Tiktaalik makes another gap

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Paleontologists have uncovered yet another specimen in the lineage leading to modern tetrapods, creating more gaps that will need to be filled. It's a Sisyphean job, working as an evolutionist.

tiktaalik_sm.jpg

This creature is called Tiktaalik roseae, and it was discovered in a project that was specifically launched to find a predicted intermediate form between a distinctly fish-like organism, Panderichthys, and the distinctly tetrapod-like organisms, Acanthostega and Ichthyostega. From the review article by Ahlberg and Clack, we get this summary of Tiktaalik's importance:

First, it demonstrates the predictive capacity of palaeontology. The Nunavut field project had the express aim of finding an intermediate between Panderichthys and tetrapods, by searching in sediments from the most probable environment (rivers) and time (early Late Devonian). Second, Tiktaalik adds enormously to our understanding of the fish--tetrapod transition because of its position on the tree and the combination of characters it displays.

Continue reading "Tiktaalik makes another gap" (on Pharyngula)

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There’s a stunning new fossil find that was reported in Nature and discussed on Panda’s Thumb and Pharyngula. Tiktaalik roseae is the name given to the new find. The researchers figured out where to look for an intermediate fossil between ... Read More

66 Comments

So much for the claim that evolution isn’t science because (among other things) it “doesn’t make predictions”. It’s just too bad that Ahlberg & Clack didn’t explicitly refer to the “predictive capacity of evolutionary theory”.

Things brings up a point I’ve been thinking about.

Is there a place on TO that details a history of predictions that have been made and tested/fulfilled within the ToE?

I must have missed it if there is one, if not, it would be a good idea to put one together.

I’d be willing to assist if there is interest.

er, change “things” to “this”

coffee hasn’t kicked in yet

New Fossil Oh boy! Two more gaps to fill! Are they celebrating over at Uncommon Dissent yet? When I read about discoveries like this, I sometimes regret the career choices I made… Randy

Not that ID doesn’t make predictions, too. For instance, ID predicts that any biological system or organism, even those hitherto unsuspected, will look designed. You can take that to the bank!

Amazing!

Not that ID doesn’t make predictions, too…

Didn’t Michael Behe predict that no transitional forms between land mammals and whales would ever be found? And shortly thereafter, guess what scientists discovered? Also, as I recall, Stephen Jay Gould wrote an excellent column on the discovery of these transitional whales.

I saw this on the Channel Four news this evening. Fascinating !

However, I look forward to the creationist reaction to this find. It will be interesting to see what “Kind” of animal this was, according to them. If they label it a land animal then presumably it must have been on the ark along with the dinosaurs !

Mr. Darwin Wrote:

So much for the claim that evolution isn’t science because (among other things) it “doesn’t make predictions”. It’s just too bad that Ahlberg & Clack didn’t explicitly refer to the “predictive capacity of evolutionary theory”.

But would you have predicted such a derived skull relative to the rest of the morphology? The limb bones look even less like a tetrapod’s than Sauripterus’s, a species that isn’t even proposed as “our” direct ancestor. Structure counts more than functional similarity in establishing propinquity, so the fin’s flexibility counts for little. And the less said about the non homologous parietal, squasomal, and frontal skull sutures, the better.

Karen Wrote:

Didn’t Michael Behe predict that no transitional forms between land mammals and whales would ever be found? And shortly thereafter, guess what scientists discovered?

No. That urban legend derived from a misquote by Ken Miller, evolutionist’s resident Christian.

Peter Henderson Wrote:

I saw this on the Channel Four news this evening.

Yes, but was it in focus?

C’mon, Paley, how’d that crow really taste: more like fish or frog legs?

Or just grungy roadkilled bird?

Comment #94951

Posted by Russell on April 5, 2006 02:24 PM (e)

Not that ID doesn’t make predictions, too. For instance, ID predicts that any biological system or organism, even those hitherto unsuspected, will look designed. You can take that to the bank!

