"There is no such thing as a 'transitional fossil'..."

(Matthew Pevarnik) #124

Not sure what your point is, but this is a neat paper comparing the timeline that you get from paleomagnetism and from molecular clocks. The breaking apart of various continents should have resulted in speciation events that would be datable by comparing genomes of modern, but distantly related species. Remarkably, the two methods are in good agreement with each other, letting us have more confidence in rates of mutation as they can be calibrated and checked against radiometric dating, paleomagnetic seafloor spreading, and the motion of continental plates. All of the clocks agree with each other:

(Chris) #125

I remember reading that some butterflies maintain their “species” by choosing same colour mates even though they can crossbreed with other colours.

However skin colour was used as a simple illustration of the point. Intermediate traits can be the result of mixed parents rather than being transitional between one form and a later one.

A "transitional " form can also be due to sampling error or small sample size. There is wide variation in extant human forms and if a few single specimens were found it could well be concluded that they were different species. The Dmanisi finds similarly showed that the range at that time was greater than previously thought.

(Chris) #126

I’m sorry, I should have mentioned other measures such as consistency index and retention index.


You’re answering the request for definition but not the clarity of scale. On a geological scale, "abrupt’ can be a “mere few hundred thousand years,” not necessarily enough time to allow for enough of those specific condition scenarios in which fossil could be laid down. So what appears “abrupt” doesn’t mean “immediate.”

So you’re assumption is that there is “one theory of evolution as defined by Darwin” that has never changed or…evolved?

Because if so, I would submit that that is both erroneous and inappropriate, just as a Calvinist today would likely not espouse exactly all of and nothing more than what John Calvin believed and wrote.

Actually, my question is directed at YECers that dismiss all potential fossils that could be described as “transitional.” I submit that there are no specific criteria for dismissal. They are dismissed based on a priori presumptions. Well…one presumption: there is no such thing as a transitional fossil.

If you presume that something doesn’t exist, you literally would not know one if you saw one.

You’re losing me here. If all species are transitional, then a very great many have survived…and still do.

Once again, you seem to be assuming that “abrupt” means “almost immediate.” I would suspect that evolutionary change can occur much more quickly than people assume, given environmental pressure, and also that natural selection is likely not the only selection method.

Well if you had actual criteria for what constitutes a transitional species, we could apply those criteria.

We’ve come full circle.

Do you have such criteria?

Or do you dismiss transitionals a priori so you literally would not know one if you saw one?


Didn’t say it meant immediate. I said, I repeat, it means not slow and gradual in the way expected. It means an absence of expected intermediary stages, absence of necessary transitionals. If you look closely you will see that I did not discuss clarity of scale. I described what abrupt means, in the fossil record.

No, I never said that. I think the theory has changed and adjusted. But the main concepts of common descent remain. And some of the main problems with the original theory, still remain.

Sure, and the opposite presumption, that everything is transitional… accepted as a matter of apriori faith. Darwin himself did not agree, and many other modern evolutionists do not agree that transitional fossils are adequate to represent the historicity of the presumed evolution. And it is interesting that mere faith can believe something is transitional, and mere faith can believe something is not transitional. This demonstrates that science of fossils is filled with faith issues, completely unlike the operation of a motor vehicle, which is filled with reams of science, and completely unlike the operation of a television or computer, or the reproductive system or circulatory system of a dog.

And a statement like this proves my point. If you believe that all species are transitional, then of course you will also conclude that they are, and that many have survived.

Once again, this is not the point. The point is not the amount of time, but the lack of progression in the fossil record.

The animals that had been proposed as transitional between genera, but particularly when distinguishing orders and families, have been found instead to fit within one specific order or family, not transitional between them. For example, Archeopteryx was found to be a real bird, after careful examination. Of course, classifications are man-made, and were made long before evolution theory had any influence. But even so, it is interesting how much animals and plants fit into recognizable categories, and how few in comparison, are sometimes ambiguous. So the point is that even if some did appear to be transitional, most do not appear so, but appear fixed, distinguishable, separate. Transitionals only appear to be variety within kinds or species, such as various types of cats, or various types of earthworms, or various types of trout, or various types of bears. But yes, I agree that if you decide to believe transitionals exist, then you will find them and argue for them. But it is presumption, imposition, without any actual evidence that a wolverine changed from a bear to a dog, or without any evidence that a mule deer changed from an elk to a pronghorn. It is presumption.


