To: Marty Leipzig 940131 03:%:00 Subject: Whale With Legs MARTY LEIPZIG to ROB FARGHER, 01

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From: Scott Faust To: Marty Leipzig 94-01-31 03:%:00 Subject: Whale With Legs MARTY LEIPZIG to ROB FARGHER, 01-14-94, re: "There's no Law Against Ev" > > As such, have you seen the latest from Phil Gingerich? He's > found, in the Eocene Siwaliks of Pakistan, a well preserved > critter which he has dubbed "_Ambulocetus_". It is a perfect > intermediate between Early Eocene terrestrial mesonychids and > protocetids. [...] > From the early descriptions of the beast, it appears to be an > _Archeopteryx_-ian intermediate; with an equal share of > terrestrial and marine adaptations. > Can't wait for the creationists to have to chew on this one. Hehehe. Problem is that they've backed themselves into a corner, for so long having ridiculed the notion that pelvic elements of modern whales are vestiges of a four limbed -- and ultimately terrestrial -- state. I don't know how Duane Gish could possibly top the performance he gave back when that basilosaurus with complete (if diminutive) rear limbs was discovered in Egypt. The find seemingly threw him into such a state of shock (stupidity?) that he stood up at an international creationism convention and announced that _B. isis_ probably wasn't a mammal at all, but a reptile!!! Indeed, in a debate style atmosphere, one can make a pretty good case for the existence of transitional forms by focusing just on the shucks 'n jives of the very folks who claim they don't exist. The above, for example, isn't the first case where Gish has had trouble distinguishing mammals and reptiles. In an echo debate awhile back were I cited the abundant evidence for the reptile-mammal transition, with emphasis on the evolution of the mammalian ear ossicles, I got quoted back Gish's famous claim that all reptiles, living or fossil, have at least four bones in the lower jaw and one ear ossicle, whereas all mammals, living or fossil, have a single lower jaw bone (the dentary) and three ossicles, and that there are no intermediates. I knew this was hooey, but had to pull down my copy of _Evolution: Challenge of the Fossil Record_ to see how Gish "maneuvered" his way around the evidence. I discovered that (among other tendentious perambulations) he consistently referred to the primitive mammal _Morganucodon_, which does retain a number of the reptilian bones in the lower jaw (although they're loosely attached and much reduced), as a reptile. He provides the reader no indication that his usage is nonstandard (excepting a quotation which refers to _M._ as a mammal), and all of Gish's references that I was able to check in my own library classified _M._ as a mammal. Gish even attempts to deny _Morganucodon_ a dentary/squamosal joint. Does Gish consider the well developed condyle and glenoid exhibited by this form a superfluous ornamentation developed by the creator for his amusement? But then such speculation assumes that he might have consulted an actual fossil or cast, rather than simply scanning the literature for suitable sound bites. Then there are the cases where creationists assiduously deny that a given form is transitional between categories A and B, but can't agree among themselves (or sometimes, it would seem, even -with- themselves) as to which of the two categories it unambiguously belongs! The classic case of such backhanded attestations to transitional status is _Archaeopteryx_, with Gish insisting that it is "100% bird," whereas a few other creationists have latched onto Fred Hoyle's claim that its simply a dinosaur fossil with hoaxed feather impressions. _Homo erectus_ seems to present particular problems for creationists. Most followers of the crevo debate know that Duane Gish of the ICR has claimed that _erectus_ is an ape, whereas ICR president Henry Morris has declared the form to be human. Admittedly Gish was directing his attention to Asian specimens, whereas Morris was concerned with African specimens, but this does no good as the gross morphology is the same. But then I recently came across a similar example of indecisiveness about the status of _H. erectus_, in this case involving sequential editions of the same book with the same authors! Ronnie Hastings and I gave a presentation for our local skeptics group on the creationist textbook _Of Pandas and People_, by Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon. I gave a simple account of the book's various errors and misrepresentations, along with a more detailed critique of the chapter on biochemical homologies (which _Pandas_ cribbed from Michael Denton's _Evolution: A Theory in Crisis_). I only acquired the second edition of the book in time to quickly confirm that my criticisms applied equally to it. Ronnie, however, had gone through the second edition more thoroughly, and based his presentation on a review of the differences between it and the previous version. One of the more interesting differences concerned _H. erectus_. The first edition strongly (though not unequivocally) favored the view that _H. erectus_ was human. It suggests that: "Perhaps _Homo erectus_ and _Homo sapiens_ are really a single species, and, like Neanderthal man, _Homo erectus_ should be reclassified under _Homo sapiens. It is never wise to be dogmatic about our interpretations; it is especially so here, since the data allow so many interpretations." (p. 112) "_H. erectus_ and _H. sapiens_ are so similar that it is possible to consider them as one human species as shown." (p. 113) The second edition, however, claims, in direct contradiction to the first, that "[_H. erectus_] had significant anatomical differences from modern man that have prevented its classification as _H. sapiens_." (p. 110) The real clincher, however, comes in the conclusion... In this case it is baldly stated, without considering the possibility of alternative "design proponent" interpretations (apparently ignoring both the conclusions of the first edition as well as its caution about "dogmatic ... interpretations"), that: "Design adherents, however, regard _H. erectus_, as well as the other hominids discussed in this section, as little more than apes, and point instead to the abrupt appearance of the culture and patterns of behavior which distinguish man from the apes." (pp. 112-113) * SLMR 2.1a * Evolutionists have longer phylogenies.


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