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Designs on Us. Conservatives on Darwin vs. ID.
NRO ^ | 8/3/05 | David Klinghoffer

Posted on 08/03/2005 5:58:11 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection

The New Republic recently published a survey of conservative journalists on the question of “Intelligent Design” (ID), the controversial critique of Darwinian evolution which argues that living creatures did not arise by an unaided, purely material process of evolution through random genetic variation but rather through the design of an intelligence transcending the material universe. To my surprise, it turned out that almost all those surveyed, including several NR editors and contributors, were doubters not of Darwinism but of Intelligent Design.

I realize with some trepidation that I am treading on the views of many of my old NR friends and colleagues, notably John Derbyshire who has written eloquently on the subject, but herewith a dissent on behalf of doubting Darwin.

A majority of biologists reject ID. But a minority of scientists, who are no fools, suggests that it is Darwinism that fails to explain the complexity of organisms. I don’t intend to wade into the details of the debate, but rather to ask how a layman like me, or Derbyshire, can hope to venture a responsible opinion. The question is not merely theoretical. The teaching of Darwinian evolution in public schools is being challenged before local and state school boards across the country.

Some say that, for non-experts, the smartest thing would be to accede to the viewpoint of the majority of scientists. But wait. The point I want to draw out here is that Darwinism, in particular evolutionary psychology, itself undercuts the claim that ID may be safely dismissed.

Charles Darwin’s insight holds that people are simply animals and that, like all animals, we got to be the way we are because our ancestors beat out the evolutionary competition and survived to pass on their genes. Evolutionary psychology extends this idea. There are some behaviors that increase the chances that a given person will be able to pass on his genetic information. One, for instance, might be murder, often committed against rivals who given the appearance of seeking to diminish the odds of our raising viable offspring that will carry our DNA. A classic illustration is the crime of passion, where the angry husband shoots the sexual rival who has been having an affair with his wife.

From this perspective, a main evolutionary-psychological impulse that drives males in particular is the drive to fight off rivals. For rivals threaten to reduce our access to reproductive assets — namely, women — by lowering our status in a social hierarchy. In certain neighborhoods, all it takes is a disrespectful look or word, a “diss,” especially in front of women, to get a man killed.

In evolutionary psychology, as in common sense, it is apparent that males highly value whatever source of status or prestige they have managed to secure. We value status so much that some are willing to kill over it. Others are willing at least to wound, if only with words.

One prominent evolutionary psychologist, Harvard’s Steven Pinker, has written frankly about rivalry in academia, and the use of cutting rhetoric in the defense of established ideas: “Their champions are not always averse to helping the ideas along with tactics of verbal dominance, among them intimidation (‘Clearly…’), threat (‘It would be unscientific to…’), authority (‘As Popper showed…’), insult (‘This work lacks the necessary rigor for…’), and belittling (‘Few people today seriously believe that…’).”

I bring this up because Intelligent Design aggressively challenges the status of many professionals currently laboring in secular academia. And because one of the hallmarks of the defense of Darwinism is precisely the kind of rhetorical displays of intimidation, threat, authority, and insult that Pinker describes.

For instance in a section on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, entitled “Q&A on Evolution and Intelligent Design,” you will find numerous statements as if lifted almost verbatim from Pinker’s examples — ridiculing ID as “non-scientific,” an idea whose “advocates have yet to contribute in a scientifically rigorous manner,” who “may use the language of science, but [who] do not use its methodology.”

When you consider that ID theoreticians have published their findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in formidable academic presses such as those of Cambridge University and the University of Chicago, such denunciations start to sound like a worried defense of status more than a disinterested search for truth.

If the Darwinian establishment is vexed, that’s understandable. A century and a half ago, the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species with its materialistic implications signaled the overturning of Western society’s traditional matrix for the granting of status: namely religion. From Darwin forward, intellectual prestige was bestowed not by religious institutions but by secular ones, the universities.

It has remained so until today. Now, with many parents and school-board members signaling their impatience with the answers given by secular academia to ultimate questions — like, where did we humans come from — the secular hierarchy would be foolish not to be concerned. It would be perfectly in keeping with their own Darwinist views — about how men especially will fight to defend their source of status — to expect secularists to struggle violently against any challenge that may be raised against Darwinism, no matter where the truth of the matter may actually lie. Being the animals that we are, we are programmed through our genes to do just that.

In a wonderful irony, the only intellectual framework in which people can genuinely be expected to pursue truth dispassionately, even if that truth undermines our sense of personal prestige, happens to be the religious framework, in which people aren’t animals at all but rather beings created in the image of God.

In the case of ID versus Darwin, this observation may not tell us which side to embrace. It should signal, however, that when secularists insist that real science must lead to the view that life and intelligence arose through chance genetic events, we needn’t accept that view as gospel. I’ve offered a reason to doubt the Darwinian establishment, not necessarily to reject it. When laymen, including conservative journalists, follow the scientific majority on a question like this, rather than the dissenting minority, they should at least be aware that they are following guides who, while claiming to be disinterested, are anything but that.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: acanthostega; cnim; crevolist; darwin; evolution; ichthyostega; id; news
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To: Alter Kaker

Mike claims the solar system is closed, and I guarantee you he has far more credentials in this respect than you. I have seen him debate this issue many times, and everyone to date has gone away with their tails between their legs. Would you like to debate him on line?


51 posted on 08/03/2005 9:55:03 AM PDT by GarySpFc (Sneakypete, De Oppresso Liber)
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To: Alter Kaker
Except you made an error a college freshman wouldn't have -- the laws of thermodynamics apply only to closed systems. The Earth, heated daily by the sun, is not a closed system.

Better re-read the article....he defined the solar system as a closed system for all practical purposes involving the 1st & 2nd Laws.

52 posted on 08/03/2005 10:01:27 AM PDT by Mogollon
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To: Alter Kaker
This reminds me of that scene in Annie Hall, where Alvie Singer is depressed because the universe is expanding into nothingness, and his mother has to calm him down saying, "Brooklyn is not expanding!"

Indeed, one can make the argument that after the 1957 season, Brooklyn has been contracting.

53 posted on 08/03/2005 10:41:36 AM PDT by Gumlegs
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To: GarySpFc
Mike claims the solar system is closed, and I guarantee you he has far more credentials in this respect than you.

I'd be happy to concede for the sake of argument that the solar system is de facto closed, even though that's not really true. But that's totally irrelevent, because the Earth -- where life evolved -- isn't even remotely closed. You're confusing localized realities with generalized trends. For the Earth to be closed, it would not be able to receive any net radiation, and I'll wager you a large orb of thermonuclear hydrogen that it does.

BTW, I doubt very seriously that you want to make this a question of credentials. I've studied both biology and physics on the post-graduate level, something I seriously doubt you have done.

54 posted on 08/03/2005 11:29:43 AM PDT by Alter Kaker (Whatever tears one may shed, in the end one always blows one’s nose.-Heine)
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To: Alter Kaker

I was putting Mike's credentials up against your's, and he has graduate degrees in physics as a rocket scientist (engineer). He currently works on Tomahawk missiles.


55 posted on 08/03/2005 1:02:27 PM PDT by GarySpFc (Sneakypete, De Oppresso Liber)
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
From this perspective, a main evolutionary-psychological impulse that drives males in particular is the drive to fight off rivals. For rivals threaten to reduce our access to reproductive assets — namely, women — by lowering our status in a social hierarchy.

Anyone who starts an essay with a demonstrably false statement is going nowhere.

56 posted on 08/03/2005 1:06:03 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
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To: PastorJimCM
... everything winds down like a clock ...

And what law of physics allows clocks to be rewound? Or does the winding of a clock violate fundamental laws?

Think about this.

57 posted on 08/03/2005 1:08:11 PM PDT by js1138 (e unum pluribus)
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To: PatrickHenry

Ping.


58 posted on 08/03/2005 1:08:58 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: Junior

Thanks, but I've already decided to bypass this thread. It's not for the list.


59 posted on 08/03/2005 1:11:08 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: PastorJimCM
The first and second laws of Thermodynamics (basically life comes only from life and everything winds down like a clock - going from order to disorder) blow the theory of evolution out of the water. All scientists that I have heard of or read about fully endorse both laws. Can they not see the hypocrisy??? You cannot believe either Law of Thermodynamics (1st or 2nd) and embrace the Theory of Evolution.

Please avail yourself of the actual wording and meaning of the Laws of Thermodynamics before you make a fool of yourself on these threads. Even AIG says this is an argument creationists should no longer use.

60 posted on 08/03/2005 1:11:12 PM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: GarySpFc
I was putting Mike's credentials up against your's, and he has graduate degrees in physics as a rocket scientist (engineer). He currently works on Tomahawk missiles.

That's nice. I orbit satellites for the Israeli Government, and have a nice collection of advanced degrees. Remind me why I should listen to this putz about thermodynamics, let alone biology? Your authority sucks, as does your appeal to it.

61 posted on 08/03/2005 1:24:26 PM PDT by Alter Kaker (Whatever tears one may shed, in the end one always blows one’s nose.-Heine)
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To: TOWER
"If you repeat this nonsense again, then that will make you (gasp) a liar."
---
Accusing people with a differing opinion of being liars...again. (Same tactic, different thread.) Please raise your level of debate above calling people names.
62 posted on 08/03/2005 1:32:54 PM PDT by Stark_GOP
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
SCIENTIFIC FACTS THAT PROVE EVOLUTION

Listed on this page are all the known scientific facts
that can be used to prove evolution is an established 
fact of science, as commonly taught: 
































Did you take notes?             

63 posted on 08/03/2005 1:36:52 PM PDT by fish hawk (hollow points were made to hold pig lard)
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To: wallcrawlr

Cult of the monkey ping!


64 posted on 08/03/2005 1:49:51 PM PDT by Sybeck1 (chance is the “magic wand to make not only rabbits but entire universes appear out of nothing.”)
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To: The Ghost of FReepers Past; ohioWfan; Tribune7; Tolkien; GrandEagle; Right in Wisconsin; Dataman; ..
A majority of biologists reject ID. But a minority of scientists, who are no fools, suggests that it is Darwinism that fails to explain the complexity of organisms.


Revelation 4:11
See my profile for info

65 posted on 08/03/2005 2:07:20 PM PDT by wallcrawlr (http://www.bionicear.com)
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To: DoctorMichael
The purpose of Creationism is to destroy and discredit the Conservative Movement.

The purpose of Evolutionism is to establish and promote Communism. (Sounds about as reasonable.)

66 posted on 08/03/2005 2:08:57 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew

DU is probably a very EVO friendly site.


67 posted on 08/03/2005 2:17:30 PM PDT by Sybeck1 (chance is the “magic wand to make not only rabbits but entire universes appear out of nothing.”)
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To: fish hawk

The most valid point on this thread. Congrats!


68 posted on 08/03/2005 2:35:27 PM PDT by Pointblank
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To: Sybeck1
DU is probably a very EVO friendly site.

Where it's all about style and totally without substance; where it's fear of appearances over love of truth. You're right. The two fit well together.

69 posted on 08/03/2005 2:48:10 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Just mythoughts
I was not trying to be argumentative, all I know is what God's Word states. His Word does not give an exact date, but from my own exhaustive study of scripture I tend to think the earth is younger than a zillion years old.

The Bible does state that:

In the beginning God created the HEAVENS and The Earth.
Gen 1:1

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Gen 2:1-2,

(to me this would indicate that the angels were created during this 7 day period). And yes I do believe in a literal 7 day creation based on the context of the text. The text does not indicate the exact moment Satan decided to go his way, but Job does give alot of details not only of this event but creation as well.

I have spent over a year studying the book of Genesis. Reading God's Word, cross referencing the text with other scripture. I believe every person should for themselves take the time to read it, meditate on it and come up with what they really believe. Before I did this I wasn't sure where I stood on Evolution, but I can say without a doubt...evolution is not compatible with God's Word.
70 posted on 08/03/2005 2:52:51 PM PDT by ThisLittleLightofMine
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To: PastorJimCM
The first and second laws of Thermodynamics (basically life comes only from life and everything winds down like a clock - going from order to disorder) blow the theory of evolution out of the water.

No it doesn't. If your MISunderstanding of the laws of thermodynamics were correct, then it would be impossible for a fertilized egg to grow into a adult. Obviously, something is very wrong with your grasp of the laws of thermodynamics.

All scientists that I have heard of or read about fully endorse both laws.

Yes, they most certainly do. And they also fully *reject* erroneous misapplications of those laws, such as the way you misuse them.

Can they not see the hypocrisy???

I can see your hypocrisy just fine -- you attempt to use science in order to "disprove" science, and you do it incorrectly.

You cannot believe either Law of Thermodynamics (1st or 2nd) and embrace the Theory of Evolution.

Wrong again.

I really wish creationists would try to *learn* some science (*real* science, not the cartoon-version they present in the creationist pamphlets) before they attempt to critique it.

Sheesh.

Here, read this and gain an actual education on the subject before you try again: Thermodynamics, Evolution and Creationism

71 posted on 08/03/2005 2:57:11 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
When you consider that ID theoreticians have published their findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in formidable academic presses such as those of Cambridge University and the University of Chicago,...

Wishful thinking again.

72 posted on 08/03/2005 3:01:59 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: PastorJimCM
The first and second laws of Thermodynamics (basically life comes only from life and everything winds down like a clock - going from order to disorder) blow the theory of evolution out of the water. All scientists that I have heard of or read about fully endorse both laws.

That should tell you that you've got something wrong somewhere. Incredibly, all you can conclude is that all the scientists are either hypocrites or idiots.

Do you really think you with your incredible insight and logic have the exclusive scoop and all the scientists in the world are wrong? Why is so much of ID based on simply bludgeoning others with the ID-ists own ignorance?

You probably don't know anything about evolution either. That may seem like a bold prediction to you, based as it is upon inductive logic. It is indeed based upon a generalization, but the inference is pretty strong now after my six years of personal observation. That is, essentially all proponents of ID/creationism post the same claptrap strawman arguments which not only reveal but rely upon an utter militant ignorance of what evolution is and implies.

73 posted on 08/03/2005 3:03:29 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Always Right
And also teach that there is much we don't know and many scientist believe in intelligent design.

Not many scientists at all believe in Intelligent Design. I seriously doubt you can claim one tenth of one percent of the world's credentialled biologists.

And it's not as if offers any intellectual content. You can't learn anything by studying it. "It's too complicated. I'll never understand it. Therefore it can't have evolved." That's not going to teach you much.

74 posted on 08/03/2005 3:07:58 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: GarySpFc; Alter Kaker; PatrickHenry
I was putting Mike's credentials up against your's, and he has graduate degrees in physics as a rocket scientist (engineer). He currently works on Tomahawk missiles.

That's sweet, but if he says that the laws of thermodynamics make evolution and other kinds of self-ordering processes impossible, he's still wrong.

What's especially funny about this bogus creationist argument is that if it *were* true, it would make INTELLIGENT DESIGN IMPOSSIBLE as well. Humans and other designers don't get to "break the law" (of physics) just because we can plan the things we do. If the laws of physics actually *did* make it impossible for order to arise on Earth, then it would be impossible for it to arise by ANY means, *including* conscious design.

It's either physically possible (i.e., allowed by laws of physics) or it's not. You can't have it both ways. Physical laws don't apply *only* to Mother Nature. They apply to *us*, and to all of our works, as well. That's why you can't build a perpetual-motion car which never needs gas, either, no matter how much "Intelligent Design" you try to apply to the task.

75 posted on 08/03/2005 3:10:27 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: fish hawk; Pointblank; PatrickHenry
SCIENTIFIC FACTS THAT PROVE EVOLUTION

Listed on this page are all the known scientific facts that can be used to prove evolution is an established fact of science, as commonly taught:

I can't list *all* of the evidence for evolution here -- I'd crash FreeRepublic with terabytes of evidence, data, and research -- but here's a small taste for you, since you asked, culled from previous posts of mine:

[From: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/]

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution

The Scientific Case for Common Descent

Version 2.85
Copyright © 1999-2004 by Douglas Theobald, Ph.D.
[Last Update: April 15, 2005]

Permission is granted to copy and print these pages in total for non-profit personal, educational, research, or critical purposes.

Introduction

Evolution, the overarching concept that unifies the biological sciences, in fact embraces a plurality of theories and hypotheses. In evolutionary debates one is apt to hear evolution roughly parceled between the terms "microevolution" and "macroevolution". Microevolution, or change beneath the species level, may be thought of as relatively small scale change in the functional and genetic constituencies of populations of organisms. That this occurs and has been observed is generally undisputed by critics of evolution. What is vigorously challenged, however, is macroevolution. Macroevolution is evolution on the "grand scale" resulting in the origin of higher taxa. In evolutionary theory it thus entails common ancestry, descent with modification, speciation, the genealogical relatedness of all life, transformation of species, and large scale functional and structural changes of populations through time, all at or above the species level (Freeman and Herron 2004; Futuyma 1998; Ridley 1993).

Common descent is a general descriptive theory that concerns the genetic origins of living organisms (though not the ultimate origin of life). The theory specifically postulates that all of the earth's known biota are genealogically related, much in the same way that siblings or cousins are related to one another. Thus, macroevolutionary history and processes necessarily entail the transformation of one species into another and, consequently, the origin of higher taxa. Because it is so well supported scientifically, common descent is often called the "fact of evolution" by biologists. For these reasons, proponents of special creation are especially hostile to the macroevolutionary foundation of the biological sciences.

This article directly addresses the scientific evidence in favor of common descent and macroevolution. This article is specifically intended for those who are scientifically minded but, for one reason or another, have come to believe that macroevolutionary theory explains little, makes few or no testable predictions, is unfalsifiable, or has not been scientifically demonstrated.

Outline

Introduction

Scientific Evidence and the Scientific Method

Phylogenetics introduction

Part I. A unique, historical phylogenetic tree

  1. Unity of life
  2. Nested hierarchies
  3. Convergence of independent phylogenies
  4. Transitional forms
  5. Chronology of common ancestors

Part 2. Past history

  1. Anatomical vestiges
  2. Atavisms
  3. Molecular vestiges
  4. Ontogeny and developmental biology
  5. Present biogeography
  6. Past biogeography

Part 3. Evolutionary opportunism

  1. Anatomical parahomology
  2. Molecular parahomology
  3. Anatomical convergence
  4. Molecular convergence
  5. Anatomical suboptimal function
  6. Molecular suboptimal function

Part 4. Molecular evidence

  1. Protein functional redundancy
  2. DNA functional redundancy
  3. Transposons
  4. Redundant pseudogenes
  5. Endogenous retroviruses

Part 5. Change

  1. Genetic
  2. Morphological
  3. Functional
  4. The strange past
  5. Stages of speciation
  6. Speciation events
  7. Morphological rates
  8. Genetic rates

Closing remarks

For a tiny sliver off the top of the enormous iceberg of overwhelming evidence for macroevolution, here are some prior posts of mine on the topic:

Background: Retroviruses reproduce by entering a cell of a host (like, say, a human), then embedding their own viral DNA into the cell's own DNA, which has the effect of adding a "recipe" for manufacturing more viruses to the cell's "instruction book". The cell then follows those instructions because it has no reason (or way) to "mistrust" the DNA instructions it contains. So the virus has converted the cell into a virus factory, and the new viruses leave the cell, and go find more cells to infect, etc.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

However, every once in a while a virus's invasion plans don't function exactly as they should, and the virus's DNA (or portions of it) gets embedded into the cell's DNA in a "broken" manner. It's stuck into there, becoming part of the cell's DNA, but it's unable to produce new viruses. So there it remains, causing no harm. If this happens in a regular body cell, it just remains there for life as a "fossil" of the past infection and goes to the grave with the individual it's stuck in. All of us almost certainly contain countless such relics of the past viral infections we've fought off.

However... By chance this sometimes happens to a special cell in the body, a gametocyte cell that's one of the ones responsible for making sperm in males and egg cells in females, and if so subsequent sperm/eggs produced by that cell will contain copies of the "fossil" virus, since now it's just a portion of the entire DNA package of the cell. And once in a blue moon such a sperm or egg is lucky enough to be one of the few which participate in fertilization and are used to produce a child -- who will now inherit copies of the "fossilized" viral DNA in every cell of his/her body, since all are copied from the DNA of the original modified sperm/egg.

So now the "fossilized" viral DNA sequence will be passed on to *their* children, and their children's children, and so on. Through a process called neutral genetic drift, given enough time (it happens faster in smaller populations than large) the "fossil" viral DNA will either be flushed out of the population eventually, *or* by luck of the draw end up in every member of the population X generations down the road. It all depends on a roll of the genetic dice.

Due to the hurdles, "fossil" retroviral DNA strings (known by the technical name of "endogenous retroviruses") don't end up ubiquitous in a species very often, but it provably *does* happen. In fact, the Human DNA project has identified literally *thousands* of such fossilized "relics" of long-ago ancestral infections in the human DNA.

And several features of these DNA relics can be used to demonstrate common descent, including their *location*. The reason is that retroviruses aren't picky about where their DNA gets inserted into the host DNA. Even in an infection in a *single* individual, each infected cell has the retroviral DNA inserted into different locations than any other cell. Because the host DNA is so enormous (billions of basepairs in humans, for example), the odds of any retroviral insertion event matching the insertion location of any other insertion event are astronomically low. The only plausible mechanism by which two individuals could have retroviral DNA inserted into exactly the same location in their respective DNAs is if they inherited copies of that DNA from the same source -- a common ancestor.

Thus, shared endogenous retroviruses between, say, ape and man is almost irrefutable evidence that they descended from a common ancestor. *Unless* you want to suggest that they were created separately, and then a virus they were both susceptible to infected both a man and an ape in EXACTLY the same location in their DNAs (the odds of such a match by luck are literally on the order of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1...), *and* that the infections both happened in their gametocyte cells (combined odds on the order of 1,000,000 to 1) *and* that the one particular affected gametocyte is the one which produces the egg or sperm which is destined to produce an offspring (*HUGE* odds against), and *then* the resulting modified genome of the offspring becomes "fixed" in each respective population (1 out of population_size^squared)...

