Geochelone nigra

| 21 Comments
GiantTortoise.JPG

Geochelone nigra — Galápagos tortoise in the wild. Note especially the modified carapace, which allows it to fully extend its neck.

21 Comments

Looks like a Behemoth to me.

Is it turtles (well, tortoises) all the way down after all?

Off Topic, today’s Science magazine contains Michael Ruse’s review of Steven Fullers book Dissent Over Descent. Here’s the link to the full article (supscription required):

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conte[…]/322/5898/47

Here’s a taste:

..let me go to the heart of Fuller’s case against Darwinian evolutionary theory and for IDT–for his is as much a negative critique of the opposition as a positive defense of his own beliefs. Fuller feels that Charles Darwin failed to make the case for his mechanism of natural selection. Darwin did not give a cause for evolution. He certainly did not unify the field. At most he gave lists of facts. Moreover, today if we feel that advance has been made, it is primarily in the molecular field, and this owes little or nothing to traditional evolutionary thought. At best Darwinism is a kind of tarted-up natural theology and, this being so, why not IDT?

The important thing is that all of this is completely wrong and is backed by no sound scholarship whatsoever…

Ecotourism A couple of years ago, I traveled to the Galapagos Islands, where I learned I was an ecotourist and took this picture. I was impressed by the steps Ecuador had taken to preserve the islands - limiting tourism to a fixed number of people per year, requiring guided tours only, providing walkways where necessary to keep people off delicate ecosystems, and so on. But our guide noted that the towns, though in principle they had fixed boundaries, were exploding in population as Ecuadoreans migrated to the islands to take advantage of the job opportunities afforded by ecotourism. The guide’s prognosis was that the government had only put off the destruction of the islands’ ecosystems by a few decades at most. Since my trip, I have read that the population has increased around protected areas elsewhere and similarly threatens those areas. It made me wonder whether ecotourism was not just another excuse that the middle class uses to keep doing what it wants to do. (And that is not to mention the fossil fuel I used to get there.) I wonder if anyone has any more-knowledgeable comments about ecotourism and its ramifications.

Not so off topic - new dinosaur found! -

http://car54.wordpress.com/2008/10/[…]w-big-is-it/

Can anyone answer my question? Does it say somewhere the size of the thing?

I’m really enjoying these random pictures of animals. But I’m a bit confused- how do they relate to evolution and the problems with ID? Are they just meant to represent various creatures that have evolved?

Jedidiah Palosaari said:

I’m really enjoying these random pictures of animals. But I’m a bit confused- how do they relate to evolution and the problems with ID? Are they just meant to represent various creatures that have evolved?

Not everything here directly revolves around attacking Intelligent Design Theory or Creationism, though, posts like these indirectly point out how proponents of Intelligent Design Theory or Creationism never bother to explain why animals have the features they do beyond the token “DESIGNER/GODDIDIT” and “THE BIBLE SAID SO SO THERE

These posts related directly, if subtly to evolution, in that they demonstrate the various adaptions animals have developed, such as the modified opening of the Galapagos tortoise’s carapace that allows its neck to extend fully, so it can reach foliage from low branches.

Eric,

Thanks for the post. I met Micheal Ruse two days ago when he came to my university to have a debate about ID. I found him to be very intelligent and likeable. He really won the debate quite handily, IMHO. He didn’t have much good to say about Dawkins, but then again, there is a lot of that going around.

Like the rhinos, beautiful in their ponderous way.

Stanton said:

These posts related directly, if subtly to evolution, in that they demonstrate the various adaptions animals have developed, such as the modified opening of the Galapagos tortoise’s carapace that allows its neck to extend fully, so it can reach foliage from low branches.

Ultimately evo science is all about the biology, and the biology is all about the living things. I hope I don’t sound condescending if I say that if PT was all about complaining about ID, it would be not much more than a mirror image of the Other Side. After all … they haven’t GOT anything but complaints.

And that said … let’s see more animals. I’m tweaking and uploading five pix a day from this year to my website, a few hundred of them of such things, almost done, will link in when I am. I’m proud of some of the “bug” pix – bugs are a pain to shoot well.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

David Stanton said:

I met Michael Ruse two days ago when he came to my university to have a debate about ID.