LOL. All other scientific theories predict what some future results will be. ID just predicts what it’s followers will say about the results.

The funniest comment I’ve seen about this organism is from kevin drum’s site:

Maybe Santa put it there, to test our faith. Posted by: craigie on April 5, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, and here I was all prepared to write “Cue Ghost of Paley in 3…2…1…” and the guy beats me to it.

Seriously, those fossils are beautiful, and the way they described the search in Nature was enough to make you green with envy of palaeontologists. All they had to do was frolic around the tropical beauty of Ellesmere Island for a few measly years, the bastards…

The Ghost of Paley Wrote:

But would you have predicted such a derived skull relative to the rest of the morphology?

I’m not seeing how it’s “so derived” in the first place, but why would palaeontologists make a prediction either way? I’m sure they’re familiar with the fact that, say, modern salamanders don’t all have exactly the same skull morphology. Why would morphological diversity be particularly low in the Frasnian?

The limb bones look even less like a tetrapod’s than Sauripterus’s, a species that isn’t even proposed as “our” direct ancestor.

Conveniently, PZ included a limb bone comparison diagram from the paper, so we can see that this is wrong.

Didn’t Michael Behe predict that no transitional forms between land mammals and whales would ever be found? And shortly thereafter, guess what scientists discovered?

No. That urban legend derived from a misquote by Ken Miller, evolutionist’s resident Christian.

Yep. Behe wrote

“…if random evolution is true, there must have been a large number of transitional forms between the Mesonychid and the ancient whale. Where are they? It seems like quite a coincidence that of all the intermediate species that must have existed between Mesonychid and whale, only species that are very similar to the end species have been found.”

which is obviously just an extended haiku, yet Miller interpreted him as actually saying something. How silly of him. He should have known IDers don’t make predictions.

Thank you for that, Anton Mates.

Look, I know there are alot of Christians that understand the fact of evolution. The following comments are not directed at you.

But for those Christians that don’t accept the fact of evolution, why do they all seem to constantly and blantantly lie? Even on this board?

In truth, these anti-science Christians aren’t Christians at all – they are simply liars. Christians do not run around telling lies.

Seriously, those fossils are beautiful, and the way they described the search in Nature was enough to make you green with envy of palaeontologists. All they had to do was frolic around the tropical beauty of Ellesmere Island for a few measly years, the bastards…

LoL. Yeah, tropical paradise, Ellesmere.

Freezing temperatures and high winds limited the amount of time the team could work each day, and the near-constant precipitation prevented the plaster used in the fossil-preservation process from drying.

“And we were always looking over our shoulders for polar bears. We saw lots of their tracks,” Shubin said.

break out the bikinis and margaritas!

OK, Paley, the evil Darwinists are all wrong about this. Note that the creature’s tail is still to be discovered. Please describe what the scientific theory of ID predicts about this particular structure.

Actually, how about that scientific theory of ID to start off with?

In truth, these anti-science Christians aren’t Christians at all — they are simply liars. Christians do not run around telling lies.

This is what got me into the creation/evolution stuff in the first place. Somewhere I have one of those little pocket notebooks with the notes I took at that YEC lecture in February, 1986. The antievolution movement’s pervasive reliance on propagating falsehoods is not compatible with Christian principles and does harm to our faith.

XOVER Wrote:

In truth, these anti-science Christians aren’t Christians at all — they are simply liars.

No true Scotsman.

Christians do not run around telling lies.

