Human evolution

Evolution – Paleontological evidence

One article ago I mentioned that evolution requires no proof. But since people love proof, I have decided to stop in detail on paleontological evidence.

Q: But there are no intermediate forms?
More like a load of them. For example:

Genera displayed: Psittacosaurus, Liaoceratops, Auroraceratops, Archaeoceratops, Cerasinops, Montanoceratops, Protoceratops, Zuniceratops, Chasmosaurus. Original images by Nobu Tamura.

Genera displayed: Psittacosaurus, Liaoceratops, Auroraceratops, Archaeoceratops, Cerasinops, Montanoceratops, Protoceratops, Zuniceratops, Chasmosaurus. Original images by Nobu Tamura.

I am dying to know what lack of intermediate forms people are talking about. There are similar rows for whales, canines, eagles.

Now to human evolution. Please welcome our relative – a chimp:

blogger-image-10540878081[1]

That’s when people say: “Ugh, that ape has nothing to do with people. There is a huge difference!”

Not so huge. But okay…

One day paleontologists excavated an intermediate form – Homo erectus. Yes, yes, it obviously means nothing – there are no intermediates between the erect guy and the chimp, let alone that the erect one is not so similar to modern humans. Soon after scientists have discovered Australopithecus and Homo rhodesiensis. Two intermediates in both directions from H. erectus. “Where are intermediates between Austalopithecus and H. erectus?” – skeptics asked. And immediately H. habilis was discovered – an intermediate between the two. Then – heaps of other intermediates. Just look how many of them:

Faces pictured: Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus aethiopicus, Paranthropus boisei, Paranthropus robustus, Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens.

Faces pictured: Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus aethiopicus, Paranthropus boisei, Paranthropus robustus, Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens.

Not all intermediates are shown – there are hundreds of human ancestors known by now. Hundreds of intermediates. What do skeptics say? “Where are the intermediate species?”. The same vinyl record is playing for two centuries…

Curious, how many trillions of intermediate forms you need then to satisfy you, guys? I have utmost faith that there must be a limit…

Technically, one can resist evidence till the end of time. Say I don’t believe that a+b = b+a. I ask to explain, and mathematicians explain. I say: I don’t care about the explanation, show me the evidence, cases where it works. And they start to count for me. Add 15 to 3, then 3 to 15. 6 to 7, and vice versa. And so on. It worked with a thousand of number pairs, with a million. But I keep saying: coincidence. Not enough. Who cares it worked with a million of numbers?

Just decide, which hobby pleases you most: seeking the truth, or trolling scientists, who are normally busy, by the way. If second, then enjoy yourself to the end of time. You could even say that I am no human, because there are no intermediates between my facial traits and such of other people. It’s your right: if you prefer to ignore the facts on principle, then help yourself. But why then blame scientists for not giving you the evidence?

Here is another delicacy for thought. Well, yes, I love dinosaurs, so a lot of examples are about them. Not I alone, by the way – people enjoy dinos, because they used to fill the same ecological niche that is filled by large mammals today*. Tiger of Jurassic is Allosaurus, elephant is Diplodocus.
*large in this context – larger than a cat

So. We know around a thousand of modern large mammals (ungulates, carnivores, elephants, many rodents, many primates). Evolution is constantly in action: a million years ago none of these species existed, there was another thousand instead. So in 50 millions of years there were 50 times one thousand of mammals. At least.

Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 165 million years. By now we know of ~1000 dinosaurs. At least a half of them is known from teeth, vertebrae fragments, broken ribs etc – one could hardly tell anything about them. So, 500 types of dinosaurs. Looks like a fair number. But the majority of them have never met each other. So called dinosaur fauna is in fact a dump of hundreds of faunas that superceded each other on SIX continents. Tyrannosaurus has never met Velociraptor or Diplodocus. Spinosaurus never saw Triceratops or Stegosaurus. If we take a particular fauna (say, Europe 100 mya) – we know 3-4 for species from it at most. In another fauna there is a single species. In ten other – none at all. There are faunas where only predators are known so far; there are faunas where a single splinter of something’s hip is known, god knows what is it.

What I mean is we know so few of dinosaurs. We have discovered so far no more than 0.1% of their real diversity, perhaps much less. Obviously, no-one will ever show you a gradual flow from Megalosaurus to Spinosaurus – we simply don’t have that much fossils. If you think that there are thousands of fossil spinosaurs, thousands of fossil megalosaurs, with no intermediate forms, then you are beyond wrong. Strictly speaking, we have discovered nothing. Couple of neural spines, jaw fragments and teeth – that’s what Spinosaurus fossils normally look like. Imagine how many animals die on Earth today. How many of them do you think one would dig up in 100 years? And in 100 million years?

Fossil evidence being as limited as it is, we yet can find a lot of intermediate forms. Out of those pathetic 500 species I fished out enough ceratopsian dinosaurs to show their evolutionary path (picture in the beginning). There is quite a plenty of intermediates. Would have been more, we just don’t have that much fossils yet.

Another thing: the statement that we have no intermediate fossils is intrinsically wrong. Because every single fossil animal is intermediate to other animals. Every single one. Even modern animals are intermediates between their ancestors and those animals that will live on Earth in 10000 years. Think of it as of a dynasty: each member of a family tree is an intermediate between their children and parents? Aren’t they? How can some of them not be an intermediate?

I think that those arguments cannot persuade only unpersuadable on principle. That’s where science is powerless, I am afraid…

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Further reads

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