Re: transitional fossils

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Sat Dec 03 2005 - 20:11:46 EST

Thanks Keith, the term PE is often still confused despite various
attempts to rectify the confution.

Keith Miller wrote:

>> erm "Transitional forms" is not a theory-neutral description of the
>> data. Those forms are "transitional" if evolution is true. The bottom
>> line is that the fossil record is characterized by the rapid
>> appearance and then stasis of new species.
The fact is that the fossil record is characterized by both fast
speciation and stasis as well as exquisite examples of slow evolution
and transitional fossil sequences.
The theory of evolution explains these data quite well.

>> Species persist for eons with little or no change. You can try to
>> align those species in "transitional" sequences if you like. What you
>> will find is a wide variety of patterns, all of which evolution can
>> explain by one means or another (gradualism, PE, missing data,
>> selection, no selection, environmental shifts, saltation,
>> co-evolution, and so forth).
You seem to be confused about gradualism and PE. I wonder why you object
to a theory being able to explain the observed data though.

>> All of these explanations are used today, but we still are left with
>> rapid appearance and then stasis of new species. Hence PE. It
>> provides an explanation for those dashed lines between the
>> "transitional" species.
> The formation of new species is well-documented in the fossil record
> and observed today both in the field and under experimental
> conditions. Species formation is not something hypothetical. The
> fossil record of speciation includes examples of gradual change as
> well as more punctuated patterns. The debate is over which of these
> patterns are more typical and what genetic and environmental factors
> are at play.
> At higher taxonomic levels, transitional forms are known for many
> groups such that the definitions of these taxonomic groups break down
> and the fossil specimens cannot be easily classified.
> Note: If someone chooses to reject evolution a priori, then
> absolutely no fossil evidence regardless of how complete will be
> statisfactory for them.
> Another critical point is that many of the fossil transitions now
> known were predicted on the basis of evolutionary models. That is,
> the fossils were discovered after their existence was predicted. It
> is this predictive ability which makes evolutionary theory a powerful
> model for the history of life.
Indeed, evolution (common descent) keeps being supported by new findings
and many evolutionary predictions nicely end up being supported by
additional data. This is why evolution is considered by most to be a
very robust theory.

For a good overview of PE see for instance

Transitional fossils

Smooth changes in the fossil record

Not surprisingly, ID remains fully scientifically vacuous on these topics...
Received on Sat Dec 3 20:14:23 2005

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