Search This Blog

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Open challenge to Darwinists part two

I asked Darwinists to explain the source of information entering into the genome.   They huffed and they puffed and they came up with...

Nothing.  Yep.

Well, now we will give them another chance.  Give us one example of a transitional form.  You are up to bat!

FIRST CANDIDATE - Image: "Diarthrognathus" from Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences.

First of all, dear readers, the kinds of drawings produced by Darwinists are fanciful and not based on a lot of real evidence.   Most Cynodonts have been identified first by teeth and jaw fossils.  Even so, there is a good overview of the way Darwinists discuss such things explained by Ashley Camp here.

Reappraising the “Crown Jewel”



by Ashby L. Camp






© 1998 Creation Research Society. All Rights Reserved.






This article first appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of


Creation Matters, a newsletter published by the Creation Research Society.


"Evolutionists claim that the fossil record establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that reptiles evolved into mammals. Indeed, the reptile-to-mammal transition is so frequently cited as proof of megaevolution that one writer labeled it “the crown jewel of the fossil evidence for Darwinism.” (Johnson, 75.) The purpose of this article is to suggest that the evidence for this alleged transition is much weaker than evolutionists would have one believe. (Conventional dating is assumed arguendo throughout the article.)..."

That is the beginning of a long article that has an entire section devoted to cynodonts.   Others have pointed out the basic weakness of the cynodont arguments.  If you read both articles you will see the disconnect between what the public thinks about transitional forms versus what scientists know. 

In fact,  the concept of transitional forms is usually misunderstood by Darwinists and ordinary readers alike.  The problem involves so many complex systems within organisms that always appear in the fossil record, if detectable, to be fully formed.   Fossilized animals are not ever found in the process of transforming one system into another, etc.

Allowing John Woodmrappe to have the first last word,  with the understanding that he allows for the concept of time values given to fossils in order to address the inheritance of features arguments.   Like the records of horses, not only are there no smooth transitions from type to type but trait reversals (if such fossils are a record of long evolution rather than sudden burial) are a continual problem when you get away from the invented drawings and the headlines and take a look at actual fossil records:

Mammal-like reptiles: major trait reversals and discontinuities

Summary

Evolutionists repeatedly claim that their assembled chain of mammal-like reptiles shows a step-by-step morphological progression to mammals. Despite this, a close and simultaneous examination of hundreds of anatomical character traits shows no such thing, even if one takes basic evolutionary suppositions as a given. Very many, if not most, of the pelycosaur and therapsid traits used in recent evolutionistic studies to construct cladograms actually show a contradictory pattern of progression towards, followed by reversion away from, the presumed eventual mammalian condition. Furthermore, gaps are systematic throughout the pelycosaur-therapsid-mammalian ‘sequence’, and these gaps are actually larger than the existing segments of the ‘chain’. These sobering facts demonstrate that, however the supposed evolutionary ‘lineage’ of mammal-like reptiles towards mammals is interpreted, it is divorced from reality.
The so-called mammal-like reptiles are believed by evolutionists to be the ancestors of the mammals and to have become more mammal-like with the passage of time. Evolutionists consider anatomical traits to be mammal-like if they occur in modern mammals but not in other modern vertebrates.
The highly-touted, alleged succession of mammal-like reptiles towards increasing ‘mammalness’ is not found at any one location on Earth. It can only be inferred through the correlation of fossiliferous beds from different continents. Judgments are made as to which stratum on one continent is older than another stratum on another continent. Moreover, intercontinental correlations are made even when the fossil genera do not correspond with each other. Instead, the correlations are based on the general similarity of specimens, as well as their assumed degree of evolutionary advancement.1 The circularity of such reasoning is obvious. Thus, despite the claims of some evolutionists, it is clear that such biostratigraphic correlations are not empirically self-evident:
‘Stratigraphic correlations, like phylogenetic relationships, must be inferred from data and are not actually observations themselves.’2
However, for purposes of an argument, it is acceptable to start with premises accepted by an opponent, even if I don’t accept them myself, and show that they imply a conclusion that undermines the opponent’s position—in logic, this is called reductio ad absurdum. Thus, in this work, I’ll presuppose that the evolutionist’s intercontinental correlations of therapsid fossils as true and valid. The same holds for evolutionary phylogenies and cladograms, as well as the anatomical deductions behind them. Despite granting all these concessions, it soon becomes obvious that many of the anatomically-based evolutionistic claims, when analyzed, turn out to be questionable.3,4
gorgonopsid therapsid
Reconstruction of gorgonopsid therapsid (after Stearn & Carroll).42
A more fundamental issue, however, is that evolutionistic claims about transitional character states (however these states are defined) typically centre on a relatively small number of features. These features are pieced together and cited as examples of evolutionary change towards reptiles that are increasingly mammal-like. This claim is made despite the fact that evolutionists are usually not concerned with ancestor-descendant relationships, but rather the degree of presumed evolutionary relatedness between mammal-like reptiles. Yet, using isolated bits of evidence, we could construct just about any progression we wanted. We could, for instance, arrange a sequence of spoons to show a progression in size, thickness, etc. And this would be all the more questionable if only parts of the spoons were considered (e.g. the spoons arranged to show a trend towards greater bowl size while the handles showed no trend at all).

Clearly, a comprehensive approach is needed. All the anatomical features must be considered, not just a few. Accordingly, this work evaluates the claim that mammal-like reptiles, as arranged in succession by evolutionists (from pelycosaurs to mammals), show an essentially unbroken chain of progressively more mammal-like fossils. We examine large numbers of inferred morphological changes, simultaneously considering literally hundreds of characters that have been used by evolutionists in the construction of cladograms (branching patterns showing alleged degrees of evolutionary relatedness of one form to another). Even though cladograms are not intended to identify ancestor-descendant relationships, each node (branching point) in the cladogram is taken by evolutionists to be, more or less, morphologically intermediate between the previous node and the successive one.

How to evaluate numerous presumed evolutionary changes

To keep track of hundreds of anatomical changes, and analyze these changes semi-quantitatively, requires a method of scoring the extent of each change, and tabulating the total number of changes. One way would be to sum the character polarities that evolutionists use to construct their own cladograms.5 To briefly demonstrate the methodology used in the present study, I have arranged seven hypothetical organisms in a series (Figure 1), to indicate evolution from (A) to (G). This series can be viewed either in the traditional ancestor-descendant sense or in a cladistic sense. Cladistically, evolutionists would consider ‘organism’ (A) to represent the least derived (earliest evolved) state and (G) the most derived (most recently evolved), but without any necessary connotation of immediate ancestor-descendant relationships.
hypothetical organisms
Figure 1. Seven hypothetical organisms arranged in a series to indicate evolution from (A) to (G). The general stratigraphic succession of (A) through (G) is accepted as a given. In the traditional evolutionary sense, this series can be viewed as an ancestor-descendent relationship with (A) the ancestor of all other 'organisms'. Cladistically, (A) would be the least derived (earliest evolved) and (G) the most derived (most recently evolved). Of the five morphological traits shown, three are progressive (cap-morph, X-morph). Two are gradational (circle-morph, X-morph) while the others have a polar nature, being either present or absent.
Consider how progressive traits would be scored. Progressive traits proceed unidirectionally through the sequence that the evolutionists have constructed. Note that ‘organisms’ (A) through (D) don’t have the ‘cap-morph’ trait, but ‘organisms’ (E) through (G) do. This trait is a ‘presence-absence’ (zero-one) polarity trait, and can be scored as (0000111) in the sequence of seven ‘organisms’. In like manner, the ‘triangle-morph’ can be scored as (0000001), since it only appears in the most derived ‘organism’. The progressive ‘circle-morphs’, by contrast, are also gradational, increasing from zero to three circles per ‘organism’. This ‘evolutionary trend’ can be scored as (0011233).
Look at what I call reversing traits: ones that change direction at least once in the accepted evolutionary sequence. For instance, note that the ‘bar-morph’ first appears in (C) and continues in (D), only to disappear in (E). It then makes an ‘evolutionary reappearance’ in (F) and persists in (G). This reversing trait can be scored as (0011011). As a final example, a reversing yet gradational trait is provided by the ‘X-morph’, which can be scored as (0102212).

