Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pterodactyl fossil fills gaps in evolutionary tale

(CNN) -- Scientists say a very rare find of some 20 fossilized pterodactyls has produced the first clear evidence of a controversial theory of evolution.

The fossils were found in north-east China earlier this year, embedded in rock dating back 160 million years, and have been called "Darwinopterus" after the renowned naturalist Charles Darwin.

The creature's discovery has astounded scientists because their age puts them within two recognized groups of pterodactyls -- primitive long-tailed forms and advanced short-tail forms -- and they display characteristics of both.

The combination of features indicates that the primitive pterodactyls evolved relatively quickly, and that certain groups of features changed at the same time.

The researchers say more study is needed to substantiate the idea of that evolution could occur relatively quickly, and that whole parts of a plant or animal's body could change at once.

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Oh no!!

Here is the evidence needed to finally defeat all those crazy creationists!!

A missing link!!!

Wait, what?

Nope, false alarm.

Looks like we have yet another example of micro-evolution which is evident in many species today.

This is nothing more than a series of changes within species and not the great leap in evolution of one species into another species.


Sorry for the interruption and now back to our regular programming.

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The Christian's interpreter


The Word of God is the Christian's rule--and the Spirit of God is the Christian's guide.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2 Timothy 3:16

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes--He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

Most people walk by false rules:

1. Some walk by popular opinions.
2. Some walk by worldly customs.
3. Some walk by providence.
4. Some walk by conscience.
5. Some walk by their own reason.
6. Some walk by other men's examples.
7. Some walk by their own lusts.

But, oh! my dear friends, let me beseech you to walk by none of these false rules--but keep close to the Word and Spirit of God.

William Dyer

26 comments:

ExPatMatt said...

Wayne,

Didn't we establish quite some time ago that you don't know nearly enough about science (or evolution specifically) for your opinion on the subject to be worth anything?

And here's why...

"Here is the evidence needed to finally defeat all those crazy creationists!!".

Wrong. This is evidence regarding the evolution of one specific lineage of pterosaurs that contains potential clues that may apply to other lineages too, nothing will 'defeat' the "crazy creationists" because evidence doesn't matter to them.

"Looks like we have yet another example of micro-evolution which is evident in many species today".

Is this opinion based on anything? Have you read the published paper? Or is it just something you pulled out of your 'creationist stock catch-phrase' collection?


"This is nothing more than a series of changes within species and not the great leap in evolution of one species into another species".

You know that even Ray Comfort accepts speciation, right? That is, one or more new species diverging from a parent population.

You know that we've observed this multiple times in our lifetimes, right?

You know that evolution does not predict crockoducks, right?


Why bother even posting anything about evolution?

All you'll ever do is hand-wave and ignore the evidence in favour of your interpretation of your holy book, so why bother even bringing it up as if you're actually interested in the subject?

Bizarre.

Nohm said...

Wayne,

With all due respect, I encourage you to learn about the actual claims of how evolution works and what it is, before making statements like you did above.

You can think that evolution is complete bunk all you like; I have no problem with that. But if you're going to mock it (which I think you have every right to do), it would be best to first understand what it is you're mocking.

For example:

I doubt either of us would find it very strange if someone said, "I don't like The Smurfs."

I think we'd both find it very strange if someone said, "I don't like The Smurfs because they're orange, have more women than men, and don't wear hats."

Nohm said...

I realize I didn't make my point as clear as I wanted.

It seems strange to me that someone thinks something is bunk, but yet doesn't understand what the claims are that are made by its supporters.

In short, Wayne, if I thought that the claims of evolutionary biologists are the same claims that you seem to think they are, I'd think evolution was garbage also.

Joe A. said...

Could I be provided some layman material to read on evolution? Try to keep the list and info short if you choose to post. I'm not much of a blog conversationalist.

Also, generally speaking, it seems legitimate to be skeptical of macro-evolution, and the excessive hostility toward this position seems strange as well. I will assume that it is my insistence on ignoring the evidence that is the problem.

I'm also genuinely interested in any writings that might establish the usefulness of Darwinian evolution to humanity. Thanks.

ExPatMatt said...

Joe,

I just got through reading Dawkins' latest book; 'The Greatest Show on Earth' and, I have to say, it is a very good introduction into evolutionary theory and the evidence that backs it up. Don't worry, he steers clear of theology!

