Missing fossils? From water to land

Those of us interested in science are being a bit spoilt at the moment – at least in the biological area. With the 150th Anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species (24 November) and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth (12 February) this year there are plenty of evolutionary science resources coming on line.

One example for the scientific journal are the 15 Evolutionary Gems from Nature. This downloadable publication includes  gems from the fossil record, from habitats and from molecular processes. Another useful resource are the Year of Darwin series of videos from Case Western University.

Here I have combined these two resources with a short description of the discovery of intermediate fossils between fish and tetrapods as presented in the Nature publication and in Neil Shubins presentation in the Year of Darwin Lectures.

From water to land

The animals we are most familiar with are tetrapods – they are vertebrates (they have backbones) and they live on land. That includes humans, almost all domestic animals and most of the wild ones that any child would recognize: mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. The vast majority of vertebrates, however, are not tetrapods, but fish. There are more kinds of fish, in fact, than all the species of tetrapods combined. Indeed, through the lens of evolution, tetrapods are just one branch of the fish family tree, the members of which just happen to be adapted for life out of water.
The first transition from water to land took place more than 360 million years ago. It was one of the most demanding such moves ever made in the history of life. How did fins become legs? And how did the transitional creatures cope with the formidable demands of land life, from a desiccating environment to the crushing burden of gravity?
It used to be thought that the first landlubbers were stranded fish that evolved to spend more and more time ashore, returning to water to reproduce. Over the past 20 years, palaeontologists have uncovered fossils that have turned this idea upside down. The earliest tetrapods, such as Acanthostega from eastern Greenland around 365 million years ago, had fully formed legs, with toes, but retained internal gills that would soon have
dried out in any long stint in air. Fish evolved legs long before they came on land. The earliest tetrapods did most of their evolving in the more forgiving aquatic environment. Coming ashore seems to have been the very last stage.

Researchers suspect that the ancestors of tetrapods were creatures called elpistostegids. These very large, carnivorous, shallow-water fish would have looked and behaved much like alligators, or giant salamanders. They looked like tetrapods in many respects, except that they still had fins. Until recently, elpistostegids were known only from small fragments of fossils that were poorly preserved, so it has been hard to get a rounded picture of what they were like.

In the past couple of years, several discoveries from Ellesmere Island in the Nunavut region of northern Canada have changed all that. In 2006, Edward Daeschler and his colleagues described spectacularly wellpreserved fossils of an elpistostegid known as Tiktaalik that allow us to build up a good picture of an aquatic predator with distinct similarities to tetrapods – from its flexible neck, to its very limb-like fin structure.

The discovery and painstaking analysis of Tiktaalik illuminates the stage before tetrapods evolved, and shows how the fossil record throws up surprises, albeit ones that are entirely compatible with evolutionary thinking.

References
Daeschler, E. B., Shubin, N. H. & Jenkins, F A. Nature 440, 757–763 (2006).
Shubin, N. H., Daeschler, E. B., & Jenkins, F A. Nature 440, 764–771 (2006).
Additional resources
Ahlberg, P. E. & Clack, J. A. Nature 440, 747–749 (2006).
Clack, J. Gaining Ground (Indiana Univ. Press, 2002)

Shubin, N. Your Inner Fish (Allen Lane, 2008 )
Gee, H. Deep Time (Fourth Estate, 2000)
Tiktaalik homepage: http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu

Author websites
Edward Daeschler: http://www.ansp.org/research/biodiv/vert_paleo/staff.php
Neil Shubin: http://pondside.uchicago.edu/oba/faculty/shubin_n.html

Year of Darwin – Neil Shubin, Ph.D.

See also: Darwin’s  Legacy 10 videos of lectures from Stanford University.

** Illustration by Kalliopi Monoyios

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37 responses to “Missing fossils? From water to land

  1. The more links like this, the better, Alison.

    Like

  2. “There’s something with even more breadth, depth and power than that: imagination.”

    http://creationsafaris.com/crev200901.htm#20090102a

    Like

  3. @3:

    Basically their “rebuttal” looks a little like a very extended “Gish Gallop” 😦

    (Issuing lies and dismissals much faster than anyone could correct them is a common approach by some creationists. It relies on the fact that it’s much quicker to state something or dismiss something out of hand, incorrectly in their case, than to explain something, as would be needed to correct their errors. Thus, it’s easy to “keep ahead”, especially If when faced with a correction, responding by ignoring it and simply switching to a new topic and continuing rapid-fire nonsense. The hope, of course, is those that would object will simply give up, but for practical reasons, not reasons of logic.)

