Thursday, April 13, 2006


Scientific Discovery Creates More Gaps in the Fossil Record

You'll remember that just last week, scientists discovered a missing link between fish and land animals, a crocodile-like animal called the Tiktaalik, showing how creatures first walked out of the water and on to dry land more than 375-million years ago.

Many innocently assumed this stunning discovery would disprove the claims made by those in the church of intelligent design that gaps in the fossil record disprove evolution. Of course, while the reality based community sees each new discovery as filling a gap in our previous knowledge of the world, intelligent design dilettantes, see each new discovery as creating two new gaps -- one on each side of the new discovery. Each time a new transitional fossil is discovered, ID activists see their position getting stronger, not weaker.

Yesterday, scientists announced a major new fossil discovery that fills a gap in human evolution. As RSR writes this post, two groups in Seattle are hard at work cranking out press releases. One, on the fifth floor of the Discovery Institute, is writing a press release crowing about the new fossil gaps that have opened up as a result of the discovery. The other, on the sixth floor of the Discovery Institute, is writing a release that says the new discovery "poses no threat" to intelligent design because few leading ID researchers have argued against the existence of transitional forms.

For the record, according to John Noble Wilford of the New York Times, "Tim D. White, a paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was a team leader, and his colleagues said the 4.1-million-year-old fossils were anatomically intermediate between the earlier species Ardipithecus ramidus and the later species Australopithecus afarensis, the Lucy family. The newfound bones and teeth are the earliest remains of the most primitive Australopithecus, known as anamensis."

Another week. Another important discovery. Two more gaps.


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