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  Topic: Evolution of the horse; a problem for Darwinism?, For Daniel Smith to present his argument< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,14:26   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Sep. 22 2007,04:58)
Uh, no, it's a package deal. Either you are endorsing all four of the definitional components, or you should be using another term.

OK, let me be more specific:
Gradualism is what one would expect to see if the mechanism for evolutionary change were random mutations and natural selection.  If you think that it must entail entire populations and their entire geographical range, then fine - show that by the evidence in the fossil record.

--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
Henry J



Posts: 4098
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,14:37   

Quote


    In this Darwinian perspective, paleontology formulated its picture for the origin of new taxa. This picture, though rarely articulated, is familiar to all of us. We refer to it here as ?phyletic gradualism? and identify the following as its tenets:

   (1) New species arise by the transformation of an ancestral population into its modified descendants.

   (2) The transformation is even and slow.

   (3) The transformation involves large numbers, usually the entire ancestral population.

   (4) The transformation occurs over all or a large part of the ancestral species? geographic range.



Darwinian? If I recall correctly, Darwin suggested that evolution is apt to occur in a minority of a species, on the fringe of its territory. That stuff about it being the whole species at once was tacked on later by other scientists.

Afaik, only point 1 of those is part of the current theory as phrased above. Number 2 needs a qualifying phrase saying slow relative to the generational span of the species - i.e., that could still be fast relative to geologic eras.

Henry

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,15:01   

Quote (jeannot @ Sep. 22 2007,05:02)
         
Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,04:07)
What then, is your position on the lack of evidence in the fossil record for gradualism?

Mine is rather straightforward:
Given the billions of animal and plant species that have existed, we've only collected a very small fraction of them as fossils.

We don't expect to find most transitional forms.

But we have found millions of fossil remains for many types of organisms.  Why then do we still find no evidence of smooth, gradual transitions between types?  

         
Quote
"As we all know, Darwin's theory of evolutionary descent asserts that organisms evolve slowly and very gradually through the smallest of individual steps, through the accumulation of an infinite number of small transformations.  Consequently, the fossil organic world would have to consist of an uninterrupted, undivided continuum of forms; as Darwin himself said, geological strata must be filled with the remains of every conceivable transitional form between taxonomic groups, between types of organizations and structural designs of differing magnitudes.

Fossil material did not then and, based on the present state of our knowledge, does not today meet this challenge, not by a long shot. It is true that we know of countless lineages with continuous transformation, in as uninterrupted a sequence as could be desired.  However, each time we go back to the beginning of these consistent, abundantly documented series, we stand before an unbridgeable gulf.  The series break off and do not lead beyond the boundaries of their own particular structural type.  The link connecting them is not discernible; the individual structural designs stand apart, beside one another or in sequence, without true transitional forms"

Otto H. Schindewolf, "Basic Questions in Paleontology", pp 102-103


And later, when speaking of the sudden appearance of new structural types, Schindewolf comments:
     
Quote
" And these are by no means just isolated occurrences; these strange new forms are usually also represented by large numbers of individuals.  Nonetheless, there is no connecting link with the stock from which they derived.  The continuity of the other species gives us no reason to suspect interruptions in the deposition of the layers, or subsequent destruction of layers already deposited, which, furthermore, would be revealed by other geological criteria.  Nothing is missing here, and even drastic changes in living conditions are excluded, for the facies remain the same.

Further, when we see this situation repeated in all stratigraphic sequences of the same time period all over the world... we cannot resort to attributing this phenomenon to immigration of the new type from areas not yet investigated, where perhaps a gradual, slowly progressing evolution had taken place. What we have here must be primary discontinuities, natural evolutionary leaps, and not circumstantial accidents of discovery and gaps in the fossil record"

ibid. pp 104-105 (emphasis his)


--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
Henry J



Posts: 4098
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,15:38   

Quote
No mainstream scientist that I know of has found evidence of a 6-10,000 year old Earth/Universe. I always wonder why those who question science in favour of YECism don't think about that.


My guess: Those who do think about that realize that they don't have an evidence based argument, so they don't go around claiming to have one. So the only ones we here from are the ones who didn't think.

Henry

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,15:41   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,15:01)
Quote (jeannot @ Sep. 22 2007,05:02)
† † † † †
Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,04:07)
What then, is your position on the lack of evidence in the fossil record for gradualism?

Mine is rather straightforward:
Given the billions of animal and plant species that have existed, we've only collected a very small fraction of them as fossils.

We don't expect to find most transitional forms.

But we have found millions of fossil remains for many types of organisms. †Why then do we still find no evidence of smooth, gradual transitions between types? †

No evidence? I doubt it. I'm not a paleontologist, but I heard they can study vicariance with the fossil record. That involve fossil species that are very similar, supporting gradualism.
And I'm not sure we have fossil remains for millions of species.
Let's take hominids. Only rather recently have we discovered many of the forms that separate us from the common ancestor we have with chimps.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,17:13   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,14:26)
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Sep. 22 2007,04:58)
Uh, no, it's a package deal. Either you are endorsing all four of the definitional components, or you should be using another term.

OK, let me be more specific:
Gradualism is what one would expect to see if the mechanism for evolutionary change were random mutations and natural selection.  If you think that it must entail entire populations and their entire geographical range, then fine - show that by the evidence in the fossil record.

What does it take to convince people that they don't just get to make up their own definitions for terms that are already in use in evolutionary science? I've been running into Humpty-Dumptyism left and right ever since getting involved in these discussions.

"Gradualism" is already in use. Broadly, it means non-saltational change. There's nothing about it that requires that such properties of change occur by particular mechanisms. "Phyletic gradualism" is already in use. It means the conjunction of the four tenets listed already.

You don't have to take my word on it for either of these; consult any competent evolutionary science textbook and you'll find the same thing. That's something that can't be done for the personal connotations of terms, like Daniel's mishmash for "gradualism".

Now, as for "phyletic gradualism" being a term applicable to describing an actual stance on how the fossil record came to look the way it does, I've long said that it has a lot of the character of a strawman.

Actually, it is Daniel's claim that the fossil record is in a particular state. I'd be interested to know what experience Daniel has that would underwrite his confidence in his claim. But even more basic than that is getting some concrete idea of what the claim is... that is, I'd like to see some anchors tying the goalposts in place before going any much further with the game. As it stands, Daniel says that one doesn't see something in the fossil record, but he doesn't seem to have any clear notion of just what it is or what actual paleontologists would call it.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
George



Posts: 313
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,18:03   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,14:26)
Gradualism is what one would expect to see if the mechanism for evolutionary change were random mutations and natural selection.  If you think that it must entail entire populations and their entire geographical range, then fine - show that by the evidence in the fossil record.

You would only expect to see gradualism if natural selection pressures were relatively constant or changed only slowly.  If  selective forces change abruptly, would you not also expect to see rapid evolutionary change (and lots of extinctions)?  For example, we know that the climate in the past has changed very quickly, for example during shifts between ice ages and interglacial periods.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4511
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,18:51   

No, you'd also expect gradualism (i.e., non-saltational change) if any incremental evolutionary process is in play, which would include genetic drift.

--------------
"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
JAM



Posts: 503
Joined: July 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,21:05   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,04:11)
Quote (JAM @ Sep. 20 2007,17:43)
†  
Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 20 2007,02:13)
I've also read recently, the excellent books "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" and "Nature's Destiny" by Michael Denton.

Didja happen to notice that the latter book walks back from the position taken in the former book?

Not really. †In the first book, he doesn't really give us an alternative hypothesis; all he does is point out the many deficiencies of the currently held evolutionary theory.