In my experience, middle-of-the-road Evangelicals lie through their teeth. I’ve heard it all: “Isaac Newton was a Christian” (as Evangelicals define the term), “Einstein believed in God” (as Evangelicals define the term), “Magna Carta quotes the Bible”, “Christianity is the philosophical basis of science”, “Christianity is the philosophical basis of democracy”, “the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation”, “George Washington was a Christian”, “Thomas Jefferson was a Christian”, “there is more historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth than for Julius Caesar”, “there were five hundred witnesses to the Resurrection”, “nobody has ever died for a lie”, “there are no errors in the Bible”, “the existence of God has been proved”, “Evolution is religion”, “Intelligent Design is science”, …

And that’s just the Evangelicals! The Catholics have their own stack of lies: “the entire history of the Church has been a history of holiness”, “no pope has ever contradicted another”, “the sun orbits the earth”, “ethanol becomes haemoglobin at the words of consecration”, …

Maybe your experience has been different, but I have met hundreds of Christians in person and I have only ever known them to lie knowingly and willfully about their religion.

Maybe your experience has been different, but I have met hundreds of Christians in person and I have only ever known them to lie knowingly and willfully about their religion.

*pokes buddha on shoulder*

uh, you might want to spend more time with christians who don’t lie all the time, like the gentleman who posted just before you did.

In well over a year, I’ve never seen Wes lie about anything.

Don’t overgeneneralize.

Sir_Toejam wrote:

uh, you might want to spend more time with christians who don’t lie all the time, like the gentleman who posted just before you did.

In well over a year, I’ve never seen Wes lie about anything.

Don’t overgeneneralize.

Actually, I believe the generalization was “Christians do not run around telling lies,” which Buddha kindly corrected. “Not lying” cannot be said to be a pervasively christian trait, however honest some particular christians may be. As he rightly pointed out, the comment was nothing more than an invocation of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.

while he may have been correcting one overgeneralization, he immediately followed it with another, as his last sentence clearly implies.

er, which is why i quoted it.

there, now that all the overgeneralizations have been dealt with…

I’m porting a comment here that I put up on Pharyngula:

but aren’t you really saying that T has destroyed the A-B gap and created two new but smaller gaps (A-T; T-B) in its place?

Obviously for antievolution purposes each individual fossil’s life span occupies an entirely negligible amount of time, and is therefore best represented as a point. Putting a point between two other points on a line does not change the distance between the original two points. In other words, it is an immutable law of nature that in paleontology, total gap-ness is conserved in the fossil record.

Would you like a smiley with that?

Ah, I see my old friend Paley is back offering a world of obfuscation.

But would you have predicted such a derived skull relative to the rest of the morphology?

First, the skull roof and proportions are the most derived aspect of the skull. We haven’t seen the braincase yet, but this animal’s similarity to Panderichthys and what little I can see in the pics suggest it is quite fish-like in that respect.

Moreover, the shoulder girdle is more tetrapod-like than any other known fish, except maybe Panderichthys.

The limb bones look even less like a tetrapod’s than Sauripterus’s,

Then you haven’t looked very carefully at either Tiktaalik, Sauripterus, or a tetrapod. I happen to have examined all three directly. In fact, I was able to hold the three together at the same time in the same room. The individual bones of the fin and girdle skeleton of Sauripterus are not very tetrapod-like when one looks at Tiktaalik. If we start from the shoulder, T. and tetrapods have a large, plate-like scapulocoracoid that forms much of the ventral margin of the shoulder girdle. In Sauripterus and other standard fishes, the scapulocoracoid is a relatively small element that fuses to the inside face of the cleithrum (=”shoulder blade”). Tiktaalik presents an intermediate condition where the dermal shoulder blad extends over more of the lateral face of the scapulocoracoid.

The humerus of Sauripterus is a squat, bulbous element, trimmed by a large, flat flange of the entepicondyle. This flange just out perpendicular to the shaft of the humerus, whereas in tetrapods and Tiktaalik, this flange is shaped quite differently and is co-planar with the flattened, elongate humerus.

The end of the humerus in all these taxa has a surface for the attachment of the radius and unla. In fishes, including Sauripterus, this joint surface on the humerus tends to be a single surface. In Tiktaalik and most tetrapods, these are two separate surfaces.

In terms of pattern, Sauripterus and Tiktaalik are essentially the same. In terms of shape and discrete morphological characters, Tiktaalik is way more tetrapod-like than Saurpiterus.

