Molecular Genetics of Whale Evolution

(T J Runyon) #24

It’s a terrible analogy. For arguments from analogy to be valid the two things you are comparing have to be similar in a relevant way, A car is nothing like biology

  1. as i said: its very problematic for a theory if we can consider any problematic fossil as “anomaly”. by this way any kind of fossil will not be a problem. even a human fossil with a dino.

  2. the analogy is good since in this case both are able to replicate with variation over time. so this is actually a “biological car”. and if such a car cant evolve stepwise what make you think that its possible with creatures?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #26

Why can’t this magical car evolve stepwise? Maybe it can.

Your arguments against evolution are not very convincing. At times they have been misinformed at best, or disingenuous at worst.

How about telling us more about yourself instead. Why do you think it’s important to argue against evolution? How do you think we all got here?

(T J Runyon) #27

No. Just no. No scientific theory has ever agreed with every empirical observation. That’s why you form auxiliary hypotheses. Which these scientists did. You then look for independent evidence for that aux hypothesis. Now if the theory is becoming too cozy with auxiliary hypotheses then you may have a problem. Evolutionary theory is no where near that point. Besides, according to the Duhem-Quine it’s impossible to test a hypothesis in isolation. You need auxiliary hypotheses.


for two reasons:

  1. a minimal car need at least several parts like wheels, engine and so on.
  2. many parts in the car are evidencne for design. for instance: a gps system is clearly evidence for design. so even if we will have a self replicating car and even if small steps exist it will not evolve a system like a gps by a natural a process (unless we accept theistic evolution).

im not against evolution. i just against the notion that evolution is the only scientific possibility out there. im basically an id supporter and i have no problem with an old earth for instance.

have a nice day.


ok. so if i understand you right then a single anomaly (like human with dino) will not be a problem with evolution. so what will be a problem for evolution then?

(T J Runyon) #30

youre not understanding me at all. Not even close actually. I’m going to enjoy my Sunday. May respond later. Best wishes

(George) #31


I’m new to the list, but have had lots of exchanges with @swamidass.

While I think it is natural to assume that all these changes leading to modern whales are “what we would expect” when a mammal moves from land to water for obtaining food, and then eventually for reproduction …
isn’t that a little optimistic?

We have walruses, seals, otters and all sorts of other marine mammals… and none of these other lineages “converge” on “being whales”.

If I were to wager (you know, $100 or a steak dinner…), I would wager that whales caught the crest of a wave of environmental changes and pressures… where each change nudged the proto-whale genome into position to exploit the next set of issues.

According to what I’ve read, the original ecological niche for the land-loving progenitor of the whale line moved more and more into the water to avoid predators and to eat up the huge populations of fish that were available now that the giant Dino-period marine reptiles were gone. The coastal waters are said to have been extensive and extensively shallow! It was implied that the land-lubber pre-proto-whale could wade for miles, eating fish wherever he turned…and heading back to hide in the foliage when the sun starting going down.

Things might not have gone as well if the “origination point” had been located right next to very deep waters.

If you don’t catch the crest of a wave, bringing you from one ecological opportunity to the next … maybe you end up looking like a walrus… flopping around on the beach with paws, instead of serenely plunging down into the depths … singing whale songs across the world’s oceans…

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #32

Well, eight million years is a very long period of time. Orders of magnitude longer than all recorded history. We do not expect to see jumps that large in human observable time frames, at least not in large mammals.

(George) #33


If you go to my recent post above, you will find my opinions regarding how important it is to have a favorable sequence of ecological pressures and opportunities to get speedy evolution:

One commonly offered objection is that if we have been working with fruit flies for what might be “millions of years in fruit fly years”, why don’t we have new species of fruit flies?

But it’s not just running thousands of generations that creates new species and new morphologies… it is running these generations under a sequence of environmental pressures …

Without changing the ecological factors affecting marginal survival and reproduction rates, I wouldn’t expect much change at all.

One of the reasons gators and crocs haven’t changed much since the time of the dinosaurs is because they may already be highly suited to the “swampy” environments we find them in. This shouldn’t be a surprise… because in a world where continental land is right in the middle of oceans … how would you eliminate the contact areas between land and water? It’s topographically unavoidable!!!

If there were some way that the natural geological forces of Earth could periodically life entire coastlines vertically … away from the water… I think we would find alligators and crocs would change pretty drastically… for a while anyway. The sub-population lifted up into mountainous terrain would have to make some pretty quick adjustments.

And the sub-population left in the ocean, next to giant “cliffs of Dover” would find that “easy pickings from the muddy edges” have completely disappeared. And they would have to start hunting fish and creatures in the open waters. Before you know it, we might have a crocodile that has massively increased in size and now hunts whales !

I hope I’m being clear enough with the imagery I’m trying to lay out.

(George) #34


The chart you have added your “red line” onto is a “cladogram” and is part of the special discipline of “cladistics”:

“A cladogram is not, however, an evolutionary tree because it does not show how ancestors are related to descendants, nor does it show how much they have changed; many evolutionary trees can be inferred from a single cladogram. A cladogram uses lines that branch off in different directions ending at a clade, a group of organisms with a last common ancestor.”

A cladogram is used to show “intermediate” nested hierarchies… and there are many ways of building a cladogram - - depending on what you are trying to demonstrate.

One cladogram might have humans as the final branch… but another one might have humans in the middle and marine mammals in the final branch.

