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Re: Fossil Finds Show Whales Related to Early Pigs, etc

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  • Stephen E. Jones
    Group Here are excerpts from recent webbed scientific news articles. My comments are in square brackets. This post is dominated by the claimed discovery of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 23 6:10 AM
      Group

      Here are excerpts from recent webbed scientific news articles. My
      comments are in square brackets.

      This post is dominated by the claimed discovery of more whale
      ancestor fossils in Pakistan. I have tried to reduce duplication in these
      different accounts as much as possible. To make it easier to read, I
      have separated each of these whale articles and my comments on
      them.

      My last such excerpts post is at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign/message/1258

      Steve

      ==================================================================
      http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010919/sc/science_whales_dc_1.html
      Yahoo! ... September 19 ... Fossil Finds Show Whales Related to Early
      Pigs ... LONDON (Reuters) - Fossils recently unearthed in Pakistan show
      that whales evolved from land animals related to sheep and pigs, and that
      hippos could be their closest living kin, scientists said .... How whales
      evolved and who their ancestors were has been hotly debated for decades.
      Scientists knew they were related to land mammals but they have been
      divided on which ones because fossil evidence of the whale's 10-million-
      year transition from land to water has been sketchy. But paleontologists
      have discovered 50-million-year-old fossils of early whales that lived on
      land, and ankle and skull bones from primitive aquatic whales that fill in the
      gaps. "With these new discoveries the whale fossil record is now so
      complete," Hans Thewissen ... said. "It shows us so well how whales
      became aquatic that it is probably the best, or one of the best, examples of
      evolution where these major changes are documented with fossils," ....
      Thewissen and his colleagues uncovered fossils of a fox-size mammal
      called Ichthyolestes, and Pakicetus which resembled a wolf .... The ankle
      bones are seen only in a group of animals known as artiodactyls such as
      cows, pigs and hippos. But the heads of the creatures have whale-like
      features. "They are whales that were still living on land. Their relatives are
      a group of even-toed ungulates," ... another term for artiodactyls. ... ..
      Philip Gingerich ... described a skeleton of a later aquatic whale that
      included both ankle and skull bones that he and his colleagues discovered
      in a different part of Pakistan. The ankle bone was also of an artiodactyl.
      "Now I even admit the possibility that hippos are a side line of artiodactyls
      that might be closer to the whales than any other living animals," Gingerich
      said ... Until now paleontologists thought whales had evolved from
      mesonychians, an extinct group of land-dwelling carnivores, while
      molecular scientists studying DNA were convinced they descended from
      artiodactyls. "The paleontologists, and I am one of them, were wrong,"
      Gingerich said. Christian de Muizon ... described the discovery of the land
      whales as one of the most important events in the past century of
      vertebrate paleontology. "The newly discovered fossils show the first
      whales were fully terrestrial, and were even efficient runners," he said ...

      http://www.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/09/19/whales.relatives.ap/index.html
      ... CNN ... Whales kin to cows, hippos, fossils show September 19, 2001 ...
      Researchers now think whales are related to hippos and cows, not
      carnivores (AP) -- New fossil discoveries add weight to the conclusion that
      whales are related to land-based plant-eaters such as cows and
      hippopotamuses rather than to an extinct group of carnivores .... Scientists
      have known that whales evolved from four-legged land animals million of
      years ago. However, which branch of the animal kingdom whales split from
      has been a matter of debate. Immunological tests in the 1950s and recent
      DNA tests have shown a relationship to plant-eating artiodactyls -- hoofed
      mammals having an even number of toes, such as pigs, cows and
      hippopotamuses. Earlier, those test findings had not been supported by
      fossil evidence, which pointed more to a link to carnivores. Now, authors
      of two new studies say their fossil finds, in separate areas of Pakistan, have
      convinced them that the tests are correct. "With this find, it's clear that I
      and all my colleague were barking up the wrong tree," said Hans
      Thewissen ... [He] compiled the skeletons from bones found in a bed of
      fossils in ... northeast Pakistan. Philip Gingerich ... said his group found
      two skeletons of two other separate species, about 47 million years old, in
      ... southwest Pakistan. One skeleton was almost complete, he said. "Our
      molecular colleagues might be right that hippos are related," .... The key
      factor in both papers is that the fossil animals' ear cavities have specific
      formations that link them to whales, while they also have legs and a
      distinctive ankle structure similar to other artiodactyls. Despite the DNA
      and immunological evidence, some researchers had believed whales are
      related to extinct carnivores called Mesonychians, which had teeth suited
      for eating fish. "I have to say when I look at this new evidence, I was
      initially reluctant to believe it, but I have convinced myself," said Kenneth
      D. Rose .... With whales' ancestry being linked to plant-eaters, the mystery
      that remains is the evolution of modern whales' eating habits. Toothed
      whales such as killer whales eat fish and other marine mammals, while
      others use a mouth structure called baleen to filter tiny plankton from the
      water. Gingerich noted that he has read descriptions of modern hippos
      killing and eating gazelles that stray too close to them at watering holes.
      "We may have slightly exaggerated the plant-eating characteristics of
      artiodactyls, though they are certainly predominantly plant eating," ...

