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Education Science

Evolution of Mammals Re-evaluated 249

AaxelB writes "A study described in the New York Times rethinks mammalian evolution. Specifically, that the mass extinction of the dinosaurs had relatively little impact on mammals and that the steps in mammals' evolution happened well before and long after the dinosaurs' death."
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Evolution of Mammals Re-evaluated

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  • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @04:49PM (#18520271)
    Evolution is a theory of science, not a parlor talk theory. There is no faith in evolution, only vast reams of empirical data supporting it.
  • by flitty ( 981864 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @04:56PM (#18520383)

    Science is often championed as being very sure... especially evolution,
    I'm calling you on this rediculous statement. Science is only as sure as they can prove. You'll hardly find a scientist who, under new evidence or studies, will say "nope, the way we used to believe is more correct, and i'll be damned if i take your new evidence into consideration!"
    Sounds more like religion to me.
  • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:11PM (#18520539) Homepage
    A valid question. That evolution happens is a known fact. That animals adapt over the generations and change to the point that disparate isolated populations can no longer interbreed is a fact. What is constantly being reevaluated is the actual mechanisms that drive this change. Early assumptions are reexamined when they don't hold up to scrutiny. Theories are revised when we discover that things are more complex than we thought. Natural selection (higher survival potential) does not explain creatures like Peacocks and birds of paradise. We examine what is going on and discover that sexual selection (breeding age members choosing mates for particular reasons) is also at work. While the Peacock's tail is an impediment to personal survival, the extravagance of it tells females that the male is healthy, strong, has good genes and would make a good choice as a father to their offspring.

    And then there is the subject of this article: which is not the whys and wherefores, but the histories of evolution. They are not reevaluating the means of evolution, just the details of the timetables of when things happened. Much like a police officer looking at a crime scene and sorting out what happened when, discovering a new piece of evidence or talking to a new witness and adjusting the description to fit the facts.

  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <Satanicpuppy@NospAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:40PM (#18520939) Journal
    Re-Thinking? Well, hell if you knew it wasn't right, why didn't you say so before?


    See, this is why Creationism is right...No rethinking required. Ever.
  • by ksalter ( 1009029 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:43PM (#18520973)
    You're right, some might be from the Northeast (like Dover, PA for example). So us dumbass, inbred rednecks from Alabama do not have a lock on scientific ignorance and religious idiocy.

    Damn, whatever will happen when the Deep South is no longer looked on as the primary source of bible beating, homophobic, racist, ignorant fundies? Unfortunately, when that day happens, it will be the entire US that is looked on as the primary source of bible beating, homophobic, racist, ignorant fundies.
  • LIAR (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:53PM (#18521085) Homepage Journal
    Conservapedia is self-parody, but it is produced and maintained by "Conservatives" as a repository of official "Conservative" dogma. Because they think Wikipedia is "liberal", as they clearly state in their About [conservapedia.com] page. Typically Conservative, they're using the Wikipedia software for free, but don't even mutter a minimal thanks to Wikipedia - they just bash it.

    Anonymous Conservative Coward is a typical Conservative: trying to have it both ways, all ways, whenever it's convenient. There is no "truth" for today's "Conservatives" (What are they "conserving"? They're wasters, reckless consumers and rampant destroyers.) So whenever they dart out from behind their favorite weasel words to make a clear statement, they're usually a joke, at least because they contradict whatever other statement they made before that was once convenient then.

    "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." - Stephen Colbert [thinkprogress.org]
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @06:46PM (#18521861) Journal
    My problem is understanding why the creationists are so obsessed with evolution being wrong. After all, Heliocentrism vs. Geocentrism has all the same merits (i.e. we can see the sun goes round the earth, proving the opposite to the layman is difficult, Heliocentrism is a theory, literal interpretation of the bible says the arth is the centre of the solar system), biut doesn't cause nearly as much debate.
  • by truckaxle ( 883149 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:33PM (#18522429) Homepage

    The biblical record states that the animals come to Noah.

    The Noachian flood is falsifiable on so many different levels - it really only takes a few minutes of unbiased thinking.

