Thursday, May 06, 2010

Non-missing links...Creationist's error...

My friend Bob is a creationist. He has asked me more than once, "What about the missing links? If evolution were true, there shouldn't be transitional fossils?"

Answer: This question keeps coming back, no matter what scientific discoveries are made. If there are two species in existence today--call them species A and B--that evolutionists propose have a common ancestor, we should be able to find bones in the fossil record of the common ancestor. The ancestor would be the "link" between them and, presumably, have some of the attributes of each species.

There are many, many transitional fossils. We have fossils of creatures that are intermediary between humans and apes. (Note the often misunderstood point: humans did not evolve from chimps. Chimps and humans evolved from a common ancestor. We were never apes. The phrase "Man descended from the apes" is not correct, and not part of evolution theory. Modern apes and modern humans had a common ancestor. Any chimpanzee teaching her offspring that chimps descended from humans is making the equivalent mistake. )

We have fossils of a link between fish and land animals. Tiktaalik, discovered in Canada in 2004 had physical features from both, allowing the huge fish to live in very shallow water. It has the cranial features associated with both fish and land-living animals, including a neck (i.e. the earliest fossil with a neck). It had primitive lungs, leg-like fins adapted for life in the shallows, and ribs of a land animal, but the primitive jaw, scales, and other fins of a fish.

Some modern animals have remnants of their ancestors. For example, some whales have vestigial legs and pelvic girdles inside, showing that their DNA still possesses the codes for constructing the legs of the land mammals they evolved from. So do pythons (snakes).

We have fossils that are clearly intermediary between birds and reptiles. The famous Archaeopteryx is one.Unlike all living birds, Archaeopteryx had a full set of teeth, a rather flat sternum (breast bone), a long, bony tail, gastralia (belly ribs), and three claws on the wing. However, its feathers, wings,wishbone, and reduced fingers are all characteristics of modern birds.

Now, it is true that many of today's evolutionist do not consider Archaeopteryx to be the ancestor of birds. Instead, some other transitional fossils have been found that are better candidates. But the point is, there ARE transitional fossils.

Some creationist articles say, in effect, that there are no transitional fossils, that Archaeopteryx looks like a transitional fossil but "even" evolutionists think it isn't. What they don't say is that scientists have found even better transitional fossils bridging dinosaurs and birds than Archaeopteryx.

The point I am making is that many anti-evolution writers are either ignorant or dishonest about the existence of transitional fossils when they claim that the "links" are "missing".

By the way, not only do we find transitional species in the fossil record, but they are ordered the correct way. We find the ancestors of species A and species B in sediment that is older than the sediments in which we find species A and B.

Are there "missing links". Sure. But are there non-missing links? Yes. Many.