Saturday, November 04, 2006

Japanese Dolphin "With Legs" Is a Set-Back for Evolution Supporters

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This AP news release sounds like it was written by someone with a pro-evolution agenda. The story headline reads,
Japanese Researchers Find Dolphin With 'Remains of Legs'
The story itself declares,
Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land.
A paragraph later we read,
Fossil remains show dolphins and whales were four-footed land animals about 50 million years ago and share the same common ancestor as hippos and deer. Scientists believe they later transitioned to an aquatic lifestyle and their hind limbs disappeared.
Obviously, the conclusions one wants to make from this dolphin are more or less predetermined by what one believed before the dolphin was found.

Personally, I found something else of interest in this story--something that does not necessarily support the idea of macro-evolution much at all.

Most folks, like myself, who question the fundamental assumptions of macro-evolution as championed by many scientists, believe that what we are is what we will always be.

What I mean is that each species contains a vast but limited pool of genetic diversity. While various combinations of this genetic mix can produce incredible variations within a species (consider the species [canis] lupus [familiaris], i.e. domesticated dogs, for example) the very genetic material that sets one type of creature apart as a species makes it impossible for that one type of creature to "evolve" into some other type of creature or species.

The fact that a dolphin is found with a small set of fins where there are not usually fins to be found is, as the story itself implies, evidence that this particular dolphin had inherited some recessive genetic strand that had been long-ago displaced by more dominant genetic traits inherent in being a "dolphin."

In other words, the fins on this dolphin are part of what it means to be a "dolphin." It does not mean that the dolphin was once a "hippo" as the AP story seems to assert. We do not learn anything new about evolution from this dolphin but we do learn something (that might or might not be new) about dolphins!.

When a species offers us a look into something previously hidden from us concerning itself it is not showing us something that has changed from one thing into another. If anything, it only goes to reinforce the old saw that, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

Macro-evolution might have gotten a boost if this dolphin had shown us something that clearly hadn't been in the genetic structure of dolphins in the past. If, for example, it had been found to have a ruminant digestive system like a cow that would have definately caught my attention!

All this story shows us is that dolphins are still dolphins and that there is enough genetic variation within dolphins to create a "surprise" for us every once in a while.

Until someone shows me how one species of creature (that is neither a dolphin nor a hippopotamus) can generate enough genetic diversity through mutation or wishful thinking to create offspring that are as differently-speciated as dolphins and hippopotami I will be content to allow common sense, an objective examination of the fossil record and a careful observation of every known example of speciation in human history support my personal opinion that a dolphin is a dolphin is a dolphin.