We can quantify the overall changes from (A) through (G) by summing the character polarities of all the traits. The sum is (0124568). However, this sum distorts the picture of the changes, because the reversing traits make the overall change appear much smoother (transition-filled) than it really is. If we only sum the progressive character polarities, a much less gradational chain is obtained (0011345). Thus, to circumvent the bias created by mingling numerous reversing traits with progressive traits, I omit the reversing traits entirely in Table 1. Where reversing traits are relatively few in number (Tables 2 and 3), I sum all the traits in one list, and only the progressive traits in another.

To what extent could the hypothetical evolutionary progression from (A) through (G), as shown in Figure 1, support the evolutionary claim about ‘transitional forms’? Obviously, it depends not only on how the polarities are summed, as discussed previously, but also on which particular polarities are emphasized. The ‘circle-morph’ shows the most incrementally-filled progression of traits (0011233), and could be argued to support an evolutionary scenario. By contrast, the ‘cap-morph’ and ‘triangle-morph’ appear as sudden jumps without any gradual ‘evolutionary’ development. And the reversing characters, which go from ‘primitive’ to ‘derived’ and back to ‘primitive’ again, cannot be said to constitute an evolutionary trend by any stretch of the imagination. As we shall see, these same principles that apply to the hypothetical organisms in Figure 1 also apply to actual fossils of mammal-like reptiles, and the evolutionistic claims about their supposed series of ‘intermediate stages’ culminating in mammals.

However, when analyzing character polarities in actual fossils, a few cautions are in order. To begin with, as discussed elsewhere,6 genera of mammal-like reptiles are inflated by taxonomic oversplitting, a fact that is substantiated by more recent studies.7,8 Another concern lies in the way that changes in anatomical characters are scored. This can always be done, deliberately or subconsciously, in a way which favours the desired evolutionary outcome:
‘By oversplitting apomorphies9 in its favor, one hypothesis can dominate over its rival without gaining any biological insight. One way to guard against this fallacy is to show how the apomorphies in support of a given hypothesis are biologically associated.’10
Of course, the phrase ‘biologically associated’ smacks of evolutionistic just-so stories. However, in this study, I do not attempt to make any anatomical judgments, but rely on datasets provided by evolutionists. In this way, the negative conclusions regarding evolution become all the more compelling.

Sources and types of data

One way to limit the extent of potential biases in choice of apomorphies,9 etc., is to use information from different authors, because each author has analyzed a largely-different set of anatomical characters. Accordingly, I employed three recently-published datasets for this comprehensive analysis as summarized in Tables 1, 2 and 3. To clarify the relationships between the members in each dataset, I have, as shown in all of the tables, assigned an identification number to each taxon.11 I have also used descriptive phrases for each entry in each table.12 Although the use of these descriptors here is informal, they approximate those used by Kemp.13 Adjectives such as ‘primitive’, ‘medial’ and ‘advanced’ (or ‘derived’) are used solely to follow the evolutionists in orienting the particular taxon relative to the mammalian condition, and are not intended to have any other connotation.14 They are definitely not intended to endorse any notions of succession of mammal-like reptiles through time, relative evolutionary relatedness of mammal-like reptiles, lineages of mammal-like reptiles or ancestor-descendant relationships.

The first of the three datasets used in this study, by Sidor and Hopson,15 is essentially a broad overview of the entire sequence, starting with pelycosaurs and culminating in mammals. Because, as noted earlier, large numbers of reversing characters tend to confound the overall scoring of trends in the acquisition of mammalian characters, I have excluded these 77 reversing characters. More on this later. The relevant part of the data is summarized in Table 1,16 and consists of 88 anatomical characters.17 Not all of the taxons, however, have data available for all of the 88 useable characters. For this reason, all of the entries in Table 1 are each normalised by taking the sum of character polarities divided by the number of available characters, and then multiplying the quotient by 100.18 This is what I call the Mammalness Index in Tables 1–3.
Table 1. Mammalness Index for mammal-like reptiles calculated from overall skeletal characters from Sidor and Hopson.15 The ID number approximates the relative position each taxon would have on one comprehensive cladogram (including all three Tables 1-3).11 Descriptions approximate Kemp13 and reflect evolutionary notions of the mammalian condition. The descriptions are not intended to endorse these evolutionary notions.
Overall skeletal characters
ID
Number
Description
Taxon
Mammalness Index
Progressive Characters
88 of 165 useable characters
from 181 total characters
1
primitive pelycosaurs Ophiacondontidae
5
2
advanced pelycosaurs Edaphosauridae
0
3
primitive sphenacodont Haptodu
1
4
overall sphenacodont Sphenacodontidae
3
5
primitive therapsids Biarmosuchia
29
6
primitive therapsids Anteosauridae
32
7
primitive therapsids Estemmenosuchidae
32
8
varied therapsids Anomodonti
33
9
primitive therapsids Gorgonopsidae
43
10
advanced therapsids Therocephalia
52
11
primitive cynodont Dvinia
80
12
primitive cynodont Procynosuchus
81
13
medial cynodont Galesauridae
85
14
varied cynodont Thrinaxodon
87
15
advanced cynodonts Cynognathia
82
16
advanced cynodont Probelesodon
101
17
advanced cynodont Probainognathus
102
21
sister-group candidates Trithelodontidae
109
26
mammals Morganucodontidae
120
The second database used (Table 2) is much more restricted in its anatomical scope, being confined to the presumed evolutionary changes in the quadrate bone. In fact, much of the discussion about mammal-like reptiles as presumed transitional forms centres on the alleged evolution of the mandibular-auditory system. Luo and Crompton19 have evaluated 14 characters relative to the quadrate bone in the reptilian jaw evolving into the eventual mammalian incus (one of the tiny bones in the ear). This data is summarized in Table 2. Because there are only 14 traits, exclusion of the reversing traits, as in Table 1, would have left only a few traits to consider. On the other hand, simply amalgamating the progressive and reversing characters for the sake of a larger database would have created bias in the data.20 As a compromise, both potential biases were set at cross-purposes towards each other by creating two separate columns in Table 2. These reflect the distinction I have made between all 14 traits (first column), and the five consistently progressive traits21 (second column).

The small number of characters also necessitates a different approach, from that used in Table 1, in computing the Mammalness Index. Because there are only 14 traits, if one were to, as before, compute the relevant quotient and then multiply it by 100, it would cause serious distortion of the data.22 For this reason, the Mammalness Index in Table 2 is simply the sum of character polarities for each taxon.
Table 2. Mammalness index for mammal-like reptiles calculated from quadrate skeletal characters from Luo and Crompton.19 ID numbers and descriptions are explained in Table 1.
Quadrate skeletal characters
ID
Number
Description
Taxon
Mammalness
Index All
Characters
(14)
Mammalness
Index
Progressive
Characters
(5 of 14)
8
varied therapsids Anomodontia
2
0
9
primitive therapsids Gorgonopsid
6
0
10
advanced therapsids Therocephalia
3
0
12
primitive cynodont Procynosuchus
1
0
14
varied cynodont Thrinaxodon
5
3
17
advanced cynodont Probainognathu
15
5
19
advanced cynodont Massetognathus
13
9
20
sister-group candidates Tritylodontidae
20
9
21
sister-group candidates Trithelodontidae
21
12
26
mammals Morganucodontida
25
13
The third database (Table 3), like the first database, is relatively comprehensive, compared with the second database. Table 1 can be pictured as a broad overview of the entire chain of mammal-like reptiles, while Table 3 resembles a detailed close-up of the latter part of the chain.

