Evolutionary Biogeography Requires Imagination
Biogeography – the study of the distribution of species – has been an important part of evolutionary theory, and has often been used as evidence for evolution. Some recent findings about plants and animals should give scientists caution about trying to divine too much evolutionary history from locations of present-day organisms and fossils.
PhysOrg reported on a study of New Zealand plants that yielded surprises. The article shares the details, but ends, “this research demonstrates that the presence of ancient fossils from a plant family may not provide evidence regarding the history of modern members of the family, providing a cautionary note to other researchers trying to reconstruct the history of a group of plants.” A researcher said, “Delving into the details of plant fossils can give you surprises. The fossil record of pollen could be read to say that this group of plants is a relic from the breakup of Gondwana—but by combining the leaf fossils and evidence from molecular biology, it looks like exactly the opposite is true.”
Animals, also, may not be land-locked. National Geographic reported that mammals, including lemurs, could have rafted across the Indian Ocean from Africa to Madagascar where they are found today. The BBC News also reported this shift in thinking away from the land-bridge hypothesis to the rafting hypothesis. The opposite hypothesis might hold for iguanas on the other side of the world. Science Daily reported on new ideas that iguanas simply “walked” across land bridges to South Pacific islands where they are found today.
Animals and plants evolved where they lived – except when they didn’t. The use of these auxiliary hypotheses, like rafting and land bridges, indicates that evolutionary biogeography is so flexible it could explain anything. Therefore it explains nothing, and should not be taken as evidence for Darwin’s theory. Iguanas walking long distances on bridges? Lemurs floating on logs out to sea? One can see the cartoons coming. One must never think they floated on an ark or something.
A related essay that exposes the fudging evolutionists employ to keep their theory intact was shown by Paul Nelson on Evolution News and Views regarding so-called “ghost lineages” in phylogeny, or, “how evolutionists ensure they will never find a Cambrian rabbit.” Dr. Nelson (philosopher of biology) will publish a Part II to this instructive essay soon.