Evolution 101-part 4: Snakes with Legs and Other Distant Cousins

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! (worst superhero guild ever) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

BOLD font is me, Rent A Friend 2000, being Bold.

Understanding phylogenies

Understanding a phylogeny is a lot like reading a family tree. The root of the tree represents the ancestral lineage, and the tips of the branches represent the descendants of that ancestor. As you move from the root to the tips, you are moving forward in time.

 phylogeny 1

When a lineage splits (speciation), it is represented as branching on a phylogeny. When a speciation event occurs, a single ancestral lineage gives rise to two or more daughter lineages.phylogeny 2Phylogenies trace patterns of shared ancestry between lineages. Each lineage has a part of its history that is unique to it alone and parts that are shared with other lineages. Similarly, each lineage has ancestors that are unique to that lineage and ancestors that are shared.

Once again, NONE of this is based on observable data or events except at the level where all of the points on the chart are dogs, or where all of the points of the chart are turtles. When you back out far enough to find where dogs blend with cats and with turtles and with cabbage, there’s NOTHING which actually exists to fill in the chart. This is the result of beginning with an assumption of the evolutionary theory, then putting different species into a faux animation sequence.

What they fail to show is how many of those lines should be dotted to indicate “No known species exits here, living or in the fossil record.” The human family tree would be almost ENTIRELY dotted lines, and where it isn’t would merely be connecting humans with humans. Of course, if they admit the holes in their theory, they literally have nothing left to say. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Building the tree

Like family trees, phylogenetic trees represent patterns of ancestry.

Remember above where they admitted that the ancestry was hypothetical guesswork? I just wanted to remind you as it seems they have already forgotten.

However, while families have the opportunity to record their own history as it happens, evolutionary lineages do not — species in nature do not come with pieces of paper showing their family histories.

Shocking as this will be to people like Richard Dawkins, Creationists already knew this before Berkley put it on line.

Instead, biologists must reconstruct those histories by collecting and analyzing evidence, which they use to form a hypothesis about how the organisms are related — a phylogeny.

Let me translate with my handy Darwin to English dictionary: “We don’t SEE things evolve, we can’t OBSERVE evolution (Making it no longer “observational science”) so we invent it as we go along. Charts like this are speculative guess work based on our faith.” I’m paraphrasing, but nothing I am saying contradicts what they are saying. I’m literally just clarifying.

 circle tree2

To build a phylogenetic tree such as the one to the right, biologists collect data about the characters of each organism they are interested in. Characters are heritable traits that can be compared across organisms, such as physical characteristics (morphology), genetic sequences, and behavioral traits.

I did this once, and made a chart showing that all life on earth had evolved from rabbits. To be honest, mine made more sense than a lot of these. For instance, mine explained the origin of the Platypus.

In order to construct the vertebrate phylogeny, we begin by examining representatives of each lineage to learn about their basic morphology, whether or not the lineage has vertebrae, a bony skeleton, four limbs, an amniotic egg, etc.

Or if they have fur, cute noses, long ears, a tendency to nap all day, eat hay, and poop on the floor. Bunny traits, which I think you will find a LOT of animals share.

Using shared derived characters
Our goal is to find evidence that will help us group organisms into less and less inclusive clades. Specifically, we are interested in shared derived characters. A shared character is one that two lineages have in common, and a derived character is one that evolved in the lineage leading up to a clade and that sets members of that clade apart from other individuals.

 phylogeny 3

For instance, cabbage are green, and frogs are green, so we can group frogs with cabbages. The platypus is still on an island somewhere between beaver and duck with question marks around it.

Shared derived characters can be used to group organisms into clades. For example, amphibians, turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, birds and mammals all have, or historically had, four limbs. If you look at a modern snake you might not see obvious limbs, but fossils show that ancient snakes did have limbs, and some modern snakes actually do retain rudimentary limbs. Four limbs is a shared derived character inherited from a common ancestor that helps set apart this particular clade of vertebrates.

I just have to ask- if they find a fossil skeleton of an animal with four limbs, why do they think it was a snake? Is it just me? Who looks at what is essentially a gecko or salamander and says, “This lizard-like skeleton with four legs: snake. Four legged snake. Yup.” Who is that guy, and what university gave him tenure?

And it is simply false that snakes have legs. They have a bone structure in the back half of the snake which, with the right imagination, is located where hind legs would be if snakes had legs. That bone is used to anchor muscles which are necessary to make baby snakes. So, no. Snakes do not have legs. Neither do whales. Whose saying whales have legs? Ho ho! Just you wait. They’ll get there.

However, the presence of four limbs is not useful for determining relationships within the clade in green above, since all lineages in the clade have that character. To determine the relationships in that clade, we would need to examine other characters that vary across the lineages in the clade.

Can I just point out that we are still talking about creatively inventing these charts based on NOT observing anything evolve into anything else? It would be easy to forget that amidst all of this chart business. For instance, that all land dwelling animals evolved from the same four legged ancestor is merely assumed- no evidence is provided for it, and I seriously doubt any exists. As you will see later, the story the fossils tell is barely a word for every thousand page VOLUME of evolutionary story. As part of the evolutionary story, these prior ancestors are assumed and unquestioned. Assumed and unquestioned are big around these parts. They are to evolutionist what i-phones and Twitter are to tweens.

Join me next week for part 5.



About rentafriend2000
Rocking my 40's with a heart full of love and muffins, science and technology. Jesus loves me and wants me to totally rock! And I am here to help.

3 Responses to Evolution 101-part 4: Snakes with Legs and Other Distant Cousins

  1. sablei says:

    I am just curious, you mentioned that you made up evolutionary family tree where life came from bunnies. You stated that yours even explains the origins of the platypus. So how did the platypus came to be according to your tree.

    • You refer to my theory of Bunvelution. I need to publish this someday, but the short version is, I created a theory of evolution beginning with the philosophy of the Big Bang model. Atheists say the universe- the ENTIRE universe- popped into existence, uncaused, from nothing. I figure, a single pregnant bunny popping into existence and having a litter of bunnies is FAR more likely, and so if we assume the entire universe popped into existence, uncaused from nothing, then certainly bunnies are popping into existence uncaused all over the place. One of them happened to wind up in Wisconsin, and the chain of life on earth began. Now, where did birds come from? I hypothesized a primordial space duck who came here from another planet sometime after other life forms has evolved from the bunnies. In a rare cross specialization event which, more often than evolutionists like to admit, is necessary to explain things which exist, one of those space ducks bred with a beaver and created the first platypus. This may seem unlikely, but something VERY much like this- and I swear I am not making this up- has been proposed to explain the butterfly which as you know is a fat worm when young, and then becomes a thin fluttering flying insect which, not only looks completely different but eats differently too. My theory may not be true, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be accepted by modern scientists.

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