The third database is intermediate in size between the first and second.23 In Table 3, therefore, the progressive and reversing characters are treated the same as in Table 2, whereas the Mammalness Index is computed the same as in Table 1. The data in Table 3 also overcomes the limitations of the data in Table 1, which neglected ‘early mammals’ other than Morganucodontidae from consideration (as this would have largely limited the characters in Table 1 to those of the dentition24). In fact, Luo10 deliberately focused his analysis on cranial and dental characteristics. Luo’s analysis is more of a detailed view of the latter part of the ‘evolutionary’ chain, and as such, complements Table 1.
Table 3. Mammalness index for mammal-like reptiles calculated from dental and cranial characters from Luo.10 ID numbers and descriptions are explained in
Table 1.
Dental and cranial characters
ID
Number
Description
Taxon
Mammalness
Index All
Characters
(81 of 82)
Mammalness
Index Progressive
Characters
(53 of 81 of 82)
14
varied cynodont Thrinaxodon
0
0
17
advanced cynodont Probainognathus
18
7
18
advanced cynodont Diademodontidae
19
7
19
advanced cynodont Traversodontidae
35
7
20
sister-group candidates Tritylodontidae
78
34
21
sister-group candidates Trithelodontidae
58
54
22
mammal Sinoconodon
100
104
23
mammal Haldanodon
131
120
24
mammal Triconodontidae
139
131
25
mammal Dinnetherium
134
126
26
mammal Morganucodon
132
128
27
mammal Megazostrodon
117
122

Reversing traits are the rule among mammal-like reptiles

As discussed earlier, I have made every concession to the evolutionist. I have not disputed the validity of intercontinental biostratigraphic correlation, the temporal succession of mammal-like reptiles, the objectivity of anatomical analyses, the fact that cladograms are not intended to identify ancestor-descendant relationships, etc. Despite all these concessions, the evidence, taken as a whole, fails to conform to all the evolutionary ‘ballyhoo’ surrounding the mammal-like reptiles.

One of the most striking findings uncovered by this analysis is that the majority of anatomical traits (the ones actually used by evolutionists in the construction of their cladograms) do not show a unidirectional progression towards the mammalian condition! Of the 181 anatomical characters considered by Sidor and Hopson, 165 were deemed to be sufficiently complete, in terms of data, for further consideration in the present study25 (Table 1). Of these 165, 88 were found to be progressive. In stark contrast, no fewer than 77 of the 165 showed reversals of character.26 This is not an isolated instance. As noted earlier, 9 of the 14 quadrate characters used by Luo and Crompton were likewise reversing (Table 2). Finally, in the analysis of 82 mostly dental and cranial characters, by Luo (Table 3), no fewer than 53 characters were found to be reversing.27
The abundance of reversing traits means that the mammal-like reptiles cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be portrayed as some sort of quasi-lineage (even a crude one) culminating in mammals. (Nor, for that matter, can individual mammal-like reptilian genera be placed in a lineage. According to Kemp,28 few extinct vertebrates are sufficiently unspecialized, in terms of morphology, to be the direct ancestors of other vertebrates).

Furthermore, the proliferation of reversing traits makes it difficult for evolutionists to decide which mammal-like reptiles, and inferred early mammals, are, evolutionarily speaking, closest to each other. This confusion is reflected in the construction of widely-contradictory cladograms.29 To illustrate this, I now use a system of brackets to illustrate two of the four mutually-contradictory sets of evolutionistic nested hierarchies relative to the taxons numbered in Table 2. They are:

8—[(9—10)—<12—|14—{17—19—\20—(21—26)\}|>]
versus
9—/8—!10—[12—<14—|17—19—\21—(20—26)\|>]!/
The large number of reversing traits also takes to task the evolutionistic claim about stratomorphic intermediates. To begin with, stratomorphic intermediates have validity only if one can legitimately infer ancestor-descendant relationships. This is not true of mammal-like reptiles, as noted earlier. Can it be said, in the context of mammal-like reptiles, that a less mammal-like genus will inevitably be situated stratigraphically below a more mammal-like one? Apart from the fact that this argument takes the biostratigraphic correlation of mammal-like reptiles at face value (as I have done for purposes of this study), any such notion is soundly contradicted by the numerous reversing traits uncovered by this analysis. It is sobering to realize that a given mammalian trait can appear, disappear, and then freely reappear anywhere throughout the entire evolutionary-constructed sequence of mammal-like reptiles. As a result, if all of the mammalian traits are considered together, it becomes obvious that any ‘stratomorphic’ sequence of mammalian traits as a whole is crude at best. Mechanisms related to the Biblical Flood should have no difficulty generating a sequence of organisms that happens to show a crude stratomorphic progression of mammalian traits interspersed with numerous other traits showing no progression at all (that is, the reversing traits).

Of course, evolutionists have a series of stock rationalizations to cope with reversing traits. They can, for instance, allow for some traits to actually reverse themselves during the course of supposed evolution. But this makes their whole argument internally inconsistent: we are asked to believe that the ‘progressively-appearing’ mammalian traits constitute powerful evidence for evolution, while the more numerous reversing mammalian traits do not mean anything. Heads I win, tails you lose. And, owing to the fact that cladograms are not presumed to identify ancestor-descendant relationships, the evolutionists can always pigeonhole any reversing trait as a ‘specialization’ in that particular mammal-like genus.25 This allows them to ignore contrary evidence and to perpetuate their illusion of a generalized ‘chain’ of mammal-like reptiles that becomes progressively more-mammalian.

Analysis of discontinuities

From Tables 1–3 we see that the traits usually considered unique to mammals are distributed variously throughout the mammal-like reptiles. While this distribution is not haphazard or random, it does not form lineages. We will now see that the remaining gaps between these organisms are not gradualistic.
Remember that mammal-like reptiles are not just any group of extinct creatures. They are supposed to be the very showcase of step-by-step, transition-filled evolutionary change. On this basis alone, the mammal-like reptiles should be subject to the strictest standards for evaluating alleged gradational evolutionary changes. Thus, the significance of morphological discontinuities becomes magnified.

Second, as noted earlier, whatever step-by-step changes to the mammalian condition do exist, these come only at the cost of having to discard large numbers of anatomical traits because they are reversing—i.e. appearing, disappearing and reappearing in the chain. If, despite such treatment, the discontinuities can be shown to be significant in those relatively few traits which are unmistakably progressive to the mammalian condition, the credibility of mammal-like reptiles as genuine evolutionary transitions becomes all the more doubtful.

Third, and most important of all, the magnitude of any discontinuities must be addressed. Are they large or small? To answer this question, we must compare the size of each discontinuity with the range of anatomical information available from known fossils.30 Using the same methodology employed to score inferred morphological changes throughout the presumed evolution of mammal-like reptiles, one can place the discontinuities into a semi-quantitative perspective. Consider the most comprehensive sequence of mammal-like reptiles (Table 1). We can see the precipitous gap between the pre-therapsids (0–5) and therapsids (29–52). From the vantage point of the Mammalness Index of 120 for the listed inferred first mammals (the Morganucudontidae), the mammal-like traits in pelycosaurs and sphenacodonts are trivial in magnitude. This gap is all the more extreme because pelycosaurs and therapsids are each large, internally-diverse groups.

This is only the beginning. It is eye opening to realize that the discontinuity between the therapsids (29-52) and cynodonts (80–109), at 28 points, is greater than the entire range of mammal-like traits within the evolution of the therapsids themselves, the latter of which amounts to 23 points! The gap within cynodonts (80–87 vs. 101–109), while not as extreme, is nevertheless appreciable, and, at 14 points, is greater than both the ranges of the antecedents (7 points) and successors (8 points). Those with a strong background in vertebrate anatomy may want to consult the original sources and examine how the anatomical technicalities (here just summarized as numbered traits) fail to resemble anything like a gradational appearance of mammalian traits in the evolutionistic-constructed ‘chain’ of mammal-like reptiles.

