Evolution 101- Part 19: Trilobites and Other Things Found Stuck to your Shoe

Remember, normal text is copied from Evolution 101 by the Understanding Evolution team! (Now with Scratch Resistant Coating) http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

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

Patterns in macroevolution: You can think of patterns as “what happened when.” [Editor’s Note: Or, as “What Not to wear with Stripes”] All of the changes, diversifications, and extinctions that happened over the course of life’s history are the patterns of macroevolution.

However, beyond the details of individual past events — such as, when the beetle radiation began [Editor’s Note: 1962] or what the first flowers looked like — biologists are interested in general patterns that recur across the tree of life:

Stasis: Many lineages on the tree of life exhibit stasis, which just means that they don’t change much for a long time, as shown in the figure to the right.body time split

In fact, some lineages have changed so little for such a long time that they are often called living fossils. Coelacanths comprise a fish lineage that branched off of the tree near the base of the vertebrate clade. Until 1938, scientists thought that coelacanths went extinct 80 million years ago. But in 1938, scientists discovered a living coelacanth from a population in the Indian Ocean that looked very similar to its fossil ancestors. Hence, the coelacanth lineage exhibits about 80 million years’ worth of morphological stasis.

coelocanthA coelacanth swimming near Sulawesi, Indonesia

If you recall, this was my example of why the “fossil record” doesn’t record much. The fossils show this thing disappearing 80 million years ago (or 65 million if you ask Wikipedia, but what’s 15 million years among friends?). Yet here he is. The obvious lesson is, just because we don’t find the fossil of a certain species in a certain rock layer doesn’t mean that species wasn’t living at that time. That goes for the time BEFORE the fossils we have were formed, as well as after. On their story, this fish was around 80 MILLION years after it last left a fossil. How long was it around before it FIRST left a fossil? So much for the fossil record.

And can I just point out that stasis, even on their weak sauce definition of evolution is NOT evolution? They said evolution is “Decent with Modification.” Stasis would be “Decent WITHOUT modification.” If you need me to explain why that is different, you may be reading the wrong blog. Maybe try Googling “Elmo” and “Rhetoric” and see what comes up.

And if stasis can keep some creatures like the coelacanth and the horseshoe crab the same for hundreds of millions of years, then of what value is that “molecular clock” they used to argue for deep time at the beginning? If mutations happen so regularly that they can be used as a clock, then stasis should not be happening at all, let alone for so many species for such vast amounts of time. Yet, stasis is not rare: Fossils bacteria dated 3.55 billion years   “…look idential to bacteria still on Earth today.” Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth, Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, 2000, p. 57. If something can remain unchanged for 3.55 BILLION years, then there might be less to this evolution thing that the brochure lead us to believe.

Character change: Lineages can change quickly or slowly. Character change can happen in a single direction, such as evolving additional segments, or it can reverse itself by gaining and then losing segments. Changes can occur within a single lineage or across several lineages. In the figure to the right, lineage A changes rapidly but in no particular direction. Lineage B shows slower, directional change.body time squiggleTrilobites, animals in the same clade as modern insects and crustaceans, lived over 300 million years ago. [Editor’s Note: Here’s one embedded in a shoe print] As shown below, their fossil record clearly suggests that several lineages underwent similar increases in segment number over the course of millions of years.

trrilobite graph

I’d just like to point out, again, by their own admission, that these family groupings are for the convenience of ourselves. Thus, when two fossil trilobites are compared, it’s entirely up to the person looking at them to say “They are variations on one family of trilobites” or “these are two different species of Trilobite.” The irony is, we all agree that they are trilobites. So, like beetles, they might all be the same species, living at the same time, with LOTS of diversity because of a high amount of genetic information, which is exactly what the creation model calls for. Yet, the vast amount of diversity in such an “Early” creature which, without a single known evolutionary ancestor, seems to have shown up completely prepared for life in the oceans goes directly against the onwards and upwards evolutionary model. So ready are these guys that they have eyes with compound lenses which we have studied in my life time so that we can learn how to make better lenses for underwater viewing.

Lineage-splitting (or speciation): Patterns of lineage-splitting can be identified by constructing and examining a phylogeny.

I’m skipping this one, because it’s really just about drawing those tree of life diagrams more than anything else. I did teach art at one point, but I still have fairly little to say about their drawings.  All I need to say about this is, they are constructing a phylogeny based on their evolutionary assumptions, and then examining the picture they drew to find the patterns which they feel will show them macroevolution. Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy or fabricating evidence? Because it’s no where near observational science, yet don’t they seem to be treating it that way? Maybe it’s just me. OK. I see how it is. Fine. Be that way.

Extinction: Extinction is extremely important in the history of life. It can be a frequent or rare event within a lineage, or it can occur simultaneously across many lineages (mass extinction). Every lineage has some chance of becoming extinct, and overwhelmingly, species have ended up in the losing slots on this roulette wheel: over 99% of the species that have ever lived on Earth have gone extinct. time bodyform graphIn this diagram, a mass extinction cuts short the lifetimes of many species, and only three survive.

I’d like to give credit to these guys for not coming out and saying “Extinction is evolution.” Some people are that thick, but these guys seem to have noticed that extinction is the opposite of what evolution requires. After all, dead animals don’t have descendants with modifications. Of course, neither do the coelacanth, or horseshoe crab, or platypus… why don’t you just surf on over to AiG’s web site and read all about them?

I would like to draw attention to the 99% who have gone extinct. What could have caused the vast majority of animals to die, and then be buried fast enough to form layer upon layer of fossils? And what could have occurred that left these layers of fossils all over the world, on every continent? How about a global flood? I happen to know where you can find one [Editor’s Note: Genesis 6].

And on a personal note, can anyone answer this quandary of mine? If 99% of ALL species which ever lived have gone extinct, then why are we so bent out of shape when another one goes extinct? What arguments can an evolutionist make for animal conservation? Wouldn’t that be like trying to dry off the Pacific Ocean basin with paper towels? But I digress.

Join me next week for part 20.



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.

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