Saturday, 12 May 2018

And Another of Those 'Missing Links' Isn't

Jurassic croccodile, Magyarosuchus fitosi (artist's impression)
Credit: Márton Szabó
Jurassic fossil is missing link in crocodile family tree | The University of Edinburgh

This week's example of creationism's non-existent missing links comes from the crocodile family tree in the Jurassic. Creationism has no problem with declaring these things to be non-existent to try to force-fit the facts into their preferred model of reality, of course.

This specimen was found by amateur collector, Attila Fitos (hence it's specific name) on a mountain range in north-west Hungary in 1996 and stored in a museum in Budapest. It was unearthed on a mountain range in north-west Hungary in 1996 and stored in a museum in Budapest, where it was examined by a team of palaeontologists including Dr Mark Young from the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh.

It is important to evolutionary biology because it provides the link between two different groups of what was a highly diversified group of crocodylomorphs. One group had a heavily-armoured back and legs for walking on land; the other group had legs modified as flippers and a tail with a dolphin-like tail-fin. What was not clear was how these two were related.

Abstract
Based on associated and three-dimensionally preserved cranial and postcranial remains, a new thalattosuchian crocodyliform, Magyarosuchus fitosi gen. et sp. nov. from the Lower Jurassic (Upper Toarcian) Kisgerecse Marl Formation, Gerecse Mountains, Hungary is described here. Phylogenetic analyses using three different datasets indicate that M. fitosi is the sister taxon of Pelagosaurus typus forming together the basal-most sub-clade of Metriorhynchoidea. With an estimated body length of 4.67–4.83 m M. fitosi is the largest known non-metriorhynchid metriorhynchoid. Besides expanding Early Jurassic thalattosuchian diversity, the new specimen is of great importance since, unlike most contemporaneous estuarine, lagoonal or coastal thalattosuchians, it comes from an ‘ammonitico rosso’ type pelagic deposit of the Mediterranean region of the Tethys. A distal caudal vertebra having an unusually elongate and dorsally projected neural spine implies the presence of at least a rudimentary hypocercal tail fin and a slight ventral displacement of the distal caudal vertebral column in this basal metriorhynchoid. The combination of retaining heavy dorsal and ventral armors and having a slight hypocercal tail is unique, further highlighting the mosaic manner of marine adaptations in Metriorhynchoidea.


This specimen fills that gap, having a mosaic of the two groups, with evidence of armour but a tail with a fin. These intermediate features show M. fitosi to be a sister taxon of Pelagosaurus typus with which it forms a basal group at the evolutionary origin of these two groups.

So here we have yet another 'missing link' gap in the fossil record filled by a species with intermediate features. In other words, what creationists call, an 'intermediate form' which they keep challenging biologists to produce. What we'll now see is how creationists react when they are give the evidence they pretend to want when they try to fool people into thinking their cult is based on evidence, apparently being too embarrassed to admit it is faith-based.

Yet again, quite casually and unintentionally, science refutes creationism with facts. If creationism was factual of course, this would not be possible since the facts would support it, not refute it, and creationists would be able to use evidence, not pretend it isn't there.

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