Then repeat that for *each* shared endogenous retrovirus (there are many) you'd like to claim was acquired independently and *not* from a shared ancestor...

Finally, you'd have to explain why, for say species A, B, and C, the pattern of shared same-location retroviruses is always *nested*, never *overlapped*. For example, all three will share some retroviruses, then A and B will both share several more, but if so then B *never* shares one with C that A doesn't also have (or at least remnants of).

In your "shared infection due to genetic similarities" suggestion, even leaving aside the near statistical impossibility of the infections leaving genetic "scars" in *exactly* the same locations in independent infections, one would expect to find cases of three species X, Y, and Z, where the degree of similarity was such that Y was "between" X and Z on some similarity scale, causing the same disease to befall X and Y but not Z, and another disease to affect Y and Z but not X. And yet, we don't find this in genetic markers. The markers are found in nested sequence, which is precisely what we would expect to see in cases of inheritance from common ancestry.

Here, for example, is an ancestry tree showing the pattern of shared same-location endogenous retroviruses of type HERV-K among primates:

This is just a partial list for illustration purposes -- there are many more.

Each labeled arrow on the chart shows an ERV shared in common by all the branches to the right, and *not* the branches that are "left-and-down". This is the pattern that common descent would make. And common descent is the *only* plausible explanation for it. Furthermore, similar findings tie together larger mammal groups into successively larger "superfamilies" of creatures all descended from a common ancestor.

Any presumption of independent acquisition is literally astronomically unlikely. And "God chose to put broken relics of viral infections that never actually happened into our DNA and line them up only in patterns that would provide incredibly strong evidence of common descent which hadn't actually happened" just strains credulity (not to mention would raise troubling questions about God's motives for such a misleading act).

Once again, the evidence for common descent -- as opposed to any other conceivable alternative explanation -- is clear and overwhelming.

Wait, want more? Endogenous retroviruses are just *one* type of genetic "tag" that makes perfect sense evolutionary and *no* sense under any other scenario. In addition to ERV's, there are also similar arguments for the patterns across species of Protein functional redundancies, DNA coding redundancies, shared Processed pseudogenes, shared Transposons (including *several* independent varieties, such as SINEs and LINEs), shared redundant pseudogenes, etc. etc. Here, for example, is a small map of shared SINE events among various mammal groups:

Like ERV's, any scenario which suggests that these shared DNA features were acquired separately strains the laws of probability beyond the breaking point, but they make perfect sense from an evolutionary common-descent scenario. In the above data, it is clear that the only logical conclusion is that, for example, the cetaceans, hippos, and ruminants shared a common ancestor, in which SINE events B and C entered its DNA and then was passed on to its descendants, yet this occurred after the point in time where an earlier common ancestor had given rise both to that species, and to the lineage which later became pigs.

And this pattern (giving the *same* results) is repeated over and over and over again when various kinds of molecular evidence from DNA is examined in detail.

The molecular evidence for evolution and common descent is overwhelming. The only alternative is for creationists to deny the obvious and say, "well maybe God decided to set up all DNA in *only* ways that were consistent with an evolutionary result even though He'd have a lot more options open to him, even including parts which by every measure are useless and exactly mimic copy errors, ancient infections, stutters, and other garbage inherited from nonexistent shared ancestors"...

[Followup: On another thread a clueless creationist tried to tell me that the above description of endogenous retroviruses was just what I "imagine" happens. No, sorry -- here's a selected list of papers confirming what I've written, out of over a *thousand* on the topic:]

Characterization of the low-copy HERV-Fc family: evidence for recent integrations in primates of elements with coding envelope genes

Human-specific integrations of the HERV-K endogenous retrovirus family

Endogenous retroviruses in the human genome sequence

Constructing primate phylogenies from ancient retrovirus sequences

Comprehensive Analysis of Human Endogenous Retrovirus Transcriptional Activity in Human Tissues with a Retrovirus-Specific Microarray

The viruses in all of us: Characteristics and biological significance of human endogenous retrovirus sequences

The human genome contains many types of chimeric retrogenes generated through in vivo RNA recombination

Human L1 Retrotransposition: cis Preference versus trans Complementation

Identification, Phylogeny, and Evolution of Retroviral Elements Based on Their Envelope Genes

Identification and Characterization of Novel Human Endogenous Retrovirus Families by Phylogenetic Screening of the Human Genome Mapping Project Database

HERVd: database of human endogenous retroviruses

Long-term reinfection of the human genome by endogenous retroviruses

Physiological Knockout of the Envelope Gene of the Single-Copy ERV-3 Human Endogenous Retrovirus in a Fraction of the Caucasian Population

Insertional polymorphisms of full-length endogenous retroviruses in humans

Many human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) proviruses are unique to humans

Some morphological, growth, and genomic properties of human cells chronically infected with porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV)

The distribution of the endogenous retroviruses HERV-K113 and HERV-K115 in health and disease

Full-sized HERV-K (HML-2) human endogenous retroviral LTR sequences on human chromosome 21: map locations and evolutionary history

A rare event of insertion polymorphism of a HERV-K LTR in the human genome

Demystified . . . Human endogenous retroviruses

Retroviral Diversity and Distribution in Vertebrates

Drosophila germline invasion by the endogenous retrovirus gypsy: involvement of the viral env gene

Genomic Organization of the Human Endogenous Retrovirus HERV-K(HML-2.HOM) (ERVK6) on Chromosome 7

Human endogenous retrovirus HERV-K14 families: status, variants, evolution, and mobilization of other cellular sequences

Sequence variability, gene structure, and expression of full-length human endogenous retrovirus H

Or how about:
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes ---chimps and gorillas have 24 pairs. How many pairs of chromosomes did the "common ancestor" have? Was it 23 or 24 pairs? How do you "evolve" missing or added chromosomes ---that would happen all at one time.

The common ancestor had 24 chromosomes.

If you look at the gene sequences, you'll find that Chromosome 2 in humans is pretty much just 2 shorter chimpanzee chromosomes pasted end-to-end, with perhaps a slight bit of lost overlap:

(H=Human, C=Chimpanzee, G=Gorilla, O=Orangutan)

Somewhere along the line, after humans split off from the other great apes, or during the split itself, there was an accidental fusion of two chromosomes, end-to-end. Where there used to be 24 chromosomes, now there were 23, but containing the same total genes, so other than a "repackaging", the DNA "instructions" remained the same.

If a chimpanzee gives birth to a creature with 23 chromosomes, that offspring isn't going to be a well-formed chimpanzee able to survive well.

It is if the same genes are present, which they would be in the case of a chromosome fusion.

Evolve would imply the genetic material changes little by little --not some big loss of two chromosomes at once but I don't see how they'd go away gene by gene.

Tacking two chromosomes together end-to-end is not a "big loss" of genes, and it really is a "little by little" change in the total genetic code. It's just been "regrouped" a bit. Instead of coming in 24 "packages", it's now contained in 23, but the contents are the same.

So how, you might ask, would the chromosomes from the first 23-chromosome "fused" individual match up with the 24 chromosomes from its mate when it tried to produce offspring? Very well, thanks for asking. The "top half" of the new extra-long Chromosome 2 would adhere to the original chromosome (call it "2p") from which it was formed, and likewise for the "bottom half" which would adhere to the other original shorter chromosome (call it "2q"). In the picture above, imagine the two chimp chromosomes sliding over to "match up" against the human chromosome. The chimp chromosomes would end up butting ends with each other, or slightly overlapping in a "kink", but chromosomes have overcome worse mismatches (just consider the XY pair in every human male -- the X and the Y chromosome are *very* different in shape, length, and structure, but they still pair up).

In fact, the "rubbing ends" of the matched-up chimp chromosomes, adhering to the double-long human-type chromosome, would be more likely to become fused together themselves.

For studies in which recent chromosome fusions have been discovered and found not to cause infertility, see:

Chromosomal heterozygosity and fertility in house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) from Northern Italy. Hauffe HC, Searle JB Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, United Kingdom. hauffe@novanet.it

An observed chromosome fusion: Hereditas 1998;129(2):177-80 A new centric fusion translocation in cattle: rob (13;19). Molteni L, De Giovanni-Macchi A, Succi G, Cremonesi F, Stacchezzini S, Di Meo GP, Iannuzzi L Institute of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Agricultural Science, Milan, Italy.

J Reprod Fertil 1979 Nov;57(2):363-75 Cytogenetics and reproduction of sheep with multiple centric fusions (Robertsonian translocations). Bruere AN, Ellis PM

J Reprod Fertil Suppl 1975 Oct;(23):356-70 Cytogenetic studies of three equine hybrids. Chandley AC, Short RV, Allen WR.

In that last reference, the Przewalski horse, which has 33 chromosomes, and the domestic horse, with 32 chromosomes (due to a fusion), are able to mate and produce fertile offspring.

Meanwhile, the question may be asked, how do we know that the human Chromosome 2 is actually the result of a chromsome fusion at/since a common ancestor, and not simply a matter of "different design"?

Well, if two chromsomes accidentally merged, there should be molecular remnants of the original chromosomal structures (while a chromosome designed from scratch would have no need for such leftover "train-wreck" pieces).

Ends of chromosomes have characteristic DNA base-pair sequences called "telomeres". And there are indeed remnants of telomeres at the point of presumed fusion on human Chromosome 2 (i.e., where the two ancestral ape chromosomes merged end-to-end). If I may crib from a web page:

Telomeres in humans have been shown to consist of head to tail repeats of the bases 5'TTAGGG running toward the end of the chromosome. Furthermore, there is a characteristic pattern of the base pairs in what is called the pre-telomeric region, the region just before the telomere. When the vicinity of chromosome 2 where the fusion is expected to occur (based on comparison to chimp chromosomes 2p and 2q) is examined, we see first sequences that are characteristic of the pre-telomeric region, then a section of telomeric sequences, and then another section of pre-telomeric sequences. Furthermore, in the telomeric section, it is observed that there is a point where instead of being arranged head to tail, the telomeric repeats suddenly reverse direction - becoming (CCCTAA)3' instead of 5'(TTAGGG), and the second pre-telomeric section is also the reverse of the first telomeric section. This pattern is precisely as predicted by a telomere to telomere fusion of the chimpanzee (ancestor) 2p and 2q chromosomes, and in precisely the expected location. Note that the CCCTAA sequence is the reversed complement of TTAGGG (C pairs with G, and T pairs with A).
Another piece of evidence is that if human Chromosome 2 had formed by chromosome fusion in an ancestor instead of being designed "as is", it should have evidence of 2 centromeres (the "pinched waist" in the picture above -- chromosomes have centromeres to aid in cell division). A "designed" chromosome would need only 1 centromere. An accidentally "merged" chromosome would show evidence of the 2 centromeres from the two chromosomes it merged from (one from each). And indeed, as documented in (Avarello R, Pedicini A, Caiulo A, Zuffardi O, Fraccaro M, Evidence for an ancestral alphoid domain on the long arm of human chromosome 2. Hum Genet 1992 May;89(2):247-9), the functional centromere found on human Chromosome 2 lines up with the centromere of the chimp 2p chromosome, while there are non-functional remnants of the chimp 2q centromere at the expected location on the human chromosome.

As an aside, the next time some creationist claims that there is "no evidence" for common ancestry or evolution, keep in mind that the sort of detailed "detective story" discussed above is repeated literally COUNTLESS times in the ordinary pursuit of scientific research and examination of biological and other types of evidence. Common ancestry and evolution is confirmed in bit and little ways over and over and over again. It's not just something that a couple of whacky anti-religionists dream up out of thin air and promulgate for no reason, as the creationists would have you believe.

And:
[The poster known as Mr. LLLICHY wrote:] Here is that Vitamin C data

After discovering this same data on another thread along with more discussion than has appeared here (I've taken the liberty of pinging the participants of that discussion), I see what the "mystery" is supposed to be -- it's supposed be why did some sites have multiple mutations while (small) stretches of other sites had none? In other words, why do the mutations appear clustered?

(You know, it would really help if people explained their points and questions in more detail, instead of leaving people to guess what the poster was thinking...)

[LLLICHY wrote:] "U238" that decays thrice, pretty good trick when there is "U238" that does not decay at all in 50,000,000 years.

Actually, no site had mutations "thrice". Three different bases at a given site is only *two* mutations (one original base, plus two mutations from it to something else).

Here's the "mutation map" from the actual DNA data:

--1-12--1-1-1-1--------1112112--1---1-11-1--------1 ALL/n
No mutations ("-") in about half the sites, one mutation at several (17) sites, two mutations at three sites.

The first thing to keep in mind that random processes tend to "cluster" more than people expect anyway. People expect "randomness" to "spread out" somewhat evenly, but instead it's usually more "clumped", for statistical reasons that would be a diversion to go into right now. So "that looks uneven" isn't always a good indication that something truly is non-random.

If you don't believe me on that, I wrote a program which made 23 mutations totally at random on a 51-site sequence, then repeated the process to see what different random outcomes would look like:

10 X$=STRING$(51,"-")
20 FOR I=1 TO 23
30 J%=INT(RND*51)+1
40 C$=MID$(X$,J%,1)
50 IF C$="-" THEN MID$(X$,J%,1)="1" ELSE MID$(X$,J%,1)=CHR$(ASC(C$)+1)
60 NEXT I
70 PRINT X$
80 GOTO 10
Yeah, it's BASIC, so sue me. Here's a typical screenful of the results:
-21---1---2---111----2-----2-1121-------1---1--11-1
-1--1--21-11---1-1--1-1---1----1---21-11111---11---
3-11---3-----1-----11-2-1---1--1----3--2---1--1----
---1-1--22--1-1--2-2111--1-1111---1------1-------1-
---32----1-11-1-----1---2-231----1------1-----11--1
----2---21--1---4----1-------------11-1--111-11-211
11--1-1---1-----1--1------1----3111--1----111-2-1-2
1112---1-3-1----1-1-----1-1------121--111-------1-1
-111121--1----1----1-1-1-1-11-2---1-1-------1-111--
-----------11-1---11-11--------21----12211--1---131
--1-211-1-1----21--11-1-2----1--1----11---11-----11
12---1-13------------2---21-21---11-1-1-1--2-------
-----2-1---1-1----21--11-11-1---111-1--111-----2--1
-----1-----1-1-1-1---1-2----11-21-11--1-111---1-21-
---11--1-1-122-1-1-1--1-----2-1-1-1-------1-1---111
--2--11----2--1---12-2----1-1---1-1--1--12----1-1-1
-111-1-----1-1----------1-21111--1-2-11-11-1----11-
11-1--211-1221-----1--1-----11--1-2-1----------11--
-----1-12-11---2-1---11--1-2--1----11---111-1----11
11----1--12---12----1---31---1-11----2--1-11-1-----
---1--111-1--1-1-111----1-21----1-1-3---1------2--1
-2-11----1-1------1------2-1-1--111-111-1-1----1111
1--1--1-1---1-111111--2--1-1------112----2---11----
Notice how oddly "clustered" most of them look, including one run which left a 13-site stretch "absolutely untouched", contrary to intuition (while having *4* mutations at a single site!)

Frankly, I don't see anything in the real-life DNA mutation map which looks any different from these truly random runs. Random events tend to cluster more than people expect. That solves the "mystery" right there.

Also, there may be a selection factor -- the GLO gene is a *lot* bigger than this. One has to wonder if this small 51-bp section was presented just because it was the one that looked "least random". That would be a no-no, since one can always hand-select the most deviant subset out of larger sample in order to artificially skew the picture.

However, since there are some interesting evolutionary observations to be made, let's look at that DNA data again, slightly rearranged:

TAC CCC GTG GAG GTG CGC TTC ACT CGG GCG GAC GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCC  PIG
TAC CCC GTG GAG GTA CGC TTC ACT CGC GGG GAC GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCC  BOS

TAC CCC GTA GAG GTG CGC TTC ACC CGA GGC GAT GAC ATT CTG CTG AGC CCC  RAT
TAC CCC GTG GAG GTG CGC TTC ACC CGA GGT GAT GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCG  MOUSE

TAC CCT GTG GGG GTG CGC TTC ACC CGG GGG GAC GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCC  GUIN PIG

TAC CTG GTG GGG GTA CGC TTC ACC TGG AG* GAT GAC ATC CTA CTG AGC CCC  HUMAN
TAC CTG GTG GGG CTA CGC TTC ACC TGG AG* GAT GAC ATC CTA CTG AGC CCC  CHIMPANZEE
TAC CCG GTG GGG GTG CGC TTC ACC CAG AG* GAT GAC GTC CTA CTG AGC CCC  ORANGUTAN
TAA CCG GTG GGG GTG CGC TTC ACC CAA GG* GAT GAC ATC ATA CTG AGC CCC  MACAQUE
Here I've put spaces between codons, and clustered the closely-related species together: pig/cow as ungulates, rat/mouse for their obvious relationship, guinea pig right below them but separated because of the pseudogene nature of its GLO gene, then primates all in a group, with man's closest relative, the chimp, immediately below him, followed by the more distant orangutan, and the even more distant macaque. Also note that the top four have "working" GLO genes, and the bottom five have "broken" GLO pseudogenes.

First, let's consider just the four species with working GLO genes. Evolution predicts that even over large periods of time, these genes will be "highly conserved", with natural selection weeding out mutations that could "break" the gene. Note that the mutations will still have occurred in individuals of the population, but natural selection will "discourage" that mutation from spreading into the general population.

And before we go any further, let's talk about the "universal genetic code". In all mammals (indeed, in almost all living organisms), each triplet of DNA sites cause a particular amino acid to be formed. The mapping of triplets (called "codons") to amino acids is as follows:

Second Position of Codon
T C A G
F
i
r
s
t

P
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
T
TTT Phe [F]
TTC Phe [F]
TTA Leu [L]
TTG Leu [L]
TCT Ser [S]
TCC Ser [S]
TCA Ser [S]
TCG Ser [S]
TAT Tyr [Y]
TAC Tyr [Y]
TAA Ter [end]
TAG Ter [end]
TGT Cys [C]
TGC Cys [C]
TGA Ter [end]
TGG Trp [W]
T
C
A
G
T
h
i
r
d

P
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
C
CTT Leu [L]
CTC Leu [L]
CTA Leu [L]
CTG Leu [L]
CCT Pro [P]
CCC Pro [P]
CCA Pro [P]
CCG Pro [P]
CAT His [H]
CAC His [H]
CAA Gln [Q]
CAG Gln [Q]
CGT Arg [R]
CGC Arg [R]
CGA Arg [R]
CGG Arg [R]
T
C
A
G
A
ATT Ile [I]
ATC Ile [I]
ATA Ile [I]
ATG Met [M]
ACT Thr [T]
ACC Thr [T]
ACA Thr [T]
ACG Thr [T]
AAT Asn [N]
AAC Asn [N]
AAA Lys [K]
AAG Lys [K]
AGT Ser [S]
AGC Ser [S]
AGA Arg [R]
AGG Arg [R]
T
C
A
G
G
GTT Val [V]
GTC Val [V]
GTA Val [V]
GTG Val [V]
GCT Ala [A]
GCC Ala [A]
GCA Ala [A]
GCG Ala [A]
GAT Asp [D]
GAC Asp [D]
GAA Glu [E]
GAG Glu [E]
GGT Gly [G]
GGC Gly [G]
GGA Gly [G]
GGG Gly [G]
T
C
A
G

(The above table imported from http://psyche.uthct.edu/shaun/SBlack/geneticd.html, which also has a nice introduction to the genetic code.)

Another version of the same table with nifty Java features and DNA database lookups can be found here.

The thing which is most relevant to the following discussion is the fact that most of the genetic codes are "redundant" -- more than one codon (triplet) encodes to exactly the same amino acid. This means that even in genes which are required for the organism, certain basepair mutations make absolutely no difference if the change is from one codon which maps into amino acid X to another codon which still maps into amino acid X. (This fact allows certain kinds of evolutionary "tracers" to be "read" from the DNA, as described here).

Now back to our DNA data. The redundancy in the genetic code means that some basepair sites will have more "degrees of freedom" than others (i.e., ways in which they can mutate without disrupting the gene's biological function in any way). Let's look at the four species with working GLO genes again:

TAC CCC GTG GAG GTG CGC TTC ACT CGG GCG GAC GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCC  PIG
TAC CCC GTG GAG GTA CGC TTC ACT CGC GGG GAC GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCC  BOS
TAC CCC GTA GAG GTG CGC TTC ACC CGA GGC GAT GAC ATT CTG CTG AGC CCC  RAT
TAC CCC GTG GAG GTG CGC TTC ACC CGA GGT GAT GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCG  MOUSE
  T   T   T   A   T A T   T   T A T   C   C   T   T T T T T   T   T
      A   A       A   A       A   C   A           A   A   A       A
      G   C       G   G       G   G   G               C   C       C
--- --- --1 --- --1 --- --- --1 --2 -12 --1 --- --1 --- --- --- --1

Under each site of the mouse DNA, I've listed the "alternative" bases which could be be substituted for the mouse base at that site WITHOUT ALTERING THE GENE'S FUNCTION (because of genetic code redundancy). And under that I show the "mutation map" of just those four species.

Note that most of the "alternative" bases are in the third base of each codon, *and* that this is where all but one of the mutations have appeared. This is because these were the sites which were "free" to mutate in the way they did, because the mutation was genetically neutral. That doesn't mean that the first and second sites of each codon were immune from mutation, it's just that when mutations did occur at those sites, natural selection weeded them out quickly because they most likely "broke" the GLO gene for the individuals which received that mutuation. What we see above is the results after natural selection has already "filtered" the undesirable mutations and left the ones which "do no harm".

