September 9, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Whale Pelvis Is Not Vestigial

The old Darwinian idea of “vestigial organs” has proven to be a hindrance to science once again: this time in the case of whale pelvic bones.

Are the shrunken pelvic bones in whales vestigial legs?  That’s been common understanding for years.  Scientists and students in Los Angeles decided to investigate, according to PhysOrg:

Both whales and dolphins have pelvic (hip) bones, evolutionary remnants from when their ancestors walked on land more than 40 million years ago. Common wisdom has long held that those bones are simply vestigial, slowly withering away like tailbones on humans.

New research from USC and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) flies directly in the face of that assumption, finding that not only do those pelvic bones serve a purpose – but their size and possibly shape are influenced by the forces of sexual selection.

“Everyone’s always assumed that if you gave whales and dolphins a few more million years of evolution, the pelvic bones would disappear. But it appears that’s not the case,” said Matthew Dean, assistant professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and co-corresponding author of a paper on the research that was published online by Evolution on Sept. 3

Over a period of four years, Dean and a grad student studied hundreds of whale pelvic bones from the Smithsonian and the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, the two largest collections of whale fossils in North America.  They believe that the bones have been subject to sexual selection, because the pelvic bones do not bear a size relationship to the ribs.  They infer from this that more “promiscuous” species are endowed with bigger organs.  Whether or not that is so (see commentary below), they deny that the “vestigial organs” theory has any explanatory value:

“Our research really changes the way we think about the evolution of whale pelvic bones in particular, but more generally about structures we call ‘vestigial.’ As a parallel, we are now learning that our appendix is actually quite important in several immune processes, not a functionally useless structure,” Dean said.

Whale pelvic bones thus are only a particular instance of a principle: things thought useless in evolutionary theory might be “actually quite important” for animal function.

Wait a minute!  Aren’t creationists the science stoppers?  Aren’t they the ones who dismissively say “God did it” as they lock the lab door behind them?  Do you mean to tell us that evolutionists, the paragons of scientific virtue, have stopped research on whale pelvic bones for decades by assuming they were vanishing vestiges?  Do you mean to imply that creationists, believing those bones were designed, might have advanced science by looking for their function?  Actually, yes (see TrueOrigin and CMI).

Darwinists should be held accountable for stopping science with their myths of vestigial organs and junk DNA.  Yet they prance around after falsifying themselves, with the media applauding as if Darwinism is still a wonderful story that brings scientific progress.  Charlie mastered the art of inverting blame and stealing credit (8/24/07).  His disciples learned well from the liar-in-chief.

What about the “sexual selection” theory for the size of the pelvic bones?  Didn’t the authors claim “their size and possibly shape are influenced by the forces of sexual selection“?  Let’s be clear; sexual selection is not a force.  It’s a farce.  It’s just as malleable a theory as natural selection, making some bird sexes identical and others, like the peacock, extravagantly different. See 5/13/14 and 3/12/14 for refutations of sexual selection theory by evolutionists.  This goes to show that many evolutionists haven’t gotten the message; they keep repeating Charlie’s old dogmas without knowing they’ve been discarded on the trash heap.

But, a critic might say, didn’t the USC guys do good science by checking their data, following the scientific method, and establishing their hypothesis?  The article says:

Finally, they compared the size of the pelvic bones (relative to body size) to the size of the animal’s testis (again, relative to body size). The results were clear: the bigger the relative testis, the bigger the relative pelvic bone – meaning that more competitive mating environments seem to drive the evolution of larger pelvic bones. Males from more promiscuous species also evolve larger penises, so larger pelvic bones appear necessary to attach larger muscles for penis control.

As a negative control, Dean and Dines also compared testis size to the size of one of the animal’s ribs. If pelvic bone size were simply a reflection of overall skeletal size, there should be a corresponding correlation in the ribs – but there was not, strengthening the interpretation that whale pelvic bones are specifically targeted by selection related to mating system.

Notice the phrases “seem to drive the evolution of” and “strengthening the interpretation“.  They merely suggested, in other words, that selection gave promiscuous males bigger muscles for penis control, and bigger pelvic bones for attachment.

There are several problems with making this suggestion an argument for Darwinism.  First, even staunch creationists believe organ sizes can be modified.  Second, no new organs emerged: just size variations to existing parts (so this involved no new genetic information)—another finding consistent with the creation explanation.  Third, it was only a suggestion, not a demonstration.  The testes are not attached by muscles to the pelvis, just the muscles controlling the penis.  How do they know that a bigger and more muscular penis is always more successful?  Many primates have very small endowments, so this becomes another explanation that collapses into the SHL: evolution explains a bigger thing except when it explains a smaller one.  No good theory should explain opposite outcomes with equal facility.  Furthermore, if the females did not evolve in kind, bigger endowments in the males could damage the corresponding female parts, bringing survival of the species to a halt.

So on further investigation, sexual selection and natural selection provide nothing of explanatory value.  In addition, there’s a “whale balls” problem: unlike other mammals, cetaceans need to carry their testes inside and still keep their sperm cool.  They do this with specially-designed blood vessels in the tail fluke that dissipate heat to the ocean and return cool blood for the testes (Bioweb).  No transitional forms show how this complex heat exchange system evolved.  (The explanation given on Bioweb is stupid: “Mammalian scrotums lower ambient temperature to keep sperm viable, so cetaceans had to find a way to compensate. And they did,” the article claims.  What?  They held a design committee, and then operated on their own parts, and encoded the revised design into their own genes?  Good grief.)

Creationists provide a much better answer for whale sex: the small whale pelvic bones, along with all the other reproductive organs, were fully functional from creation.  Each mammal was provided with what it needs, and given built-in (designed) plasticity for adapting to new environments (but adaptations do not add new genetic information).  Because we know whales were designed, creationists will be motivated to investigate how the design works, both for the satisfaction of understanding a good design, and for finding design ideas with potential applications in human technology.

A commentary from “Evolution Takes Credit” (8/24/07) is applicable here:

“Evolution takes credit,” this entry began. That’s true in another sense, too. Evolutionists charge their explanations on Darwin Party credit cards. These attractive cards have the advantage of never requiring payback. Why? Look what happens when whistleblowers try holding the carriers accountable (3/25/2007). As with citizens in a town controlled by the mob, it’s much safer to just let them run up a bill and pay it out of the public trust.

It’s time to go on offense against the evolution racket.  Call them the real science stoppers.  Don’t just defend design against their mythical explanations like “vestigial organs” and “junk DNA.”  Attack the myths as examples of bad science that hinders scientific progress.

 

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