Digit numbering and limb development


Answers in Genesis has evolutionary biology on the run now. In an article from 2002, Ostrich eggs break dino-to-bird theory, they explain that development shows that evolution is all wrong, since developmental pathways in different animals are completely different, and can't possibly be the result of gradual transformations.

The first piece of evidence against evolution is the old avian digit problem. Birds couldn't have evolved from dinosaurs, because they have the wrong finger order!

The research conclusively showed that only digits two, three and four (corresponding to our index, middle and ring fingers) develop in birds. This contrasts with dinosaur hands that developed from digits one, two and three. Feduccia pointed out:
‘This creates a new problem for those who insist that dinosaurs were ancestors of modern birds. How can a bird hand, for example, with digits two, three and four evolve from a dinosaur hand that has only digits one, two and three? That would be almost impossible.'

The second problem is that frogs and people develop hands in completely different ways, ways that are even more different than the order of the digits.

This is not the only example where superficially homologous structures actually develop in totally different ways. One of the most commonly argued proofs of evolution is the pentadactyl limb pattern, i.e. the five-digit limbs found in amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. However, they develop in a completely different manner in amphibians and the other groups. To illustrate, the human embryo develops a thickening on the limb tip called the AER (apical ectodermal ridge), then programmed cell death (apoptosis) divides the AER into five regions that then develop into digits (fingers and toes). By contrast, in frogs, the digits grow outwards from buds as cells divide (see diagram, right).

Dang. I might as well hang it up right now. There is no possible way around these intractable differences. Take me, Jesus, I have seen the ligh…oh, wait a minute. That isn't right. It looks to me like Jonathan Sarfati is just hopelessly confused on the first problem (I can't really blame him, though—it is a complicated issue that has been the subject of scientific arguments for two centuries), and is simply completely wrong on the second (and that one I do blame him for. Tsk, tsk.)

Continue reading "Digit numbering and limb development" (on Pharyngula)


I just wanted to say that this is a great post. I never understood the bird digit controversy thing until now. I’d tell you to write a book, PZ, but that would probably decrease your blogging, which would be bad…

No, PZ just needs to keep blogging and produce a book of collected posts.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on September 7, 2004 11:53 AM.

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