The problem [with macro-evolution] is that it's not what creationists seem to think it is. It's actually just the accumulation of years of micro-evolution, seen by comparing species at two arbitrary points in time. Creationists phrase it as if it should happen all in one step (like Latin --> English in one jump).

Actually you have almost imperceptible changes from one generation to the next. Using the Latin-->English analogy, there was never a time when one generation couldn't communicate with the next, was there? Even though they're two different languages.

And yet here we are, French, English and Italian all derived from the common ancestor (Latin). That's macro-evolution of language, but it happens by small, micro-evolutionary changes each generation.


The usefulness of evolution can best be seen in modern medicine, but that's beside the point. A scientific observation doesn't have to benefit mankind in order to be correct, does it?

Cheers,

nestor said...

OH DARWIN HELP ME TO BELIEVE IN YOUR THEORIES. AT THIS POINT IM FAITHLESS IN YOU. REASON? YOU HAVE NOT A GRAIN OF EVIDENCE OF YOUR "THEORY" SORRY THAT IM A UNBELIEVER IN YOU.
ON THE OTHER HAND I WILL CONTINUE TO BE A BELIEVER IN NOT JUST A THEORY , BUT THE TRUE EVOLUTIONER OF HEARTS. THAT CHANGE THEM FROM A SAVAGE STATE INTO A HEART FULL OF COMPASION. SORRY MR DARWIN, OR NIETZCHE. I PASSS IN THIS ONE ONCE AGAIN.

Nohm said...

Nestor,

I *think* I understand what you're getting at, and you couldn't be more wrong.

I don't "believe in" scientific theories, I "accept" them.

I'm also guessing you're one of the "it's just a theory" kind of people.

Joe A,

Dawkins has some decent evolution-for-laymen books, as does Ken Miller. I'm sure there's more. For myself, I've just spent the past 12 years learning about it, which I started after the whole fiasco in Kansas. Therefore, I'm not fully up-to-date on laymen's books on the subject. I'm sure if you go to the wearesmrt blog, or any other pro-science blog, you'll get plenty of better answers of good books than I can give you.

I think the problem happens when someone takes a layman's definition and then tries to use that as an actual definition.

For example, if someone asked me what computer programming was, and I answered with, "it's entering commands into a computer to tell it what to do", it would be strange if the person objected when they entered "Download Halo 2" into a word document.

I see the equivalent with evolution often.

Also, regarding "macro-evolution"... as expatmatt says above, what evolutionary biologists mean by that term is drastically different than what most creationists mean by that. I think that tends to lead to the "excessive hostility" (although I think that's hyperbole, as I think "depressing frustation at the reluctance of other people to do research" is more accurate).

As for an explanation of "macro-evolution", I think expatmatt did a fine job, but you can learn more at http://www.talkorigins.org

Even http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution is a good place to start.

Like I said above, you are under no obligation to accept any of the claims made by evolutionary biologists... my only request is that people know and understand what those claims are.

Wayne Dawg said...

How does science make the determination from this one fossil to conclude that it is 'any' kind of evolution to begin with?

How about a theory that say's this particular pterodactyl family was not a 'gap-filler' at all and were nothing more than a different breed within the same species?

Could that be possible?

If not possible, why not?

Wayne Dawg said...

Above first paragraph should read....

How does science make the determination from this one fossil group to conclude that it is 'any' kind of evolution to begin with?

ExPatMatt said...

Wayne,

The article you quoted said it best. There were two known groups of organisms with distinctive characteristics - obviously very different species. They were separated by a substantial period of time.

The new find fits right into that time period and the fossils themselves show characteristics of both the earlier and later groups.

This is almost exactly what creationists 'claim' they want to see out of a transitional form; half one thing, half another thing. That's exactly what this find shows and the dating works out too.

We know that it's 'any' kind of evolution because evolution merely requires that a population imperfectly reproduces in order for it to occur. Are you suggesting that this species didn't reproduce, or that they did but by means of cloning?



Hey nestor,

Stop shouting.

Wayne Dawg said...

I'll ask again.......

How about a theory that say's this particular pterodactyl family was not a 'gap-filler' at all and were nothing more than a different breed within the same species?

Could that be possible?

If not possible, why not?

ExPatMatt said...

Wayne,

It is entirely possible that the species that has recently been written about was not the direct ancestor of the species that are know from the time period after them. They could be members of a population that simply went extinct.


