Museums and textbooks today claim that whale fossils provide the clearest proof of evolution—they have mostly dropped horse evolution because that story no longer withstands scrutiny.1 Three key fossils in the whale story are Pakicetus, Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus, which are claimed to link a land animal with very long and slender whales known as basilosaurids.2 Without these three the story collapses.
Dr Carl Werner, author of Evolution: the Grand Experiment, has checked out the claims, interviewing the researchers and others. He found that none of the fossils holds up as transitional to whales. His findings, published in a major 25-page Appendix to the new 2014 edition of his book, utterly destroy the whale evolution story. Here are some highlights.
We have already pointed out the extreme story-telling that occurred with Pakicetus, involving Dr Philip Gingerich.3 An incomplete skull fossil was imagined to be that of a whale-like creature, displayed as an artist’s impression on the cover of the prestigious journal, Science, in 1983. Some years later the rest of Pakicetus was found, published in 2001, and it proved to be nothing like a whale. Contrary to what Dr Gingerich had imagined, there was no blowhole, there were no flippers (only hooves), and there was no whale neck (just a neck typical for land mammals). Even so, Dr Werner reveals that the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Natural History Museum in London have not stopped using the falsely-reconstructed skull that shows a blowhole (see figure 1).
In a National Geographic documentary in 2009, Dr Gingerich still claimed that Pakicetus should be classed with whales, based on its ear-bone. However, the ear-bone is not like a whale, which has a finger-like projection (sigmoid process), but is plate-like, like the fossils of land animals known as artiodactyls.
The ‘walking whale’ is portrayed as an intermediate between Pakicetus and Rodhocetus. Dr Hans Thewissen, former student of Dr Gingerich, said that there were eight characteristics that showed that Ambulocetus was a whale ancestor. We have also reported on Ambulocetus (figure 2),4 but Dr Werner recorded on video Dr Thewissen admitting that a key evidence of whale ancestry, the sigmoid process of the ear-bone apparatus (again), was actually nothing like a whale ear bone. Also, the cheek bone, which Thewissen claimed is thin like a whale cheek bone, is actually not thin at all; a horse, for example, has a much thinner cheekbone than Ambulocetus (see figure 3).
Furthermore, Dr Thewissen’s lab has supplied models of Ambulocetus to various museums that show a blowhole in the snout of the skull, but there is no fossil evidence of a blowhole. Dr Werner says, “All eight characters he reported as whale features are disturbingly non-whale features.”
Rodhocetus was claimed to be an aquatic animal that was developing front flippers and a whale-like tail with flukes (horizontal fins)—i.e. supposedly well on the way to becoming a whale. However, when Dr Werner pointed out to the paleontologist who discovered Rodhocetus, Dr Gingerich, that there was no fossil skeletal evidence for a tail or flippers, Dr Gingerich admitted that this was so. He also admitted that he now thought that the creature had neither of these critical whale features. We provided some of this information in Creation magazine in 2011.5 However, the tail and flippers are still displayed in many articles, and I expect that, like Haeckel’s artistic embryos,6 will be for many years to come.
Without these three supposed transitional creatures, the story of whale evolution collapses. Another evolutionary icon bites the dust!
Dr Philip Gingerich, discoverer of Rodhocetus, admits that the tail fluke and flippers shown on museum reconstructions of Rodhocetus are incorrect, that further fossil discoveries show that it did not have such features.
The ‘whaleness’ of Ambulocetus is largely based on the claim that the ear-bone called the tympanic is like a whale’s. Dr Hans Thewissen admits that this is questionable.
Dr Hans Thewissen admits that the fossils of Ambulocetus do not include the part of the skull with a blowhole, although museums show Ambulocetus with a blowhole. That is, it is imaginary.
And according to evolutionary vertebrate paleontologist Barbara Stahl, a basilosaurid “could not possibly have been the ancestor of modern whales.” Stahl, B.J., Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution,p. 489, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1974. Return to text
And according to evolutionary vertebrate paleontologist Barbara Stahl, a basilosaurid “could not possibly have been the ancestor of modern whales.” Stahl, B.J., Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution,p. 489, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1974.
