“The Monkey’s Voyage” Will Take You on a Voyage Through a Biogeographic Revolution

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de_Queiroz_2014_Monkeys_Voyage.pngNote: this is an off-the-cuff review that I wrote while experiencing jet-lag induced insomnia (I am in Canberra, Australia, to give a workshop on BioGeoBEARS at the 2014 meeting of the International Biogeography Society at Australia National University). I have a more formal review in preparation for the Reports of the National Center for Science Education.

Review of: de Queiroz, Alan (2014). The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life. Basic Books: New York, pp. 1-348. http://themonkeysvoyage.com/ - Amazon Link

Today, a book is coming out that is destined to become a classic of science writing. Normally, popular science books popularize well-established science. The research being popularized may be decades or centuries old. Certainly popularization of such material is important, but I found that for me, the appeal of such works dropped off as I matured as a scientist. There are only so many times you can read about Darwin and the Beagle, or Laplace and the hypothesis he had no need of, or the sequence from Mendel to Watson and Crick, before you feel like you’ve heard it all before and it ceases to become interesting.

Alan de Queiroz is doing something different. He is popularizing an active scientific controversy in biogeography. Biogeography is the science of where species live and how they got there. The biogeographical controversy is termed “dispersal versus vicariance,” and it runs long and deep. Understanding what the controversy is about, and why anyone would care, takes a little bit of background.

Background: The History of Historical Biogeography

Basically, the issue is this: Darwin and Wallace’s discovery of evolution clarified a great many puzzles in biogeography. They pointed out that, if it is true that new species came about by descent with modification of older species, then we can understand many biogeographical phenomena that were quite puzzling under the paradigm that God specially created the species. For example, volcanic islands far from continents are (natively) devoid of amphibians, terrestrial mammals, earthworms, and many other organisms common on continents. If the deity were poofing species into existence in appropriate habitats, there seems to be no particular reason for Him to have excluded volcanic islands. However, on the theory of evolution, we have a ready explanation – anything that lives on remote volcanic islands had to get itself there by some physical means, some time after the volcano erupted out of the ocean. Organisms that can float in saltwater for long periods of time (tortoises, coconuts) are commonly found on such islands, as are birds and organisms that hitch rides on them. But organisms with poor abilities to disperse over salt water – such as as worms and amphibians – are not on those islands, because they could never get there.

Descent with modification also explains why species in the same genus tend to cluster on the globe, rather than being evenly distributed everywhere. Quite often, this geographical clustering occurs irrespective of quite different environments – many of the desert flowers in California look like modified versions of nearby flowers of grasslands and chaparral. Deserts on different continents tend to be populated by succulents related to other plants on the same continents – cacti are ubiquitous in the deserts of North and South America, but there are no native cactus in Africa or Asia (there is one peculiar bird-dispersed form in Madagascar).

This is all well and good, but in solving many puzzles, descent with modification created some new ones. In particular, there are organisms on the globe that are obviously related, and living on continents, but are on opposite sides of oceans. Some of the famous ones are the ratite birds of the Southern Hemisphere (ostriches, rheas, kiwis, the extinct moas of New Zealand and Elephant Birds of Madagascar, etc.), and the Southern Beeches of the genus Nothofagus, distributed in temperate forests in South America, New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia, and New Guinea. The debate over the biogeography of these clades extends back to Darwin and his contemporaries. Darwin was an advocate of dispersalism, arguing that on rare occasions, oceans could be crossed by poor dispersers – perhaps, for example, if some dirt and seeds fell on a glacier, and the glacier calved off an iceberg, and the iceberg crossed the ocean and ended up melting on a foreign beach…can it be said that such a thing is impossible? Hooker, on the other hand, favored “land bridges” as an explanation for close cross-ocean similarities, especially when the similarities extended to whole floras. The idea here is that two regions with similar floras used to be contiguous, and then were broken up by environmental change forming a barrier – for example, the sinking of a land bridge. Contiguous ranges followed by breakup constitute a “vicariance” explanation.

Which is correct? Darwin thought land bridges were invoked in far too carefree a fashion, and the geological support for them was often dubious. Hooker and others thought similarly of near-miraculous dispersal mechanisms. The debate has continued since then. Until the 1950s, the dispersalist school was probably dominant, in part because most geologists believed in the fixity of continents, and the evidence for land bridges was usually weak. However, with the acceptance of continental drift, the tide turned. Biogeographers finally had their overland connections, albeit in a different form than originally conceived. The advance of plate tectonics happened to coincide with the advent of cladistic methods for inferring phylogenetic relationship, starting with the work of Hennig. Cladistic methods relied on atomizing organismal morphology and traits into discrete character states, and then searching for trees that minimized the number of character state changes in homologous characters (parsimony).

Vicariance Biogeography: Advance or “cul-de-sac”?

Similar methods were soon applied to historical biogeography. Geographic range was discretized into a series of presences and absences for each species. These could be used to attempt to reconstruct the geographic history of an individual clade, but the more interesting application was to use biogeographic distributions to reconstruct the history of connections between areas. Here, the geographical areas become the lineages, and the presence or absence of particular clades constitute the character states. This approach favors vicariance, as clades sitting still are the “homologies”, and dispersal events become homoplasies. The best tree of areas is the one that maximizes vicariance explanations, and minimizes dispersal; it was then assumes that this represents the history of breakup of areas.

This extension of cladistic methods and vicariance assumptions to biogeography – vicariance biogeography – was conceptually appealing: researchers could calculate support statistics like they did for cladograms; the general area cladograms that resulted told an interesting synthetic story, and, for once, it seemed like the biogeographers might be able to help the geologists reconstruct plate histories. However, there were always some major open questions. The first concerns homology. A parsimony analysis of organismal characters relies on the assumption that shared character states for a particular character are, on average, more likely to be shared because of common ancestry (shared history) than because of convergence (independent acquisition). This assumption does not have to be true for all characters analyzed, but it should hopefully be true for the majority of them, or, at the very least, the signal of shared history should be more common in the characters than any other directional signal. These assumptions are eminently reasonable for a diverse set of distinct organismal characters. However, in the biogeographical case, when all of the characters are clade presences in regions, these assumptions require that vicariance be a more probable explanation than independent dispersal. This could be true, but it is an assumption.

Another assumption that is made in this operation is that the age of clades doesn’t matter. The inputs to vicariance biogeography methods are simple cladograms, which do not come with time scales unless they are added. This was perhaps unavoidable in the 1970s and 1980s when cladograms were the typical result of phylogenetic analyses, but nowadays, time-scaling, ideally using the fossil record, is a standard procedure. Two clades might have the same geographic distribution, say, ABC (living in areas A, B, and C), but if one clade is 5 million years old, and the other is 100 million years old, it is hard to argue that they are evidence of a common geological history of those three regions.