The media has somewhat overblown the issue about the radials/digits. The information that Tiktaalik gives us is about the issue of novelty. This new material suggests that digits arose as elaborations of radials of the fin. This was unclear because the condition seen in animals such as Eusthenopteron suggested that radials were reduced in number. Similarly, we never had a very complete or reliable picture of the fin of Panderichthys and nothing was known about what lay under the fin rays. So, we were not sure about the status of radial elements at this point in phylogeny. Tiktaalik informs this question, but does not entirely solve it. It’s welcome news nonetheless.

a species that isn’t even proposed as “our” direct ancestor.

Can you name a species that has been proposed as our direct ancestor? Neither Sauripterus nor Tiktaalik are proposed to be our ancestor.

Structure counts more than functional similarity in establishing propinquity, so the fin’s flexibility counts for little.

Right, so you should read the damn papers (including the supplementary files) before writing nonsense like this.

And the less said about the non homologous parietal, squasomal, and frontal skull sutures, the better.

Excuse me? This doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

I just want to add to what I said here, because it’s bound to be obfuscated:

Martin Wrote:

In terms of pattern, Sauripterus and Tiktaalik are essentially the same. In terms of shape and discrete morphological characters, Tiktaalik is way more tetrapod-like than Saurpiterus.

Tiktaalik and Sauripterus reflect what is essentially an elaborated version of the general sarcopterygian condition. All sarcopterygians have radial elements. Those of Sauripterus are numerous and elongate. Those of Eusthenopteron are fewer and, in the case of posterior ones, fused to the main elements of the fin skeleton. Tiktaalik reflects what is essentially a “fragmented” version of the Eusthenopteron-type fin.

We know based on other taxa from inside and outside the tetrapod stem-lineage, that the fin skeleton of Eusthenopteron presents a pattern essentially primitive for this part of the tree. That is, it is likely that somewhere in the ancestry of tetrapods was a fin like that of Eusthenopteron. Thus Sauripterus and Tiktaalik are both exhibiting similar variations on essentially the same ancestral “ground plan”.

Re. anti-evolution Christians and telling lies:I always check the AIG website every day just to see what lies about science they have on it. For example this week there’s a lot on astronomy in their media section. Some of their statements really mystify me ! I have successfully completed the Open University astronomy course S 283 so I reckon I know a bit about the formation of the Solar System and stellar evolution etc. Statements from Mr Ham like: “stars they’re younger than the Earth” are just nonsense. Either Ham doesn’t know anything about astronomy or he is lying. There is no scientific evidence that stars (including the sun) are younger than the Earth. Today’s answers with Ken Ham states “Jupiter’s moons they confirm creation” How ? Or another one I’ve heard in the past “Extra solar planets they confirm creation” While the discovery of the so called “Hot Jupiter’s” came as a surprise to astronomers it certainly did not have any spiritual aspect to it. Rather, it opened up the possibility of planetary migration, something which astronomers had, up until now, not considered. I suppose someone with a limited knowledge of astronomy could be fooled by Ham and co. into thinking there is evidence of creation in astronomy, but this is one scientific field which really confirms an old Earth and a much older Universe.

As for Isaac Newton, he’s down on their website as a scientist who believed in creation. I wonder if AIG realise that for years he dabbled in alchemy and from what I’ve heard denied the trinity ?

In my opinion YEC’s are either liars or else they are seriously deluded. If they are the latter, then they are unfortunately deluding a lot of other very sincere Christians as well.

As I’ve stated in the past , I have no doubt something will appear on the AIG website about this fossil in the next few days. It will be interesting to see what their views are !

Dang, Martin, you didn’t even let GoP get off the ground. Now you’ve forced him to go Googletrawl papers on fossil fish or molecular trees or possibly woodworking and come back with randomly selected quotes that somehow contradict what you said.

Anyway, he never suggested that Tiktaalik’s limb bones weren’t tetrapod-like. That’s just, um, an urban legend. Funny how those things get started.