If your caption on the illustration is going to say that it's a "comparison of the cheek bones of a whale, Ambulocetus, and a horse", you may want to rethink the picture itself, because it says the top skull is that of a DOLPHIN. I looked up "cetacean" and it does mean whale/dolphin/porpoise, but you can't claim it's a whale if it's not! It also weakens your point if there's such an obvious discrepancy between what it says it is in the picture and what it says it is in the caption. How many people are going to bother Googling the scientific term? You can't rely on everyone doing it; if I was looking for a reason to disbelieve in creation this flub would probably give me that excuse.
And since the argument is about whales, why ISN'T it actually a whale skull? What on earth does a dolphin skull have to do with this argument anyway? Show us a photograph of a WHALE skull with the cheekbones indicated. Or the several different types of whale skull - I realise that the skull of a baleen whale is going to look extremely different to that of a blue whale. But how similar is ANY whale skull to a dolphin skull? They're a different species. Even if they are similar, wouldn't it be like making an argument against human evolution... backed up by a claim that a photograph of a chimpanzee skull was a human skull? Even if the argument itself is sound, the backing-up of said argument renders it shaky, and it doesn't have to be.
Don Batten responds
A dolphin is in the whale (cetacean) family, so it is a whale, just like a dog is a wolf. Consistent with dolphins being whales, they will hybridize with whales; see, for example, Ligers and wholphins, what next? However, to hopefully avoid confusion for non-biologists, I have modified the caption.
You only have to search the Internet and you will find plenty of whale skulls showing the thin (often hard to find) cheek bone.
The analogy with human evolution doesn't follow. The close relationship of dolphins and other whales has been established by their ability to hybridize, whereas human and chimp hybridisation does not happen (in spite of some effort to achieve this at the instigation of the ruthless Communist dictator, Joseph Stalin). Indeed, the differences in the human and chimp DNA (now known to be at least 30%) place a great chasm between us and chimps that is unbridgeable by a story of mutations and natural selection, suggesting that classifying humans with chimpanzees and gorillas in the same family (Hominidae) is perhaps yet another example of naturalistic wishful thinking.
Daren H., Singapore, 12 April 2014
Why would we expect soft flippers to be fossilised? They are soft tissue. But, based on what I saw from the feet of ambulocetus in your link and wikipedias article on rodhocetus, the feet bones are clearly much longer than that of land animals. It would have been extremely awkward for them to walk on land for extended periods of time, and probably horrible for their survival rate, so its easy to deduce that their feet could ve been flippers. Another confirmation that they entered the water is by measuring oxygen content in the fossil. Heavier oxygen ratio means they likely drank saltwater. Furthermore, I read somewhere that some species of modern whales have vestiges of a pelvic bone. Its good standing (although not 100% certain) to assume that whales evolved from these prehistoric creatures.
Be careful of the material you ve selected to present, Dr Batten. You are levelling a very, very serious accusation against the palaeontologists. You are basically accusing them of fraudulent misrepresentation.......do you really hate them so much?
Don Batten responds
Flippers have bones in them and the bones do fossilize; no bones were found to show that Rodhocetus had flippers. Dr Gingerich admitted that there was no evidence for Rodhocetus having flippers and furthermore that he now thought that it did not have flippers. The Wikipedia article you cite shows Rodhocetus sp. with a full pelvis and leg bones with a foot ; all quite unlike any whale flipper bones—and Rodhocetus is portrayed in the story as more whale like than Ambulocetus!
Now Dr Thewissen named eight traits that he claimed showed that Ambulocetus was whale-like. As I said in the article: "Dr Werner says, 'All eight characters he reported as whale features are disturbingly non-whale features.' You need to check up on these traits claimed by the paleontologist himself before you go adding your own. Please check the linked material from Dr Werner.
You wrote, "I read somewhere that some species of modern whales have vestiges of a pelvic bone." Clearly you haven't checked this either. The bones are involved in anchoring reproductive organs and are different in males and females because they have different roles to play in the two sexes.
"Its good standing (although not 100% certain) to assume that whales evolved from these prehistoric creatures." No, the evidence does not stand up to scrutiny; that's the point. Of course if you assume that everything must have evolved, which you apparently do, then of course you must believe as you have said, but you can no longer claim that the evidence supports your belief.