Whatever the validity of the assumptions, for many years, vicariance biogeography methods were the only phylogenetically explicit methods available. This is still largely the impression you will get if you visit the biogeography shelf of a university library. And, for reasons that remain somewhat obscure to me, the above assumptions were applied not just to reconstructing the history of areas, but often, to reconstructing the history of single clades. I can see why the assumptions might be useful if the goal is reconstructing the history of geographical areas using cladistic methods, because some assumptions about “homology” and shared history need to be made to even get started; but when the same assumptions are applied to reconstructing the history of individual clades, what results is a method that assumes “maximum vicariance” – vicariance is employed as the preferred explanation of distributions wherever possible.

Some biogeographers never bought this assumption – especially biogeographers who worked on island taxa where dispersal seems overwhelmingly likely to be the major explanation of distributions. But, probably because of the power of the twin revolutions of plate tectonics and cladistics – and the fact that both revolutions, at least according to common legends, took over in the face of hardened opposition from hidebound proponents of orthodoxy in the academic establishment – there are still many biogeographers who repeat the line that dispersal is an unscientific explanation that can be used willy-nilly to explain any distributional data, and that historical biogeography should be focused on detecting the signal of vicariance.

The last 15 years have seen the explosion of phylogenetic dating methods, as well as many new computational methods for analyzing biogeographical data on phylogenies. This has diluted the classic old dispersal-versus-vicariance debate somewhat, such that when the issue is raised, many will say something like: “Oh, that old chestnut. I’m tired of that debate, clearly the answer is that both happen and both are important. It’s a false dichotomy.” Actually, I am convinced this is a wrong and frankly somewhat lazy answer, for reasons I will explain at the end of this review.

At any rate, even if the dispersal versus vicariance debate seems old-fashioned, it is definitely not dead. One piece of evidence for this was the book Molecular Panbiogeography of the Tropics by Michael Heads (2012). This large tome, published by by the respected University of California Press, analyzes the biogeography of hundreds of clades from around the world, but does so with a rigid application of the assumptions of vicariance biogeography – Heads mostly ignores molecular dating results, even though many of the phylogenies he makes use of come from papers that apply dating methods, and furthermore, he states clearly that one of his starting assumptions is that long-distance dispersal (or “jump dispersal”) will not be used in his reconstructions of the history of clades.

de Queiroz Enters the Fray

The other piece of evidence is Alan de Queiroz’s new book, The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life, published on January 7, 2014. de Queiroz takes aim at the vicariance school in biogeography and argues that its proponents “ended up arguing themselves into a strange intellectual corner where they envisioned an idealized history of life that never was.” He says that vicariance biogeography was “a turn down an intellectual cul-de-sac” for biogeography, and that this group’s systematic skepticism about phylogenetic dating indicates “an acute disconnection from reality related to this skepticism about the estimated ages of groups.”

de Queiroz begins his defense of these statements with a thorough introduction to phylogenetic dating methods – definitely the best introduction to the methods that I have seen written for the general public. By telling the story of his own work and many other modern researchers, he brings to life how the dusty old vicariance biogeography debate played out in the work of individual researchers trained in that tradition. In short, as DNA sequencing became ubiquitous, high-quality phylogenies could be constructed for any living group of interest. Dating methods, some relying on the molecular clock, but many others relying on less restrictive assumptions and fossil calibrations, kept giving results that indicated that many divergence events were just too young to be explained by classic vicariance hypotheses. Worse, the biogeographic congruence of different groups that researchers sometimes thought they saw through the blurry lens of Linnaean taxonomy or undated cladograms often fell apart once dates were available. Despite all of the caveats of dating methods – high uncertainties, difficulties in finding reliable calibrations, the fact that the oldest fossils in a clade are never the oldest true members of a clade that existed, etc. – caveats which de Queiroz reviews well – the overall picture seems robust. Relatively few clades and inferred biogeographic events inferred from the dated phylogenies of living taxa are old enough to be explained by continental breakup. Often, the only way to make an analysis say that clades are sufficiently old is to use the postulated continental breakup to set the date of divergence; but this rather puts the cart before the horse, and often indicates molecular rates far slower than those indicated by much other evidence, and puts the divergence times far, far below those indicated by the fossil record of the group in question.

The discussion of dating results is the intellectual core of the book, but de Queiroz successfully combines a scientific review with an engaging journalistic style, complete with humorous asides and witty quotes from the participants. Michael Donoghue’s ultra-laid-back, but devastating, assessments of the vicariance school, and his description of his own personal journey from interest in the methods to concern at their rigidity, is not to be missed.

de Queiroz supplements the scientific argument with a capable review of the history of historical biogeography, complete with quotes and stories from the main players, many of whom are still alive (and definitely kicking). The tale of how a subfield can manuever itself into what seems like, from the outside, a quite odd intellectual position, is interesting in and of itself, and serves as a caution to all of us in this age of scientific super-specialization.

de Queiroz also effectively analyzes just what it was about vicariance biogeography that made it so appealing to so many. The role of plate tectonics and cladistics was described above, but he covers the popular appeal as well. Probably every reader has been to a zoo or museum, seen one of those amazing animations of continental plates moving about the globe, and read some description of the biogeography of some clade (usually ratites or southern beeches) and how it is neatly explained by plate tectonics. The simplicity of the story is gripping – first a puzzle (cross-ocean distributions), followed by a resolution a fifth-grader could understand, namely, the (admittedly amazing) reconstruction of the history of plate movements. de Queiroz notes that even beyond this, there is probably more than a little regional pride behind the appeal of vicariance explanations. Standing in a primeval forest in New Zealand is all the more appealing if you think that you are basically standing in a forest that has existed in its present form since the Mesozoic.

Finally, de Queiroz makes the positive case for dispersal, not just relying on dating results, but also reviewing many known cases of long-distance dispersal, some of them that would be quite stupendous and difficult to believe, had they not been directly observed by humans within the last century or two. He raises the question – how can long-distance dispersal be said to be an unscientific explanation, when it is something that has been directly observed on many occasions? This puts the shoe decidedly on the other foot.

In the concluding chapter, de Queiroz notes that much of the appeal of vicariance was due to the imaginative vision it presented – flora and fauna riding on the continents, with a history that could be unraveled using plate tectonic reconstructions. de Queiroz quite deliberately puts forward an alternative imaginative vision, namely, that of the long-distance voyage, and the invasion and radiation of the rare heroic species that manage to cross oceans. He argues, effectively I think, that this set of stories is at least as capturing as the vicariance narrative, and that under this vision, we can see many cases where these rare events have played probably crucial roles in evolutionary history. Had one primate lineage never crossed the ancient Tethys sea, for instance, perhaps there never would have been great apes or, eventually, humans. This is Gould’s thesis in Wonderful Life retold in biogeographic form, and frankly, the fact that the relevant biogeographic events are much more recent than those of the Cambrian probably means that de Queiroz’s case for the role of contingency is stronger that Gould’s was.

de Queiroz’s focus on narrative makes for gripping reading. Under his pen, a topic that seems at first rather dry and academic becomes one that underlies everything you see when you’re on a hike or at a zoo, and you can also feel why there seems to be a impressive bit of emotion and rhetoric amongst the scientists involved in the vicariance debate. However, the focus on storytelling and reasoning from anecdote, while a noble tradition going back to Darwin and before, is itself a bit old-fashioned in this day and age. In modern evolutionary biology, we prefer that our conclusions are the result of formal statistical inference, rather than simply a narrative that we construct by gestalt based on accumulated experience. The cladistic methods in vicariance biogeography were actually an early attempt at this, which was part of their appeal. However, these methods had little in the way of uncertainty assessment, and the assumptions were such that the method could basically only give one answer: vicariance.

