January 10, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Sharks Traveled Far but Evolved Nowhere

A shark genome shows the slowest evolution ever, but prehistoric sharks were the first to figure out long-distance migration.

Slower than coelacanth, the well-known living fossil: that’s the verdict about shark evolution coming from the genome of the elephant shark published in Nature.

Here we report the whole-genome analysis of a cartilaginous fish, the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii). We find that the C. milii genome is the slowest evolving of all known vertebrates, including the ‘living fossil’ coelacanth….

Not a true shark, New Scientist says, the elephant shark is a “ratfish” that diverged from the shark line.  It nevertheless has much in common with true sharks, including a cartilaginous skeleton; its genome, therefore, can serve as a representative of cartilaginous fish as opposed to bony fish – the two major subgroups of early gnathostomes (jawed vertebrates).

The Nature authors believe that the elephant shark fits into the evolutionary story of fish-to-tetrapod evolution; nevertheless, it is surprising that any species should exhibit such little change after supposedly 300 million years, during which the environment changed radically, major extinctions occurred, and (one might suppose) the ordinary pressures to evolve or perish would have been relentless.  It is especially astonishing, considering the previous upheavals in fish evolution they believe in:

The emergence of gnathostomes from jawless vertebrates marks a major event in the evolution of vertebrates. This transition was accompanied by many morphological and phenotypic innovations, such as jaws, paired appendages and an adaptive immune system based on immunoglobulins, T-cell receptors and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules (Fig. 1a). How these novelties emerged and how they facilitated the divergence, adaptation and dominance of gnathostomes as the major group (99.9%) of living vertebrates are key unresolved questions.

Elephant sharks should have been capable of evolving and innovating things.  Another New Scientist article alleges that other “prehistoric sharks were [the] earliest animals to migrate.”  A fossil species named Bandringa is said to be ” far and away the oldest known example of a migrating animal,” with “the earliest evidence of migration in a vertebrate” according to  scientists at the University of Michigan.  This required navigation skills, good memory, and the ability to transition from salt to fresh water.

None of the articles explained why evolutionary innovation would grind to a halt in the elephant shark.  Michael Coates at the University of Chicage remarked, “We’re getting this divorce between the apparent conservatism of their genome and the astonishing singing and dancing that was going on anatomically.”  Readers might wonder who is doing the song and dance.

Coelacanth should have sealed the fate of Darwinists.  They were wrong on three fronts: it should have been dead, but was alive; it should have evolved, but did not; and it should have been a transitional form, but it wasn’t.  You can’t get more wrong, but here they are now with a worse problem, tale-telling as usual as if all is well.  How do these guys get away with it?  In any other field, such incompetence would send them packing.

It gets so tiring to hear about “the emergence of” this or that complex system, “this transition” with all the “innovations” that “arose” as if by magic.  It also gets unbearable to hear the same excuses about how evolution is inexorable except when it isn’t, and how it is fast except when it is slow, or the number of “unresolved questions” that remain after 155 years of Darwinism.  Yet the same clueless people are given the sole platform to discuss questions of origins.

Here again we have seen Darwinist Finagle rules in action: (1) Believe in evolution; (2) Observe a fact; (3) Make up a story to fit the fact into the belief.  How long must we endure the corrupt reign of King Charles and his theorybots?  They can’t be fired because of union rules in the Great Society for Storytellers (12/22/03).  Detroit is less bankrupt than these guys.  If we stop attending their song and dance, maybe they’ll get a divorce from science.  She deserves better.



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  • rockyway says:

    How fast or slow the shark is ‘evolving’ (i.e. changing) depends upon how old it is, and how old the biosphere is. As I understand it, the great age given to the shark depends solely upon its place within the fossil rocks. The trouble with the idea that one can tell how old x is, by its place within the idealized column, is that it’s impossible to prove.

    – In his book One Small Speck to Man, Vij Sodera formulates what he calls the Coelacanth Principle;
    “In the absence of any direct evidence to the contrary, any creature could have lived at any time before or after the time of its earliest or latest known fossil.”)

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