Any online summaries of the debate? Who was on the Other Side?

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Rarely delurk, here, but having been a zoological curator at a sizable zoo(mostly herpetology but also aquatics and pachyderms)for nearly 20 years, I appreciate the animal pictures and particularly this one. We had a large group Galapagos tortoises and they are remarkable animals. Their behavior is much more subtle and complex than most people realize. 2 observations and 1 zoo story - First, it seems to me any picture of an animal, or any living thing really, can facilitate an exposition on some pertinent aspect of evolution and yet another demonstration of the emptiness of ID. Second, ecotourism is important but it must be carefully managed and limited when necessary to protect the ecosystem. There are good and bad examples. Ecuador has done comparatively well. One of my tasks, as a curator, was to interpret and present aspects of biology, natural history and conservation to our visitors. I occasionally led eco trips to the Amazon and Galapagos for the zoo(now that’s a perk!). It was my experience, that being able to interpret what the travelers were experiencing and talk to them about the importance of natural history and conservation often had a profound effect on them. That’s a tiny drop in the bucket but a convert is a convert. Short zoo story - A problem with managing Galapagos tortoises in zoos is their great longevity. Most tortoises came into zoos so long ago documentation of origin for many tortoises was lost or never existed(San Diego and Brownsville, TX zoos notable exceptions). There are 11 living subspecies of Galapagos tortoise but no workable key to determine subspecies exists. If an effective breeding program is to be developed for potential reintroduction its important that individuals of the same subspecies be paired. Most zoos could only guess at what they had. A solution to this problem appeared in the 90’s - mitochondrial DNA fingerprinting. Zoos around the world, cooperating with a very dedicated geneticist, were able to fingerprint the entire captive population(all that could be found)as well as all of the wild populations. Zoos now have a powerful tool to ensure proper pairings for breeding. David

David Grow Wrote:

First, it seems to me any picture of an animal, or any living thing really, can facilitate an exposition on some pertinent aspect of evolution and yet another demonstration of the emptiness of ID.

I’d like to agree with that, but sadly most people don’t think that way. They’ll think “How can that creature pop up out of the primordial slime without a designer?” and not “Look at the nested hierarchy, anatomical and molecular; how can it not be evolution?”

I could be wrong, but I really think that the best way to show the emptiness of ID to fence sitters and those who just haven’t given it much thought is to keep bugging IDers to say what the designer did, when and how. Their constant evasion from such basic questions about their “theory”, and mandatory dependence on the same old misrepresentations of evolution should make the more open-minded audiences suspicious of ID, even if they unaware that the misrepresentations have been thoroughly refuted.

Frank J said:

I’d like to agree with that, but sadly most people don’t think that way. They’ll think “How can that creature pop up out of the primordial slime without a designer?” and not “Look at the nested hierarchy, anatomical and molecular; how can it not be evolution?”

Maybe there’s another angle on this? One of the primary features of the Darwin-bashers is their lack of intellectual curiosity. Read their stuff and all it amounts to is complaints about evo science – I was just reading a new blog entry by O’Leary, make that shrill complaints. They have no interest in the details of how things work except to the extent of nit-picking at them.

Once people get honestly interested in how the natural world works, the Darwin-bashers have lost their hold on them. I really like these WALKING WITH DINOSAURS type computer-graphics videos; they may be cheesy in some ways, but every kid who gets intrigued enough in them to read up more on the subject is not going to find the least thing interesting about it in Darwin-bashing tracts – they’ll get a big turn-off instead, people who sound hot under the collar wagging a finger at them.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

iml8 Wrote:

One of the primary features of the Darwin-bashers is their lack of intellectual curiosity. Read their stuff and all it amounts to is complaints about evo science – I was just reading a new blog entry by O’Leary, make that shrill complaints. They have no interest in the details of how things work except to the extent of nit-picking at them.

As for the professional Darwin-bashers like O’Leary, even if they do personally have intellectual curiosity, they can’t show it because their prior commitment is to mislead the “masses.” They exploit the fact that most people, even many (most?) who disagree with them, do not have the time or interest to put their mined data and quotes in their proper context.

