AIG Explains the ‘Walking Whale’ Fossil

By now you’ve heard the news about whales. PhysOrg has this article from a week ago: Ancient four-legged whales once roamed land and sea, which says, with our bold font:

Whales belong in the ocean, right? That may be true today, but cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) actually descended from four legged mammals that once lived on land. New research published in Current Biology reports the discovery in Peru of an entirely new species of ancestral whale that straddled land and sea, providing insight into the weird evolutionary journey of our mammalian friends.

This is the research paper they’re talking about: An Amphibious Whale from the Middle Eocene of Peru Reveals Early South Pacific Dispersal of Quadrupedal Cetaceans. You can read it online without a subscription, but we’ll stay with PhysOrg, which says:

The oldest prehistoric whale fossils date from 53m years ago, and were found at sites in the northern Indian Himalayas, and present day Pakistan. The fossil record tells the story of a gradual transition from wading to living most of the time in deeper water, like otters or beavers, while retaining the ability to walk on land.

Around 42 million years ago, and still land-worthy, the newly discovered Peregocetus pacificus [hereinafter P. pacificus] set off on an epic journey to the other side of the world. In the Middle Eocene era (roughly 48 to 38m years ago), Africa and South America were half as far apart, but that is still an impressive swim? for an animal less than three metres long that was not completely adapted to marine life.

And here’s one last excerpt from the end:

Modern whales have of course long since returned to the oceans from which the first land mammals’ distant ancestors emerged. All that remains of their evolutionary foray onto land are tiny remnants of bone attached to the pelvis in some species, an anatomical echo of their ancestors’ land adventures. But who’s to say where they’ll be roaming in another 50m years?

Obviously, that wasn’t very biblical, so it’s unlikely to appeal to creationists. The first reaction we’ve seen is from Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Their headline is Peruvian Walking Whale. It was written by Troy Lacey, AIG’s correspondence representative — whatever that is. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

In addition to the label of protocetid [see Protocetus], the authors of the paper have also speculated on a migratory route from Asia to Africa to South America and North America for Peregocetus. Even allowing for the researchers’ contention that the distance between Africa and South America was half that of what it is today (due to subsequent tectonic movement) the global expansion of an animal they speculate was basically a huge sea otter seems far-fetched. [Except, of course, for the animals released from Noah’s ark.] Today’s marine otters live in either Alaska/British Columbia or California and don’t seem inclined to venture hundreds or thousands of miles over the open ocean. Why would a coastal semi-aquatic mammal (about the size of a large walrus) suddenly decide to migrate such great distances? We also must remember that this is a single (and partial) skeleton of one animal. That tells us nothing about where it lived or where it migrated from. What it tells us is where it was buried.

Those hell-bound scientists have no evidence at all (except for a fossil that AIG can’t begin to explain). After some other nit-picking, the creation scientist says:

From a creation perspective [Hee hee!], this is a post-flood mammal, possibly semi-aquatic, but also perhaps not. The web-foot interpretation is based solely on speculation, and there are other animals with similar morphologies which are completely terrestrial. … But whatever the case, it is an air-breathing (at least) partial land-dwelling animal, the original created kind of which would have been created on day 6, one day after the whales were created on day 5 of creation week.

Yeah. It probably flopped around after being released from the ark, and then somehow ended up in Peru. After some more babbling, Hambo’s creation scientist finishes with this:

Despite all the hoopla, we don’t have a walking whale here. What we have is a terrestrial or semi-aquatic mammal that has gone extinct probably during or at the end of the ice age.

That explains everything. It’s not a whale ancestor. There’s no evolution, and no millions of years. All the evidence shows is creation week, the Flood, and nothing else. So send Hambo all your money, get a lifetime pass for the ark, and hang out there for the rest of your days. It makes more sense than anything else.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “AIG Explains the ‘Walking Whale’ Fossil

  1. Michael Fugate

    Is Ham claiming that whales aren’t air-breathing? Because they were created on day 5 and not on day 6? Really? What about manatees and dugongs? How are they in open ocean environments? Biology is really not AiG’s strong suit. But then again, neither is logic.