When the appropriate anatomical details of the middle part of the chain of mammal-like reptiles is analyzed, we find that the non-transitions grow in size. Consider all the characters relative to part of the inferred aural-mandibular evolution from mammal-like reptiles to mammals (Table 2). One is struck by the abrupt discontinuities between therapsids and early cynodonts (1–6), on one hand, and the advanced cynodonts (13, 15), on the other (we are, for a moment, excluding the trithelodonts and the tritylodonts). When we consider the latter two, both of which are the possible evolutionary sister groups of the earliest mammals, we observe yet another gap—between them (13, 15) and the inferred earliest mammals (20–25). In both instances, the gap is, once again, larger than the actual range of ‘mammalness’ that both precedes and follows the gap.
The foregoing analysis of Table 2 actually understates the magnitude of the gaps because, as noted earlier, it does not consider the ‘smoothing-out’ effects caused by the inclusion of the reversing characters. Consider just the progressive characters in Table 2. Under such conditions, the discontinuities are stark. With the exception of the last member of the chain (the Morganucodontidae), every change in the sequence involves a series of jumps in increments of 2 or (usually) 3, and each such jump is relative to only 13 character points.
Probably the most informative analysis of mammal-like reptiles as (alleged) transitional forms is the one which focuses, in detail, on the presumed changes from advanced cynodonts to the earliest mammals (Table 3). The sister-group cynodonts (Tritylodontidae and Trithelodontidae) rival each other for the status of the closest non-mammalian relatives to mammals. Yet, when all of the characters are considered, one is struck by the chasm between these sister-group advanced cynodonts (58 and 78) and the earliest presumed mammals (100–139). However, the ‘bottom falls out’ when only the progressive characters are considered in Table 3. Here, a giant evolutionary leap is required to make the presumed change from fairly advanced cynodonts (7) to the advanced sister-group cynodonts (34 and 54). From there, another great gulf must be spanned in order to link the sister-group cynodonts (at 34 and 54) with the earliest mammals (104–131).

Thus, the gaps are as large, or larger, than the range of so-called mammalian traits actually present. This makes it difficult to maintain that even a crudely, ever-more-mammalian, quasi-lineage exists among the mammal-like reptiles. Furthermore, the reversing traits are more common than the gap-filled progressive traits. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the evolutionistic-constructed pelycosaur-therapsid-mammal chain is little more than a motley group of extinct creatures crudely cobbled together into an artificial evolutionary ‘progression’. Just because some ‘mammalian’ traits are present in mammal-like reptiles, this does not entail evolution in the slightest. It simply means that some traits now considered mammalian (by virtue of the fact that they are found only in extinct mammals) once existed in some extinct non-mammals (Figure 2).31
molar of Mesozoic crocodilian
Figure 2. Labial view of complex multi-cusped molar of an extinct Mesozoic crocodilian from Malawi. These extinct crocodilians are related to neither mammal-like reptiles nor mammals, and no evolutionist would contemplate these reptiles as ancestral to mammals in any way. Yet their dentition shows clear resemblances to mammalian cheek teeth, and these crocodilians also contain another mammalian trait—a secondary palate (from Melhert).41
Regardless of which choice the evolutionist makes for the closest non-mammalian relatives to primitive mammals, he/she must be content with either a rock or a hard place:
‘It is not known which cynodont family was ancestral to mammals, or whether all the mammals originated from the same group (family) of cynodonts. In the vast literature concerning mammalian origins, it is easier to find suggestions that one or the other therapsid or cynodont family cannot be ancestral to the Mammalia, rather than to find a positive answer.’32
‘Both the tritheledontid-mammal hypothesis and the tritylodontid-mammal hypothesis are supported by large numbers of apomorphies in dentition, cranium and postcranial skeleton. Yet both are also contradicted by a substantial amount of anatomical evidence.’33
And, ironic to the fallacious argument about mammalian traits appearing in correct ‘stratomorphic’ sequence,34 we have a situation where one of the presumed sister groups (Tritylodontidae) is actually more mammalian than the first recognized mammals! Consider the following unenviable dilemma faced by evolutionists:
‘The main difficulty with the tritylodontid-mammal hypothesis is that too many apomorphic features of tritylodontids are more derived than the corresponding features in primitive mammals such as Sinoconodon and Adelobasileus ... . By contrast, the main weakness of the trithelodontid-mammal hypothesis is that far too many trithelodontid characters are primitive ... [emphasis added].’35
‘Primitive’ and ‘derived’, of course, are in comparison with the presumed earliest mammals, though neither the trithelodonts nor the tritylodonts are capable of being connected to the inferred earliest mammals in an ancestor-descendant lineage. Table 3 shows that a near doubling of characters (in fact, tripling if Tritheledontidae is chosen as the sister-group) is necessary to bridge the chasm between the sister-group cynodonts and the inferred primitive mammals. For evolutionists who portray the sister-group cynodonts as ‘almost mammals’, this is a sobering result.

Several creationist scholars have pointed out the lack of evidence for gradational change in the mandibular-auditory mechanism of the ‘advanced’ mammal-like reptiles towards that of the presumed early mammals. Interestingly, a few evolutionists have actually acknowledged this fact in print:
‘Intermediate stages in the transference of postdentary elements to the cranium are poorly documented. Indeed, the only fossil evidence on this critical interval is the presence of persistent attachment sites for the anterior end of the postdentary unit in the primitive therians Amphitherium and Peramus.’36
Finally, owing to the fact that the ‘mammalian traits’ do not, by any stretch of the imagination, occur in a nested hierarchy in the mammal-like reptiles, evolutionists must blame this state of affairs on convergence. In this regard, the mammal-like reptiles are hardly alone among fossil vertebrates:
‘The distribution of primitive and derived characters differs from lineage to lineage, showing that many features were evolved or lost convergently. As in the case of other major transitions in vertebrates, such as the origin of birds and mammals, the convergent origin of derived features makes it difficult to establish specific relationships, or to agree on objective criteria to differentiate tetrapods from their fish ancestors.’37

Conclusions

Mammal-like reptiles may indeed qualify as the very best examples of transitional evolutionary change that evolutionary theory has to offer from the fossil record. This only shows the barrenness and intellectual poverty of macroevolution. When all of the characters used for the conventional constructions of cladograms are considered, the majority of mammal-like reptile characters do not consistently progress towards the mammalian condition. Instead, within the ‘evolutionary’ chain of mammal-like reptiles, there are many ‘reversals’ away from mammalian characteristics.

The use of mammal-like reptiles as an argument for ‘transitional change’ (however one strictly defines it) rests upon special pleading (like everything else in evolutionary theory). So let us permit the evolutionist special pleading and pretend that the large numbers of reversing traits don’t exist, so that the argument can be based solely on the progressive characters. Even this does not let the evolutionist off the hook. To the contrary, the chain of mammal-like reptiles, when examined closely and with attention to many (instead of just a selected few) anatomical characters is full of major discontinuities. And very many of these discontinuities are as large, if not larger, than the ranges of characters which both precede and follow them. Therefore, the oft-repeated evolutionistic claim about mammal-like reptiles showing a series of intermediate stages to the mammalian condition is, at best, an exaggeration.

Could not the evolutionists argue that, as more fossils are discovered, the gaps will close? Perhaps. At least they have been trying to do so since the days of Darwin, but with little success, despite a vastly larger known fossil record. Remember that, as shown elsewhere,38 new fossil finds can just as easily accentuate the gaps as reduce or close them. Consider three new genera that have been described in the 1980s and 1990s: Sinoconodon, Adelobasileus and Haldanodon. As noted earlier, not enough is preserved of Adelobasileus to include it in Tables 1–3. When it comes to Sinoconodon, its existence does narrow the gap in Table 3 that would otherwise exist without it, but not by much in comparison with the gap that remains afterward. Haldanodon, on the other hand, cuts the other way. By virtue of the fact that its characters fall within the range for previously-known primitive mammals, its very discovery actually reinforces the gap between cynodonts and mammals.