Additionally, the two sites which have mutated twice (i.e. have a "2" in the mutation map) are ones which had more "allowable" mutations. Also note that the sites which had the fewest allowable alternatives (only one alternate letter allowed) didn't have any mutations fix at those sites, which is unsurprising since a "safe" mutation would be less likely to occur there versus a site that "allowed" two or three alternatives.

All this is as predicted by evolutionary theory, you'll note.

It also explains the one anomoly of the original mutation map, which is that the mutation counts do tend to be higher at the third base of a codon.

However... What about the one exception? The pig DNA has had one mutation at a site which does not encode to exactly the same amino acid (which is the case for *all* the other ones). In the pig DNA, the GGG codon (mapping to Glycine) has changed to a GCG codon (mapping to Alanine). What's up with that? Well, one of two things. First and most likely, just as base values in codons have a built-in redundancy, so do the amino acids which make up the proteins which result from the DNA templates. In other words, certain amino acids can be substituted for other ones at some sites in given proteins without making any functional difference. (This "protein functional redundancy" also has implications for "evolutionary tracer" analysis, see here.) That may well be the case for Alanine versus Glycine in the GLO protein, but I'm not enough of a biochemist to be able to say. The other option is that it *does* make some difference in the function of the pig GLO protein, but not enough to "break" the vitamin-C synthesis (as proven by the fact that pigs *can* synthesize vitamin C). So one way or another, it's not a deal-breaker even though pig GLO will not be 100% identical to cow/mouse/rat GLO. It's yet another "allowable" mutation.

More interesting evolutionary observations: The number of mutational differences between pig/cow is 3, the number between mouse/rat is 4, and the difference between rat/cow is 7 -- all roughly as one would expect from the evolutionary relatedness of these animals (cows/pigs and rats/mice are each closer to each other than the rodents are to the ungulates).

Now let's take a close look at the guinea pig:

TAC CCT GTG GGG GTG CGC TTC ACC CGG GGG GAC GAC ATC CTG CTG AGC CCC  GUIN PIG
--- --1 --- -1- --- --- --- --- --1 --1 --1 --- --- --- --- --- ---
The "mutation map" under the guinea pig DNA is compared to the mouse DNA. Fascinating: Note that four of the five mutations are in the third base of a codon, *and* are of the type "allowed" by the genetic code redundancy. This indicates strongly that most of the evolutionary divergence between guinea pigs and mice likely occurred while the guinea pig's ancestors still had a working GLO gene. This is the sort of prediction implied by the evolutionary theory which could be cross-checked by further research of various types, and if verified, would be yet further confirmation that evolutionary theory is likely correct. So far, evolutionary theory has been subjected to literally countless tests like this, large and small, and the vast majority of results have confirmed the evolutionary prediction. This track record is hard to explain if evolution is an invalid theory, as some assert...

Finally, let's look over the primate DNA and mutation map (relative to each other):

TAC CTG GTG GGG GTA CGC TTC ACC TGG AG* GAT GAC ATC CTA CTG AGC CCC  HUMAN
TAC CTG GTG GGG CTA CGC TTC ACC TGG AG* GAT GAC ATC CTA CTG AGC CCC  CHIMPANZEE
TAC CCG GTG GGG GTG CGC TTC ACC CAG AG* GAT GAC GTC CTA CTG AGC CCC  ORANGUTAN
TAA CCG GTG GGG GTG CGC TTC ACC CAA GG* GAT GAC ATC ATA CTG AGC CCC  MACAQUE
--1 -1- --- --- 1-1 --- --- --- 111 1-- --- --- 1-- 1-- --- --- ---
Evolutionary theory predicts that because the GLO gene is "broken" in primates (i.e. is a pseudogene), mutations in it are highly likely to be neutral (i.e., make no difference, since it can't get much more broken), and thus mutations are just as likely to accumulate at any site as any other. Is that what we see? Yup. There's no obvious pattern to the mutations between primates in the above mutation map, and unlike the pig/cow/mouse/rat mutation map, the mutations aren't predominantly at the "safer" third base of a codon, nor of a type that would be "safe". In fact, one base has vanished entirely, but no biggie, the gene's already broken.

Also, although primates share a more recent common ancestor than cows/pigs/mice/rats, note that they've already racked up almost as many relative mutations as the cow/pig/mouse/rat DNA. This too is just as evolutionary theory predicts, because many mutations in a functional gene (GLO in this case) will be "non-safe" and weeded out by natural selection, making for a slower mutation fixation rate overall than in a pseudogene (as GLO is in primates) where natural selection doesn't "care" about the vast majority of mutations since *most* are neutral. So pseudogenes accumulate mutations faster than functional genes (even though rate of mutation *occurence* in both are likely the same).

Finally, note that there are ZERO mutational differences between the human DNA and the chimpanzee DNA, our nearest living relative.

I also see some interesting implications in the DNA sequences concerning which specific mutation fixed during what branch of the common-descent evolutionary tree for all the species represented, but reconstructing that would not only take another couple hours, at least, but would be a major bear to code in HTML, since I'd have to draw trees with annotations on the nodes... Bleugh.

In any case, I hope I've clarified some of the methods by which biologists find countless confirmations of evolution in DNA data. This is just a "baby" example, and to be more statistically valid would have to be done over much vaster sections of DNA sequences, but my intent was to demonstrate some of the concepts.

And if such a small amount of DNA as this can make small confirmations of evolutionary predictions, imagine the amount of confirmation from billion-basepair DNA data from each species compared across thousands of species... The amount of confirmatory discoveries for evolution from DNA analysis has already been vast, and promises to only grow in the future. For an overview of some of the different lines of evidence being studied, see The Journal of Molecular Evolution -- abstracts of all articles, current and back issues, can be browsed free online.

See also, for example (out of thousands):
Analysis of the human Alu Ye lineage

Human endogenous retrovirus HERV-K14 families: status, variants, evolution, and mobilization of other cellular sequences

Ancestral population sizes and species divergence times in the primate lineage on the basis of intron and BAC end sequences

Molecular and temporal characteristics of human retropseudogenes.

Evolution of RPS4Y

Inactivation of CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase occurred prior to brain expansion during human evolution

Serine hydroxymethyltransferase pseudogene, SHMT-ps1: a unique genetic marker of the order primates

Structure and phylogenetic analysis of an endogenous retrovirus inserted into the human growth factor gene pleiotrophin

Molecular evolution of cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV: evidence for positive selection in simian primates

The ZNF75 zinc finger gene subfamily: isolation and mapping of the four members in humans and great apes

Insertions and duplications of mtDNA in the nuclear genomes of Old World monkeys and hominoids

Conservation of sequences between human and gorilla lineages: ADP-ribosyltransferase (NAD+) pseudogene 1 and neighboring retroposons

Fixation times of retroposons in the ribosomal DNA spacer of human and other primates

The gamma-globin genes and their flanking sequences in primates: findings with nucleotide sequences of capuchin monkey and tarsier

The emergence of new DNA repeats and the divergence of primates

Genetic diversity at class II DRB loci of the primate MHC

Nucleotide sequences of immunoglobulin-epsilon pseudogenes in man and apes and their phylogenetic relationships

Structure and evolution of human and African ape rDNA pseudogenes

Fossil Hominids: The Evidence for Human Evolution.

Hominid Species.

Comparison of hominid skulls.

Where exactly is the "missing" transition in the following sequence? It looks pretty complete and gradual to me -- certainly there's no sudden "jump", no discontinuity, no pair between which a creationist would have any trouble dismissing such a small amount of change as "just microevolution", "just variation within a kind":

Figure 1.4.4. Fossil hominid skulls. Some of the figures have been modified for ease of comparison (only left-right mirroring or removal of a jawbone). (Images © 2000 Smithsonian Institution.)

(The above is from 29 Evidences for Macroevolution -- Part 1: The Unique Universal Phylogenetic Tree)

Evolutionary theory predicted that there should be transitional forms between the reptilian-style jaw joint and the mammalian-style jaw joint (the earliest mammals evolved from reptiles). For years creationists crowed about the "missing links", and made their own predictions that not only would there be no such transitional fossils found, but that any creature with a jaw that was transitional between that of reptiles and mammals would die of starvation, since such a "half and half" jaw joint was "obviously" mechanically unworkable. Nonetheless, biologists kept searching for the fossils predicted by evolution, and not only found one or two, but found a *wealth* of them which provide a *very* complete and smooth transitional sequence -- exactly as evolution predicted. Oddly enough, I never hear the creationists bring that one up...

Reptile -> Mammal evolutionary transition:

Example 2: reptile-mammals

[Figure1.4.1 (cartoon of vertebrate jaws)]

Figure 1.4.1. The jaws of three vertebrates—mammal, therapsid, and pelycosaur. A side view of three idealized skulls of mammals, therapsids (mammal-like reptiles), and pelycosaurs (early reptiles). The figure shows the differences between mammal and reptilian jaws and ear-bone structures. The jaw joint is shown as a large black dot, the quadrate (mammalian anvil or incus) is in turquoise, the articular (mammalian hammer or malleus) is in yellow, and the angular (mammalian tympanic annulus) is in pink. Note how, in the reptile, the jaw joint is formed between the blue quadrate and the yellow articular (with the pink angular close by), and how, in the mammal, the jaw joint is formed between the squamosal above and the dentary below. In the reptile, the squamosal is just above and contacting the quadrate. Advanced therapsids have two jaw joints: a reptile-like joint and a mammal-like joint (Figure based on Kardong 2002, pp. 275, reproduced with permission from the publisher, Copyright © 2002 McGraw-Hill)

We also have an exquisitely complete series of fossils for the reptile-mammal intermediates, ranging from the pelycosauria, therapsida, cynodonta, up to primitive mammalia (Carroll 1988, pp. 392-396; Futuyma 1998, pp. 146-151; Gould 1990; Kardong 2002, pp. 255-275). As mentioned above, the standard phylogenetic tree indicates that mammals gradually evolved from a reptile-like ancestor, and that transitional species must have existed which were morphologically intermediate between reptiles and mammals—even though none are found living today. However, there are significant morphological differences between modern reptiles and modern mammals. Bones, of course, are what fossilize most readily, and that is where we look for transitional species from the past. Osteologically, two major striking differences exist between reptiles and mammals: (1) reptiles have at least four bones in the lower jaw (e.g. the dentary, articular, angular, surangular, and coronoid), while mammals have only one (the dentary), and (2) reptiles have only one middle ear bone (the stapes), while mammals have three (the hammer, anvil, and stapes) (see Figure 1.4.1).

Early in the 20th century, developmental biologists discovered something that further complicates the picture. In the reptilian fetus, two developing bones from the head eventually form two bones in the reptilian lower jaw, the quadrate and the articular (see the Pelycosaur in Figure 1.4.1). Surprisingly, the corresponding developing bones in the mammalian fetus eventually form the anvil and hammer of the unique mammalian middle ear (also known more formally as the incus and malleus, respectively; see Figure 1.4.2) (Gilbert 1997, pp. 894-896). These facts strongly indicated that the hammer and anvil had evolved from these reptilian jawbones—that is, if common descent was in fact true. This result was so striking, and the required intermediates so outlandish, that many anatomists had extreme trouble imagining how transitional forms bridging these morphologies could have existed while retaining function. Young-earth creationist Duane Gish stated the problem this way:

"All mammals, living or fossil, have a single bone, the dentary, on each side of the lower jaw, and all mammals, living or fossil, have three auditory ossicles or ear bones, the malleus, incus and stapes. ... Every reptile, living or fossil, however, has at least four bones in the lower jaw and only one auditory ossicle, the stapes. ... There are no transitional fossil forms showing, for instance, three or two jawbones, or two ear bones. No one has explained yet, for that matter, how the transitional form would have managed to chew while his jaw was being unhinged and rearticulated, or how he would hear while dragging two of his jaw bones up into his ear." (Gish 1978, p. 80)

[Figure1.4.2a (cartoon of vertebrate ears)] [Figure1.4.2b (cartoon of vertebrate ears)]

Figure 1.4.2. A comparison of the ears of reptiles and mammals. The reptile ear is shown on the left, the mammal ear on the right. As in Figure 1.4.1, the quadrate (mammalian anvil or incus) is in turquoise and the articular (mammalian hammer or malleus) is in yellow. The stapes is shown in brown. Note how the relative arrangement of these bones is similar in both taxa, in the order of inner ear-stapes-quadrate-articular.

Gish was incorrect in stating that there were no transitional fossil forms, and he has been corrected on this gaff numerous times since he wrote these words. However, Gish's statements nicely delineate the morphological conundrum at hand. Let's review the required evolutionary conclusion. During their evolution, two mammalian middle ear bones (the hammer and anvil, aka malleus and incus) were derived from two reptilian jawbones. Thus there was a major evolutionary transition in which several reptilian jawbones (the quadrate, articular, and angular) were extensively reduced and modified gradually to form the modern mammalian middle ear. At the same time, the dentary bone, a part of the reptilian jaw, was expanded to form the major mammalian lower jawbone. During the course of this change, the bones that form the hinge joint of the jaw changed identity. Importantly, the reptilian jaw joint is formed at the intersection of the quadrate and articular whereas the mammalian jaw joint is formed at the intersection of the squamosal and dentary (see Figure 1.4.1).

How could hearing and jaw articulation be preserved during this transition? As clearly shown from the many transitional fossils that have been found (see Figure 1.4.3), the bones that transfer sound in the reptilian and mammalian ear were in contact with each other throughout the evolution of this transition. In reptiles, the stapes contacts the quadrate, which in turn contacts the articular. In mammals, the stapes contacts the incus, which in turn contacts the malleus (see Figure 1.4.2). Since the quadrate evolved into the incus, and the articular evolved into the malleus, these three bones were in constant contact during this impressive evolutionary change. Furthermore, a functional jaw joint was maintained by redundancy—several of the intermediate fossils have both a reptilian jaw joint (from the quadrate and articular) and a mammalian jaw joint (from the dentary and squamosal). Several late cynodonts and Morganucodon clearly have a double-jointed jaw. In this way, the reptilian-style jaw joint was freed to evolve a new specialized function in the middle ear. It is worthy of note that some modern species of snakes have a double-jointed jaw involving different bones, so such a mechanical arrangement is certainly possible and functional.

Since Figure 1.4.3 was made, several important intermediate fossils have been discovered that fit between Morganucodon and the earliest mammals. These new discoveries include a complete skull of Hadrocodium wui (Luo et al. 2001) and cranial and jaw material from Repenomamus and Gobiconodon (Wang et al. 2001). These new fossil finds clarify exactly when and how the malleus, incus, and angular completely detached from the lower jaw and became solely auditory ear ossicles.

Recall that Gish stated: "There are no transitional fossil forms showing, for instance, three or two jawbones, or two ear bones" (Gish 1978, p. 80). Gish simply does not understand how gradual transitions happen (something he should understand, obviously, if he intends to criticize evolutionary theory). These fossil intermediates illustrate why Gish's statement is a gross mischaracterization of how a transitional form should look. In several of the known intermediates, the bones have overlapping functions, and one bone can be called both an ear bone and a jaw bone; these bones serve two functions. Thus, there is no reason to expect transitional forms with intermediate numbers of jaw bones or ear bones. For example, in Morganucodon, the quadrate (anvil) and the articular (hammer) serve as mammalian-style ear bones and reptilian jaw bones simultaneously. In fact, even in modern reptiles the quadrate and articular serve to transmit sound to the stapes and the inner ear (see Figure 1.4.2). The relevant transition, then, is a process where the ear bones, initially located in the lower jaw, become specialized in function by eventually detaching from the lower jaw and moving closer to the inner ear.

[Figure1.4.3 (cartoon of vertebrate jaws)]

Figure 1.4.3. A comparison of the jawbones and ear-bones of several transitional forms in the evolution of mammals. Approximate stratigraphic ranges of the various taxa are indicated at the far left (more recent on top). The left column of jawbones shows the view of the left jawbone from the inside of the mouth. The right column is the view of the right jawbone from the right side (outside of the skull). As in Figure 1.4.1, the quadrate (mammalian anvil or incus) is in turquoise, the articular (mammalian hammer or malleus) is in yellow, and the angular (mammalian tympanic annulus) is in pink. For clarity, the teeth are not shown, and the squamosal upper jawbone is omitted (it replaces the quadrate in the mammalian jaw joint, and forms part of the jaw joint in advanced cynodonts and Morganucodon). Q = quadrate, Ar = articular, An = angular, I = incus (anvil), Ma = malleus (hammer), Ty = tympanic annulus, D = dentary. (Reproduced from Kardong 2002, pp. 274, with permission from the publisher, Copyright © 2002 McGraw-Hill)

The above is from 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution, which compiles several hundred transitional fossils, which is itself just a *SMALL* sampling of the ENORMOUS numbers of fine transitional sequences found in the fossil record and well known to anyone who has bothered to CRACK OPEN A BOOK -- or even do a websearch -- in the past 25 years or so... So what's the anti-evolutionists' excuse for remaining abysmally ignorant of such things, and repeatedly making the false claim that there are "no" transitional fossils, etc.?

Here's another look:

Mammal-Like Reptiles

As previously stated, a succession of transitional fossils exists that link reptiles (Class Reptilia) and mammals (Class Mammalia). These particular reptiles are classifie as Subclass Synapsida. Presently, this is the best example of th e transformation of one major higher taxon into another. The morphologic changes that took place are well documented by fossils, beginning with animals essentially 100% reptilian and resulting in animals essentially 100% mammalian. Therefore, I have chosen this as the example to summarize in more detail (Table 1, Fig. 1).

[Fig. 1a]
[Fig. 1b]

Skulls and jaws of synapsid reptiles and mammals; left column side view of skull; center column top view of skull; right column side view of lower jaw. Hylonomus modified from Carroll (1964, Figs. 2,6; 1968, Figs. 10-2, 10-5; note that Hylonomus is a protorothyrod, not a synapsid). Archaeothyris modified from Reisz (1972, Fig. 2). Haptodus modified from Currie (1977, Figs, 1a, 1b; 1979, Figs. 5a, 5b). Sphenacodo n modified from Romer & Price (1940, Fig. 4f), Allin (1975, p. 3, Fig. 16);note: Dimetrodon substituted for top view; modified from Romer & Price, 1940, pl. 10. Biarmosuchus modified from Ivakhnenko et al. (1997, pl. 65, Figs. 1a, 1B, 2); Alin & Hopson (1992; Fig. 28.4c); Sigogneau & Tchudinov (1972, Figs. 1, 15). Eoarctops modified from Broom (1932, Fig. 35a); Boonstra (1969, Fig. 18). Pristerognathus modified from Broom (1932, Figs 17a, b,c); Boonstra (1963, Fig. 5d). Procynosuchus modified from Allin & Hopson (1992, Fig. 28.4e); Hopson (1987, Fig. 5c); Brink (1963, Fig. 10a); Kemp (1979, Fig. 1); Allin (1975, p. 3, Fig. 14). Thrinaxodon modified from Allin & Hopson (1992, Fig. 28.4f);Parrington (1946, Fig. 1); Allin (1975, p. 3, Fig. 13). Probainognathus modified from Allin & Hopson (1992, Fig. 28.4g); Romer (1970, Fig. 1); Allin (1975, p. 3, Fig. 12). Morga nucodon modified from Kermack, Mussett, & Rigney (1981, Figs. 95, 99a; 1973, Fig. 7a); Allin (1975, p. 3, Fig. 11). Asioryctes modified from Carroll (1988, Fig. 20-3b). Abbreviations: ag = angular; ar = articular; cp = coronoid process; d = dentary; f = lateral temporal fenestra; j = jugal; mm = attachment site for mammalian jaw muscles; o = eye socket; po = post orbital; q = quadrate; rl = reflected lamina; sq = squamosal; ty = tympanic.