Yes, really. In the first book, he treats the reader to such dishonest misrepresentations as a "purely random process of natural selection," as well as the somewhat more sublime idiocy of his failure to understand basic taxonomic relationships, as well as the idea that conserved amino-acid residues represent functional constraints, in his laughable centerpiece of cytochrome sequences.
Quote
In the second book, he starts to give us his own alternative: a designed universe and directed evolution.

I see no conflict.

That's predictable. Do you see any evidence? I'm struck by the mind-boggling conflict between your claim to be interested in evidence, while simultaneously conflating evidence with opinion.

Have you ever read a paper from the primary biological literature--you know, those ones that have new data in them?

Has Denton ever published any data? If not, why not?

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,21:57   

Quote (Peter Henderson @ Sep. 22 2007,11:43)
If you saw 10 clocks Daniel, and 9 of them were reading the same time and the tenth was different which one would you choose ? I know what I would think. I would assume the one that was different was in error.

We are talking about people here - not clocks.
If you were in a meeting, and nine out of ten people agreed with everything the boss said, but one disagreed, would you automatically go along with the 9 or listen closely to the 1?

--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 22 2007,22:04   

Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Sep. 22 2007,17:13)
Actually, it is Daniel's claim that the fossil record is in a particular state. I'd be interested to know what experience Daniel has that would underwrite his confidence in his claim. But even more basic than that is getting some concrete idea of what the claim is... that is, I'd like to see some anchors tying the goalposts in place before going any much further with the game. As it stands, Daniel says that one doesn't see something in the fossil record, but he doesn't seem to have any clear notion of just what it is or what actual paleontologists would call it.

My main source for my argument about paleontology is Otto Schindewolf's "Basic Questions in Paleontology". †

I'm pretty sure Schindewolf qualifies as an "actual paleontologist". †

Did you read the quotes I supplied from that book in any of my posts so far?

--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
creeky belly



Posts: 205
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,00:24   

Quote

We are talking about people here - not clocks.
If you were in a meeting, and nine out of ten people agreed with everything the boss said, but one disagreed, would you automatically go along with the 9 or listen closely to the 1?

Except there is no authority here; if you follow the scientific method properly, there is no boss. I wouldn't use the clocks as an example, it reminds me of the fallacy: "50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong". The truth is that most scientists do use some sort of Bayesian approach to new claims, since there is a lot that we already know.
   
Quote
"As we all know, Darwin's theory of evolutionary descent asserts that organisms evolve slowly and very gradually through the smallest of individual steps, through the accumulation of an infinite number of small transformations.  Consequently, the fossil organic world would have to consist of an uninterrupted, undivided continuum of forms; as Darwin himself said, geological strata must be filled with the remains of every conceivable transitional form between taxonomic groups, between types of organizations and structural designs of differing magnitudes.

This assumes that fossilization is a uniform process throughout the lineage of a species. Unfortunately, fossilization is a relatively rare event, and to see such a process is very unlikely. This doesn't mean we see nothing.
   
Quote

Fossil material did not then and, based on the present state of our knowledge, does not today meet this challenge, not by a long shot. It is true that we know of countless lineages with continuous transformation, in as uninterrupted a sequence as could be desired.  However, each time we go back to the beginning of these consistent, abundantly documented series, we stand before an unbridgeable gulf.  The series break off and do not lead beyond the boundaries of their own particular structural type.  The link connecting them is not discernible; the individual structural designs stand apart, beside one another or in sequence, without true transitional forms"

This is demonstrably false. It's like staring at a puzzle after a few pieces have been laid out and saying "We'll never see the picture of Garfield." It's absurd. Look at whale evolution: this use to be trotted out by creationists as an impossible transition only to find that it existed in the fossil record.. You can quote this book all you want, but you're in a poor position to rebut considering that the book is about 60 years old. There have been numerous discoveries of transitional forms in fish, birds, and mammals since then, all of which dispute this point. This doesn't even get into disciplines like genetics, where you'll have an even worse time. Please continue, though. I'm interested what this man from the past thinks we'll never find.

