October 4, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Lemur-fish, Vege-fang and other Fossil Follies

Fossils are doing just fine, but the scientists who interpret them are having a rough week (or century).


It looks like a dinosaur in a scary Halloween costume, but it’s just a nice little guy that ate vegetables, Science Daily announced: “New Fanged Dwarf Dinosaur from Africa Ate Plants.”  Live Science even identified the costume: “‘Dracula’ Dinosaur Had Bristles and Fangs.”  Sure enough, the artist gave it the scariest demeanor possible.  Trick or treat: toss it a radish.  Even with scary fangs, Pegomastax africanus, found in South Africa 50 years ago but “languished in a museum drawer” till recently, was apparently a vegetarian.  This goes to show one can’t always tell carnivory by the teeth.

It was small, too, weighing less than a house cat.  National Geographic said, “New Fanged Dwarf Dinosaur Found—’Would Be Nice Pet’.”  Paleontologists think it might have used its porcupine-like bristles and fangs for defense or display, but mostly the teeth and jaws worked like “self-sharpening scissors for shearing plant parts.”  Live Science promised the little critter “may shed light on evolution,” but didn’t say exactly how; neither did Science Now.  Evolutionary paleontologist Paul Sereno [U of Chicago] ventured some light in National Geographic‘s article:  “What’s more, the study revealed that P. africanussophisticated jaw structure was ahead of its time, Sereno noted. Such structures evolved again millions of years later in mammals.”  Sereno did not point out where his light was shining.


Speaking of vegetarians (and speaking of animals ahead of their time), evolutionists now say that duckbill dinosaurs were better equipped for eating plants than horses are (sidebar: grazing mammals supposedly evolved much later).  Charles Choi reported on Live Science that “Vegetarian Dinosaurs Were Champion Chompers.”  He began, “Giant plant-eating dinosaurs may have been champion chewers up there with the likes of mammals such as horses, bison or elephants, researchers say.”  Some hadrosaurs had 1400 teeth with flat, grinding surfaces perfect for grinding tough plants – and they could replace them when they wore out.  Their teeth were composed of six types of tissue that migrated, “exposing different surfaces as the teeth migrated across the chewing surfaces in the mouths of the dinosaurs over time.”  With teeth like that, “The finding could help explain why these behemoths dominated the plains of Europe, Asia and North America during the last part of the age of dinosaurs,” Choi speculated.

Hadrosaurs were “as sophisticated, if not more sophisticated, than any known mammal,” one paleontologist said.  This makes it sound like evolution has been going downhill.  They thought dinosaur teeth would resemble those of other reptiles, like alligators, but found something quite different.  “The complexity of hadrosaurid teeth would have proved excellent tools for handling tough, gritty plants,” but can we trust their opinions?  Evolutionists can look a gift horse in the mouth, but “We still don’t have a good understanding even of how horse teeth work,” one of them confessed.  PhysOrg posted a cross-section of the “remarkably complex architecture” of one tooth of a hadrosaur (Edmontosaurus).  Six tissues is four more than reptiles have, and two more than horses.  Some of the tissues apparently functioned to prevent cavities and abscesses.  Not even vegan humans can boast that evolutionary innovation.

One more thing.  These teeth avoided decay for a long, long time, in their view.  “We were stunned to find that the mechanical properties of the teeth were preserved after 70 million years of fossilization,” Gregory Erickson on Mark Norell’s team said; “if you put these teeth back into a living dinosaur they would function perfectly.


Whoops; a fossil thought to be that of a lemur (a primate) for over a century has now been reclassified as a fish.  No kidding.  “That’s No Primate: It’s a Fish!Science Daily exclaimed.  PhysOrg echoed, “Fossil—thought for over a century to be the only trace of a prehistoric primate—is actually that of a fish.”  Paleontologists often pride themselves on how much they can tell about a creature from just a fragment.  They had even given this one a name: “Arrhinolemur scalabrinii – which translates literally to ‘Scalabrini’s lemur without a nose’.”  Pedro Scalabrini would be really embarrassed right now (he was a fossil hunter for whom it was named in 1898).