However, as you are acknowledging, they must - at least - be a breed/variety/subspecies of an earlier species, because otherwise where did they come from?

Likewise, the later species are a breed/variety/subspecies of an earlier species too (otherwise where did they come from?).


So we have an early group of pterosaurs that has certain characteristics and by way of micro-evolution will give rise to new breeds/varieties/sub-species. Then ... after a gap in the fossil record, we have another group of pterosaurs that show a different set of characteristics. Now we find a group, from the intermediate time period, that shows characteristics of both....

It doesn't take a genius to see that this new find fits into the pterosaur's family tree in-between the two pre-exisiting groups, does it?


But you are demonstrating the classic creationist dishonesty here. You're quite willing to say that 'evolution hasn't been proven' or 'where are the missing links' or whatever. But when there's a find that exactly meets the criteria that even creationists agree to, you disregard it out of hand.

It's extremely disingenuous to even pretend that any fossil evidence will sway your opinion on the matter, so why bother even mentioning it?

ExPatMatt said...

Cont.

Let me go back to the languages example.

Let's say we find a piece of text somewhere in England in the year 800 and it contains bits of Latin and a few bits of what we recognize as early-English.

We know that Latin was spoken before, and we know that English is spoken now. Are you going to deny that this evidence fits nicely into the chain of an evolving language? Of course not, because it doesn't affect your religious views to do so.

If it weren't for the fact that you feel that you have to deny evolution for religious reasons, you'd accept the overwhelming evidence for it as well; as many other - not-so-literal-in-their-interpretation-of-Genesis - Christians do.


Cheers,

Wayne Dawg said...

"If it weren't for the fact that you feel that you have to deny evolution for religious reasons, you'd accept the overwhelming evidence for it as well; as many other - not-so-literal-in-their-interpretation-of-Genesis - Christians do."

Sorry I have not been able to respond with the speed I have in the past. It seems I only have time first thing in the morning lately.

My 'religious' reason for not believing in macro-evolution is simple; God saved me and revealed His Word to me.

This does seem like foolishness to you; I know. I once stood on the same side of the fence as you are standing on now.

I know Gods Word is true.

This is not a warm fuzzy feeling I have. This is not some special intuition. This is not some great leap of faith.

I know the Bible and God's Word are truth. How...how do I know?

I could tell you of the harmony of the Scriptures over a 1,500 year period from 40 authors and 66 books.

I could tell you of all the prophecies that have been fulfilled.

Although the Bible is not a history book, it has details of ancient history that has only recently been discovered to be true.

The Bible has withstood the test of time from men who have tried to banish from the face of the Earth.

But in the end all of that doesn't matter to a non-believer.

You asked me in the current post how do I know all those things you mentioned to be true.

Matt, I was changed on October 29th, 1994.

I was somewhere I really didn't want to be (the brand new Georgia Dome) listening to someone I didn't want to listen to (Billy Graham).

I was only there because my mother wanted to see Graham because she thought it might be the last time he came to Atlanta.

I agreed to take her and my family came along. My oldest son was only 7 at the time. It was a great adventure for him; but not for me.

I didn't want to hear about the things of God. I did'nt want to hear the people singing. I didn't want anything to do with 'religion'.

But then 'it' happened.

God convicted me of my sins and drew me to Himself.

On the 50 yard line of the Dome I repented of my sins and put my trust in Christ; and He saved me.

I went to my knees seeing the world in color and stood up seeing the world in black and white through the lens of God's Word.

He changed me and continues to do that to this very day.

When it all comes down to it Matt, all I have is a personal experience of an interaction with God; and that's all I need.

No one could have convinced me of God before that day; I was standing where you are standing today.

All the talk of apologetics about God or the Christian faith is never going to convince you of it's authenticity.

The only way you are ever going to 'know' it's all true like I do now is to repent of your sins and put your trust in Christ to save you.

Peace

ExPatMatt said...

Wayne,

Thanks for the testimony.

There are many people who claim with equal fervor that they 'know' God, except that knowledge doesn't force them to deny evolution.

There's nothing in being saved, as far as I've heard, that compels you to take a literal, science-textbook approach to Genesis.

However, as you've made clear above, and I think once before, your 'knowledge' regarding the nature of God and the Bible puts you in a position where you have no choice - as far as I can tell - but to believe in a recent, special creation.