    Just how did these baby polar bears, kola bears, blind cave fish and blind mole rats make the oceanic journey and arrive in the Middle East.

    Or better yet on the other end. Why is there *strong* geographic patterns of species distribution. For example, how did the marsupials almost exclusively arrive in Australia?). Biogeography, is only one of many different conclusive evidences that discount the Flood story.

    Such little animals would eat much less and eventually grow up to reproduce.

    I dunno I would not want to feed, baby elephants or grizzly bears, let alone baby Sauropods.
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@ajsBOYSEN.com minus berry> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @07:38PM (#18522497) Homepage Journal

    Evolution is a theory of science, not a parlor talk theory. There is no faith in evolution, only vast reams of empirical data supporting it.
    That over-states the case rather drastically. First off, there's an awful lot of faith in evolution, and that's actually a point that far too many folks who defend evolution blindly should accept, otherwise they get blindsided with the news that ... shock, some corner of the theory was actually wrong.

    There's faith in the idea that what we observe is representative of what happened before recorded history. There's faith that empiricism is generally valid (watch how many people leap to defend empiricism and tell me that that's not faith). There's faith that the vast majority of collected data hasn't been tampered with. There's faith that, on the whole, scientists are conscientious about their work, and do not seek to deceive. There is even faith that no one is holding a gun to the heads of everyone who has ever worked in the field to gather data, and telling them to lie.

    I happen to share all of this faith, as I think it's a fair set of assumptions on which to base one's faith (as opposed to invisible men in the sky, to paraphrase George Carlin). That doesn't mean that it's anything other than faith, however. Fundamentally, all of this can be boiled down to a faith in Occam's Razor, a principle which was the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of convincing the budding, and as yet unnamed scientific movement that the Church wasn't necessarily wrong (they didn't go that far for another 50-100 years), but that they were not the only authority on which to base the evaluation of truth. Occam's Razor leads directly to the explosion of thought surrounding empiricism in the Renaissance, and ultimately to what we call science, today. That we rely on this grounding in pre-Renaissance thought to this day is an often-explored and frequently questioned element of faith in the process that we call the scientific method.

    As for the vast reams of facts supporting evolution... there are vast reams of fact supporting a lot of crazy ideas. What's interesting about evolution is that those facts corroborate each other in intricate ways that would be very difficult to unravel as a whole. Certain facts may turn out to support conclusions which they did not originally seem to point to, but the whole has many more inter-related facts on which to stand.
  • by Tatarize ( 682683 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @09:01PM (#18523285) Homepage
    I don't find that flood story explanation is that compelling. There certainly was a local flood in the area. Most civilizations tend to settle next to water and water tends to have floods. However, beyond this I see little to no evidence that there was or even needs to be a historical source for a literary myth. Noah's Ark is almost certainly a rehashing of the Epic of Gilgamesh from the Sumerians and Babylonians. It is entirely possible that idea of a major flood comes from such an event. It is highly suggestive, but beyond providing very minor details for the setting it conveys almost nothing of the story. The source of the idea for the setting of the story has nothing to do with the setting itself much less the story proper. Such a comment does not explain any part of the 'why' in the question why does the story exist or any of the events in the story. It only suggest why they think floods might exist.

    Well, Noah's ark is a myth through and through. Everything from about Genesis 1 to Exodus 40 is entirely fiction (probably true even through Revelations with an extremely minor caveated exception for Hezekiah, which actually has a secondary external source to verify some claims). The reason why the "dinosaurs missed the ark" isn't an acceptable answer is because biblical literalists take the Bible literally. The Bible says all the land animals got on the ark and all the land animals lived. So creationists jump through a huge number of hoops to save the fish who would be crushed by the water or explode because of the altered salt content, stop the plants from dying out, restoring the ecosystems to their previous state, putting all the different animals in the specific places that only they exist, explaining fossils, and providing a way for the dinosaurs to live... even though they went extinct 64 million years ago (save the birds which are part of a certain branch) and certainly aren't around today.