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1553000/1553008.stm ...
      BBC ... 19 September, 2001 ... When whales walked the land The ancestor
      of the whale? ... Fossils of the early land-based ancestors of whales have
      been unearthed in Pakistan. The 50 million-year-old bones represent a
      "missing link" between primitive hoofed mammals and the whale family.
      The remains fill in some of the gaps in the fossil record between four-
      legged mammals and modern whales. The predators were about the size of
      a wolf and were well adapted to running. They belong to a group called
      pakicetids. The animals had distinctive ankle bones like those of cloven-
      hoofed mammals. They also had bones in their ears that are unique to the
      whale family. Scientists believe the creatures developed a taste for fish,
      learned to swim and eventually took to the water altogether. Over the
      course of time, their descendants lost their limbs and became fully adapted
      to a marine environment. ... The bones were unearthed last October ...
      Hans Thewissen ... [said]: "The body looks basically like a large dog. The
      head has all the features of a whale in the teeth and the ear. "It's different
      from most land mammals in that the eyes are very close set, the snout is
      very long and the tail is very muscular and long." ... Scientists have long
      known that whales, dolphins and porpoises - the cetaceans - are descended
      from land mammals with four limbs. But this is the first time fossils have
      been found with features of both whales and land mammals. The find could
      help resolve a long-standing debate over the evolutionary link between
      whales and hippos. ... It confirms genetic research placing whales' origin
      within the ungulate (hoofed animal) group. The whale's closest living
      relative may well be the hippopotamus. ... Christian de Muizon ...said the
      new fossils superbly document the link between modern whales and their
      land-based forebears. "The first whale was not swimming but walking on
      land," .... "You can imagine this animal living close to the mouth of a river.
      Little- by-little it shifted to an aquatic carnivorous diet. "It became more
      and more adapted to water. After a few million years, it became better
      adapted to an aquatic environment becoming an amphibious animal like a
      sea lion." ... See also: 31 Aug 99 ... Hippo is whale's cousin
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_434000/434566.stm ...

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,554701,00.html The
      Guardian ... Whales' ancestor was a wolf in hippo's clothing ... September
      20, 2001 ... It ran like a wolf. It waded like a hippopotamus. It put its ear
      to the ground to hear distant rumbles. It had the ankles of a cow. But
      above all, it had the ear bones of a whale. In a find that matches the
      discovery of archaeopteryx - one of the great missing links of evolution
      researchers in Pakistan have unearthed many of the bones of the 50m-year-
      old Pakicetus attocki, a land-dwelling, estuary-wading, meat-eating
      ancestor of the whale. And in a second dramatic find, a team sifting
      elsewhere in Pakistan has identified a 47m-year-old walking whale ancestor
      called Rhodocetus balochistanensis which had already evolved into
      something more aquatic. It was about the weight of a bull seal, with
      webbed feet, and once again it had the ankle bones of an ungulate. Whales,
      dolphins and porpoises breathe air, deliver live young and suckle them.
      They clearly evolved on land like all other mammals, and then, over a few
      more million years, returned to the sea. For decades, the puzzle has been
      over what kind of animals first went back to the water. In 1994, fossil
      hunters in Pakistan found evidence of a whale-like creature called
      Ambulocetus that had hands and feet. There were also tantalising
      fragments of an animal they named Pakicetus. Two years later, they
      confirmed that these creatures were estuary animals, splashing about in
      fresh water. But their lineage remained a puzzle. ... Hans Thewissen ...
      gives the answer. In 1992 he began sorting hundreds of fossil bones, skulls
      and teeth preserved in a wall of dried mud about 100ft ... long, and four
      feet ... high, in ... ancient bed of a river that flowed into the open ocean.
      From this assortment, he finally identified two new mammals that could be
      closely related to whales. One, Ichthyolestes pinfoldi, was the size of a fox.
      The other, Pakicetus, was as big as a wolf. Both had long legs and ankles
      of even-toed ungulated animals such as cows, sheep, camels - and hippos.
      And both have the ear bones of the cetaceans. Both must have splashed
      into the water to forage for food. "The site is an ephemeral river channel in
      a dry climate too shallow for pakicetids to swim. I think they may have
      waded, and yes, I do think they heard by pushing their ears to the ground,"
      Dr Thewissen said. And ... Phil Gingerich ... reports on the discovery of a
      new fossil whale called Artiocetus clavis - and the identification of an ankle
      bone that points to the same ancestral link with camels, deer, cows, sheep,
      pigs and hippos. It belonged to a second new species called Rhodocetus
      that lived in the same region 47m years ago. It probably had webbed hands
      and feet, and its tail would have helped propel it through the water. "It is
      clear that these animals could hitch their way out of water and back in like
      sea lions do today, but they were more aquatic than I realised," ...

