When we saw this at PhysOrg a couple of weeks ago, we knew that we’d be hearing from creationists about it. PhysOrg’s title is Ancient fish fossil reveals evolutionary origin of the human hand. One excerpt from the beginning will be sufficient:
An ancient Elpistostege fish fossil found in Miguasha, Canada has revealed new insights into how the human hand evolved from fish fins. An international team of palaeontologists from Flinders University in Australia and Universite du Quebec a Rimouski in Canada have revealed the fish specimen, as described in the journal Nature, has yielded the missing evolutionary link in the fish to tetrapod transition, as fish began to foray in habitats such as shallow water and land during the Late Devonian period millions of years ago.
Here’s the paper in Nature: Elpistostege and the origin of the vertebrate hand. Unless you have a subscription, all you can see is the abstract. Anyway, now we have the inevitable creationist response.
It’s from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He just posted this at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry: Human Fingers Evolved from Fish? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
With our fingers we can type on a keyboard, play notes on a piano, and sketch a detailed landscape. Whom do we have to thank for these nimble appendages? [Great question!] Well, according to a recent news item [Fish sprouted fingers before they ventured onto land, fossil shows], we can express our thanksgiving to . . . an extinct fish! [Gasp!]
Shocking! Then he says:
Researchers recently reported the discovery and analysis of a nearly complete (yet poorly preserved) specimen of a supposedly [Hee hee!] 380-million-year-old fish, Elpistostege watsoni. This five-foot-long fish, found in modern-day Quebec, Canada, is being heralded as a “transitional form” between fish and tetrapods (four-legged animals). Why? Well, because of the bones found in this fish’s fin.
Hambo is horrified! He tells us:
While not regarded as a direct ancestor to modern man, this fish is being interpreted as the “closest we can get to a true ‘transitional fossil,’ an intermediate between fishes and tetrapods.” But is this really a “missing link” in the evolutionary story? [Is it?] Well, that’s a matter of interpretation.
No one can interpret these things better than ol’ Hambo. Here it comes:
You see, the observational evidence — a cobbled together specimen of Elpistostege watsoni — didn’t come with a tag saying it was 380 million years old or that it was in the lineage of tetrapods. That’s an interpretation of the evidence, based on the evolution story. [Ah, then it’s worthless!] The evidence merely shows us there was a lobe-finned fish that, sometime in the past, was buried and fossilized. Whether you start with an evolutionary or biblical starting point will determine how you will interpret this fossil.
We can always count on Hambo to keep us thinking correctly. Skipping a lot, he continues:
[T]he idea that these evolutionary scientists are starting with is homology — the idea that features shared between organisms is evidence of a shared evolutionary relationship. But that’s not the only interpretation that explains so-called homology. [What’s the other interpretation?] Biblical creationists attribute shared structures to a common Designer.
Ah yes, the common designer. Let’s read on:
God, the ultimate engineer, used similar structures to accomplish similar purposes throughout his creation, just as we do when we design things.
Brilliant! And here’s our last excerpt:
So Elpistostege watsoni is not a “transitional fossil.” It’s a now-extinct lobe-finned fish, buried during the global flood [Aaaargh!!], with fins that point to a common Designer who used the same basic forelimb design throughout vertebrates — possibly including this fish.
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. There’s nothing else to be said. But we suspect you’ll think of something.
Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.