    So oddly enough, to cling to a couple throw away words in a myth they insist the dinosaurs were alive and happy the last time Noah saw them, which would have been about the same time as the laws of physics were changed to make rainbows exist (Genesis 9:13) as a way of saying sorry for killing everybody (all-knowing deities should know better).
  • by Tatarize ( 682683 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @09:10PM (#18523381) Homepage
    My question is what color was the sky prior to Noah's flood?

    Oddly enough, in the story, after God drowns everything for being completely evil. Man, woman, child, infant, fetus... all dead. God feels really really bad about it. Apparently he didn't think it through or know what was going to happen so in Genesis 9:9-13 he makes rainbows exist as a way to say, "I'm really sorry and will never do it again." -- However, rainbows are produced by a fairly trivial byproduct of the diffusion of white light through a medium. This is roughly why we have a blue sky. The light from the sun is diffused and the blue light is diffused more than the other colors. However, if this diffusion didn't exist before God screwed up by drowning everybody and everything (seems like a better solution than later sacrificing Himself to Himself to pay Himself for the debt mankind owes to Him and worse than just not keeping a grudge against people who didn't do anything wrong but somehow get the blame for some other mythological couple doing something wrong without the facilities to tell right from wrong), what color was the sky?
  • Re:Re-evaluation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @09:39PM (#18523591)
    The purpose of having words, sentences, and languages is to express thoughts. Throwing together phrases in defiance of sense defeats this purpose.

    I know that cold hard facts should trump what we wish to be true, but for a question as fundamental as the origin of our own existence, maybe it works the other way.
    This is just nonsense. For fundamental and crucial things, it is of the highest importance to use the rules of logic that make human understanding possible.
  • by Peter La Casse ( 3992 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:45AM (#18526585)

    Just how did these baby polar bears, kola bears, blind cave fish and blind mole rats make the oceanic journey and arrive in the Middle East.


    Oh, you don't believe in magic? Then you don't need any more reason to disbelieve that a magical being caused a worldwide flood, but you'll need harder questions than those to convince people who do believe in magic that it doesn't really exist.

  • by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:34AM (#18528961)

    Just how did these baby polar bears, kola bears, blind cave fish and blind mole rats make the oceanic journey and arrive in the Middle East.

    And once there, how did Noah have room for over 1.25-million different species of animals on his boat? Did Noah save the plants? How did they get there?

  • God is Luv.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by truckaxle ( 883149 ) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:12PM (#18530377) Homepage

    Most people, you being one, criticize the Bible, having never read it, let alone carefully studied it with an open mind. If you had, you would read passages like:

    Sure like:

    "As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you."

    In this neat little passage we have slavery, genocide and rape by command of the god of the OT.

    Here is something to describes the character of the god of the OT...

    "The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name."

    And here is some more OT god mercy and graciousness and long-suffering. Obviously the love and mercy did not apply to young virgin children girls.

    "They warred against Midian, as YAHWEH commanded Moses, and killed every male. They killed the kings of Midian with the rest of their slain ... and they also slew Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. And the people of Israel took captive the women of Midian and their little ones; and they took as booty all their cattle, their flocks, and all their goods. All their cities in the places where they dwelt, and all their encampments, they burned with fire ... Moses was enraged ... 'So you spared the women ... kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has had sexual intercourse with a man but keep the virgins for yourselves ... divide them up evenly.'"

    Now here we have clearly child rape. Keeping in mind that the Midians were pure evil (the standard apologetic response to the above passage) just how young do think these virgin children were? Does not your OT gods grace apply to them?

    God hates evil, but loves people.

    Is that why whenever the "spirit of the lord" moves within Sampson he goes out to kill people. Yup the love of people just is quite clear in the above passages.

    In my experience biblical illiteracy is widespread among bible believers.

    Finally the flood did come.

    No it did not! The flood is a not only a myth but a borrowed myth. Check the story of Gilgamesh, of which sources predate any OT sources. Try to read something other than Christian Apologetics.

    Further the proof the flood does not exists is clearly and abundantly obvious in Geology. Get out into the field take a book or surface geological map and look around and will encounter geological formations that deny the flood.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter