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NYCOM Professor Matthew Mihlbachler examines horse teeth.  (Source: Matthew Mihlbachler)

Prehistoric horses shifted from eating berries and fruit (like the pictured "Dawn Horse"), to leafy plants, then finally to grass as climate and vegetation changed.  (Source: Encyclopedia Britainnica)

Horses evolved in North America, but ironically all North American species perished at the end of the last ice age. The horses today are modern Eurasian descendants of ancient North American breeds.  (Source: University of Texas)

Modern horses have long teeth and complex cusps, well adapted for chewing high-silica grass.  (Source: Google Images)
Dietary changes take as much as a million years to broadly select a particular population, say researchers

Evolution says that the genetic material of the fittest species will typically survive and displace that of less fit species.  But there's much debate over finer details, such as how fast this process happens.  

Paleodental researchers at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine have completed an important new study [press release] that examines how fast the process of evolution operates in response to changes in available diet.  The study looks at a relatively vast array of fossilized horse teeth and fossilized plant materials that date back as far as 55 million years ago.  

Their conclusion is that the old adage "you are what you eat" holds true -- if you give it about a million years.

NYCOM anatomy professor Matthew Mihlbachler [profile] said the key to the exciting study was in developing an effective method to tell what the horses were eating.  Past studies looked at the teeth on a microscopic scale or performed chemical tests to try to extract clues on the creatures' diet.  Such methods were laboriously slow.  

But Professor Mihlbachler used a new approach called mesowear.  This approach examines the shape of the tooth, particularly the sharpness of the cusps of molars.  The method is remarkably accurate as tooth shape is directly targeted to a specific animal's diet.

The result was a very comprehensive work.  Describes Professor Mihlbachler in an LiveScience, "We looked at wear patterns on horse teeth using mesowear through the entire history, from 55 million years ago in North America to the extinction at the end of the last ice age."

The horses of 55 million years ago would hardly be recognizable by today's standards.  No bigger than a modern fox, these petite creatures roamed warm, moist forests of North America munching on fruits and berries.  The creatures had four toes and their teeth were rounded to properly deal with their soft food.

Around 33 million years ago, the climate began to change and leafy shrubs suitable for the cooler weather displaced the fruity plants.  The process of evolution by natural selection transformed the horses into slightly larger leaf eaters.  The horses’ teeth became sharper in order deal with the new diet.

Describes Mr. Mihlbachler, "The signal we are getting in the change in horses' diet is very consistent with what we understand about how the climate was changing."

Horses underwent a final evolutionary metamorphosis approximately 18 million years ago as grasslands displaced the cool forests.  Grasses have high silica content, so horses had to develop longer teeth with more complex surfaces to deal with the new diet.  While leaf-eaters (with sharp teeth) persisted for several million years, they were eventually displaced entirely by the grass eaters.  In the mean time the grass eating horses' teeth continue to get longer with passing generations.

By 4 or 5 million years ago, the horses were completely adapted to grass lands.  And it paid off.  Horses expanded across most of North America and expanded across the Eurasian land mass.  There, early humans would encounter them and domesticate them, an encounter that would play a key role in human society.

Before that would happen in full, the pioneer North American breeds would die off, due to the last Ice Age abruptly ending, around 10,000 years ago.  But North America would yet again see horses, when the domesticated Eurasian descendants were reintroduced into the "New World".

The most intriguing thing about the study was not only that the dental record closely followed the change in foliage.  The more interesting thing was that it lagged slightly behind the changes, with the horses taking up to a million years to fully adjust to foliage changes.

This offers interesting evidence into the timescales of major evolutionary adaptation.  And it is relatively consistent with past evolutionary theory.  States Professor Mihlbachler, "The changes in the teeth are just slightly behind the environment and dietary trends, which is very consistent with the hypothesis of adaptation. Certainly, there were leaves and trees throughout all that time period, from 55 million years ago to the extinction. What we don’t know is why horses left those niches."

No scientist would claim that evolution happens the same way every time.  Thus it is important to practice caution when applying these time frames to other species or adaptive events.  But they do offer excellent evidence in support of key evolutionary hypotheses.  

Thomas Scandalis, dean of NYCOM concludes, "You are what you eat,’ we hear this all the time, but now we know it is true."

The paper on the work was published [abstract] in one of academia's most prestigious journals, Science.

If you're hungry for more evolutionary anatomical research, dig into NYCOM's February study [press release] [abstract] which examined a "bizarre" "pudgy" crocodile that lived in Madagascar, right before the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.  If you expected a vicious dinocroc like you might spot in a Sci-Fi channel movie special, you will be disappointed -- NYCOM Professor Robert Hill [profile] says the beast was a "gentle, vegetarian crocodile."



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Science or stupidity?
By Pjotr on 3/5/2011 5:46:19 PM , Rating: 1
Yet it took only a couple of decades to make grassing cows go all corn diet...




RE: Science or stupidity?
By Surak on 3/5/2011 6:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
I call stupidity ... on Pjotr

The whole point of the story is that an animal changed it's diet, but it took a long time for teeth that were well adapted for the diet to arise through natural selection and evolution.

Cows changing to a diet of corn is in full agreement with this story. We've changed the diet of cows to corn, their teeth have not yet changed.

Oh and Pjotr, Corn is actually a type of grass. Dumbass.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By pwnsweet on 3/5/2011 7:38:17 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
We've changed the diet of cows to corn, their teeth have not yet changed.


...and they never will.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By AnnihilatorX on 3/5/2011 8:10:56 PM , Rating: 2
1 million years


RE: Science or stupidity?
By SebbesApa on 3/7/2011 8:11:58 AM , Rating: 2
Eh no.
"the fittest species will typically survive and displace that of less fit species." I suggest you read more on survival of the fittest and natural selection.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By GuinnessKMF on 3/7/2011 9:02:42 AM , Rating: 5
It's all about breeding, we've engineered an environment for cows where their evolution will have nothing to do with what people would consider a "fit" species, the gene pool that successfully mates the most. If uninterrupted the way things currently are, cows will evolve into the animals that produce the most delicious meat at the least feeding cost.

Given enough time they'll just be large sacks that produce beef marbled with bacon and cheese (you heard me, bacon from a cow).


RE: Science or stupidity?
By kingius on 3/8/2011 8:06:53 AM , Rating: 2
And that my friend, is a horrific example of the goal of some, unscrupulous people who want to get rich and by no means a normal end point.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By PrinceGaz on 3/5/2011 10:06:10 PM , Rating: 1
The cows which have teeth best suited to munching corn will be best suited to that diet, and either through natural selection (those cows which survive longer) or artificial selection (a farmer choosing them if that is a highly desirable trait), their teeth will most certainly change.

If it is artificial selection, it is quite possible for us to change a species almost to the point where it looks quite different from what was started with, in just a dozen or so generations. Take breeds of dogs for instance and what has been done with them in a couple of hundred years (usually to extremes which has damaged their health). A few hundred thousand years of natural selection would certainly change a cow's teeth to be best suited to what it is eating without our intervention.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By Pjotr on 3/7/2011 10:48:11 AM , Rating: 2
I think you missed the point totally. Start by watching the movie Food Inc.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By consumerwhore on 3/7/2011 2:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
You're talking about the movie that drills down the point of how cows are so grossly *misadapted* to the corn diet we have to feed them antibiotics from cradle to grave? (Among other ill side-effects...)

That "Food Inc." movie?


RE: Science or stupidity?
By wordsworm on 3/6/2011 10:14:55 AM , Rating: 2
Cows and horses still love fruit. That's how they naturally get their protein: from the insects and worms in the fruit, such as apples, which fall on the ground. Fruiting trees have evolved to take advantage of that by creating a coating around the seed to help it survive the digestive process of the animals so that it might get to the other end, which will give it that dose of fertilizer that it needs.

I wonder how long it took fruit trees to evolve to enable that process...