TAXONOMY
LATERAL TEMPORAL FENESTRA
LOWER JAW DENTARY
TEETH
LOWER JAW: POST- DENTARY BONES
MIDDLE EAR & JAW ARTICULATION
M: Early Placental mammals
Asioryctes
Upper Cretaceous
Merged with eye socket; cheek arch bowed out laterally 100% of jaw length is the den- tary; condylar process in contact with squamosal Fully differentiated teeth; incisors, canines, premolars; one tooth replacement No post-dentary bones 3 middle ear bones (stapes, incus, malleus) + tympanic; squamosal-dentary jaw joint
L: "Pantothere" mammals
Amphitherium
Middle/Upper Jurassic
X 100% of jaw length is the den-  tary; condylar process contacts squamosal Fully differentiated teeth; incisors, canines, premolars; one tooth replacement Post-dentary bones migrated to middle ear Probably 3 middle ear bones (stapes, incus, malleus) + tympanic; squamosal-dentary jaw joint
K: Morganucodontid mammals
Morganucodon  Upper Triassic & Lower Jurassic
Merged with eye socket; cheeck arch bowed out laterally 100% of jaw length is the den- tary; condylar process expanded posteriorly to make contact with squamosal Fully differentiated teeth; incisors, canines, premolars; one tooth replacement 20% of jaw length; reflected lamina decreased to narrow ribbon-like horseshoe Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate tiny; both quadrate-articular and squamosal-dentary jaw joints
J: Chiniquodontid cynodonts
Probainognathus
Middle Triassic
Much larger than eye socket; 40- 45% of skull length; expanded posterioirly, medially, & laterally; midline of skull narrow sagittal crest; chek arch bowed out laterally 95% of jaw length is the dentary; large coronoid process expanded posteriorly; condylar process expanded posteriorly Large single canine; cheek teeth multicusped; tooth replacement reduced 20% of jaw length; angular notch widened ventrally; width of main part of angular decreased; reflec - ted lamina decreased to narrow ribbon-like horseshoe Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate tiny; quadrate-articular joint
I:Galesaurid cynodonts
Thrinaxodon
Lower Triassic
Much larger than eye socket; 40% of skull length; expanded pos- terioirly, medially, & laterally; midline of skull narrow sagittal crest; chek arch bowed out laterally 85% of jaw length is the dentary; large coronoid process expanded to top of eye socket and pos- teriorly; jaw muscles attached to most of coronoid process Large single canine; cheek teeth multicusped; tooth replacement reduced 25% of jaw length; angular notch widened ventrally; width of reflec- ted lamina decreased; width of main part of angular decreased Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate small; quadrate-articular jaw joint
H: Procynosuchid cynodonts
Procynosuchus
upper Upper Permian
Much larger than eye socket; 40% of skull length; expanded pos- terioirly, medially, & laterally; midline of skull narrow sagittal crest; chek arch bowed out laterally 75-80% of jaw length is the den- tary; coronoid process expanded to near top of eye socket and posteriorly; jaw muscles  attached to dorsal part of coronoid process Large single canine; cheek teeth multicusped 30% of jaw length; angular notch widened ventrally; width of reflected lamina decreased Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate small; quadrate-articular jaw joint
G: Early Therocephalians
Pristerognathus
lower Upper Permian
Larger than eye socket; expanded posteriorly and medially; 30% of skull length 75-80% of jaw length is the den- tary; posterior end of dentary expanded posteriorly and dorsally into narrow blade-like coronoid process; rises to middle of eye socket Large single canine; other teeth simple cones. 35% of jaw length; angular notch deepened into a cleft; reflected lamina large, broad, blade-like Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate small; quadrate-articular jaw joint
F: Early Gorgonopsians
Eoarctops
lower Upper Permian
Slightly larger than eye socket; expanded posteriorly and medially (minimal); 20-25% of skull length 65-75% of jaw length is the den- tary; posterior end of dentary slightly expanded posteriorly and dorsally as incipient coronoid process Large single canine; other teeth simple cones. 40% of jaw length; angular notch deepened into a cleft; reflected lamina large, broad, blade-like Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate- articular jaw joint
E: Eotitanosuchians
Sphenacodon
Lower Permian
Small; slightly smaller than eye socket; slightly expanded posteriorly and medially 65-75% of jaw length is the den- tary; posterodorsal edge rises broadly but slightly above tooth row Large single canine; other teeth simple cones. 40% of jaw length; angular notch deepened into a cleft; reflected lamina large, broad, blade-like Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate;  quadrate- articular jaw joint 
D: Late sphenacodonts
Sphenacodon
Upper Pennsylvanian
Small; smaller than eye socket; confined to one side of skull 65% of jaw length is the dentary; posterodorsal edge rises broadly but slightly above the tooth row Enlarged incipient canines; other teeth simple cones 60% of jaw length; venntral edge of angular notched ("angular notch") offsetting a short pro- tusion (reflected lamina) Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate large and plate-like; quadrate- articular jaw joint
C: Early spenacodonts
Haptodus
Upper Pennsylvanian
Tiny; smaller than eye socket; confined to one side of skull 65-75% of jaw length is the den- tary; posterodorsal edge rises broadly but slightly above tooth row Undifferentiated; slightly enlarged incipient canines just behind nares 70% of jaw length; ventral edge of angular with shallow indentation Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate- articular jaw joint
B: Early ophiacodonts
Archaothyris
upper Middle Pennsylvanian
Tiny; smaller than eye socket; confined to one side of skull x Undifferentiated; slightly enlarged incipient canines just behind nares x Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate- articular jaw joint
A: Protorothyrids
Hylonomus
lower Middle Pennsylvanian
Absent 65-75% of jaw length is the den- tary; posterodorsal edge rises broadly but slightly above tooth row Undifferentiated; slightly enlarged incipient canines just behind nares 70% of jaw length; ventral edge of angular continuous  Stapes extends from inner ear capsule to quadrate; quadrate- articular jaw joint

Table 1: Morphology of synapsid reptiles and mammals (Note that Hylonomus is a protothyrid, not a synapsid). Data from references cited in text.

Modern reptiles and mammals are very distinctive, easily diagnosable, and do not intergrade. Reptiles are covered by scales, mammals by hair; reptiles are cold-blooded, mammals warm-blooded; reptiles do not suckle their young, mammals have mammary glands; reptiles have sprawling posture, mammals have upright posture. Most of these features are soft part anatomy or physiology that very rarely fossilize (although dinosaur skin impressions are known from Cretaceous sediments, and imprints of mammal hair are known from Eocene bats from Germany; Franzen, 1990). In the fossil record, we must look to skeletal features.

There are many skeletal features which allow us to distinguish the reptiles from the mammals (Carroll, 1988; Table 1, rows A, M). The single most important defining characteristic is the nature of the articulation of the lower jaw to the skull (Simpson, 1959). In reptiles, multiple bones comprise the lower jaw. A small bone at the posterior end of the lower jaw, the articular, articulates with the quadrate bone of the skull (Simpson, 1959; Carroll, 1988). In mammals, one large bone, the dentary, comprises the lower jaw. It articulates with the squamosal bone of the skull (Simpson, 1959; Carroll, 1988).

From comparative anatomy studies, it is certain that most of the bones of the reptiles and mammals are homologous (Crompton & Parker, 1978; Carroll, 1988). Of greatest importance, the middle ear bones of mammals (stapes, incus, malleus, and tympanic) are homologous with several of the skull and jaw bones of reptiles (stapes, quadrate, articular, and angular, respectively; Romer, 1956, p. 33-38, 1970a; Allin, 1975, 1986; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Crompton & Parker, 1978; Hopso n, 1987, 1994; Carroll, 1988). One group of reptiles, the synapsids (Subclass Synapsida), share with the mammals an additional homologous structure: the lateral temporal fenestra, which is an opening in the skull behind the eye socket at the triple junction between the squamosal, jugal , and post orbital bones (Broom, 1932; Frazetta, 1968; Kemp, 1982; Carroll, 1988). A band of bone composed of the jugal and the squamosal is adjacent to the lateral temporal fenestra (Broom, 1932; Kemp, 1982; Carroll, 1988). This is the cheek arch so characteristic of mammal skulls (Broom, 1932; Kemp, 1982; Carroll, 1988). Therefore, synapsids are commonly named the “mammal-like reptiles.”

The presence of diagnosable morphologic differences between reptiles (including the oldest reptiles and the oldest synapsids) and mammals distinguishes them as distinct taxa. This allows us to test evolution by looking for transitional forms between the two. Because many of the bones are homologous, we should find evidence illustrating how these bones were modified over time to become the new bones. Furthermore, these morphologic changes should happen in parallel and in geochronologic succession.

Synapsid reptiles inhabited Pangea from the Middle Pennsylvanian through the Early Jurassic (Kemp, 1982, 1985; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988; Hopson, 1969, 1987, 1994; Hopson & Crompton, 1969; Hotton, et al., 1986; Crompton & Jenkins, 1973; Sidor & Hopson, 1998; Romer & Price, 1940; Broom, 1932; Boonstra, 1963, 1969, 1971; Tchudinov, 1983; Olson, 1944; Tatarinov, 1974; Vyushkov, 1955; Efremov, 1954). From the Early Permian through the Early Triassic, they were the largest and most abundant land animals (Sloan, 1983; Colbert, 1965). Though much less well known to the general public than dinosaurs, one of the “cereal box dinosaurs,” Dimetrodon (the sail-backed reptile), is a synapsid, not a dinosaur (Romer & Price, 1940; Carroll, 1988). The oldest mammals are Late Triassic (Kemp, 1982; Carroll, 1988). Below is a discussion of the geochronologic succession linking synapsids and mammals. The oldest reptiles (named protorothyrids; Carroll, 1964, 1988, p. 192-199) are from the lower Middle Pennsylvanian, and the oldest synapsids (Reisz, 1972) are from the upper Middle Pennsylvanian, both of Nova Scotia. Upper Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian forms are known primarily from the midcontinent and Permian Basin region of the United States (Romer & Price, 1940; Currie, 1977, 1979; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983). The basal Upper Permian forms are known from Russia (Tchudinov, 1960, 1983; Efremov, 1954; Olson, 1962; Sigogneau & Tchudinov, 1972; Ivakhnenko et al., 1997). Most of the Upper Permian and Lower Triassic succession is known from southern Africa, especially the Great Karoo of South Africa (Broom, 1932; Boonstra, 1963, 1969, 1971; Hopson & Kitching, 1972; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983). The Middle Triassic forms are from South America (Romer, 1969a, 1969b, 1970b, 1973; Romer & Lewis, 1973; Bonaparte & Barbarena, 1975), and the Upper Triassic and Lower Jurassic mammals are known from Eurasia (Kermack, Mussett, & Rigney, 1973, 1981; Kemp, 1982). Subsequent Mesozoic mammals are known from all over the world (Simpson, 1928; Lillegraven et al., 1979).

When placed in proper geochronologic succession, the synapsids naturally form a succession of taxa (genera and families) that progressively become more mammal-like and less reptile-like (Kemp, 1982, 1985; Sloan, 1983; Sidor & Hopson, 1998; Hopson, 1987, 1994). Morphologic changes, summarized in Table 1 and Figure 1, affect the entire skeletal anatomy of these animals, but are most clearly displayed in their skulls.

The lateral temporal fenestra increased in size from a tiny opening smaller than the eye socket to a giant opening occupying nearly half the length of the skull. Ultimately, it merged with the eye socket, thus producing the full development of the cheek arch so characteristic of mammals (Broom, 1932; Frazetta, 1968; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Carroll, 1988).

Successively, the relative proportion of the lower jaw comprised of the dentary bone (teeth-bearing bone) gradually increased until the entire lower jaw consisted of the dentary (Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988; Hopson, 1987, 1994). In Pennsylvanian and Lower and basal Upper Permian synapsids, the postero-dorsal edge of the lower jaw rose broadly but only slightly above the level of the tooth row (Romer & Price, 1940; Currie, 1977, 1979; Ivakhnenko et al., 1997; Tchudinov, 1960, 1983; Efremov, 1954; Olson, 1962; Sigogneau & Tchudinov, 1972; Hopson, 1987, 1994). In succeeding forms, the posterior part of the dentary expanded dorsally and posteriorly as a blade-like process, and progressively became larger (Broom, 1932; Boonstra, 1963, 1969, 1971; Sigogneau, 1970; Brink, 1963; Kemp, 1979; Hopson, 1987, 1994), forming the coronoid process (Parrington, 1946; Fourie, 1974; Romer, 1969b, 1970b, 1973; Hopson, 1987, 1994) to which the mammalian-type jaw musculature is attached (Barghusen, 1968; Bramble, 1978; Crompton, 1972; Crompton & Parker, 1978; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). Concomitantly, the post-dentary bones progressively reduced in size (Allin, 1975; Crompton, 1972; Crompton & Parker, 1978; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988; Hopson, 1987, 1994).

Beginning with the Upper Pennsylvanian sphenacodonts, a notch developed in the angular bone that offsets a projection, the reflected lamina (Allin, 1975; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Romer & Price, 1940; Currie, 1977, 1979; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). The reflected lamina first became a large blade-like flange (Allin, 1975; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Ivakhnenko et al., 1997; Tchudinov, 1960, 1983; Efremov, 1954; Olson, 1962; Sigogneau & Tchudinov, 1972; Broom, 1932; Sigogneau, 1970; Boonstra, 1963, 1969, 1971), and then was progressively reduced to a delicate horseshoe-shaped bone (Allin, 1975; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Brink, 1963; Parrington, 1946; Fourie, 1974; Romer, 1969b, 1970b, 1973; Kermack, Mussett, & Rigney, 1973, 1981; Kemp, 1979, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988).

Simultaneously, the quadrate progressively decreased in size (Allin, 1975; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). The articular did not decrease in size much, being small initially, but developed a downward-pointing prong (Allin, 1975; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). In the synapsids, the lower jaw was hinged to the skull by the articular and quadrate bones (Crompton, 1972; Crompton & Parker, 1978; Allin, 1975; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994). Thus they are classified as reptiles (Simpson, 1959; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). As the quadrate and articular became smaller, they were relieved of their solid suture to the dentary and skull (Crompton, 1972; Allin, 1975, 1986; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Crompton & Parker, 1978; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). A projection of the dentary extended posteriorly and made contact with the squamosal. Morganucodon possessed the mammalian dentary-squamosal jaw joint adjacent to the reptilian articular-quadrate jaw joint (Kermack, Mussett, & Rigney, 1973, 1981; Carroll, 1988). It is classified as the first mammal, but it is a perfect intermediate. Now that a new jaw joint was established, the quadrate and articular were subsequently relieved of that function (Crompton, 1972; Allin, 1975, 1986; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Crompton & Parker, 1978; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988). Ultimately, in Middle and Upper Jurassic mammals, the tiny quadrate, articular, and ring-like angular migrated as a unit to the middle ear where they joined the stapes and became the incus, malleus, and tympanic bones (Allin, 197 5, 1986; Allin & Hopson, 1992; Hopson, 1987, 1994; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988).

Progressively, the teeth became differentiated. The large canines developed first, followed by the development of multicusped cheek teeth, reduced tooth replacement (Osborn & Crompton, 1973; Crompton & Parker, 1978), and finally full y differentiated incisors, canines, premolars, and molars with one tooth replacement during life (Kemp, 1982; Hopson, 1994).

Many other morphologic changes are documented in the fossil record. These demonstrate the morphologic and geochronologic succession from sprawling limb posture to upright limb posture of mammals (Jenkins, 1971; Romer & Lewis, 197 3; Kemp, 1982; Carroll, 1988; Hopson, 1994). As Jenkins (1971, p. 210) stated, “In details of morphology and function, the cynodont post-cranial skeleton should be regarded as neither ‘reptilian’ nor ‘mammalian’ but as transitional between the two classes .” Other changes have been adequately summarized elsewhere (Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983; Carroll, 1988; Hopson, 1994). Obviously, fundamental physiologic changes must have taken place as well, many of which are not directly preserved in the fossil record, though some can be inferred from the skeletal anatomy (Findlay, 1968; Kemp, 1982; Sloan, 1983, Carroll, 1988; Hopson, 1994).

This is well documented in the fossil record by a massive volume of incontrovertible data that cannot be explained away. Such large-scale, progressive, continuous, gradual, and geochronologically successive morphologic change (Sidor & Hopson, 1998) is descent with modification, and provides compelling evidence for evolution on a grand scale.

(The above is from The Fossil Record: Evolution or "Scientific Creation", which is yet ANOTHER source the anti-evolutionists are obviously completely ignorant of -- not that that stops them from spouting off falsehoods about the subject anyway...
Evolution predicted that transitional forms once existed between dinosaurian forelimbs and bird wings. Creationists predicted that "half a wing" would be unworkable and useless. Guess whose predictions were found to be right?

Theropod dinosaur to bird evolutionary transition:

The cladogram for the evolution of flight looks like this:

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(Note -- each name along the top is a known transitional fossil; and those aren't all that have been discovered.) Here's a more detailed look at the middle section:

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Fossils discovered in the past ten years in China have answered most of the "which came first" questions about the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.

We now know that downy feathers came first, as seen in this fossil of Sinosauropteryx:

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That's a close-up of downy plumage along the backbone. Here's a shot of an entire fossil

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Sinosauropteryx was reptilian in every way, not counting the feathers. It had short forelimbs, and the feathers were all the same size. Presumably, the downy feathers evolved from scales driven by a need for bodily insulation.

Next came Protarchaeopteryx:

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It had long arms, broad "hands", and long claws:

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Apparently this species was driven by selection to develop more efficient limbs for grasping prey. One of the interesting things about this species is that the structure of the forelimb has been refined to be quite efficient at sweeping out quickly to grab prey, snap the hands together, then draw them back towards the body (mouth?). The specific structures in question are the semilunate carpal (a wrist bone), that moves with the hand in a broad, flat, 190 degree arc, heavy chest muscles, bones of the arm which link together with the wrist so as to force the grasping hands to spread out toward the prey during the forestroke and fold in on the prey during the upstroke. Not only is this a marvelously efficient prey-grabbing mechanism, but the same mechanism is at the root of the wing flight-stroke of modern birds. Evolution often ends up developing a structure to serve one need, then finds it suitable for adaptation to another. Here, a prey-grasping motion similar in concept to the strike of a praying mantis in a reptile becomes suitable for modifying into a flapping flight motion.

Additionally, the feathers on the hands and tail have elongated, becoming better suited for helping to sweep prey into the hands.

Next is Caudipteryx:

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This species had hand and tail feathers even more developed than the previous species, and longer feathers, more like that of modern birds:

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However, it is clear that this was still not a free-flying animal yet, because the forelimbs were too short and the feathers not long enough to support its weight, and the feathers were symmetrical (equal sized "fins" on each side of the central quill). It also had very reduced teeth compared to earlier specimens and a stubby beak:

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But the elongation of the feathers indicates some aerodynamic purpose, presumably gliding after leaping (or falling) from trees which it had climbed with its clawed limbs, in the manner of a flying squirrel. Feathers which were developed "for" heat retention and then pressed into service to help scoop prey were now "found" to be useful for breaking falls or gliding to cover distance (or swooping down on prey?).

Next is Sinornithosaurus:

Similar to the preceding species, except that the pubis bone has now shifted to point to the back instead of the front, a key feature in modern birds (when compared to the forward-facing publis bone in reptiles). Here are some of the forearm feathers in detail:

Long feathers in detail:

Artists' reconstruction:

Next is Archaeopteryx:

The transition to flight is now well underway. Archaeopteryx has the reversed hallux (thumb) characteristic of modern birds, and fully developed feathers of the type used for flight (long, aligned with each other, and assymetrical indicating that the feathers have been refined to function aerodynamically). The feathers and limbs are easily long enough to support the weight of this species in flight. However, it lacks some structures which would make endurance flying more practical (such as a keeled sternum for efficient anchoring of the pectoral muscles which power the downstroke) and fused chest vertebrae. Archaeopteryx also retains a number of clearly reptilian features still, including a clawed "hand" emerging from the wings, small reptilian teeth, and a long bony tail. After the previous species' gliding abilities gave it an advantage, evolution would have strongly selected for more improvements in "flying" ability, pushing the species towards something more resembling sustained powered flight.

Next is Confuciusornis:

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This species had a nearly modern flight apparatus. It also displays transitional traits between a reptilian grasping "hand" and a fully formed wing as in modern birds -- the outer two digits (the earlier species had three-fingered "hands") in Confuciusornis are still free, but the center digit has now formed flat, broad bones as seen in the wings of modern birds.

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Additionally, the foot is now well on its way towards being a perching foot as in modern birds:

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It also has a keeled sternum better suited for long flight, and a reduced number of vertebrae in the tail, on its way towards becoming the truncated tail of modern birds (which while prominent, is a small flap of muscle made to look large only because of the long feathers attached).

From this species it's only a small number of minor changes to finish the transition into the modern bird family.

(Hey, who said there are no transitional fossils? Oh, right, a lot of dishonest creationists. And there are a lot more than this, I've just posted some of the more significant milestones.)

There's been a very recent fossil find along this same lineage, too new for me to have found any online images to include in this article. And analysis is still underway to determine exactly where it fits into the above lineage. But it has well-formed feathers, which extend out from both the "arms" and the legs. Although it wasn't advanced enough to fully fly, the balanced feathering on the front and back would have made it ideally suited for gliding like a flying squirrel, and it may be another link between the stage where feathers had not yet been pressed into service as aerodynamic aids, and the time when they began to be used more and more to catch the air and developing towards a "forelimbs as wings" specialization.

So in short, to answer your question about how flight could have developed in birds, the progression is most likely some minor refinement on the following:

1. Scales modified into downy feathers for heat retention.
2. Downy feathers modified into "straight" feathers for better heat retention (modern birds still use their body "contour feathers" in this fashion).
3. Straight feathers modified into a "grasping basket" on the hands (with an accompanying increase in reach for the same purpose).
4. Long limbs with long feathers refined to better survive falls to the ground.
5. "Parachute" feathers refined for better control, leading to gliding.
6. Gliding refined into better controlled, longer gliding.
7. Long gliding refined into short powered "hops".
8. Short powered flight refined into longer powered flight.
9. Longer powered flight refined into long-distance flying.

Note that in each stage, the current configuration has already set the stage for natural selection to "prefer" individuals which better meet the requirements of the next stage. Evolution most often works like this; by taking some pre-existing ability or structure, and finding a better use for it or a better way to make it perform its current use.

Fish to elephant evolutionary transition

Tell me, of any two consecutive fossils in the following list, do any differ so much from each other that anti-evolutionists wouldn't just write it off as "just adaptation", or "just microevolution"? [All of the listed specimens are actual fossils]

Fish to Amphibian transition:

1. Cheirolepis, (early Devonian, 400 million years ago) -- Primitive bony ray-finned fishes that gave rise to the vast majority of living fish. Heavy acanthodian-type scales, acanthodian-like skull, and big notocord.

2. Osteolepis (mid-Devonian, 390 million years ago) -- One of the earliest crossopterygian lobe-finned fishes, still sharing some characters with the lungfish (the other lobe-finned fishes). Had paired fins with a leg-like arrangement of major limb bones, capable of flexing at the "elbow", and had an early-amphibian-like skull and teeth.

3. Eusthenopteron, Sterropterygion (mid-late Devonian, 380 million years ago) -- Early rhipidistian lobe-finned fish roughly intermediate between early crossopterygian fish and the earliest amphibians. Skull very amphibian-like. Strong amphibian- like backbone. Fins very like early amphibian feet in the overall layout of the major bones, muscle attachments, and bone processes, with tetrapod-like tetrahedral humerus, and tetrapod-like elbow and knee joints. But there are no perceptible "toes", just a set of identical fin rays. Body & skull proportions rather fishlike.

4. Panderichthys, Elpistostege (mid-late Devonian, about 370 Mya) -- These "panderichthyids" are very tetrapod-like lobe-finned fish. Unlike Eusthenopteron, these fish actually look like tetrapods in overall proportions (flattened bodies, dorsally placed orbits, frontal bones! in the skull, straight tails, etc.) and have remarkably foot-like fins.

5. Obruchevichthys(middle Late Devonian, about 370 Mya -- Discovered in 1991 in Scotland, these are the earliest known tetrapod remains. The humerus is mostly tetrapod-like but retains some fish features. The discoverer, Ahlberg (1991), said: "It [the humerus] is more tetrapod-like than any fish humerus, but lacks the characteristic early tetrapod 'L-shape'...this seems to be a primitive, fish-like character....although the tibia clearly belongs to a leg, the humerus differs enough from the early tetrapod pattern to make it uncertain whether the appendage carried digits or a fin. At first sight the combination of two such extremities in the same animal seems highly unlikely on functional grounds. If, however, tetrapod limbs evolved for aquatic rather than terrestrial locomotion, as recently suggested, such a morphology might be perfectly workable."

6. Hynerpeton, Acanthostega, Ichthyostega (late Devonian, 360 Mya) -- A little later, the fin-to-foot transition was almost complete, and we have a set of early tetrapod fossils that clearly did have feet. The most complete are Ichthyostega, Acanthostega gunnari, and the newly described Hynerpeton bassetti (Daeschler et al., 1994). (There are also other genera known from more fragmentary fossils.) Hynerpeton is the earliest of these three genera (365 Ma), but is more advanced in some ways; the other two genera retained more fish- like characters longer than the Hynerpeton lineage did. Acanthostega still had internal gills, adding further support to the suggestion that unique tetrapod characters such as limbs with digits evolved first for use in water rather than for walking on land. Acanthostega also had a remarkably fish-like shoulder and forelimb. Ichthyostega was also very fishlike, retaining a fish-like finned tail, permanent lateral line system, and notochord. It turns out that Acanthostega's front foot had eight toes, and Ichthyostega's hind foot had seven toes, giving both feet the look of a short, stout flipper with many "toe rays" similar to fin rays. All you have to do to a lobe- fin to make it into a many-toed foot like this is curl it, wrapping the fin rays forward around the end of the limb. In fact, this is exactly how feet develop in larval amphibians, from a curled limb bud. Hynerpeton, in contrast, probably did not have internal gills and already had a well-developed shoulder girdle; it could elevate and retract its forelimb strongly, and it had strong muscles that attached the shoulder to the rest of the body (Daeschler et al., 1994).

7. Labyrinthodonts (eg Pholidogaster, Pteroplax) (late Dev./early Miss., 355 Mya) -- These larger amphibians still have some icthyostegid fish features, such as skull bone patterns, labyrinthine tooth dentine, presence & pattern of large palatal tusks, the fish skull hinge, pieces of gill structure between cheek & shoulder, and the vertebral structure. But they have lost several other fish features: the fin rays in the tail are gone, the vertebrae are stronger and interlocking, the nasal passage for air intake is well defined, etc.

Amphibian to Reptile transition:

8. Pholidogaster (Mississippian, about 330 Ma) -- A group of large labrinthodont amphibians, transitional between the early amphibians (the ichthyostegids, described above) and later amphibians such as rhachitomes and anthracosaurs.

9. Proterogyrinus (late Mississippian, 325 Mya) -- Classic labyrinthodont-amphibian skull and teeth, but with reptilian vertebrae, pelvis, humerus, and digits. Still has fish skull hinge. Amphibian ankle. 5-toed hand and a 2-3-4-5-3 (almost reptilian) phalangeal count.

10. Limnoscelis, Tseajaia (late Carboniferous, 300 Mya) -- Amphibians apparently derived from the early anthracosaurs, but with additional reptilian features: structure of braincase, reptilian jaw muscle, expanded neural arches.

11. Solenodonsaurus (mid-Pennsylvanian) -- An incomplete fossil, apparently between the anthracosaurs and the cotylosaurs. Loss of palatal fangs, loss of lateral line on head, etc. Still just a single sacral vertebra, though.

12. Hylonomus, Paleothyris (early Pennsylvanian) -- These are protorothyrids, very early cotylosaurs (primitive reptiles). They were quite little, lizard-sized animals with amphibian-like skulls (amphibian pineal opening, dermal bone, etc.), shoulder, pelvis, & limbs, and intermediate teeth and vertebrae. Rest of skeleton reptilian, with reptilian jaw muscle, no palatal fangs, and spool-shaped vertebral centra. Probably no eardrum yet.

13. Paleothyris (early Pennsylvanian) -- An early captorhinomorph reptile, with no temporal fenestrae at all.

14. Protoclepsydrops haplous (early Pennsylvanian) -- The earliest known synapsid reptile. Little temporal fenestra, with all surrounding bones intact. Had amphibian-type vertebrae with tiny neural processes. (reptiles had only just separated from the amphibians)

15. Clepsydrops (early Pennsylvanian) -- The second earliest known synapsid.

Reptile to Mammal transition:

16. Archaeothyris (early-mid Pennsylvanian) -- A slightly later ophiacodont. Small temporal fenestra, now with some reduced bones (supratemporal). Braincase still just loosely attached to skull. Slight hint of different tooth types. Still has some extremely primitive, amphibian/captorhinid features in the jaw, foot, and skull. Limbs, posture, etc. typically reptilian, though the ilium (major hip bone) was slightly enlarged.

17. Varanops (early Permian) -- Temporal fenestra further enlarged. Braincase floor shows first mammalian tendencies & first signs of stronger attachment to rest of skull (occiput more strongly attached). Lower jaw shows first changes in jaw musculature (slight coronoid eminence). Body narrower, deeper: vertebral column more strongly constructed. Ilium further enlarged, lower-limb musculature starts to change (prominent fourth trochanter on femur). This animal was more mobile and active. Too late to be a true ancestor, and must be a "cousin".

18. Haptodus (late Pennsylvanian) -- One of the first known sphenacodonts, showing the initiation of sphenacodont features while retaining many primitive features of the ophiacodonts. Occiput still more strongly attached to the braincase. Teeth become size-differentiated, with biggest teeth in canine region and fewer teeth overall. Stronger jaw muscles. Vertebrae parts & joints more mammalian. Neural spines on vertebrae longer. Hip strengthened by fusing to three sacral vertebrae instead of just two. Limbs very well developed.

19. Dimetrodon, Sphenacodon or a similar sphenacodont (late Pennsylvanian to early Permian, 270 Ma) -- More advanced pelycosaurs, clearly closely related to the first therapsids (next). Dimetrodon is almost definitely a "cousin" and not a direct ancestor, but as it is known from very complete fossils, it's a good model for sphenacodont anatomy. Medium-sized fenestra. Teeth further differentiated, with small incisors, two huge deep- rooted upper canines on each side, followed by smaller cheek teeth, all replaced continuously. Fully reptilian jaw hinge. Lower jaw bone made of multiple bones & with first signs of a bony prong later involved in the eardrum, but there was no eardrum yet, so these reptiles could only hear ground-borne vibrations (they did have a reptilian middle ear). Vertebrae had still longer neural spines (spectacularly so in Dimetrodon, which had a sail), and longer transverse spines for stronger locomotion muscles.

20. Biarmosuchia (late Permian) -- A therocephalian -- one of the earliest, most primitive therapsids. Several primitive, sphenacodontid features retained: jaw muscles inside the skull, platelike occiput, palatal teeth. New features: Temporal fenestra further enlarged, occupying virtually all of the cheek, with the supratemporal bone completely gone. Occipital plate slanted slightly backwards rather than forwards as in pelycosaurs, and attached still more strongly to the braincase. Upper jaw bone (maxillary) expanded to separate lacrymal from nasal bones, intermediate between early reptiles and later mammals. Still no secondary palate, but the vomer bones of the palate developed a backward extension below the palatine bones. This is the first step toward a secondary palate, and with exactly the same pattern seen in cynodonts. Canine teeth larger, dominating the dentition. Variable tooth replacement: some therocephalians (e.g Scylacosaurus) had just one canine, like mammals, and stopped replacing the canine after reaching adult size. Jaw hinge more mammalian in position and shape, jaw musculature stronger (especially the mammalian jaw muscle). The amphibian-like hinged upper jaw finally became immovable. Vertebrae still sphenacodontid-like. Radical alteration in the method of locomotion, with a much more mobile forelimb, more upright hindlimb, & more mammalian femur & pelvis. Primitive sphenacodontid humerus. The toes were approaching equal length, as in mammals, with #toe bones varying from reptilian to mammalian. The neck & tail vertebrae became distinctly different from trunk vertebrae. Probably had an eardrum in the lower jaw, by the jaw hinge.

21. Procynosuchus (latest Permian) -- The first known cynodont -- a famous group of very mammal-like therapsid reptiles, sometimes considered to be the first mammals. Probably arose from the therocephalians, judging from the distinctive secondary palate and numerous other skull characters. Enormous temporal fossae for very strong jaw muscles, formed by just one of the reptilian jaw muscles, which has now become the mammalian masseter. The large fossae is now bounded only by the thin zygomatic arch (cheekbone to you & me). Secondary palate now composed mainly of palatine bones (mammalian), rather than vomers and maxilla as in older forms; it's still only a partial bony palate (completed in life with soft tissue). Lower incisor teeth was reduced to four (per side), instead of the previous six (early mammals had three). Dentary now is 3/4 of lower jaw; the other bones are now a small complex near the jaw hinge. Jaw hinge still reptilian. Vertebral column starts to look mammalian: first two vertebrae modified for head movements, and lumbar vertebrae start to lose ribs, the first sign of functional division into thoracic and lumbar regions. Scapula beginning to change shape. Further enlargement of the ilium and reduction of the pubis in the hip. A diaphragm may have been present.

22. Dvinia [also "Permocynodon"] (latest Permian) -- Another early cynodont. First signs of teeth that are more than simple stabbing points -- cheek teeth develop a tiny cusp. The temporal fenestra increased still further. Various changes in the floor of the braincase; enlarged brain. The dentary bone was now the major bone of the lower jaw. The other jaw bones that had been present in early reptiles were reduced to a complex of smaller bones near the jaw hinge. Single occipital condyle splitting into two surfaces. The postcranial skeleton of Dvinia is virtually unknown and it is not therefore certain whether the typical features found at the next level had already evolved by this one. Metabolic rate was probably increased, at least approaching homeothermy.

23. Thrinaxodon (early Triassic) -- A more advanced "galesaurid" cynodont. Further development of several of the cynodont features seen already. Temporal fenestra still larger, larger jaw muscle attachments. Bony secondary palate almost complete. Functional division of teeth: incisors (four uppers and three lowers), canines, and then 7-9 cheek teeth with cusps for chewing. The cheek teeth were all alike, though (no premolars & molars), did not occlude together, were all single- rooted, and were replaced throughout life in alternate waves. Dentary still larger, with the little quadrate and articular bones were loosely attached. The stapes now touched the inner side of the quadrate. First sign of the mammalian jaw hinge, a ligamentous connection between the lower jaw and the squamosal bone of the skull. The occipital condyle is now two slightly separated surfaces, though not separated as far as the mammalian double condyles. Vertebral connections more mammalian, and lumbar ribs reduced. Scapula shows development of a new mammalian shoulder muscle. Ilium increased again, and all four legs fully upright, not sprawling. Tail short, as is necessary for agile quadrupedal locomotion. The whole locomotion was more agile. Number of toe bones is 2.3.4.4.3, intermediate between reptile number (2.3.4.5.4) and mammalian (2.3.3.3.3), and the "extra" toe bones were tiny. Nearly complete skeletons of these animals have been found curled up - a possible reaction to conserve heat, indicating possible endothermy? Adults and juveniles have been found together, possibly a sign of parental care. The specialization of the lumbar area (e.g. reduction of ribs) is indicative of the presence of a diaphragm, needed for higher O2 intake and homeothermy. NOTE on hearing: The eardrum had developed in the only place available for it -- the lower jaw, right near the jaw hinge, supported by a wide prong (reflected lamina) of the angular bone. These animals could now hear airborne sound, transmitted through the eardrum to two small lower jaw bones, the articular and the quadrate, which contacted the stapes in the skull, which contacted the cochlea. Rather a roundabout system and sensitive to low-frequency sound only, but better than no eardrum at all! Cynodonts developed quite loose quadrates and articulars that could vibrate freely for sound transmittal while still functioning as a jaw joint, strengthened by the mammalian jaw joint right next to it. All early mammals from the Lower Jurassic have this low-frequency ear and a double jaw joint. By the middle Jurassic, mammals lost the reptilian joint (though it still occurs briefly in embryos) and the two bones moved into the nearby middle ear, became smaller, and became much more sensitive to high-frequency sounds.

24. Cynognathus (early Triassic, 240 Ma; suspected to have existed even earlier) -- We're now at advanced cynodont level. Temporal fenestra larger. Teeth differentiating further; cheek teeth with cusps met in true occlusion for slicing up food, rate of replacement reduced, with mammalian-style tooth roots (though single roots). Dentary still larger, forming 90% of the muscle-bearing part of the lower jaw. TWO JAW JOINTS in place, mammalian and reptilian: A new bony jaw joint existed between the squamosal (skull) and the surangular bone (lower jaw), while the other jaw joint bones were reduced to a compound rod lying in a trough in the dentary, close to the middle ear. Ribs more mammalian. Scapula halfway to the mammalian condition. Limbs were held under body. There is possible evidence for fur in fossil pawprints.

25. Diademodon (early Triassic, 240 Ma; same strata as Cynognathus) -- Temporal fenestra larger still, for still stronger jaw muscles. True bony secondary palate formed exactly as in mammals, but didn't extend quite as far back. Turbinate bones possibly present in the nose (warm-blooded?). Dental changes continue: rate of tooth replacement had decreased, cheek teeth have better cusps & consistent wear facets (better occlusion). Lower jaw almost entirely dentary, with tiny articular at the hinge. Still a double jaw joint. Ribs shorten suddenly in lumbar region, probably improving diaphragm function & locomotion. Mammalian toe bones (2.3.3.3.3), with closely related species still showing variable numbers.

26. Probelesodon (mid-Triassic; South America) -- Fenestra very large, still separate from eyesocket (with postorbital bar). Secondary palate longer, but still not complete. Teeth double-rooted, as in mammals. Nares separated. Second jaw joint stronger. Lumbar ribs totally lost; thoracic ribs more mammalian, vertebral connections very mammalian. Hip & femur more mammalian.

27. Probainognathus (mid-Triassic, 239-235 Ma, Argentina) -- Larger brain with various skull changes: pineal foramen ("third eye") closes, fusion of some skull plates. Cheekbone slender, low down on the side of the eye socket. Postorbital bar still there. Additional cusps on cheek teeth. Still two jaw joints. Still had cervical ribs & lumbar ribs, but they were very short. Reptilian "costal plates" on thoracic ribs mostly lost. Mammalian #toe bones.

28. Pachygenelus, Diarthrognathus (earliest Jurassic, 209 Ma) -- These are trithelodontids. Inflation of nasal cavity, establishment of Eustachian tubes between ear and pharynx, loss of postorbital bar. Alternate replacement of mostly single- rooted teeth. This group also began to develop double tooth roots -- in Pachygenelus the single root of the cheek teeth begins to split in two at the base. Pachygenelus also has mammalian tooth enamel, and mammalian tooth occlusion. Double jaw joint, with the second joint now a dentary-squamosal (instead of surangular), fully mammalian. Incipient dentary condyle. Reptilian jaw joint still present but functioning almost entirely in hearing; postdentary bones further reduced to tiny rod of bones in jaw near middle ear; probably could hear high frequencies now. More mammalian neck vertebrae for a flexible neck. Hip more mammalian, with a very mammalian iliac blade & femur. Highly mobile, mammalian-style shoulder. Probably had coupled locomotion & breathing.

29. Sinoconodon (early Jurassic, 208 Ma) -- The next known very ancient proto-mammal. Eyesocket fully mammalian now (closed medial wall). Hindbrain expanded. Permanent cheekteeth, like mammals, but the other teeth were still replaced several times. Mammalian jaw joint stronger, with large dentary condyle fitting into a distinct fossa on the squamosal. This final refinement of the joint automatically makes this animal a true "mammal". Reptilian jaw joint still present, though tiny.

Proto-mammal to Placental Mammal transition:

30. Kuehneotherium (early Jurassic, about 205 Ma) -- A slightly later proto-mammal, sometimes considered the first known pantothere (primitive placental-type mammal). Teeth and skull like a placental mammal. The three major cusps on the upper & lower molars were rotated to form interlocking shearing triangles as in the more advanced placental mammals & marsupials. Still has a double jaw joint, though.

31. Eozostrodon, Morganucodon, Haldanodon (early Jurassic, ~205 Ma) -- A group of early proto-mammals called "morganucodonts". The restructuring of the secondary palate and the floor of the braincase had continued, and was now very mammalian. Truly mammalian teeth: the cheek teeth were finally differentiated into simple premolars and more complex molars, and teeth were replaced only once. Triangular- cusped molars. Reversal of the previous trend toward reduced incisors, with lower incisors increasing to four. Tiny remnant of the reptilian jaw joint. Once thought to be ancestral to monotremes only, but now thought to be ancestral to all three groups of modern mammals -- monotremes, marsupials, and placentals.

32. Peramus (late Jurassic, about 155 Ma) -- A "eupantothere" (more advanced placental-type mammal). The closest known relative of the placentals & marsupials. Triconodont molar has with more defined cusps. This fossil is known only from teeth, but judging from closely related eupantotheres (e.g. Amphitherium) it had finally lost the reptilian jaw joint, attaing a fully mammalian three-boned middle ear with excellent high-frequency hearing. Has only 8 cheek teeth, less than other eupantotheres and close to the 7 of the first placental mammals. Also has a large talonid on its "tribosphenic" molars, almost as large as that of the first placentals -- the first development of grinding capability.

33. Endotherium (very latest Jurassic, 147 Ma) -- An advanced eupantothere. Fully tribosphenic molars with a well- developed talonid. Known only from one specimen. From Asia; recent fossil finds in Asia suggest that the tribosphenic molar evolved there.

34. Vincelestes neuquenianus (early Cretaceous, 135 Ma) -- A probably-placental mammal with some marsupial traits, known from some nice skulls. Placental-type braincase and coiled cochlea. Its intracranial arteries & veins ran in a composite monotreme/placental pattern derived from homologous extracranial vessels in the cynodonts. (Rougier et al., 1992)

35. Kennalestes and Asioryctes (late Cretaceous, Mongolia) -- Small, slender animals; eyesocket open behind; simple ring to support eardrum; primitive placental-type brain with large olfactory bulbs; basic primitive tribosphenic tooth pattern. Canine now double rooted. Still just a trace of a non-dentary bone, the coronoid, on the otherwise all-dentary jaw. "Could have given rise to nearly all subsequent placentals." says Carroll (1988).

Placental mammal to elephant transition:

36. Protungulatum (latest Cretaceous) -- Transitional between earliest placental mammals and the condylarths (primitive, small hoofed animals). These early, simple insectivore- like small mammals had one new development: their cheek teeth had grinding surfaces instead of simple, pointed cusps. They were the first mammal herbivores. All their other features are generalized and primitive -- simple plantigrade five-toed clawed feet, all teeth present (3:1:4:3) with no gaps, all limb bones present and unfused, pointy-faced, narrow small brain, eyesocket not closed.

37. Minchenella or a similar condylarth (late Paleocene) -- Known only from lower jaws. Has a distinctive broadened shelf on the third molar.

38. Phenacolophus (late Paleocene or early Eocene) -- An early embrithopod (very early, slightly elephant-like condylarths), thought to be the stem-group of all elephants.

39. Pilgrimella (early Eocene) -- An anthracobunid (early proto-elephant condylarth), with massive molar cusps aligned in two transverse ridges.

40. Unnamed species of proto-elephant (early Eocene) -- Discovered recently in Algeria. Had slightly enlarged upper incisors (the beginnings of tusks), and various tooth reductions. Still had "normal" molars instead of the strange multi-layered molars of modern elephants. Had the high forehead and pneumatized skull bones of later elephants, and was clearly a heavy-boned, slow animal. Only one meter tall.

41. Moeritherium, Numidotherium, Barytherium (early-mid Eocene) -- A group of three similar very early elephants. It is unclear which of the three came first. Pig-sized with stout legs, broad spreading feet and flat hooves. Elephantish face with the eye set far forward & a very deep jaw. Second incisors enlarged into short tusks, in upper and lower jaws; little first incisors still present; loss of some teeth. No trunk.

42. Paleomastodon, Phiomia (early Oligocene) -- The first "mastodonts", a medium-sized animals with a trunk, long lower jaws, and short upper and lower tusks. Lost first incisors and canines. Molars still have heavy rounded cusps, with enamel bands becoming irregular. Phiomia was up to eight feet tall.

43. Gomphotherium (early Miocene) -- Basically a large edition of Phiomia, with tooth enamel bands becoming very irregular. Two long rows cusps on teeth became cross- crests when worn down. Gave rise to several families of elephant- relatives that spread all over the world. From here on the elephant lineages are known to the species level.

44a. The mastodon lineage split off here, becoming more adapted to a forest browser niche, and going through Miomastodon (Miocene) and Pliomastodon (Pliocene), to Mastodon (or "Mammut", Pleistocene).

44b. Meanwhile, the elephant lineage became still larger, adapting to a savannah/steppe grazer niche:

45. Stegotetrabelodon (late Miocene) -- One of the first of the "true" elephants, but still had two long rows of cross-crests, functional premolars, and lower tusks. Other early Miocene genera show compression of the molar cusps into plates (a modern feature ), with exactly as many plates as there were cusps. Molars start erupting from front to back, actually moving forward in the jaw throughout life.

46. Primelephas (latest Miocene) -- Short lower jaw makes it look like an elephant now. Reduction & loss of premolars. Very numerous plates on the molars, now; we're now at the modern elephants' bizarre system of one enormous multi-layered molar being functional at a time, moving forward in the jaw.