What is “expected”? Given the relative rarity of fossils in general, is it reasonable to expect a “completely continuous” record if changes are not completely continuous?

Yes, there are problems. But I’m pretty sure that not all of Darwin’s expectations are still held today.

And yet “every fossil [or species] being transitional” seems to be borne out by the fossil record.

Do you have a superior explanation?

I believe it is unreasonable to expect a continuous progression. Why should we?

Is “punctuated equilibrium” completely unreasonable? Note that this idea actually does contradict Darwin’s presumptions…

So on what basis do you dismiss something that might be “transitional” other than “they don’t exist”?

What should we be “looking for”? What would “qualify”?

(George Brooks) #130

@johnZ (@fmiddel )

Could there be a bigger red herring?

We can ask the same kind of question regarding one’s culture or national origin:

England was a land of Anglos, Saxons, presumably some Jute-ish clans, as well as hold-outs from the Viking Danelaw settlements… not to mention the pockets of Welsh on the west coast.

Then 1066 comes along, with William the Conqueror, who is of Viking extraction, but demonstrably FRENCH!

He brings his retainers (or should that be retainer-ees?)… and parcels out the land to a great plentitude of French lords. If he allows some “Saxon” lords to retain their lands … or gives some to Saxons he prefers … we have a pretty complex situation.

But for centuries, England is a French elite ruling a polyglot peasantry of Anglos, Saxons, Welsh (and some other minorities).

So… when does England stop being a fiefdom of the French King in Paris? Well, I think most historians would agree that it never was a fiefdom of the French King! William held land in France, under his feudal obligations to the King of France.

And he held his land on the Isle of Britain as his own Kingdom… with no feudal obligations to anyone superior to him.

Okay… so when does the French Elite stop being French? When does the French elite finally accept that they are now English?

We can propose and discuss any number of transition points!

When did the elite start allowing English to be used in the courts of law?
When did the elite start learning English themselves?
When did the elite start TEACHING English to their children?
When did the majority of the elite STOP learning French at home?

Each one of these points is a transition.
And so it is the same in Evolution. Each new change in a population is a transitional point.

At some point, there are enough transitions that we can say that we have a new Species!

But the break-point tends to be rather simple: we have a new species when one defined sub-group is no longer reproductively compatible (or virtually so) with another sub-group of an original population.

This is not really rocket science. But saying there are NO TRANSITIONAL forms is obviously a gross exaggeration at best.

We could say EVERY difference is a transition. But it becomes most meaningful when someone qualifies the statement by referring to what the transition came FROM and what it GOING TO.

(Chris) #131

I suppose the Kinds that came off Noah’s ark would be transitional since from these came the many different species we have today. From 2 “cats” came all the cats from tabby to tiger.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #132

Would those be the original ‘kinds’? How many of them were there? Which species of cat would you identify as such?

(Chris) #133

The Ark Kind might have been slightly different to the Genesis Kind but would have been selected for maximum genetic diversity.

Woodmorappe in his feasibility study conservatively assumed the Kind was the Genus level. He totals about 8000 genera, including extinct genera, thus about 16,000 individual animals which had to be aboard. Bear in mind this estimate is deliberately on the high side.

According to AIG “Including known extinct kinds, there are only about 1,400 kinds Noah had to take with him. Accounting for two of every kind, and seven pairs of some, he only needed a few thousand animals.”
AIG did considerable research on the limits of the kind to reach this figure and concluded that it was generally at the family level.

None of them. The original Cat Kind has probably been lost as they differentiated into different species.
We believe that domestic dogs are derived from wolves and wolves (~44kg) are toward the upper end of the size range between Irish Wolfhounds (~54kg) or St Bernards (~120kg) and Chihuahua (<2.7kg). Consequently I would expect the Ark Cat Kind to be more towards the size of the larger cats.
Note that Irish Wolfhounds and St Bernards have been deliberately bred for large size which has not been done with cats.