RE: Science or stupidity?
By kingius on 3/7/2011 11:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
That first horse is a bit suspicious as to actually being a horse. A quick web search turned out that I'm not the only one who is a bit dubious, it turns out the namer of the fossil is as well...

http://www.haveagoodday.ca/fact40.html


RE: Science or stupidity?
By jido on 3/7/2011 7:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
You are linking to a creationist site. LOL

If you still have doubts, try this link (another creationist site, but which seems informed):

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v3/n4/...


RE: Science or stupidity?
By PaterPelligrino on 3/7/2011 9:40:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you still have doubts, try this link (another creationist site, but which seems informed)


A quote from your link tells us everything we need to know about what motivates the Creationist:

quote:
Our Creator God never changes. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. We rest our hopes on Him rather than on scientific theories.


The most famous example of creationist bias is Kurt Wise who, incredible as it may seem, has a Ph.D. in Geology from Harvard University where he studied under the supervision of the famous evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould(!). Wise is famous for stating that "if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate."

(The obvious objection to this is how can anyone possibly know what his god indicates. The creationist would say that god's will is expressed in the Bible. Asked why we should think the Bible an accurate expression of god's will, he would answer that the Bible was inspired - if not directly dictated - by god. Asked how he knows this, our creationist replies that the Bible tells us it is the word of god. The wheels on the bus go round and round.)

If only all Creationists were that honest about what really informs their objection to any scientific theory that contradicts a literal reading of the Old Testament.

Belief is an act, it is something people do, a decision they've made. If you want to understand that belief - esp when it concerns a claim that by its very nature is non-falsifiable - you must take a look at the believer, examine what motivates him. What motivates the creationist is the desire to safeguard at all costs his cherished world-view.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By kingius on 3/8/2011 7:45:06 AM , Rating: 2
Lets turn the subject away from religion (which is a red herring put forward by those who do not wish evolution questioned at all - who are acting against the spirit of science; and anyway, there are creationists that believe in evolution, because creationism talks about a start point and not an end point) and back onto my point; the first specimen shown doesn't actually seem to be a horse. The others do. But lets assume that the guess is correct that is being put forward as fact here and that the first specimen is indeed a horse: what was it's ancestor? And why are the specimens found mixed up in the strata, not in the linear order being presented? Why are certain facts presented that support an interpretation of the data and others that do not support the same interpretation not being said?


RE: Science or stupidity?
By PaterPelligrino on 3/8/2011 10:55:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lets turn the subject away from religion (which is a red herring put forward by those who do not wish evolution questioned at all - who are acting against the spirit of science; and anyway, there are creationists that believe in evolution, because creationism talks about a start point and not an end point...


Nice try big fella.

Tho I agree that evolution does not rule out a strictly defined creationist god, the problem here is that creationists/ID'ers are invariably Old Testament Jehovah biblical literalists who only talk about conveniently generic gods or first causes when they argue in online forums with non-believers. That explains why the only science these people ever object to is that which threatens a literal interpretation of the OT.

On one hand, when criticizing evolution, creationists demand with uncompromising logical rigor that every trivial discrepancy in the understandably incomplete fossil record be accounted for; while, on the other hand, they exempt their own biblical beliefs from those same logical standards, accepting without question all the risibly absurd things in the Bible as being literally true.

Creationists don't reject evolution because they find the theory unconvincing, they reject it because it threatens their core religious beliefs. If the OT stated that Yahwei directed the rise of species on earth via natural selection from a common ancestor, all of these creationists would suddenly be singing Darwin's praises. Everybody knows this, so why pretend otherwise?

Even the Catholic Church has thrown in the towel and accepted evolution; it's only die-hard biblical literalists - invariably from English-speaking countries - who persist in denying the obvious.

To sum up: all creationists/ID'ers have a preferred religious explanation for the existence of life on earth. Creationists reject evolution because it contradicts that religious narrative. The only people who reject evolution are these people who cling to a preferred religious explanation. That's all you need to know.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By kingius on 3/9/2011 10:46:47 AM , Rating: 2
That's all well and good, but its also a strawman argument, in that it does not apply in every case but every opponent of evolution is painted with this brush to attempt to discredit them.

