RE: [asa] Fossil Discovery Is Heralded

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Tue May 19 2009 - 14:56:10 EDT

Bill,

You quote Michael Roberts not me.

Moorad

"Now if the report is true , then we have another transitional fossil.
However I never jump to conclusion with press reports as you cannot rely on
them and recently in Britain science journalists admitted that they sexed up
reports to make them more readable.
Anyway one more plus mark to Charlie after 150 years.

Now if the fossil had been found in 10000 year old glacial till or in the
Cambrian then "evolution" would be wrong."

Michael Roberts

________________________________________
From: Bill Powers [wjp@swcp.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 2:09 PM
To: Michael Roberts
Cc: Alexanian, Moorad; AmericanScientificAffiliation
Subject: Re: [asa] Fossil Discovery Is Heralded

Moorad:

You say:
> Now if the fossil had been found in 10000 year old glacial till or in the
> Cambrian then "evolution" would be wrong

I'm fairly certain this is incorrect.

What would happen is that we would, a la Quine's "web of belief", begin
with our least cherished assumptions and work our way inwards, discarding
or re-evaluating along the way. There would always be the option of
simply assigning the data to some anamolous shelf indefinitely.

Nothing can overturn evolutionary theory, but an alternative theory.

bill

> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <alexanian@uncw.edu>
> To: "AmericanScientificAffiliation" <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 3:32 PM
> Subject: [asa] Fossil Discovery Is Heralded
>
>
> http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124235632936122739.html
>
> MAY 15, 2009
>
> Fossil Discovery Is Heralded
>
> By GAUTAM NAIK
>
> In what could prove to be a landmark discovery, a leading paleontologist said
> scientists have dug up the 47 million-year-old fossil of an ancient primate
> whose features suggest it could be the common ancestor of all later monkeys,
> apes and humans.
> Anthropologists have long believed that humans evolved from ancient ape-like
> ancestors. Some 50 million years ago, two ape-like groups walked the Earth.
> One is known as the tarsidae, a precursor of the tarsier, a tiny, large-eyed
> creature that lives in Asia. Another group is known as the adapidae, a
> precursor of today's lemurs in Madagascar.
> Based on previously limited fossil evidence, one big debate had been whether
> the tarsidae or adapidae group gave rise to monkeys, apes and humans. The
> latest discovery bolsters the less common position that our ancient ape-like
> ancestor was an adapid, the believed precursor of lemurs.
> AP Photo/Karen Tam A fossil discovery suggests humans may be descended from
> an animal that resembles present-day lemurs like this one.
> .
> Philip Gingerich, president-elect of the Paleontological Society in the U.S.,
> has co-written a paper that will detail next week the latest fossil discovery
> in Public Library of Science, a peer-reviewed, online journal.
> "This discovery brings a forgotten group into focus as a possible ancestor of
> higher primates," Mr. Gingerich, a professor of paleontology at the
> University of Michigan, said in an interview.
> The discovery has little bearing on a separate paleontological debate
> centering on the identity of a common ancestor of chimps and humans, which
> could have lived about six million years ago and still hasn't been found.
> That gap in the evolution story is colloquially referred to as the "missing
> link" controversy. In reality, though, all gaps in the fossil record are
> technically "missing links" until filled in, and many scientists say the term
> is meaningless.
> Nonetheless, the latest fossil find is likely to ignite further the debate
> between evolutionists who draw conclusions based on a limited fossil record,
> and creationists who don't believe that humans, monkeys and apes evolved from
> a common ancestor.
> Scientists won't necessarily agree about the details either. "Lemur advocates
> will be delighted, but tarsier advocates will be underwhelmed" by the new
> evidence, says Tim White, a paleontologist at the University of California,
> Berkeley. "The debate will persist."
> The skeleton will be unveiled at New York City's American Museum of Natural
> History next Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and an international team
> involved in the discovery.
> According to Prof. Gingerich, the fossilized remains are of a young female
> adapid. The skeleton was unearthed by collectors about two years ago and has
> been kept tightly under wraps since then, in an unusual feat of scientific
> secrecy.
> Prof. Gingerich said he had twice examined the adapid skeleton, which was "a
> complete, spectacular fossil." The completeness of the preserved skeleton is
> crucial, because most previously found fossils of ancient primates were small
> finds, such as teeth and jawbones.
> It was found in the Messel Shale Pit, a disused quarry near Frankfurt,
> Germany. The pit has long been a World Heritage Site and is the source of a
> number of well-preserved fossils from the middle Eocene epoch, some 50
> million years ago.
> Prof. Gingerich said several scientists, including Jorn Hurum of Norway's
> National History Museum, had inspected the fossil with computer tomography
> scanning, a sophisticated X-ray technique that can provide detailed,
> cross-sectional views. Dr. Hurum declined to comment.
> Although the creature looks like a lemur, there are some distinctive physical
> differences. Lemurs have a tooth comb (a tooth modified to help groom fur); a
> grooming claw; and a wet nose. Dr. Gingerich said that the adapid skeleton
> has neither a grooming claw nor a tooth comb. "We can't say whether it had a
> wet nose or not," he noted.
> Since the fossilized creature found in Germany didn't have features like a
> tooth comb or grooming claw, it could be argued that it gave rise to monkeys,
> apes and humans, which don't have these features either.
> Write to Gautam Naik at gautam.naik@wsj.com
> Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A4
> Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
>
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Received on Tue May 19 14:59:30 2009

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