Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Macroevolution: A Fishy Whale Story

A Whale of a Tale.

Yeah, I know my evolution commentary has little to nothing to to with Arkansas. Hey, if you are not interested go on to the next one. I have a science background and I am drawn to reporting on the biggest scientific hoax of our time, a hoax that's bigger and more pervasive than anthropogenic global warming as a threat. It also aptly demonstrates how scientists have the blinders on. Even when the results of their research clearly nullify the macro-evolutionary hypothesis, they can't seem to view the evidence any other way.

Here is the story from Science Daily
. It's title is "How Whales Have Changed Over Time", but what the research actually found is that the changes are only in the details. All they knew was that modern whales are amazingly diverse. They wanted to find out how they got that way.

"One explanation for whale diversity is simply that they have been accumulating species and evolving differences in shape as a function of time. The more time that goes by, the more cetacean species one would expect, and the more variation in body size one would expect to see in them.

"Instead, what we found is that very early in their history, whales went their separate ways from the standpoint of size, and probably ecology," Alfaro said. "This pattern provides some support for the explosive radiation hypothesis. It is consistent with the idea that some key traits opened up new ways of being 'whale-like' to the earliest ancestors of modern cetaceans, and that these ancestors evolved to fill them. Once these forms became established, they remained."

Species diversification and variations in body size were established early in the evolution of whales, Alfaro and his colleagues report.

Large whales, small whales and medium-sized whales all appeared early in the history of whales, with the large whales eating mostly plankton, small whales eating fish and medium-sized whales eating squid.

"Those differences were probably in place by 25 million years ago at the latest, and for many millions of years, they have not changed very much," said the study's lead author, Graham Slater, a National Science Foundation-funded UCLA postdoctoral scholar in Alfaro's laboratory. "It's as if whales split things up at the beginning and went their separate ways. "

This is yet another example of scientists finding "explosive" change at the origin of a new type, and then basically stasis from then on. It is particularly implausible in the case of whales. Creatures with a large body size, long life, and slow reproductive rates are extremely poor candidates for "explosive" evolution. It is also bizarre to believe that creatures which undergo "explosive" evolution suddenly lock up and stay essentially unchanged for much longer periods. In other words whales specialized into their diverse types in the blink of an evolutionary eye, but not much has happened to them since. Killer whales have gotten bigger, that's about it.

So they conclude that the diversification of modern whales occurred rapidly. Do they have any fossil evidence for how that might have occurred? Nope.

Alfaro and Slater do not find evidence for rapid whale diversification, but extinctions may have made it difficult to detect early rapid diversification.

Whales are about 55 million years old, but the first group of whales to take to water is extinct, Alfaro said. Different hypotheses have been proposed to explain the rapid appearance and diversification of modern whales, which coincided with the extinction of the primitive whales.

I have a hypothesis to explain it: an intelligent Designer introduced new types. If I tested for evidence to establish that hypothesis what I would look for is the sudden appearance of specialized new types even in creatures whose long life spans and low reproductive cycles would make such change vanishingly unlikely. In other words, just what we find with whales.


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