Much of vicariance biogeography was based on essentially repurposing standard cladistic programs for biogeographical uses, but with the construction of biogeography-specific programs, the situation began to change. Programs like DIVA (Dispersal-Vicariance Analysis; Ronquist 1997) and LAGRANGE (Likelihood Analysis of Geographic Range Evolution; Ree and Smith 2008) enabled researchers to input the phylogeny of a group, geographic range data, and obtain an estimate of the group’s geographic history as the product of a series of dispersal and vicariance events. DIVA was a parsimony method, but LAGRANGE was a probablistic method that explicitly took time into account, and it allowed researchers to have different geographies at different periods of time.

A Grain of Salt

These methods have enjoyed wide success. However, when I studied these methods for my Ph.D., one crucial thing I discovered was that each of these programs implemented the assumptions of the programmers, and that in the case of biogeography, the assumptions really matter. The core assumption made by both programs was that ranges could expand and contract along the branches of a phylogeny, but at speciation events on a phylogeny, all that could happen to a widespread range is that it break up (or, in the case of LAGRANGE, an additional option was subset sympatry, where a new species starts inside the range of the ancestor). One key event that these methods leave out is the possibility that dispersal and speciation are simultaneous events, i.e., founder-event speciation or jump dispersal . In founder-event speciation, a small subpopulation crosses a large barrier and instantly becomes genetically isolated, becoming a new lineage. While every proponent of vicariance biogeography accepts “dispersal” in the form of range expansion must happen at some point (this is, of course, required, since a species must become widespread before it can break up), jump dispersal was much more controversial.

Michael Heads, mentioned above, explicitly accepts range expansion but denies founder-event speciation through jump dispersal. Interestingly, Heads thinks that the DIVA and LAGRANGE programs are dispersalist programs that allow jump dispersal, but actually they do not. I believe he thinks this, because these programs are widely used by biogeographers who think of themselves as dispersalists or pluralists, but the actual assumptions about dispersal made by DIVA and LAGRANGE are actually quite similar to those made by Heads (Matzke 2013). In short, while many biogeographers would not trust Heads’s book any further than Alan de Queiroz could throw it, they are in effect adopting similar assumptions when they make use of programs that hard-code assumptions about biogeographical process that trace straight back to the vicariance biogeography school!

In an attempt to remedy this situation, I wrote my own program, the R package “BioGeoBEARS”, that allows users to turn on, or turn off, the different biogeographical processes, and see what the effect is on the statistical likelihood of the data. In cases where researchers don’t feel that they know ahead of time the relative probability of different processes, the weight of each process can be set as a free parameter. The program then varies the values of these parameters, and picks the set of parameter values that confers the maximum likelihood on the data. The likelihoods of the geographical data under different models can then be compared using standard methods in statistical model choice, such as the likelihood ratio test and Akaike Information Criterion.

BioGeoBEARS_preview.png

Caption for Figure 1, Matzke 2013, Frontiers of Biogeography: The processes assumed by different historical biogeography methods. Each of these processes is controlled by the specified parameter(s) in the BioGeoBEARS supermodel, allowing them to be turned on or off, or estimated from the data. Note that whether or not the data support a particular free parameter is an empirical question that should be tested with model choice procedures. Note also that this graphic deals only with the range-changing processes assumed by the different methods. BioGeoBEARS does not attempt to replicate e.g. the parsimony aspect of DIVA, just the processes allowed by DIVA (the BioGeoBEARS “DIVA” model can be called “DIVALIKE” to emphasize that it is a likelihood implementation of the processes assumed by DIVA). Similarly, BioGeoBEARS does not yet implement the “SSE” (state-based speciation and extinction rates) features of the GeoSSE model (Goldberg et al. 2011) of diversity. The ClaSSE model (Goldberg & Igić, 2012) can in theory use a parameter to represent the probability of each possible combination of ancestor range, left descendant range, and right descendant range. In that sense ClaSSE is the ultimate supermodel, although users would have to develop their own parameterizations to produce a reasonable biogeographic model, and the number of parameters inflates dramatically with number of areas – on defaults, 9 areas means 2^9-1=511 possible ranges, and this means 511x511x511 = 133,432,831 possible combinations of ancestor/left descendant/right descendant. The cladoRcpp R package, a dependency of BioGeoBEARS, is designed to efficiently calculate probabilities for these combinations, under the implemented biogeography models.

de Queiroz would be pleased to know that, in 25 example clades that I selected to test the different models, models that included founder-event speciation as a process outperformed the traditional models in almost every case. The results were often dramatic: in many cases, models including founder-event speciation had model weights hundreds of thousands or millions of times higher than the traditional models. Furthermore, simulations show that accuracy and precision of estimated ancestral ranges increases dramatically when better-performing models are used. I have a found a few cases where the traditional models “won” – Taygetis clade butterflies in South America are one, probably because they are a continental clade where many species have widespread, overlapping ranges. But the overall picture is clear: founder-event speciation is a crucial process in many clades, and we ignore it at our peril.

This is why I said above that the dispersal-versus-vicariance debate should not be shrugged off with answers like “the right answer is both.” First, there are different sorts of dispersal, and accounting for one does not mean that you have accounted for all of them. Second, what we really want is not just a list of valid and invalid processes. What we really want to do in science is to measure the relative importance of each process. BioGeoBEARS is the first attempt to do this, although of course it is quite likely that even more sophisticated improved models will be invented in the future.

I am, of course, tooting my own horn here, but who can blame me? A popular book on my favorite topic, historical biogeography, confirms the statistical conclusions I reached in my Ph.D. research, although on totally separate grounds. I suspect this is rare amongst Ph.D. theses. So, take my assessment of The Monkey’s Voyage with that grain of salt. However, I believe that my conclusions about de Queiroz’s readability, grasp of the history and personalities involved, and his expertise on the relevant science are accurate, whatever the detailed fate of my own research. Certainly, reading de Queiroz’s book is a far more enjoyable way to find out what is going on in historical biogeography than reading a recent Ph.D. on statistical model choice!

