Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ for Evolution Theory

by hawkaw 17 Replies latest jw friends

  • hawkaw

    I thought some on this board, including Alan F. might find this Frequently Answered Questions on Transitional Vertebrate Fossils interesting. Many creationist leaning individuals seem to really misunderstand (or refuse to understand) Transitional Vertebrate Fossils and how they are used in evolution theory.

    It also goes into a little about biblical creation and scientific evolution theory. It also tries reaching some conclusions in a few different ways regarding evolution theory and creationism. But, the document's main point is Transitional Vertebrate Fossils exist.

    Remember when reading articles like this, one should be very careful when one starts discussing sciencific terms compared to our normal everyday use of the terms. For example, a hypothesis in simple scientific terms would be an idea. A scientific theory in science is a way of explaining a mechanism. A law in science is used to describe a mechanism (or predict a result of observations that have not been made - eg - Newton's law of gravity). Scientific theories explain the process based on independent observations in the laboratory or field that can be replicated and are subject to intense peer review. If observations do not exist, we generally move out of theory and into philosphy.

    One should also keep in mind that religious beliefs is a completely different animal compared to independent scientific examinations.

    Hope it helps.

    Take care,


  • scholar


    There are no transitional invertrebate fossils in existence. Nothing of the sort has ever been found or can be found as it is an impossibility, a problem that even Darwin admitted.


    BA MA Studies in Religion

  • Midget-Sasquatch


    I'll take it INvertebrate wasn't a typo. In that case, the work that Steven J. Gould did that made him propose punctuated equilibrium was with molluscs (invertebrates if I'm not mistaken). So check up on that. I think Darwin can be "a bit" outdated as a reference for fossils evidence.

  • TD

    Thanks for the link Hawkaw

    Of course, for creationists, a transitional link doesn't close a gap, it simply create two new gaps for them to claim there are no links to fill.

  • AlanF

    Unscholar said:

    : There are no transitional invertrebate fossils in existence. Nothing of the sort has ever been found

    As usual you have no idea what you're talking about. You don't even know what a "transitional invertebrate" [sic] fossil is.

    : or can be found as it is an impossibility,

    Only according to young-earth creationists who interpret Genesis literally.

    : a problem that even Darwin admitted.

    No, he did not. Darwin lamented the fact that, as of the original date of publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, he was not aware of any fossils that could be proved to have a transitional (intermediate) morphology. But just two years later Archaeopteryx was discovered, which is one of the most amazing creatures ever found that displays an intermediate morphology. Indeed, an Archaeopteryx was discovered around 1880, misidentified as the small dinosaur Coelurosaurus, and not discovered to be an Archaeopteryx until about 1990, when a careful reexamination turned up feathers. Darwin was confident that future fossil discoveries would fill in the gaps of his day, and he was right.


  • hawkaw

    From the above-noted url link in the first post of this thread:

    A Bit Of Historical Background

    When The Origin Of Species was first published, the fossil record was poorly known. At that time, the complaint about the lack of transitional fossils bridging the major vertebrate taxa was perfectly reasonable. Opponents of Darwin's theory of common descent (the theory that evolution has occurred; not to be confused with the separate theory that evolution occurs specifically by natural selection) were justifiably skeptical of such ideas as birds being related to reptiles. The discovery of Archeopteryx only two years after the publication of The Origin of Species was seen a stunning triumph for Darwin's theory of common descent. Archeopteryx has been called the single most important natural history specimen ever found, "comparable to the Rosetta Stone" (Alan Feduccia, in "The Age Of Birds"). O.C. Marsh's groundbreaking study of the evolution of horses was another dramatic example of transitional fossils, this time demonstrating a whole sequence of transitions within a single family. Within a few decades after the Origin, these and other fossils, along with many other sources of evidence (such as developmental biology and biogeography) had convinced the majority of educated people that evolution had occurred, and that organisms are related to each other by common descent.

    Since then, many more transitional fossils have been found, as sketched out in this FAQ. Typically, the only people who still demand to see transitional fossils are either unaware of the currently known fossil record (often due to the shoddy and very dated arguments presented in current creationist articles) or are unwilling to believe it for some reason.

    What Does The Fossil Record Show Us Now?

    I think the most noticeable aspects of the vertebrate fossil record, those which must be explained by any good model of the development of life on earth, are:

    1. A remarkable temporal pattern of fossil morphology, with "an obvious tendency for successively higher and more recent fossil assemblages to resemble modern floras and faunas ever more closely" (Gingerich, 1985) and with animal groups appearing in a certain unmistakable order. For example, primitive fish appear first, amphibians later, then reptiles, then primitive mammals, then (for example) legged whales, then legless whales. This temporal- morphological correlation is very striking, and appears to point overwhelmingly toward an origin of all vertebrates from a common ancestor.
    2. Numerous "chains of genera" that appear to link early, primitive genera with much more recent, radically different genera (e.g. reptile- mammal transition, hyenids, horses, elephants), and through which major morphological changes can be traced. Even for the spottiest gaps, there are a few isolated intermediates that show how two apparently very different groups could, in fact, be related to each other (ex. Archeopteryx, linking reptiles to birds).
    3. Many known species-to-species transitions (primarily known for the relatively recent Cenozoic mammals), often crossing genus lines and occasionally family lines, and often resulting in substantial adaptive changes.
    4. A large number of gaps. This is perhaps the aspect that is easiest to explain, since for stratigraphic reasons alone there must always be gaps. In fact, no current evolutionary model predicts or requires a complete fossil record, and no one expects that the fossil record will ever be even close to complete. As a rule of thumb, however, creationists think the gaps show fundamental biological discontinuities, while evolutionary biologists think they are the inevitable result of chance fossilizations, chance discoveries, and immigration events.
  • hamsterbait

    I have always longed to see the fossil dolphin with hoofs on its fins and the legged whale. Where can I get a picture? personally I am convinced the dugong and manatee are intermediate forms on the way to another aquatic mammal, I just hope they get a chance to evolve further.


  • Satanus

    Here ya go, hammie


  • DrMike



  • DrMike

    As for manatees and the like. I always called seals "labrador retreivers on their way back to the ocean" in geological time. And that if you wanted to find trasitional forms, you should look in transitional enviroments, like a sea shore, desert edge, or mountain base, etc.

    But if you look at the entire 3-4 billion+ year fossil record, you soon realize that ALL forms are transitional.

Share this