The Mosasaur and the missing link


A new fossil mosasaur, one of a group of non-dinosaurian reptiles that return to marine existence, has been found by an amateur fossil hunter (see? Science can be done by non-professionals) near Dallas Texas, appropriately called Dallasaurus turneri after the location and discoverer Van Turner who found it 16 years ago.

This fossil is interesting because it is one of your classical “missing links”. Mosasaurs, which ended up 40 feet long (12m) at the end of the Cretaceous when they and dinosaurs and a whole lot of other life went extinct from a bolide impact, evolved fins from their limbs, and many of the primitive mosasaurs had partial limbs/fins.

D turneri, however, has the complete set of limbs it shared with its reptilian ancestors and cousins. This is interesting for mosasaur specialists of course, but it also allows me an opportunity to talk about two often-misunderstood terms in evolution - “missing link” and “primitive”.

Continue reading “The Mosasaur and the missing link” on Evolving Thoughts


Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 3, column 2, byte 359 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/ line 187

Hmm, it would seem my above attempt to employ the /sarcasm tag only resulted in an upset internet, so I’ll try again.

This is clearly yet another lie from the fundamentalist darwinian superstitionists. This is just more evidence of God’s created kinds. Trying to explain this as some sort of missing link transitional form only creates two new holes to fill. Explaining it as a newly discovered kinds answers the question completely. My limited understanding of Occam’s Razor compels me to believe this makes ‘kinds’ the correct explanation.


Your explanation of the term primitive was very insightful, and I’ll be sure to refer to your post when I next see it misused.

Trying to explain this as some sort of missing link transitional form only creates two new holes to fill.

Gish’s Law —– the number of missing transitional fossils is directly proportional to the number we already have.


The more transitional fossils we have, the more Gish will want to see.

If we have A and E, and find C, Gish will now want to see B and D.

And so on and so on and so on.

Ad infinitum.

Do you know what the difference is between a religious belief and a scientific belief?

Dont ask me…Im religious

Seems that some people will only accept an actual family tree going back billions of generations to the dawn of time itself. This is stretching genealogy a bit far. Since I can only trace my family tree back to my great-grandparents and there are big gaps between them and Adam and Eve doesn’t this raise doubts about creation?

Tiax wrote This is just more evidence of God’s created kinds.

Your logic is lost on me. Why would it be evidence for creation?

and many of the primitive mosasaurs had partial limbs/fins

This seems to point to evolution, unless your creator mucked it up. Oh, he used to be indecisive, but now he is not sure anymore? Could he not decide on limbs or fins? Why would he make such a deliberate mistake, to confuse the scientists?

I’d just like to add that mosasaurs are not merely a type of non-dinosaurian reptile; they are specifically a clade of honest-to-goodness lizards (i.e., members of Squamata). So while it is inaccurate to refer to dinosaurs or ichthyosaurs or pterosaurs as giant land- or sea- or flying-lizards, it is entirely accurate to refer to mosasaurs as “marine lizards.”

Picky, but the “Great chain of being” is a lot older than Pope. Tillyard (who’s still an entertaining read) wrote in 1943 that “The eighteenth century inherited the idea of a great chain of being, but, crassly trying to rationalise a glorious product of the imagination, ended by making it ridiculous and hence unacceptable in any form” [The Elizabethan World Picture]

Except to some, maybe.

Which is why Hennig used “plesiomorphic” and “apomorphic.” “Ancestral” and “derived” are also good alternatives. The interested-but-not-yet-informed individual will ask for the correct meaning of the techincal term, and the dishonest creationist will find them more difficult to misrepresent. YMMV, of course.

fusilier James 2:24

So. Trying to infer evolution from evidence again I see. WHen will you darn scientists just give up and admit that science is all just a bunch of lucky guesses?

The granddaddy of all prehistoric monsters was the so-called Maastrich animal whose remains were dug up in 1780. Originally thought to be a whale or perhaps a huge crocodile, Adriaan Camper identified the creature as an “unknown Species of Saurian reptile” in 1800. It was, in fact, a mosasaur. (Details in Martin S.J. Rudwick’s new book Bursing the Limits of Time.) Mosasaurs have played a distinguished role in the history of paleontology.

Another Ct reptile from last week:

The fossilised remains of a crocodile that ruled the oceans 140 million years ago have been discovered in Patagonia.[…]/4424734.stm[…]d=2258662005 “Dinosaur dung overthrows … evolution” Interesting what you can do with a little creative editing. I should write for the DIscovery Institute

If mosasaurs evolved from lizards, WHY ARE THERE STILL LIZARDS?

VKW Wrote:

If mosasaurs evolved from lizards, WHY ARE THERE STILL LIZARDS?

The lizards from which mosasaurs evolved are not the same as the lizards of today.

Leaving your irony meters deactivated can be deceiving when it comes to the comments on this thread!

VKW Wrote:

If mosasaurs evolved from lizards, WHY ARE THERE STILL LIZARDS?

Tiax Wrote:

The lizards from which mosasaurs evolved are not the same as the lizards of today.

Tiax, I think that VKW is quite aware of that. He is making fun of the creationist and the “why are there still apes” bit which comes up fairly often.

My mistake.

Just goes to prove that well-written sarcasm is indistinguishable from creationism.

Regarding Michael Hopkins #58520: Dont confuse mesasaurs with mosasaurs. Mesasaurs were small crocodilian-like anapsid reptiles of about 300 million years ago. Their fossils have been found on the east coast of So. America and the west coast of Africa. This was one of the first tantalizing clues that eventually led to the plate techtonic theory of continental drift. Jim Harrison #58655: I was always under the impression that the first person to recognise what a mosasaur really represented was George Cuvier who would have preceded Adrian Camper. The word mosasaur comes from the Meuse river in France. Is this not correct?

Pro from Dover: Cuvier was in correspondence with Camper and eventually came around to his conclusion that the mosasaur was a lizard. Camper’s priority is clear from their letters and Camper’s paper “Ossemens fossiles a Maerstrict” (1800). Cuvier’s paper on the mosasaur, “Grand animal fossile de Maestricht” (1808) also acknowledged his debt to Camper. Footnotes courtesy of Rudwick.

Cuvier’s fame was so great that he tended to be credited with discoveries that had actually been made by one of his many coworkers–a familiar pattern. The plague bacillus used to be called Pasteurella pestis instead of Yersinia pestis because Yersin isolated it while working at Pasteur’s institute.

The mosasaur is indeed named for the Meuse (Maas in Dutch). Neither Camper nor Cuvier used the name.

the pro from dover: Dont confuse mesasaurs with mosasaurs

I’m waiting for discovery of the misosaur, though I will concede that lizards made from fermented soy paste are difficult to fossilize. They were, however, quite compatible with aviating pasta - unlike the even harder-to-find ancestor of early mammals, the mousasaur.

Gav: I didn’t say that the Great Chain was due to Pope, but that it had been so named (by E. O. Lovejoy in 1936) after Pope’s Essay on Man. Prior to this it had no single name apart from the “scala naturae”.

fusilier: I was deliberately not using Hennig’s terms, which I find extremely clear but others seem to have trouble with…

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by John S. Wilkins published on November 17, 2005 10:41 PM. was the previous entry in this blog.

Breaking news: Darwin appears in holy frying pan! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter