Monday, 16 May 2016

A Whale of a Problem For Creationism!

Hector's beaked whale found at Waitpinga Beach
Photo credit: South Australian Museum
Rare whale found on Australian beach believed to be evolutionary throwback | Science | The Guardian

A problem which creationists have to cope with, normally by simply ignoring or denying the evidence, is the problem of redundant structures and genes. These frequently appear in organisms which do not need them any more and look for all the world like they were once needed in an earlier ancestor. They may even still be present in a related species as evidence of common descent.

One of these is the genes for making egg yolk which are still present in placental mammals - which don't have eggs with yolk in them. In humans we have the wonderful example of wisdom teeth which seem to be there now only to provide work for dentists. They are entirely consistent with the fossil evidence that the human maxilla and mandible have become reduced during evolution but our dentistry hasn't kept up with the changes due to a lack of selection pressure, probably because impacted wisdom teeth tend not to inhibit reproduction very much.

Teeth pulled from the beaked whale's skull. The small tooth was above the normal large tooth.
Photo credit: South Australian Museum
Now we have a very nice example from a rare beaked whale, the body of which washed up last February on Waitpinga Beach in South Australian. It was found to have rudimentary fangs which, when removed were found to be covering perfectly normal teeth for a Hector's beaked whale. In these whales, although teeth are present, they don't erupt above the jawline in females. In this individual female however there were two small white fangs.

These teeth don't appear to be a deformity and have never been seen before in this species. The conclusion then is that they are an evolutionary 'throwback' to an earlier dentition which was present in an ancestor. A rare combination of recessive genes maybe.

Two thing that can't explain these regular occurrences of evolutionary throwbacks and vestigial structures found throughout the natural world are intelligent design and special creation. What intelligent designer would include lots of redundant genetics to occasionally make structures which aren't needed and which might even be troublesome? Why would a specially created species have stuff included that it doesn't need but which is present in other 'specially created' species to which is looks related by common descent but which isn't because there supposedly never was a common ancestor?

The main problem with creationism of course is that it didn't happen that way, so the evidence doesn't support it but makes it look foolish. All the evidence supports evolution from a common ancestor because that's actually how it happened.

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3 comments :

  1. Creationists deal with the beaked whales by pretending they don't exist, as far as I can see. The laat time I saw any of them mention a beaked whale was when one pretended that the Baird's Beaked Whale was "so rare that it's not even been given a name"; apparently citing 1930s data or something

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  2. Creationism seems to be in constant conflict with reality, having to pretend things exist for which there is no available evidence and to pretend things for which there is lots of evidence just aren't there. Maybe we should call it unrealism or antirealism.

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  3. Rosa

    I discovered your blog only a few days ago. What a wealth of wonderful information. It's going to take me years to go through it.

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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