You say, "do you really hate them so much?" This shows serious confusion. How is it showing 'hate' to expose public presentations of spurious claims? I have not personally met any of the people involved, so how could I hate them? Although Dr Werner has met them and interacted at length, I have not seen any indication that he hates these men either (and I don't see why he would).
In the article I have allowed that, "To be blunt, Dr Werner has discovered a pattern of fraud, or at the very least extremely wishful thinking and imaginative story telling that is not supported by the fossil evidence." It clearly does become fraud when museums and textbooks knowingly continue to use these discredited 'evidences' for whale evolution (as with those university professors who continue to use Haeckel's embryos).
N. O., Sweden, 12 April 2014
The article is nice, but gives me an impression of naiveté towards fossil creatures like these. From my reading of palaeontology, I think creationists (including myself), appear uninformed or self-blind by declaring absence of transitional fossils (I do not think Stephen Gould would agree on any “extreme rarity” of such if he were living today), unless they can make a good case against the “candidates”.
If evolutionists were less sure about those "walking whales" and other icons of evolution, they would not have such triumphing attitudes about it, and would get more bothered by details (like nostril placement).
Don Batten responds
According to the FreeDictionary.com, naiveté means
1. The state or quality of being inexperienced or unsophisticated, especially in being artless, credulous, or uncritical.
2. An artless, credulous, or uncritical statement or act. [My emphasis].
So, those who are naive are those who uncritically accept the claims of the evolutionists without checking them. We are doing our little bit to help people not to be naive!
It seems that you have not read the article at all carefully, especially the linked articles and Dr Werner's findings that are also linked. If you had read even the first linked article on Pakicetus, you would see an incredible 'triumphing attitude', chutzpah in the extreme, which was all unravelled by further fossil evidence. So, strong statements from evolutionists with a triumphal attitude about whale evolution prove only that the individuals concerned are prone to hype—'don't let the details, such as none of the eight 'whale' traits of Ambulocetus withstanding scrutiny, get in the way of a good story'—nothing else.
As for Dr Gould, he has passed on, so it is pure conjecture as to what he might say today, but I believe that the fossil evidence is still just as weak or even weaker. BTW, our argument is not that there are no putative transitional fossils, but that if evolution really happened the fossil record should be full of them (and a lack of fossils is even less an excuse today than in Gould's time).
Daren H., Singapore, 14 April 2014
Don Batten, Im sorry, but your claims are being even more ridiculous than before.
"Flippers have bones in them and the bones do fossilize"
You must be joking. Are you saying that the webbing, soft tissue between flippers fossilize? Or is it the bony material that constitutes the toe-like structure?
From the man, Thewissen himself:
"Pakicetids did not look like whales at all, and resembled land mammals. However, the skulls of pakicetids have an ear region that is highly unusual in shape, and only resembles that of modern and fossil whales. These features are diagnostic for cetaceans, they are found in all cetaceans, and in no other animals."
I couldnt find the quote by Dr Gingrich directly, but about this, by carl zimmer:
"One particularly baffling fossil was the back part of a 50-million-year-old skull. It was about the size of a coyote's and had a high ridge running like a mohawk over the top of its head, where muscles could attach and give the mammal a powerful bite. When Gingrich looked underneath the skull, he saw ear bones. They were two shells shaped like a pair of grapes and were anchored to the skull by bones in the shape of an S. For a paleontologist like Gingerich, these ear bones were a shock. Only the ear bones of whales have such a structure; no other vertebrate possesses them."
DO you understand, Don? This is not your area of expertise, nor is it Dr Werner's one. DO you expect me to believe everything you type here because of one medical doctor's anecdotal accounts of a trip to the museum? really.
Don Batten responds
I will trust readers to determine if my response on the fossilization of flippers was "ridiculous".
And yes, Thewissen claimed on the basis of its ear anatomy that Pakicetus was on the way to becoming a whale (your quote comes from his website). You have added nothing to what the article and Dr Werner's detailed treatment said. Note my article:
"Dr Werner reveals that in a National Geographic documentary in 2009 Dr Gingerich still claimed that Pakicetus should be classed with whales, based on its ear-bone. However, the ear-bone is not like a whale, which has a finger-like projection (sigmoid process), but is plate-like, like the fossils of land animals known as artiodactyls."