47. Primelephas gomphotheroides (mid-Pliocene) -- A later species that split into three lineages, Loxodonta, Elephas, and Mammuthus:

  1. Loxodonta adaurora (5 Ma). Gave rise to the modern African elephant Loxodonta africana about 3.5 Ma.
  2. Elephas ekorensis (5 Ma), an early Asian elephant with rather primitive molars, clearly derived directly from P. gomphotheroides. Led directly to:
    • Elephas recki, which sent off one side branch, E. hydrusicus, at 3.8 Ma, and then continued changing on its own until it became E. iolensis.
    • Elephas maximus, the modern Asian elephant, clearly derived from
    • E. hysudricus. Strikingly similar to young E. hysudricus animals. Possibly a case of neoteny (in which "new" traits are simply juvenile features retained into adulthood).
  3. Mammuthus meridionalis, clearly derived from P. gomphotheroides. Spread around the northern hemisphere. In Europe, led to M. armeniacus/trogontherii, and then to M. primigenius. In North America, led to M. imperator and then M. columbi.
The Pleistocene record for elephants is very good. In general, after the earliest forms of the three modern genera appeared, they show very smooth, continuous evolution with almost half of the speciation events preserved in fossils. For instance, Carroll (1988) says: "Within the genus Elephas, species demonstrate continuous change over a period of 4.5 million years. ...the elephants provide excellent evidence of significant morphological change within species, through species within genera, and through genera within a family...."

Species-species transitions among the elephants:

  • Maglio (1973) studied Pleistocene elephants closely. Overall, Maglio showed that at least 7 of the 17 Quaternary elephant species arose through smooth anagenesis transitions from their ancestors. For example, he said that Elephas recki "can be traced through a progressive series of stages...These stages pass almost imperceptibly into each other....In the late Pleistocene a more progressive elephant appears which I retain as a distinct species, E. iolensis, only as a matter of convenience. Although as a group, material referred to E. iolensis is distinct from that of E. recki, some intermediate specimens are known, and E. iolensis seems to represent a very progressive, terminal stage in the E. recki specific lineage."
  • Maglio also documented very smooth transitions between three Eurasian mammoth species: Mammuthus meridionalis --> M. armeniacus (or M. trogontherii) --> M. primigenius.
  • Lister (1993) reanalyzed mammoth teeth and confirmed Maglio's scheme of gradual evolution in European mammoths, and found evidence for gradual transitions in the North American mammoths too.
(Most of the above text is from The Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ, and is the result of hard work by Kathleen Hunt, who deserves the credit. I've just extracted the relevant individual portions and assembled them into one direct fish-to-elephant sequence.) If you like that, here are a few hundred more.

Similar fossil sequences can be listed for the majority of other major-group transitions.

(Did I hear a creationist in the back row say something about "no transitional fossils?")

Note that the changes between any two sequential transitionals are small enough that most creationists would write them off as only "microevolution" -- and yet those 50-or-so "microevolutionary" steps turn a fish into an elephant, which even the most stubborn creationist would have to concede is "macroevolution".

Once you've answered the first question, here's a second one for you: If evolutionary common descent *hasn't* actually happened -- if the different animal "kinds" were just *poofed* into existence fully-formed -- then why is it possible to order known fossils into such a smooth "transitional" chain *at all*, in a way that makes sense and is chronologically, morphologically, genetically, paleontologically, geographically (etc. etc.) consistent with the (allegedly) "non-existent" evolutionary transitions? And no, it's not possible to assemble a sequence of fossils in just any damned order you want, so don't try *that* excuse -- even evolutionary biologists aren't capable of putting together a transitional fossil sequence "showing", say, a cat evolving into a bird, or a butterfly into a bat. Please explain.

Whale Evolution

The transitional fossils in the evolutionary origin of whales is especially striking. The following is an excerpt from The Origin of Whales and the Power of Independent Evidence . This excerpt is excellent all by itself, but one should really read the entire essay in order to get the "big picture" of whale evolution:
The evidence
The evidence that whales descended from terrestrial mammals is here divided into nine independent parts: paleontological, morphological, molecular biological, vestigial, embryological, geochemical, paleoenvironmental, paleobiogeographical, and chronological. Although my summary of the evidence is not exhaustive, it shows that the current view of whale evolution is supported by scientific research in several distinct disciplines.

1. Paleontological evidence
The paleontological evidence comes from studying the fossil sequence from terrestrial mammals through more and more whale-like forms until the appearance of modern whales. Although the early whales (Archaeocetes) exhibit greater diversity than I have space to discuss here, the examples in this section represent the trends that we see in this taxon. Although there are two modern suborders of whales (Odontocetes and Mysticetes), this discussion will focus on the origin of the whales as an order of mammals, and set aside the issues related to the diversification into suborders.

Sinonyx
We start with Sinonyx, a wolf-sized mesonychid (a primitive ungulate from the order Condylarthra, which gave rise to artiodactyls, perissodactyls, proboscideans, and so on) from the late Paleocene, about 60 million years ago. The characters that link Sinonyx to the whales, thus indicating that they are relatives, include an elongated muzzle, an enlarged jugular foramen, and a short basicranium (Zhou and others 1995). The tooth count was the primitive mammalian number (44); the teeth were differentiated as are the heterodont teeth of today's mammals. The molars were very narrow shearing teeth, especially in the lower jaw, but possessed multiple cusps. The elongation of the muzzle is often associated with hunting fish - all fish-hunting whales, as well as dolphins, have elongated muzzles. These features were atypical of mesonychids, indicating that Sinonyx was already developing the adaptations that later became the basis of the whales' specialized way of life.

Pakicetus
The next fossil in the sequence, Pakicetus, is the oldest cetacean, and the first known archaeocete. It is from the early Eocene of Pakistan, about 52 million years ago (Gingerich and others 1983). Although it is known only from fragmentary skull remains, those remains are very diagnostic, and they are definitely intermediate between Sinonyxand later whales. This is especially the case for the teeth. The upper and lower molars, which have multiple cusps, are still similar to those of Sinonyx, but the premolars have become simple triangular teeth composed of a single cusp serrated on its front and back edges. The teeth of later whales show even more simplification into simple serrated triangles, like those of carnivorous sharks, indicating that Pakicetus's teeth were adapted to hunting fish.

Gingrich and others (1983) published this reconstruction of the skull of
Pakicetus inachus (redrawn for RNCSE by Janet Dreyer).


A well-preserved cranium shows that Pakicetus was definitely a cetacean with a narrow braincase, a high, narrow sagittal crest, and prominent lambdoidal crests. Gingerich and others (1983) reconstructed a composite skull that was about 35 centimeters long. Pakicetus did not hear well underwater. Its skull had neither dense tympanic bullae nor sinuses isolating the left auditory area from the right one - an adaptation of later whales that allows directional hearing under water and prevents transmission of sounds through the skull (Gingerich and others 1983). All living whales have foam-filled sinuses along with dense tympanic bullae that create an impedance contrast so they can separate sounds arriving from different directions. There is also no evidence in Pakicetus of vascularization of the middle ear, which is necessary to regulate the pressure within the middle ear during diving (Gingerich and others 1983). Therefore, Pakicetus was probably incapable of achieving dives of any significant depth. This paleontological assessment of the ecological niche of Pakicetus is entirely consistent with the geochemical and paleoenvironmental evidence. When it came to hearing, Pakicetus was more terrestrial than aquatic, but the shape of its skull was definitely cetacean, and its teeth were between the ancestral and modern states.


Zhou and others (1995) published this reconstruction of the skull of
Sinonyx jiashanensis (redrawn for RNCSE by Janet Dreyer).


Ambulocetus
In the same area that Pakicetus was found, but in sediments about 120 meters higher, Thewissen and colleagues (1994) discovered Ambulocetus natans, "the walking whale that swims", in 1992. Dating from the early to middle Eocene, about 50 million years ago, Ambulocetus is a truly amazing fossil. It was clearly a cetacean, but it also had functional legs and a skeleton that still allowed some degree of terrestrial walking. The conclusion that Ambulocetus could walk by using the hind limbs is supported by its having a large, stout femur. However, because the femur did not have the requisite large attachment points for walking muscles, it could not have been a very efficient walker. Probably it could walk only in the way that modern sea lions can walk - by rotating the hind feet forward and waddling along the ground with the assistance of their forefeet and spinal flexion. When walking, its huge front feet must have pointed laterally to a fair degree since, if they had pointed forward, they would have interfered with each other.

The forelimbs were also intermediate in both structure and function. The ulna and the radius were strong and capable of carrying the weight of the animal on land. The strong elbow was strong but it was inclined rearward, making possible rearward thrusts of the forearm for swimming. However, the wrists, unlike those of modern whales, were flexible.

It is obvious from the anatomy of the spinal column that Ambulocetus must have swum with its spine swaying up and down, propelled by its back feet, oriented to the rear. As with other aquatic mammals using this method of swimming, the back feet were quite large. Unusually, the toes of the back feet terminated in hooves, thus advertising the ungulate ancestry of the animal. The only tail vertebra found is long, making it likely that the tail was also long. The cervical vertebrae were relatively long, compared to those of modern whales; Ambulocetus must have had a flexible neck.



Ambulocetus's skull was quite cetacean (Novacek 1994). It had a long muzzle, teeth that were very similar to later archaeocetes, a reduced zygomatic arch, and a tympanic bulla (which supports the eardrum) that was poorly attached to the skull. Although Ambulocetus apparently lacked a blowhole, the other skull features qualify Ambulocetus as a cetacean. The post-cranial features are clearly in transitional adaptation to the aquatic environment. Thus Ambulocetus is best described as an amphibious, sea-lion-sized fish-eater that was not yet totally disconnected from the terrestrial life of its ancestors.

Rodhocetus
In the middle Eocene (46-7 million years ago) Rodhocetus took all of these changes even further, yet still retained a number of primitive terrestrial features (Gingerich and others 1994). It is the earliest archaeocete of which all of the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae have been preserved. The lumbar vertebrae had higher neural spines than in earlier whales. The size of these extensions on the top of the vertebrae where muscles are attached indicate that Rodhocetus had developed a powerful tail for swimming.


Gingrich and others (1994) published this reconstruction of the skeleton of
Rodhocetus kasrani (redrawn for RNCSE by Janet Dreyer).


Elsewhere along the spine, the four large sacral vertebrae were unfused. This gave the spine more flexibility and allowed a more powerful thrust while swimming. It is also likely that Rodhocetus had a tail fluke, although such a feature is not preserved in the known fossils: it possessed features - shortened cervical vertebrae, heavy and robust proximal tail vertebrae, and large dorsal spines on the lumbar vertebrae for large tail and other axial muscle attachments - that are associated in modern whales with the development and use of tail flukes. All in all, Rodhocetus must have been a very good tail-swimmer, and it is the earliest fossil whale committed to this manner of swimming.

The pelvis of Rodhocetus was smaller than that of its predecessors, but it was still connected to the sacral vertebrae, meaning that Rodhocetus could still walk on land to some degree. However, the ilium of the pelvis was short compared to that of the mesonychids, making for a less powerful muscular thrust from the hip during walking, and the femur was about 1/3 shorter than Ambulocetus’s, so Rodhocetus probably could not get around as well on land as its predecessors (Gingerich and others 1994).

Rodhocetus's skull was rather large compared to the rest of the skeleton. The premaxillae and dentaries had extended forward even more than its predecessors’, elongating the skull and making it even more cetacean. The molars have higher crowns than in earlier whales and are greatly simplified. The lower molars are higher than they are wide. There is a reduced differentiation among the teeth. For the first time, the nostrils have moved back along the snout and are located above the canine teeth, showing blowhole evolution. The auditory bullae are large and made of dense bone (characteristics unique to cetaceans), but they apparently did not contain the sinuses typical of later whales, making it questionable whether Rodhocetus possessed directional hearing underwater.

Overall, Rodhocetus showed improvements over earlier whales by virtue of its deep, slim thorax, longer head, greater vertebral flexibility, and expanded tail-related musculature. The increase in flexibility and strength in the back and tail with the accompanying decrease in the strength and size of the limbs indicated that it was a good tail-swimmer with a reduced ability to walk on land.

Basilosaurus
The particularly well-known fossil whale Basilosaurus represents the next evolutionary grade in whale evolution (Gingerich 1994). It lived during the late Eocene and latest part of the middle Eocene (35-45 million years ago). Basilosaurus was a long, thin, serpentine animal that was originally thought to have been the remains of a sea serpent (hence it is name, which actually means "king lizard"). Its extreme body length (about 15 meters) appears to be due to a feature unique among whales; its 67 vertebrae are so long compared to other whales of the time and to modern whales that it probably represents a specialization that sets it apart from the lineage that gave rise to modern whales.

What makes Basilosaurus a particularly interesting whale, however, is the distinctive anatomy of its hind limbs (Gingerich and others 1990). It had a nearly complete pelvic girdle and set of hindlimb bones. The limbs were too small for effective propulsion, less than 60 cm long on this 15-meter-long animal, and the pelvic girdle was completely isolated from the spine so that weight-bearing was impossible. Reconstructions of the animal have placed its legs external to the body - a configuration that would represent an important intermediate form in whale evolution.

Although no tail fluke has ever been found (since tail flukes contain no bones and are unlikely to fossilize), Gingerich and others (1990) noted that Basilosaurus's vertebral column shares characteristics of whales that do have tail flukes. The tail and cervical vertebrae are shorter than those of the thoracic and lumbar regions, and Gingerich and others (1990) take these vertebral proportions as evidence that Basilosaurus probably also had a tail fluke.

Further evidence that Basilosaurus spent most of its time in the water comes from another important change in the skull. This animal had a large single nostril that had migrated a short distance back to a point corresponding to the back third of the dental array. The movement from the forward extreme of the snout to the a position nearer the top of the head is characteristic of only those mammals that live in marine or aquatic environments.

Dorudon
Dorudon was a contemporary of Basilosaurus in the late Eocene (about 40 million years ago) and probably represents the group most likely to be ancestral to modern whales (Gingerich 1994). Dorudon lacked the elongated vertebrae of Basilosaurus and was much smaller (about 4-5 meters in length). Dorudon’s dentition was similar to Basilosaurus’s; its cranium, compared to the skulls of Basilosaurus and the previous whales, was somewhat vaulted (Kellogg 1936). Dorudon also did not yet have the skull anatomy that indicates the presence of the apparatus necessary for echolocation (Barnes 1984).


Gingrich and Uhen (1996) published this reconstruction of the skeleton of
Dorudon atrox (redrawn for RNCSE by Janet Dreyer).




Basilosaurus and Dorudon were fully aquatic whales (like Basilosaurus, Dorudon had very small hind limbs that may have projected slightly beyond the body wall). They were no longer tied to the land; in fact, they would not have been able to move around on land at all. Their size and their lack of limbs that could support their weight made them obligate aquatic mammals, a trend that is elaborated and reinforced by subsequent whale taxa.

Clearly, even if we look only at the paleontological evidence, the creationist claim of "No fossil intermediates!" is wrong. In fact, in the case of whales, we have several, beautifully arranged in morphological and chronological order.

In summarizing the paleontological evidence, we have noted the consistent changes that indicate a series of adaptations from more terrestrial to more aquatic environments as we move from the most ancestral to the most recent species. These changes affect the shape of the skull, the shape of the teeth, the position of the nostrils, the size and structure of both the forelimbs and the hindlimbs, the size and shape of the tail, and the structure of the middle ear as it relates to directional hearing underwater and diving. The paleontological evidence records a history of increasing adaptation to life in the water - not just to any way of life in the water, but to life as lived by contemporary whales.
The paleontological (i.e. fossil) evidence for evolutionary transitions is overwhelming to anyone who has actually examined the evidence with an open mind. However, a stubborn person attempting to deny the obvious can rationalize it away by refusing to see the clear sequences of morphological change, and insisting that one can't "prove" that the various fossil specimens are "really" necessarily related. That excuse crumbles when one compares the fossil evidence to the *many* other independent lines of evidence which confirm the fossil evidence. For example, concerning whale evolution:

Evolution of whales from terrestrial mammals

Links on whale evolution

(From Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics)

.

A particularly impressive example of shared retroposons has recently been reported linking cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) to ruminants and hippopotamuses, and it is instructive to consider this example in some detail. Cetaceans are sea-living animals that bear important similarities to land-living mammals; in particular, the females have mammary glands and nurse their young. Scientists studying mammalian anatomy and physiology have demonstrated greatest similarities between cetaceans and the mammalian group known as artiodactyls (even-toed ungulates) including cows, sheep, camels and pigs. These observations have led to the evolutionist view that whales evolved from a four-legged artiodactyl ancestor that lived on land. Creationists have capitalized on the obvious differences between the familiar artiodactyls and whales, and have ridiculed the idea that whales could have had four-legged land-living ancestors. Creationists who claim that cetaceans did not arise from four-legged land mammals must ignore or somehow dismiss the fossil evidence of apparent whale ancestors looking exactly like one would predict for transitional species between land mammals and whales--with diminutive legs and with ear structures intermediate between those of modern artiodactyls and cetaceans (Nature 368:844,1994; Science 263: 210, 1994). (A discussion of fossil ancestral whale species with references may be found at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part2b.html#ceta) Creationists must also ignore or dismiss the evidence showing the great similarity between cetacean and artiodactyl gene sequences (Molecular Biology & Evolution 11:357, 1994; ibid 13: 954, 1996; Gatesy et al, Systematic Biology 48:6, 1999).

Recently retroposon evidence has solidified the evolutionary relationship between whales and artiodactyls. Shimamura et al. (Nature 388:666, 1997; Mol Biol Evol 16: 1046, 1999; see also Lum et al., Mol Biol Evol 17:1417, 2000; Nikaido and Okada, Mamm Genome 11:1123, 2000) studied SINE sequences that are highly reduplicated in the DNA of all cetacean species examined. These SINES were also found to be present in the DNA of ruminants (including cows and sheep) but not in DNA of camels and pigs or more distantly related mammals such as horse, elephant, cat, human or kangaroo. These SINES apparently originated in a specific branch of ancestral artiodactyls after this branch diverged from camels, pigs and other mammals, but before the divergence of the lines leading to modern cetaceans, hippopotamus and ruminants. (See Figure 5.) In support of this scenario, Shimamura et al. identified two specific insertions of these SINES in whale DNA (insertions B and C in Figure 5) and showed that in DNA of hippopotamus, cow and sheep these same two sites contained the SINES; but in camel and pig DNA the same sites were "empty" of insertions. More recently, hippopotamus has been identified as the closest living terrestrial relative of cetaceans since hippos and whales share retroposon insertions (illustrated by D and E in Figure 5) that are not found in any other artiodactyls (Nikaido et al, PNAS 96:10261, 1999). The close hippo-whale relationship is consistent with previously reported sequence similarity comparisons (Gatesy, Mol Biol Evol 14:537, 1997) and with recent fossil finds (Gingerich et al., Science 293:2239, 2001; Thewissen et al., Nature 413:277, 2001) that resolve earlier paleontological conflicts with the close whale-hippo relationship. (Some readers have wondered: if ruminants are more closely related to whales than to pigs and camels, why are ruminants anatomically more similar to pigs and camels than they are to whales? Apparently this results from the fact that ruminants, pigs and camels changed relatively little since their last common ancestor, while the cetacean lineage changed dramatically in adapting to an aquatic lifestyle, thereby obliterating many of the features -- like hooves, fur and hind legs -- that are shared between its close ruminant relatives and the more distantly related pigs and camels. This scenario illustrates the fact that the rapid evolutionary development of adaptations to a new niche can occur through key functional mutations, leaving the bulk of the DNA relatively unchanged. The particularly close relationship between whales and hippos is consistent with several shared adaptations to aquatic life, including use of underwater vocalizations for communication and the absence of hair and sebaceous glands.) Thus, retroposon evidence strongly supports the derivation of whales from a common ancestor of hippopotamus and ruminants, consistent with the evolutionary interpretation of fossils and overall DNA sequence similarities. Indeed, the logic of the evidence from shared SINEs is so powerful that SINEs may be the best available characters for deducing species relatedness (Shedlock and Okada, Bioessays 22:148, 2000), even if they are not perfect (Myamoto, Curr. Biology 9:R816, 1999).

SINE insertions as tracers for phylogeny

Figure 5. Specific SINE insertions can act as "tracers" that illuminate phylogenetic relationships. This figure summarizes some of the data on SINEs found in living artiodactyls and shows how the shared insertions can be interpreted in relation to evolutionary branching. A specific SINE insertion event ("A" in the Figure) apparently occurred in a primitive common ancestor of pigs, ruminants, hippopotamus and cetaceans, since this insertion is present in these modern descendants of that common ancestor; but it is absent in camels, which split off from the other species before this SINE inserted. More recent insertions B and C are present only in ruminants, hippopotamus and cetaceans. Insertions D and E are shared only by hippopotamus and cetaceans, thereby identifying hippopotamus as the closest living relative of cetaceans (at least among the species examined in these studies). SINE insertions F and G occurred in the ruminant lineage after it diverged from the other species; and insertions H and I occurred after divergence of the cetacean lineage.

