September 11, 2017 | David F. Coppedge

Convergence Crams Uncooperative Fossils into Darwinism

When unrelated fossils have similar traits, evolutionary paleontologists twist, shove and stuff them into Darwin’s theory with an all-purpose tool called convergence.

It wasn’t supposed to work this way. Animals were supposed to diverge as they evolved. Branches on real trees do that. In neo-Darwinism, the branch tips in Darwin’s image of a branching tree should get farther apart the more they evolve, because neither branch knows what the other one is doing. But the real world is full of counter-examples, where unrelated animals end up becoming very similar. Even more often, fossils exhibit “mosaics” of traits from different branches, or from “stem” (early) or “crown” (mature) members of a single branch. It’s all very confusing to Mr. Darwin, so his disciples invented a trick to keep from getting their story falsified. It’s called convergence, and here’s how it works. (Note: Not being Darwinians, we will dispute inclusion in the occasional first-person plural pronouns.)

The Weird Fish

Colin Barras at New Scientist introduces his fossil with a warning: “Weird fish fossil changes the story of how we moved onto land” [Who’s we, Paleface?]. If you thought the story of tetrapod evolution from fishy ancestors was all wrapped up, the wrapping just came off.

The evolutionary story we have written [Who’s we, Paleface?] to explain our ancestors’ move from sea to land may need a rethink. A fossil fish from this era has been discovered with several of the features of land animals – yet it was only distantly related to them.

Roughly 360 million years ago, one group of lobe-finned fish began evolving into four-legged, land-living animals that resulted in reptiles, amphibians and mammals like us. [Who’s us, Paleface?]

Notice first that he calls it an evolutionary “story” – not a scientific discovery. The long-stable account of how lobe-finned fish moved onto land just got unstabilized by a Chinese fossil given the name Hongyu chowi.

But when the researchers tried to fit H. chowi into the existing evolutionary tree, it didn’t fit easily.

That’s because in some respects, H. chowi looks like an ancient predatory fish called rhizodonts. These are thought to have branched off from lobe-finned fish long before the group gave rise to four-legged land animals.

Very well, then. Time to bring in the all-purpose tool called convergence. It works like a vise, cramming the fossil into Darwin’s box whether it wants to fit or not. (Jargonwocky note: Sometimes this is called “independent evolution” or “parallel evolution”).

This implies one of two things, the researchers say. The first possibility is that H. chowi is some sort of rhizodont that independently evolved the shoulders and gill cover supports of a four-legged animal.

Alternatively, the rhizodonts may be more closely related to the four-legged animals and the elpistostegids than we thought. But this would also imply a certain amount of independent evolution of similar features, because the rhizodonts would then sit between two groups that have many features in common – features the two groups would have had to evolve independently.

It implies no such thing, but in Darwinland, everything must fit.

The Flying Jurassic Early Squirrel

Evolutionists found another misfit: a Jurassic flying squirrel. Trouble is, it’s in the wrong group. It’s not a therian (placental) mammal, and it’s not a marsupial mammal either (that’s another severe case of convergent evolution). This is a “stem mammal” called an eleutherodontid, that is supposed to be earlier than both later groups and not as evolved, but behold: it already was a glider! Plus, it had tooth rows “convergent” with bats, and other specialized traits that weren’t supposed to evolve till later. Writing in Nature, the authors from University of Chicago and University of Beijing seem surprised: “Here we report a new Jurassic eleutherodontid mammaliaform with an unusual mosaic of highly specialized characteristics,” they say, yet they continue to claim they have “New evidence for mammaliaform ear evolution and feeding adaptation in a Jurassic ecosystem.” Whatever it was, it evolved!

The inferred dietary adaptation of eleutherodontid gliders represents a remarkable evolutionary convergence with herbivorous gliders in Theria. These Jurassic fossils represent volant [flying], herbivorous [plant-eating] stem mammaliaforms associated with pre-angiosperm plants that appear long before the later, iterative associations between angiosperm plants and volant herbivores in various therian clades.

How can this be? Well, the Bearded Buddha was experimenting.

The unique mosaic of characters related to tooth replacements and the middle ear of eleutherodonts adds to growing evidence of complex transformations of mammalian characteristics. Their complex dentitions and occlusal patterns are probably adapted for omnivory and herbivory, showing that the volant and herbivorous lifestyle, previously known only in therian gliders, was also part of mammaliaform evolutionary experimentation during the Jurassic.

Shameless Plug for Convergence

Baleen whales are champions of filter feeding with baleen instead of teeth. Long before they appeared on the evolutionary timeline, though, a marine reptile, unrelated to mammals, already had come up with a similar feeding strategy. Phys.org‘s coverage of a plesiosaur that evolved filter feeding puts convergence right in the headline: “Plesiosaur fossil found 33 years ago yields new convergent evolution findings.” All other marine reptiles used their teeth for biting, but Morturneria had interdigitating teeth that allowed them to catch krill, much like baleen whales do. So how did that happen? Bring out the all-purpose Darwin rescue tool:

The identification of Morturneria’s whale-like filter feeding is a startling case of convergent evolution between reptiles and mammals. Plesiosaurs and whales shared many of the intervening steps in the evolution of this feeding style and their extreme morphologies are similar despite arising from different ancestors.

[Sankar] Chatterjee stresses convergent evolution does not imply Morturneria was in any way related to today’s baleen whales; it just means they both evolved the same way.

“They had adopted similar lifestyle and feeding,” he said. “For example, birds and bats fly, but birds are now considered dinosaurs [according to whom, Paleface?] and bats are mammals. These superficial similarities of lifestyles and behavior are called ‘convergent evolution.’” [by whom, Paleface?]

Giving something a name is not the same as explaining it. Physicist Lee Spetner spoke about “convergent evolution” for ID the Future, commenting that “convergent evolution is even more improbable than evolution itself” (see Evolution News). Spetner presents an alternative, the Non-Random Evolutionary Hypothesis, which proposes “evidently purposeful evolution as a response to environmental and other stresses.” But then, if it is non-random, such adaptability must have been pre-programmed into organisms—i.e., intelligently designed.

Convergence is an essential ingredient in Darwin Flubber. Don’t let the Darwin Party get away it. “Convergent evolution” is simply an empty phrase, a cover for ignorance, a rescue device to avoid falsification. Multiple independent similar adaptations are not proof of evolution in action: they are the opposite of what Darwin predicted. Some convergences in nature are so precise, it takes an expert to identify them (see the “Convergence Concoction” page by Brett Miller).

If the Creator pre-programmed organisms with the ability to respond to environmental changes, or to use similar strategies for similar needs, that’s a design feature, not luck. The former is the kind of programming that goes into fault-tolerant systems. It represents intelligent design at a high level. The latter is an example of modular design (see Living Waters for examples of multiple unrelated animals that use magnetic navigation, for instance). Darwinians, by contrast, would rather believe animals won the lottery multiple times when they see finely-tuned, successful creatures with similar designs than to reject their Buddha’s teachings. What better proof of design could there be than similarities between unrelated organisms? What better disproof of blind, unguided evolution could there be than convergence everywhere?

Don’t be fooled. Evolutionists get away with this in the media because they are totalitarian bigots, not allowing any criticism or debate. They know that once legitimate debate is allowed, they would be laughed off the stage in disgrace. Bring it on.

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