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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More about the Tiktaalik controversy


The axolotl [1] [2], a Mexican species that is critically endangered in the wild, bears a strong resemblance to Tiktaalik. The axolotl, classified as a salamander, develops lungs but retains gills and remains aquatic into adulthood and has digits on its limbs. Picture is from Wikipedia.

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This is a continuation of the article: A fish story: Your Fishy Inner Fish. Casey Luskin wrote,

. . . .the paper’s lead author, Catherine A. Boisvert, boasted in an interview with The Scientist that "it is now completely proven that fingers have evolved from distal radials already present in fish that gave rise to the tetrapod." Boisvert also praised her findings, stating: "The disposition of distal radials in Panderichthys are much more tetrapod-like than in Tiktaalik."

Confident that her fossil showed evolution better than Tiktaalik, Boisvert and other Darwinists then proceeded to admit striking criticisms of Tiktaalik: The interview with Boisvert at The Scientist states, "Previous data from another ancient fish called Tiktaalik showed distal radials as well -- although the quality of that specimen was poor. And the orientation of the radials did not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint, parallel to each other." (emphasis added by Luskin)

An interview of Boisvert on a blog named "A Free Man" said,
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AFM [A Free Man blog]: The creationist Discovery Institute has pounced on some of the statements in your paper regarding sample quality as evidence that scientists are trying to backpedal on previous hypotheses regarding digit development and evolution. Can you clarify your statements regarding sample quality of Tiktaalik and Panderichthys?

CB [Catherine Boisvert] : As you know, the “Discovery” Institute tactic is not to go to the primary literature in order to understand it but rather to use quotations from secondary, even tertiary sources, reorganise or use them out of context opportunistically to their own convenience. In this case, they used an article where the journalists unfortunately misunderstood me. Tiktaalik’s material is in fact exquisite, it is very well preserved, basically uncrushed and can be prepared out to be examined in three dimensions. I never said the quality was poor. I have simply explained that the morphology of the fin of Panderichthys is more tetrapod-like than that of Tiktaalik, which has nothing to do with the quality of the material.

But though Luskin did not cite the paper, he did use a primary source of sorts, the interview of Boisvert in The Scientist magazine. As noted above, Boisvert was quoted as saying, and I presume this is a verbatim quote,

"Previous data from another ancient fish called Tiktaalik showed distal radials as well -- although the quality of that specimen was poor. And the orientation of the radials did not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint, parallel to each other."

Luskin said,

Darwinists are now praising Panderichthys for having features that are "much more tetrapod-like than in Tiktaalik," and are retroactively confessing weaknesses in their precious Tiktaalik, which is now admitted to be a fossil with a "quality" that was "poor."

IMO Casey misinterpreted the statement "the quality of that specimen was poor" as meaning that Tiktaalik is (1) poor as a transitional form between fish and tetrapods and/or that (2) the overall state of preservation of Tiktaalik was poor. However, as I noted before, though the Tiktaalik fossil may be a poor example of tetrapod-like limb development, Tiktaalik has other features that may be considered transitional between fish and tetrapods -- e.g., a bendable neck, a rib cage, and a flattened snout. Also, as before, IMO Casey Luskin was correct in saying that the "digits" on Panderichthys look more like bone fragments than like digits.

Anyway, IMO Tiktaalik is a greatly overrated fossil -- IMO it is not that much different from both living and extinct species. The axolotl shown above bears a strong resemblance to Tiktaalik.

Also, Panda's Thumb has an article about the Boisvert interview on the A Free Man blog.
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2 Comments:

Blogger A Free Man said...

OK, first of all, thanks for the link.

Second, The Scientist is not a primary source for scientific data. The primary sources that Boisvert speaks of are scientific journals.

Third. Boisvert's first language is French and The Scientist interviewer misunderstood what she was trying to say, that's why I wanted to give her an opportunity to clarify.

The fact that the DI is spending so much time on minutiae is expected because the data itself completely debunks the mythology that they are trying to propagate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008 5:13:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

A Free Man:

I am surprised that you found out about this post -- I was going to post a comment on your blog along with a link to this post but I did not get around to it.

>>>>>> Second, The Scientist is not a primary source for scientific data. The primary sources that Boisvert speaks of are scientific journals. <<<<<<

As I said, The Scientist is a primary source in the sense that it had an interview of an author of the article in question. That is straight from the horse's mouth. You are really getting nitpicking in defining "primary source."

>>>>>> Third. Boisvert's first language is French and The Scientist interviewer misunderstood what she was trying to say, that's why I wanted to give her an opportunity to clarify. <<<<<<<

Her English seemed perfectly good when you interviewed her. Or did you translate what she said?

>>>>>> The fact that the DI is spending so much time on minutiae is expected because the data itself completely debunks the mythology that they are trying to propagate. <<<<<<<

I wouldn't call it minutiae -- the DI's Casey Luskin's observation that the bones at the end of the Panderichthys limb look more like bone fragments than like digital bones is important.

Monday, November 17, 2008 9:53:00 PM  

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