      http://www.nationalpost.com/tech/discovery/story.html?f=/stories/200 10920/697089.html
      National Post ... September 20, 2001 ... Finding sheep in whales' clothing
      ... fossil finds in Pakistan ... are being reported in both Science and Nature
      magazines. Meet Rodhocetus, a whale with a head that looks like a
      porpoise, webbed hind limbs that resemble duck's feet and ankles that
      would be at home on a hippo. The fossilized creature ... dates back 47
      million years to the time when evolution took a sharp turn and land-based
      mammals headed back to the sea. Paleontologists say it proves whales are
      close kin to sheep, deer and hippopotamuses. ... "We have found the head
      of a whale and the ankle of a cloven-hoofed ungulate [such as sheep, cows,
      pigs, camels, deer and hippos] in the same skeleton," says Philip Gingerich
      ... who led the team that uncovered Rodhocetus and another related whale
      ancestor that paddled ancient seas. The creatures ... described ... in the
      journal Science, represent an important missing link between today's giant
      whales and their ancient, land-based forebears. ... The second report,
      published in Nature ... describes an even more distant relative of modern
      whales: walking whales, known as pakicetids. These fossilized mammals,
      also found in Pakistan, lived about 50 million years ago and were the size
      of foxes and wolves. They had long, spindly legs and distinct ankle bones.
      But what really sets them apart are the bones in their ears, which are
      unique to cetaceans such as porpoises, dolphins and whales. "Although
      pakicetids were land mammals, it is clear that they are related to whales
      and dolphins based on a number of specializations of the ear, relating to
      hearing," says Hans Thewissen ... "The new fossils superbly document the
      link between modern whales and their land-based forebears and should take
      their place among other famous intermediates such as the most primitive
      bird, Archaeopteryx, and the early Hominid Australopithecus," ... Christian
      de Muizon ... writes ... Others are not so sure Prof. Thewissen's walking
      whales deserve that honour just yet. They point out that his team has not
      found complete skeletons of the creatures they describe. Rather, they
      pieced them together from fossils dug out of a bone bed containing the
      remains of hundreds of different animals, using sophisticated carbon
      isotope techniques that indicate which bones belong together. Though
      Prof. Thewissen says he is confident the skeletons have been properly
      reconstructed, Prof. Gingerich remains to be convinced. "I'm sure some of
      what he's describing really does belong to the skeleton of these animals, but
      without finding the bones together it is very difficult to know," he says. He
      is also miffed by the way the editors of Nature raced Prof. Thewissen's
      report into print, without time for proper peer review, presumably so they
      would not be scooped by the report in Science. Prof. Thewissen, who
      studied under Prof. Gingerich, submitted his paper on Aug. 10 after
      reading a draft of the Gingerich report, submitted to Science on June 28. ...
      "I think the reports are tremendously important for several reasons," Prof.
      Thewissen says. The fossil evidence should put an end to doubts, which
      have been expressed by creationists, that whales evolved from land-based
      animals, he says. "We've now got the links in the chain." Scientists have
      been puzzling over the giant sea creatures for decades, poring over fossils
      found in Africa and Pakistan that date back to when whales first evolved.
      "They are aliens on earth, they are so different," says Prof. Gingerich, who
      has been studying whale ancestry since 1975. "Understanding and
      explaining how, when and why they went [into the sea] says so much about
      the evolutionary process." .... The first mammals appeared about 200
      million years ago and continued to evolve on land for 145 million years.
      "Then, about 55 million years ago, some of them put their toes in the water
      and liked the fish," .... Over the next 2 million to 10 million years, some of
      the creatures grew so skilled at chasing and catching fish they no longer
      needed to spend time on dry land. Nor did they need their long legs, which
      gradually evolved into flippers. Rodhocetus is a clear case of an animal in
      transition. Though it had legs, Prof. Gingerich says the animal could hardly
      get out of the water, what with webbed hind feet that propelled them
      through the water along with their powerful tails. They probably only
      returned to land to rest, breed and give birth, he says. Rodhocetus
      eventually gave rise to the fish-eating and baleen whales on the planet
      today. This migration back to the sea may seem like "backwards
      evolution," Prof. Gingerich says, but it reveals much about the forces
      driving biological change. "Evolution doesn't have a direction, it's not
      going anywhere," he says. "Rather, it takes advantage of opportunities.
      And when the opportunity is in the sea, back we go." ...