Obviously for antievolution purposes each individual fossil’s life span occupies an entirely negligible amount of time, and is therefore best represented as a point. Putting a point between two other points on a line does not change the distance between the original two points. In other words, it is an immutable law of nature that in paleontology, total gap-ness is conserved in the fossil record.

Would you like a smiley with that?

I call this “Gish’s Law” – “The number of missing links is directly proportional to the number of known transitioanl fossils”.

In other words, the more transitions we have, the more Gish will want to see.

I’m pleased to see this is a Canadian find, if only to atone for that stupidity on the part of SSHRC. Maybe the reviewers there should have talked to the paleontologists on this find …

Some what of topic but i just had to post this

Biblical parks may get tax deal

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, says the bill really only applies to Holy Land Experience and said it would be difficult for another park to meet the “stiffly-worded” criteria.

Yet, when a Pensacola park dedicated to creationism learned of the Webster bill Tuesday it promptly sent an emissary to Webster’s office to find out how it could qualify for the same tax break.

Dinosaur Adventure Land, devoted to demonstrating that the Bible proves dinosaurs and humans coexisted, displays pages from ancient Bibles and “biblical accounts of dinosaurs,” said Creation Science Evangelism founder Kent Hovind, who also goes by “Dr. Dino.”

Dinosaur Adventure Land is a nonprofit but is organized under a different section of the IRS code than Holy Land Experience. A director with Creation Science Evangelism said the group won’t change its IRS designation, but will see about getting the Webster bill tweaked to include it too.

I see that Martin and Mr. Mates have replied to my critique. They make several good points, but as I will show later, they do not overturn by contention that Tiktaalik can not be seen as an intermediate on structural grounds; instead, it falsifies the very hypothesis that it was meant to support. More later.

Dan spouted …

Without a living specimen, can scientists know how a creature lived in the environment? Can we know the diet or the movements of the creature? Without preserved soft-tissue, can we determine what the internal organs looked like? The answer to all of these questions (and more) is a resounding “no.”

Take a course in comparative anatomy. Give a key bone to a specialist and see if they can determine mode of movement. Give a mammologist a set of teeth and ask them for the diet of the ‘unknown’ mammal. Your level of ignorance about form and function is astounding.

Why did these scientists set out to discover a missing link? Maybe it had something to do with the statement from Daeschler’s team that the “origin of major tetrapod features has remained obscure for lack of fossils that document the sequence of evolutionary changes” (440:757). Maybe because there was such a huge gap in the evolutionary fossil record in getting creatures onto the land. Or maybe it was because evolutionists realized just how many holes had been poked into their beloved theory in the past few years—necessitating a major shoring up.

So scientists should not be looking for new information? We shouldn’t be attempting to fill in the gaps of our knowledge? What the hell do you think science is? These guys did not spend thousands of research dollars with the goal of finding another fossil to wave in the faces of fundies. They were doing it for the sheer pleasure of being scientists. If you don’t like how its done, feel free to give up all that science has brought you.

PS: I’m going to give a preemptive “Go away troll” statement as a prediction on your future response.

Vandalhooch

Dan Wrote:

So let me get this straight. It possesses characteristics that are very much like a fish, and yet all of the media outlets act like this creature was out walking on the land?!

I think I’m about to blow your mind.

Those mudskippers are cute little guys, aren’t they? :)

And then there are eels. I’ve seen longfinned eels (Anguilla dieffenbachii) wriggling across the land. They are reputed to move quite a distance between waterbodies, usually over dew-wet grass. They wriggle rather than walk though. Slimy buggers.

Yeah, but apparently they all violate the laws of nature or transgress against the Word of God somehow. Someone should let them know, maybe they’ll stay in the water where they belong.

Re “They are reputed to move quite a distance between waterbodies, usually over dew-wet grass. “

Without violating the SLoT??? :)

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on April 5, 2006 1:25 PM.

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