Fossils Sprout New Tales
When unexpected things turn up in the fossil record, evolutionists get out their storytelling playbook.
Paleozoic tissue: Geology announces a near-record find of original organic molecules from echinoderms:
Isolation of organic molecules directly from Paleozoic to Cenozoic fossils has been documented, which raises important, new questions about the conditions of preservation and the range of paleobiological issues that can be addressed with these new data. Herein, molecules are isolated from fossil echinoderms exceeding 445 Ma in age.
The authors quickly shift gears, however, showing more concern about what the molecules might teach about evolution:
Previously, morphological data have been insufficient to establish a consensus regarding early echinoderm evolution. Thus, organic molecules extracted from fossil echinoderm specimens (mostly Paleozoic) … are used to assess the position of crinoids and blastozoans within competing echinoderm phylogenetic hypotheses…. These new data support the hypothesis that living eleutherozoans diverged early from stemmed echinoderms….
Earliest not-spider: When is a spider not a spider? When an evolutionist says it isn’t. The BBC News reported a fossil said to be 305 million years old that was very “spider-like” in many respects, but only rates as “nearly a spider” because it lacked spinnerets. It “lived alongside the ancestors of modern spiders” we are told. But then comes this shocker: it was neighbors with true web-spinning spiders! Quick: change the evolutionary tale:
“The earliest known spider is actually from the same fossil deposit – and it definitely has spinnerets. So what we’re actually looking at is an extinct lineage that split off the spider line some time before 305 million years ago, and those two have evolved in parallel.“
Have a heart: The first remains of a heart in any fossil has been found in a fish said to be 113-119 million years old. PhysOrg notes the surprise:
For centuries, the fossil remains of back-boned animals – or vertebrates – were studied primarily from their bones or fossilised footprints. The possibility of finding well-preserved soft tissues in really ancient fossils was widely thought to be impossible.
Soft organic material rapidly decays after death, so organs start breaking down from bacterial interactions almost immediately after an animal has died. Once the body has decayed, what remains can eventually become buried and what’s left of the skeleton might one day become a fossil.
The article mentions other examples of spectacular preservation. So how are they going to explain this? Follow the Darwin playbook and distract attention: “Such finds could contribute to understanding deeper evolutionary patterns as internal soft organs have their own set of specialised features.”
Seeds of a plot: Why did some birds die out with the dinosaurs, but other ones live on? Scientists studied some fossil seeds, Science Daily says, and decided that toothless birds that could peck seeds were the ones with a survival advantage. The BBC News picked up on this story line, adding: “seeds that had already built up in the ground would have still been available as a food source for anything with a beak capable of eating them.” How mammals without beaks survived is not stated, nor how meat-eating raptor birds survived. Full tale at Current Biology.
Precocious titanosaur: A baby titanosaur (a large species of Cretaceous sauropod) has been reported in Science. Judged about 40 days old, it was the size of a terrier and already able to fend for itself. In the same issue of Science, Patrick Monahan speculates that the young dino starved to death. Live Science entered a trance and looked into a crystal ball: “During its short life, the baby was likely highly mobile, spending its days foraging, sleeping and evading predators during the Late Cretaceous.”
Croc crock: A “storytelling crocodile” has been named after a native South American “storyteller god,” Pachakamue, thought to have knowledge of the origin of South American animals. Science Daily says the alleged 13-million-year-0ld fossil tells a tale of parallel evolution of crocodile traits. But who’s the real storyteller here, the god, the crocodile, or the evolutionist?
Their analysis suggested that the ‘storyteller’ crocodylian with slightly telescoped eyes represents the ancestral condition from which the South American lineage evolved telescoped eyes. The eyes therefore evolved in parallel in South American and Indian lineages, at first showing partial telescoping as in the ‘storyteller’ crocodylian, and eventually becoming fully telescoped as seen in later-evolving species. Both South American and Indian species adopted a river-dwelling lifestyle, and it is likely that telescoped eyes were adaptive, helping them to catch fish in these habitats.
Although further research is needed, thibs [sic, this] study may further our understanding of both the ‘storyteller’ crocodylian and the evolution of all gavialoid crocodylians.