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,04:07   

Quote (creeky belly @ Sep. 23 2007,00:24)
     
Quote
"As we all know, Darwin's theory of evolutionary descent asserts that organisms evolve slowly and very gradually through the smallest of individual steps, through the accumulation of an infinite number of small transformations.  Consequently, the fossil organic world would have to consist of an uninterrupted, undivided continuum of forms; as Darwin himself said, geological strata must be filled with the remains of every conceivable transitional form between taxonomic groups, between types of organizations and structural designs of differing magnitudes.

This assumes that fossilization is a uniform process throughout the lineage of a species. Unfortunately, fossilization is a relatively rare event, and to see such a process is very unlikely. This doesn't mean we see nothing.

Schindewolf was a paleontologist.  He knew how fossilization occurred.  To accuse him of assuming something when (I'm pretty sure) you haven't read the book is presumptuous.  He bases his arguments on a multitude of fossil lineages that are thoroughly understood. He spends 55 pages discussing evolutionary patterns among the Cephalopods and the Stony Corals.  He uses real world examples in support of his arguments.
   
Quote
and to see such a process is very unlikely.
But we do see it (transitional forms) over and over and over again - only they are not transitional between types, but only within types.  Now I ask you: Why is it that only these transitional forms are preserved?
           
Quote
   
Quote

Fossil material did not then and, based on the present state of our knowledge, does not today meet this challenge, not by a long shot. It is true that we know of countless lineages with continuous transformation, in as uninterrupted a sequence as could be desired.  However, each time we go back to the beginning of these consistent, abundantly documented series, we stand before an unbridgeable gulf.  The series break off and do not lead beyond the boundaries of their own particular structural type.  The link connecting them is not discernible; the individual structural designs stand apart, beside one another or in sequence, without true transitional forms"

This is demonstrably false. It's like staring at a puzzle after a few pieces have been laid out and saying "We'll never see the picture of Garfield." It's absurd. Look at whale evolution: this use to be trotted out by creationists as an impossible transition only to find that it existed in the fossil record.. You can quote this book all you want, but you're in a poor position to rebut considering that the book is about 60 years old. There have been numerous discoveries of transitional forms in fish, birds, and mammals since then, all of which dispute this point. This doesn't even get into disciplines like genetics, where you'll have an even worse time. Please continue, though. I'm interested what this man from the past thinks we'll never find.

Schindewolf had no arguments against whale evolution to my knowledge.  He did point out that - despite their similar habitats, ichthyosaurs and whales remained reptiles and mammals respectively and did not revert to "the organizations found in fish".  

You have to remember that Schindewolf is no creationist.  He advocated saltational evolution of types, followed by gradual evolution within types.  He did something remarkable: he tailored his views to fit the evidence rather than trying to make the evidence fit his views.

--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
oldmanintheskydidntdoit



Posts: 4999
Joined: July 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,04:12   

Daniel,
Just to get a feel for your position, if we say that 100% is every living creature that ever existed then what % would you say are represented in the fossil record?

I.E what % of all living creatures fossilize?

--------------
I also mentioned that He'd have to give me a thorough explanation as to *why* I must "eat human babies".
FTK

if there are even critical flaws in Gaugerís work, the evo mat narrative cannot stand
Gordon Mullings

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,04:14   

Quote (JAM @ Sep. 22 2007,21:05)
Has Denton ever published any data?


Have a look.

Have you?

--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,04:22   

Quote (oldmanintheskydidntdoit @ Sep. 23 2007,04:12)
Daniel,
Just to get a feel for your position, if we say that 100% is every living creature that ever existed then what % would you say are represented in the fossil record?

I.E what % of all living creatures fossilize?

No idea.  

I have a question for you:
What % of transitional versus non-transitional forms are fossilized?

Is there some difference that makes the transitional forms more resistant to fossilization than their non-transitional counterparts?