    Among the dozens of errors in their hopeless gallop, they put a lot on the notion that the mechanisms for so-called “micro-evolution” are different from those for so-called “macro-evolution”. The underlying mechanisms generating change at the molecular level are the same for both, only the outcome is different (reproductive isolation or not). So, ironically, by accepting “micro-evolution” they are, in fact, accepting evolution, period! But of course, they’ll deny that if asked, denial being their game…

    Readers will hopefully realise that the list of papers that this article refers to is a subset of the papers published in one journal, i.e. there is a bit of advertising blended into their aim! It is not a list representing the “best” or any other subset of papers on evolution from the literature as a whole. Nature is a very good journal, and they are fine papers, but good work is found elsewhere too.

    One paper I personally like, probably biased by having read it fairly closely, is the evolution of “eye” on insect wings (example 13 on the list). I like it for how it links the detailed knowledge of development in insects, the several genomes of different species of Dropsophila with the precise outcome of the specific changes that occur at the DNA sequence level with the structure and pigmentation of the wing.

    Like

  4. Let’s not forget the music video that goes with it all…
    Enjoy.
    🙂

    Also, here’s a link for “special” people like Darjo.
    http://www.genesispark.org/genpark/ancient/ancient.htm

    Like

  5. @5:

    re: the film, neat inside joke on the production team’s name (The Indoorfins).

    Like

  6. Heraclides,

    “Issuing lies and dismissals much faster than anyone could correct them is common approach by some creationists.”

    Well, criationists know the common aprroach of some darwinist also. And it’s dificult to me to see they (the criationists) are not telling the truth.

    http://www.questiondarwin.com/arguments.htm

    Cedric,

    Couldn’t see your point at the link “specially” dedicated to me. I’m taking some time to read Ken at Thinkingmatters. I think you should use your arms (sorry, your just modified fin – I saw the video)to help him there.[:D]

    http://talk.thinkingmatters.org.nz/2008/the-kalam-cosmological-argument/#comments

    Like

  7. Darjo said…”Couldn’t see your point at the link “specially” dedicated to me.”

    It’s really easy to understand, Darjo.
    Genesispark is made for “special” people like you.

    Here’s proof.

    “And it’s dificult to me to see they (the criationists) are not telling the truth.”

    If it’s difficult for you to see the creationists are not telling you the truth then…you are the perfect target audience for genesispark. It was made specially for people like you in mind.
    Go ahead. Check it out. Welcome to the wonderful world of creationism.
    (giggle)

    “I think…”

    No evidence of that so far.

    Like

  8. Here’s proof.

    “And it’s dificult to me to see they (the criationists) are not telling the truth.”

    Unfortunatelly, the link I posted is not working. It would help you to see what i am talking about: You are the “proof” they are telling the truth.

    Like

  9. Don’t forget to give credit to artist Kalliopi Monoyios for her gorgeous illustration!

    Like

  10. “Unfortunatelly, the link I posted is not working. It would help you to see what i am talking about: You are the “proof” they are telling the truth.”

    Argument No 203: ARGUMENT FROM APOLOGETICS WEBPAGES
    (1) I was surfing the Net and came across this really cool webpage of apologetics.
    (2) Their arguments were stunning. I couldn’t refute them.
    (3) Therefore, God exists.
    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

    (shrug)

    Like

  11. Well, criationists know the common aprroach of some darwinist also. And it’s dificult to me to see they (the criationists) are not telling the truth.

    and it seems the answer is:

    Not Found

    The requested URL http:// was not found on this server.

    I’ll read that as “the truth cannot be found on creationist websites” 🙂

    The two things creationists constantly leave out are evidence and honesty. They don’t necessary lie directly: they can lie by omission or simply presenting the science in a confused mess that taken in total is incorrect. For example, as I wrote earlier the mechanisms underlying macro- and micro evolutions are the same, so by accepting the latter, they have in fact accepted the former too. It’s just not said explicitly so those not familiar with evolution won’t know. But this omission mean that either they are ignorant of the facts (in which case they are being dishonest in asserting that they are facts and implying that they know the facts when they don’t) or they are deliberately misleading (not an unfair accusation given the many textbooks and popular science books that describe evolution correctly; it also implies that they have not read up about evolution as they make out). But then they constantly misrepresent the science (more dishonesty for you), so there’s nothing new there.

    Like

  12. @11

    It’s a great illustration, isn’t it? (Your link doesn’t work for me, by the way.)

    @12:

    It does look like a case of “it says so here, so it must be right”, eh?