References

de Queiroz, Alan (2014). The Monkey’s Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life. Basic Books: New York, pp. 1-348. http://themonkeysvoyage.com/Amazon Link

Heads, Michael J. (2012) Molecular Panbiogeography of the Tropics. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Matzke, Nicholas J. (2013). BioGeoBEARS: BioGeography with Bayesian (and Likelihood) Evolutionary Analysis in R Scripts. R package, version 0.2.1, published July 27, 2013 at: http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=BioGeoBEARS. PhyloWiki page: http://phylo.wikidot.com/biogeobears

Matzke, Nicholas J. (2013). Thesis abstract: Probabilistic historical biogeography: new models for founder-event speciation, imperfect detection, and fossils allow improved accuracy and model-testing. Frontiers of Biogeography, 5(4), 242-248. http://escholarship.org/uc/item/44j7n141

Matzke, Nicholas J. (2013). “Formal Model Testing of the Dispersal-Extinction-Cladogenesis (DEC) Model Reveals that Founder-event Speciation is a Dominant Process Structuring the Biogeography of Island Clades.” Systematic Biology, in review.

Matzke, Nicholas Joseph (2013). Probabilistic Historical Biogeography: New Models for Founder-Event Speciation, Imperfect Detection, and Fossils Allow Improved Accuracy and Model-Testing. Ph.D. thesis, Department Integrative Biology and Designated Emphasis in Computational and Genomic Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Pages 1-240. August 2013. Available at: http://phylo.wikidot.com/local–files/biogeobears/Matzke_PhD_FINAL_v5_w_refs.pdf

Ree, R.H. & Smith, S.A. (2008) Maximum likelihood inference of geographic range evolution by dispersal, local extinction, and cladogenesis. Systematic Biology, 57, 4-14.

Ronquist, F. (1997) Dispersal‐Vicariance Analysis: A new approach to the quantification of historical biogeography. Systematic Biology, 46, 195-203.

171 Comments

Awesome article - thanks!

Typo - last paragraph under “Background” - “The advanced of plate tectonics” should probably be “advancement”.

Fascinating (as Spock would say).

Sort of the hitchhiker’s guide to biogeography?

Thank you for letting me be lazy, and uncovering my next book purchase.

Fixed the typo, thanks!!

The weirdest thing, at least in my biased view, is that ratites were so long used as a vicariance poster child, when their distribution fits no model of continental separation. In each attempt to make them match, one or more bizarre events of special pleading had to be postulated, and the presence of ratites and other paleognaths in the northern hemisphere had to be ignored. Ratite polyphyly made the whole idea only a little bit sillier.

John Harshman said:

The weirdest thing, at least in my biased view, is that ratites were so long used as a vicariance poster child, when their distribution fits no model of continental separation. In each attempt to make them match, one or more bizarre events of special pleading had to be postulated, and the presence of ratites and other paleognaths in the northern hemisphere had to be ignored. Ratite polyphyly made the whole idea only a little bit sillier.

Yep! BTW were the fossil “terror birds” of North America ratites?

Nick Matzke said:

Yep! BTW were the fossil “terror birds” of North America ratites?

Nope. I’m not sure we know what they are, though they’re conventionally considered to be gruiforms. Gruiformes, however, doesn’t exist in its traditional form, and does not contain the “gruiforms” most often linked to phorusrhacids: seriemas. That aside, phorusrhacids are clearly neognaths, and so are no closer to ratites than are mihirungs, gastornithids, or moa nalos.

Hey, just came across a blog by Alan de Queiroz’s wife! http://tinynaturalworld.blogspot.co[…]-landed.html

Great review, you’ve convinced me to get the book and check it out! I took an undergrad class on plant biogeography and our teacher always wanted us to understand the different dispersal capabilities of plants - understanding LDD was a big part of our course and you’ve made me appreciate his focus on it. Seed structure is naturally the most important thing to consider, hence why coconut trees (whose seeds can withstand almost any long voyage) are so ubiquitous on tropical beaches.

And I think I saw a doubled particle someone in your review, don’t remember where though!

I am TEC but always had a special interest in biogeography. It made the YEC case as I saw it. The author of the thread starts out with a long statement about how DEFEATING the God theory makes the case for the evolution theory. It doesn’t make any case at all. Yet more important is that the idea of God poofing creatures into their placxes is contrary to historic biblical christianity. Darwin and modern writers make this error. We , YEC, insist there was a flood, preservation of ground creatures on the ark, and only from there was there dispersal. ! We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific. TO say God placed creatures on earth where we later found them is a rejection of Genesis. Why is this not understood? In Darwins day Genesis was rejected by the upper class Anglicans. he was fighting a special idea of God created speciation . Indeed in debunking it he too much thought he made his own case. There is no problem with biogeopgraphy and the ark landing zone.

We also have no problem with minor variation of something as separated by islands/ranges etc. Just like with people. We have no problem with the beech in the southern lands. it just floated about in those areas. no need to invoke slow continental drift carrying the seeds. There probably is loads of problems with biogeography when the assumption is that evolution created the types of living things.

So, on the Noah’s Ark theory, why did the monotremes and marsupials end up in such specific places? Did the echidna and platypus hold hands as traveled from the ark?

Robert Byers said:

I am TEC but always had a special interest in biogeography. It made the YEC case as I saw it. The author of the thread starts out with a long statement about how DEFEATING the God theory makes the case for the evolution theory. It doesn’t make any case at all. Yet more important is that the idea of God poofing creatures into their placxes is contrary to historic biblical christianity. Darwin and modern writers make this error. We , YEC, insist there was a flood, preservation of ground creatures on the ark, and only from there was there dispersal. ! We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific. TO say God placed creatures on earth where we later found them is a rejection of Genesis. Why is this not understood? In Darwins day Genesis was rejected by the upper class Anglicans. he was fighting a special idea of God created speciation . Indeed in debunking it he too much thought he made his own case. There is no problem with biogeopgraphy and the ark landing zone.

We also have no problem with minor variation of something as separated by islands/ranges etc. Just like with people. We have no problem with the beech in the southern lands. it just floated about in those areas. no need to invoke slow continental drift carrying the seeds. There probably is loads of problems with biogeography when the assumption is that evolution created the types of living things.

After you answer Dr. Matzke’s question, please tell us what the carnivores (or for that matter the herbivores) ate while dispersing and why no genetic bottleneck is evident at 5000 years ago for all animal species.

Plate tectonics and biogeography falsify YEC (and TEC). bobby loses again. Just another example of evolution explaining the natural world and creationism utterly failing to provide any explanation at all.

Why are there still monkeys?

Robert Byers said:

We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific. TO say God placed creatures on earth where we later found them is a rejection of Genesis.

Okay. Why do YEC’s say that Genesis and the flood predict that there are no elephants on the isles of the Pacific?

That prediction should also be able to explain why we find elephants on the island of Ceylon, and many of the Indonesian islands.