The stereo typical supporter of evolution believes that everybody who questions it is some kind of fundamental biblical literalist or at least attempts to paint anybody who questions evolution as being so, without access to the facts about the person they are speaking to. This is disingenuous and an attempt to shut down the debate before it can begin.

It also reeks of fear. It is time for science to be brave and tackle what is being said instead of side stepping it with irrelevant and inaccurate character assassination attempts against those perceived to be opponents.

That first specimen does not appear to be a horse at all, go look for yourself. I doubt that you are a christian literalist; if you come to the same conclusion as me, you will likely be labeled as one, or a moron.. because you /did not agree/ not because of any religious views.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By PaterPelligrino on 3/9/2011 1:14:14 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not quite sure where you're coming from - are you a creationist or not? I assume that you are. The link you provided in support of your argument points to a creationist site that claims that the horse - and by implication every species - was created in it's present form by Jehovah. This is from your link:

quote:
We may conclude, therefore, that there is no evidence that horses have ever been anything other than horses, and that these beautiful creatures, so useful to the human race, have not evolved, but were created by God, who long ago asked Job: 'Do you give the horse its strengths, or clothe his neck with a flowing main?'


Either you accept macro-evolution, but reject the above study on horses because you find it unconvincing; or you reject macro-evolution out of hand in all cases no matter what the evidence suggests. If the former, then yes we could debate the merits of this particular study. However, if you reject evolution in total, what is there to discuss? To be a creationist you must by definition reject macro-evolution. Evidence is irrelevant. The creationist's intellectual objectivity has been irredeemably compromised by uncritical subservience to the most anti-intellectual branch of Christian dogma.

When you guys claim to reject evolution because you find the theory unconvincing, one can't help but wonder if you think you are more intelligent than all the scientists and laymen who are convinced of evolution's validity - is it your opinion that superior intelligence determines adherence to the creationist camp? Or is what motivates evolution's proponents a vast anti-Jehovah conspiracy inspired by pride or Satan? Do you see yourselves as having been uniquely chosen by Yahwei to perceive the truth? Just how do you explain to yourselves all the people - including those other Christians sects - who do accept evolution?

The only people who reject macro-evolution are biblical literalists. First comes devotion to a literal reading of the Bible, then comes rejection of evolution. You'd do everyone a favor if, like Kurt Wise, you just came out and honestly admitted that evidence doesn't matter, you guys get your marching orders straight from Old Testament.

I take this line of argument because I have learned the hard way that no amount of evidence for evolution will ever make an impression on the creationist. He has far to great an emotional commitment to his faith to ever give the argument for species evolution a fair hearing.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By PaterPelligrino on 3/9/2011 8:47:13 PM , Rating: 4
btw, what really cracks me up about that creationist site you linked to is how they apply two entirely different standards of reasoning on the journey to their foregone conclusion.

Initially, they focus on the evidence, taking great pains to discredit the argument for the evolution of the horse from a smaller animal by pointing out discrepancies in the geological and anatomical evidence.

I don't want to offer a detailed rebuttal of that argument - frankly, I'm not qualified, and I'm not going to spend weeks familiarizing myself with the fossil record, hunting down references and reading primary sources. What interests me here is how after all that logical nitpicking about how the evidence does not support the evolutionary claims being made, the authors of your site go on to say, "We may conclude, therefore ... that these beautiful creatures, so useful to the human race, have not evolved, but were created by God."

Say what? Considering how much importance they claim to attach to logical rigor, where does that conclusion come from? It's like saying, "now that we've shown that the archeological and linguistic evidence does not support the thesis that the Chinese people are descendants of the ancient Egyptians, clearly they were transported to earth by space aliens."

Logic for the creationist is merely a tool to be used to discredit any threat to pre-existing, uncritical faith in the literal truth of the biblical narrative. Once they've dealt with that treat, logic goes right out the window and they feel free to "conclude" that Jehovah did it. You're no more likely to get a fair treatment of evolution from a creationist than you are to get an unbiased history of the Civil Rights Movement from the Grand Wizard of the local KKK chapter. You want an impartial opinion on possible threats to ground water from mining, you don't ask a lobbyist for the coal industry.

