Saturday, March 9, 2013

Providing evidence for evolution | Skeptoid

Providing evidence for evolution

Last week I pointed out some common misconceptions about evolution and arguments that  are often used to support creationism. This week I would like to share some of what I feel to be the strongest evidences for evolution. I feel like too often in debates about evolution the focus seems to be on refuting creationism instead of correctly presenting evolution – and the science is really awesome. With the evidence I present here I seek to answer the following questions:
What is the fossil evidence for evolution?
What can we learn about evolution from living animals?
Does evolution present any testable predictions?
What is the fossil evidence for evolution?
One of the common arguments against evolution is “where are the transition fossils”. This is perhaps the weakest of all arguments against evolution. The transition fossils (or casts of the fossils) are available in every reliable natural history museum. Wikipedia has an extensive list of transition fossils. These fossils include the human evolution of Australopithecus to Homo Habilis to Homo Erectus to Homo Sapien. They include evolution of invertebrates to fish. They even include the evolution of insects.
The fossil evidence is extensive, and the argument that we don’t have fossil evidence is tired. Creationists quickly say things like “just show me the transition fossils” or “where is the missing link”, but we actually have quite a bit of fossil evidence. Just this last week Dr. Steven Novella wrote a great article on feathered dinosaurs – an excellent example of transition fossils.
Unfortunately, each time new evidence of this type is presented creationists treat the new fossil like the hydra from greek mythology – finding one transition fossil just creates two new transitions whose fossils haven’t been found yet.
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NeuroLogica Blog » Transition Denial and Feathered Dinosaurs

Transition Denial and Feathered Dinosaurs

Published by under Creationism/ID

There are a few areas of evolutionary biology that particularly fascinate me, partly because they represent such a dramatic example of large-scale (macro) evolutionary change. The evolution of whales from terrestrial mammals and of humans from ape ancestors are two of my favorites. But perhaps more dramatic still is the evolution of birds from theropod dinosaurs.
Each discovery of a feathered dinosaur or bird ancestor is a lance straight through the heart of creationist denial of evolution. I have to admit it’s fun to watch prominent creationists squirm when confronted with such clear evidence of transitional forms and evolutionary change – not that they flinch in their denial, but their protestations do become increasingly shrill and desperate.
Welcome Eosinopteryx brevipenna, the latest feathered dinosaur discovered in China. This little guy had feathers, although described as “reduced plumage”, stubby wings (and so was probably flightless), a bony tail, teeth, and clawed fingers. It also lacked many modern bird features, such as bony features that would have allowed for full flapping flight. Its feet were clearly adapted for running.
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

RDFRS: Human Evolution: Gain Came With Pain

Human Evolution: Gain Came With Pain

by Ann Gibbons posted on February 28, 2013 03:51PM GMT
Thanks to Nodhimmi for the link!

Humans are the most successful primates on the planet, but our bodies wouldn’t win many awards for good design. That was the consensus of a panel of anthropologists who described in often-painful (and sometimes personal) detail just how poor a job evolution has done sculpting the human form here Friday at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes ScienceNOW). Using props and examples from the fossil record, the scientists showed how the very adaptations that have made humans so successful—such as upright walking and our big, complex brains—have been the result of constant remodeling of an ancient ape body plan that was originally used for life in the trees. “This anatomy isn’t what you’d design from scratch," said anthropologist Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University. "Evolution works with duct tape and paper clips."
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