What if mammal-like reptiles never existed? Would evolutionary theory be crippled? Certainly not. Evolutionary theory is so plastic that any series of observations in the natural world could be cited in its favour! If anyone thinks that this is an overstatement, consider the following:
‘Indeed, it was a fossil found in the Karoo in 1838—the skull of a mammal-like reptile with two large tusk-like teeth in its upper jaw—that first convinced the scientific establishment that mammals had evolved from reptiles, not directly from amphibians.’39
‘T. H. Huxley (1880), for instance, proposed that amphibians gave rise to mammals. This conclusion was based on aortic arch patterns, heart morphology and features of the pelvis. Subsequent workers rejected Huxley’s ideas when theriodont pelvises, which were not known to Huxley, were found to be intermediate in structure between the pelvises of amphibians and mammals.’40
Clearly, the ruling evolutionary paradigm existed before the discovery of mammal-like reptiles, and would have flourished had these reptiles never been discovered. In that event, today’s evolutionists would be extolling some extinct amphibian group as the transitions (or stratomorphic intermediates) leading up to mammals. Cladograms would be constructed to show the close branching pattern between that chosen group of amphibians and mammals.

All else would fall in place according to the dictates of evolutionary dogma. The evolutionist triumphalists would be telling everyone that evolution is fact because of the many obvious similarities between the ‘ancestral’ amphibians and the ‘descendant’ mammals. Compromising evangelical evolutionists would preach about the fact that God would never mislead us by separately creating mammals and amphibians with so many shared structures. Leading humanist scientists would inform us that anyone who questions the amphibian-mammalian transition cannot possibly be a scientist, no matter his degrees or publications. And, of course, the secularist fanatics would whip up considerable hysteria about the fact that the questioning of the amphibian–mammalian transition is a dangerous threat to the very survival of science and reason, and that, if not quickly reversed, it will soon return us to the Dark Ages.

References

  1. Rubidge, B.S., Did Mammals Originate in Africa? Sidney Haughton Memorial Lecture 4, pp. 4–5, 1995. There are no therapsid genera common to the Upper Permian deposits of Russia and South Africa. Return to text.
  2. Wagner, P.J. and Sidor, C.A., Age rank/clade rank metrics—sampling, taxonomy, and the meaning of ‘stratigraphic consistency’, Systematic Biology 49(3):473, 2000. Return to text.
  3. Mehlert, A.W., A critique of the alleged reptile to mammal transition, Creation Research Society Quarterly 25(1):7–15, 1988. Return to text.
  4. Mehlert, A.W., The origin of mammals, Journal of Creation 7(2):122–139, 1993. Return to text.
  5. As discussed in conjunction with the ‘characters’ in Figure 1, most nodes (branching points) in the cladogram, including those actually used for mammal-like reptiles and cited in this work, use only two numbers: ‘0’ to mark absence of a trait and ‘1’ for its presence. A few other traits, notably those which are gradational, use a series of numbers to indicate the degree of derivation of an anatomical trait (e.g. 0, 1, 2, 3). Return to text.
  6. Woodmorappe, J., Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, p. 5, 1996. Return to text.
  7. King, G.M. and Rubidge, BS, A taxonomic revision of small dicynodonts with postcanine teeth, Zoological J. Linnean Society 107:131–154, 1993. Return to text.
  8. Cox, C.B., The jaw function and adaptive radiation of the dicynodont mammal-like reptiles of the Karoo basin of South Africa, Zoological J. Linnean Society 122:349–384, 1998. Return to text.
  9. An apomorphy is a trait that appears for the first time at a given position in the cladogram, as reconstructed by evolutionists. Thus, for instance, in Figure 1, the ‘X-morph’ is apomorphic to ‘organism’ (B), and the ‘cap-morph’ is apomorphic to ‘organism’ (E). Return to text.
  10. Luo, Z., Sister-group relationships of mammals and transformations of diagnostic mammalian characters; in: Fraser, N.C. and Sues, H.-D., In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs, Paperback Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 98–128, 1997. Return to text. Return to Table 3.
  11. This approximates the relative position each taxon would have on one comprehensive cladogram (that is, were all of the data in Tables 1, 2 and 3 to be melded together). However, it is not meant to imply that this is necessarily the exact cladistic sequence into which all of the taxons would be simultaneously placed relative to each other. Return to text.
  12. These descriptors are solely for purposes of communication and are not necessarily meant to imply agreement with the taxonomic description. Thus, for instance, referring to certain taxons as ‘early mammals’ follows the cited authors but does not imply endorsement of the belief that such taxons qualify as mammals. Return to text.
  13. Kemp, T.S., Mammal-like reptiles and the origin of mammals, Academic Press, London, 363 pp., 1980. Return to text.
  14. This, of course, is from the vantage point of so-called early mammals as the presumed outcome of the alleged evolutionary process acting upon mammal-like reptiles. It is not meant to imply that evolution was goal-directed to mammals in any way (a position which virtually all evolutionists reject). Return to text.
  15. Sidor, C.A. and Hopson, J.A., Ghost lineages and ‘mammalness’: assessing the temporal pattern of character acquisition in the Synapsida, Paleobiology 24(2), Appendix 1, pp. 269–270, 1998. The 181 character traits are identified and described in the Appendix 2, pp. 271–273. Return to text.
  16. I have omitted Estemmenosuchus and Sinoconodon from this part of the database because large numbers of their respective character traits are unknown. The 93 rejected characters are accounted for in Ref. 25. Return to text.
  17. Relative to the 181 numbered anatomical characters culled from Sidor and Hopson, Ref. 15, Appendix 1 and 2, the 88 suitable characters entered into Table 1 bear the following numbers: 5–7, 9, 11–15, 17–20, 22, 24–27, 29–30, 32, 35–37, 39, 46–47, 49–50, 51, 53, 56–57, 63–72, 74–75, 77, 80, 82, 84–92, 95, 101, 113, 117, 123, 126–127, 129, 131–138, 144–145, 155–156, 158–160, 163, 165–170, 174. Return to text.
  18. For example, suppose that there is information available for 80 of the 88 relevant character traits, and the sum of character polarities is 60. The Mammalness Index in this case is (60/80)(100), or 75. Return to text.
  19. Luo, Z. and Crompton, A.W., Transformation of the quadrate (incus) through the transition from non-mammalian cynodonts to mammals, J. Vertebrate Paleontology 14(3):360, 1994. The 14 characters are described in Appendix 1, pp. 373–374. Return to text.
  20. The nature of the bias was already discussed in connection with the progressive versus the reversing changes in ‘organisms’ (A) through (G) in Figure 1. Return to text.
  21. The progressive traits in the Luo and Crompton, Ref. 19, database bear the following numbers: 1, 3, 5, 8, 14. Return to text.
  22. This bias is essentially a small-numbers effect. For example, imagine a situation where one genus has a score of 8 relative to 10 characters, and the other has a score of 11 relative to the 10 characters. Now, in another situation, one genus has a score of 40 relative to 50 characters and the other has a score of 55 relative to 50 characters. In both cases, the Mammalness Index is technically the same: 80 and 110, respectively. But this has little practical meaning in the first case, as only 3 points separate the first and second genus. Return to text.
  23. Owing to the fact that many character polarities were missing for Adelobasileus as well as Kuehneotheriidae, both were omitted from Table 3. However, had they been included, the trends shown in Table 3 would not have been altered to an appreciable extent. Return to text.
  24. Sidor and Hopson, Ref. 15, p. 257. Return to text.
  25. Of the 93 characters omitted from this analysis, 16 were excluded for the sole reason of being of unknown character-polarity for a large number of taxons. The remainder (77) were rejected because they were not consistently progressive towards the mammalian condition, as discussed in the text. Return to text.
  26. Some characters used by Sidor and Hopson (Ref. 15), notably those which they numbered 3, 10, 28, 41, 44, 52, 102, etc., underwent more than two reversals of progress that each had previously made towards the eventual mammalian condition. Return to text.
  27. One additional character (No. 39 in Luo, Ref. 10) was rejected because its character-polarity was unknown for too many taxons. This left a total of 28 progressive characters and 53 reversing ones available for the present study. Return to text.
  28. Kemp, Ref. 13, pp. 13–14. Return to text.
  29. Luo and Crompton, Ref. 19, p. 340. Four different versions of cladograms are presented, with each one supported by one set of evolutionists. My descriptions involve two of these: (A) and (C). Return to text.
  30. This can be likened to a 1-cm gap between individuals. The significance of the gap obviously depends on context. Consider the following two extreme examples to make my point. If the 1-cm gap is between elephants on parade, the gap is trivial. But if it occurs between individual bacterial cells on parade, each 1-cm gap is enormous. The evolutionary ‘chain’ of mammal-like reptiles is much closer to bacterial cells on parade than to elephants on parade. Return to text.
  31. To appreciate this situation, imagine for a moment that all mammals except for bats were extinct and unknown, and all flying creatures except bats were also extinct and unknown. The ability of an animal to fly would then erroneously be accepted, by some extraterrestrial intelligent observer, as an essential feature of being a mammal. Once the fossils of birds, insects, pterosaurs, etc., were discovered, the extraterrestrial investigators would erroneously suppose that birds, insects, pterosaurs, etc. must have been quite mammal-like by virtue of their ability to fly! Return to text.
  32. Kielan-Jaworowska, Z., Interrelationships of Mesozoic mammals, Historical Biology 6(3):195, 1992. Return to text.
  33. Luo, Ref. 10, p. 98. Return to text.
  34. As noted earlier, the numerous reversing characters that are prominent throughout the chain of mammal-like reptiles soundly refute the claim that mammalian traits appear in a straightforward stratomorphic sense. The fact that the ancestral Tritylodontids are more mammalian than their presumed early-mammalian successors only drives the final nail into the coffin. Return to text.
  35. Luo, Ref. 10, p. 111. Return to text.
  36. Allin, E.F. And Hopson, JA, Evolution of the auditory system in Synapsida; in: The Evolutionary Biology of Hearing, Springer-Verlag, New York, Berlin, p. 608, 1992. Return to text.
  37. Carroll, R., Between fish and amphibian, Nature 373:390, 1995. Return to text.
  38. Woodmorappe, J., Does a ‘transitional form’ replace one gap with two gaps? Journal of Creation 14(2):5–6, 2000. Return to text.
  39. Armstrong, S., Fossil hunter of the Karoo, New Scientist 149(2015):38, 1996. Return to text.
  40. Cain, JA, Creationism and mammal origins, J. Geological Education 36:98, 1998. Return to text.
  41. Melhert, Ref. 4, p. 132. Return to text.
  42. Stearn, C.W. And Carroll, R.L., Paleontology: The Record of Life, John Wiley & Sons, New York, p. 268, 1989. Return

