Life Out of Place, Life Out of Time
Evolutionists have a standard timeline based on Darwin’s “tree of life” that indicates when complex life forms should have appeared. What happens when the wrong animal shows up in the wrong place or time? The theory is never falsified; it is just accommodated to the new data, as simply as rearranging branches on a Christmas tree, or covering gaps with verbal garland. Some recent examples:
- Kiwi ghost: New Zealand wasn’t supposed to have any native mammals, but bones of a small rodent near Otago on the South Island were reported in PNAS this week.1 The discoverers said this points to a “ghost lineage” of one or more mammals that must have inhabited the isolated archipelago. Since they dated the mammal in the Miocene (19-16 million years ago), they are puzzled that it seems to represent an early rodent that pre-dates the split of marsupials and placentals assumed to have occurred in the early Cretaceous 125 million years ago. That means that mammals must have existed in New Zealand for over 100 million years, but as yet, no other traces of them have been found.
- Your soul-mate, the whale: EurekAlert reported that a specialized kind of brain cells found in humans, called spindle cells, has been found in whale brains. This is odd, since whales are thought to have split off the mammal line prior to 30 million years ago. They speculate that these cells first appeared in the hominid line 15 million years ago. Finding spindle cells in such widely separated groups represents an evolutionary puzzle. The article speculates, “It may also be that they evolved several times independently in the two cetacean suborders; part of this process may have taken place at the same time as they appeared in the ancestor of great apes, which would be a rare case of parallel evolution.”
- Get your nitrogen fix: Bacteria were thought to possess the secrets of nitrogen fixation, but now this ability has been found in Archaea, a separate kingdom of single-celled organisms, reports EurekAlert. The article also states that Archaea are far more widespread than earlier believed, not just denizens of hot springs and other extreme environments.
- Shrimp special: A “Jurassic shrimp” was discovered in a marine census, reported New Scientist Environment. Thought to have gone extinct 50 million years ago, this species was found alive and well 5000 meters below the Sargasso Sea.
- What’s my line? An australopithecine thought to be on the human family tree must be relegated to a separate branch, reports National Geographic News and University of Liverpool. “Little Foot,” a member of the Australopithecus africanus family, can’t be our ancestor, because new radiometric experiments on the soil surrounding the bones in a South African cave yield a date of “only” 2.2 million years old. “This is because the team found that ‘Little Foot’ lived after the arrival of the stone tool makers, Homo habilis, raising the possibility that this family was more of a side branch of the human evolutionary tree.”
- Amber alert: Germs have been identified in amber said to be 220 million years old, reported National Geographic News. “Surprisingly, these microscopic organisms look quite familiar to today’s scientists.” What does this do to the concept of index fossils?2 “Most fossils of microorganisms have been found in marine sediments, not terrestrial environments,” the article explains. “And such marine fossils typically reveal patterns of great change over Earth’s many epochs, unlike the new Triassic amber find.” The authors of the paper in Nature3 ended by noting this remarkable stasis:
Our findings show that different genera, and even species, of microbial taxa have been able to survive geological epochs. Higher levels in food webs, on the other hand, have been shaped by environmental changes, such as those that caused the mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary. Unchanged since the Lower Mesozoic, protozoans survived the entire era of the dinosaurs, as well as the diversification of angiosperms, birds and mammals.
- Rocky’s rival: A gliding squirrel-like mammal has been found in Mongolia clocking a shocking evolutionary date of 125 million years and reported in Nature.4 The New York Times had a story about the find. A paleontologist who reviewed the discovery said this “wholly unexpected diversity of something adapted for gliding at this early time is absolutely astonishing.” Only recently, he said, scientists thought mammals of the time were small, shrew-like animals living under the shadow of the dinosaurs. “This was just totally out of nowhere,” said one of the team members, referring to the time gap this creates between this mammal’s time period and the earliest appearance of mammal flight that had been assumed before:
Until now, the earliest identified gliding mammal was a 30-million-year-old extinct rodent. The first known modern bat, which is capable of powered flight, dates to 51 million years ago, but it is assumed that proto-bats were probably gliding much earlier….
In the journal report, Dr. [Jin] Meng and colleagues wrote, “This discovery extends the earliest record of gliding flight for mammals at least 70 million years earlier in the geological history and demonstrates that mammals were diverse in their locomotor strategies and life styles”…..
“We have very little fossil record of mammalian flight, and suddenly this one comes along at such an early time,” Dr. Meng said. “Now the question is, what happened to this group between then and now?”
Between then and now, in fact, something big happened: the dinosaurs went extinct in some global catastrophe. A corollary of Meng’s question is why the big dinosaurs went extinct, when fragile furriers lacking the body armor of thick-skinned giants like Ankylosaurus survived. It wasn’t simply a matter of habitat. Now we know that some Cretaceous mammals lived in the water, some burrowed underground, and this one lived in the trees.
As illustrated in this last story, no one seems to be questioning the time line or the Darwinian tree of life. These anomalies will eventually become incorporated into the evolving story of evolution. For example, one evolutionist from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, quoted in the New York Times article, felt that this demonstrates that “mammals started the invasion of diverse niches long before the extinction of dinosaurs.” Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo referred to the other recent finds of Cretaceous mammals, such as the beaver-like animal reported in February, said to be 164 million years old (see 02/24/2006). He illustrated how evolutionary thinking works when he said that these finds “literally stretch the boundary of paleontologists’ imagination about what would be possible for the earliest mammals.”
Presumably, Dr. Luo assumes the imagination will stretch without breaking.
1Worthy et al, “Miocene mammal reveals a Mesozoic ghost lineage on insular New Zealand, southwest Pacific,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0605684103, published online before print December 11, 2006.
2Index fossils: the supposition that organisms are expected to evolve over time such that fossils appearing in a certain evolved state can date the rocks they are found in. This is supposed to provide an “index” of that rock stratum for dating other species contained therein.
3Schmidt, Ragazzi, Coppellotti and Roghi, “A microworld in Triassic amber,” Nature 444, 835 (14 December 2006) | doi:10.1038/444835a.
4Jin Meng et al, “A Mesozoic gliding mammal from northeastern China,” Nature 444, 889-893 (14 December 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature05234.
The stretch-and-squish theory of evolution (12/14/2004) is the biggest con job in the history of science. Data are props to the trick. The spotlight is on the Darwin Party street comedian’s ability to spin an entertaining story out of anything that happens along, while surreptitiously filching funds from the public pocket.