Whales did (NOT) evolve

(Matthew Pevarnik) #21

Sigh. You have ignored once again how many phylogenies have been created just by molecular evidence alone. AND how they agree with fossil phylogenies that are made separately. And today, scientists use both to get an even better idea as the more data points the better. And again, this was a HUGE opportunity to falsify common descent with genetics… but that is not even close to true.

And you learned that the Berkley site accurately reflects actual scientific papers well. It does a good job of accurately representing peer reviewed publications. But let’s just do a little digging shall we.

Whale Evolution Papers:

So many chances to falsify common descent, from having no fossils decades ago to genetic analysis demonstrating no common descent… but all of these have failed.

(Ashwin S) #22


As i have said before, these trees are created by merging evidence from Genetics and morphology of fossils. Let me share excerpts from the 2013 paper shared by you.

A broad-scale reconstruction of the evolutionary remodeling that culminated in extant cetaceans has not yet been based on integration of genomic and paleontological information. Here, we first place Cetacea relative to extant mammalian diversity, and assess the distribution of support among molecular datasets for relationships within Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates, including Cetacea). We then merge trees derived from three large concatenations of molecular and fossil data to yield a composite hypothesis that encompasses many critical events in the evolutionary history of Cetacea. By combining
diverse evidence, we infer a phylogenetic blueprint that outlines the stepwise evolutionary
development of modern whales
Extensive modifications, including the loss or reduction of many typical mammalian characteristics (Flower, 1883), have rendered modern representatives of Cetacea nearly unrecognizable as mammals (Fig. 2), but molecular data generally position Cetacea deep
within Artiodactyla (even-toed hoofed mammals), closest to Hippopotamidae (Irwin and Arnason, 1994; Gatesy et al., 1996; Gatesy, 1997, 1998; Nikaido et al., 1999; Matthee et al., 2001; Zhouet al., 2011). Hippopotamuses and whales share some aquatic traits (Fig. 1A–C; Gatesy et al., 1996; Gatesy, 1997), but extant cetaceans are still highly derived relative to hippos across nearly all organ systems (Boisserie et al., 2011). Due to extinction, a purely molecular approach is therefore inadequate for deciphering the extended sequence
of change on the lineage that led to extant whales; integration of genomic evidence with the fossil record is required
(Gatesy and O’Leary, 2001)

The point being made is that generally, molecular studies are done only for extant organisms. These studies point to the Hippo as the animal with the most genetic similarity to whales. However, there is very little similarity between Hippos and whales with respect to their organ Systems.i.e there should be a huge no: of extinct intermediates in between… and we need the fossils to fill in the blanks.
Point to note here is that, Genetic sequences of the fossils in the evolutionary trees have not been done and it says nothing about the position of extinct fossils in the tree.
To give you an idea what a evolutionary tree derived from genetics looks like, i will paste one below -


Notice that there are no Pakicetids, kutchicetus, Rhodocetus etc… All you have got is several whales/ Dolphins and a Hippo.This is why its ridiculous to claim the genetic evidence supports the fossil inputs into the evolutionary tree. Gene sequencing was not done for these fossils and hence genetics has not yet contributed to where they should be in the evolutionary tree.
All molecular genetics says is that the hippo is the closest extant species to the whales.

Just to underscore the point, one more evolutionary tree from a genetic study :slight_smile:


So, i hope you wont tell me again that Genomic studies support the evolution story told by berkeley. All genomic studies say is that Whales are genetically more similar to cows/ hippos as compared to say men/insects etc. (Cant be sure about bats though!).Similarity cannot prove common descent unless it is assumed. Even when descent is assumed, there are cases in which similarity is considered to have been arrived at independently/in parallel.

Also, its interesting to note that before, the hippo was found to be the genetically closest animal to the whale… the fossils told a different story which had to be changed to be inline with the genetic studies…So the answer to your question is-
Genetics does not confirm the evolutionary tree proposed by studying fossils. The only point of agreement is an example of Paleontology conforming to genetics.
Edit: In short, genetics falsified the only testable part of the evolutionary tree derived from fossils.
Edit: @Bill_II, @AMWolfe, @gbrooks9, @GJDS, @T_aquaticus, @Mervin_Bitikofer
So i dont have to repeat all this)


No one is saying that similarity by itself is proof or evidence of common descent. What scientists keep saying is that homologous features falling into a nested hierarchy is what evidences common descent. Until you get this basic fact right, the rest of your argument will continue to miss its mark.

