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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Evolution: In 95 million years ... couldn't you at least have learned to write a thank-you note?

British physicist David Tyler writes about the 95 million-year-old octopus that did not evolve at all:

This is where there was another big surprise. In papers published during the past 15 years, a variety of dates have been proposed for the evolutionary origins of the octopoda. Palaeoctopus was perceived as a stem group animal rather than representative of modern forms. All this has now changed, because one of the three species can be located within the family of extant animals.

"But what surprised the scientists most was how similar the specimens are to modern octopus: "these things are 95 million years old, yet one of the fossils is almost indistinguishable from living species." This provides important evolutionary information. "The more primitive relatives of octopuses had fleshy fins along their bodies. The new fossils are so well preserved that they show, like living octopus, that they didn't have these structures." This pushes back the origins of modern octopus by tens of millions of years, and while this is scientifically significant, perhaps the most remarkable thing about these fossils is that they exist at all."

The first take-home message emerging from the new finds concerns stasis. This theme appears from time to time on this blog and it will continue to do so because stasis is an important characteristic of the fossil record. Darwinians are so fixated on variation that they search avidly for minor changes without embracing the big picture (represented by stasis). For more on this, go
here and here.

The second point worth making is that the literature is wedded to the paradigm of evolutionary transformation. There is so strong a focus on tracing evolutionary lineages that other explanatory frameworks are not even considered. All variants tend to be given an evolutionary interpretation, and the grand claim is made: these new finds help us understand the way these animals evolved. In the case of octopods, there is so little data that any claims like this should be treated with suspicion.

Tyler is right here. As a handy guide for the lay reader: In a great many cases, "new finds help us understand the way these animals evolved" is jargon for "new finds demonstrate that these animals didn't really evolve. They strutted around on the stage of life in a more or less consistent form and then disappeared."
We still await the science theory that sheds light on this, and it isn't Darwin's. Yet the kids are learning Darwin in school, with fanatics banning any discussion of the fact that it is a fairy tale.
(Note: I consider "creationism" in its raw form a copout. Simply saying God dunit isn't telling most people in the Western world anything we don't already think true or any new information either. A science theory would help us understand in science terms the process by which creatures appear suddenly, remain in place, and exit suddenly. Which seems to be mostly what happens.)
See also: Variation and stasis within trilobite species; Newly discovered life forms raise question: 600 Antarctic deep-sea animals, most new to science; Stasis - amber preserved insects (Tyler); Evidence shows mostly stasis, not evolution - a challenge to Darwinism. Stasis - amber-preserved insects (Tyler) Midges show little change over time - why stasis should be considred more important than it is. Stasis: Compsocidae as an insect example of stasis from Cretaceous era (Tyler); Stasis (Tyler) Darwinian attempts to account for stasis (little change in life forms over time); Stasis - and Jurassic shrimp (Tyler); Challenge to Darwinism Stasis - and leaf insects (Tyler); Stasis in their fossil recordStasis - pycnogonids (sea spiders)

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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