--------------
"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
creeky belly



Posts: 205
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,05:40   

Quote
Schindewolf was a paleontologist.  He knew how fossilization occurred.  To accuse him of assuming something when (I'm pretty sure) you haven't read the book is presumptuous.  He bases his arguments on a multitude of fossil lineages that are thoroughly understood. He spends 55 pages discussing evolutionary patterns among the Cephalopods and the Stony Corals.  He uses real world examples in support of his arguments.

I'm sure he understood the process of fossilization and I've seen his data (although I'm surprised with the amount of life that's inhabited the planet compared to the number of fossils, he would be so shocked to see gaps in the fossil record. I guess he wanted a poster child for the transition). He could have spent 250 pages and it still wouldn't make a difference, this is not 1950. He used the evidence that he had at the time to construct an argument and made a case.  Now we have something like this:

And here
       
Quote

But we do see it (transitional forms) over and over and over again - only they are not transitional between types, but only within types.  Now I ask you: Why is it that only these transitional forms are preserved?

Do you mean "archetypes" like he writes on page 411? As he says: "In contrast, we stay with the objective natural data and strive to arrange the morphological steps in the system in their natural sequence." So let's look at fossils that have been discovered since 1950: how about the Therapsid-Mammal transition, are they far enough apart? Try Colbert and Morales (1991) or Strahler(1987). Reptile-Amphibian? Try here. Fish-Amphibian? Try here!
Quote
You have to remember that Schindewolf is no creationist.  He advocated saltational evolution of types, followed by gradual evolution within types.  He did something remarkable: he tailored his views to fit the evidence rather than trying to make the evidence fit his views.

Sure, and his ideas were shown through observation to be incomplete, and in most cases incorrect.

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1373
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,06:40   

Quote
We are very lucky to have fossils at all. After an animal dies many conditions have to be met if it is to become a fossil, and one or other of those conditions usually is not met. Personally, I would consider it an honor to be fossilized but I don't have much hope of it. If all the creatures which had ever lived had in fact been fossilized we would be wading knee deep in fossils. The world would be filled with fossils. Perhaps it is just as well that it hasn't happened that way.

Because it is particularly difficult for an animal without a hard skeleton to be fossilized, most of the fossils we find are of animals with hard skeletons - vertebrates with bones, mollusks with their shells, arthropods with their external skeleton. If the ancestors of these were all soft and then same offspring evolved a hard skeleton, the only fossilized animals would be those more recent varieties. Therefore, we expect fossils to appear suddenly in the geologic record and that's one reason groups of animals suddenly appear in the Cambrian Explosion.

There are rare instances in which the soft parts of animals are preserved as fossils. One case is the famous Burgess Shale which is one of the best beds from the Cambrian Era (between 500 million and 600 million years ago) mentioned in this quotation. What must have happened is that the ancestors of these creatures were evolving by the ordinary slow processes of evolution, but they were evolving before the Cambrian when fossilizing conditions were not very good and many of them did not have skeletons anyway. It is probably genuinely true that in the Cambrian there was a very rapid flowering of multicellular life and this may have been when a large number of the great animal phyla did evolve. If they did, their essential divergence during a period of about 10 million years is very fast. However, bearing in mind the Stebbins calculation and the Nilsson calculation, it is actually not all that fast. There is some recent evidence from molecular comparisons among modern animals which suggests that there may not have been a Cambrian explosion at all, anyway. Modern phyla may well have their most recent common ancestors way back in the Precambrian.

As I said, we're actually lucky to have fossils at all. In any case, it is misleading to think that fossils are the most important evidence for evolution. Even if there were not a single fossil anywhere in the earth, the evidence for evolution would still be utterly overwhelming.* We would be in the position of a detective who comes upon a crime after the fact. You can't see the crime being committed because it has already happened. But there is evidence lying all around. To pursue any case, most detectives and most courts of law are happy with 2-3 clues that point in the right direction.
(*my emphasis)

Richard Dawkins

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,06:44   

Quote (oldmanintheskydidntdoit @ Sep. 23 2007,04:12)
Daniel,
Just to get a feel for your position, if we say that 100% is every living creature that ever existed then what % would you say are represented in the fossil record?