(Ashwin S) #24

“Homologous features”- means features inherited via common descent.
So your claim reads as below-
“Features inherited via common descent falling into a nested hierarchy is what evidences common descent”
This is a tautology. (its like saying the evidence for common decent is… common descent)
Its also isn’t logical. Common descent should create one cluster of similar organisms, not many clusters of organisms such that each cluster is distinct and has a high degree of variation with respect to the other.

(T J Runyon) #25

That’s not the definition of homology. You’re confusing the diagnosis of homology with the definition.

(Ashwin S) #26

It’s the definition.

A homology is a character shared between species that was also present in their common ancestor.
This can be contrasted with an homoplasy, which is a convergent character shared between species but not present in their common ancestor.

(Larry Bunce) #27

I looked up the 49 million year-old whale. It was a jawbone. It had teeth, so it was hardly a modern whale. It appeared to be fully aquatic, which was unexpected, but it suggests that the transition from terrestrial to fully aquatic took only 4 million years in some species instead of 15. That is not a sudden miraculous transition.


(T J Runyon) #28

Nope. Textbooks and even some biologists get it wrong. Homology is a relation of sameness between two or more characters in two or more organisms. Them being inherited from a common ancestor is the explanation for the homologous characters. Homology is a pre Darwinian concept. A lot people use the definition you used above because everyone (mostly everyone) knows what we are talking about. It’s not necessary to really break down the definition.

(T J Runyon) #29

It’s 40-46mya anyway

(Ashwin S) #30

Look at the definition of homology, and homoplasy from any source. This is the definition.
Similarity caused by common descent is homology.
Similarity without common descent is homoplasy.

Common descent is supposed to explain the similarity observed.

Yes, the oldest fully aquatic whale fossil is 40-46 Mya (By the most conservative estimate. It can only be older… probably 49mya).
The nearest “semi-aquatic” intermediate species is 36 Mya.


They aren’t that hard to figure out. The bird wing and the butterfly wing are obvious analogs, and are not homologous. The bird wing and the bat wing are obvious analogs, and are not homologs. All you have to do is look at them side by side to see what specific morphology is involved in each.

(T J Runyon) #32

I just explained why that’s the definition you get from most sources… In every Evo bio class and Evo department I’ve ever been in uses the definition I just presented. It’s the traditional definition. In an evolutionary context it means inherited from a common ancestor. It’s the explanation for the relation of sameness

(T J Runyon) #33

I mean goodness

(George Brooks) #34


Is there a reason you don’t discuss the Evidence? The diagrams you harvest from the internet are from professionals who have done the work. They don’t prove something with a diagram and then walk on.

They collect evidence and see if they have a persuasive case or not.

So just where do you get this bit about whales being related to cows? Do you actually have a peer-reviewed article that says Cows? I am skeptical.

As for the issue of hippos, you do understand the point of genetic comparison, right? If we are looking for the terrestrial link between land mammals and these “freaks of nature” (aka Open-Ocean, deep-diving, baby suckling, whales), starting with the branch of mammals that is genetically “most similar” is the logical place to start, right? You wouldn’t ignore that evidence, right?

So, you don’t find it interesting that the branch of mammalia that is most genetically similar to the whales would be:

  1. a water-dwelling creature like a hippo?
  2. in fact, water-born…
  3. with a dense layer of fat, analogous to whale blubber?

I think this was a rather dramatic discovery, wouldn’t you agree? After all, if all the mammals appeared through special creation, why would God give Hippos a genetic affinity to whales? What’s particularly interesting, on the evolutionary side of the investigation, is that hippos didn’t appear until about 15 millions years ago… long after whales were already established! - - thus suggesting the common ancestral population (which has to go back 50 million years) seems to have been unusually well suited to create marine specialization!

“Hippos likely evolved from a group of anthracotheres about 15 million years ago, the first whales evolved over 50 million years ago, and the ancestor of both these groups was terrestrial.”


