No Transitional Species? Take a Look at This

One of the most common objections to the theory of evolution that we see repeated by creationists is that there are no transitional species, and therefore creationism must be true. This is rather laughable.

When they claim that there are no transitional fossils, we just link to Wikipedia’s List of transitional fossils. But sometimes they babble about the lack of living transitionals — and they always demand to be shown impossible creatures, like the Crocoduck.

A crocoduck, however, is an evolutionary impossibility. We touched on that in Where Are The Anachronistic Fossils?, where we said to the creationists:

Show us a creature that is impossible, considering what should have been its evolutionary ancestry. For example, the precursors of mammals and birds had already diverged from their common reptilian ancestor before the evolution of what we would recognize as mammals and birds. Because mammals and birds emerged from such well-separated lines of descent, there should be no mammals with feathered wings, at least not according to the theory of evolution. We want to see something that had to be specially created — perhaps a Pegasus — a species that can’t fit into the tree of life. In other words, if evolution theory is wrong and species exist that couldn’t possibly have evolved, then show us the evidence!

Got that? An impossible creature like a crocoduck isn’t something that evolutionists need to produce in order to validate their theory. Rather, it’s something that contradicts the theory, and it’s the creationists who should be looking for such things.

But what about genuine living transitionals? We’ve discussed this before. Every living species is probably a transitional species, unless it will go extinct. Its distant descendants, millions of generations from now, won’t be the same. The gene pool changes with every generation. But can obvious transitionals be identified? That’s difficult, looking at things from the viewpoint of just one generation. But sometimes we can see species that seem to be in transition.

Some obvious examples would be those that live (or at least have bodies that function) in two very different environments — like seals, flying squirrels, and walking catfish. They seem like good candidates, but we won’t know what their descendants will be like for a very long time.

Today we have another living transitional for you, which we found in an article from PhysOrg: Secrets of the legless, leaping land fish (w/ Video). They say, with some bold font added by us:

One of the world’s strangest animals – a legless, leaping fish that lives on land – uses camouflage to avoid attacks by predators such as birds, lizards and crabs, new research shows.

UNSW [University of New South Wales] researchers, Dr Terry Ord and Courtney Morgans, of the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, studied the unique fish – Pacific leaping blennies – in their natural habitat on the tropical island of Guam.

Wikipedia has a brief article on them — Leaping blenny (a/k/a jumping blenny) — but we’ll stay with PhysOrg. Let’s read a bit more:

“This terrestrial fish spends all of its adult life living on the rocks in the splash zone, hopping around defending its territory, feeding and courting mates. They offer a unique opportunity to discover in a living animal how the transition from water to the land has taken place,” says Dr Ord, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

[…]

These species provide an evolutionary snapshot of each stage of the land invasion by fish,” says Dr Ord.

That’s enough. You can click over there to read it all, if you like. We think it’s a good example of a living transitional species. To be sure, it’s no crocoduck, but no evolutionist expects to see one of those. We’ll leave their discovery to the creationists. If they ever find such a thing, we’ll be the first to admit that the theory of evolution can’t account for it.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “No Transitional Species? Take a Look at This

  1. Christine Janis

    Tree kangaroos. I wrote an article about them being “transitional forms” (rather toned down from the original more anti-creationist screed)

    http://www.palaeontologyonline.com/articles/tag/christine-m-janis/

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Found this write-up of blennies and other living transitional fish. Fascinating, and not revolting @Lewis.

  3. To that old Cretard canard, “What good is half an eye?”, one need only present Little Orphan Annie as a fitting representative of a transitional species in which vision functions perfectly well despite an eyeball lacking a cornea, lens, iris, &c. &c.

    As she herself frequently remarked to her dog Sandy, “Leapin’ blennies! What’s up with them Creationists, anyways?”

  4. My favorite blatantly transitional animals have always been the many species of legless lizards, but these little guys are pretty awesome. I particularly like when they jump to higher ground to avoid the waves. Great video.

  5. I’ll believe in evolution when I see a chimpigzee.

    Holy crap.

  6. There is a living transitional between a bird and a human called the hen-witted Bible thumper. Unfortunately not a rara avis.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    PhysOrg says:

    “This terrestrial fish spends all of its adult life living on the rocks in the splash zone, hopping around defending its territory, feeding and courting mates.”