    Like

  13. @ Darjo – January 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Your quoting and providing a link to the creationist site really just provides a typical example of their role in ghettoising “science” as I point out in The ghetto of apologetics “science”.

    Like

  14. “…as I wrote earlier the mechanisms underlying macro- and micro evolutions are the same, so by accepting the latter, they have in fact accepted the former too.”

    Does anybody know how creationists rationalise that one? Do they think there’s some magic, mystery barrier that neatly separates the two? How does this magic barrier actually work?
    🙂

    Like

  15. Ken and Heraclides,

    “common approach by some creationists”
    “things creationists constantly leave”
    “typical example of their role in ghettoising “science””

    The main page link I provided (the one that is not working) has changed to http://questiondarwin.blogspot.com/

    Since it has been changed, the specific point I intented to remind you seems to be not so at hand as before, but it is very easy to find at the old page as “dishonest and unfair debating tactics commonly used to avoid facing the evidence against evolution”.

    If one changed “creationists” by “evolutionists” in the above references I’m sure one would be able to remember some “evos” “modus operandi”. “Common aproach” and “tipical example” are words easily aplied to evolutionists. One has to check them out to reality to see if they are true descriptions or not. I’ve done that some times and guess what? In general, criationists can not be guilty of dishonesty in these discriptions.

    Like

  16. “Creationists cannot be guilty of dishonesty”???? Come on!!

    You should read Judge Jones findings from the Dover trial (which found ID was not a science). He could not help but remark on the demonstrable lies perpetrated by the Dover Creationist School Board – lies which were easily exposed by videotaped and newspaper recording of events.

    In my experience creationists quite freely distort evidence to fit their preconceived attitudes. On the other hand scientific assertions and findings have to withstand the check of peer review and mapping against reality. its this which keeps science honest.

    Like

  17. “I’m sure one would be able to remember some “evos” “modus operandi”.”

    You’re sure? Well, that’s a convincing argument.
    Darjo is sure. The End.
    😉

    “One has to check them out to reality to see if they are true descriptions or not.”

    It helps if you can demonstrate how you “check them out to reality”. Just SAYING that you do, doesn’t count for much.
    What’s your methodology? Give an example related to the topic of this thread.
    Or is that beyond you?

    Like

  18. The main page link I provided (the one that is not working) has changed to – actually you provided a sub-page link and page you where referring to hasn’t changed! 😉 Your real error is in entering the URL wrong but you don’t seem to realise it. (Add an ‘l’; Unix-based systems usually use .html as the suffix, not .htm, which is from Microsoft’s ancient limitation of three-letter suffices carried forward in time as historically “correct”).

    In any event, as I tried to indicate earlier, it won’t help you if it isn’t honest or is factually incorrect. I’ve only glanced at small parts of it and it’s riddled with errors of fact and misrepresentations, so it falls down on both.

    You have avoided the point I raised. Should I suggest you are avoiding the subject? I’m sure “avoiding the subject” must be somewhere in the list you give… 🙂

    Like

  19. Darjo, you might also want to look at the talk.origins website – that gives a fairly extensive list of creationist fibs. One such is the claim that ‘Darwin recanted on his deathbed’: http://www.toarchive.org/indexcc/CG/CG001.htmlfalse (not that it would make any difference to the strength of his theory if he had).

    Like

  20. Ken,

    ““Creationists cannot be guilty of dishonesty”???? Come on”

    Here is my original quote:

    “In general, criationists can not be guilty of dishonesty in these discriptions.”

    wich is better understood in light of the list I provided (I’am assuming you haven’t seen it).

    Nevertheless, I understand your position and respect your experience. But some times, I supect, some emotional reactions occur not because a creationist or evolutionist is being really dishonesty, but because real data are sometimes compatible with different assumptions and perspectives, besides the problem of semantic elasticity.(the example below to Heraclides)

    Cedric,

    “What’s your methodology? Give an example related to the topic of this thread”

    Not necessary to say when I said – “Common aproach” and “tipical example” are words easily aplied to evolutionists. One has to check them out to reality to see if they are true descriptions or not” – I was talking about the list/link I had provided first.

    http://www.questiondarwin.com/arguments.html#distraction

    You can apply the “metodology” by visinting some evolutionists blogs and acting like a creatonist. See the results and check.

    “Do they (criationists) think there’s some magic, mystery barrier that neatly separates the two (micro and macro)? How does this magic barrier actually work?”