This suggests a prediction that these pre-Hippo/pre-Whale mammals must have had a close connection to the waters… much like a land predator that eventually dedicates his diet to fish and other creatures of the water.

“The hypothesis that Ambulocetus lived an aquatic life is also supported by evidence from stratigraphy — Ambulocetus’s fossils were recovered from sediments that probably comprised an ancient estuary — and from the isotopes of oxygen in its bones. Animals are what they eat and drink, and saltwater and freshwater have different ratios of oxygen isotopes. This means that we can learn about what sort of water an animal drank by studying the isotopes that were incorporated into its bones and teeth as it grew. The isotopes show that Ambulocetus likely drank both saltwater and freshwater, which fits perfectly with the idea that these animals lived in estuaries or bays between freshwater and the open ocean.”

It’s nice when intelligently deduced hypotheses match up to the predictions, yes?

Vertical vs. Horizontal Tail Fin - MAMMALIAN DRIVEN DESIGN

“If you watch films of dolphins and other whales swimming, you’ll notice that their tailfins aren’t vertical like those of fishes, but horizontal. To swim, they move their tails up and down, rather than back and forth as fishes do. This is because whales evolved from walking land mammals whose backbones did not naturally bend side to side, but up and down. You can easily see this if you watch a dog running. Its vertebral column undulates up and down in waves as it moves forward. Whales do the same thing as they swim, showing their ancient terrestrial heritage.”

Land Mammals Increasingly Adapted to the Water

As the Tail Fin develops, rear legs become less necessary

“As whales began to swim by undulating the whole body, other changes in the skeleton allowed their limbs to be used more for steering than for paddling. Because the sequence of these whales’ tail vertebrae matches those of living dolphins and whales, it suggests that early whales, like Dorudon and Basilosaurus, did have tailfins.” [Otherwise, they would have to hunt using only their 2 forward limbs.]

“Such skeletal changes that accommodate an aquatic lifestyle are especially pronounced in basilosaurids, such as Dorudon. These ancient whales evolved over 40 million years ago. . . . The hindlimbs of these animals were almost nonexistent. They were so tiny [in relation to the size of the body] that many scientists think they served no effective function and may have even been internal to the body wall. Occasionally, we discover a living whale with the vestiges of tiny hindlimbs inside its body wall.”

"This vestigial hindlimb is evidence of basilosaurids’ terrestrial heritage. The picture below on the left shows the central ankle bones (called astragali) of three artiodactyls, and you can see they have double pulley joints and hooked processes pointing up toward the leg-bones. Below on the right is a photo of the hind foot of a basilosaurid. You can see that it has a complete ankle and several toe bones, even though it can’t walk. The basilosaurid astragalus still has a pulley and a hooked knob pointing up towards the leg bones as in artiodactyls, while other bones in the ankle and foot are fused. From the ear bones to the ankle bones, whales belong with the hippos and other artiodactyls."


[ This linked page was first posted by @pevaquark ! ]

The image below comes from modern illustrations - - and are not based on drawings from a century ago:


No Cows Here! - Whale Origins: Now a Top “Example of Macroevolution”!

"Cetaceans are unrelated to other marine mammals, the sirenians (manatees and dugongs) and the pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walruses).
[Elephants:] "Sirenians are most closely related to elephants [forelimb swimmers], and …
[Dogs/Bears:] “… pinnipeds are related to land carnivores (e.g., dogs and bears) [hind limb swimmers].”

"In some regards, all cetaceans, sirenians, and pinnipeds are similar; they are all adapted to life in water. "

"… in the early 1990s . . . paleontologists unearthed the first of a series of fossil cetaceans, mostly in India and Pakistan, documenting the transition from land to water in detail in the Eocene Period (which lasted from approximately 54 to 34 million years ago). Now, cetacean origin is one of the best known examples of macroevolution documented in the fossil record."

Best “missing link” found only 11 years ago!

“… it was up to paleontologists to find the artiodactyl that is most closely related to whales among the extinct diversity of even-toed ungulates. This happened in 2007, when skeletons for raoellids were found in the Himalayas that were shown to be the closest relatives to whales (Thewissen et al. 2007).”

