Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Once upon a time

I asked: “And can you actually show us a series of viable intermediates in the fossil record, or is this just rhetorical bluff and bluster on your part?”

To which a commenter answered:


This timeline shows that teeth size, like the other features, gradually changed over time, like cranial capacity.

This graph demonstrates the change in cranial capacity for all available hominin fossils. (also see the previous post)

Note that different characters separate species than *just* cranial capacity, so don't think it's a matter of "rigging" by graphing by size and then assigning species. Dentition, spine curvature, feet, etc., all make the delineations between species possible.


The problem with this material is that it doesn’t “show” us a “series” of viable intermediates “in the fossil record.”

What it does, instead, is to present a hypothetical, evolutionary reconstruction of the evidence using a few fossils and a lot of fudge factors.

Here’s the rub:


But Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature (and an evolutionist), ahs pointed out that all the evidence for human evolution between about 10 and 5 million years ago “can be fitted into a small box.” According to Gee, the conventional picture of human evolution as lines of ancestry and descent is “a completely human invention create after the fact, shaped to accord with human prejudices.” Putting it even more bluntly, Gee wrote in 1999: “To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific (11).

There are at least two problems with interpreting these fossils as evidence for Darwinian evolution. First, it is impossible to determine whether one fossilized species is ancestral to another. According to Henry Gee, “the intervals of time tha separate fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definition about their possible connection through ancestry and descent.”

Second, mere similarity does not demonstrate an ancestor-descendant relationship (40).


So, is this direct evidence *for* evolution, or is this an imaginary reconstruction *according * to evolution?

From another commenter:


“You mean, such as a rabbit, a fish, or a mouse? What a strange comment on your behalf with no basis in fact. We are neither defensless 'uniquely' or otherwise.”

Mice have high reproductive rates, as do rabbits—which also have speed. Humans have neither.

FREDK has a problem paying attention to what I wrote.

As to “fish,” what species does he have in mind?

“As compared to what? Our viz is better (and worse) than some other animals..our speed is better (and worse) than some other animals, our strength is better (and worse)than some other animals.”

FREDK has a problem connecting the dots, so just follow the bouncing ball: defenseless in relation to natural predators.

Human speed or strength as compared with lions, leopards, cape hunting dogs, &c . You know—animals that might like to include us on their menu?

And while we’re on the subject, our lack of natural speech and strength is also a problem when it comes to animals we might like to include on our menu, viz. the zebra, wildebeest, &c.


  1. follow this bouncing ball. reposting this response does nothing to further your "cause". Your premise remains nothing more than a dose of sugar to help you swallow your creation story.

  2. so the moral of the story is that even when you beat the atheist he'll keep yapping so that he has a dose of sugar to help swallo his silly little theory? Have we got that right?

  3. So Steve, going by your quote, we have little more than a box of identifiable hominid ancestors from between 5-10 million years ago. What of the last 5 million years? Seems from the links and tree you were provided there are a ton of hominid fossils in that time frame, and from my understanding most of the changes leading to what we consider modern humans from our primate ancestor happened relatively recently (last few million years).

    Your quote from Henry Gees, is his asking scientists to stop with evolutionary narratives. As he said, just lining up fossils and claiming it isn't enough, you can't just make up a story, methods are needed. That was the point I think.

    Honestly, I'd be wary of using quote from scientists from pro-ID websites, they are usually taken out of context, so be careful.

    Since our difference in strength is something I've thought a bit about before, I'm sure you could explore it if you wished. First, for some clue on what to look for you'd probably want to explore the structure of muscle on these species. So, getting samples, looking at contractile strength, density, hypertrophy/maintenance/atrophy, and so forth. Once you have a general idea of the functional differences, start looking at literature on genes related to the control of such things.
    Now, you have some genes of interest to look at, download the most recent genome constructs for us, chimps, etc. You'll probably need a good knowledge of protein-protein interactions and the pathways related to muscle growth, anchoring... as well as biochemistry to make identifying significant differences easier.

    All said and done, what do my intuitions tell me would be found? Within those maintaining strength, there would still be silent mutations such that change DNA but not the protein coded for, and there would be some that would change the protein. In humans, silent mutations would be present too, but I expect a series of slightly detrimental changes in us, leading to our current relative strength deficiency. Kind of like cave fish that still have eye sockets but no eyes. We didn't need the strength any more, so selective pressure on that feature was relaxed (same as our and other primate's broken ascorbic acid gene, we had lots of fruit, so the breaking made no difference). To do some cool experiments, we could say knock out the functional "strong" gene in a model organism, and test out different mutations. If would be a fun project, possibly something to do as a Ph.D in evolutionary biology (though this is a simplified version of what would be required). You could probably also find a way to estimate the interval of these changes and accumulation and map it with say, cranial size changes to see if there is a correlation. Hm, maybe I'll pursue some of this myself, I actually find it interesting :)

  4. This recent lecture on "Who is Adam" by Fuz Rana, maybe of interest to Triablogue readers.

    This is not an endorsement of everything he says, just a relevant resource.

  5. The problem with this material is that it doesn’t “show” us a “series” of viable intermediates “in the fossil record.”

    What it does, instead, is to present a hypothetical, evolutionary reconstruction of the evidence using a few fossils and a lot of fudge factors.

    Steve, I must admit that I'm quite puzzled at what you would accept as "show us viable intermediates in the fossil records"?

    You realize that this data, as I pointed out, is based on all hominin fossils? Real, actual fossils? And that their morphology can be correlated by physical anthropological methods, just like anything else in forensic science?

    You know anything about physical anthropology? They can literally take a single good bone and tell you a whole lot about the individual it came from -- age of death, evidence of disease, approximate size...

    This is how many missing persons are eventually ID'd -- via a few bone fragments that lead back to age, size, approx date of death, etc.

    Learn something about the methods before you criticize them.

    I'm just seriously confused as to what you want here. I thought I presented enough.

    If you are actually interested in studying this out, rather than just debunking evolution (snort chuckle), you can always track down the primary literature cited in those TO articles I linked. They would contain images and modern fossils are always reconstructed very precisely using CAT technology.

    In other words, let's say we have pieces of bones. Put these bones into a CAT scanner. Then, use a simple computer graphics program to generate a mirror immage symmetry of what you see. Then, attach the virtual fossil to the real fossil.

    Obviously, this method isn't even necessary for beautiful specimens like Tiktaalik and the newest A. afarenssis skull:

    Is that "not allowed"?

  6. I really hate talking to anonymous people, but are we supposed to believe that these fossil records, etc. that you (anonymous) speak about - just speaks for itself?

    See also Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils (Baker Boos, 2004), and these videos.