    There must be different and better ways to explain this from a creationist perspective, but, in my words, let’s say, in this point, creationists need to see it before to believe it, and the “barrier”, in despite of some possible semantic problems and assumptions around the issue, is all that has been observed. That’s the reason why its natural for them to talk about variation whithout “jumping” to especulative scenarios.

    http://www.trueauthority.com/cvse/micromacro.htm

    Like

  21. Heraclides,

    Thanks for clarifying what was wrong with my link.

    “You have avoided the point I raised. Should I suggest you are avoiding the subject? I’m sure “avoiding the subject” must be somewhere in the list you give…”

    I suppose your point was something like…
    “Issuing lies and dismissals much faster than anyone could correct them is a common approach by some creationists.”

    “they (criationists) put a lot on the notion that the mechanisms for so-called “micro-evolution” are different from those for so-called “macro-evolution”. The underlying mechanisms generating change at the molecular level are the same for both, only the outcome is different (reproductive isolation or not). So, ironically, by accepting “micro-evolution” they are, in fact, accepting evolution, period! But of course, they’ll deny that if asked, denial being their game…”

    So, I had a choice: to talk about “common approach” or about your views on evolution “mechanisms”. Well, I say “your views” because I think to talk about evolution “mechanisms” is a debate even evolutionists will engage endless in different opinions. And, I admmit, I am not able to solve their problems. So I’ve chosen the short and,I think, the more positive way.
    I see some semantic issues in your point. And I understand that your point would make sense to a creationist only if he, like you, assumed evolution (macro, in the past) has occured, but that is not the case for him (I hope my previous links may help). So, some creationist approachs may be seen as dishonest by some “evos” who fail to realize the rigth perspective creationists are taking.

    Here is a link in both issues. The quote is about evolution mechanisms (take a look at it and see if you agree with), but the discussion is about honesty and misusing of quotes by creationists. If one focus on AfDave responses or Supersport’s, it will be easier to find the example of criationist perspective I am refering to.

    http://www.theologyweb.com/forum/showthread.php?t=105627

    Alison,

    Thanks for the link. I know Talk.origins. It is really a very useful site. Do you know Creationwiki (on the same topics)?

    http://www.creationwiki.org/Darwin_recanted_on_his_deathbed_(Talk.Origins)

    or this? (Darwin recanted is the first one of the list)

    http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/2996

    Like

  22. So, I had a choice: to talk about “common approach” or about your views on evolution “mechanisms”.

    You’re just playing games: it’s obviously the latter, the former was an aside explaining the first sentence. If read in it’s original context it’s quite clear what it is: your context strips away the material that makes that clear.

    But first, a word on quoting others. Firstly, you should really indicate where you have omitted material, e.g. with ‘[…]’ (exceptions are sometimes made if the sentence, etc., really does stand on it own). Secondly, if you are inserting your own words, even an ellipsis, you should place this within square brackets (for example, the ‘(criationists)’ are not my words and a reader will think they are. Likewise, you have reworked the content from the first paragraph by dropping the ‘(‘, changing it’s context. It’s bracketed because it was an aside (and, like most asides, it refers to previous material). You aren’t supposed to omit things that make clear the meaning of quoted material (doing this is the main essence of quote-mining).

    The original paragraphs were:

    Basically their “rebuttal” looks a little like a very extended “Gish Gallop” 😦

    (Issuing lies and dismissals much faster than anyone could correct them is a common approach by some creationists. It relies on the fact that it’s much quicker to state something or dismiss something out of hand, incorrectly in their case, than to explain something, as would be needed to correct their errors. Thus, it’s easy to “keep ahead”, especially If when faced with a correction, responding by ignoring it and simply switching to a new topic and continuing rapid-fire nonsense. The hope, of course, is those that would object will simply give up, but for practical reasons, not reasons of logic.)

    Among the dozens of errors in their hopeless gallop, they put a lot on the notion that the mechanisms for so-called “micro-evolution” are different from those for so-called “macro-evolution”. The underlying mechanisms generating change at the molecular level are the same for both, only the outcome is different (reproductive isolation or not). So, ironically, by accepting “micro-evolution” they are, in fact, accepting evolution, period! But of course, they’ll deny that if asked, denial being their game…

    and quoted as you want to would reduce to:


    Basically their “rebuttal” looks a little like a very extended “Gish Gallop” 😦


    (Issuing lies and dismissals much faster than anyone could correct them is a common approach by some creationists. […])


    […] they [criationists] put a lot on the notion that the mechanisms for so-called “micro-evolution” are different from those for so-called “macro-evolution”. The underlying mechanisms generating change at the molecular level are the same for both, only the outcome is different (reproductive isolation or not). So, ironically, by accepting “micro-evolution” they are, in fact, accepting evolution, period! But of course, they’ll deny that if asked, denial being their game…

    This way the reader is correctly alerted that the material is out of context and knows to look for that context, and that the insertion is yours. By the way, I don’t use the silly ‘criationists’ word, so gifting that on me is inappropriate.