I.E what % of all living creatures fossilize?

And multiply that by the % of fossils that are actually found by paleontologists.

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,06:49   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 23 2007,04:07)
But we do see it (transitional forms) over and over and over again - only they are not transitional between types, but only within types. †

What do you mean by different "types". Something like fishes and tetrapods, saurians and mammals, dinosaurs and birds...?

  
JAM



Posts: 503
Joined: July 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,10:31   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 23 2007,04:14)
Quote (JAM @ Sep. 22 2007,21:05)
Has Denton ever published any data?


Have a look.


No data that pertain to his two books. Why is that, Daniel? If he has any real passion about the subject(s) of his two books, why not test their assumptions, such as his idiotic assumption that conservation of a residue represents a functional constraint?

Quote
Have you?

Of course, and in better journals to boot. More pertinently, I've published more data relevnt to Denton's assumptions than he has. Why is that?

  
JAM



Posts: 503
Joined: July 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,10:37   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 22 2007,22:04)
 
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ Sep. 22 2007,17:13)
...As it stands, Daniel says that one doesn't see something in the fossil record, but he doesn't seem to have any clear notion of just what it is or what actual paleontologists would call it.

My main source for my argument about paleontology is Otto Schindewolf's "Basic Questions in Paleontology". †

But that's a book, not the primary literature. Were you deliberately misleading us when you claimed to be interested in evidence?
Quote
I'm pretty sure Schindewolf qualifies as an "actual paleontologist".

But the opinions of an actual paleontologist aren't actual evidence. †
Quote
Did you read the quotes I supplied from that book in any of my posts so far?

But quotes aren't evidence, either.

You didn't answer my other pointed question: have you ever read a paper from the PRIMARY literature? I mean those papers with actual, new data in them--we real scientists often read them by looking at the figures and tables, because unlike you, we value evidence over opinion.

  
JAM



Posts: 503
Joined: July 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,10:43   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 23 2007,04:22)
Quote (oldmanintheskydidntdoit @ Sep. 23 2007,04:12)
Daniel,
Just to get a feel for your position, if we say that 100% is every living creature that ever existed then what % would you say are represented in the fossil record?

I.E what % of all living creatures fossilize?

No idea.

Then you have no basis for claiming that the incomplete nature of the fossil record represents a problem for modern evolutionary theory.†

I suggest that you look for the relevant evidence. Here's a place to start: passenger pigeons used to be common, now they are extinct. Has anyone ever found a fossilized one?

Quote
I have a question for you:
What % of transitional versus non-transitional forms are fossilized?

You'd have to know the answer, as well as the answer to oldman's question, to come to the conclusion you've already asserted.

Quote
Is there some difference that makes the transitional forms more resistant to fossilization than their non-transitional counterparts?

Are they more "resistant"? How would the concept of "resistance" work anyway, since the issue is one of sampling?

  
Timothy McDougald



Posts: 1014
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,16:36   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 23 2007,04:07)
Quote (creeky belly @ Sep. 23 2007,00:24)
     
Quote
"As we all know, Darwin's theory of evolutionary descent asserts that organisms evolve slowly and very gradually through the smallest of individual steps, through the accumulation of an infinite number of small transformations.  Consequently, the fossil organic world would have to consist of an uninterrupted, undivided continuum of forms; as Darwin himself said, geological strata must be filled with the remains of every conceivable transitional form between taxonomic groups, between types of organizations and structural designs of differing magnitudes.

This assumes that fossilization is a uniform process throughout the lineage of a species. Unfortunately, fossilization is a relatively rare event, and to see such a process is very unlikely. This doesn't mean we see nothing.

