Adam wants to know about evidence for whale evolution

Further…please answer the following…

If scientist Richard Sternberg calculated that it would take 100 million years to possibly obtain just two coordinated mutations towards the development of the whale…how long would it actually take for the entire animal to arrive on the scene via natural selection? Sternberg states that there are in fact many more than 2 pairs required to facilitate this change.

Now i accept that Sternberg has received critricism over his authority to have published an Intelligent Design article in the Evolutionary journal without adequate authority, however, this is a side argument to his calculations. The question is, are his calculations adequate and correct? If they are, then TE’s have a massive problem here in that Sternberg’s view of intelligent design for the appearance of whales would seem, in this way at least, extremely supportive of the Christian model of creation.

Now I think the publication by Sternberg causes enormous problems for the Darwinian timeline as it would mean actually many many billions of years for just this one animal (at best when we consider these mutations are also chaotic random accidents)…that is not the accepted timeline as far as i am aware.

Do they even have complete skeletons on each of the intermediate mammals in the following illustration? Are all of the skeletons examples of the evolutionary chain or are they different species that were designed this way in order to allow for a functioning system to work effectively?

Whale evolution is an old topic around here. See


From this, it is impossible to determine how the calculation was done, what “two coordinated mutations” refers to. Hence, I cannot assess this other than that calculations like this are notoriously difficult and prone to errors, and should have giant error bars (i.e., something like 100±70 Ma would be more reasonable a result)

Indohyus has multiple complete skulls, and other members of Raoellidae have most of the rest of the body; Pakicetus has multiple complete skeletons; Ambulocetus is missing part of the tail, a leg, and half of the upper jaw; Kutchicetus is missing the feet, and a few other bones; between the two species of Rodhocetus, we have everything except parts of the tail, a leg, and pieces of a few other bones, Dorudon (and the unillustrated Basilosaurus) are known from multiple complete skeletons.

What we can directly measure is that these fossils are found in deposits that can be dated at the ages given on that chart.


Here is a nice video, and like @jammycakes recommends, I am including a summary of what it says for those who don’t want to watch it. It’s also under 12 minutes.

The evidence that whales evolved from a land-dwelling tetrapod and share a common ancestor with land-dwelling mammals today comes from comparative anatomy, embryology, the fossil record, and comparative DNA analysis.

Like land mammals, whales have placentas give birth to live young, feed offspring milk, are warm-blooded, and breathe air with lungs

They have single blowholes which lead to two nasal passageways in the skull, like land mammals’ double nostrils.

They have hair.

They have sets of bones analogous to arm, wrist, hand, and finger bones in their front flippers.

They have a pair of bones where hind legs are in land mammals.

While developing as embryos, they have arm buds and leg buds at similar stages of development when compared to land mammals.

Intermediate fossil species show transitional features like migrating nose holes and fully developed hip, leg, feet, and toe bones.

The earliest whale fossils are most like land mammals, which is what the evolutionary model predicts.

Many fossil intermediates between ancient land mammals and modern whales have been found and continue to be found.

The closest genetic match for whales is the hippopotamus.

Evidence that points to a common ancestor between hippos and whales include similarities such as double pulley ankle bones, birthing and nursing young under water, multi-chambered (herbivore) stomachs, no fur, and internal testicles.


Sternberg’s calculation, like others purporting to show genetic impossibility of supposedly irreducibly complex things, is incorrect. As already explained above, the fossils clearly indicate that whales actually made the change from long-legged but capable of swimming to fully aquatic in only about 10 million years. But also the genetic calculations have numerous problems.

First, the assumption that the mutations had to be simultaneous is untrue. Any mutation that happened to be useful for swimming provided a selective advantage and would be quite likely to spread in the population. Another problem is that such calculations assume that one specific mutation had to happen to achieve each step. But we do not actually know how many possible ways there might be to achieve a particular goal genetically. The phytosaurs developed a blowhole-like structure quite independently of whales. As the phytosaurs died out long before the first whales came along, we can’t check their exact genes, but it is extremely unlikely that the exact same mutations occurred in them. Another problem is that any one step might not be necessary at all. Crocodiles, seals, and manatees (among many) demonstrate that one can swim well and still have nostrils at the end of your nose. Evolution of a blowhole, while useful to the whales, had no need of happening at the exact same time as anything else.


Here is a blog by “The Common Descent Podcast” which links to their podcast episode as well.

It’s probably my favorite blog on whale evolution.

Also there are more than one set of mutations occurring at one time. You also can have multiple subspecies all developing towards similar traits that end up blending together. So it’s not just one mutation in one animal or even one subspecies of a species evolving at once.

There is a podcast coming out on “ Recovering Evangelicalism “
This Friday that is being hyped up as really technical and myth busting about evolution. A lot of atheists who accept evolution for a long time don’t really understand it just like a lot of long term Christians don’t really study the Bible. So lots of misinformation out there. Young earth creationist tend to really be lost and misunderstand it.

