Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Another of Those 'Non-existent' Transitional Forms!

Artist's impression of the amphibious ichthyosaur, Cartorhynchus lenticarpus, crawling over dry land
Credit: University of California at Davis.
Photograph: Stefano Broccoli/PA
A basal ichthyosauriform with a short snout from the Lower Triassic of China : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

I'm beginning to wonder if creationists are using a private definition of 'non-existent'; a definition that includes not only existent but lots of examples and evidence of existence. It's one of the weirdest aspects of creationism that relies so heavily on simple, repetitive denial of the evidence and the assertion that what can be clearly seen just isn't there, and yet it is firmly believed by so many people.

Here, for example, is yet another example of one of those transitional fossils that creationist fraud tell their willing dupes almost daily do not exist, even claiming that 'evolutionists' have been searching for years for one and have never found any. To be fair, this one was only reported a little over a year ago, so creationist frauds probably won't have thought up an excuse to dismiss it yet, so won't have mentioned it on one of their disinformation sites.

It was found by a team led by Professor Ryosuke Motani, from the University of California at Davis, in Anhui Province, China and reported in Nature in January 2015.

The incompleteness of the fossil record obscures the origin of many of the more derived clades of vertebrates. One such group is the Ichthyopterygia, a clade of obligatory marine reptiles that appeared in the Early Triassic epoch, without any known intermediates. Here we describe a basal ichthyosauriform from the upper Lower Triassic (about 248 million years ago) of China, whose primitive skeleton indicates possible amphibious habits. It is smaller than ichthyopterygians and had unusually large flippers that probably allowed limited terrestrial locomotion. It also retained characteristics of terrestrial diapsid reptiles, including a short snout and body trunk. Unlike more-derived ichthyosauriforms, it was probably a suction feeder. The new species supports the sister-group relationships between ichthyosauriforms and Hupehsuchia, the two forming the Ichthyosauromorpha. Basal ichthyosauromorphs are known exclusively from south China, suggesting that the clade originated in the region, which formed a warm and humid tropical archipelago in the Early Triassic. The oldest unequivocal record of a sauropterygian is also from the same stratigraphic unit of the region. [For references see original paper]

© 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with kind permission under licence #3856970347479

This fossil, which is clearly marine but still has the ability to walk on land, almost parallels in reverse the evolution of terrestrial tetrapods from fish, and fills in the gap between terrestrial reptiles and the fully-marine ichthyosaurs. It was around some 248 million years ago at the start of the Triassic period. This was about four million years after a mass extinction when about 96% of living species went extinct, probably as a result of volcanic activity in what is now Siberia.

As life began to recover, top predators like this proto-ichthyosaur, would have begun to emerge as living things became more plentiful, opening up a niche for large predators. So, what we have here is not only a predicted 'transitional' species, but one which emerged at just about the time it would have been expected to evolve, and the entire thing, including the mass extinction which later created the niche into which this species evolved, supported by the geological evidence of the cause of the mass extinction and the fossil evidence of this extinction and recovery.

Just as you would expect of a natural process which actually happened, all the available evidence points to exactly the same thing and it all converges on a consistent explanation of what really happened. Creationism, by contrast, has to keep insisting all these things did not happen because the evidence not only doesn't support creationism but actually refutes it, hence the entire creation industry has to be maintained by lying to scientifically illiterate and ignorant people in order to keep them scientifically illiterate and ignorant.

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1 comment :

  1. Y'know, I was frankly astonished in 2003 when I discovered that there were actually people who believed evolution did not exist.

    That was before I encountered people - educated enough to use the Internet! - who actually imagine the earth is flat.


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