Schindewolf was a paleontologist.  He knew how fossilization occurred.  To accuse him of assuming something when (I'm pretty sure) you haven't read the book is presumptuous.  He bases his arguments on a multitude of fossil lineages that are thoroughly understood. He spends 55 pages discussing evolutionary patterns among the Cephalopods and the Stony Corals.  He uses real world examples in support of his arguments.
     
Quote
and to see such a process is very unlikely.
But we do see it (transitional forms) over and over and over again - only they are not transitional between types, but only within types.  Now I ask you: Why is it that only these transitional forms are preserved?
           
Quote
   
Quote

Fossil material did not then and, based on the present state of our knowledge, does not today meet this challenge, not by a long shot. It is true that we know of countless lineages with continuous transformation, in as uninterrupted a sequence as could be desired.  However, each time we go back to the beginning of these consistent, abundantly documented series, we stand before an unbridgeable gulf.  The series break off and do not lead beyond the boundaries of their own particular structural type.  The link connecting them is not discernible; the individual structural designs stand apart, beside one another or in sequence, without true transitional forms"

This is demonstrably false. It's like staring at a puzzle after a few pieces have been laid out and saying "We'll never see the picture of Garfield." It's absurd. Look at whale evolution: this use to be trotted out by creationists as an impossible transition only to find that it existed in the fossil record.. You can quote this book all you want, but you're in a poor position to rebut considering that the book is about 60 years old. There have been numerous discoveries of transitional forms in fish, birds, and mammals since then, all of which dispute this point. This doesn't even get into disciplines like genetics, where you'll have an even worse time. Please continue, though. I'm interested what this man from the past thinks we'll never find.

Schindewolf had no arguments against whale evolution to my knowledge.  He did point out that - despite their similar habitats, ichthyosaurs and whales remained reptiles and mammals respectively and did not revert to "the organizations found in fish".  

You have to remember that Schindewolf is no creationist.  He advocated saltational evolution of types, followed by gradual evolution within types.  He did something remarkable: he tailored his views to fit the evidence rather than trying to make the evidence fit his views.

See, that is the kind of goal post moving Wesley is talking about. Going from land living artiodactyls to ocean going whales is a significant transition, one, I might add, that we have plenty of evidence for. We show him a transition between orders and he demands one between classes. Okay, the reptile mammal transition, which is quite well documented with transitional forms displaying a wide variety of transitional anatomy.

Although Schindewolf may have been a paleontologist, I doubt he had a very solid understanding of the fossilization process. Taphonomy - the study of fossilization - is a very young science. Efremov coined the term in the 1940's but the field didn't take off till the 1970's and 1980's. This is not to say that paleontologists were ignorant of how fossils form and the way the fossil record can be biased, rather we have progressed a good deal since then.

Daniel is mistaken if he thinks Schindewolf is presenting unbiased and unadulterated evidence. Schindewolf had his own theoretical preconceptions that he used to interpret the evidence. Seems to me that if he really wanted to see the evidence he would be looking at the fossils and not the interpretations of Schindewolf and Berg...

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Church burning ebola boy

FTK: I Didn't answer your questions because it beats the hell out of me.

PaV: I suppose for me to be pried away from what I do to focus long and hard on that particular problem would take, quite honestly, hundreds of thousands of dollars to begin to pique my interest.

   
Henry J



Posts: 4098
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,17:02   

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Daniel Smith
Is there some difference that makes the transitional forms more resistant to fossilization than their non-transitional counterparts?


One problem with trying to answer that is that there is no sharp dividing line between "transitional" and "non-transitional". A species is "transitional" if it (or a close relative) produces descendants significantly different than itself; that isn't even a property of the species itself at the time of fossilization, it's a historical occurance afterward.

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oldmanintheskydidntdoit, posted 9/23/07 3:12 AM
Daniel,
Just to get a feel for your position, if we say that 100% is every living creature that ever existed then what % would you say are represented in the fossil record?

I.E what % of all living creatures fossilize?