Phylogenetic Inference

Only one land mammal with the inner ear of whales

" The ectotympanic of artiodactyls roughly has the shape of half a walnut shell, enclosing the air-filled middle ear cavity. The thickness of the wall is more or less constant all around the ear in most mammals, but this is not the case in cetaceans, where the internal wall is much thicker than the external wall. This thickened wall is called the involucrum and is present in all cetaceans, fossil and recent. The involucrum is not present in other mammals, except for one: Indohyus (Fig. 7). The ectotympanic of Indohyus has a thickened internal lip, a powerful indicator that Indohyus is closely related to cetaceans."
"The involucrum is not present in other mammals, except for one: Indohus [India’s Pig]."


Below is a comparison of 2 early proto-whale skulls, vs all the other examples.
Annotated specifically for you, @Ashwin_s !



Whales are special!
I provided the level of detail above because the circumstances of corroborating whale evolution is different from other creatures. With whales, we not only want to show that all modern whales have a genetic affinity with each other … but we also want to show that following the common descent trail leads us to TERRESTRIAL mammals!

As you note below in your terse conclusion, genetics doesn’t prove descent from land mammals. But genetics do hint at it! And so the process begins to marshal the evidence needed that genetics alone cannot provide!

(George Brooks) #35

@Larry_Bunce (@Ashwin_s, @pevaquark, @T_aquaticus, @T.j_Runyon )

The initial news on this new discovery, with a presumed fast evolution, was based on incomplete testing. Since the initial press release, the testing was completed and analyzed. The specimen’s dating fits in with the rest of the fossil history.

  • GBrooks9

(T J Runyon) #36

Padian explains it well during his Dover testimony: https://ncse.com/creationism/legal/direct-examination-creationist-misrepresentations-homology-a


like this instance?;

(image from https://www.vwgouldagency.com/the-difference-between-personal-and-commercial-auto-insurance)

lets say that they were able to reproduce. what will be the best explanation in this case?

(George Brooks) #38


So how do we demonstrate that which of these vehicles are genetically related?

And do we have documentary footage showing that one vehicle is birthed from out of the crankcase of an expecting standard-shift vehicle?

See, we are discussing principles of evolution… not principles of design. Most of us here accept that God is the designer of all the creatures he designed… and then created by means of evolution.

(George Brooks) #39

@Ashwin_s (@pevaquark, @T.j_Runyon, @T_aquaticus ):

Explaining the similarity of what? Mammals are LOADED with homologous structures… but each major groups of mammals uses the homologous structure differently right? A monkey’s tail and a dog’s tail… homologous, right? But they aren’t similar, are they?

Look at this standard reference explanation for the term Homologous:

Are you seeing it yet?

The phrase “homologous structures” is not used in the way you are trying to use it.

Here we have several different types of mammals, right?
And each sample species has a specific bone, color-coded, to show how the “homologous structure” changes from species to species.

“Homologous” does not mean “no change”. It means, “same structural element despite dramatic changes”.

So, if you remember the discussion about the 4 different “types” of marsupials in Australia that happen to be unusually closely related… there would be lots of homologous structures between the different types…
and the point of the exercise is not to show that they all look identical. The point of the exercise is that they all look different and are still closely related as indicated by genetics.

Your desire to use terminology “just the way you want to” seems to be getting you further away from understanding Evolution - - instead of getting you closer to the goal…

(Ashwin S) #40


Pls read what i wrote before spending so much time on your reply!!
I totally agree with you. Homologous does not mean Identical. You are absolutely spot on.

Homologous refers to similarities between organisms present by virtue of having a common ancestor.So when we see fore-arms in so many different types of organisms, Evolutionists say that this evolved from a common ancestor (Probably the first amniote).
In this case, the cause for the similarity is common descent.
When there is similarity and cause is not thought to be common descent. Its called homoplasy. For example, the camera eyes of the octopus and human beings.
In these cases, evolutionists concentrate on the minor differences and pacify themselves.

My take on this is below :slightly_smiling_face:

Observation by Scientist: Similarity (Not Identical).
Conclusion : Homologous if they knaw a common ancestor/ can fit it into the tree…
Homoplasy, if they cant work any common ancestor in from the ëvolutionary