That prediction should also be able to explain why there were mammoths and any the other large animals in North America. Remember: The Ark landed in Asia. Any animals and plants had to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

Robert Byers said: We , YEC, insist there was a flood, preservation of ground creatures on the ark, and only from there was there dispersal. !

Well, now you have a tool that you can use to test that hypothesis! Nick’s program allows you to compare how well different explanations of distribution fit a current biogeographical distribution.

So, pick a data set. Any data set - people, echidna, whatever. Compare the fit of “dispersal from Arrarat 6,000 years ago” with other dispersal and vicariance hypotheses. If the fit for your preferred hypothesis is the best, congratulations! You have just shown evidnece that the flood-and-distribution hypothesis explains what we see today (at least, better than the other tested hypotheses). Of course if the fit for your preferred hypothesis is orders of magnitude worse than some other distribution hypothese, then you would have to accept the conclusion that YECism is a terrible explanation which doesn’t fit observed biogeographical distribution at all. Right?

Heck, if you ask nicely, maybe Nick will do it for you for one of the data sets he’s already loaded into the program. I for one would find a comparison of such fits to be very interesting. Or, at least, amusing.

Robert Byers: We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific.

Pygmy mammoth

The pygmy mammoth or Channel Islands mammoth (Mammuthus exilis) is an extinct species of dwarf elephant descended from the Columbian mammoth (M. columbi) … Remains of M. exilis have been discovered on three of the northern Channel Islands of California since 1856: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel…

Prediction refuted.

eric said: I for one would find a comparison of such fits to be very interesting. Or, at least, amusing.

Seconded, you rarely see YEC (and TEC) make *any* kind of testable predictions. This could be a fun one to analyze. Points to Bob on account of him using more scientific language instead of his usual manner of commenting - seen here and on the other science blogs he regularly comments on (Sandwalk, NCSE, etc). Just gotta watch those pesky punctuation marks, I know they like to make a break for freedom but I know you can do it.

Here is Byers’ great biogeographical theory.

His explanation for how kangaroos and many other marsupials got to Australia is that they didn’t. When they ran from Mt. Ararat over the Himalaya and swam to Australia, they were placentals. Then some unspecified thing (marsupial rays?) in the environment of Australia turned them into marsupials by giving them a pouch.

Strangely, Byers’ “marsupial rays” did not have the same effect of Ken Ham, or Crocodile Dundee, or 40,000 years of aboriginal inhabitants, or echidnas, or platypuses, or saltwater crocodiles, or the goanna.

Byers, being a genius, thinks that the marsupial lion and the marsupial wolf are two different species, and the first was a placental lion that “marsupial rays” gave a pouch and turned into the thylacine, and the second was a placental wolf that “marsupial rays” gave a pouch and uh, also turned into the thylacine.

Darwin is finished!

MaskedQuoll said:

Robert Byers: We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific.

Pygmy mammoth

The pygmy mammoth or Channel Islands mammoth (Mammuthus exilis) is an extinct species of dwarf elephant descended from the Columbian mammoth (M. columbi) … Remains of M. exilis have been discovered on three of the northern Channel Islands of California since 1856: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel…

Prediction refuted.

Oh snap!

Robert Byers said:

We , YEC, insist there was a flood, preservation of ground creatures on the ark, and only from there was there dispersal. ! We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific.

Robert, you must now concede that YEC has been thoroughly FALSIFIED! Concede.

Wikipedia on Indonesia

Indonesia’s size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil),[99] and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species.[100] The islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) were once linked to the Asian mainland, and have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution have dwindled drastically.

I know you are an honest man– er, as honest as any YEC ever is– so I know you will now concede that YEC has been falsified.

MaskedQuoll said:

Why are there still monkeys?

Why are there still YECs?

Byers, you have repeatedly ignored this post (click here to see) - and countless reminders of it to you - since October 2012. This post would address many of the points you still mindlessly parrot out.

Are you ever going to address this Christian link about Christian scientists that accept and routinely use radiometric dating? You repeatedly look away and run from this (Byers, click here to see).

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Not to mention the many other questions you have retreated from:

What about finally giving us a full review of an evo-devo book like Sean B Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful (click here)? Remember, it’s a popular level book for the public, a point you routinely stress that is important. You could use this book to show how evo-devo and other evidence depends on fossils as you routinely parrot.……unless evo-devo really doesn’t depend on fossils.

Also,

When are you going to get around to fully discussing SINE insertions? You could use SINEs to tie in with your wild claim that “genetic researchers today are like alchemists of yesterday” and oh here’s a link to the post about SINEs that you have ignored: http://pandasthumb.org/bw/index.htm[…]mment-300136

Since you have repeatedly run away from these questions, perhaps we should give you a little wiggle room by giving you the option of addressing another matter you have not answered:

Are you ever going to make a full critique of this particular link?

Standard Disclaimer: As parts of this post are rather offtopic for this thread, it’s understandable if this post along with any reply by Byers are posted/moved to the BW.

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific. TO say God placed creatures on earth where we later found them is a rejection of Genesis.

Okay. Why do YEC’s say that Genesis and the flood predict that there are no elephants on the isles of the Pacific?

That prediction should also be able to explain why we find elephants on the island of Ceylon, and many of the Indonesian islands.

That prediction should also be able to explain why there were mammoths and any the other large animals in North America. Remember: The Ark landed in Asia. Any animals and plants had to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

Dear Robert,

Let me explain. There are predictions, and then there are predictions.

[ As an aside, in the following discussion when I use the term “why”, I’m talking about a physical causal agency. I’m not talking about a “goal”, or a “plan”, or a “desire”. ]

1) “I predict that Elvis and Big Foot will be married this year in a secret wedding in the wilds of Idaho.”

This is a laughable prediction. It it not based in any kind of reality. First, there is no reason to predict this. We know nothing about Elvis or Big Foot that would lead us to believe that they even like each other. Second, there will be no way to test this prediction. It is a prediction about two fictitious creatures doing something which no one will ever see, even if it were to happen. Yet people make similar predictions all the time. The only reason to make such predictions is to gain either money, notoriety, or both.

2) “Based on the shape of my bunions, I predict that Antarctica is colder that any other continent.”

This is a trivial prediction. First, everyone already knows that Antarctica is colder than any other continent. It is an established fact. Second, “my bunions” is not an explanation for how or why Antarctica is colder than any other continent. Even if the prediction is true, it has nothing to do with “my bunions”.

This is an example of your “prediction” that elephants are not found on Pacific islands. Your “prediction” doesn’t actually explain anything about why elephants aren’t found on Pacific islands.

3) “Based on our 15 different simulations of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, and the current measurements for the last month, we predict that North America will continue to experience a drought in the coming year.”