    You will note that if there were two points (there isn’t), it would be from the first paragraph and the third, not the second (as it is an aside explaining the phrase ‘Gish Gallop’) and the third.

    That people have to constantly correct Creationists on matters of use of English says a great deal. We could put it down to wanting things to be a particular way so badly that they mangle things into the form they want them to be in or intentional dishonestly. In practice, I feel there are elements of both.

    In similar fashion, the rest of your reply is nothing but word games that try avoid addressing what my point that the underlying mechanism are the same in both macro- and microevolution, so accepting the mechanisms for the latter (as they did), also accepts the mechanisms for the former. My strong suspicion on reading your reply is that you haven’t a clue about the science and instead of simply saying so are trying to bluff your way past it. Nothing wrong with not knowing the science, I wouldn’t expect everyone to, but bluffing…

    You are trying to avoid what I wrote, although your reason may be silly pride for all I know. (In my experience with creationists it’s usually because they can’t admit to not knowing as that would have them “wrong” and they can’t be wrong without all of their religious stance collapsing.) In any event, as you haven’t addressed my points, I’m left back at You have avoided the point I raised. Should I suggest you are avoiding the subject? still. You need to try again but address what I wrote, or if you lack the background to do so, just say so.

    (On a side note, macro evolution is observed to have occurred, i.e. it is a fact, not a something debatable. What is still being investigated is the precise mechanisms used in each lineage and which of the underlying mechanisms are the general mechanisms involved in speciation (forming new species).)

    Like

  23. Weird layout issues on that one. I haven’t time to correct it, sorry. (Just mentally “un-nest” the blocks…

    Like

  24. Hi Darjo (#23) – your first link didn’t work. The second one: good to see them being up-front about the Darwin deathbed tale. However, I notice that they also say this, on the issue of mutations:

    ‘There are no beneficial mutations.’ This is not true, since some changes do confer an advantage in some situations. Rather, we should say, ‘We have yet to find a mutation that increases genetic information, even in those rare instances where the mutation confers an advantage.’ For examples of information loss being advantageous, see Beetle Bloopers: defects can be an advantage sometimes, New eyes for blind cave fish? and Is antibiotic resistance really due to increase in information?

    It’s totally incorrect to say that mutations don’t produce an increase in genetic information. There is ample evidence that mutations do have just this outcome. For example, transposons regularly duplicate sections of the genome, as do other chromosomal mutations.

    Not the only questionable statement on that site…

    Like

  25. I also need to point out that, just because 1-2 creationist websites are refreshingly up-front about ‘what not to say’, this doesn’t mean that other creationists immediately think, ‘oh gosh, we must stop telling those fibs’.

    Like

  26. Darjo said…”One has to check them out to reality to see if they are true descriptions or not…”

    Yes, but…HOW?
    What is your methodology? How do you do it?
    It is not enought to claim that you do.
    How?

    On the subject of micro and macro evolution….

    “There must be different and better ways to explain this from a creationist perspective…”

    You don’t seem to be able to find any.
    (shrug)

    Darjo said…”creationists need to see it before to believe it”

    Then you are finished before you even start.
    If you only are prepared to believe in things you have directly observed then…your world will be very. very, limited.
    Do you believe in oxygen? X-rays? Your mother giving birth to you? The Earth going around the Sun?
    Think about it.

    Darjo said…”the “barrier”, in despite of some possible semantic problems and assumptions around the issue, is all that has been observed.”

    The barrier has been observed? Really? What does it look like?
    How does it work?
    Think.

    If you accept micro-evolution, then what stops you from accepting macro-evolution?
    The mechanisms are exactly the same. There is no change.
    What is this magic barrier?

    If you accept that a piece of wood can drift in the ocean one kilometre then why not 10,000 kilometres?
    The mechanisms are exactly the same. There is no change.
    What is this magic barrier?

    If you can accept a man walking to the supermarket then why not accept that he can walk all the way across the city?
    The mechanisms are exactly the same. There is no change.
    What is this magic barrier?

    Darjo said…”If one focus on AfDave responses or Supersport’s, it will be easier to find the example of criationist perspective I am refering to.”