You won't accept my word about this, or Dr Werners. But here is an irony: you cite the arch-atheist Carl Zimmer, who has a B.A. in English! And even Dr Gingerich's qualifications are all in geology, not mamalian anatomy or paleontology! At least Dr Werner has extensive training in mammalian (human) anatomy. And my doctorate is in biology, far closer to the mark than Carl Zimmer!
But we are not asking you to believe this 'because we say so'; the evidence is there for you to see for yourself.
Here is a further irony: Dr Werner cites an independent expert, Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo from the Carnegie Museum, a mammal evolution expert, who called the sigmoid process “questionable” and “equivocal”. In other words it is not diagnostic of Pakicetus being whale-like. Please read the material! And there is much more corroborating evidence in Appendix F of the third edition of Evolution: the Grand Experiment.
Daren H., Singapore, 14 April 2014
"The Wikipedia article you cite shows Rodhocetus sp. with a full pelvis and leg bones with a foot ; all quite unlike any whale flipper bones—and Rodhocetus is portrayed in the story as more whale like than Ambulocetus!"
I used the quote from wikipedia, not the pic. This is the real re-construction of ambulocetus (last picture in this post) [url removed as per feedback rules] Note the length of its "toes". With feet like that, would it have been advantageous to walk on land?
You wrote "Clearly you haven't checked this either. The bones are involved in anchoring reproductive organs and are different in males and females because they have different roles to play in the two sexes."
I dont think you know how useless pelvic bones are to whales.... [snip: url removed as per feedback rules; it was just a list of assertions about supposed vestigial organs] "Figure 17 : The skeleton of a baleen whale, a representative of the group of mammals that contains the largest living species, contains pelvic bones. These bones resemble those of other mammals, but are only weakly developed in the whale and have no apparent function."
There's more evidence, like the higher concentration of heavier isotopes of oxygen from later fossils, or the progressively longer tail vertebrae down the fossil records etc. Too much to explain here.
Call my acceptance in evolution a "belief" system or whatever, just dont think Im uneducated.
Don Batten responds
I didn't mean to imply that you were uneducated. However, we can all be highly educated but still have blind spots in our thinking, or have accepted things 'on faith' without having checked them out. I was like that about evolution. I was a 'highly educated' PhD biologist, but I really had not thought critically about what I had been taught.
You have been seemingly very reluctant to face up to the evidence presented. You have attemped to shift the subject onto other things not covered, such as the length of the toes of Ambulocetus or oxygen isotope ratios, or claimed vestigial pelvic bones in whales.
+Toes bones on Ambulocetus? There are plenty of land mammals with toe-bones as long or longer than Ambulocetus. Just search for images of the skeletons of cats, dogs, pigs, etc., and compare them yourself. The current reconstruction of the Ambulocetus skeleton is not the issue, but the original story telling by Gingerich is an issue, but more importantly in the context of this article, the claim that the ear is 'whale-like' (which it isn't). BTW, your source again is a vitriolic atheist who is incredibly one-eyed about such matters. I appeal to you to at least give the other side of the story fair consideration.
+Whale pelvic bones useless? The website you cited presented no evidence that they were useless; it just claimed it. Assertions are not science. I provided evidence that they are not useless. This same site lists various features as useless that have been clearly shown to be useful, such as the human appendix, so it is a demonstrably unreliable source.
+Oxygen isotope ratios? The evidence is as clear as mud. See: http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/51/12/1037/F13.expansion.html Yes, freshwater creatures tend to have lower values than saltwater, but because this is highly dependent on the temperature of the water, it is certainly not a reliable diagnostic feature for 'whaleness'. Sea otters and seals would have 'sea water' values, but they are not whales. Oxygen isotope discrimination values have been used recently to differentiate modern whale populations (based on their migratory habits to different areas with different water temperatures).
+Progressively longer tail vertebrae ...? You have to be careful about believing neat digrams presented in such things as National Geographic publications, etc., which provide 'digested' (dis)information. The point of this article and Dr Werner's work is that the story telling (including the neat diagrams) just don't match the fossil evidence.
Anyway, I hope you will try to allow for the possibility that this story of whale evolution is really very questionable and that you will fairly consider the evidence.