Excellent, yes.


But YECers say that no transition happens. There is “no such thing as a transitional fossil.”

My question is–“what would qualify?”

I mean, surely, you’re obviously not arguing that there is “no transition” between Anglo-Saxon(-Jute) rule/culture and French. Right? So we can find “evidences of transition.”

In the narrative of evolution, fossils provide that. As I’ve said, every fossil is (arguably) transitional. Every species is transitional (unless it’s a dead end).

YEC: no. “There’s no such thing as a transitional fossil.”


That would be the position of any YEC I’ve ever talked to.


A friend suggested that every “kind” of animal that ever existed was present on the Ark, and a great many of them went extinct shortly after the Flood.

Would you agree with that position?


How about all of the other things, besides animals, that would have died in a year long global flood.
All forms of aquatic life. Fresh water would die if the flood was salty and marine would die if the flood was fresh.
Amphibious life that requires living part of their life out of the water.
All the various forms of life that live in soil and are essential for plant life.
I could go on and on.

A global flood would required an act of creation almost as great as the original creation and yet there is no mention made of it.

(Chris) #137

What does he mean by “kind”?

Actually I should have been more explicit above. Obviously Noah would not have taken fish on the Ark, only land animals, and more precisely only those land animals with breath in their nostrils. Basically this means only land vertebrates, hence the small numbers of Kinds in my post above. (Insects for example don’t breath through nostrils but through pores in their bodies.) This is only a small fraction of what would be scientifically classified as animals today; but we can be sure Noah was not using a modern scientific classification system. See this AIG article for Ark Kinds.

By “ever existed” perhaps your friend is thinking of dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs are included in the foregoing estimates. Remember that even the largest dinosaur hatched from an egg about the size of a football, so a young Argentinosaurus would have started at a few kilograms, perhaps a hundred kilograms for the year it was on the Ark, with the potential to grow to 100 tonnes much later in life.

So you can tell your friend (and @ Bill_II ) that Noah would have taken every Kind of land vertebrate, including dinosaurs.


But that leaves out a lot of life that doesn’t survive in water. Care to explain how all of that life managed to come back after a global flood?

(Matthew Pevarnik) #139

I’m not quite sure what that means. Do you mean they had four alleles at each loci? There’s only so much ‘genetic diversity’ that you can have when going through such a sharp bottleneck.

In other words, nobody has any idea. I’m sure they did all kinds of ‘research’ if that’s what you want to call it.

That’s convenient.

(George Brooks) #140


Once you define the two ends of the comparison, every fossil that is conceivably a relative to either terminus qualifies as “transitional” or, better still, “intermediate”.

I studied this topic one weekend and was a little surprised that researchers use exemplars more as “demonstration models” than because they think one species came from another.

So even the word “Transitional” is getting phased out … to minimize any other confusions.

Intermediate is the new term of choice… in order to eliminate as well as possible the idea that one fossil group “descends” or is “ancestral” to another group.

(Chris) #141

In “Origin” Darwin provided at least a partial answer for plants. For the rest we can’t know although there has been some speculation. However we can be pretty sure that the vast majority of land plants and animals died during the Flood.

(Chris) #142

Up to four but two in most cases. I don’t know about other creatures but in humans it is usually two alleles per gene. A pair chosen at random would be expected to preserve 75% of all such alleles but a selected pair could preserve up to 100%.

If you care to read what has been written on the topic, rather than dismissing it with a sneer, you will find they do have good reasons for think that 1,400 is close to the upper bound. Woodmorappe deliberately chose the higher figure to provide a worst case for his feasibility study.

No more convenient than when evolutionists can’t produce the common ancestor in so many cases. Although evolutionary theory does not require that the ancestor species goes extinct that is the usual expectation.


You agree that the vast majority of life on the planet died during the flood and yet you have no interest in how that life managed to come back in just a few years? Air breathing vertebrates being just a small portion of the life on the planet.