The whale episode though for “TCDP” is ep. 41.

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Neutral drift and the neutral theory of evolution kind of blows single mutation arguments out of the water (or should I say into the water ; - ).


and yet in the video, it appears to me that the skeleton being claimed is a precursor to whales looks more like a crocodile…a reptilian species…i do not see how that can be ignored here.

Also, Sternberg’s calculation only looked at 2 mutations. There are many more than that number required to go from a land animal to whale. This would mean that there is a problem with the 10 million year timeline…I think this is why Sternberg claims 100 million would not be long enough.

Poor Sternberg - an otherwise good Catholic - has been stretched beyond his elastic limit by the fallacy of incredulity permanently ruining his judgement. As with Hoyle, Margulis, Polkinghorne, Davis, Dyson et al, once its gone, it’s gone. There is no way back as the first fallacy proliferates in irrational, misdirected, specious retrospective ‘calculations’ in the face of reality: evolution operates forwards.

and your referencing for this would be?

I have another video

None are needed. It’s the same kind of statistical fallacy that looks at any complexity and comes up with some insane factorial ‘probability’ as to its uniqueness, as in any given protein amino acid sequence from RNA nucleic acid sequence. These are childish fallacies, straws desperately grasped when drowning in incredulity.

A biased video is no substitute for Socratic dialogue.

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A quote…
the standard math of population genetics establishes the implausibility of the Darwinian mechanism to produce what it needs to produce with the time & population resources available.

The video also again illustrates the greater than 100 million years required for whale evolution and that a catalogue of some well known studies arrive at the date some 49 million years ago…how to you reconcile this time period for whales?

The video illustrates multiple fallacies. Is there one by an unbroken scientist? I reconcile the evolution - mutations - required to the time it took. Not the other way around. They are not commutative.

Here are some papers on whale evolution.

Molecular evolution tracks macroevolutionary transitions in Cetacea

A Genetic Perspective on Cetacean Evolution

A survey paper which discusses the current state of research. Over a thousand papers in the past decade have discussed the molecular biology of whale evolution.

A phylogenetic blueprint for a modern whale

By combining diverse evidence, we infer a phylogenetic blueprint that outlines the stepwise evolutionary
development of modern whales.

We know from several lines of evidence studied by many researchers, that whales evolved from terrestrial mammals to roughly modern form over 10 million years or so. Directly, this means Sternberg is nowhere near correct.


If that’s the case, then Richard Sternberg is deeply confused about evolution. Evolution isn’t about obtain two specific mutations, or any specific mutations, for that matter.

I suggest you find someone who is competent in the subject to listen to.


Are you a paleontologist? Can you evaluate what species a skeleton is by looking at a drawing in an educational video? Nope on both counts. It doesn’t matter what it looks like to you. The video is presenting facts, established by actual experts that clearly refute your ideas.


I gave you a nice list of facts and your response is “Watch another Creationist video that ignores those facts”? No thanks. This is why most of us here rejected the YEC teaching we were brought up with. There are no real answers to the mountains of evidence Creationists ignore. They think rhetoric and salesmanship and “ooh shiny” distractions can replace scholarship and logic. Sorry, no. I don’t care if you never change your mind, Adam. If you are satisfied with these ideas and it doesn’t bother you how many times your sources get caught in lies, you’re still going to trust them, fine. But you have to understand that what they are saying is utterly uncompelling and ridiculous to both people who have studied science and people who have studied biblical scholarship. I am past the point of wasting any more time on Creationist propaganda. They lost. I’m convinced they are charlatans who don’t know the first thing about what they are talking about.


For one, the dentition is distinctly a mammalian one. Reptiles typically have all of their teeth (if they have any) fairly similar, as opposed to mammals typically having incisors, canines, premolars, and molars (note that some of the teeth may have somewhat modified functions, like carnivores tend to have shearing premolars instead of grinding premolars, the way most herbivores do)


Here is an article written by a paleontologist who studies whales in response to these videos.


From Hillary’s linked article above:

The second DI video shows an animation that illustrates the range of ages that other studies have proposed for the geological formation in which this particular whale fossil was found. In several cases, I had trouble lining up the ages shown in the video with the ages actually proposed in the various studies. For other papers, the dates illustrated in the video often constitute ages proposed for the entirety of the geological formation (or large sections of it) rather than simply the level at which this particular fossil was found. For example, the video suggests that Dutton et al. (2002) propose an age range of 55–46 Ma, despite the fact that the paper itself estimates the age of about 47.5 Ma for the specific layer in which the basilosaurid jaw was found. Likewise, the dates the video illustrates for Douglas et al. (2014) span from 49–42 Ma, despite the fact that the layers below the level with the whale jaw (which must be older) are aged to be between 45–38 Ma in the paper itself. So it seems that many of the ages portrayed in the video are not necessarily fair representations of what the studies themselves proposed.

Misrepresenting other people’s work again? I am SHOCKED.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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