That's just a quick layman-level overview of *one* of the many ways that whale evolution has been verified. For more technical examinations along several independent lines of evidence, see for example:
SINE Evolution, Missing Data, and the Origin of Whales

Phylogenetic relationships among cetartiodactyls based on insertions of short and long interpersed elements: Hippopotamuses are the closest extant relatives of whales

Evidence from Milk Casein Genes that Cetaceans are Close Relatives of Hippopotamid Artiodactyls

Analyses of mitochondrial genomes strongly support a hippopotamus±whale clade

A new, diminutive Eocene whale from Kachchh (Gujarat, India) and its implications for locomotor evolution of cetaceans

A new Eocene archaeocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from India and the time of origin of whales

Mysticete (Baleen Whale) Relationships Based upon the Sequence of the Common Cetacean DNA Satellite1

The Mitochondrial Genome of the Sperm Whale and a New Molecular Reference for Estimating Eutherian Divergence Dates

Limbs in whales and limblessness in other vertebrates: mechanisms of evolutionary and developmental transformation and loss

Eocene evolution of whale hearing

Novel Phylogeny of Whales Revisited but Not Revised

Land-to-sea transition in early whales: evolution of Eocene Archaeoceti (Cetacea) in relation to skeletal proportions and locomotion of living semiaquatic mammals

Subordinal artiodactyl relationships in the light of phylogenetic analysis of 12 mitochondrial protein-coding genes

New Morphological Evidence for the Phylogeny of Artiodactyla, Cetacea, and Mesonychidae

Cetacean Systematics

LIKELIHOOD ESTIMATION OF THE TIME OF ORIGIN OF CETACEA AND THE TIME OF DIVERGENCE OF CETACEA AND ARTIODACTYLA

Phylogenetic Relationships of Artiodactyls and Cetaceans as Deduced from the Comparison of Cytochrome b and 12s rRNA Mitochondrial Sequences

Molecular evolution of mammalian ribonucleases

And much, much more.
When the details of various biological mechanisms are examined, coherent evolutionary histories are discovered for them, again consistent with the predictions of evolutionary theory. For example, here are discoveries about the origins of the vertebrate clotting mechanism -- all consistent with the predictions of evolution:

Evolution of the vertebrate clotting mechanism

In detail, discuss why gradual evolution of blood clotting with 10 protein feedback loops all working at once is actually quite feasible evolutionarily speaking.

Well, okay, since you insist... Check out The Evolution of Vertebrate Blood Clotting, or The evolution of vertebrate blood coagulation as viewed from a comparison of puffer fish and sea squirt genomes. Excerpt from the latter paper:

It is thought that 50–100 million years separate the appearances of urochordates (which include the sea squirt) and vertebrates. During that time the machinery for thrombin-catalyzed fibrin formation had to be concocted by gene duplication and the shuffling about of key modular domains. The relative times of duplicative events can be estimated by various means, the most obvious being the presence or absence of a gene in earlier diverging organisms, although it must be kept in mind that lineages may lose genes. Another way to gauge events is from the relative positions of various gene products on phylogenetic trees, earlier branching implying earlier appearance. In this regard, (pro)thrombin invariably appears lower on the phylogenetic trees than do the other vitamin K-dependent factors (Fig. 2).

The order of events can also be inferred by considering the most parsimonious route to assembling the various clusters of peripheral domains. Nine of the proteases under discussion can be accounted for by six domain-swapping events (Fig. 5). Indeed, the presence of a multiple-kringle protease in the sea squirt genome provides a reasonable model for a step-by-step parallel evolution of the clotting and lysis systems. It should be noted that a serine protease with only one kringle has been found in the ascidian Herdmania momus (36). Although numerous scenarios have been offered in the past about how modular exchange was involved in generating these schemes (refs. 4, 12, and 37–41, inter alia), the new genomic data now provide a realistic set of starting materials.

Also, Evolution of enzyme cascades from embryonic development to blood coagulation:
Recent delineation of the serine protease cascade controlling dorsal-ventral patterning during Drosophila embryogenesis allows this cascade to be compared with those controlling clotting and complement in vertebrates and invertebrates. The identification of discrete markers of serine protease evolution has made it possible to reconstruct the probable chronology of enzyme evolution and to gain new insights into functional linkages among the cascades. Here, it is proposed that a single ancestral developmental/immunity cascade gave rise to the protostome and deuterostome developmental, clotting and complement cascades. Extensive similarities suggest that these cascades were built by adding enzymes from the bottom of the cascade up and from similar macromolecular building blocks.
That was the abstract. An excerpt from the text:
The downstream protease of the vertebrate clotting cascade (Fig. 1d), thrombin, belongs to the same lineage as complement factors C1r and C1s. The upstream and middle proteases of the clotting cascade (factors VII, IX and X) belong to the most modern lineage, that of horseshoe crab clotting factor C. Therefore, the lineage of thrombin is parental to that of the upstream and middle proteases of the clotting cascade (Table 1) and distinguishes it from the other vitamin-K-dependent clotting proteases (factors VII, IX and X, and protein C). This conclusion agrees with sequence and species comparisons implying that thrombin was the ancestral blood-clotting protein [11]. It also suggests that vertebrate blood clotting emerged as a by-product of innate immunity, because the entire functional core of vertebrate clotting shares ancestry with complement proteases.
And if that's not enough, you could check these out:
Banyai, L., Varadi, A. and Patthy, L. (1983). “Common evolutionary origin of the fibrin-binding structures of fibronectin and tissue-type plasminogen activator.” FEBS Letters, 163(1): 37-41.

Bazan, J. F. (1990). “Structural design and molecular evolution of a cytokine receptor superfamily.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 87(18): 6934-6938.

Blake, C. C. F., Harlos, K. and Holland, S. K. (1987). “Exon and Domain Evolution in the Proenzymes of Blood Coagulation and Fibrinolysis.” Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology: The Evolution of Catalytic Function, LII: 925-932.

Fornace AJ Jr, Cummings DE, Comeau CM, Kant JA, Crabtree GR. “The Structure of the human gamma-fibrinogen gene. Alternate mRNA splicing near the 3' end of the gene produces gamma A and gamma B forms of gamma-fibrinogen.” J Biol Chem. 1984 Oct 25;259(20):12826-30.

Crabtree, G. R., Comeau, C. M., Fowlkes, D. M., Fornace, A. J., Jr., Malley, J. D. and Kant, J. A. (1985). “Evolution and structure of the fibrinogen genes: Random insertion of introns or selective loss?” Journal of Molecular Biology, 185(1): 1-20.  

Di Cera, E., Dang, Q. D. and Ayala, Y. M. (1997). “Molecular mechanisms of thrombin function.” Cell Mol Life Sci, 53(9): 701-730.  

Doolittle, R. F. (1985). “More homologies among the vertebrate plasma proteins.” Biosci Rep, 5(10-11): 877-884.

Doolittle, R. F. (1990). “The Structure and Evolution of Vertebrate Fibrinogen A Comparison of the Lamprey and Mammalian Proteins,” in ADVANCES IN EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY: FIBRINOGEN, THROMBOSIS, COAGULATION, AND FIBRINOLYSIS. C. Y. Liu and Chien, S. New York, Plenum Press. 281.

Doolittle, R. F. (1992). “A detailed consideration of a principal domain of vertebrate fibrinogen and its relatives.” Protein Science, 1(12): 1563-1577.

Doolittle, R. F. (1992). “Early Evolution of the Vertebrate Fibrinogen Molecule.” Biophysical Journal, 61(2 PART 2): A410.  

Doolittle, R. F. (1992). “Stein and Moore Award address. Reconstructing history with amino acid sequences.” Protein Science, 1(2): 191-200.

Doolittle, R. F. (1993). “The Evolution of Vertebrate Blood Coagulation - a Case of Yin and Yang.” Thrombosis and Haemostasis, V70(N1): 24-28.

Doolittle, R. F. and Feng, D. F. (1987). “Reconstructing the Evolution of Vertebrate Blood Coagulation from a Consideration of the Amino Acid Sequences of Clotting Proteins.” Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology: The Evolution of Catalytic Function, LII: 869-874.

Doolittle, R. F., G., Spraggon and J., Everse S. (1997). “Evolution of vertebrate fibrin formation and the process of its dissolution.” Ciba Found Symp, 212: 4-17; discussion 17-23.

Doolittle, R. F. and Riley, M. (1990). “The amino-terminal sequence of lobster fibrinogen reveals common ancestry with vitellogenins.” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 167(1): 16-19.

Edgington, T. S., Curtiss, L. K. and Plow, E. F. (1985). “A linkage between the hemostatic and immune systems embodied in the fibrinolytic release of lymphocyte suppressive peptides.” Journal of Immunology, 134(1): 471-477.  

Ghidalia, W., Vendrely, R., Montmory, C., Coirault, Y., Samama, M., Lucet, B., Bellay, A. M. and Vergoz, D. (1989). “Overall study of the in vitro plasma clotting system in an invertebrate, Liocarcinus puber (Crustacea Decapoda): Considerations on the structure of the Crustacea plasma fibrinogen in relation to evolution.” Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 53(2): 197-205.  

Hervio, L. S., Coombs, G. S., Bergstrom, R. C., Trivedi, K., Corey, D. R. and Madison, E. L. (2000). “Negative selectivity and the evolution of protease cascades: the specificity of plasmin for peptide and protein substrates.” Chemistry & Biology, V7(N6): 443-452.  

Hewett-Emmett, D., Czelusniak, J. and Goodman, M. (1981). “The evolutionary relationship of the enzymes involved in blood coagulation and hemostasis.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 370(20): 511-527.  

Holland, S. K., Harlos, K. and Blake, C. C. F. (1987). “Deriving the generic structure of the fibronectin type II domain from the prothrombin Kringle 1 crystal structure.” EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) Journal, 6(7): 1875-1880.  

Jordan, R. E. (1983). “Antithrombin in vertebrate species: conservation of the heparin-dependent anticoagulant mechanism.” Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 227(2): 587-595.  

Kant, J. A., Fornace, A. J., Jr., Saxe, D., Simon, M. J., McBride, O. W. and Crabtree, G. R. (1985). “Evolution and organization of the fibrinogen locus on chromosome 4: Gene duplication accompanied by transposition and inversion.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 82(8): 2344-2348.  

Kornblihtt, A. R., Pesce, C. G., Alonso, C. R., Cramer, P., Srebrow, A., Werbajh, S. and Muro, A. F. (1996). “The fibronectin gene as a model for splicing and transcription studies.” FASEB Journal, 10(2): 248-257.  

Laki, K. (1972). “Our ancient heritage in blood clotting and some of its consequences.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 202(4): 297-307.  

Neurath, H. (1984). “Evolution of proteolytic enzymes.” Science, 224(4647): 350-357.

Neurath, H. (1986). “The Versatility of Proteolytic Enzymes.” Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, 32(1): 35-50.  

Oldberg, A. and Ruoslahti, E. (1986). “Evolution of the fibronectin gene: Exon structure of cell attachment domain.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 261(5): 2113-2116.  

Opal, S. M. (2000). “Phylogenetic and functional relationships between coagulation and the innate immune response.” Critical Care Medicine, V28(N9 SUPPS): S77-S80.  

Pan, Y. and Doolittle, R. F. (1991). “Distribution of Introns in Lamprey Fibrinogen Genes.” Journal of Cellular Biochemistry Supplement(15 PART D): 75.  

Pan, Y. and Doolittle, R. F. (1992). “cDNA sequence of a second fibrinogen alpha chain in lamprey: an archetypal version alignable with full-length beta and gamma chains.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 89(6): 2066-2070.

Patthy, L. (1985). “Evolution of the Proteases of Blood Coagulation and Fibrinolysis by Assembly from Modules.” Cell, 41(3): 657-664.

Patthy, L. (1990). “Evolution of blood coagulation and fibrinolysis.” Blood Coagulation and Fibrinolysis, 1(2): 153-166.

Patthy, L. (1990). “Evolutionary Assembly of Blood Coagulation Proteins.” Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, 16(3): 245-259.

Patthy, L. (1999). “Genome evolution and the evolution of exon-shuffling—a review.” Gene, 238(1): 103-114.

Roberts, Lewis R., Nichols, Lanita A. and Holland, Lene J. (1995). “CDNA and amino-acid sequences and organization of the gene encoding the B-beta subunit of fibrinogen from Xenopus laevis.” Gene (Amsterdam), 160(2): 223-228.  

Sosnoski, D. M., Emanuel, B. S., Hawkins, A. L., Van Tuinen, P., Ledbetter, D. H., Nussbaum, R. L., Kaos, F. T., Schwartz, E., Phillips, D. and et al. (1988). “Chromosomal localization of the genes for the vitronectin and fibronectin receptors .alpha. subunits and for platelet glycoproteins IIb and IIIa.” Journal of Clinical Investigation, 81(6): 1993-1998.  

Wang, Y. Z., Patterson, J., Gray, J. E., Yu, C., Cottrell, B. A., Shimizu, A., Graham, D., Riley, M. and Doolittle, R. F. (1989). “Complete sequence of the lamprey fibrinogen .alpha. chain.” Biochemistry, 28(25): 9801-9806.  

Xu, X. and Doolittle, R. F. (1990). “Presence of a vertebrate fibrinogen-like sequence in an echinoderm.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 87(6): 2097-2101.

Zhang, Y. L., Hervio, L., Strandberg, L. and Madison, E. L. (1999). “Distinct contributions of residue 192 to the specificity of coagulation and fibrinolytic serine proteases.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, V274(N11): 7153-7156.

Zimmermann, E. (1983). “[The evolution of the coagulation system from primitive defense mechanisms].” Behring Institute Mitteilungen, 82(73): 1-12.  

The 2.0-Å crystal structure of tachylectin 5A provides evidence for the common origin of the innate immunity and the blood coagulation systems

Davidson CJ, Tuddenham EG, McVey JH. 450 million years of hemostasis J Thromb Haemost. 2003 Jul;1(7):1487-94.
Following are a bunch of papers which confirm various predictions of evolutionary biology. (Note, a recent change at NCBI has broken a lot of these links, but you can still find those papers by Googling for their titles):

The Evolution of Improved Fitness by random mutation plus selection

Ancient Jumping DNA May Have Evolved Into Key Component Of Human Immune System

Transposition mediated by RAG1 and RAG2 and its implications for the evolution of the immune system

Evolution of immune reactions

New insights into V(D)J recombination and its role in the evolution of the immune system

Evolution and developmental regulation of the major histocompatibility complex

Evolution of the IL-6/class IB cytokine receptor family in the immune and nervous systems

Layered evolution in the immune system. A model for the ontogeny and development of multiple lymphocyte lineages

Development of an immune system

The ancestor of the adaptive immune system was the CAM system for organogenesis

The evolutionary origins of immunoglobulins and T-cell receptors: possibilities and probabilities

Evolutionary perspectives on amyloid and inflammatory features of Alzheimer disease

Organization of the human RH50A gene (RHAG) and evolution of base composition of the RH gene family.

Molecular evolution of the vertebrate immune system.

Morphostasis: an evolving perspective.

Rapid evolution of immunoglobulin superfamily C2 domains expressed in immune system cells.

Reconstructing the evolution of vertebrate blood coagulation from a consideration of the amino acid sequences of clotting proteins

Evolutionary assembly of blood coagulation proteins

Exon and domain evolution in the proenzymes of blood coagulation and fibrinolysis

Evolution of proteolytic enzymes

Evolution of vertebrate fibrin formation and the process of its dissolution.

Common Parasite Overturns Traditional Beliefs About The Evolution And Role Of Hemoglobin

Scientists Discover How Bacteria Protect Themselves Against Immune System

The Evolution of Hemoglobin

Globins in nonvertebrate species: dispersal by horizontal gene transfer and evolution of the structure-function relationships

Reduction of two functional gamma-globin genes to one: an evolutionary trend in New World monkeys

Evolutionary history of introns in a multidomain globin gene

Hemoglobin A2: origin, evolution, and aftermath

Early evolution of microtubules and undulipodia

Flagellar beat patterns and their possible evolution

A temporary flagellate (mastigote) stage in the vahlkampfiid amoeba Willaertia magna and its possible evolutionary significance

The evolutionary origin and phylogeny of eukaryote flagella

Molecular analysis of archael flagellins: similarity to the type IV pilin-transport superfamily widespread in bacteria

Molecular evolution of the C-terminal cytoplasmic domain of a superfamily of bacterial receptors involved in taxis

Dynein family of motor proteins: present status and future questions

Origins of the nucleate organisms

The evolutionary origin and phylogeny of microtubules, mitotic spindles and eukaryote flagella

The evolution of cellular movement in eukaryotes: the role of microfilaments and microtubules

Kinesin Motor Phylogenetic Tree

Evolution of a dynamic cytoskeleton

Isolation, characterization and evolution of nine pufferfish (Fugu rubripes) actin genes

Evolution of chordate actin genes: evidence from genomic organization and amino acid sequences

Structural comparisons of muscle and nonmuscle actins give insights into the evolution of their functional differences

Molecular evolution of glutamate receptors: a primitive signaling mechanism that existed before plants and animals diverged.

Co-evolution of ligand-receptor pairs in the vasopressin/oxytocin superfamily of bioactive peptides

The evolution of the synapses in the vertebrate central nervous system

Evolutionary origins of multidrug and drug-specific efflux pumps in bacteria.

A comprehensive evolutionary analysis based on nucleotide and amino acid sequences of the alpha- and beta-subunits of glycoprotein hormone gene family.

The puzzle of the Krebs citric acid cycle: assembling the pieces of chemically feasible reactions, and opportunism in the design of metabolic pathways during evolution

The evolution of metabolic cycles

Evolution of the first metabolic cycles

Chemical evolution of the citric acid cycle: sunlight photolysis of the amino acids glutamate and aspartate

Speculations on the origin and evolution of metabolism

The Molecular Anatomy of an Ancient Adaptive Event

New prospects for deducing the evolutionary history of metabolic pathways in prokaryotes: aromatic biosynthesis as a case-in-point

Biochemical pathways in prokaryotes can be traced backward through evolutionary time

Enzyme specialization during the evolution of amino acid biosynthetic pathways

Enzyme recruitment in evolution of new function

Evolution of glycolysis

Bioenergetics: the evolution of molecular mechanisms and the development of bioenergetic concepts

Theoretical approaches to the evolutionary optimization of glycolysis--chemical analysis

The evolution of kinetoplastid glycosomes

Stepwise molecular evolution of bacterial photosynthetic energy conversion

Evolution of photosynthetic reaction centers and light harvesting chlorophyll proteins

Evolution of photosynthetic reaction centers

Early evolution of photosynthesis: clues from nitrogenase and chlorophyll iron proteins

Evolution of the control of pigment and plastid development in photosynthetic organisms

Chemical evolution of photosynthesis

Molecular evolution of ruminant lysozymes

Adaptive evolution of lysozyme: changes in amino acid sequence, regulation
of expression and gene number

Evolution of stomach lysozyme: the pig lysozyme gene

The evolution of trichromatic color vision by opsin gene duplication in New World and Old World primates

The Evolution of Color Vision

Molecular basis for tetrachromatic color vision

Molecular evolution of the Rh3 gene in Drosophila

Interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein. Gene characterization, protein repeat structure, and its evolution

Spectral tuning and molecular evolution of rod visual pigments in the species flock of cottoid fish in Lake Baikal

The evolution of rhodopsins and neurotransmitter receptors

Optimization, constraint, and history in the evolution of eyes

A pessimistic estimate of the time required for an eye to evolve

Sequence analysis of teleost retina-specific lactate dehydrogenase C: evolutionary implications for the vertebrate lactate dehydrogenase gene family

The eye of the blind mole rat (Spalax ehrenbergi): regressive evolution at the molecular level

The evolution of eyes.

Programming the Drosophila embryo

Evolution of chordate hox gene clusters

Hox genes in brachiopods and priapulids and protostome evolution.

Radical evolutionary change possible in a few generations

Evolution Re-Sculpted Animal Limbs By Genetic Switches Once Thought Too Drastic For Survival

Flatworms Are Oldest Living Ancestors To Those Of Us With Right And Left Sides Researchers Report In Science

The origin and evolution of animal appendages

Hox genes in evolution: protein surfaces and paralog groups

Evolution of the insect body plan as revealed by the Sex combs reduced expression pattern

Sea urchin Hox genes: insights into the ancestral Hox cluster

Theoretical approaches to the analysis of homeobox gene evolution

Teleost HoxD and HoxA genes: comparison with tetrapods and functional evolution of the HOXD complex

Evolutionary origin of insect wings from ancestral gills

Tracing backbone evolution through a tunicate's lost tail

Classification and phylogeny of the MADS-box multigene family suggest defined roles of MADS-box gene subfamilies in the morphological evolution of eukaryotes

Modification of expression and cis-regulation of Hoxc8 in the evolution of diverged axial morphology.

The ParaHox gene cluster is an evolutionary sister of the Hox gene cluster.

Gene duplications in evolution of archaeal family B DNA polymerases

Adaptive amino acid replacements accompanied by domain fusion in reverse transcriptase

Molecular evolution of genes encoding ribonucleases in ruminant species

Studies on the sites expressing evolutionary changes in the structure of eukaryotic 5S ribosomal RNA

Evolution of a Transfer RNA Gene Through a Point Mutation in the Anticodon

Archaeal translation initiation revisited: the initiation factor 2 and eukaryotic initiation factor 2B alpha-beta-delta subunit families

Universally conserved translation initiation factors

Genetic code in evolution: switching species-specific aminoacylation with a peptide transplant

Evolution of transcriptional regulatory elements within the promoter of a mammalian gene.

Codon reassignment and amino acid composition in hemichordate mitochondria.

Reconstructing the evolution of vertebrate blood coagulation from a consideration of the amino acid sequences of clotting proteins

Determining divergence times of the major kingdoms of living organisms with a protein clock

The multiplicity of domains in proteins

Characterization, primary structure, and evolution of lamprey plasma albumin

The origins and evolution of eukaryotic proteins

Evolution of vertebrate fibrin formation and the process of its dissolution.