The fact that there are some species of whales that are already complete by the time other cladistic branches are identified doesn’t have much to do with proving or disproving evolution per se. It’s all about what the cladogram intends to demonstrate about certain nested hierarchies.

If my last paragraph makes no sense to you … it’s time to start reading those Wiki articles…

(Mark M Moore) #35

Yes sir, that is a very large amount of time. And there are very large differences between Desmans and Blue Whales. I am not saying that they should be able to have that much change in historical times, I am saying that if animals like that can change that much in 8 million years then we should have noticed them beginning the change from one form to another in historical times. Even moreso with animals which stay small, reproduce in large numbers, and have short times till fertility.

(Mark M Moore) #36

I think it is wildly optimistic. That’s my point. There are things we would “expect” to see if currently operating evolutionary processes were responsible for all the diversity of biota in earth’s history. Maybe the environmental pressures are not there for otters to whales, but there are always some such pressures on organisms leading to something. Maybe we would see other changes if there were other pressures. But if what is going on could really go from a desman like creature to a blue whale in eight million years then I would expect to see much larger changes since the dawn of human civilization to now.

My hypothesis is that if you put a single celled organism on a billion earth-like but otherwise sterile planets and currently known evolutionary processes acted on it for 600 billion years you would not have the vast array of constant diversity we see throughout earth’s history. You may never make it to anything past sponges. I realize that this hypothesis can’t be practically tested, nor can the assumption many here seem to be making that it would bloom forth into the kind of diversity we see on earth.

(George) #37


Yes… in fact, so much so that there are Creationist groups that now admit the inescapable logic that there are so many distinct species of land creatures in the modern world, that there had to be some sort of speciation and differentiation with Noah’s animals as soon as they were released from the ark and started radiating into many and diverse ecosystems and niches.

Revealed, do you hold to the idea that at least some of Noah’s animals radiated into new species?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #38

In terms of changes, that has been merely 10,000 years, and we do not expect much. However, we have seen very large changes. Most clearly in domesticated animals. For example look at dog and plant breeds. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, and more all come from the same plant that was selectively breeded.

In terms of intermediate forms that parallel whale evolution, there are several animals on the continuum. Sea lions, seals, walruses, hippos, beavers, otters…they all have features that make them look like they are half way between a land animal and eventually becoming something like a whale (if it wasn’t that whales were already occupying that niche). The have several parts the intermediate features that are supposedly required to evolve in one fell swoop. For example, Hippos have internal testes, but seals have semi-external testes with no scrotum. If whales were to all die off, and there a large number of sea niches available, who knows, maybe in 4 million years there would be seal-like whales in the ocean.

Also, it is important to keep in perspective what we mean by “whales” appeared in just 8 million years. Those whales were very different than the whales we see today. There were no blue whales, for example, because baleen had not appeared yet. It is not as if these early whales were the same as whales we see today. I am pretty sure that some of them, for example, had external legs still.

Moreover, the starting point was not a prototypical land animal (e.g. a dog), but something closer to a carnivorous hippo, that had a very whale like head. So it is not as far of a leap as you are envisioning. A better analogy would be, as I put forward a moment ago, a seal evolving into a more aquatic form.

(Mark M Moore) #39

I accept plant evolution. They have an extra mech animals don’t have _ I think it was that they can dupe all their chromosomes and still get something that works. It has been a while since I study the details but I decided long ago that they demonstrated evolution a lot better than fruit flies or even one-celled organisms. We may also note that the text of Genesis one leaves things more open to plant evolution. God spoke and the earth brought them forth without any further action required. This was not the case with animals either of sea or land. Nor did a command go forth to cease doing so.

As regards to dog breeds, domestication is a much more focused “shaper” than nature. And we learn that there are limits to how far we can take dogs from the mean. Purebreds are less healthy than mutts. We have stretched the dog kind to the limit but the differences between any two dogs are far less than that between Pakicetus and Ambulocetus. Did you notice that Ambulocetus shows up right after Pakicetus on that chart? Was is there like 200,000 years between them? So have we seen 1/20th of that change in an animal line since the ice age ended? The jury is still out because of the time scale, but so far I’d say “no”.

I think that is just two different ways to solve the same problem.

They should already have gotten started then. I believe certain whale populations collapsed when humans found out their oil was good for lamps. I don’t think they have recovered yet because the same characteristics which should make them super slow at whatever evolution is possible also keep them from bouncing back quickly.

If you are speaking of basilosaurids, I think it makes things harder for you because the true whales came along and out-competed those things- they were some whaleish critters around that are thought to be a “side-branch” and not the actual ancestors of whales.

(Mark M Moore) #40

I suppose it could have happened via subtraction of information but there were not very many kinds of animals on the ark. Evangelicals are not looking closely at the Hebrew text and don’t appear to have much interest in knowing what it actually says because believing in a global flood that wiped out all other humans and animals is all about evangelical “virtue signalling” and not about defending, or even knowing, what is in the actual text of scripture.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #41

3 posts were split to a new topic: What about the Flood?

(George) #42


Without a fortuitous sequence of changes in environmental factors … evolution doesn’t do much. How long will you wait for crocodiles to change into something that they don’t need to change into?


true. but take a look at the blue line. as far as i aware this is the fossil record of each group. and as you can see it doesnt fit well with the suppose evolutionery hierarchy:

i also gave an example of a self replicating material evolving into a car. do you think its possible by small steps to evolve a car from a self replicating matter? we know its impossible so what make you think its possible with evolution?