If creationists were as concerned with logic and evidence as they claim to be, and if the points they raise were valid, they would say that tho there is ample evidence for evolution in the fossil record, they remain unconvinced by the arguments linking the horse to that earlier animal - and stop at that. That they go on to say the only reasonable conclusion is that Jehovah created horses in their present form gives the game away. These people - and this is true of all creationist argument - are not interested in a fair examination of the evidence. So even without an exhaustive command off the underlying data, one can conclude that your creationists are playing fast and loose with the evidence.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By MrBlastman on 3/7/2011 1:47:26 PM , Rating: 2
All it takes is one seed to make it through successfully and viola, you have evolution.

Of course, you also have to assume that once it makes it though, it is able to plant, sprout, grow into a new plant and then spread its seed and once again repeat the process. But, esentially, that's really how it works. The weaker plants will not be able to multiply and spread as fast as the newer, coated seed plants and thus, eventually be rendered a weaker species or eventually, due to being localized, dissapear due to many different, possible, environmental influences.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By kingius on 3/8/2011 8:03:37 AM , Rating: 2
'Make it through'... you mean stay alive until it breeds and has offspring, right? No living thing 'makes it through'... death is the fate of all.


RE: Science or stupidity?
By chris00 on 3/7/2011 5:24:55 AM , Rating: 3
I thought that was a clever bit of sarcasm at first, but then I read your post title


Question
By wgbutler on 3/7/2011 9:01:30 AM , Rating: 1
quote:

While leaf-eaters (with sharp teeth) persisted for several million years, they were eventually displaced entirely by the grass eaters. In the mean time the grass eating horses' teeth continue to get longer with passing generations.

By 4 or 5 million years ago, the horses were completely adapted to grass lands....


So if it takes 4 to 5 million years for a horse's teeth to evolve to eat grass instead of leaves, how many millions of years would it take for a cold blooded lizard to become a warm blooded mammal, or for a fish with gills and fins to develop lungs and breathe air, or for a mammal to grow wings and learn how to fly while developing echolocation so it could fly in caves?




RE: Question
By morphologia on 3/7/2011 2:52:22 PM , Rating: 3
A few hundred million years, give or take, for any of those. Which is largely supported by the fossil record.

Oh, and evidence shows that the changes were a lot more gradual than you make them sound. Many extinct reptilian-like species were likely to be warm blooded, several species bridge the gap between underwater and dry land living, and echolocation serves more purpose than just "flying in caves," nor is it unique.

Your point? Or do you have one?


RE: Question
By wgbutler on 3/8/2011 10:09:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

Your point? Or do you have one?


My point is that it is ridiculous to think that these types of massive changes could occur within the window of opportunity for life on the earth, your bald assertions notwithstanding.

If it took 5 million years for a horse's teeth to change shape, it is ridiculous to think that in only 200 million years a fish could grow a lung or a reptile could develop an avian respiratory system.

And at least in the horse's case, the leaf eating teeth are still useful while the horse's teeth are evolving into grass eating teeth. Transforming a reptile into a bird has no useful intermediate states. Trying to fundamentally change the organism in that way would end up killing the organism before it evolved all the new traits it needed.


RE: Question
By PaterPelligrino on 3/9/2011 9:45:30 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
If it took 5 million years for a horse's teeth to change shape, it is ridiculous to think that in only 200 million years a fish could grow a lung or a reptile could develop an avian respiratory system.


Oh you stubborn creationist.

I'm afraid you entirely misunderstand what drives evolution. There is no inbuilt rate of change to species adaptation to new environments. If the environment changes slowly, so do the species depending on it. In the case of the horse, his original teeth still got the job done so they evolved slowly. It is with change-or-die adaptations that change occurs most rapidly.

quote:
Transforming a reptile into a bird has no useful intermediate states.


I really don't understand how you can make that claim. What of all the fossil evidence for flying reptiles? What of the similar morphology between the wings of modern birds and flying reptiles, the common hollow bones and the feathers of both. There was even a study of the fossilized soft tissue of T-Rex that demonstrated a close relationship to bird tissue.

The evolution of birds from dinosaurs is a done deal among scientists. The only remaining controversy concerns which dinosaurs they evolved from. That is a practical problem of locating the right fossil evidence. Fossil formation is a hit-or-miss thing, it's not like they're all there in the basement of the Smithsonian awaiting classification.

You creationists make use of the necessarily incomplete nature of the fossil record to cling to your superstitious beliefs. Take the blinkers of wgb and see the world as it is. Jehovah won't mind - really.


RE: Question
By wgbutler on 3/10/2011 11:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:

The evolution of birds from dinosaurs is a done deal among scientists. The only remaining controversy concerns which dinosaurs they evolved from.


Have you looked at these studies:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/09060...

quote:

Researchers at Oregon State University have made a fundamental new discovery about how birds breathe and have a lung capacity that allows for flight – and the finding means it's unlikely that birds descended from any known theropod dinosaurs.

The conclusions add to other evolving evidence that may finally force many paleontologists to reconsider their long-held belief that modern birds are the direct descendants of ancient, meat-eating dinosaurs, OSU researchers say.
"It's really kind of amazing that after centuries of studying birds and flight we still didn't understand a basic aspect of bird biology," said John Ruben, an OSU professor of zoology. "This discovery probably means that birds evolved on a parallel path alongside dinosaurs, starting that process before most dinosaur species even existed...


http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/01/peer-reviewed...

quote:

In a peer-reviewed paper titled "Evidence of Design in Bird Feathers and Avian Respiration," in International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Leeds University professor Andy McIntosh argues that two systems vital to bird flight--feathers and the avian respiratory system--exhibit "irreducible complexity." The paper describes these systems using the exact sort of definitions that Michael Behe uses to describe irreducible complexity...

...As examples of irreducible complexity, they show that natural systems have intricate machinery which does not arise in a 'bottom up' approach, whereby some natural selective method of gaining small-scale changes could give the intermediary creature some advantage. This will not work since, first, there is no advantage unless all the parts of the new machine are available together and, second, in the case of the avian lung the intermediary creature would not be able to breathe, and there is little selective advantage if the creature is no longer alive. As stated in the introduction, the possibility of an intelligent cause is both a valid scientific assump¬tion, and borne out by the evidence itself....


quote:

You creationists make use of the necessarily incomplete nature of the fossil record to cling to your superstitious beliefs. Take the blinkers of wgb and see the world as it is. Jehovah won't mind - really.


I don't need for Darwinism to be false in order to have Christian beliefs. Indeed, there are many theistic evolutionists, like Francis Collins as one example, who are evangelical Christians and also Darwinists. And at least initially, C.S. Lewis didn't have a problem reconciling his Christian beliefs with Darwinism.

Frankly, I just don't see the evidence for Darwinism. It is a fantastic tale that is not backed up by any real evidence. In my opinion, it requires much more faith to believe in than any God.

Note that I'm only talking about neo-Darwinism here. I have no problem with micro-evolutionary changes, and I think that the horse study here is a classic example of micro-evolution.


RE: Question
By PaterPelligrino on 3/13/2011 11:07:07 AM , Rating: 2
The Oregon State University study you cite is interesting. I don't pretend to be an expert in the field; no doubt much is yet to be learned of the precise path by which birds evolved from earlier species. Nor do I know what the critical response was to that study - there must have been some kind of rebuttal. I do note that there are other studies referenced on that same page that support the dinosaur thesis. In any case, I have no emotion invested in the outcome of the controversy one way or the other; whether birds evolved from dinosaurs or both evolved from a common ancestor, it's all the same to me. However, the OSU study you link to has this to say:

quote:
"This discovery probably means that birds evolved on a parallel path alongside dinosaurs, starting that process before most dinosaur species even existed."

"The newest findings, the researchers said, are more consistent with birds having evolved separately from dinosaurs and developing their own unique characteristics, including feathers, wings and a unique lung and locomotion system."