Vastly Different Virus Families May Be Related

Selective sweep of a newly evolved sperm-specific gene in Drosophila

Activated acetic acid by carbon fixation on (Fe,Ni)S under primordial conditions

Molecular evolution of the histidine biosynthetic pathway

Accelerated evolution in inhibitor domains of porcine elafin family members

Tandem arrangement of the human serum albumin multigene family in the sub-centromeric region of 4q: evolution and chromosomal direction of transcription

The B12-dependent ribonucleotide reductase from the archaebacterium Thermoplasma acidophila: an evolutionary solution to the ribonucleotide reductase conundrum

Ancient divergence of long and short isoforms of adenylate kinase: molecular evolution of the nucleoside monophosphate kinase family

Convergent evolution of antifreeze glycoproteins in Antarctic notothenioid fish and Arctic cod

Evolution of antifreeze glycoprotein gene from a trypsinogen gene in Antarctic notothenioid fish

Evolution of an antifreeze glycoprotein

A model for the evolution of the plastid sec apparatus inferred from secY gene phylogeny

The evolutionary history of the amylase multigene family in Drosophila pseudoobscura

Accelerated evolution of Trimeresurus okinavensis venom gland phospholipase A2 isozyme-encoding genes

The evolution of an allosteric site in phosphorylase

Molecular evolution of fish neurohypophysial hormones: neutral and selective evolutionary mechanisms

Pseudogenes in ribonuclease evolution: a source of new biomacromolecular function?

Evolution of hemopoietic ligands and their receptors. Influence of positive selection on correlated replacements throughout ligand and receptor proteins

Evolutionary relationships of the carbamoylphosphate synthetase genes

The molecular evolution of the small heat-shock proteins in plants

Phylogenetic analysis of carbamoylphosphate synthetase genes: complex evolutionary history includes an internal duplication within a gene which can root the tree of life

Duplication and functional divergence in the chalcone synthase gene family of Asteraceae: evolution with substrate change and catalytic simplification

Evolutionary history of the 11p15 human mucin gene family.

Molecular evolution of the aldo-keto reductase gene superfamily.

Molecular evolution allows bypass of the requirement for activation loop phosphorylation of the Cdc28 cyclin-dependent kinase.

A Classification of Possible Routes of Darwinian Evolution

Generation of evolutionary novelty by functional shift

Mobile DNA Sequences Could Be The Cause Of Chromosomal Mutations During The Evolution Of Species

A domain model for eukaryotic DNA organization: a molecular basis for cell differentiation and chromosome evolution.

The domain model for eukaryotic DNA organization. 2: A molecular basis for constraints on development and evolution.

Minor Shuffle Makes Protein Fold

Genetic Stowaways May Contribute To Evolutionary Change

Evolutionary Molecular Mechanism In Mammals Found

Complete Genomes

Genetic redundancy caused by gene duplications and its evolution in networks of transcriptional regulators

Strong evolutionary conservation of broadly expressed protein isoforms in the troponin I gene family and other vertebrate gene families

Cases of ancient mobile element DNA insertions that now affect gene regulation

Punctuated evolution caused by selection of rare beneficial mutations

The origin of programmed cell death

The origin and early development of biological catalysts

DNA secondary structures and the evolution of hypervariable tandem arrays

Episodic adaptive evolution of primate lysozymes

Genome plasticity as a paradigm of eubacteria evolution

Evolutionary motif and its biological and structural significance

Neutral and nonneutral mutations: the creative mix--evolution of complexity in gene interaction systems

Exon shuffling and other ways of module exchange

Introns and gene evolution

New Drosophila introns originate by duplication.

Evolution and the structural domains of proteins

The role of constrained self-organization in genome structural evolution

A possible origin of newly-born bacterial genes: significance of GC-rich nonstop frame on antisense strand

The coevolution of gene family trees

The evolution of metabolic cycles

The emergence of major cellular processes in evolution

A hardware interpretation of the evolution of the genetic code

Speculations on the origin and evolution of metabolism

Probabilistic reconstruction of ancestral protein sequences

The contribution of slippage-like processes to genome evolution

Molecular evolution in bacteria

The structural basis of molecular adaptation.

Mitochondrial DNA: molecular fossils in the nucleus

Cases of ancient mobile element DNA insertions that now affect gene regulation

Tiggers and DNA transposon fossils in the human genome

The eye of the blind mole rat (Spalax ehrenbergi): regressive evolution at the molecular level

Tiggers and DNA transposon fossils in the human genome

Gene competition and the possible evolutionary role of tumours

New Scientist Planet Science: Replaying life

Molecular evolution of an arsenate detoxification pathway by DNA shuffling

UB Researcher Developing Method That Employs Evolution To Develop New Drug Leads

Directed evolution of a type I antifreeze protein expressed in Escherichia coli with sodium chloride as selective pressure and its effect on antifreeze tolerance

Directed evolution of biosynthetic pathways. Recruitment of cysteine thioethers for constructing the cell wall of Escherichia coli

Exploring the functional robustness of an enzyme by in vitro evolution

Evolutionary algorithms in computer-aided molecular design

Mutations to the Rescue

Evolution of Enzymes for the Metabolism of New Chemical Inputs into the Environment

Evolution of Amino Acid Metabolism Inferred through Cladistic Analysis

Integrating the Universal Metabolism into a Phylogenetic Analysis

Invertebrate Data Predict an Early Emergence of Vertebrate Fibrillar Collagen Clades and an Anti-incest Model

Tachykinin and Tachykinin Receptor of an Ascidian, Ciona intestinalis: EVOLUTIONARY ORIGIN OF THE VERTEBRATE TACHYKININ FAMILY

DNA Replication Fidelity

Serial segmental duplications during primate evolution result in complex human genome architecture

Phylogeny determined by protein domain content

Evolutionary Genomics of Nuclear Receptors: From Twenty-Five Ancestral Genes to Derived Endocrine Systems

Gene Loss, Protein Sequence Divergence, Gene Dispensability, Expression Level, and Interactivity Are Correlated in Eukaryotic Evolution

The Evolution of Controlled Multitasked Gene Networks: The Role of Introns and Other Noncoding RNAs in the Development of Complex Organisms

Phylogenetic Dating and Characterization of Gene Duplications in Vertebrates: The Cartilaginous Fish Reference

Dating the Tree of Life

An Insect Molecular Clock Dates the Origin of the Insects and Accords with Palaeontological and Biogeographic Landmarks

Diversity, taxonomy and evolution of medium-chain dehydrogenase/reductase superfamily

Molecular archaeology of the Escherichia coli genome

Comparative Genomics of the Eukaryotes

Millions of Years of Evolution Preserved: A Comprehensive Catalog of the Processed Pseudogenes in the Human Genome

Asymmetric Sequence Divergence of Duplicate Genes

The Genetic Core of the Universal Ancestor

Evolutionary History of Chromosome 20

The Complete Mitochondrial DNA Sequence of Scenedesmus obliquus Reflects an Intermediate Stage in the Evolution of the Green Algal Mitochondrial Genome

Reconstructing large regions of an ancestral mammalian genome in silico

Occurrence and Consequences of Coding Sequence Insertions and Deletions in Mammalian Genomes

The Origin of Human Chromosome 1 and Its Homologs in Placental Mammals

Sister grouping of chimpanzees and humans as revealed by genome-wide phylogenetic analysis of brain gene expression profiles

Genome Evolution at the Genus Level: Comparison of Three Complete Genomes of Hyperthermophilic Archaea

The Evolution of Trichromatic Color Vision by Opsin Gene Duplication in New World and Old World Primates

Obcells as Proto-Organisms: Membrane Heredity, Lithophosphorylation, and the Origins of the Genetic Code, the First Cells, and Photosynthesis (Journal of Molecular Evolution, Volume 53 - Number 4/5, 2001)

N-Carbamoyl Amino Acid Solid-Gas Nitrosation by NO/NOx: A New Route to Oligopeptides via alpha-Amino Acid N-Carboxyanhydride. Prebiotic Implications (Journal of Molecular Evolution, Volume 48 - Number 6, 1999

Chemical interactions between amino acid and RNA: multiplicity of the levels of specificity explains origin of the genetic code (Naturwissenschaften, Volume 89 Number 12 December 2002)

The Nicotinamide Biosynthetic Pathway Is a By-Product of the RNA World (Journal of Molecular Evolution, Volume 52 - Number 1, 2001)

On the RNA World: Evidence in Favor of an Early Ribonucleopeptide World

Inhibition of Ribozymes by Deoxyribonucleotides and the Origin of DNA

I guess your creationist sources sort of "forgot" to inform you about the vast amounts of scientific evidence for evolution, eh?

Now feel free to present for us the equally voluminous and strong "evidence for ID". And be sure to actually post the "theory of ID" that everyone keeps talking about but no one has ever managed to produce.

76 posted on 08/03/2005 3:14:18 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon; GarySpFc; Alter Kaker; PatrickHenry

This is the simplest, non-technical explanation I've ever seen to explain the error in the creationist/ID'er 2nd law argument.

Very nice!

(And I'll probably steal it.)

Any chance we can see Mike's math attempting to prove his case?


77 posted on 08/03/2005 3:14:19 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: Ichneumon
That's good. I hadn't seen that argument used in connection with the 2d Law canard. But then, I've never seen anyone take as much time to correct such errors as you do.
78 posted on 08/03/2005 3:14:22 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
(And I'll probably steal it.)

Feel free.

79 posted on 08/03/2005 3:23:16 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon

I promise I'll cite you for each use. ;)


80 posted on 08/03/2005 3:25:49 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: PastorJimCM
The first and second laws of Thermodynamics (basically life comes only from life and everything winds down like a clock - going from order to disorder) blow the theory of evolution out of the water

And you know meecrob about the laws of Thermodynamics

81 posted on 08/03/2005 3:29:23 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Mothers, don’t let your daughters marry Kennedys)
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To: VadeRetro
Not many scientists at all believe in Intelligent Design. I seriously doubt you can claim one tenth of one percent of the world's credentialled biologists.

I would bet large sums of money it is much higher than that. Very large sums of money.

And it's not as if offers any intellectual content. You can't learn anything by studying it. "It's too complicated. I'll never understand it. Therefore it can't have evolved." That's not going to teach you much.

That is a total misrepresentation of anything I have said. However there is a lot more we don't know about the origin of life than what we do know. Just because someone believes in ID doesn't mean they are going to stop searching, that is kind of a bigoted point of view. It is different viewpoints that advance science. The most important discovery could easily come from someone who is trying to disprove the idea the life started from thin air.

82 posted on 08/03/2005 3:34:53 PM PDT by Always Right
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To: Strategerist

Any rational human being sees more truth in evolution than the fraud that is ID. The former is based on reason, the latter on emotion.


83 posted on 08/03/2005 3:36:22 PM PDT by Clemenza (Life Ain't Fair, GET OVER IT!)
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To: Just mythoughts; PatrickHenry
LOL, proclaiming a bit of judgment now are you????

It's PH's list. He get to use it how and when he sees fit. Anything else is COMMUNISM!

84 posted on 08/03/2005 3:39:18 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Mothers, don’t let your daughters marry Kennedys)
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To: ThisLittleLightofMine

Ah, but right after Genesis 1:1 there is that word And, no time given, yet something happened, that word "was" is not correct, rightly translated should be became.

The earth became void and without form, it was not created that way, Isaiah 45:18 is a witness as to what word is correct.

".....He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabitated:...."

Those words "in vain" are the same as used in Genesis 1:2 without form.

Something happened upon this earth before man in the flesh was ever formed, the event is what brought about the creating man in the flesh, and as we are told in Ecclesiastes 1:11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of thing that are to come with those that shall come after.

No memory installed in the flesh man of former things, yet the Word is filled with things that occured before man was created in the flesh.


Peter tells us the length of a Lord's day and it is not a 24/7 hour day. There is absolutely nothing in Genesis other than the word day to suggest a 24/7 day, yet along comes Peter and finds it necessary to point out that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years..... He was pointing to the days of creation as he says there was an age that WAS and an age that now IS and one yet to come.

IIPeter 3:

Note that Peter starts this chapter up with 'This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance;

Interesting Peter is using what to stir up pure minds by way of "remembrance???

Here Peter outright says that the world that WAS, being overflowed with water, perished: Not one word about Noah, the ark or those souls saved, just that word perished.





85 posted on 08/03/2005 3:50:19 PM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: Ichneumon
. . . but if he says that the laws of thermodynamics make evolution and other kinds of self-ordering processes impossible, he's still wrong.

As I understand it, the second law applies in both a positive and negative sense. Regardless, we operate intelligently in an orderly universe under generally constant physical laws that are nevertheless yet to be fully understood. Most observers would agree that where there is order, forces were brought to bear in causing it, and where there is no energy brought to bear on a thing, it will not organize itself.

Meanwhile your blustering, acerbic tone is a continual source of amusemument, but it does nothing to substatiate your notions or those of your pals. Frankly, with all the emotion you invest in debating the subject I am inclined to believe you kiss Darwin's bust both eve and morn.

As long as you fail to recognize the difference between reasonable conjecture and certifiable fact you will continue to cut off whatever legs you might otherwise enjoy in propping up a weak philosophy that has somehow gained the status of "scientific." Apparently both scientists and the general public are beginning to realize as much.

But that's okay. You have a choir, and you have cheerleaders. Enjoy yourself.

86 posted on 08/03/2005 3:54:32 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Oztrich Boy

"It's PH's list. He get to use it how and when he sees fit. Anything else is COMMUNISM!"


You one of his incredibles?

Communism is a religion under that old religion called "we are gods", it denies the Creator as well.


87 posted on 08/03/2005 3:55:19 PM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: Always Right
I would bet large sums of money it is much higher than that. Very large sums of money.

How much money, and how much higher? I may well take you up on that bet. Also, make sure you define "Intelligent Design" unambiguously.

88 posted on 08/03/2005 3:56:27 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Meanwhile your blustering, acerbic tone is a continual source of amusemument,

Thank you, I attempt to be entertaining as well as informative.

but it does nothing to substatiate your notions or those of your pals.

Where on Earth did you get the silly notion that I might ever have attempted to substantiate anything by my "tone"? You provide me a lot of "amusemument [sic]" as well. No, what *does* "substantiate my notions" is the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution, including the *small* taste I provided in post #76. Is there some reason you chose to address my "tone" and *not* the evidence?

Frankly, with all the emotion you invest in debating the subject I am inclined to believe you kiss Darwin's bust both eve and morn.

I'm sorry, what was that you were saying about "blustering, acerbic tone"? I bow before the master.

As long as you fail to recognize the difference between reasonable conjecture and certifiable fact

Please identify any post where you imagine I have ever confused the two.

you will continue to cut off whatever legs you might otherwise enjoy in propping up a weak philosophy that has somehow gained the status of "scientific."

Let me know when the buzzwords end and the actual argument, rebuttal, refutation, or evidence begins.

Apparently both scientists and the general public are beginning to realize as much.

Apparently you engage in wishful thinking, *and* believe the creationists' chest-beating press releases.

But that's okay. You have a choir, and you have cheerleaders.

*And* I have vast mountains of evidence! Which you sort of "forgot" to even attempt to address, since you were so intent on just sneering at me, in the hopes that might help your case.

Enjoy yourself.

I do, thanks! Part of my enjoyment is watching how lame creationists get when they don't know how to actually dierctly address the evidence, and don't have any of their own to present. They end up saying hilariously petulant things like, "you kiss Darwin's bust both eve and morn." It's more fun than the circus.

89 posted on 08/03/2005 4:07:11 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: narby; All
Just how many times does this falicy need to be explained on FR?

One billion, six hundred and seventy-three million, two hundred and forty-six thousand, five hundred and one.

Seriously, all you people arguing evolution versus ID, creationism, etc, are simply not having an effect on the other party. No one will change anyone's mind on this issue. Why are you even bothering with these threads?

Still, I always like to see a good fight. That's why I'm here. ;-)

90 posted on 08/03/2005 4:09:32 PM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Always Right
I would bet large sums of money it is much higher than that. [One tenth of one percent.] Very large sums of money.

Your perception and/or depiction of reality is much of the issue here. Sometimes I think all ID-ists are raving nutcases. Sometimes I think they're all pathological liars. Mostly, I think it doesn't matter which it is. They don't get too much right where it counts.

That is a total misrepresentation of anything I have said.

I was describing the intellectual content of ID. You need a new screenname.

However there is a lot more we don't know about the origin of life than what we do know.

That's ID. "Teach the ignorance!"

ID is a shoving under the rug of things we do know. Seriously, a group of scientists publishes a study, and on the announcement the War Room at the prestigious Discovery Institute issues a press release in rebuttal to the study and its findings. It instantly becomes clear that the writer of said press release had no idea of the design of said study. But the main point is that real science is learing the unknown. ID is unlearning the known. This is bad, especially since ID appears to be allowed to lie in this holy quest.

91 posted on 08/03/2005 4:09:43 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: PastorJimCM
You cannot believe either Law of Thermodynamics (1st or 2nd) and embrace the Theory of Evolution.

Sigh.

92 posted on 08/03/2005 4:10:06 PM PDT by beavus (Hussein's war. Bush's response.)
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To: DoctorMichael
The purpose of Creationism is to destroy and discredit the Conservative Movement.

Interesting thought, but it isn't a conspiracy. People in this day and age actually do believe such nonsense.

It is discrediting, but sadly conservatism comes by it honestly.

93 posted on 08/03/2005 4:15:12 PM PDT by beavus (Hussein's war. Bush's response.)
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To: Alas Babylon!
Seriously, all you people arguing evolution versus ID, creationism, etc, are simply not having an effect on the other party. No one will change anyone's mind on this issue. Why are you even bothering with these threads?

To demonstrate, at least to the lurkers, that there is not any kind of conservative agreement with ID. Should the Republicans decide to publicly embrace ID, it will drive many good conservatives away from the party.

There is not any kind of agreement on ID, or more specifically, with a young earth six day creation among even Christians. Let alone conservatives.

94 posted on 08/03/2005 4:17:41 PM PDT by narby (There are Bloggers, and then there are Freepers.)
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To: GarySpFc
Most of these processes result in losses that cannot and will never be regained in the form of stored energy to be used again. This points directly to the idea that something / Someone had to have provided the Original Sources of potential, usable energy. Next, the idea that a plan is needed to assemble a usable device points to a designer. For biological life, this points to a Designer. Raw, inorganic matter, regardless of how much it is irradiated with the sun or heat from a thermal vent, does nothing to cause autoorganization of the matter into the building blocks of life, and then, into the numerous proteins and cells that comprise a living being.

Thank you, God, for planning and constructing those quartz crystals I found in the cave last year.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to misunderstand thermodynamics. But apparently it is sufficient.

95 posted on 08/03/2005 4:26:46 PM PDT by beavus (Hussein's war. Bush's response.)
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To: Oztrich Boy
It's PH's list. He get to use it how and when he sees fit. Anything else is COMMUNISM!

If ping lists didn't involve making judgments, then they'd be like gravity or something, and they'd operate by themselves.

96 posted on 08/03/2005 4:32:33 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: PatrickHenry

"If ping lists didn't involve making judgments, then they'd be like gravity or something, and they'd operate by themselves."

LOL, there has to be some kind of theory in there somewhere.


97 posted on 08/03/2005 4:34:46 PM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: Ichneumon
It matters not how many pages of stuff you put up on the screen to impress us all. (no one is going to read it all anyway). You still can't PROVE that a fish became an amphibian or an amphibian became a mammal or an ape became a man. If you have absolute proof of that please call the Smithsonian or a major university, they will be interested in the new material. Other than that, you have faith in evolution and I have faith in God. You keep your faith and I'll keep mine.
98 posted on 08/03/2005 4:35:56 PM PDT by fish hawk (hollow points were made to hold pig lard)
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To: stuartcr
Since they are both theories, how does it really matter?

One explains observations within the changing context of the observable world. The other gives a fixed predetermined and unlikely explanation to any possible past, present, or future observations.

ID is a fixed belief impervious to any conceivable evidence to the contrary.

99 posted on 08/03/2005 4:36:30 PM PDT by beavus (Hussein's war. Bush's response.)
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To: PastorJimCM
The first and second laws of Thermodynamics (basically life comes only from life and everything winds down like a clock - going from order to disorder) blow the theory of evolution out of the water. All scientists that I have heard of or read about fully endorse both laws. Can they not see the hypocrisy???

Regardless of whether or not God created Adam and Eve or whether or not you evolved from lower life forms, that particular Thermodynamics argument that keeps getting repeated does not apply.

Why?

Because the Laws of Thermodynamics apply to CLOSED systems.

What the heck is a "closed" system?

It is a system that is totally isolated from the rest of the universe with nothing coming into or out of the system.

Two rats in a box that is hermetically sealed and perfectly insulated and in total darkness would be an example of a closed system.

After a million years, those two rats would have died of starvation and totally disintegrated into atoms. Disorder (entropy) would have increased.

The Earth, however, is NOT A CLOSED SYSTEM.

Every day, the Earth is bombarded with a immense amount of solar energy.

It takes energy to make order out of disorder and the Sun provides that energy to the Earth.

With solar energy, plants take carbon dioxide and turn it into complex sugars and starches by the process of photosynthesis.

Animals consume several times their body weight of such food (energy sources) throughout their lives to make themselves more complex.

Over a million years, those two rats released into a virgin forest with solar energy will have produced billions of tons of rat progeny over the centuries.

However, that solar energy comes at an entropy cost at it's source.

The Sun can produce that solar energy only by consuming 4 million metric tons of matter every second.

In other words, the "Entropy Price" that the Laws of Thermodynamics demands to keep you "organized" is paid for by the Sun.

The price to keep you "organized and complex" has also been paid by carcasses of the hundreds of chickens, pigs, cows and fish and the hundreds of bushels of fruits, grains and other plant life that you have eaten an "disorganized" through your life. They were the "delivery vehicles" that brought you what was left over of the original amount solar energy left after they tranformed it into the type of energy (sugars, fats, proteins, etc.) that your body can use and after they took their share.

Once you die and you can no longer take in energy, you will then no longer be able to keep entropy at bay and maintain your complexity. You then will succumb to the disorganization of Entropy.

Dust to dust.

Until then, enjoy your complexity.

Remember who paid the Entropy Price for it.


100 posted on 08/03/2005 4:51:20 PM PDT by Polybius
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