N. O., Sweden, 14 April 2014
I read your article before commenting it, I assure. I have also read about Pakicetus on your website (many times in the past-I like your site), as well as material by Dr. Werner.
Stephen Gould got blissful about "walking whales" (as you acknowledge in "Punctuated equilibrium: come of age?"). I still doubt his followers of today would drop them if they found them unconvincing. After all, they quickly changed from mesonychids to ungulates when they found that Rodhocetus had 'ungulate'-like foot bones (though mosaics are possible in the creation model, I know).
I am aware of the CMI declaration that it might exist 'candidates' of transitional fossils. The question is, could we imagine, for example, a 'half whale' more satysfying to evolutionists than Ambulocetus?
Rose W., United Kingdom, 14 April 2014
Regarding the whale from dolphin evolution and whether flippers have bones the issue is not about bones at all but simply: was the animal in question able to be born, grow and feed itself with whatever body parts and shapes God designed into the basic kind?
The simple answer is yes every living thing we know of lives perfectly well no matter what shape and substance it has.
Richard C., Namibia, 15 April 2014
This whole article and discussion doesn't inform me whether whales have devolved from dolphins or dolphins are devolving into whales. It's all very confusing. Dolphins are still dolphins, whales are still whales; and the hippopotamus? Well, that's still a hippopotamus, too. No evolution of kinds here.
Don Batten responds
The article focuses on the evolutionary claim that all whales, from baleen whales to river dolphins, all evolved from some land animal. Three fossils are key to their story and this article exposes the failure of these fossils to provide coherent evidence for the story.
There are two major groups (suborders) of cetaceans ('whales'): the baleen whales, which filter feed (e.g. blue whales, humpbacks, minke) and the toothed whales (e.g. sperm whales, orcas, dolphins). Hybridising of orcas and dolphins suggests that they derived from the same created kind. The toothed whales and baleen whales would form two natural groups that could be derived from an originally created toothed whale kind and a baleen whale kind. Baraminology is the study of the original created kinds, but the conclusions can only be tentative when we are working backwards from what we see today.
John M., Canada, 15 April 2014
Darren H. from Singapore seems to believe that Dr. Batten's claim that flippers (bone, fleshy parts) should have fossilized is "ridiculous".
Perhaps he is not familiar with small, fragile, marine creatures known as "jellyfish". I have seen these small animals floating in the coastal waters of Florida, USA. They are very slight in structure. If they can fossilize, which has been documented, be assured Mr. Darren H., so can flippers and the integrated bones within them, IF they were there in the first place. For you there is a problem. Lack of evidence for flippers isn't evidence for flippers, regardless of how much you really want this specimen to have had them. Don't say "sorry Mr. Batten but,...." your condescension now comes across as arrogant (albeit I've seen worse among evolutionists). It would appear as if you are arguing "off the top of your head" rather than putting much thought into your critique. I really can't see how you could possibly act so arrogant. If you're going to speak with arrogance, your thesis should at the very least have some cogent support.
Bruce J., Australia, 18 April 2014
I'm a mere Pharmaceutical Chemist with rudimentary 1960s training in Geology, Zoology, Biochemistry etc. but I'm not so ignorant as to not be able to tell the difference between well informed, reasoned, scientific argument and biased or at best somewhat uninformed grasping at straws.
I abandoned any thought about the feasibility of Evolutionary theory by graduation in 1964 and after thirty-six years in full-time Christian Mission since then, have proven at least to my own satisfaction, the reality of an all-powerful Creator God whose Word is a far sturdier foundation than the crumbling, so called evidence for Evolution.
Thank you Don Batten for the grace with which you respond to your would-be assailants. It's heartening to know that your efforts are not wasted on those who do face up to the continually growing body of evidence and 'see the Light'.
Martin H., Australia, 18 April 2014
I was a very strong, anti-Creation, anti-God, pagan.. then God showed up in my life! I always enjoy these articles and have often used them when discussing evolution v Creation. I wonder if evolutionists ever found a way to go back in time, and discovered God in the process of creating each kind, whether or not they would still choose to deny the facts just don't support evolution? Keep up the great work.
M. F., United States, 18 April 2014
You wrote: "The bones are involved in anchoring reproductive organs and are different in males and females because they have different roles to play in the two sexes."