I recall reading a few years ago that the number of fossil finds that had been studied was around 250 to 500 million. Since quite a few species have multiple finds, the number of species represented would be a good bit less than that.

I wonder how many species have lived in the last 500 million years - would that be more or less than 500 million?

Henry

  
Henry J



Posts: 4098
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,17:04   

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Are they more "resistant"? How would the concept of "resistance" work anyway, since the issue is one of sampling?


Resistance is futile. :p

Henry

  
Daniel Smith



Posts: 970
Joined: Sep. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,17:17   

Quote (JAM @ Sep. 23 2007,10:37)

But that's a book, not the primary literature.

But the opinions of an actual paleontologist aren't actual evidence. †

But quotes aren't evidence, either.

How about opinions quoted from a book by Richard Dawkins?

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"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance." †Orville Wright

"The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question."  Richard Dawkins

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,17:34   

Quote (Daniel Smith @ Sep. 23 2007,17:17)
 
Quote (JAM @ Sep. 23 2007,10:37)

But that's a book, not the primary literature.

But the opinions of an actual paleontologist aren't actual evidence. †

But quotes aren't evidence, either.

How about opinions quoted from a book by Richard Dawkins?

They don't constitute original research either, but at least they are arguments. Not like some "John Do says that the fossil record disproves gradualism".
If you want to disprove the current theory, you have to provide some new evidence or a better interpretation of the observations.

You first need to define what you call "transitional species" between "types".

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,17:48   

Quote (Henry J @ Sep. 23 2007,17:02)
I recall reading a few years ago that the number of fossil finds that had been studied was around 250 to 500 million. Since quite a few species have multiple finds, the number of species represented would be a good bit less than that.

I wonder how many species have lived in the last 500 million years - would that be more or less than 500 million?

Henry

500 million fossils would probably represent at most a million of species, perhaps much less.
Given speciation rates and estimations of current biodiversity, hundreds of billions of species may have lived since the cambrian. I'm not sure if there is an estimation of that number.
What would be interesting is an estimation of the total number of fossil specices for a given group (say animals with skeleton) and a given time range of 1-5 million years. For instance, from -125 to -100 million years. I guess this number is always WAY smaller that the number of known living species of the same group.

  
Erasmus, FCD



Posts: 6349
Joined: June 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 23 2007,18:29   

So I haven't been keeping up so much recently and this is a new thread to me.

Daniel, it seems that you are arguing that there is some bound that constrains evolutionary transition.  I am curious as to why you assume this must be.  As I see it, you either accept that speciation occurs, or it doesn't.  If you accept that it does, then the supposed macro-micro boundary dissolves instantly (indeed, it is a figment of imagination, suriving in the literature because it is a useful fiction for narrative exposition, like any other model).  Why do you invoke boundaries, unless you are wedded to a phenotypical model of evolution?

So you ask about 'transitional forms'.  I can point to several instances of speciation observed and/or reconstructed that do not involve transitional forms.  I would start by pointing out the speciation events that involve contact between lineages of Helianthus sunflowers (see Rieseberg, Nature a few years ago) or the ecological speciation event in Rhagoletis dipterans.  There is no transition.  This does not deny Wesley's point about the gradual process, but it does invoke a question "At what temporal scale do we intend 'gradual' to refer to", I believe this has been addressed above.  The argument against transitional forms or lineages boils down to an assertion that Zeno's Paradox is a true problem.

[Edited to add] And we know that it is not, because I just went to the store.  And I returned as well.

So the saltational opinion can be resolved with the gradualist opinion by virtue of considering that the terms are not necessarily referential to an absolute scale.

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You're obviously illiterate as hell.†Peach, bro.-FtK

Finding something hard to believe based on the evidence, is science.-JoeG

the odds of getting some loathsome taint are low-- Gordon E Mullings Manjack Heights Montserrat

I work on molecular systems with pathway charts and such.-Giggles

  
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