      [See originals in NATURE (http://www.nature.com/nature/links/010920/010920-1.html)
      and SCIENCE http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/293/5538/2216.
      First, I have no problem with this if it turns out to be true. My Progressive
      Mediate Creation (PMC) model holds that whales were created by
      modification of a prepared ancestral land mammal. The only questions for
      me are: 1) *is* it true? 2) *how* did it happen? and 3) *why* did it happen?
      The hype of this: "find that matches the discovery of
      archaeopteryx" only underlines how few "of the great missing links of
      evolution" have been found. Ichthyolestes and Pakicetus are not new. Gish
      commented on "Ichthyolestes ... being found in the same formation with
      Pakicetus" in *1983*! (Gish D.T., "Creating a Missing Link: A Tale About
      a Whale," Impact 123, September 1983. http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp123.htm).
      It is also not new that modern whales are thought to be most closely
      related to ungulates like hippos (see Normile D., "New Views of the
      Origins of Mammals," Science, Vol. 281, 7 August 1998, pp.774-775). I
      also well remember evolutionists on the Calvin Reflector being *very*
      confident that mesonychids were *definitely* ancestral to whales. The
      heads of mesonychids were claimed to have whale-like features too. It is
      interesting how "fossil evidence ... is admitted" to be "sketchy" when they
      think they have a new fossil to slot in! "The recency of these "50-million-
      year-old fossils" may be a problem because that might not leave enough
      time for RM&NS to work? Also, if these were "whales that lived on land"
      then it sounds like another case of *pre*-adaptation, i.e. a far-sighted
      `construction project'! I also wonder how much fossil material they found.
      While "[o]ne skeleton" was said to be "almost complete" another seems to
      be "ankle and skull bones" with nothing in between that was "compiled ...
      from bones found in a" "wall of dried mud about 100ft .. long, and four feet
      ... high". So the latter may have come from several different and even
      unrelated species? Indeed, Gingerich himself doubts Thewissen's finds!
      Another problem is that "fully terrestrial", "efficient runners" and
      "plant-eaters", sound about as un-Darwinian as one could get for a
      future whale: "The first whale was not swimming" as Darwinists
      expected "but walking on land"! The "evolution of modern whales'
      eating habits" is not the only "mystery that remains". Why would (and
      how could) a "fully terrestrial ... plant-eater" have "developed a taste
      for fish, learned to swim and eventually took to the water altogether"
      and then "their descendants lost their limbs and became fully adapted to
      a marine environment" - all within 10 million years or less (see tagline)
      because "Rodhocetus (mid-Eocene, 46 Ma)" already was a "whale"
      with "a powerful tail" (Hunt K., "Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ,
      Part 2B," March 17, 1997. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faqtransitional/part2b.html).
      Thewissen's "I and all my colleague were barking up the wrong tree",
      Rose's "I was initially reluctant to believe it, but I have convinced
      myself" and Gingerich's "modern hippos killing and eating gazelles"
      suggests that caution is in order! An interesting point here with wide-
      ranging implications, especially for the `feathered' dinosaur debate is
      this represents a triumph of molecular phylogeny over cladistics. I like
      de Muizon's `just-so' story: "You can imagine this animal living close
      to the mouth of a river. Little- by-little it shifted to an aquatic
      carnivorous diet. It became more and more adapted to water. After a
      few million years, it became better adapted to an aquatic environment
      becoming an amphibious animal like a sea lion."] " suggests that
      caution is in order! An interesting point here with wide-ranging
      implications, especially for the `feathered' dinosaur debate is this
      represents a triumph of molecular phylogeny over cladistics. I like de
      Muizon's `just-do' story: "You can imagine this animal living close to
      the mouth of a river. Little- by-little it shifted to an aquatic carnivorous
      diet. It became more and more adapted to water. After a few million
      years, it became better adapted to an aquatic environment becoming an
      amphibious animal like a sea lion"! I agree with Gingerich's "Evolution
      doesn't have a direction, it's not going anywhere"! :-)]

