Kangaroo Fossil Leaps Over Darwinian Storytellers
Evolutionary stories work best in a vacuum. Fossils have a way of forcing Darwinians to face unexpected realities.
Once upon a time, five million Darwin Years ago, Australia evolved from a forested land to a grassland. The ancestors of kangaroos, unable to see over the grass, evolved to stand upright. Finding it difficult to get around through the grass, they evolved to hop over it. And that, children, is how the kangaroo learned to hop.
That old story just got jumped on. A fossil “kangaroo cousin” four times older in Darwin Years than the hero of How the Kangaroo Learned to Hop, was already hopping long before the grass arrived, back when Australia was a forest. That’s just part of the problem Darwinians have to deal with now that fossils have been re-analyzed by Swedish scientists. Bob Yirka sets the stage on Phys.org: by repeating the tale in slightly more sophisticated terms. (Note: evolutionists often call themselves “scientists” and call their stories “research.”)
Scientists have been puzzling over the history of kangaroo hopping for many years—because of the lack of kangaroo fossils older than 2 million years, though, it has been difficult to pinpoint when they evolved from walking or climbing creatures to animals that stand upright and get around by hopping. Prior research has suggested that the development of hopping was the result of a changing climate—Australia was once a lot wetter than it is today, with forests covering land that is now overrun with grasses. Standing upright in grasslands is advantageous, as can be seen in prairie dog behavior in parts of the U.S.; hopping is a way to move very quickly in such an environment, as observed with rabbits, most of which are also native to grasslands.
Already problems are apparent in this tale. Rabbits don’t stand upright, and prairie dogs don’t hop. If natural selection were a law of nature, wouldn’t every mammal in grassland have become like a kangaroo? Similarly, not all hoofed herbivores in Africa grow long necks; look at zebras and wildebeest. It would seem easier for giraffes to learn to eat the grass than grow long necks to reach the leaves of the trees. But now, Yirka tells about the kicker in the latest fossil discovery:
In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence that suggests hopping might have started long before grasslands took over large parts of Australia, casting doubt on current theories about the evolutionary timeline of kangaroo hopping.
Balbarids were a diverse group of extinct mammals that evolutionists call “distant cousins” and “ancestors” of kangaroos. If that were the case, though, why were they superior to modern kangaroos in many ways? Sam Wong at New Scientist describes a world more blessed with variety than ours. His opening artwork makes Australia look impoverished by comparison:
An ancient group of kangaroo relatives called balbarids had multiple ways of getting around, including hopping, bounding and climbing. The finding may mean we have to rethink how modern day kangaroos came to hop.
Wong should have said “will mean evolutionists have to rethink,” not “may mean we have to rethink,” because only Darwinians came up with the story in the first place. Now, they have been falsified.
Kangaroo evolution has been difficult to piece together because there are very few fossils older than one or two million years. The prevailing view of kangaroo evolution is that they began hopping when the climate in Australia became drier and wiped out many forests, but new fossil evidence suggests that their relatives were hopping much earlier.
It’s a bit audacious to call one’s tale the “prevailing view.” And if climate change caused kangaroo evolution, wasn’t that a good thing? Maybe it will help humans learn to hop and get around faster.
Benjamin Kear at Uppsala University and his team has upset the “prevailing view” by taking a closer look at fossils that had been used for divination to weave images of walking balbarids. Kear’s reanalysis “suggest that some balbarids galloped, some hopped, and some climbed in trees.”
That’s true of modern kangaroos too, if you look beyond the most famous among them. There are rat kangaroos that scurry in the undergrowth and burrow, and tree kangaroos that live in the forests of New Guinea. Short-faced giant kangaroos, which went extinct 30,000 years ago, walked on two legs like us.
So what evolved? Ancestral “kangaroo cousins” were already hopping 20,000 Darwin Years ago. Animals on this lineage apparently competed in the pentathlon, not just the 440m hop. If grasslands forced kangaroos to stand upright and hop, why did the rat kangaroos miss out? They scurry in the undergrowth and burrow. That seems a lesser challenge for evolution than rearranging the whole body for hopping.
That means we have to rethink how and when kangaroos came to hop. “Hopping didn’t evolve with the climate; hopping was already there and took advantage of environmental change when it occurred,” says Kear.
In most sciences, falsification entails retraction. The old story was wrong. Darwinians should be throwing it into the trash can. But expert storytellers that they are, this news actually made them excited. Now they have a wonderful new plot line for the revised edition of How the Kangaroo Learned to Hop. Sam Wong writes:
This versatility has been key to kangaroos’ success, enabling them to exploit a huge range of terrestrial environments, says Kear. The origin of hopping goes all the way back to virtually the beginning of kangaroo evolution, he says.
Did they exploit by intelligent design? No; according to Darwin’s view, nature did it to them through selection of small chance variations. In all the celebration going on now among the Darwinians about this new plot line, perceptive onlookers may notice something odd. They never did answer the question. How did a four-footed walking mammal evolve into a well-balanced hopping machine? This is no small feat for the feet.
Eastern gray kangaroos hop along on their powerful hind legs and do so at great speed. An eastern gray kangaroos can reach speeds of over 35 miles an hour and travel for long distances at 15 miles an hour. Their bounding gate allows them to cover 25 feet in a single leap and to jump 6 feet high. (National Geographic)
The physiological requirements for such abilities are not trivial. Everything – from the feet, the legs, the muscles, the nerves, the balance organs, the digestive system, the brain and even the reproductive system – must be adequate for that kind of motion. For now, we (actually they) have to rethink kangaroo evolution. Scientists (that is, evolutionists) will need to continue their research (that is, storytelling) to come up with a new prevailing view (that is, dogma).
Darwin has rigged his storytelling empire so that it cannot lose. If an animal is unique, it evolved. If an animal is versatile, it evolved. If an order of animals is both unique and versatile, it evolved. If it evolved because of the environment, it evolved. If it evolved in spite of the environment, it evolved. Fossils are versatile divination tools to Darwinians, allowing them to come to opposite analyses that still prove evolution.
Evolutionists actually enjoy challenges, because they allow them to watch their hero Charlie perform in another Olympic high hurdle event. The higher the hurdles, the better. He’s Duperman, leaping over tall falsifications in a single bound. And no matter how many hurdles he knocks over on the way, he always gets the medal. Why? Because he is the only competitor allowed in the event. The lapdog media will report his triumph as “the prevailing view” that Charlie is the greatest scientist in the history of the world.