    AfDave? THE AfDave? AfDave, otherwise known as raving nutcase AfDave? We are talking about the same wierdo, right?

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=496c0e662f73478a;act=ST;f=14;t=3131

    Like

  27. This micro evolution macro evolution mantra is like accepting the transition of A to B, B to C, C to D …..X to Y, Y to Z, etc. and then rejecting the eventual transition of A to P or A to Z.

    It’s not logical. But it is a mantra.

    Like

  28. “If you accept micro-evolution, then what stops you from accepting macro-evolution?
    The mechanisms are exactly the same. There is no change.”

    Sorry, Cedric, but you and Heraclides are wrong. You don’t “know” this. You both just have the same faith (1) faith that macro-evolution (I am using the creationist meaning for that) occurs and 2) faith that it occurs by the same (and limited) variation process we all see in nature.

    “There are two views of macroevolution: (1) That it is simply an extension of microevolutionary processes over large time scales, and (2) that it is disconnected from microevolution, or involves different processes, such as punctuational change and species selection. Some evolutionary biologists, particularly Charles Darwin and those subscribing to the modern synthesis, see the only difference between microevolution and macroevolution as being one of scale. Other evolutionary biologists, including Gould, Schmalhausen, Stanley, and Waddington, hold that microevolution and macroevolution represent fundamentally different processes.”

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Macroevolution

    “The barrier has been observed? Really? What does it look like?
    How does it work?”

    “Original amount of information available: From the original starting point information is only lost and not added. Mutations occur which scramble the existing DNA and over the years certain traits are selected and passed down. As this process occurs information is lost until there can be no more variation because there is nothing to select from. This creates a natural barrier that prevents evolutionary change on a large scale.”

    http://www.creationwiki.org/Macroevolution_has_never_been_observed_(Talk.Origins)

    Alison,

    “Hi Darjo (#23) – your first link didn’t work.”

    Hope this one works. I sugest you to take a look at the index to see some other Talk.origins topics about information increase.

    http://www.creationwiki.org/Category:Anticreation_response

    Heraclides,

    About my choice and about me, according to you, trying to avoid what you wrote…

    Have you seen this from the link I provided?

    Supersport’s:
    “If this guy doesn’t have a valid mechanism for macroevolution (yes, I mean scientifically-validated) then what he is engaging in is not science, but wishful thinking. He has effectively destroyed the “scientific” argument of the past 60 years, and at the same time offered no alternative.”

    Have you seen this?

    AFdave:
    “The way I interpret MacNeill’s quote is “the modern synthesis proponents were wrong.” This is significant to me because I’m sure there were creationists during the heyday of the modern synthesis saying “the modern synthesis is wrong” “the modern synthesis is wrong” “the modern synthesis is wrong” till they were blue in the face. And I’m sure non-creationists were saying “no it’s not you idiot” “no it’s not you idiot” “no it’s not you idiot” “no it’s not you idiot” till they were blue in the face. Now I think all these blue faced people on the non-creationist side should say “Hmm … the creationists weren’t such idiots on that point after all.”

    So … since the non-creos were wrong about us being idiots back then, maybe we’re not being idiots now about some of the things we say.”

    Why didn’t you comment on them?
    It was just because it was your choice, Heraclides, to comment about what you wanted to.

    So did I. I am as free as you are.;)

    But let me tell you about my background: I am not a scientist, you know.
    But I have read some good material about the issue.
    Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, Morgan, de Vries, Chetverikov, Dobzhansky, Fisher, Haldane, Huxley, Mayr, Simpson, Wright, Eldredge, Gould, Grassé, Hennig, Kauffman, Kimura, Lewontin, Patterson, Platinick (OK, pause to say I haven’t read them all and directly).But these are some guys I can see in some books I have, who, here somehow chronologically, have written about evolution mechanisms and I know some of their ideas. They are far from get in a consensus with you and Cedric, so that you may say, as Cedric, “the mechanisms are exactly the same”. And this is enough for me to reject your dilema.

    But the other reason is, as I said, creationists don’t assume macroevolution has occurred. That would be “not arguing based upon the evidence — but instead from the lack of evidence.”

    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=080805I

    According to this view and following the evidences only where they can lead them (not beyond), creationists don’t need to solve the dilema you have sugest: “by accepting “micro-evolution” they are, in fact, accepting evolution, period!”. That’s your dilema. For us, it’s not real. It’s a false one.

    Finally,

    “That people have to constantly correct Creationists on matters of use of English says a great deal.”