That being said, it doesn't matter what evidence scientists find. It wouldn't matter if we had a fossil from every species that ever lived. It is literally impossible for you to be swayed by natural evidence....


...so why bother posting about it as if you doubt evolution based on a lack of evidence or evidence against it, when actually you just 'know' that it's wrong because of you being saved?

Nohm said...

I gotta agree with ExPatMatt here; it appears that your current understanding of evolution (which is, in my opinion, flawed) seems to go at odds with your religious beliefs.

I think ExPatMatt's first point is that it only needs to be at odds if you take Genesis 1 and 2 literally and you believe in a young universe and earth.

Since most Christians (maybe False Converts in your opinion) don't take Genesis 1 and 2 literally, or believe in a young universe and earth, most Christians don't have a problem with evolution and, instead, see it as God's wonderful method of creation.

Joe A. said...

The language analogy is curious because it's still a language. I understand analogies only go so far but it just seems that micro-evolution definitely accounts for changes within a species but as far as a stand-alone species coming forth from slight, successive modifications in the micro-stage, so to speak, I'm just unconvinced at this point.

Dawkins' new book is really shiny. I flipped through it a little bit at the bookstore. The particular "debate" I raed seemed a bit pitiful against him. I forgot what her name was. I do think he should choose to accept more challenging opponents occasionally; for example, on the existence of God, I am disappointed that he turned down William Lane Craig, although Hitchens debated with him.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. I'm out [of this post].

ExPatMatt said...

Joe,

I know you said you're out (of the post) but I'm going to respond anyway!

"The language analogy is curious because it's still a language".

Of course. What did you expect was going to happen? The purpose of the analogy is to demonstrate how substantial change (to the point that I couldn't have a conversation with a Latin-speaker) can arise with imperceptible change at the generational level.

"I understand analogies only go so far but it just seems that micro-evolution definitely accounts for changes within a species...".

What does 'change within a species' mean?

"...but as far as a stand-alone species coming forth from slight, successive modifications in the micro-stage, so to speak, I'm just unconvinced at this point".

That's speciation and it has been observed multiple times in multiple genus's within our lifetimes. Just remember; even when a new species becomes distinct it still belongs to the same genus, family, order, kingdom etc, A dog will never evolve out of being a mammal, for instance.

Any questions, just ask.

Nohm said...

I'm also curious what Joe A meant when he wrote "stand-alone species".

What is a "stand-alone species"?

I don't think that there is such a thing, to my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

"Just remember; even when a new species becomes distinct it still belongs to the same genus, family, order, kingdom etc, A dog will never evolve out of being a mammal, for instance."

I find that very interesting!

A dog will never evolve out of being a mammal???

But it evolved into one???

If the dog evolved into a mammal, why can't it evolve out of being a mammal??


Just observing the dialog!

JOTD

Nohm said...

"If the dog evolved into a mammal, why can't it evolve out of being a mammal??"

That sentence does not make any sense at all.

The statement "a dog evolved into a mammal", which appears to be Anonymous' understanding, is absolutely silly.

A dog *is* a mammal. Taxonomy is your friend.

This again goes to my point that most people who object to evolution have little to no understanding of how it works. That's perfectly fine. I just think that such people shouldn't talk about a subject until they understand the subject to some degree.

Anonymous said...

I don't object to evolution but I find the statement odd based on the fact that evolution science has to admit that everything came from a single source; whatever that is.

So if everything came from a single source, then everything evolved into what it is today.

The single source evolved into:

Mammals
Reptiles
Insects
Plants

Etc..

Why can't a dog not evolve into a new species of reptile over a billion years?

Both the reptile and the mammal have the same source beggining.

Nohm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nohm said...

Why can't a dog not [sic] evolve into a new species of reptile over a billion years?

Because that would be evolution on the Class level.

Species (such as "dog", aka the canis lupus species) evolve on the Species level.

Nohm said...

Anonymous, I encourage you to check out the following link:

Wikipedia entry about biological classification

ExPatMatt said...

What Nohm said.

I will say that if you have to ask a question like;

"Why can't a dog not evolve into a new species of reptile over a billion years?".

Then you have some fundamental misunderstandings about evolution that you should probably address before coming to any decision on its veracity.

Wiki is a good starting point.

Cheers,