Hi Matt,

I think it is more than an excuse for happy vacationers. It certainly is better than a completely open tourism policy with swarms of people running around stepping on blue footed boobies. I especially like that they require everyone be accompanied by a tour guide at all times. I was lucky enough to visit there several years ago and our guide was always reminding us about how we can observe without disturbing things too much. In any case, allowing any tourism at all (let alone the fishing and such done by the Ecuadorians) will eventually lead to some degradation, but at least they’re slowing the process way down.

Frank J said:

I could be wrong, but I really think that the best way to show the emptiness of ID to fence sitters and those who just haven’t given it much thought is to keep bugging IDers to say what the designer did, when and how. Their constant evasion from such basic questions about their “theory”, and mandatory dependence on the same old misrepresentations of evolution should make the more open-minded audiences suspicious of ID, even if they unaware that the misrepresentations have been thoroughly refuted.

Indeed. I’m convinced the place where this can be most exploited is in their general disinterest in the designer, falling behind that lame claim that their job is not to inquire into its nature. The comparison of this to how scientists would act if we actually found evidence of alien seeding of DNA on this planet (say a left-behind tricorder with descriptions of the process), clarifys it for anyone with even a slightly open mind. The notion of an ID scientist not passionately interested in the nature of the designer is absurd on its face.

Science Avenger said:

The comparison of this to how scientists would act if we actually found evidence of alien seeding of DNA on this planet (say a left-behind tricorder with descriptions of the process), clarifies it for anyone with even a slightly open mind.

An even closer example would be SETI. Now who would think that if we picked up a radio or laser signal that seemed to be artificial, the sum of our interest would be analyze whether it was artificial or not? When contact with an alien civilization would be one of the top ten landmarks of human history.

And then the coyness that it might be of supernatural origin is bogus on the other hand, since that would be proclaiming that there is no scientific explanation. Pile on this the fact that there’s zero doubt that’s what they really mean, and this becomes an evasion along the lines of a gangster in a pinstriped suit up in front of the grand jury proclaiming that he is “just a legitimate businessman.”

But then again … in either case, they’ve got to say that, don’t they?

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Science Avenger Wrote:

Indeed. I’m convinced the place where this can be most exploited is in their general disinterest in the designer, falling behind that lame claim that their job is not to inquire into its nature. The comparison of this to how scientists would act if we actually found evidence of alien seeding of DNA on this planet (say a left-behind tricorder with descriptions of the process), clarifys it for anyone with even a slightly open mind. The notion of an ID scientist not passionately interested in the nature of the designer is absurd on its face.

iml8 Wrote:

An even closer example would be SETI.

Closer still is archaeology and forensics, where they have actually found designers, albeit using prior knowledge of similar designers, which ID lacks. But after finding such designers they keep going and determine what the designers did, when and how. Imagine if they did what IDers do, and stopped when they think they found design and just advertised it incessantly.

What bothers me as much as ID’s evasion, though, is when critics take the bait and obsess over the designer’s identity (“ID sneaks in God”) instead of zeroing in on the whats whens and hows of design actuation, and how IDers evade those questions.

David, I’d also be interested to learn more about this debate.

eric

iml8 said:

David Stanton said:

I met Michael Ruse two days ago when he came to my university to have a debate about ID.

Any online summaries of the debate? Who was on the Other Side?

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Speaking of ecotourism, here is something I just got from the LA Times:

Growth in population and tourism contaminate the islands’ environment with alien species and pollution. But some say tourists, not citizens, should be kept out.

By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer October 8, 2008

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR – A few weeks ago, 19 Ecuadorean citizens detained on these world-renowned islands were marched onto a plane and sent back to the continent under armed guard. Their crime? Illegal migration.

So far this year, the government has expelled 1,000 of its citizens from the Galapagos – a living laboratory of unique animal and plant species – who were there without residency and work permits. It has also “normalized” 2,000 others, in effect giving most of them a year to leave.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on October 3, 2008 12:00 PM.

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