30 comments:

Jon Woolf said...

"They huffed and they puffed and they came up with..."

A perfectly good explanation which you were either unable or unwilling to understand.

"Give us one example of a transitional form."

Diarthrognathus.

creeper said...

"I asked Darwinists to explain the source of information entering into the genome. They huffed and they puffed and they came up with...

Nothing. Yep."


Radar, you have a demonstrated history of either not reading or not comprehending the comments on your own blog. This is a perfect example of that. Go back to the relevant posts and actually read the comments this time. Try to comprehend them, even if you disagree with them. And if you do disagree, explain why.

"Give us one example of a transitional form."

And here's another example of you not reading or understanding the comments on your own blog. We've given you examples of transitional forms over and over. Especially Jon has rattled off several lists in recent times.

And here you are again, acting as if you haven't been provided with examples.

Is it possible that you don't understand the answers to your questions?

Is it possible that you won't understand them this time? I guess we'll find out. My bet's on you trotting out a self-serving definition of "transitional forms" that does NOT conform with the theory of evolution, thus once again demonstrating your ignorance and gullibility on this subject.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

Radar, if you only want to convince yourself; why allow comments?

AmericanVet said...

What makes Diarthrognathus a transitional form?

I suspect more commenters would be interested in actual answers to my questions rather than snarky comments about my supposed lack of knowledge. I will worry about what I can comprehend, let's see if you can defend tranistional forms. You utterly failed to step up to the information question.

Jon Woolf said...

What makes Diarthrognathus a transitional form?

That's for me to know and you to figure out. On your own. Prove to me that you can learn enough to understand what Diarthrognathus is, why it's considered a transitional form, and why it threw paleo-taxonomists into a tizzy when it was discovered ... and maybe, maybe I'll consider you fit for a place at the High Table of evolutionary discussions.

Keep misquoting Stephen Jay Gould and trusting proven liars like Jan Peczkis, though, and you'll remain a punching bag, useful mainly as a source of amusement (mixed with a tinge of pity) at how gullible fundamentalist Christians can be, and how far they are from living up to their own standards of conduct.

creeper said...

"I suspect more commenters would be interested in actual answers to my questions rather than snarky comments about my supposed lack of knowledge."

Your lack of knowledge is a persistent problem, but perhaps you don't see the irony of you right now not reading or comprehending the very comment you reply to that made the point that you don't read or comprehend the comments on your blog.

It's entirely possible that your readers are interested in actual answers to your questions, but it appears that you yourself are not.

"I will worry about what I can comprehend, let's see if you can defend tranistional forms."

It doesn't look like you worry about what you can comprehend at all - as usual, you simply paste stuff you find from questionable websites, e.g. AiG. And whenever you intersperse your own comments, you quickly demonstrate the gaps in your understanding.

"You utterly failed to step up to the information question."

Nonsense. Several commenters responded with answers. Now you claim they didn't respond. Go back and read the comments again instead of wasting time with lies.

-- creeper

highboy said...

Its funny how these dissenters always want something proven to them and when radar asks them to back their claim the answer is: "you figure it out." Awesome.

Jon Woolf said...

highboy: why should I waste my time writing a long explanation that Radar (and you) won't understand? I've already seen Radar screw up rocks-for-jocks level geology and palaeontology, and multiple times too. In view of that, I have no confidence at all in his ability to understand the subtleties of cladistics and advanced paleo-anatomy.

Anonymous said...

Highboy,

1. "Dissenters"? Are you suggesting that YEC is the mainstream view?

2. Radar got his answer, an example of a transitional form - that's in addition to the lists of transitional forms that he was given previously and ignored, by the way. There is no shortage of information on transitional forms and the theory of evolution. Why should it fall to Jon Woolf or anyone else to force-feed Radar with information? It's not like anything is being withheld from Radar here.

Perhaps you missed the point of Jon's response. He has repeatedly (and rightly) asked Radar to explain his position in his own words instead of pasting endless articles that he barely understands himself. After all, everyone else here argues in their own words, with only an occasional link to an interesting reference. If any actual discussion is to be had here, then Radar will have to actually argue an issue fully and in his own words. An understanding of what a transitional form is would be a useful start, given the distortions of this subject that Radar has distributed in the past.

-- creeper

radar said...

Honestly, you Darwinists are insufferable bores!