Mammal-like reptile survivor: A collection of teeth found in Japan “suggests that tritylodontids co-existed with some of the earliest mammal species for millions of years, overturning beliefs that mammals wiped out mammal-like reptiles soon after they emerged” (Science Daily). They apparently believed in coexistence, not competition for the same niches. A puzzled researcher comments, “This raises new questions about how tritylodontids and their mammalian neighbors shared or separated ecological roles.”
Lemurs: we are family: There’s been a shake-up in the tree holding lemurs, Science Daily says. Extinct and living lemurs are all brethren, even some that were as large as gorillas, a new phylogenetic study postulates. “The findings shake up ideas on how geographic changes help species split off.”
Aussie killer whale: A man holding a giant tooth opens a PhysOrg article about a giant “killer sperm whale” fossil found on an Australian beach. How much can be told from a single tooth? “Most sperm whales for the past 20 million years have been of the whale-killing kind,” the story goes. “So, the fossil record reveals the living species to in fact be the exception to the rule, the oddball of the sperm whale family.”
The pet unicorn: A skull of a large rhino-like animal Elasmotherium dubbed the “Siberian unicorn” was found in Kazakhstan. Live Science tells about scientists deciding to carbon-date the fossil of a species thought to have gone extinct 350,000 years ago. Lo and behold, the date came back at 29,000 radiocarbon years. “If the new calculation is correct, the ‘Siberian unicorn’ could have crossed paths with modern humans,” the article says. If evolutionary estimates were 92% wrong for the date of this animal’s extinction, how wrong could they be about other fossils that have not yet been tested for carbon-14? (Note: radiocarbon ages do not necessarily translate into actual ages.)
Monkey shines: The first monkey fossil found in North America (actually, Central America in Panama) has been reported by PhysOrg, based on seven teeth found while the new Panama Canal is being excavated. Evolutionists say it is 21 million years old. Darwin, we have a problem: “Prior to this discovery, New World monkeys were thought to have evolved in isolation on South America, cut-off from North America by a wide seaway.” New Scientist supplies a rescue story. First, quote a puzzled evolutionist for dramatic effect: “How could they possibly be those of a monkey given what almost seems like a law at this point: there are no monkeys in North America prior to the Great American Interchange?” Turn up the tension: “The discovery is absolutely astounding,” says Richard Kay at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. “A 21-million-year-old fossil monkey appearing in Central America is extraordinary and a bolt from the blue.” Resolution: No problem. The Old World monkeys crossed the Atlantic, didn’t they? Monkeys have a “wanderlust,” and this one made it over the waves “somehow,” crossing at least 160 kilometers of open ocean. “Unambiguously, these are the teeth of a South American monkey that somehow managed to do what no other mammal could do at that time – get across the Central American Seaway.” Others followed its lead, so it must not have been that hard, the article suggests.
Grin and bear it: Fossils in the form of DNA comparisons between North and South American bears either present a problem or shed light on evolution, whichever way you prefer to look at it.
PhysOrg shows the proper way for an evolutionist to deal with unexpected similarities: “The implication of this result is that these bears represent a remarkable instance of convergent evolution, as giant bears appear to have evolved independently in both North and South America.”
Kingdom sharing: The first case of DNA sharing between animals and plants was alleged by PhysOrg. Scientists claim that endogenous retroviruses (“DNA fossils”) from insects have been found in pine trees. “The consequences of [the retrovirus] invasion for conifers evolution [sic] remain unclear,” the scientists admit, but they resurrected some Greek fairies to make the story more entertaining. “We called these conifer DNA sequences ‘Dryads‘ after the Greek mythological nymphs that inhabit trees.”
Greek gods can be very useful for evolutionists, despite their claim to be anti-supernatural. The philosopher of science Willard Van Orman Quine agreed with William Duhem on the under-determination of theory by data (i.e., that data cannot confirm a single theory as the only explanation for observations). Duhem limited his critique to physics, according to Wikipedia‘s summary:
Quine, on the other hand, in ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’, presents a much stronger version of underdetermination in science. His theoretical group embraces all of human knowledge, including mathematics and logic. He contemplated the entirety of human knowledge as being one unit of empirical significance. Hence all our knowledge, for Quine, would be epistemologically no different from ancient Greek gods, which were posited in order to account for experience.
Now you know. Dryads come into employment as servants of Darwin, the Zeus of our age.