May 17, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Mosasaurs Show No Clear Record of Evolution

The tricks of the Darwin trade come out in force to explain these aquatic reptiles that evolutionists maintain came from land lizards.

To understand an evolution paper, you have to learn to look past the overconfident words. “Mosasauroid phylogeny under multiple phylogenetic methods provides new insights on the evolution of aquatic adaptations in the group,” claim six authors publishing in PLoS One. OK, want some insights?

Mosasauroids were a successful lineage of squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) that radiated during the Late Cretaceous (95–66 million years ago). They can be considered one of the few lineages in the evolutionary history of tetrapods to have acquired a fully aquatic lifestyle, similarly to whales, ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Despite a long history of research on this group, their phylogenetic relationships have only been tested so far using traditional (unweighted) maximum parsimony. However, hypotheses of mosasauroid relationships and the recently proposed multiple origins of aquatically adapted pelvic and pedal features in this group can be more thoroughly tested by methods that take into account variation in branch lengths and evolutionary rates. In this study, we present the first mosasauroid phylogenetic analysis performed under different analytical methods, including maximum likelihood, Bayesian inference, and implied weighting maximum parsimony. The results indicate a lack of congruence in the topological position of halisaurines and Dallasaurus. Additionally, the genus Prognathodon is paraphyletic under all hypotheses. Interestingly, a number of traditional mosasauroid clades become weakly supported, or unresolved, under Bayesian analyses. The reduced resolutions in some consensus trees create ambiguities concerning the evolution of fully aquatic pelvic/pedal conditions under many analyses. However, when enough resolution was obtained, reversals of the pelvic/pedal conditions were favoured by parsimony and likelihood ancestral state reconstructions instead of independent origins of aquatic features in mosasauroids. It is concluded that most of the observed discrepancies among the results can be associated with different analytical procedures, but also due to limited postcranial data on halisaurines, yaguarasaurines and Dallasaurus.

Hidden with the Jargonwocky are the clues one needs to see what is going on. There is no real story of evolution. The team tries this method and something breaks; then they try another method and other things break. No method produces a clear picture of ancestry and descent. And nowhere do they answer the real question: how did a land animal acquire enough beneficial mutations to move from land to full time in the water?

Notice that the mosasaurs are only one of three reptile groups that transitioned to a full-time aquatic lifestyle, along with plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. When you add in whales, the challenge facing evolutionists is quadrupled.

What you find in this paper is a mishmash of evolutionary storytelling methods: convergent evolution, parallel evolution, mosaic evolution — tricks we collectively dub Darwin Flubber.

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