However, I have seen many evolutionist argue this point [e.g. Jerry Coyne lecture, 2009; url deleted as per feedback rules]. Although these claims seem a bit "fishy", there is a published article providing "proof" of whale legs. Are you aware of this article? (Andrews, R. C. (1921) "A remarkable case of external hind limbs in a humpback whale." Amer. Mus. Novitates. No. 9. June 3, 1921.) I could not find anywhere on CMI web site where this article was directly engaged.
Don Batten responds
Jerry Coyne's lecture does not address the point I made, which was that the male and female bones are different, clearly because they have a different function in each sex. He does not deny that they have a function. In his book (see review, which reveals many shoddy arguments) Coyne redefines 'vestigial' to mean reduced function, which is a very convenient shifting of the goalposts from the traditional 'no function' definition.
Note that in Coyne's lecture, his diagram of whale evolution includes the three dealt with here, so his confident assertion about the fossils showing whale evolution is now shot to pieces.
As for the hind limbs on the humpback whale (from a very obscure journal in 1921), I was surprised at Coyne using this because it does not fit any proposed pattern of whale ancestry; it just does not 'fit'. An atavism is supposedly a 'throwback' to an earlier state, but what proposed whale ancestor had a leg like this? I have not seen any competent biologist who is an evolutionist using this, only Coyne in this populist lecture to 'the faithful', and for good reason, I believe.
John W., United States, 18 April 2014
First if they wish to claim that the animal had flippers the onus is on them to prove it. If they cannot there's no reason to believe it did. Wishful thinking is not scientific method, even by their standards. Second deal with the argument, and don't run off to authority. I can get four PHD's in a room and they'll say four different things. I don't need a PHD in vertebrate anatomy to evaluate an argument. This is just trying to avoid dealing with an actual argument via ad hominem.
Daniel Z., United States, 18 April 2014
All of the subjective arguing about what "looks like" another animal hold less credibility than the more objective findings of DNA evidence. Whether a land animal (hippopotamus) looks like a whale or not is irrelevant if the DNA evidence shows them to be closely related. They shared a common ancestor (Pakicetus) Which contrary to your artical has NOT been dis-proven by anyone to be a relative of a whale. It looks less like a whale than a hippo because it is farther back the evolutionary branch from the whale than from the hippo. The tired mantra of Creationists "Show me the transitions" can never be resolved. If I show you a red dot and a blue dot you would say "that is red" or "That is blue" But if I showed you how red transitions into blue by including 20 shades of purple from almost all red to almost all blue, you could defiantly say "There ARE NO transitions". By pointing to any purple dot, you could say "that is not a transitional color it is blue (or red) depending on your interpretation of it. A thousand transitional fossils between Pakicetus and whale could be explained away as "just a whale" or "just a hippo" disregarding the differences.
I prefer to believe the Almighty God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob chose to use evolution to bring about the wonders of His creation.
Don Batten responds
How about you engage with the evidence provided here? DNA comparisons have nothing to say about the three key land-animal-to-whale transitional forms discussed here. No DNA is available, so the only evidence is the fossil comparisons, which clearly do not withstand scrutiny. Did you read the article and the linked material? There is even more damning evidence in the Appendix of the third edition of Dr Werner's book.
As for you preferring to believe that 'God used evolution' (theistic evolution), I suggest you give some more thought to the consequences of that notion. This article might help you think through the issues: Some questions for theistic evolutionists.
Brian J., United States, 18 April 2014
Correct me if I'm wrong but in addition to the information in this article I thought the whole 'whale evolution' farce was all but resolved. They found a fully aquatic whalebone back in 2011 that was in 49MYO rocks (look up 'Ancient whale jawbone found in Antarctica')
This puts fully aquatic whales living BEFORE any of the supposed 'transitional' fossils listed above. Modern science would now have whale evolution as such. You have the Pakicetus followed by a fully aquatic whale and no more that 5 million years to 'evolve' a Pakicetus into a whale with NO transitionals between them. Richard Sternberg said it was all but impossible for a whale to evolve in 10my and now that time has been cut in half AND there aren't any transitionals to support the idea.