Here we have a “prediction” with some power to explain things. Based on evidence that we have gathered in the past, and based on reasoning and understanding of how climate behaves and how weather works, we can not only explain what we think will happen, we can also explain why we believe it will happen and how it will happen. More importantly, at the end of the year if our prediction turns out to be wrong, we will also be able to explain both why and how how our prediction went wrong. Even more importantly, at the end of the year if our prediction turns out to be right, we can still explain both how and why it was right.

“Because God made them that way” does not explain either how or why.

I just finished the book, and immediately thought about founder effects.

A question: why do we not see genetic evidence of the extreme population bottlenecks implied by ubiquitous dispersal? Or do we?

I think we do, sometimes, although for any really ancient events this would be hard to detect. I don’t think anyone has done a comprehensive study inferring founder-events on the tree and then looking for the popgen data, as I just invented the founder-event inference, and then you would need lots of popgen data. It would certainly be feasible to do the test…

Nick Matzke said:

So, on the Noah’s Ark theory, why did the monotremes and marsupials end up in such specific places? Did the echidna and platypus hold hands as traveled from the ark?

Your right and make a good point. A point evolutionists could make more to YEC. They struggle with a answer. I don’t. the answer is that all creatures on earth are the same from a dispersal place. Therefore marsupials etc are the same as the others but with minor changes upon entering certain areas. For good reasons. This is also found to have happened with now extinct creatures (fossils) that are wrongly segregated into groups. A marsupial wolf is just our wolf with a pouch. Convergent evolution did not do the deed. Everyone just google the last marsupial wolf and watch moving/still pictures of it.

Helena Constantine said:

Robert Byers said:

I am TEC but always had a special interest in biogeography. It made the YEC case as I saw it. The author of the thread starts out with a long statement about how DEFEATING the God theory makes the case for the evolution theory. It doesn’t make any case at all. Yet more important is that the idea of God poofing creatures into their placxes is contrary to historic biblical christianity. Darwin and modern writers make this error. We , YEC, insist there was a flood, preservation of ground creatures on the ark, and only from there was there dispersal. ! We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific. TO say God placed creatures on earth where we later found them is a rejection of Genesis. Why is this not understood? In Darwins day Genesis was rejected by the upper class Anglicans. he was fighting a special idea of God created speciation . Indeed in debunking it he too much thought he made his own case. There is no problem with biogeopgraphy and the ark landing zone.

We also have no problem with minor variation of something as separated by islands/ranges etc. Just like with people. We have no problem with the beech in the southern lands. it just floated about in those areas. no need to invoke slow continental drift carrying the seeds. There probably is loads of problems with biogeography when the assumption is that evolution created the types of living things.

After you answer Dr. Matzke’s question, please tell us what the carnivores (or for that matter the herbivores) ate while dispersing and why no genetic bottleneck is evident at 5000 years ago for all animal species.

The carnivores ate what they ate on the ark. A lag time before eating flesh probably took place. Bottlenecks are speculation. genetic health was better back then as indicated bu the long lives of people.

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

We predict also no elephants on the isles of the pacific. TO say God placed creatures on earth where we later found them is a rejection of Genesis.

Okay. Why do YEC’s say that Genesis and the flood predict that there are no elephants on the isles of the Pacific?

That prediction should also be able to explain why we find elephants on the island of Ceylon, and many of the Indonesian islands.

That prediction should also be able to explain why there were mammoths and any the other large animals in North America. Remember: The Ark landed in Asia. Any animals and plants had to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

If elephants are hound it means there was first land connections or people brought them. Ceylon(?) was connected to India. the Indo isles were first one land mass before a rise in water. north america likewise was connected by lower water levels.

Robert Byers said:

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

snakes birth live/eggs and still are just snakes.

I assume that you have no idea that all snakes lay eggs. It’s just that some snakes keep the eggs in their bodies. When the eggs hatch, the mother gives “birth” to them. The process has the fancy name of “Ovoviviparity”. They still lay eggs.

Creatures breeding together is not the final word of relationship. if the creatures changed enough and so also their genetics then they may also of not been able to breed despite coming from the same ancestors. some horse types can’t breed or are sterile or something. Donkeys , etc etc. yet they are all horse types from a common ancestor.

But Robert, you are arguing for common descent from a common ancestor. That’s called “Evolution”. You are arguing for morphological and genetic change over time, until the descendants can no longer breed together. That’s called “Speciation”.

Robert, welcome to the club. You are an Evolutionist who believes in species descended from a common ancestor, changing over time.

That’s what we’ve been saying all along.

You do realize that actual Young Earth Creationists would call that heresy. YEC’s like FL believe that the Bible requires the immutability of species, which is the exact opposite of what you are arguing that the Bible requires.

Its not ToE.

Well, you’re right there. It is not the “Theory of Evolution” as science knows it. But it is change in body plans over time in response to external stimulus. That is “evolution” (with a small “e”).

We always said mankind came from a common descent.

Who’s “we”? A “common descent” from what?

Variation is fine and needed. Its not selection on mutations plus time and so on.

If it’s not selection on mutations plus time, then what are you describing?

Yes mechanisms are there and must be there to explain things.

That is correct. But you have not said what those “mechanisms” are. You haven’t explained anything. You’ve simply made bald statements about what you believed happened, and thrown in “bible” now and then when you run out of BS. The Theory of Evolution, otherwise know as “science” provides explanations of how and why things happen, and when they happened in the past.

Yet biblical boundaries stay true and firm.

Why? How? How do the “biblical boundaries stay true and firm”? What magical barrier preserves those true and firm boundaries.

And what are those boundaries? Describe them? You have described placental wolfs turning into marsupials, crossing numerous species and family boundaries.

The variation in form and design over time that you describe is blasphemy. It is the exact opposite of the “fixity of species” that is the cornerstone of fundamentalist Young Earth Creationism.

Well see that’s what you get when you are completely ignorant of all of the evidence and wish to remain so. You just make up nonsense and invent scenarios because they sound good to you. Eventually you have to realize that it is all a house of cards, nothing but inconsistencies and contradictions that no one with even a modicum of knowledge would ever be fooled by. If you want to make up stories to explain the facts, first you have to be familiar the facts. robert is unable and unwilling to do this. He thinks that people will feel sorry for him and give him a pass, but that isn’t going to happen. Asking him to explain himself is useless. He probably has no idea what he means and he will just make up more nonsense to cover up that fact. The more nonsense he shouts, the clearer it becomes that he has no idea what he is talking about. I suspect that is why they allow him to continue to post here, He’s kind of like a poster child I guess.

DS said: The more nonsense he shouts, the clearer it becomes that he has no idea what he is talking about. I suspect that is why they allow him to continue to post here, He’s kind of like a poster child I guess.

Guilty secret - to me this has been the most entertaining Byers’ sequence of posts in a long time. Usually he one-shots us with some barely comprehensible idea. In this case his idea is comprehensible, described over multiple posts, it’s just bonkers.

