April 7, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Otter Not Call This a Walking Whale

A skeleton of an extinct creature was found on the coast of Peru. Evolutionists are all calling it a walking whale.

In Current Biology, a team led by Olivier Lambert announced a skeleton of what they call an “amphibious whale” or a “quadrupedal whale” they found off the coast of Peru. When the story (complete with artists’ conceptions) hit the press, reporters took the bait and ran with it without asking any questions, printing blow-ups of the artwork as the leading tease under their breathless headlines.

Credit: Brett Miller

Ancient, four-legged whale with otter-like features found along the coast of Peru (Cell Press).

Ancient Four-Legged Whale Swam Across Oceans, Walked Across Continents (Live Science).

Amazing four-legged fossil shows how walking whales learned to swim (New Scientist).

Fossil of ancient four-legged whale found in Peru (BBC News).

Ancient four-legged whales once roamed land and sea  (The Conversation).

The lead discoverer was ecstatic about the evolutionary implications of his discovery. “This is the first indisputable record of a quadrupedal whale skeleton for the whole Pacific Ocean, probably the oldest for the Americas, and the most complete outside India and Pakistan,” said Olivier Lambert of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

The team believes the date of the fossil fits the assumed evolutionary transition between artiodactyls and cetaceans, provided it was able to cross the ocean from Pakistan, where the other alleged ‘walking whale’ specimens were found. The discoverers embedded their interpretation into the name, calling it Peregocetus pacificus, “the traveling whale that reached the Pacific.”

Comparative sizes of humpback whale and its presumed land ancestor. Credit: Illustra Media.

Experience through many years of reporting overhyped claims by evolutionists teaches one to remain skeptical. First of all, the beast does not resemble a whale. It has a long snout, and probably a long tail, and some possible webbing in its four feet. But so do seals, sea lions, beavers, and otters. It is not really that different from the extinct animals in Pakistan that have long been touted as transitional forms, except that this one was found on the west coast of Peru. It may have been about four feet long, but whales are among the largest animals that ever lived.

Since the news media are not doing their duty to ask questions, let’s do it for them.

How do they know it is a whale? They don’t. That’s their interpretation. It would be like calling a platypus a duck because of its duckbill, or a snake because of its poison spur.

How could it be a non-whale? Many other animals have some of these traits: webbed feet, long snouts, and an amphibious lifestyle. The authors say that the creature shared some traits with beavers and otters. Extinct animals often display a mosaic of traits.

How is it unlike a whale? It is not an obligate marine mammal, where every function has to be performed in water 24 x 7. That’s a huge change in lifestyle, requiring many simultaneous adaptations.

Is it really a transitional form? Many mammals with amphibious lifestyles are not considered transitional forms to whales: manatees, hippos, sea lions, beavers, otters, humans. Nobody watched how this animal lived, because it is extinct.

Did it really cross the ocean? The authors claim that Africa and South America would have been closer when this animal lived. That proves nothing. It would still be a long, long way for a fish-eating amphibious mammal to travel that far. With only one specimen known, there’s too little evidence to make a case. Many types of animals are known to be cosmopolitan. Maybe this one was, too, but we lack enough fossils to know. You can’t build a story on one fossil. You can’t say it swam from Pakistan to Peru in order to evolve into a new creature on its way to whalehood.

Why not believe it was a transitional form? In the Illustra Media documentary Living Waters, Dr Richard Sternberg points out irreducibly complex traits like the male reproductive system that would need relocation inside the body plus a complex cooling system to prevent sterility. That, and many other systems, would require complete overhauls for obligate marine living, involving numerous genetic changes. And yet the probability of getting just two coordinated mutations, he calculated, is 100 million years, far longer than the time allowed for alleged “whale evolution” to occur. This consideration alone blows the story out of the water, so to speak.

Epistemic modesty should keep scientists from spinning elaborate yarns about great transformations in evolution. The whale story is one of the biggest. It’s sufficient to say that ‘We found another unknown animal in the fossil record, and here are its features.’

 

(Visited 428 times, 2 visits today)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.