    Time to know (is it not clear yet?) I am not a native “speaker” or “writer”. So, sorry for my (bad or inappropriate) english. But I can see this comment from you says a great deal also 😉

    Now, guys, time to pay some attention to my family. 😉

    Like

  29. Darjo said…”You both just have the same faith (1) faith that macro-evolution (I am using the creationist meaning for that) occurs and 2) faith that it occurs by the same (and limited) variation process we all see in nature.”

    Don’t be silly.
    No faith is required.
    You don’t know what you are talking about.

    “Other evolutionary biologists, including Gould, Schmalhausen, Stanley, and Waddington, hold that microevolution and macroevolution represent fundamentally different processes.”

    This does not help you. Biology is not a dogma. There will always be arguments between scientists about the processes.
    It does not chage the fact that small changes in a population will, given time, result in big changes.

    If a man can walk to the supermarket, then he can walk across the city. Why is this difficult for you to understand?

    “As this process occurs information is lost until there can be no more variation because there is nothing to select from. This creates a natural barrier that prevents evolutionary change on a large scale.”

    If this is true (it’s not by the way) then…demonstrate it.
    Where is the scientific research to back it up?

    There is none. That’s why you had to go to a creationist web-site to find this nonsense. They don’t know what they are talking about. They cannot demonstrate how this works.
    http://www.toarchive.org/indexcc/CB/CB902_1.html

    “But I have read some good material about the issue.”

    No, you haven’t.

    “…I haven’t read them all and directly”

    See, you haven’t. Read. Educate yourself.

    “And this is enough for me to reject your dilema.”

    It’s not my dilemma, it’s yours.
    Where is this magic barrier? How is it observed? How does it work?

    If you can get from A to B ,then you can get from F to N.
    Simple.

    http://www.toarchive.org/faqs/comdesc/

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  30. Darjo – I’m quite familiar with the material relating to ‘information increase’ ie production of ‘new’ genes/coding DNA. I notice you didn’t directly address my original comment on this. The fact is that information doesn’t ‘disappear’ with mutation, it simply changes. Some of those changes are harmful, some neutral – & some beneficial.

    An example of the latter would be the mutation that permits members of some human populations to digest lactose. This was fixed into at least 3 different gene pools about 9,000 years ago. Another is the multiple duplications that produced the several forms of human haemoglobin.

    As Cedric has said, rather than reading a creationist take on the science, why not read the originals? This would include work done in the 1990s by David Penny & colleagues showing that microevolutionary processes are all that’s required for ‘macroevolution’. (Personally I prefer not to use the ‘micro/macro’ dichotomy as it leads to just the misunderstanding that’s illustrated in your posting. It’s all evolution – a change in the gene pool over time.)

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  31. Sorry, Cedric, but you and Heraclides are wrong. You don’t “know” this.

    It’s not a matter of us “knowing” this (in either your private, rather unique, sense of “knowing”, whatever that is, or the more usual sense), it’s a matter of what the evidence shows. I’m sorry, but you happen to be wrong and consequentially are wrong to dismiss this with a pseudo-philosophical argument. I can’t “un-know” evidence, and neither can you. It’s there, like it or not.

    macro-evolution (I am using the creationist meaning for that)

    You wrote objecting to a scientific process called macro-evolution, but now you say you are objecting to some other thing with a special “creationist meaning”. Perhaps you might like to make clear precisely what it is that you are objecting to? More practically, if it’s a science discussion over the correctness of something with a scientific term, use the formal meaning. After all, the whole point of these terms are to provide a clear definition to make discussion possible. In any event, I have no idea what this special “creationist meaning” is, if one even exists.

    ““There are two views of macroevolution…”

    At a higher level, you can consider that they represent different views, but this is because this is referring to the outcomes of the underlying processes I referred to, i.e. this does not refute what I wrote. Furthermore, these people are not arguing about if macro evolution occurs or not, they accept that it does. What they are discussing is different (higher-level) ways it might occur. Not offence, but this, suggests that you don’t understand what I wrote and that have not tried to understand evolution prior to trying to “argue” about it. With that in mind, could I second the suggestion that you read what all this means before criticising first? You can’t realistically criticise what you don’t understand.

    Have you seen this from the link I provided?

    I don’t have time to read for you, but please note that it is not clear which of several links you are referring to. I certainly don’t have time to explore them all for you to figure that out. Furthermore, your quotes are a bit meaningless without their original context, e.g. just what is it the the other guy said that he is referring to??

