Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ambulocetus and A Whale of a Tale As Told by Creationists...

Jonathan Sarfati of Answers in Genesis, has written a critique of the PBS series on Evolution. In it, he has quite a bone to pick with the the famous "Ambulocetus" fossil. Ambulocetus is very important to evolutionists because it is an excellent transitional fossil between land mammal and whale. In his article, he writes:

"This was mentioned fairly briefly in this episode, but it features prominently in the anti-creationist book Finding Darwin’s God, by Kenneth Miller who starred in Episode 1 (see rebuttal). On p. 265, Miller claimed, ‘the animal could move easily both on land and in water’, and contained a drawing of a complete skeleton and a reconstructed animal. But this is misleading, bordering on deceitful, and indicative of Miller’s unreliability, because there was no indication of the fact that far fewer bones were actually found than appear in his diagram. Crucially, the all-important pelvic girdle was not found (see diagram, right). Without this, it’s presumptuous for Miller to make that proclamation. His fellow evolutionist Annalisa Berta pointed out:
‘ … since the pelvic girdle is not preserved, there is no direct evidence in Ambulocetus for a connection between the hind limbs and the axial skeleton. This hinders interpretations of locomotion in this animal, since many of the muscles that support and move the hindlimb originate on the pelvis.’ "

He also shows us the image to the left and tells us to "note the missing pelvic girdle":

The problem is, his claim that the pelvic girdle is missing isn't quite true. Here is a photograph of Ambulocetus' skeleton: Note the pelvic girdle.

"There is quite a bit more to that skeleton than what Sarfati would have us believe. What Sarfati did not mention or did not know (probably the later) is that the original specimen’s locality was not completely excavated due to safety concerns when the original paper1 of Ambulocetus by “Hans” Thewissen et. al. was published in 1994. In 1996 a great deal more of the skeleton was found. The bones found in 1996 include much of the spine and the pelvis.2 The web site for an exhibit of a reconstructed skeleton of this fossil notes that it is “missing only the tip of the snout, scapula, humerus, distal part of the tibia and some ankle bones.” In other words it is remarkably complete. (Keep in mind if one has the limb bone from left side, one knows what the equivalent limb bone on the right side looks like.) A technical description of these are in press as I write this sentence."
This is from:

I would like to thank the individual who wrote this article, and I give him full credit for inspiring me to write my version of the same topic. His website is great and definetly worth a visit.

Also, it is interesting to note the embryological evidence for the evolution of whales. As embryos, whales develop body hair which they later shed, and they also develop hind limb buds which they later reabsorb.

Anyhow, that wraps it up. Ambulocetus does indeed have a pelvis, it was amphibious, and the creationists are up the creek again.


Berlzebub said...

Some excellent work, AiGB. Looking forward to further posts.

AIGBusted said...

Thanks, I hope you will subscribe and continue giving the occasional feedback.

JanieBelle said...

Hey, nicely done.

"But this is misleading, bordering on deceitful, and indicative of Miller’s unreliability" is rather a hoot coming from Sarfati.

'bout like hearing Chuck Manson call someone crazy, I should think.


P.S. Found your joint via Berlzebub

QuestionMark said...


What is your opinion of this? Namely that the secondary discovery of post-cranial structure indicates a creature fully adapted for life on land.

I also wonder about the Pakicetus ears block later on the page.

AIGBusted said...

QuestionMark, Pakicetus was always known as primarily a land mammal who had some underwater adaptations (like the ear). It was just a land mammal that hunted in the water a lot and adapted for water. As for the ear claim, they are ignoring the vast amount of evidence for the evolution of ears and nitpicking one issue. I don't think it matters. Anyhow, here is something on the evolution of the semicircular canals:

And again on the evolution of underwater ears:

Anonymous said...

As a creationist, I dislike Answers in Genesis very much. Thanks for debunking one of their uninformed claims. You may not agree, but the grand theory of evolution only helps to strengthen my belief that God created the world. Ergo, I find it irksome when my fellow Christians try to disprove evolution, especially when they try to use Genesis. The purpose of the first chapter was not to tell us HOW there is life on earth, but WHY there is life on here. Thanks again.