Fish fossils plug hole in evolutionary theory

By | July 12, 2008

Some odd-looking fish fossils discovered in the bowels of several European museums may help solve a lingering question about evolutionary theory, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The 50 million-year-old fossils — which have one eye near the top of their heads — help explain how flatfish such as flounder, sole and halibut developed the strange but useful trait of having both eyes on one side.

For flatfish, which lie on their sides at the bottom of the sea, this arrangement gives them the use of two watchful eyes. But the trait has posed a problem for evolutionary biologists because no one had found any so-called transitional fossils — fossils showing intermediate steps in the evolution of this trait.

“The important thing about this study is it delivers evidence of those intermediates,” said Matt Friedman of The Field Museum and the University of Chicago, whose study appears in the journal Nature. This missing link in the evolution of flatfishes has been seen as a hole in the theory of natural selection.

The argument is that intermediate forms of these fish could not exist because there would be no survival benefit from having one eye that was slightly off center, but still on the opposite side of the head.

Biologists have theorized that maybe the changes occurred all at once with a large-scale mutation. According to this popular “hopeful monster” theory, flatfishes developed this weird trait, which luckily turned out to be very useful.  Friedman’s find now suggests that flatfishes followed a more conventional evolutionary plan. “There was no macromutation that all of a sudden gave them both eyes on the same side of the head,” he said in a telephone interview. …”It turns out they don’t lie flat and completely prone on the sea floor. They [intermediate fishes] actually will prop themselves up slightly (with their fins),” Friedman said. Once in that position, having a slightly asymmetrical eye arrangement must have proved advantageous, he said. – reuters

The conditions to make a fossil are very rare. Most things that die disappear completely. Still, the fossil record clearly shows evolution of species.  The phrase “hole in evolutionary theory” will be misleading to those who believe in creationism. A side by side comparison showing the strength of evidence for evolutionary theory vs. intelligent design would be useful. People believe in intelligent design because 1) someone they know believes it. 2) Ancient religious texts written by other humans say it is true. 3) It does not require understanding biology or vast stretches of time. Creationism is the “dumbed down” version of how we got here, minus the actual details. In other words, no one ever asks, but “How, exactly, did God create Adam?”

What exactly did God need Adam’s rib for?

I mean, did he run out of dust or somethng? Considering that he’s GOD, why couldn’t he simply have snapped his fingers and created Eve (and Adam, for that matter) out of nothing, just like he did with the sun and moon and earth, etc? Why does God need dust and ribs? –yahoo

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