Would those who believe there are no "transitional fossils" clarify what they think one is? ?

I asked this the other day, but I get the feeling I asked at the wrong time, and didn't get any responses from people who actually make this assertion. So, I thought I'd try again...

"There are no transitional fossils" is something I've heard often asserted by those trying to refute the Theory of Evolution. Every time I hear it, I become curious about what's being referred to by the term "transitional fossil".

Does "transitional fossil" mean something that's chimp on the left side and human on the right? Evolution doesn't work that way. In fact, given how Evolution and natural selection do work, it would be positively stupefying to find a fossil like that.

Does "transitional fossil" mean a lifeform changing from one species to another? In that regard, all fossils are basically transitional fossils since they show the progression of how life evolved from the first forms into the forms they exist in now, and there are quite a few places-- for instance, in the evolution of man-- that we have enough of a fossil record to be able to point out where, how, and when the various features unique to humans changed to become so.

Does "transitional fossil" mean a fossil that's changing from one "kind" to another, like a reptile to a mammal, or a reptile to a bird? We have quite a few of those. They may not be called crocodogs or crocoducks, but we have fossil records of animals in intermediate stages from one type of lifeform to the other. For the reptile to mammal transition they're called Therapsids and Cynodonts. For reptiles to birds, there's the ever-famous Archaeopteryx.

Those are the only three alternatives I can think of off the top of my head for what "transitional fossil" could describe. From an evolutionary point of view, the first type shouldn't exist. The second and third types we have fossil record examples of.

So, when people say there are no "transitional fossils", to what are they referring?


Gordon... so they're looking for chimaera?

Why don't they just say "I don't believe in Evolution because Buckbeak doesn't exist"?

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think their problem is they can't see the forest for the trees. they demand extraordinary precision in placement of fossils on phylogenetic trees... they want to see "the" common ancestors, the individuals at the nodes of the trees. not its cousin, not its grandfather... and never mind if the trees fit all the data, there's something missing darn it! they fixate on there being something 'special' about the individuals at the nodes, and it arouses suspicion that they are hypothetical. for some reason the fact that no one has ever seen new species popping into existence out of nowhere, never arouses the same suspicions, though. well, that's assuming they even understand what they should be looking for in the first place. often they want to see a cat giving birth to a dog or something eqally stupid.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Every fossil is transitional: it represents an intermediate step between what a species was, and what it subsequently becomes. But anti-evolutionists seek fossils that show some, but not all, traits of the predecessor and successor species. But all fossils have such attributes, so the argument is a straw man.

    More generally, it is necessary to understand that genetic information is stored in digital rather than analog form. Which means that there is a minimum change which can arise from a one-bit change in the genetic code, but there is no maximum: a single base change can activate all or part of an intron, or de-activate part or all of an exon, causing a change which is arbitrarily large. And there are many other possible genetic changes other than single base substitution; look for references on human chromosome 2 for details of a well known one.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It does not matter what fossils you show, or how many. They can show a smooth transition from one species to another or any thing you like including the infamous crocoduck. The creationist leaders will look at them, then walk away and as soon as you are out of sight deny that the things exist. The leaders are nothing but liars and frauds, They are not amenable to reason or evidence because they are making money out of the creationist hoax.

    The followers may rant and rave on here and elsewhere but most of them are just more or less innocently wrong because they have been lied to all their lives.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, scientists in Europe are working on cloning a Wooly Mammoth from DNA, and it's been said that a Neanderthal man won't be far behind (they're going to have an ape be the mother, not a human, to avoid ethical concerns). A Neanderthal will be the "missing link" but of course christians will find some reason to doubt that, too. Strange how they pick science apart for any microscopic inconsistency but are perfectly willing to believe a virgin gave birth to someone who rose from the dead then the two of them flew off into space together. Then again, a Neanderthal would make a perfect Republican candidate so maybe we should clone one who can be born in the U.S.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Transitional fossils are the fossilized remains of transitional forms of life that tangibly and demonstrably encode an evolutionary transition. Thus, transitional fossils are characterized by their retention of primitive (plesiomorphic) traits in contrast with their more derived characteristics, as they are defined in the study of cladistics.