      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14581 October 4, 2001 Saving Us from Darwin By
      Frederick C. Crews ...
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0830822674
      The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism by Phillip E.
      Johnson InterVarsity Press, 192 pp., $17.99
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0895262762
      Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach
      About Evolution Is Wrong by Jonathan Wells Regnery, 338 pp., $27.95
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0684834936
      Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael
      J. Behe Touchstone, 307 pp., $13.00 (paper)
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0830815155
      Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design edited by William A.
      Dembski InterVarsity Press, 475 pp., $24.99 (paper)
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0830815813
      Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology by William
      A. Dembski InterVarsity Press, 312 pp., $21.99
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0262661659
      Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism by Robert T.
      Pennock Bradford/MIT Press, 429 pp., $18.95 (paper)
      http://barnesandnoble.bfast.com/booklink/click?sourceid=119949&ISBN=0060930497
      Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between
      God and Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller Cliff Street
      Books/HarperCollins,338 pp., $14.00 (paper) ...
      1. It is no secret that science and religion, once allied in homage to divinely
      crafted harmonies, have long been growing apart. ... The undignified
      emergence of humanity from primordial ooze and from a line of apes could
      hardly be reconciled with the unique creation of man, a fall from grace, and
      redemption by a person of the godhead dispatched to Earth for that end. If
      Darwin was right, revealed truth of every kind must be unsanctioned.
      "With me the horrid doubt always arises," he confessed in a letter,
      "whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from
      the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would
      any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind...?" ... It is this march
      toward successfully explaining the higher by the lower that renders
      Darwinian science a threat to theological dogma of all but the blandest
      kind. ... But the ludicrous spectacle of young-Earth creation science masks
      the actual strength of creationism in less doctrinaire guises. According to a
      recent poll, only 44 percent of our fellow citizens agree with the
      proposition "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from
      earlier species of animals." .... If creationism were to shed its Dogpatch
      image and take a subtler tack, laying its emphasis not on the deity's
      purposes and blueprints but simply on the unlikelihood that natural
      selection alone could have generated life in its present ingenious variety, it
      could multiply its influence many fold. ... Precisely such a makeover has
      been in the works since 1990 or so. The new catchword is "intelligent
      design" (ID), whose chief propagators are Phillip E. Johnson, Michael J.
      Behe, Michael Denton, William A. Dembski, Jonathan Wells, Nancy
      Pearcey, and Stephen C. Meyer. Armed with Ph.D.'s in assorted fields,
      attuned to every quarrel within the Darwinian establishment, and pooling
      their efforts through the coordination of a well-funded organization,
      Seattle's Discovery Institute, these are shrewd and media-savvy people.
      They are very busy turning out popular books, holding press conferences
      and briefings, working the Internet, wooing legislators, lecturing on secular
      as well as religious campuses, and even, in one instance, securing an on-
      campus institute all to themselves. ... As we will see in a second essay,
      intelligent design is thriving not just among programmatic creationists but
      also in cultural circles where illogic and self-indulgence are usually
      condemned. And even stronger evidence that the Darwinian revolution
      remains incomplete can be found within the evolutionary establishment
      itself, where Darwin's vision is often prettified to make it safe for doctrines
      that he himself was sadly compelled to leave behind. ... [The NYRB
      belatedly discovers ID, when it cannot be ignored any longer! Crews is an
      English professor at Berkeley-so much for the `Johnson is only a lawyer so
      he can't understand evolutionary science' furphy. OTOH, if "a person of the
      godhead" *was* "dispatched to Earth for that end" then *Darwinism*
      "could hardly be reconciled with" that! So much for the usual tripe that
      Darwinism says nothing about God. If Darwin could not "trust in the
      convictions of a monkey's mind" then how would he even know that his
      theory was right? It never seems to dawn on Darwinists that their
      materialist system refutes itself at the very outset! I like the bit about
      "Darwinian science [is] a threat to theological dogma of all but the blandest
      kind"!]