"We aren't suggesting that dinosaurs and birds may not have had a common ancestor somewhere in the distant past," Quick said. "That's quite possible and is routinely found in evolution. It just seems pretty clear now that birds were evolving all along on their own and did not descend directly from the theropod dinosaurs, which lived many millions of years later."


Scarce comfort to someone who believes that all species of living creature sprung fully formed from Jehovah's forehead.

Your 2nd link is much more problematic; it points to a site named Evolution News and Views which is an Intelligent Design/Creationist site. The "peer-reviewed" study they discuss is a paper that appeared in the International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, a frequent instrument of creationist propaganda. The IJDNE is published by the Wessex Institute of Technology, itself a hotbed of Intelligent Design agitprop. The author of the study, a certain A. McIntosh, is a well-known creationist - and I believe a Young Earth Christian - who is on the editorial board of that same IJDNE. One of IJDNE's editors is Stuart Burgess, another notorious YEC. The IJDNE is a firinge publication; according to WorldCat, not a single library in the UK, US or Australia carries it.

The "irreducible complexity" argument advanced by McIntosh is just more god-of-the-gaps nonsense that has been convincingly refuted by others. No serious scientist outside the blinkered biblical-literalist world ever talks about irreducible complexity as all it says is that "this is too hard for me to understand, Jehovah must have done it." (Actually what it really says is, "Wow, this is so complicated maybe people won't laugh at me if I claim Jehovah did it.)

McIntosh goes on to make the usual ID noise about the incompleteness of the fossil record - the fossil record will/can never be complete enough for you guys.

Citing the OSU study, McIntosh concludes that "even if one does take the fossil evidence as the record of development, the evidence is in fact much more consistent with an ab initio design position - that the breathing mechanism of birds is in fact the product of intelligent design." That's typical creationist reasoning - the OSU people draw no such conclusion - and once more illustrates how logic is a tool very much at the service of religious dogma.

McIntosh jumps all over the place, dragging out all the old tired arguments from the ID world, clearly showing that the whole purpose of his op-ed piece is to lend a patina of rationality to the creationist agenda, to buck up the spirits of his fellow believers.

McIntosh, the IJDNE, and the site you linked to, which reviewed his study, are all part of the hermetically-sealed ID world. A self-contained little bubble of self-referential links and studies that no one outside that world takes seriously.

Time and again we've seen you provide links that turn out to be highly dubious. That you even came across a fringe publication like the IJDNE indicates where you're coming form; you wouldn't even know it exists if you didn't habitually frequent like-minded sites in search of moral support.

quote:
I don't need for Darwinism to be false in order to have Christian beliefs.....Frankly, I just don't see the evidence for Darwinism. It is a fantastic tale that is not backed up by any real evidence.


You don't see the evidence because you don't want to. If there is one thing in all I've said in these many exchanges of ours that I'd like you to give serious consideration to, it's this: it is not intelligence that distinguishes skeptics from creationists, it's personality. When you claim to reject evolution because you find the theory unconvincing, do you think you are more intelligent than all the scientists and laymen who are convinced of evolution's validity - is it your opinion that superior intelligence determines adherence to the creationist camp? The skeptic looks at the evidence and has no emotional investment in where that evidence leads; the theist - esp the biblical literalist - on the other hand, will have god at all costs; for the believer, evidence is a mere afterthought, an inconvenience to be managed.

Your views on evolution are transparently contingent on your religious worldview. I repeat, if the OT said Yahwei directed the rise of species via natural selection, you'd be the forum president of the Darwin Fan Club. That you troll the web desperately looking for studies to provide intellectual cover for you OT literalism, while ignoring all the clear evidence for evolution, clearly puts the lie to the above claim.

Way back, I thought you were just propagandizing with this OT stuff, but you really have convinced yourself of the reasonableness of this garbage. The idea that some kind of superior intelligence was involved in the creation of the universe is at least logically defensible; however, this flat-earth denial of evolution is so willfully ignorant that it takes the breath away. Even the Catholic Church is at pains to distance themselves from this rubbish, lest they lose all credibility with those Catholics who chose to use their brains for something other than memorizing biblical quotes; but you guys persist in this - the human mind is truly an astounding thing.