“Argument and debate are common in science, yet they are virtually absent from science education. Recent research shows, however, that opportunities for students to engage in collaborative discourse and argumentation offer a means of enhancing student conceptual understanding and students’ skills and capabilities with scientific reasoning. As one of the hallmarks of the scientist is critical, rational skepticism, the lack of opportunities to develop the ability to reason and argue scientifically would appear to be a significant weakness in contemporary educational practice. In short, knowing what is wrong matters as much as knowing what is right.”
—Jonathan Osborne, “Arguing to Learn in Science: The Role of Collaborative, Critical Discourse” in Science April 23, 2010

You have not learned to have an intelligent discourse. Instead of continually accusing me of being ignorant, try defending your assertions? Woolf hasn't given us any reason to believe Diarthrognathus is any better than Ida the backroom lemur, for instance. He simply challenges me to prove I can understand it and then does not try to explain it. Where I come from that is "take your ball and go home." That is what the losers did when they couldn't compete.

Step up, Jon Woolf. Explain to us why good old Diarthro is a better gnathus than the previous gnathuses

radar said...

"highboy: why should I waste my time writing a long explanation that Radar (and you) won't understand? I've already seen Radar screw up rocks-for-jocks level geology and palaeontology, and multiple times too. In view of that, I have no confidence at all in his ability to understand the subtleties of cladistics and advanced paleo-anatomy."

And I could say that you have run as fast as you can from paraconformities and polystrate fossils and the specific problems illustrated by Grand Canyon observation with 19th century views of geology.

Anonymous said...

If memory serves, you abandoned the polystrate fossils discussion when I asked what the respective dates of the top and bottom of the polystrate fossil in question were. As you might have noticed from your ice core layers blunder, simple stacks of material do not always translate to the same indication of ages.

So I'm not sure what you think polystrate fossils prove. Certain evidence of a global flood perhaps? Again, flooding events are compatible with an old-Earth model just the same.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

"Step up, Jon Woolf. Explain to us why good old Diarthro is a better gnathus than the previous gnathuses"

First of all, in the interest of saving time, are you disputing that Diarthrognathus is a transitional form? It's pretty easy to find information about it on the Internet, btw.

-- creeper

radar said...

Before I go back to work...my very substantial postlog concerning the rock layers say the following:

The classic geological column does not really exist in the real world.

The layering of sedimentary rock is consistent with water catastrophic events and occasional volcanic/landslide scenarios and not of gradualism.

Polystrate trees are common, as are polystrate fossils and even reeds!

Paraconformities are found throughout the North American and European formations especially but they are all over, including Austrailia.

I did post specifically about sorting and presented evidence including pictures of fossils in obviously sorted or arranged ways. Either they were water sorted or someone was using the Earth as a clay model at that spot.

Experts have done work with flows and sediments to show that the kinds of flows consistent with a world-wide flood would produce the layers we see from Cambrian up to the last two-three layers. In fact the massive formations of chalks cannot be understood without a flood event.

Observers have found ripple marks on virtually every rock layer in existence. Footprints, jellyfish, even some remains have been found. Only a rapid burial can account for such things being preserved rather than consumed by the normal carrion-to-dirt cycle.

Anonymous said...

"And I could say that you have run as fast as you can from paraconformities and polystrate fossils and the specific problems illustrated by Grand Canyon observation with 19th century views of geology."

Jon's pretty up on Grand Canyon geology and far as I recall, he addressed your paraconformity argument sa well. No running from the argument involved.

-- creeper

Jon Woolf said...

Argument and debate are common in science, yet they are virtually absent from science education.

What level of science education was he talking about? I will agree that argument and debate are important parts of advanced science education, where "advanced" means "undergrad or graduate college." But the average high school student simply does not know enough to intelligently debate most science topics.

He simply challenges me to prove I can understand it and then does not try to explain it.

Because me explaining and you ignoring, as you've done on so many other topics, wouldn't resolve anything.

You want to discuss transitional forms. Fine. Great. Count me in. But there's a problem: to have an informed discussion, both sides have to start from an informed position. I know where I'm starting from. I want to see where you're starting from.

Which is why I chose Diarthrognathus as my example of a transitional. It provides an excellent entry exam, precisely because it isn't as widely known as some other transitionals. If you know Diarthrognathus, and can prove it, then I know you have your stuff together. If you don't, then you're so far behind me that any attempted "discussion" between us would be about as comprehensible as Sun-tzu debating military tactics with a yuppie.

Which brings us back to my questions.

What is Diarthrognathus? What does its name mean? Why is it important -- both the animal, and the name? (There's a hint for you.) Why did it generate such a fuss in paleo-taxonomy? Do you know, or not?

Anonymous said...

”The classic geological column does not really exist in the real world.”

False.

”The layering of sedimentary rock is consistent with water catastrophic events and occasional volcanic/landslide scenarios and not of gradualism.”

Jon mentioned a kind of layering of sedimentary rock that is patently NOT compatible with any global flood scenario. You failed to respond.

”Polystrate trees are common, as are polystrate fossils and even reeds!”

And like I said above, I don’t know what you think they prove, other than an instance of rapid sedimentation. Which is just as compatible with an old-Earth scenario.

”Paraconformities are found throughout the North American and European formations especially but they are all over, including Austrailia.”

Again, fully explained by conventional geology. Far as I recall Jon addressed that as well.

”I did post specifically about sorting and presented evidence including pictures of fossils in obviously sorted or arranged ways. Either they were water sorted or someone was using the Earth as a clay model at that spot.”

Not sure what you mean by the clay model reference, but the sorting of fossils in the fossil record is a mystery to YEC apologists. There is no known mechanism that explains why fossils are so neatly sorted into different ages. Size, “probable specific gravity”, what-have-you – no known mechanism other than an old Earth and the theory of evolution can explain it. Now take your own advice and OBSERVE and THINK.

”Experts have done work with flows and sediments to show that the kinds of flows consistent with a world-wide flood would produce the layers we see from Cambrian up to the last two-three layers. In fact the massive formations of chalks cannot be understood without a flood event.”

How do these experts account for Large Igneous Provinces?

”Observers have found ripple marks on virtually every rock layer in existence.”

Virtually every rock layer...? Sure about that?

”Footprints, jellyfish, even some remains have been found. Only a rapid burial can account for such things being preserved rather than consumed by the normal carrion-to-dirt cycle.”

And for the umpteenth time, a rapid burial does not a global flood make.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

ARG... and again with the links fixed...

”The classic geological column does not really exist in the real world.”

False.

”The layering of sedimentary rock is consistent with water catastrophic events and occasional volcanic/landslide scenarios and not of gradualism.”

Jon mentioned a layering of sedimentary rock that is patently NOT compatible with any global flood scenario. You failed to respond.

”Polystrate trees are common, as are polystrate fossils and even reeds!”

And like I said above, I don’t know what you think they prove, other than an instance of rapid deposits. Which is just as compatible with an old-Earth scenario.

”Paraconformities are found throughout the North American and European formations especially but they are all over, including Austrailia.”

Again, fully explained by conventional geology. Far as I recall Jon addressed that as well.

”I did post specifically about sorting and presented evidence including pictures of fossils in obviously sorted or arranged ways. Either they were water sorted or someone was using the Earth as a clay model at that spot.”

Not sure what you mean by the clay model reference, but the sorting of fossils in the fossil record is a mystery to YEC apologists. There is no known mechanism that explains why fossils are so neatly sorted into different ages. Size, “probable specific gravity”, what-have-you – no known mechanism other than an old Earth and the theory of evolution can explain it. Now take your own advice and OBSERVE and THINK.

”Experts have done work with flows and sediments to show that the kinds of flows consistent with a world-wide flood would produce the layers we see from Cambrian up to the last two-three layers. In fact the massive formations of chalks cannot be understood without a flood event.”

How do these experts account for Large Igneous Provinces?

”Observers have found ripple marks on virtually every rock layer in existence.”

Virtually every rock layer...? Sure about that?

”Footprints, jellyfish, even some remains have been found. Only a rapid burial can account for such things being preserved rather than consumed by the normal carrion-to-dirt cycle.”

And for the umpteenth time, a rapid burial does not a global flood make.

-- creeper

highboy said...