This is basically game, set, and match for the creationists. I'd put this whole 'whale evolution' in the same category as the 'fish to land' farce. Tiktaalik was supposed to be the heralded missing link in the fish to land evolution fairy tale but now we've found tetrapod tracks that predate Tiktaalik by 10-20my. Tetrapods walked around with regular fish just like whales existed at the same time as little dog like land animals.
I suppose with a whole lot of blind faith you can make the whale evolution thing work but modern science is leaving this idea in the dust. I prefer not to cling to stone age science, though, and will follow the Truth no matter where it leads.
As a Born Again Christian Creationist, I very much appreciate your response and information. This site is really one of the greatest Creationist sites I have read. The Whale "legs" issue (i.e., the article & Coyne's lecture) seem to be a pattern of finding freaks of nature and attempting to make them "proof" of evolutionary development. I had heard of this "tall tale", but the image and article surprised me. Looking forward the article.
Courage and Godspeed
Chris O., United States, 18 April 2014
This is fantastic, Don! For a number of years, I taught a graduate course in paleontology, which largely concentrated on the invertebrates (where we find the best and most extensive portions of the fossil record). As shown by Kurt Wise’s doctoral dissertation, supported by his graduate adviser, Stephen J. Gould, there are strong statistical reasons for believing that the vertebrate fossil series, including the whales, is woefully incomplete, mostly consisting of highly fragmentary remains. Trying to decipher origins from these is much like being given 100 mostly broken pieces belonging to a 10,000 piece jig-saw-puzzle, and from them, determining what the picture will be. Based upon such fossil evidence, few alternative explanations can be discounted. Simply put, with respect to the non-fish vertebrate fossil record, we don’t have nearly enough evidence yet to say with certainty much of anything! Your article reflects this very well!
On the other hand, the brachiopod fossil record (Gould’s specialty), is extensive. Brachiopod fossils are abundant, well-preserved, with extensive geologic ranges, consist of distinctive subgroups, and most importantly, according to Kurt’s statistical analysis, their fossil record is at least 80% complete, making this group unquestionably the best portion of the fossil record available. With 4/5th of the jig-saw pieces” in place, the true picture of their origins should be coming into focus.
All major brachiopod taxa occur within the fossil record suddenly, independently, and fully specialized with no clue of common ancestry! Following their first appearance, all brachiopod classes remain essentially unchanged, including surviving species! Indeed, this is the general pattern we find within all reasonably complete fossil groups!
John D., United States, 18 April 2014
The alleged evolution of land animals from sea animals... and back again... as with whales from hippos ("whippos")... is ludicrous and defies evolutionist's own cardinal principle that animals, via natural selection, will survive (and evolve!) in their own habitats by adaptation. They should be evolving NEW structures and biochemical "improvements" to become the "fittest" --- NOT needing to leave ONE environment and venture into a completely different one.
Also there is a tendency among evolutionists to conflate "intermediate" forms with the "transitional" forms Darwin imagined. Intermediate forms are simply those forms that share anatomical features of other animals that allegedly descended from them or with other animals from which they allegedly descended.
Transitional forms, as understood by Darwin, are those forms in the very "act" of evolution... for example giraffes with short necks, turtles with no shells, elephants without trunks or starfish with only three "arms". On these, the fossil record is completely SILENT.... as Darwin, himself, lamented in the Origin. His explanation was that the fossil record was then incomplete but, after many years of additional discoveries, would eventually confirm his theory.
However, when we first observe a fossil in the fossil record, it appears suddenly, and fully formed, with NO evolutionary predecessor. It then remains in essentially the same anatomical form for as many as 10 million years (e.g. T-Rex) or even 100 million years (e.g. lungfish) without ANY noticeable anatomical change... a tendency paleontologists call "stasis".
Unfortunately, from the perspective of historians of science, the so-called "theory" of evolution was not fully vetted before being swallowed by an unwitting public.
Nathan S., United States, 20 April 2014
It's clear from the evidence and letters that evolutionists, no longer having the illusion of evidence, must resort to scorn and vindictiveness to protect their position. Although there are powerful motives to maintain faith, in their hearts they have to know that they hope in a fraud. And that sometime the voices saying "the emperor has no clothes" will be heard and the world realize that it is true.