    Ooops. My mistake. I thought they had found out what became of my former brother-in-law Bennie

  8. Ceteris Paribus is deflated:

    Ooops. My mistake. I thought they had found out what became of my former brother-in-law Bennie

    Nothing personal, just business, but as for your cousin Bennie:

    tonight, he leaps with the fishes…

  9. For nearly every anti-every anti-evolution argument there’s a 2-part answer: (1) here’s how you’re wrong, and (2) what would be the case if you were right. If everyone paid as much attention as we do, (2) would not be necessary. But most people, including the great majority that has no problem with evolution (not yet at least), just don’t have the time or interest. For them, (2) is a 2nd change get them to notice – and see what a scam ID/creationism is. And it’s much easier to follow than the long, technical part (1) answers.

    If anti-evolution activists were really serious about the “no transitionals” that they have been whining about for decades they’d be either finding, or at least mining (as in quote mining – to misrepresent rather than inform) evidence that would resolve these embarrassing disagreements as to which of these supposed “non transitionals” are fully ape and which are fully human. That these disagreements involve the only “kind” that their desperate Biblical literalist fans really care about makes these activists especially derelict in their duties.

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    @FrankJ Hurrah for the epic speech that leads us into battle with the heretics of science, the outliers of Bible=truthers, the just plain delusional. Let us all let them do their best number one, and fall in their number two. That science may win the final battle! Hurrah, and for our great Curmudgeonly leader, too! Hurrah!

  11. Ceteris Paribus

    Megalonyx says: “tonight, he [Bennie] leaps with the fishes…”

    The entire family is immersed in reef at the news. We owe you a favor in return some day. Just business.

    By the way, we are impressed that you knew that the recently demised Bennie was not only a former brother-in-law, but also a former cousin.

  12. Charles Deetz said:

    Hurrah, and for our great Curmudgeonly leader, too! Hurrah!

    And I’m glad he appears to have won his battle with AT&T! Welcome back to the World Wide Interwebz, SC!

  13. For all practical purposes, Archaeopteryx is a crocoduck (a critter with both reptilian and avian features).

  14. Ceteris Paribus is

    impressed that you knew that the recently demised Bennie was not only a former brother-in-law, but also a former cousin

    Apologies, that was clearly another one of my notorious brain farts; I must have been confusing your brother-in-law with My Cousin Vinny.

  15. Ooops. My mistake. I thought they had found out what became of my former brother-in-law Bennie

    I thought he joined the NFL. Played for the Jets.

  16. docbill – it took me a moment, and then it sunk in 🙂

    re transitional species – my favorite is the mudskipper
    http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/animals/fish-animals/spiny-rayed-fish/mudskippers/

  17. How ’bout the lungfish? Egg-laying mammals like the platypus and echidna are examples as well, and for that matter you could probably count all marsupials too.

  18. Christine Janis

    “and for that matter you could probably count all marsupials too.”

    Absolutely not —- marsupials are a parallel radiation to placentals, in no way “transitional”.

  19. Could someone with better information tell me whether the horse and the donkey should be considered transitional species, since when crossed they produce sterile offspring, mules? Surely the horse and the donkey must have had common ancestors, but are they not considered different species?

  20. I defer to your expertise, Christine J. I admit I’m out of my area here. Does that go for the platypus and echidna as well?

  21. Christine Janis

    “Does that go for the platypus and echidna as well?”

    Well, obviously nothing living today is truly “transitional”, and monotremes have many of their own specialties. But, that being said, they do retain many generalized amniote features lost in therians (marsupials and placentals): not only egg-laying, but more primitive features of the shoulder girdle, ankle joint, inner ear, etc. So in that sense the could be seen as an “intermediate” condition (which I prefer to “transitional”, as doesn’t imply inevitability of motion to a new state).

    The marsupial system of reproduction was for a long time seen as some sort of intermediate form between egg-laying and “true” placental reproduction (reflected especially in popular science of several decades ago). However, this view was rather “placental chauvenistic”: with much more science done on their reproductive biology they are now understood as being equally specialized in viviparity in their own right.

    Hope this helps!

  22. Christine Janis warns against having a “placental chauvenistic” outlook.

    So many prejudices need to be purged. Our wickedness seems to be never-ending.

  23. “Placental Chauvenistic” — a new meaning of “PC”?