faith and reason issues
What we thought about...



25th February, 2008

Seeing God articles
Faith & Reason articles
Bible Teachings articles

Fossil jaw speaks against evolution

When Henning Scheich and his colleagues reported in 1986 in the prestigious science journal "Nature" that platypus bills can detect electrical fields generated by muscle movements of potential prey as seemingly insignificant as the tail flick of a shrimp, biologists quickly fell into line to pay homage to the genius of evolution. Experiments testing the effect upon platypuses of a 1.5 volt alkaline battery placed in varying locations in a pool proved beyond doubt that the very survival of these baffling creatures depends on their abilibity to decipher the messages contained in the tiniest of zaps. (See "The plugged-in platypus".) Although scientists were familiar with certain fish and amphibians that enjoyed similar powers, "electroreception in higher vertebrates [had] not previously been reported".1 All hail the power of mutations and natural selection — all they need (according to evolution theory dogma) is tens of millions of years to perform inexplicable tricks.

Until recently, scientists believed that platypuses had had plenty of time to tinker with and perfect the complex of sensors, signal conductors, and control centre that make a functioning unit. (Platypuses surely did not inherit them direct from electric eels!) After all, egg-laying mammals (monotremes), of which the platypus is one of three living species, supposedly split off from a common ancestor of all living mammal groups (marsupials, monotremes, and placentals) no earlier than the Middle Cretaceous, that is, very roughly 120 million years ago 2 3 4, and probably later. (Some paleontologists put the origin of monotremes back to almost 140 million years ago.) If living systems evolved gradually, the unique suite of characters that make up the sophisticated electro-detection system of the living platypus could not possibly have arrived until much, much later.

Enter stage left the 29th January edition of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA" (PNAS). It reports on a recent shock discovery about a fossilized jaw from strata dated at 112-120 million years old — getting very close to the origin of living mammal groups. Though the jaw had been uncovered in the late 1990s, and was described in 2001 as a monotreme, it was considered at the time as coming from a "platypus-like" creature, not from a fully-functioning platypus. But as the PNAS tells, a recent computerized scan at UT Austin revealed the unexpected - the bill contained a nerve canal for carrying enormous amounts of data from bill to brain identical to that found in living platypi.5 In short, Teinolophos, as it is known, was not just platypus-like, it was platypus.

So the duckbill appears fully wired almost, if not absolutely, from the very beginning of monotreme history. Oh that such instant perfection should be! To believe that Teinolophos' immediate ancestors had come up with their amazing "hunt and catch" apparatus in only… well… virtually no time at all, requires a lot of evofaith.

The PNAS report gives evolution theory even more nightmares. Many evolutionists put a lot of faith in an idea called "the molecular clock" by which the time in history, known as the "divergence time", at which two related creatures split off from a common ancestor can supposedly be determined. Based on the assumption that the genetic code in all living things undergoes mutations in its DNA at a constant rate, evolutionists calculate the alleged divergence times by noting differences in strings of code when the same genetic sequences (or, more accurately, proteins coded by those sequences) of the species under study are compared. Using this method on two living monotremes - the platypus and the echidna - evolutionists were confident that the platypus and echidna had separated some time between 17 and 80 million years ago. (Obviously, the method is inherently untrustworthy!) The recent discoveries concerning Teinolophos have upset the applecart. Let Rowe explain:

Strict molecular clock estimates of the divergence between platypus and echidnas range from 17 to 80 Ma, but Teinolophos suggests that the two monotreme clades were already distinct in the Early Cretaceous, and that their divergence may predate even the oldest strict molecular estimates by at least 50%.

Why can't folks see that such facts give serious cause for questioning the entire evolutionary philosophy? Sure, creatures that have features similar to living species existed in bygone ages, and living creatures share a lot of common genetic code; these facts in no way embarrass belief in creation by an infinitely brilliant Designer-cum-Engineer. By contrast, evolution theory keeps tripping over bare facts. But the journals devoted to evolution continue to churn out masses of technical stuff supposedly elucidating who came from whom, when they parted company, and so forth. As Paul said concerning those who refuse to bring God into the picture, they are "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7). Oh that they would recognize the mind of God in nature's wonders rather than bow to the fairystory of descent by modification. Then they would have good reason to be passionate about the study of nature.

1 Scheich et al 30 January 1986, Electroreception and electrolocation in platypus, Nature

2 Walter Kuhne 1973, The Systematic Position of Monotremes Reconsidered, Zoomorphology , 75: 59-64

3 Colbert's authoritative "Evolution of the Vertebrates" writes that, "Marsupials related to the modern American opossum are found in Upper Cretaceous sediments of North America. Several types of primitive placental mammals have been discovered in Upper Cretaceous beds of Mongolia and North America."

4 Other types of peculiar mammals with no living representatives go back to about 210 million years ago.

5 Rowe et. al. January 29 2008, The oldest platypus and its bearing on divergence timing of the platypus and echidna clades, 1238-1242


Faith and reason articles



Believe it or not, we aren't the only ones to have opinions and hold convictions. If you want to know what others think, then click away to the left and you will be transported to the entertaining, thought-provoking world of public opinion.


Home Blog Archive

Navigation Bar