Tusk, Tusk: Evolutionists Surprised by Tusk Evolution
The evidence is against Darwinian evolution of tusks
but Harvard biologists are excited by tusk evolution anyway
A week ago, we had a good laugh at evolutionists getting all excited about the “evolution of tusklessness” due to poaching, a theory of evolution by subtraction (25 Oct 2021). This story coming out of Harvard University tackles the harder problem: the origin of tusks in the first place.
Tusks are canine teeth that continue growing. They are unique to mammals. A variety of mammals have true tusks, including elephants, warthogs, hippos, hyraxes and walruses. If a tusk gets broken, a new one will usually grow out. These differ from teeth which are coated in enamel, which confer durability and do not continue growing throughout life.
Harvard biologists decided to find out how tusks evolved, so they went to the first extinct animals that had them, named dicynodonts (“two-dog-tooth animals”). Here’s the upshot of what they found: tusks appeared in various groups without a common ancestor, and the team doesn’t know how they arose in other mammals. These failures of evolutionary theory did not stop them. The press release mentions the e-word evolution 22 times, and declares the findings a victory for evolution. Go figure.
Fossil dental exams reveal how tusks first evolved and why they are unique only to mammals (Harvard Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology). Dicynodonts ranged from rat-size to elephant size. Did the twin tusks in these animals emerge by mutation and natural selection? Did they emerge gradually? Look for an answer in this short paragraph that mentions evolution six times:
The researchers found that true tusk evolution only occurred at a later stage of evolution in this group – early members of this group had a big tooth rather than a true tusk. Late in their evolutionary history dicynodonts evolved a true tusk that was ever growing, and surprisingly did so convergently in multiple different kinds of dicynodonts. “I kind of expected there to be one point in the family tree where all the dicynodonts started having tusks, so I thought it was pretty shocking that we actually see tusks evolve convergently,” said Whitney. “This is a similar story to what we see in elephant evolution in that it mirrors a lot of the patterns that have been studied on how elephants got their tusks.”
Consider the improbability of tusks evolving once, let alone multiple times independently. Evolutionists give this anti-evolutionary phenomenon a name, “convergent evolution,” which is like a bandage over the scar of improbability in hopes of preventing infection by falsification. It works best when Darwin Flubber is applied as a salve. (For a detailed treatment of convergence, see Brett Miller’s article “The Convergence Concoction” on EvidentCreation.com.)
Co-author Brandon Peecook from Idaho calls it “a beautiful example of evolution we can document.”
But is it beautiful to be ashamed of “shocking” evidence against one’s pet theory? Is it beautiful to be clueless about tusks in other groups?
“Tusks have evolved a number of times, which makes you wonder how—and why? We now have good data on the anatomical changes that needed to happen for dicynodonts to evolve tusks. For other groups, like warthogs or walruses, the jury is still out,” said co-author Christian Sidor, curator at the University of Washington Burke Museum.
The Blunderful Wizard of Flaws
The evolutionists in this tale make a very common blunder in evolutionary stories: assuming that a need is sufficient to cause an innovation. Humans invent things that way by intelligent design, like tools and wheels. But can blind nature make something emerge just because its presence would give an animal an advantage? With the wizardry of a high enough perhapsimaybecouldness index, anything is possible:
The various kinds of teeth animals have evolved can tell scientists about the pressures those animals faced that could have produced those teeth. For instance tusks can function in a variety of ways including defense, competition, burrowing, sexual selection, and even assist with locomotion – as in the walrus which uses its tusks to hoist itself upon to the ice from the water. A continuously growing tusk may have allowed these dicynodonts to overcome the challenges of only having one set of replacement teeth throughout their lives.
One of the co-authors commented, “Dicynodont tusks can tell us a lot about mammalian tusk evolution in general.” As an exercise, count the ways that this study told the Harvard geniuses about mammalian tusk evolution.
The silliness of this notion can be illustrated by the following thought experiment. You are lost in the woods, and you figure that a Swiss Army knife would be useful in a variety ways, including defense, burrowing, shelter construction, fire starting, and other things. So you wish for it. Will your need cause it to appear? How many million years will it take for your needed knife to emerge, even if you have multiple generations of great grandchildren with the same need?
Long after you are dead, scientists find that multiple independent groups of people in the woods (unrelated to you) did indeed have Swiss Army knives. They list the ways that these knives were probably useful to the campers. They attribute this adaptation to convergent evolution. They explain to gullible students that beneficial mutations caused the knives to appear multiple times in different groups, and nature selected the fittest ones that had the knives, because they were useful. But they also observe that some campers got by without the knives. In fact, most people groups did not have them.
In sum, tusks are useful except when they are not. That’s why some mammals have them, and some don’t. This is indeed “a beautiful example of evolution.” You may now puke.