Nov 072006

TOKYO — Japanese researchers said Sunday that a bottlenose dolphin captured last month has an extra set of fins that could be the remains of back legs, a discovery that may provide further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once lived on land. — AP

: UD

I did a little googling on this story, and I find that none of the usual Darwinian propaganda outlets are reporting this discovery. The only reporting is done by the news media. So I wonder why? If this is another missing link the Darwinian Priors would be flocking to the journals to spin their just so stories. Why the relative silence? Does anyone else think this is unusual?

One possible reason for this silence is the apparent contradiction these extra fins cause for one of Darwinism’s major axiom, lost features are almost impossible to be recovered. e.g. The pruning of the number digits in vertebrates are never regained except in the occasional mutants. In the case of this dolphin, the fins are well formed and have no signs of being a mangle mutation. What gives? That is one problem, but what else?

If this was a sign that cetaceans were descended from land mammals, why did it revert back to well form fins and not some early terrestrial limbs? If the genetic information is retained from its evolutionary past then where are the genes for terrestrial limbs? According to Martin Cohn, Ph.D., a developmental biologist and associate professor with the UF departments of zoology and anatomy and cell biology,

“Their transition to an aquatic lifestyle occurred long before they eliminated their hind limbs. During the transition, their limbs became smaller, but they kept the same number and arrangement of hind limb bones as their terrestrial ancestors.” ” In all limbed vertebrates, Sonic hedgehog is required for normal limbs to develop beyond the knee and elbow joints. Because ancient whales’ hind limbs remained perfectly formed all the way to the toes even as they became smaller suggests that Sonic hedgehog was still functioning to pattern the limb skeleton.

Ironically the reversion of genomic information does not produce any characteristics of a terrestrial mammal rather it produced features of an aquatic animal. This is evidence for the dolphin’s aquatic ancestry rather than some putative terrestrial ancestry.

The next problem with this discovery is against Darwinian utilitarianism. Was this a gradual reversion or was it instantaneous? According to Dr. Hans Thewissen, Ph.D., a professor of anatomy at Northeastern Ohio Universities,

“Studies on swimming in mammals show that a sleek body is necessary for efficient swimming, because projecting organs such as rudimentary hind limbs cause a lot of drag, and slow a swimmer down,” said Thewissen, who spends about a month every year in Pakistan and India collecting fossils that document the land-to-water transition of whales.

Researchers say the findings tend to support traditional evolutionary theory, a la Charles Darwin, that says minor changes over vast expanses of time add up to big changes. And while Sonic hedgehog’s role in the evolution of hind limbs in ancient whales is becoming apparent, it is still not fully defined.

“It’s clear when ancient whales lost all vestiges of the limb it was probably triggered by loss of Sonic hedgehog,” said Clifford Tabin, Ph.D., a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research. “But it’s hard to say for certain because you’re looking at events long after they occurred. As they suggest, there could have been a continual decrease in Sonic as the limbs reduced until the modern version of the animal arrived.”

If whales really did evolved from land mammals slowly over long period of time, (although the alleged time that it took was really short in an evolutionary scale) a la Darwin, because of advantageous traits like a sleek body. Why would these fins reemerge when it would create a selective disadvantage? If selection is selecting for this putative disadvantageous trait over gradual time; what evidence do Darwinists have that it was selected against in the past?

On the other hand if these fins were not due to a gradual process it would become a piece of evidence against Darwinian evolution. Indeed, rapid/instantaneous appearance would be evidence for ID/design. From a design perspective well form phenotypical fins like these are not due to cumulative process. The amount of genetic information to create these characteristics and their regulation are complex. My prediction from ID is that we will not find dolphin fins with knees, hoofs or paws and hips. The reason is that they never existed in the genome and there is no way for random mutation to evolve such a novel feature. The appearances of inordinate characteristics are invariably of existing features of an organism. They are either due to the copy of an entire existing gene or irregularities in regulation. This is a modification of existing designs, not incremental accumulation to create new information.

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15 years ago

Darwinism tells us the legs got little tiny and then disappeared. This dolphin doesn’t exactly make a tidy prediction for evolution.

I still maintain that Occam’s razer dictates that this is the remergence of a recently lost trait. Otherwise, the genetic information that creates the fins would have been lost by now and the probability of a novel mutation making these nice looking fins is remote.

Sharks have fins similar to the ones this dolphin has, so I assume fins like that can be helpful.

15 years ago

the genetic information that creates the fins would have been lost by now

You are right Jehu. This was one of my points. Why should any reversion to some earlier atavism produce such well define fins? If such reversion is possible then why not to fully form limbs with hip, knees and digits. This does not bode well for the Darwinian fox to cetacean fairytale.

15 years ago

The emergence if fins is clearly contra NDE. If dolphins evolved from four legged animals then it is clear they would never evolve rear fins.

Here is why:

If natural selection will not even pay the cost of maintaining rear fins, it certainly won’t pay the cost of evolving them from rear legs. In terms of information cost, evolution would remove legs before it would evolve rear fins. Therefore, the fins are evidence of robust design, the recent existence of rear fins in dolphins, and the degredation of the dolphin from its original design. The literature is full of examples of genomic degredation and loss of features in animals, specifically the loss of pelvic fins in fish.

I guess evolutionists can come up with a “just-so” story that at one point the dolphin needed pelvic fins to maneuver and so paid the cost of evolving hind legs into pelvic fins. Of course, there is no evidence of this but it will interesting to see what they come up with, it is only limited by their imaginations!

15 years ago

Hi Jehu,

Therefore, the fins are evidence of robust design, the recent existence of rear fins in dolphins, and the degredation of the dolphin from its original design.

You make an interesting point. Are you saying that Dr. Thewissen is wrong, a sleek body is not necessarily an advantageous trait? If these rear fins are evidence of robust design, that would be a direct contradiction to the “Darwinian just so story” . You’ve stated it better than I did.