I think one reason I find it amusing is because other YECers have floated similar ideas but have avoided being explicit about what they are proposing. Cornelius Hunter, for example, also made a comparison between wolves and thylacines trying to imply that they are biologically similar. So in this case Robert isn’t just representing Robert, he’s explicitly proposing a sequence of events that I think a lot of YECs would agree with, yet be afraid to admit to in public. Its refreshing to see someone say what probably a lot of YECers think.

You’re right, they probably do think something like this. But deep down inside they know how dishonest and ridiculous it is. If not, why haven’t they tested their “hypothesis”? Why hasn’t robert taken up the challenge? Why hasn’t any other YEC done the test? If they did and the answer was that their “hypothesis” was orders of magnitude worse at explaining the observed distribution, would they admit it? Would they change their minds? Would they be convinced by the evidence? If not, why should anyone take them seriously? Why should they take themselves seriously? Her is their big chance to gain some modicum of respectability. Step up to the plat or admit that you are not in the game.

Creationists have been around in their current form for 100 years, and in a century the best “weakness” of evolution they have, is that (as Byers says) there’s a marsupial horse which looks exactly like a horse because it is a horse, and there’s a marsupial tapir which looks exactly like a tapir because it is a tapir; but he won’t show us the photos of either. Trust Byers, they really do exist though, just no photos anywhere ever.

Also, there’s a marsupial wolf which looks exactly like a wolf because it is a wolf, also called the thylacine; and there’s a marsupial tiger which looks exactly like a tiger because it is a tiger, that’s the thylacine too; and since a wolf is a thylacine, and a thylacine is a tiger, therefore, a wolf is a tiger.

Darwin is finished.

Also, the thylacine differs from a placental wolf in only one detail, according to Byers. Of course, Christine Janis then listed a couple dozen differences between them, but what would she know, she only does comparative anatomy for a living; and also, she’s just the authority that Byers himself was citing when he told us everything he knows about marsupial anatomy he learned from Christine when she was on Nova, but Robert didn’t know it was her, his authority, when he grandly told her he knows more about comparative anatomy of marsupials than the person from whom he learned what little he knows about comparative anatomy of marsupials.

When we repeatedly listed a couple dozen anatomical differences between the thylacine and the wolf, which Byers had previously said didn’t exist, he next insisted he knew about them all along, but they’re all minor differences, which can easily be produced by evolving via super-fast evolution, therefore, there’s no evolution. Checkmate, atheists.

Plus, Byers said YEC predicts there would be no elephants on Pacific Islands, when he thought they didn’t exist. Then he said no problem for YEC, when we told him several existed.

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

Robert Byers said:

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

Scott F said:

By the way, Robert. You still have not explained the difference between a marsupial tiger (that is a tiger, because it looks like a tiger), and a marsupial wolf (which is a wolf, because it looks like a wolf).

Huh? The marsupial wolves and lions looked like their namesakes placentals elsewhere on the planet within the spectrum of these types body plans. Just google the marsupial wolf for the last moving pictures of the last ones. You will be watching a dog and not a flexible wombat.

Hi Robert,

I asked about the marsupial tiger. You responded about the marsupial lion. Please try again.

Please explain the difference between a marsupial tiger and a marsupial wolf?

I forget the marsupial tiger. I think it was a name thing. nOt a real thing of morphology or convergent evolution claims.

Tell us again why we should believe whatever you say about marsupial mammals and placental mammals, when you clearly know nothing about anything?

eric said:

Robert Byers said: its simple here. Creatures are classified by their body plans.

You’re not even doing that. Carl Linnaeus classified all marsupials as a group because of their common body plans in the 1700s. Before Darwin was even born. In other words, knowledgeable naturalists did exactly the procedure you want us to do, they did it with absolutely no possible influence from the theory of evolution, and the classification that best matched the body plan data was that marsupials are a distinct group.

ITs the minor traits that were adapted in local areas by all the creatures in the area . Marsupialism is just a few traits non related creatures picked up. So a marsupial wolf is just a plain old wolf.

No, its a rewiring of the entire reproductive system. What’s going on here is that you know absolutely nothing about biology, and based on your ignorance, you are choosing to think that some traits you know nothing about and are inconvenient for your creationism are biologically trivial.

These oldtimers were not right about everything. They DID just lump critters together based on traits and still do. Yet they were wrong. iN fact if they had seen the true types of marsupials, which largely were extinct by this time, i think they would of said the marsupials were slightly modified placentals.

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

they were moving quick to colonize earth with limited timelines.

That’s an interesting thought you have there. Why did they have to hurry? Why did the animals think that they had “limited timelines”? What creature do you know besides humans that have a sense of time, or sense of future generations? Here you claim that the lowliest creature was concerned about the future of their species, so they had to hurry, hurry and get on with it.

Nonsense. They had all the time in the world. They had eternity stretching out before them. There was no hurry. God was in no hurry. Why were the marsupials in such a hurry? Did they somehow know that the land bridge to Australia would sink under the rising oceans in two or three hundred years? Did they somehow know that Jesus was coming in another 1,500 years, and that all the creatures needed to be in their nice, neat ecological niches before human historians started writing stuff down?

Its not their opinions but some mechanism to help them speed things up to fill the earth within a short timeframe. God told creatures to fill it up and this means they had the means including quick adaptation where needed. The famous wallace line was looming. Water levels would be rising that would separate Australia etc from the rest of the lands.

“Some mechanism” is Byerstalk for “then a miracle happened”, and/or “Explanations? We don’ need no steenking explanations”.

Again I want Byers to acknowledge he did, in fact, believe and say that there’s a marsupial horse that looks exactly like a placental horse because it’s just a horse.

Robert Byers said:

diogeneslamp0 said:

Above you said the marsupial horse is the same as the placental horse. Please present us with two photos, one of a marsupial horse and one of a placental horse, showing that they are identical.

I didn’t say marsupial horse. Its a litoptern horse

Byers did say there was a marsupial horse that looks exactly like a horse because it is a horse, not just in this thread, but previously in a more formal piece of writing for a creationist website, nwcreation.net. I already linked to Byers’ essay on this topic, “Post-flood Marsupial Migration Explained”, but none of you paid attention to it– too bad, it’s hilarious.

Byers gives a list of eight “orders” all of which allegedly include horses, bears, dogs and cats and says all the horses are just a horse, all the bears are just a bear, etc. (His list of eight “orders” aren’t all orders, and several are misspelled. He lists “Archtocyonia” [sic, Arctocyonidae? which is a FAMILY not an order], and “Marsupialla” [sic, Marsupials, an INFRACLASS not an order]).

Robert Byers wrote:

In the present orders and listed eight orders [sic] of animals selected above [his list includes the infraclass “Marsupialla”] one will find constantly bear, dog, cat, horse etc shaped creatures appearing in orders of animals that are said to be completely unrelated… It is the most striking thing about the fossil record and the marsupial situation in Australia today… Every region as in Australia today had creatures exactly like creatures elsewhere…

[Robert Byers, “Post-flood Marsupial Migration Explained”]

In this thread he repeated this point two times.

