic below for additional details on whale evolution.

On a smaller scale, consider eocoelia, a small brachiopod ("lamp shell") from lower Silurian-age rocks. It is found world-wide. In several of these locations, a succession of 4 species has been recognized (as shown below). Besides the species succession, statistical variations in the properties of the species can be observed.

And then there are the transitional horses. Click here to see the incredible transitional fossils we have tracking the evolution of the modern horse from a small dog-sized animal that lived about 55 million years ago.

And, of course, there is the recent discovery of the tiktaalik, which is thought to be a transitional form between fish and amphibian. Unlike many previous, more fishlike transitional fossils, Tiktaalik 'fins' have basic wrist bones and simple fingers, showing that they were weight bearing.

What many evolution deniers do is look at these and then say, well, show me how (a) got to (b)... there are not transitions there. Then when one is found, they pick another so called "gap" to complain about. The bottom line is that there is ample evidence that evolution has, does, and will continue to occur. It is the difference between "feeling it in your bones" and having the bones to back up your knowledge!


Ceroill said...

Speaking of ancestral horses, one of my favorite old tales is about Alexander the Great's horse, Bucephalus (or Bucephalos). It was said that the animal had three toes instead of the normal hooves. Of course it was also supposedly carnivorous, so...

I just find the image striking, and I wonder about how those long ago fold could have known about even the image of a three toed horse, even if they apparently got the size wrong. Bucephalos was ostensibly a sizable horse, while the ancestral multitoed beast was much smaller than the horses we and even the folk back then knew.

csm said...

One would think that maybe such a well-known horse would have been buried somewhere prominent? So he could be dug up and examined?

Ceroill said...

As far as I know they have yet to find Alexander's remains either, or am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

This is just to easy

"One important subject in the origin of mammals is the myth of the "evolution of the horse," also a topic to which evolutionist publications have devoted a considerable amount of space for a long time. This is a myth, because it is based on imagination rather than scientific findings.

Until recently, an imaginary sequence supposedly showing the evolution of the horse was advanced as the principal fossil evidence for the theory of evolution. Today, however, many evolutionists themselves frankly admit that the scenario of horse evolution is bankrupt. In 1980, a four-day symposium was held at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, with 150 evolutionists in attendance, to discuss the problems with the gradualistic evolutionary theory. In addressing this meeting, evolutionist Boyce Rensberger noted that the scenario of the evolution of the horse has no foundation in the fossil record, and that no evolutionary process has been observed that would account for the gradual evolution of horses:

The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living nearly 50 million years ago to today's much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged, and then become extinct. Transitional forms are unknown.152

While discussing this important dilemma in the scenario of the evolution of the horse in a particularly honest way, Rensberger brought the transitional form difficulty onto the agenda as the greatest difficulty of all.

Dr. Niles Eldredge, a curator at the American Museum in New York, , where "evolution of the horse" diagrams were on public display at that time on the ground floor of the museum, said the following about the exhibition:

There have been an awful lot of stories, some more imaginative than others, about what the nature of that history [of life] really is. The most famous example, still on exhibit downstairs, is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared perhaps fifty years ago. That has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature of some of that stuff.153

Then what is the basis for the scenario of the evolution of the horse? This scenario was formulated by means of the deceitful charts devised by the sequential arrangement of fossils of distinct species that lived at vastly different periods in India, South Africa, North America, and Europe, solely in accordance with the rich power of evolutionists' imaginations. More than 20 charts of the evolution of the horse, which by the way are totally different from each other, have been proposed by various researchers. Thus, it is obvious that evolutionists have reached no common agreement on these family trees. The only common feature in these arrangements is the belief that a dog-sized creature called Eohippus (Hyracotherium), which lived in the Eocene period 55 million years ago, was the ancestor of the horse. However, the fact is that Eohippus, which became extinct millions of years ago, is nearly identical to the hyrax, a small rabbit-like animal which still lives in Africa and has nothing whatsoever to do with the horse.154

The inconsistency of the theory of the evolution of the horse becomes increasingly apparent as more fossil findings are gathered. Fossils of modern horse species (Equus nevadensis and Equus occidentalis) have been discovered in the same layer as Eohippus.155 This is an indication that the modern horse and its so-called ancestor lived at the same time."

derF said...