RE: Question
By PaterPelligrino on 3/14/2011 4:36:34 AM , Rating: 2
I want to add one more observation here. You're pouncing on the bird thing to justify your rejection of evolution speaks volumes about the creationist mindset. Obviously, you had the McIntosh and OSU studies in mind when you put forward the bird example. What's interesting in this is that you pass over all the examples where there are intermediary fossils illustrating an evolutionary link to an antecedent species, and zero in on a case where the links have yet to be unearthed.

With that type of reasoning, no matter how many corroborative examples the fossil record offers up - and it's not a given that there even exist fossil specimens for every creature that ever existed - as long as there remains one or two existing creatures for which we haven't yet dug up intermediary fossils, you will persist in denying macro-evolution. (I notice you were uncharacteristically silent in the 'How Human Evolution Caused us to Lose Our Spiny Penises' thread - from page 3 of the fanatics handbook, "if you can't refute it, pretend it doesn't exist".) This is the type of cognitive filtering that distinguishes all blinkered fanatics: they latch onto the tiniest counterexample, distorting its significance if necessary, in order to justify their cherished beliefs, while simultaneously tuning out the mountain of evidence that doesn't go their way.

And yet you say your religious beliefs haven't influenced your take on evolution. I can't tell you how depressing I find this human penchant for self-deception. It's just a hop skip and a jump form this anti-evolution blindness to joining Jim Jones in the Guyana jungle for a Koolaid Tropical Kooler.


RE: Question
By zixin on 3/7/2011 3:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
Mammals didn't evolve from reptiles. The two lines diverged a long time ago. One branch became the reptiles and the other branch mammals. Also, evolution, while steady in general, actually comes in bouts sometimes. Occasionally, for reason unknown for now, massive number of new species will appear. So some feature would develop quite rapidly, especially those that realy aide in survival.


RE: Question
By wgbutler on 3/8/2011 10:12:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

Occasionally, for reason unknown for now, massive number of new species will appear.


Yes, this is rather curious, isn't it.


Definition of "irony"
By CZroe on 3/5/11, Rating: 0
RE: Definition of "irony"
By Boston Card on 3/6/2011 2:04:15 AM , Rating: 3
You only quoted one definition of irony. However, a second definition is:

quote:
a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result : [with clause ] the irony is that I thought he could help me.


You might expect that if horses evolved in North America, they would not become extinct on the continent. The fact that they did die off is, in fact, ironic.

Ironically, you would expect someone who berates a poster on the use of a word to know what it means. That's doubly ironic if the word is "ironic".

BC


RE: Definition of "irony"
By geekman1024 on 3/7/2011 1:49:03 AM , Rating: 2
it's kinda like Intel is an American company, yet the Intel chip in your PC is either Made in Malaysia or Made in China.


RE: Definition of "irony"
By arthur449 on 3/7/2011 2:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
To avoid potential intellectual property theft, Intel does not allow current generation processors to be built anywhere but the U.S.


I call BS
By bathotropic on 3/5/2011 3:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Thomas Scandalis, dean of NYCOM concludes, "You are what you eat,’ we hear this all the time, but now we know it is true."


We don't know Jack! This is pure hyberbole.




RE: I call BS
By vol7ron on 3/5/2011 9:34:04 PM , Rating: 1
Yeahh. We're only what we break down, absorb, and reposition from what we eat.

There was a person on Ripley's that ate a lot of glass... but he's not 1/3 or even 1/2 glass.

We only know what we don't know and we don't know every thing we don't know.


RE: I call BS
By nuarbnellaffej on 3/7/2011 4:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a hyperbole, you literally are made out of the things you have eaten. You may not resemble the things you have eaten, but chemically those foods provide the building materials that our bodies are composed of.


Diet influences evolution
By osalcido on 3/8/2011 4:35:08 AM , Rating: 2
Was there really a doubt whether evolution would trail diet? Considering environment directly influences evolution.. I think it's pretty obvious




"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov











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