Robert Byers wrote:

Marsupials are just one of groups of creatures that have wolves, cats, horses, etc in their group that look exactly like their namesakes elsewhere

[Byers comment]

Robert Byers wrote:

SO they [taxonomists] have dog, cat, mouse,horse, etc creatures segregated into different family groups because of traits alike with other creatures in the area. THEREFORE marsupial, placental, and other divisions all have dogs, cats etc looking creatures. HOGWASH

[Byers comment]

And then he lectures Christine Janis on how she’s wrong about everything, and he knows more about comparative anatomy than she does, because he saw an episode of Nova in which he learned about the thylacine from… Chrisine Janis.

A normal human being would just say, “Wow, I really did think there was a marsupial horse. I was wrong! Sorry! Boy, is my face red.”

But Byers can’t do that. Since he is creationist, he must lie to preserve his illusion of authority. He has to pretend as if he knows as much as anyone here, so he always responds to us pointing out his blunders by saying, “I knew that” again and again. Damage control, Robert? It’s clear he didn’t know squat.

This goes beyond stupid into outright lying.

Robert Byers said:

Scott F said:

Robert Byers said:

they were moving quick to colonize earth with limited timelines.

That’s an interesting thought you have there. Why did they have to hurry? Why did the animals think that they had “limited timelines”? What creature do you know besides humans that have a sense of time, or sense of future generations? Here you claim that the lowliest creature was concerned about the future of their species, so they had to hurry, hurry and get on with it.

Nonsense. They had all the time in the world. They had eternity stretching out before them. There was no hurry. God was in no hurry. Why were the marsupials in such a hurry? Did they somehow know that the land bridge to Australia would sink under the rising oceans in two or three hundred years? Did they somehow know that Jesus was coming in another 1,500 years, and that all the creatures needed to be in their nice, neat ecological niches before human historians started writing stuff down?

Its not their opinions but some mechanism to help them speed things up to fill the earth within a short timeframe. God told creatures to fill it up and this means they had the means including quick adaptation where needed. The famous wallace line was looming. Water levels would be rising that would separate Australia etc from the rest of the lands.

It’s not the Wallace line that’s your biggest problem, creationist, it’s the Weber line.

The Wallace line runs along the Lombok strait between Bali and Lombok. The strait is 250 m [820 ft] deep. At glacial maximum, 18,000 years ago, sea level might have been at most 140 m [459 feet] lower than at present. So the Lombok Strait would always be 110 m [361 feet] deep or deeper. Australia was always separate, ever since it detached from Antarctica.

But much worse for you, the Weber line runs through the Timor Trough, which is 10,800 feet deep. The Timor Trough would always be 10,340 deep or deeper. Your hypothetical placental kangaroos and koalas could never swim across either the Lombok Strait nor the Timor Trough, ever– nor could koalas or wombats or diprotodons or quolls or quaggas or the platypus or the echidna.

And worse for you, we have fossil and genetic evidence that marsupials came from S. America via Antarctica. There are fossils of marsupials including Australidelphian marsupials found in Antarctica, but none, not one, between Mt. Ararat and the Timor Trough. Genetic evidence shows that the small S. American marsupial, the monito del monte, is the sister taxon to Australidelphian marsupials.

You, on the other hand, got nothing. No fossil trail leading from Mt. Ararat to anywhere. You got nothing but fairy tales about placentals of every type magically acquiring the dozens of features that define marsupials. And yet, strangely, it never happens while we’re looking– never happens to humans, not to apes, not to dingoes, not to rats.

However, Byers, bizarrely, imagines that either

A. the placental kangaroos know that “The famous wallace line was looming” and thus that they must morph quickly into marsupials while hopping to Australia. Yet, strangely, when a human tribe faces extinction, why don’t they suddenly gain pouches?

B. God knew he would sink the imaginary creationist “land bridges” connecting all continents together, so God supernaturally zapped the placental kangaroos and gave them pouches, plus two holes in their palates, a flange that bends out at the end of their jawbone, a dental formula of 4:3:4, etc. Yet, strangely, when a human tribe faces extinction, why doesn’t God zap them and give them pouches?

The first idea is Lamarckism combined with the belief that animals have ESP allowing them to anticipate continent-sized rearrangements that haven’t happened yet. The second is pure supernatural creation and re-creation and re-re-re-creation, which can accommodate all observations ever made, as well as all observations ever not made.

Robert Byers said:

These oldtimers were not right about everything. They DID just lump critters together based on traits and still do. Yet they were wrong.

So you’re saying that scientists shouldn’t be using traits when categorizing (“lumping together”) creatures?

Pray tell us what they should be using then.

The deeper he gets the dumber he gets. Keep goin robert. You’ll make a new route to china at this rate.

Robert Byers said: Its not their opinions but some mechanism to help them speed things up to fill the earth within a short timeframe. God told creatures to fill it up and this means they had the means including quick adaptation where needed. The famous wallace line was looming. Water levels would be rising that would separate Australia etc from the rest of the lands.

Sounds like a bad Star Trek Next Generation episode. “Oh no, we have [problem] due to [inconsistent storyboarding]. We’d better solve it with [technobabble of the week].”

no man, you got it all wrong. your not readin the bible literal enough. god told the animals to go forth and multiply because they didn’t know how to do division or subtraction yet! so it’s more like a bad episode of Welcome Back Kotter.

Well at least they didn’t have to do exponents…

AltairIV said:

Robert Byers said:

These oldtimers were not right about everything. They DID just lump critters together based on traits and still do. Yet they were wrong.

So you’re saying that scientists shouldn’t be using traits when categorizing (“lumping together”) creatures?

Pray tell us what they should be using then.

Traits should be used by researchers. I question and correct what traits should of and should be used in classification

Robert Byers said:

Traits should be used by researchers. I question and correct what traits should of and should be used in classification

Yep, exactly the answer I predicted. You didn’t really mean rejecting all traits, just the ones that you, personally, consider inconvenient.

So there we have it. Robert Byers, someone with absolutely no knowledge or understanding of biology or paleontology, who has never done any kind of actual scientific research or study in any way shape or form, believes that he knows better than the actual scientists which traits to use for classification*.

Such a humble man.

* Looks like a doggy, so it must be a doggy. Looks like a horsey, so it must be a horsey, etc.

Robert Byers said:

… should of …

It’s should have! Jesus, I hate that!

AltairIV said:

Robert Byers said:

These oldtimers were not right about everything. They DID just lump critters together based on traits and still do. Yet they were wrong.

So you’re saying that scientists shouldn’t be using traits when categorizing (“lumping together”) creatures?

Pray tell us what they should be using then.

He already “told”: use Robert Byers, the #1 authority.

I don’t know how he can be the #1 authority. He’s not even Cubic and Wisest Human: that’s Gene Ray.

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