Does this sound familiar?

coreydbarbarian said...

from the 'about the author' section:

"The common point in all the writer's works is that all the topics covered by his works are in full agreement with the Qur'an, and strongly affirmed by Qur'anic understanding. Even the topics addressed by science and mostly considered complicated and confusing are narrated very lucidly and explicitly in the books of Harun Yahya. For this reason, these books appeal to everyone, from every age and social group.

Harun Yahya's books on faith-related topics communicate the existence and oneness of God and are written with the main purpose of introducing Islam to those who are strangers to religion, and reconciling their hearts to the truth. For Muslims, these books are advice as well as a reminder. The writer has published works on all the basic issues referred to in the Qur'an that expand the dedication and contemplation of Muslims."

not that i mind if he's muslim. just seems odd. and this quote seems to highlight, unabashedly, the author's hopes to "reconcile" science with his preconceived religious notions...

derF said...

After reading 'The Authoritarians', it shouldn't come as any surprise that the fundamentalist agenda spans specific dogma. The specifics of belief are irrelevant. What remain important, across ideologies, is the capturing and maintenance of control.

csm said...

Simply copying and pasting anti-evolution horse shit does not refute the fossil record. For more in-depth coverage of the fossil record detailing the evolution of the horse try reading the material at this link.

And here is another interesting post on horse evolution and why some creationists are attacking it (surprise, surprise, it is because they think changes in the facts might not point to a director/creator).

And finally, a link to Wikipedia regarding the book that probably incited the anonymous coward to copy and paste the ridiculous asssertions about horse evolution. Note particularly, this section of the Wiki posting: The members of the scientific community that have reviewed Icons of Evolution have rejected his claims and conclusions. Scientists quoted in the work have accused Wells' of purposely misquoting them and misleading readers. Note, too, that the Wiki article on the evolution of the horse is quite good, too.

Anonymous said...

Even more evidence

"As the biologist Heribert-Nilsson said, ‘The family tree of the horse is beautiful and continuous only in the textbooks,’4 and the famous paleontologist Niles Eldredge called the textbook picture ‘lamentable’5 and ‘a classical case of paleontologic museology.’6 As shown in a detailed thesis by Walter Barnhart,7 the horse ‘series’ is an interpretation of the data. He documents how different pictures of horse evolution were drawn by different evolutionists from the same data, as the concept of evolution itself ‘evolved.’

This especially applies to reconstructing the animals from fossil skeletons, which are usually very incomplete. The evolutionist Gerald Kerkut wrote:

‘It takes a great deal of reading to find out for any particular genus just how complete the various parts of the body are and how much in the illustrated figures is due to clever reconstruction. The early papers were always careful to indicate by dotted lines or lack of shading the precise limits of the reconstructions, but later authors are not so careful.’8

Informed evolutionists now realize that the picture, even in their own framework, is not a straight line at all. While they still believe in horse evolution, the modern view of the horse fossil record is much more jumpy and ‘bushy.’9

Many evolutionists claim that the horse’s splint bones in their legs (see diagram right) are vestigial, that is, useless leftovers from its alleged evolutionary past. But the evolutionary zoologist Scadding pointed out, ‘vestigial organs provide no evidence for evolutionary theory.’21

He pointed out that the argument is unscientific, because it is impossible in principle to prove that an organ has no function; rather, it could have a function we don’t know about.22 Scadding also reminds us that ‘as our knowledge has increased the list of vestigial structures has decreased,’ and pointed out that the 19th century claim of hundreds has been shrunk to a handful of doubtful cases.23 Also, at best, vestigial organs could only prove devolution (loss of information), not evolution.

In particular, the horse’s splint bones serve several important functions. They strengthen the leg and foot bones, very important because of the enormous stress that galloping puts on the legs. They also provide attachment points for important muscles. And they form a protective groove that houses the suspensory ligament, a vital elastic brace that supports the horse’s weight as it walks.24"

csm said...

More copied horse shit, this time from Answers In Genesis.