    […] doesn’t have a valid mechanism for macroevolution […]

    doesn’t say the macroevolution does not occur, but an explanation for how it occurs (and specifically at a higher level that I was referring to). In essence, you seem to be repeating the same mistake of confusing that macro evolution occurs (known, with evidence) with how.

    Why didn’t you comment on them?
    It was just because it was your choice, Heraclides, to comment about what you wanted to.

    This is misattributing. I don’t even know what it is that you are referring to, to start with. I’m not a mind-reader. And I’m not obligated to even bother read anything you post y’know: I’m not your servant.

    So did I. I am as free as you are.;)

    My context was quite different to your example of posting in threads, above. My reference what that despite “replying” to me, you avoided addressing the points I raised, i.e. that you seemed to be deliberately skirting around them. If you reply to me without address my points, then you are not really replying to me. I was saying a quite different thing.

    “Original amount of information available: From the original […]”

    Given this is from a creationist website, you would be wise to consider that this could be simply wrong (or distorted). The wise move would be to work from those you are putting the theory forward, not those objecting to it. Again, could I suggest that you read reputable sources and understand what all this means first before criticising first?

    But I have read some good material about the issue.

    Then either you are “filtering” their words horribly or (I think more likely) that you are not quite telling the truth and have have not read the words of those putting these ideas forward, but read about them in the words of creationists, apologetics proponents and the like. If you think books/websites written by creationists are “good material”, I can assure you that they are not.

    “the mechanisms are exactly the same”

    I didn’t write this, actually. (Cedric did.) I have consistently referred to the underlying mechanisms, and in particular I originally wrote: “The underlying mechanisms generating change at the molecular level are the same for both, only the outcome is different (reproductive isolation or not).” It is increasingly clear that you don’t understand precisely what I was referring to, despite my trying to be fairly explicit about it. (I was not not what Gould, etc., are referring to, but the mechanisms underlying what they are referring to.)

    But the other reason is, as I said, creationists don’t assume macroevolution has occurred. That would be “not arguing based upon the evidence — but instead from the lack of evidence.”

    Scientists don’t assume this either: As I wrote earlier, so-called “macro evolution” has been observed to occur. That is without dispute and is based on evidence. What is under question is precisely how it occurs, as I also have already explained. (Gould, etc. are not disputing that macro evolution occurs; they are exploring different [higher-level] mechanisms of how it typically occurs.)

    According to this view and following the evidences only where they can lead them (not beyond), creationists don’t need to solve the dilema you have sugest: “by accepting “micro-evolution” they are, in fact, accepting evolution, period!”. That’s your dilema. For us, it’s not real. It’s a false one.

    What you are repeating here is your wish to dismiss out-of-hand, but trying to couch it in pseudo-scientific language. Ignoring the “framing”, you have presented no argument, just an empty “not so”.

    The underlying mechanisms generating change at the molecular level are the same for both; you can’t accept them for one and not the other as they underlie them. As I wrote earlier, formation of a new species, is just a different outcome from the same processes. More practically, in accepting them, you are accepting the underlying mechanisms of evolution, but “magically” disallowing macro evolution despite that it is observed to occur. You can still debate about which precise molecular mechanisms were important for each particular lineage (at the current point in time anyway) and how they contributed to the species forming.

    (For those with a proper interest in this, PMID 19074311 published in Science late last year may be worth looking at.)

    “That people have to constantly correct Creationists on matters of use of English says a great deal.”

    While I accept your point about not being a native speaker of English, creationists very commonly “argue” by playing games with meaning and grammar, rather than dealing with the substance of the argument. With that in mind, my general point stands. I could point to your attempt to use a special “creationist meaning” of macro evolution as an example. (Your example of “not replying” might be considered another.)

    Just a small head’s up: unless you produce substance, I won’t spend much more time on this, as it looks increasingly like “rinse and repeat” and I really haven’t much free time.

    I’d second Alison’s points (only just seen them). She’s also more concise than me 🙂

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  32. “She’s also more concise than me” – hahaha: I used to have terrible trouble as an undergraduate in approaching even the lower word limit on essays…

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  33. @34: Me too 🙂 Maybe I haven’t gotten better. I actually so overshot the page limit on my Ph.D. thesis, I was advised to place the excess into appendices (which also had the effect that the examiners didn’t have to read them!) Yes, that’s as silly as it sounds…

    For those that haven’t seen a PMID type reference before, as every google is the solution: just enter PMID and the number in google and the first hit should invariably be the PubMed abstract. Alternatively, go to PubMed and just enter the number.

    Like

  34. macro-micro dilemna

    Like

  35. what dilemma is that Roland?

    Like

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