George Gaylord Simpson had doubted the classification half a century later and suggested it was fishy.  In 1986, Alvaro Mones agreed, even specifying the fish family.  But it wasn’t until two years ago that Argentinian scientists looked into it with more detail and settled on the fish identification.  Evolutionary paleontologists took credit anyway, saying, “It also helps us analyze evolutionary transitions — we can look at in the past and compare them to similar fish today to see what features have changed over time and try to understand why.”  It would seem that proper identification is a prerequisite for understanding.  114 years of misidentification is a rather long time.

Mammoth Boy

An 11-year-old Russian boy made the find of a lifetime: a nearly complete mammoth carcass in the tundra of northern Russia – one of the best-preserved mammoths ever found.  Paleontologists claim it is 30,000 years old.  The article indicates that DNA is not expected to survive such ages for resurrecting a mammoth, even though cloning experiments are underway elsewhere.  “A big obstacle, of course, is degraded, ice-damaged DNA,” New Scientist‘s report said, even though it would seem an ice freezer would offer the best possible preservation.

Evolutionary Weight Gain

For neo-Darwinism to be true, mammoths had to have tiny ancestors, maybe like mice (note: this is not an Aesop’s Fable; at least, not intentionally).  PhysOrg stepped to explain to the world about “Small winners in the mammalian race to evolve.”  Speaking for evolutionists at Monash University, PhysOrg explains how they examined the fossil record through evolutionary glasses (“We chose the generation as our basic measure of evolutionary time, as it is the shortest interval over which evolutionary change can occur“) , and deduced that it takes 24 million generations for a mouse to become an elephant, but only two million to shed all that weight and become tiny again.  Tom Weller’s cartoon of a pond hippopotamus on a lily pad comes to mind.  Where are the mouse-sized elephants, if they can lose weight much faster than gain it?  “Bigger is not always better,” the reader is informed, except when it is, or else elephants would not have “appeared” from tiny creatures by evolution.  Alistair Evans almost expected incredulity: “Believe it or not, the ancestors of elephants were once as small as mice,” he said.  The option to disbelieve it is therefore held open.

Molluscs: Complex to Simple

A new fossil has been dubbed the ancestor of molluscs.  One problem: it is more complex than its descendants.  The “armoured aplacophoran” name Kulindroplax, described in Nature,1 is touted as the “a kind of missing link with a worm-like body, bearing a series of shells like those of a chiton or coat-of-mail shell” by co-author Derek Briggs of Yale, according to the write-up on Science Daily.   The reader is assured this “discovery reinforces previous findings from molecular sequencing studies and helps clarify the evolutionary relationships of mollusks,” only to be told later that mollusc evolution has been controversial for a long time – particularly the worm-like group called aplacophorans (without armor):

The evolutionary relationships of worm-like mollusks, known as Aplacophora, has been a subject of controversy. Previously thought to be a product of the explosion of diversity during the early Cambrian period, they are now shown to have evolved probably 40-50 million years ago by losing shells like those on Kulindroplax.

What this means is that the more complex animals came out of the Cambrian explosion, and the simpler ones evolved much more recently.  Kulindoplax is said to be 425 million years old, younger than the Cambrian explosion but much older than “40-50 million years ago”.  That’s why the article’s headline asked, “Which Came First, Shells or No Shells? Ancient Mollusk Tells a Contrary Story” – contrary, that is, to what evolutionists expected.

How this fossil helps evolutionary theory is not clear, particularly when “The interrelationships of the Mollusca — one of the most diverse and species-rich animal phyla — have been contentious,” according to the Editor’s summary of the paper in Nature.1 Indeed, the authors concurred that “relationships among major molluscan taxa have long been a subject of controversy.”  Putting the more complex animal at the beginning, and the simpler animal as the more recent one, does not seem a good way to reduce contentiousness.

1. Sutton, Briggs et al., “A Silurian armoured aplacophoran and implications for molluscan phylogeny,” Nature 490, 04 October 2012, pp. 94–97, doi:10.1038/nature11328.)

The implication for molluscan phylogeny, and all phylogeny, is that Darwinism is tosh (10/25/2011).  Its followers should say Bosh! and quash it.  We keep putting the evidence out there, right out of evolutionists’ own discoveries, hoping it will lead to a new Darwinian revolution from inside out, i.e., a revolt against sloppy speculation in the name of science in support of a predetermined naturalistic worldview.


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