"why should I waste my time writing a long explanation that Radar (and you) won't understand? "

So then what are you debating? If you and the rest here have so little faith in radar's ability to comprehend this stuff, not to mention question his honesty at almost every chance, what are you bothering with this blog for?

creeper: your link was to the talkorigins site, which you already know radar could care less about.

highboy said...

As for your boy Glenn Morton's claim: http://www.trueorigin.org/geocolumn.asp

"Anti-creationists have distorted what creationists have actually written about the geologic column, and created one huge ‘straw man’ of creationist research on global stratigraphy. Others have cited one or two popular-level creationist books and misrepresented them as the definitive thought of all creationists. For example, Glenn Morton writes in his Internet essay, The Entire Geologic Column in North Dakota:

‘A detailed examination of the young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist. It is shown that the entire geologic column exists in North Dakota.’[5]

Morton’s claim is very misleading. The unsuspecting visitor to Morton’s website gets only a small part of the story. Yes, Morris and Parker,[1] whom Morton attacks, are not strictly accurate when they say there is no place on earth where all ten geologic systems are superposed. (I combine the Mississippian and the Pennsylvanian into the Carboniferous system, and omit the surficial Quarternary deposits.) However, it is wrong to state or imply that most creationist scholars believe this to be true. Back in 1968, Harold Clark[6] made it clear that there are many places on the earth with most or all of the ‘complete’ column in place"

Anonymous said...

"creeper: your link was to the talkorigins site, which you already know radar could care less about."

Radar claims to ignore talkorigins because they allegedly post lies, but has taken to linking approvingly to other sites that actually and demonstrably do distribute lies (e.g. Family Research Center, Answers in Genesis), so I have to take his justification for engaging in ad hominem arguments against talkorigins with a big chunk of salt.

The information I link to in this case is a clear demonstration that the geologic column does exist, presented in a factual manner. Radar can opt to go the lazy ad hominem route, but that wouldn't be very honest of him.

Not sure what to make of your second comment here: "However, it is wrong to state or imply that most creationist scholars believe this to be true" [that the geological column doesn't exist anywhere]...

I was responding directly to Radar, who said very clearly: ”The classic geological column does not really exist in the real world.”

No strawman involved. He said it, apparently he was serious, and so I posted a link that clearly showed this to be false.

I don't see where Morton's statement that there is a young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist is misleading at all. Here's a YEC making that exact claim, and I hardly think he's the only one.

-- creeper

highboy said...

"Not sure what to make of your second comment here: "However, it is wrong to state or imply that most creationist scholars believe this to be true" [that the geological column doesn't exist anywhere]..."

It wasn't my comment. It was a quote from a site who demonstrated dishonesty from Glenn Morton. Its actually one of those examples of dishonesty from talkorigins you were talking about.

Anonymous said...

"It was a quote from a site who demonstrated dishonesty from Glenn Morton. Its actually one of those examples of dishonesty from talkorigins you were talking about."

The dishonesty being what exactly?

In reference to Morton mentioning "the young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist", they say that "it is wrong to state or imply that most creationist scholars believe this to be true". Well, Morton said nothing of the kind.

Here is the full paragraph from Morton: "This article is a detailed examination of the young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist. It is shown that the entire geologic column exists in North Dakota. I do this not to disprove the Bible but to encourage Christians who are in the area of apologetics to do a better job of getting the facts straight."

I can't find anywhere where Morton "states or implies that most creationist scholars believe this to be true".

This is supposed to be an example of talkorigins being dishonest? How so? What Morton said is 100% correct: there is a "young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist" - you've even seen a YEC make that claim in the comments above. Nowhere does Morton make any statement about how many creationist scholars believe it to be true.

What am I missing here?

-- creeper

AmericanVet said...

The standard geological column is a myth. You might as well present twelve different orders of layering and catch a tiny percentage of the layers around the world. The standard geological column presented by Woolf and his buddies has been found to actually be observed on less than 1% of the planet.

http://radaractive.blogspot.com/2006/02/logical-about-geological-column.html

AmericanVet said...

So you understand that there are a few locations where you can find all the layers in the order described as the standard geological order and yet this is a misstatement. It is like saying that the standard American automobile is a Studebaker. Yes, you can find a Studebaker now and then but neither easily nor commonly. Compris?

Jon Woolf said...

The standard geological column presented by Woolf and his buddies has been found to actually be observed on less than 1% of the planet.

A misleading statement, Radar. (And I'm being polite.)

The entire geologic column, every formation from every epoch, period, and era throughout Earth's history, is not preserved anywhere on the planet. As far as I know, no one has ever claimed it is.

A representative geologic column, one that includes at least one formation from each of the twelve major geologic periods, can be found in a number of sites around the planet.

Sections of the geologic column can be found all around the planet, almost anywhere that sedimentary rock exists. These sections are always in the same sequence, unless some specific geologic event has resulted in overthrusts or other localized layer reversals -- and such events always leave other detectable evidence. Using stratigraphic correlation, these partial sections are combined into a composite geologic column which spans the full history of the planet, at least as far back as 3 billion years ago.

This is the same sort of reasoning, incidentally, that Dionysus Exiguus used to build his chronology of the Bible and thus produce the timeline that you and your fellow YECs defend. If the logic is sound for you, then it's sound for geologists too.

Note that this has nothing whatever to do with evolution. If evolution was disproved tomorrow, the geologic column would remain standing without so much as a quiver. Rock solid.

Anonymous said...

"It is like saying that the standard American automobile is a Studebaker. Yes, you can find a Studebaker now and then but neither easily nor commonly. Compris?"

I comprends that this is a poor analogy, though the fact that you choose to make this analogy may explain your confusion on this subject.

The geologic column is about the sequence of the layers, and on the whole it holds true. That does NOT mean that every layer was perfectly preserved (or even formed to begin with) everywhere on the planet.

Think of the geologic column as, say, a discography of the Beatles. Let's say you can root around 100 users' MP3 collections and piece together a fairly complete discography. You may not find the complete discography in any ONE of those users' collections, but you can still deduce the overall discography, and you can see that all the collections are compatible with it.

Compris?

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

"So then what are you debating? If you and the rest here have so little faith in radar's ability to comprehend this stuff, not to mention question his honesty at almost every chance, what are you bothering with this blog for?"

Like I've said before, I find Radar's mix of ignorance, bluster/arrogance and hypocrisy very entertaining. Some people watch Dr. Phil, some people knit, I shoot the breeze with Radar.

And what's your reason for being here?

-- creeper

highboy said...

"This is supposed to be an example of talkorigins being dishonest? How so? What Morton said is 100% correct: there is a "young earth creationist claim that the geologic column does not exist" - you've even seen a YEC make that claim in the comments above. Nowhere does Morton make any statement about how many creationist scholars believe it to be true.

What am I missing here?"

I'm not arguing the case creeper. It was a link that responded to Morton and so I posted it for you to view to see what you thought. They say he's being dishonest. If you say its wrong than its wrong.

"Like I've said before, I find Radar's mix of ignorance, bluster/arrogance and hypocrisy very entertaining. Some people watch Dr. Phil, some people knit, I shoot the breeze with Radar.

And what's your reason for being here?"

Well, I didn't ask you, it was asked of Jon, and regardless of whether its you or Jon, I still find it odd that someone would post here simply to run around in circles where everyone keeps saying the same thing over and over again. My reason for being here is that I'm friends with radar, and here and there we actually talk about stuff that I'm actually educated in. Not often, but it happens. (the geologic column would not be one of them)

Anonymous said...

highboy said:

Well, I didn't ask you, it was asked of Jon, and regardless of whether its you or Jon, I still find it odd that someone would post here simply to run around in circles where everyone keeps saying the same thing over and over again.

Well, don't you find it just as odd that Radar allows comments since he just ignores them and posts the same arguments over and over again even if they are already refuted by the commenters?