Whale Evolution

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 18, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    HELEN
    Here is a critique of the recent National Geographic article on whale ‘evolution.’ http://www.trueorigin.org/ng_whales01.asp


    MR BEN
    I read the article and was impressed how the rhetoric of the article could make it seem that black was white and truth was falsehood. It was amazing that reading the article one could be confused to the point that fossils as clear and convincing as anatomical cetaceans such as Pakicetus and Natans, and especially Basilosaurus, could be mistaken for anything but what they were.

    The amazing thing about Basilosaurus is that it does indeed have legs. That is certainly odd for a whale. These legs are still vestigial regardless of whether they had some small function or not. Vestigial organs are not identified by a complete lack of function, but by the fact that they are a remnant of a former major organ that no longer performs its original function and has become smaller and dramatically less useful (or even useless).

    Likewise, I noticed that the analysis of the skeleton of Ambulocetus indicates that it did indeed swim. It shares many of the characteristics of modern amphibious mammals. It 'could' have simply been a land mammal, but it would certainly have had an odd set of legs and back for one.

    And finally, I would note that these fossils are the only ones that we find in the fossil strata for those periods. It is odd that Pakicetus is found in the Middle Eocene, while Rhodocetus is found higher up, likewise with Basilosaurus and the rest. Isn't it odd that they aren't all mixed up willy nilly? Wouldn't you expect to find Basilosaurus and the rest in 'random' order. Why would it be that so many fossils with anatomical features so similar to each 'adjacent' species in the strata would seem to exist, while no anomalous fossils of whale species at all in the wrong order or with the wrong set of features are to be found anywhere. Shall assume that the fossil hunters have conspired to hide all of the fossils of modern whales from early Cenozoic?

    I also note that this article doesn't mention Rodhocetus. I could be mistaken (I'd have to read it again), but I don't seem to see it. It's odd that there is a land mammal who, like whales, has vertebrae decoupled from its pelvis. Odd that a specimen which also exhibits strong anatomical similarities with Pakicetus and Ambulocetus also shows another feature unique to whales.


    THE BARBARIAN
    For a very good discussion of the various early whales, some of it by the people who discovered them, try: http://www.neoucom.edu/Depts/ANAT/Locomotion.htm

    There is also a photgraph of Ambulocetus, the actual fossil bones.


    NAT
    Helen,
    I must say that I was shocked that you found that article at TrueOrigins to be compelling. I saw virtually no argument other than National Geo. used liberal drawings to reinforce its points. For one the drawings were not a stretch in anyway (simply webbing the toes is not out of line), and two, any competent scientist would agree that the evidence is not 100% definitive proof of terrestial whale evolution - it is simply evidence that supports a given model.

    I saw no real science in the TrueOrigins article - just a lot of "you evil scientists don't know that for sure!" Of course they don't know for sure - but they do have evidence from which they will do further research and further perect their models, thus shrinking the domain of "God of the Gaps" creationist.

    Oh, I did so love his assertion that there is absolutely no evidence of mutation producing new information. I love it when I see that one - it always makes me chuckle.


    HELEN
    Nat, I'm sorry you are so easily shocked.

    Since I saw a real paucity of science in the NG article, though, I guess that makes us even...

    In the meantime, mutations can only add stochastic information, not meaningful information, and it is meaningful information you folks need to power evolution in order to get new forms and functions. Stochastic information only clogs up the works. Far better for a mutation to delete information, which is what also happens.

    Stochastic information is only of any consideration during any kind of coded or zipped transmission. It does not require meaning, although Shannon certainly presumed it would have it where telephone messages. were concerned.


    QXR37
    For an extensive detail on the evidence from comparative anatomy that the various transitional whales really are related to modern whales, see this chapter-by-chapter summary of The Emergence of Whales by J.G.M. Thewissen:
    http://www.tiac.net/users/cri/acker00.html
     

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