Daren H., Singapore, 21 April 2014
To the two Johns that seem to have issue with me,
Actually, jellyfish fossilise in a remarkably different manner. They leave only trace "imprints" behind, with tiny degree of permineralization. Chances of them fossilizing are VERY rare though, much more so than vertebrate bone, so why would we expect flippers in these finds? Call me an "arrogant evolutionist" or whatever, I dont care.
As for John W, its pointless to argue, because no matter the evidence presented, the knee-jerk reaction is for you to reject it, because to you, no macro-evolution can occur, while I do my best to keep an open mind. I came to the conclusion that the whale evolution question is logically sound by looking at more intermediates (dorudon atrox and basiliorus) and the assigned dates, as well as viewing the original fossils of some of them. Like I said, its not 100% certain that they are in fact intermediates since we werent there to see them evolve, but the evidence is aplenty. Also, I really dislike the title "whale evolution fraud" because its just wrong to sit around calling them fraudsters, malicious liars while they worked hard to bring us these amazing finds, transitional form or not. Whale evolution in question is a much more suitable title.
Dr Batten, again sorry for whatever hullabaloo inadvertently stirred up.
Don Batten responds
The original point about the flippers was that they were drawn on the original Rodhocetus reconstruction but there was no evidence for them (no fossil evidence). That is, there were no fossilized bones showing that it had flippers; nothing, zip, zilch.
As a matter of interest, jellyfish sometimes leave more than just body impressions (remarkable as they are for an evolutionary approach to geology); see Exceptionally preserved jellyfishes.
The article is about the three key fossils that are claimed to link whales to land animals. Without them the story collapses. Basilosaurus is clearly a toothed whale, and Durodon is a basilosaurid too, so it also provides no link to land animals.
Regarding the 'assigned dates', there is plenty of justification for being highly skeptical of such 'dates'; see, for example, The pigs took it all. However, by the evolutionists' own dates the whale evolution story is in trouble because of the dating of a true whale before any of the supposed transitional forms. See the comment by Brian J., 18 April, above.
Regarding the title; I agonized over that and originally had 'Whale evolution in question'. However, 'fraud' is certainly justified for those who continue to use this material as evidence for whale evolution, especially museums and textbooks that use the now superceded reconstructions. From experience, I expect that we will continue to see these false reconstructions used for many years to come and that is certainly fraudulent.
I hope you keep an open mind about the evidence for evolution, because if you do, I am confident you will come to reject it, like I did.
And thanks for the 'hullabaloo'; it encourages critical thinking, which is good.
Joe M., Australia, 21 April 2014
The evolution of the whale is known from multiple fossils. It has in no way been debunked as described here. However, if such evidence DID become available, scientists would publish it. Challenging each other is what we do. We try to shoot down paradigms all day long. That's how Nobel Prizes are won. I caution my fellow Christians that all of the statements here can be debunked, and that nothing in evolution poses a danger to Christianity. To Biblical Literalism, sure, but not to mature faith.
Don Batten responds
"The evolution of the whale is known from multiple fossils." The three key ones that link whales to land animals are here shown to be duds. And this was from the 'experts' themselves. Did you actually read the article and the linked material?
As far as I know there has never been a Nobel Prize for paleontology, and with good reason, as it is not a science that provides anything that advances knowledge in any way that benefits mankind, unlike experimental biology, chemistry or physics.
"Challenging each other is what we do." "We"? With such a naive view of the self-correcting nature of paleontology, you don't sound like a trained scientist, especially one with a research doctorate. As historical science, paleontology is not generally open to the objective testing of operational science (where Nobel prizes for science are awarded) and is very prone to fanciful story telling; see what a former president of Harvard said about the historical sciences.
".. all of the statements here can be debunked". You could have debunked at least one, rather than resorting to logical fallacies.
"... nothing in evolution poses a danger to Christianity." Really? Why is it then that all the 'new atheists' push evolution so hard?
"To Biblical Literalism, sure, but not to mature faith." Our approach to the Bible is not literalism; see Should Genesis be taken literally?
Since you have such a mature faith, maybe you would like to answer these questions? If you think about it, evolution, with its hundreds of millions of years of death and suffering before Adam sinned, undermines everything that the Bible teaches that relates to salvation in Jesus Christ. See Did God create over billions of years?