    Fossil transitions between species and genera:

    The fossil record shows transitions between species of Phacops (a trilobite; Phacops rana is the Pennsylvania state fossil; Eldredge 1972; 1974; Strapple 1978).

    The horns of titanotheres (extinct Cenozoic mammals) appear in progressively larger sizes, from nothing to prominence. Other head and neck features also evolved. These features are adaptations for head-on ramming analogous to sheep behavior (Stanley 1974).

    A gradual transitional fossil sequence connects the foraminifera Globigerinoides trilobus and Orbulina universa (Pearson et al. 1997). O. universa, the later fossil, features a spherical test surrounding a "Globigerinoides-like" shell, showing that a feature was added, not lost. The evidence is seen in all major tropical ocean basins. Several intermediate morphospecies connect the two species, as may be seen in the figure included in Lindsay (1997).

    Human ancestry. There are many fossils of human ancestors, and the differences between species are so gradual that it is not always clear where to draw the lines between them.

    Planktonic forminifera (Malmgren et al. 1984). This is an example of punctuated gradualism. A ten-million-year foraminifera fossil record shows long periods of stasis and other periods of relatively rapid but still gradual morphologic change.

    Fossils of the diatom Rhizosolenia are very common (they are mined as diatomaceous earth), and they show a continuous record of almost two million years which includes a record of a speciation event (Miller 1999, 44-45).

    Lake Turkana mollusc species (Lewin 1981).

    Cenozoic marine ostracodes (Cronin 1985).

    The Eocene primate genus Cantius (Gingerich 1976, 1980, 1983).

    Scallops of the genus Chesapecten show gradual change in one "ear" of their hinge over about 13 million years. The ribs also change (Pojeta and Springer 2001; Ward and Blackwelder 1975).

    Gryphaea (coiled oysters) become larger and broader but thinner and flatter during the Early Jurassic (Hallam 1968).

    The following are fossil transitionals between families, orders, and classes:

    Human ancestry. Australopithecus, though its leg and pelvis bones show it walked upright, had a bony ridge on the forearm, probably vestigial, indicative of knuckle walking (Richmond and Strait 2000).

    From dinosaur to bird

    Haasiophis terrasanctus is a primitive marine snake with well-developed hind limbs. Although other limbless snakes might be more ancestral, this fossil shows a relationship of snakes with limbed ancestors (Tchernov et al. 2000). Pachyrhachis is another snake with legs that is related to Haasiophis (Caldwell and Lee 1997).

    The jaws of mososaurs are also intermediate between snakes and lizards. Like the snake's stretchable jaws, they have highly flexible lower jaws, but unlike snakes, they do not have highly flexible upper jaws. Some other skull features of mososaurs are intermediate between snakes and primitive lizards (Caldwell and Lee 1997; Lee et al. 1999; Tchernov et al. 2000).

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They assume that between XXX and YYY there SHOULD be a series of XYX and XYYs to form a smooth transition over to the next species. Unfortunately, what these people fail to realize is that ALL living species are transitional to whatever evolution has in store for them next. This includes Homo Sapiens Sapiens

  • Tirant
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Creationists have no valid answer to your question.

    What they want is diminishing divisions- a half of a half of a half...

    Anyway- I live in Australia... We have a critter called a Platypus. It has the body of a beaver, bill of a duck, it is poisonous (well the males are anyway), it has the pouch of a marsupial and it lays eggs! - Not a fossil but pretty darn "transitional!"

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They want crocoducks.

    In other words, they want a hybrid between two modern animals, not an actual creature that existed in the past that has since evolved.

    edit: yeah pretty much

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They think that if you can't show an unbroken generation to generation lineage, that evolution is disproven.

  • 1 decade ago

    Type 2s, I would guess.

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