A Hairy Evolution Story
51; A mammal hair was found in amber. It is claimed to be 100 million years old, but it is identical to modern mammal hair. What is the meaning of this find? How should it be interpreted? It may say more about the modern evolutionist than about evolution itself.
New Scientist told the story. The title read like a crime scene: “CSI 100 million years BC: oldest mammalian hair found.” Romain Vullo at the University of Rennes I in France discovered the hair in a piece of amber (petrified tree sap) in southern France. This is the oldest sample of mammal hair ever found, the article said.
Reporter Shanta Barley explained right off the bat that the evidence is plain and simple: “The scales on the hair – which provide its protective waterproof cover – are identical to those found on the hairs of mammals walking the Earth today.” She reinforced the point later: “It turns out that the pattern is identical to that found on modern mammalian hair: rows of overlapping scales stacked on top of each other in an orderly fashion, with each row roughly 2 to 8 micrometres high.”
The scientists examining the hair had a little fun imagining what the animal was and how it died. It might have been a small opossum-like animal, and it might have been running up a tree when it got stuck in the tree sap. “Interpreting the ancient ‘crime scene’ where the hair’s owner died is fraught with difficulties,” Barley noted. What’s really noteworthy is how to explain the hair being identical to modern hair after 100 million years of evolutionary time. That’s where Vullo should have closed his mouth, because he just won Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: “Perhaps mammalian hair does its job so well that it does not need to evolve.”
Once upon a time, children, Hairy and Skinny were clinging to Mr. Opossum in the mystic forest. Skinny looked at the fantastic array of dinosaurs, birds, mammals and reptiles around him, and thought, “I’m so plain and skinny. I really need to reach my potential. I need to stretch and learn new things. Someday I’ll become covering for a whale or an elephant. I’ll be a fat hippopotamus and develop my own sunscreen (05/25/2004). I’ll cover fantastic creatures large and small. My sensors will become so fine, they will rapidly move along the strings of musical instruments, and cover the scalps of philosophers!” Hairy just laughed at all this. “You dreamers and visionaries,” he said, “you always have your head in the clouds. Don’t you realize how many mutations you are going to have to suffer through to wait for those things to emerge?” Skinny sighed, deflated at the prospect. “You should be like me,” Hairy said. “I don’t worry. I do my job so well, I don’t need to evolve!”
Cut, print, publish. That’s genius. That’s the thinking of a real scientist. Children, aren’t you glad we have scientists to entertain us with stories of how we got here?