  2. And if whales are air-breathing, the whale-kind was represented by a pair on the Ark. The must have been a large tank of water to accommodate them. I’m trying to picture that big tank of water, with whales swimming free, with the stormy seas of the Flood.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Not a walking whale, a “terrestrial or semi-aquatic mammal.” And the difference is? How 1984-ish to try to pull that off.

  4. Creationists often ask why we don’t see fossils forming today. They don’t go nearly far enough — natch — and sensibly inquire why we don’t find fossils of modern cetaceans alongside extinct basilosaurus, dorudon, ambulocetus, et al. all jumbled up together. Presumably, all these marine animals swam happily together, before God — still nursing a grudge — killed them off because of that business with the fruit. Or is this just a variation on the “why we don’t find dinosaurs alongside humans” brain-teaser?

    Well, Mr.Creationist?

    (Mr. Creationist thinks hard. Brightens immeasurably, breathes easier, when a deus ex machina in the guise of an ice age on a pantomime horse rides in, to somehow save the day).

  5. Let me get this straight. Ken Ham argues that it is improbable that a semiaquatic mammal population could have migrated from India to Peru over millions of years, but he sees no problem with a single pair of the same animals migrating from Turkey to Peru in a matter of decades?

  6. christine janis

    A brief note. The ‘webbed feet’ are most certainly not ‘speculation’. The article describes the ‘dorso-plantar flattening of the phalanges with conspicuous lateral flanges’ which is what is seen on other mammals with webbed feet. But AIG’s readers aren’t going to check the original, are they?

  7. @PaulD: You’ve got it completely straight.
    @ChristineJ: I’ve yet to meet the first YECer who has actually read a tekst written by a professional evilutionist. So I guess you asked a rhetorical question.

  8. @PaulD andf @FrankB
    Apparently, nature can’t perform “miracles” over tens of millions of years (which don’t exist, anyway), but unobserved gods working their secret magic get the job done — just like that!

    Someone should put creationism in the stocks and throw rotten fruit at it. Which, I guess, is what we’re doing already at sites like this. Our aim is true.

    Problem is, they keep letting the scurvy knaves out of the stocks.

  9. Dave Luckett

    Actually, I think it’s likely that this animal was on a branch off the evolutionary path leading to modern whales. By 40 mya, Dorudon had already lost its external hind limbs completely, and was clearly fully aquatic, but P. pacificus was still partially terrestrial – more so than true seals of today.

  10. You gotta love the way AIG takes any complicated and interesting subject and manages to make it sound stupid. I just don’t understand the audience for this type of nonsense, Does AIG believe there are some creationists still on the fence?

  11. @Richard, I think it’s mostly self-confirmation and possibly an attempt to keep young people in the flock. Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge themselves wrote a book about losing the college-visiting generation.

  12. One can only wonder how this age will be known in the future. When knowledge is expanding as never before – not only in natural sciences – popular beliefs are regressing to depths we couldn’t have imagined not that long ago.

  13. Richard says: ” I just don’t understand the audience for this type of nonsense, ”

    Lower half of the bell curve, my friend.

  14. Michael Fugate

    It definitely has the double trochleated astragalus of the Cetartiodactyla clade. The forelimbs are modified for swimming – compare to a sea lion.

  15. Mark Germano

    “this is a post-flood mammal, possibly semi-aquatic, but also perhaps not.”

    What we’ve got here is truly incredible piece of prose and scientific analysis.
    “Possibly semi-aquatic, but also perhaps not” describes me, as well!

  16. Sure you are post-flood as well – and I bet also pre-flood!

  17. Mark Germano

    Now that I think about it, I might possibly be a mammal, too, FrankB. But also perhaps not!

  18. Lower half of the bell curve, my friend.
    I’m actually thinking several standard deviations below the mean.