      http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010907/sc/science_mars_hungary_dc_2.html
      Yahoo! ... September 7 ... Hungarians Say They Found Traces of Life on
      Mars ... BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian scientists claimed on Friday to
      have found evidence of living organisms on Mars after analyzing 60,000
      photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor probe. The three-man
      team said the pictures showed evidence of thousands of dark dune spots,
      similar to organisms found near Earth's South Pole, in craters in Mars'
      snowy southern polar region. "These spots indicate that on the surface
      below the ice there are such organisms which, absorbing solar energy, are
      able to melt the ice and create conditions of life for themselves," ...Tibor
      Ganti [said]. During harsh Martian winters, when temperatures plummet
      to minus 328 Fahrenheit, these so-called Mars Surface Organisms are
      protected by a thick blanket of ice which then melts as the planet's early
      summer temperatures climb to just above zero. Large gray dark dune spots
      -- with a diameter ranging from 30 feet to several hundred yards -- are left
      behind. These, the Hungarians claim, are dried-out organisms which can
      reactivate themselves once the colder, icy season sets in again. "The same
      mechanisms can be found on Earth in ice covering lakes at the South Pole.
      The question is whether harsh Martian conditions allow this mechanism to
      work there as well," .... "We make proposals (to the ESA [European Space
      Agency]) on where and what sort of measurements should be made and
      when, how and what should be photographed," ..., adding that no final
      ESA decision had been taken yet on Hungarian participation in the next
      probe. ... if the Hungarian team, also involving ... Eors Szathmary ... was
      right, this could be the first real proof of life on Mars. ...
      http://www.cnn.com/2001/TECH/space/09/07/mars.hungary.life/index.html
      ... CNN ... Fresh claims about life on Mars September 7, 2001 ... But a
      note posted on the Global Surveyor Web site in June, before the
      Hungarian findings were reported, cautions against jumping to
      conclusions about the spots. "Despite the "sensation" one gets when
      looking at pictures of spotted, defrosting martian dunes (i.e., the sensation
      that these images show some form of life, like vegetation, growing on
      Mars) these features are a normal, common manifestation of the
      springtime defrosting process on Mars," ....... [Szathmary's name gives
      some credibility to this, although I must say I am sceptical.]
      ==================================================================

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
      "Whales have diverged more than any other mammals from the basic
      pattern of the mammal class. How long they (or seals, dugongs,
      ichthyosaurus, birds, and bats) may have taken to develop from quadruped
      ancestors is not known, but their extraordinary specialization (like that of
      the bats) must have been complete in about 10 million years (Eldredge
      1989, 23). It could have been less because whales may have been around
      long before the first known bones show their presence. But 10 million years
      is less than a fifth of the time taken by Hyracotherium to become a not
      extremely different animal, the modern horse. During this period, whales,
      besides converting forelimbs to flippers and growing a long and powerful
      tail, moved the nostril to the top of the head, modified their respiratory
      system, and made other adaptations for feeding in the depths. They
      remarkably developed new organs, dorsal fins and flukes, from skin and
      connective tissue (Young 1981, 498). In addition, before losing the hind
      limbs necessary to clamber onto the shore, they had to become able to give
      birth in the water, a process that must have involved new instincts for both
      mother and calf, including suckling the calf by pumping milk into its mouth,
      having surrounded the nipple with a cap to keep out seawater. It is difficult
      to imagine how all of this could have come about without a remarkable
      series of highly coordinated changes." (Wesson R.G., "Beyond Natural
      Selection," [1991], MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1994, reprint, pp.51-52)
      Stephen E. Jones. sejones@.... http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones
      Moderator: CreationEvolutionDesign@yahoogroups.com
      Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign
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