Friday, 4 December 2009

Missing link Croco-duck found!

I'm lifting this directly from JREF, 'cos I'm really short of time, but I love this! Enjoy!

For the past few years, anyone who has been following the Creation vs. Evolution debate has come across the comment by Kirk Cameron, made on the The O'Reilly Factor, that there are no "transitional forms." His exact quote, which demonstrates his general misinformedness as to how evolution actually works, was:

"Plus, Darwin said in order to prove evolution, which is the number one alternative to God, you gotta be able to prove transitional forms. One animal transitioning into another, and all through the fossil record and life we don't find one of these. A croco-duck. There's just nothing like it. There is no one animal transitioning into another"

Not so fast, Cameron. The croco-duck has been found.

In fact, two separate candidates for the coveted title of "croco-duck" have been uncovered in two different parts of the world. The first of these creatures was discovered on the southern coast of Peru. This creature, a pelagornithid, has been described as "a giant, bony-toothed seabird that lived up to 10 million years ago." In the beast's Wikipedia article, we find this bit: "Some believe they are related to gannets and pelicans, while other say they are related to ducks." Of course having no living specimen to examine, we are left to speculate as to what this pre-historic water-fowl with the giant, bony-toothed bill may have looked like. Wikipedia has an artist rendition, but it's approximate. There does, however, seem to be a taxonomical relation between the pelagornithid and the anseriformes, a family which includes -- you guessed it -- ducks. So, candidate one for the title of croco-duck is a duck-like creature with a bill filled with sharp, crocodile-like teeth.

Candidate number two is even more croco-duckish. Dr. Paul Sereno, a Sahara-based Paleontologist with National Geographic, recently unearthed five species of ancient crocodile. One of them, the previously-discovered "Anatosuchus minor," is also known as the "duck crocodile" for it's broad, duck-like snout. This species was originally discovered in 2003 by Dr. Serano in Gadoufaoua, Niger.

So we have two viable candidates for the title of croco-duck. The beauty of this is that these plainly transitional forms would be a lot less noteworthy if the creationists hadn't spent so much time crowing about their non-existence. Alas, they are hoist by their own petard. If you spare even a thought for the pelagornothid, it's likely probably because you're pondering the ironic contrasts between the world the creationists believe in and the one we actually inhabit.

The theory of evolution by natural selection, unlike the falsehoods peddled by Kirk Cameron, is based in many varied and dynamic disciplines. It is a combination of biology, chemistry, physics, archeology, paleontology, astronomy, and more. Central to all of them is the ability to question; to test a hypothesis, and should it prove wrong, to begin again. This is why new evidence is always welcome to the scientist, and so often discomfiting to the believer. Scientists love to unearth croco-ducks. Believers always wish they'd go away.


Paul Pavao said...

Great post! Great fossil finds!

I'm a Christian, following God wholeheartedly and Scripturally, but Christians are supposed to love truth. It's sad that so many Christians have risen up to fight against truth, very sad, because they miss out on things Christians themselves need.

Today Christians have become such book worshipers that they have no power to live as "the Book" prescribes. They are terrified to live freely, trusting that Jesus Christ really is the truth. Opening myself up to evolution and dropping my intensely literal view of the Scriptures have let me see that the Scriptures have always called Christians to be followers of a real God, not followers of a text.

"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).

Laura said...

haha! That's hilarious!

And I totally agree with Paul. Well said!

Rob Clack said...

Sorry about the delay - I've been away.

Yes, well said, Paul!