AiG strawman resurrected
John Stear, February 2007
The following article Rodent Resurrected?, found in the on-line version of AiG's Answers Magazine, May 2006, demonstrates two things - the first is that AiG continues its long history of wilfully misinterpreting evolutionary science and second, they never acknowledge their mistakes. For another example see here.
The article says:
In the evolutionary scenario, when an animal or plant has gone "extinct," and then is found living today, unchanged from what is found in the fossil record, this shocking discovery is called a "living fossil."
A recent example is a rodent that was found in Southeast Asia. It was identified as one of a group of mammals called diatonyids, which were thought by evolutionists to have gone extinct about 11 million years ago. Of course, it is now obvious that this animal never was extinct. Because Noah's Flood occurred about 4,400 years ago, it is not a surprise among creationists that this "extinct" rodent is the same in the fossil record as what has been rediscovered today. But it is a major problem for evolutionists because this rodent has somehow "forgotten" to evolve over millions of years. [my emphasis]
"Forgotten to evolve"? This is a prime example of the slipshod science used by creationists. Evolution has no goals. Organisms don't "forget" to evolve. See Understanding Evolution where it states:
If a population happens to have the genetic variation that allows some individuals to survive a particular challenge better than others, then those individuals will have more offspring in the next generation, and the population will evolve. If that genetic variation is not in the population, the population may still survive (but not evolve much) or it may die out. [my emphasis]
AiG is obviously referring to 'Extinct' Rodent Found Alive and Well with no author and, as usual, no link supplied. Far from being a "shocking discovery" and "a major problem for evolutionists", the discovery is considered by real scientists, i.e. those actually working in the field, to be an important one which has afforded scientists an insight into the life of a rodent that hitherto could only be studied through its fossil remains. As Mary Dawson of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History says:
Finding living specimens and understanding how they live could be key to determining why the rodents moved from central Asia into the Indian subcontinent.
Ms Dawson continues:
The discovery is an example of what scientists call the "Lazarus effect," a situation when an animal known only through the fossil record is found living.
Perhaps the best known example of the Lazarus effect is the coelacanth, a lobe-finned fish discovered off the coast of South Africa in 1938 that scientists thought had died out at least 65 million years ago... "It is an amazing discovery and it's the coelacanth of rodents...
The Coelacanth is another creature which, according to YECs, poses a problem for evolution. But this site shows that scientists are delighted to have discovered a creature previously thought to be extinct:
The discovery by science of the Coelacanth in 1938 caused so much excitement because at that time Coelacanths were thought to be the ancestors of the tetrapods (land-living animals, including humans). It is now believed that Lungfishes are the closest living relative of tetrapods. The Coelacanth may still provide answers to some very interesting evolutionary questions.
If we return to AiG's article Rodent Resurrected? we find a most curious statement from the phantom AiG writer:
The obvious interpretation, as you look at the creature preserved in the fossil record (which creationists argue is largely the result of the Flood) and compare it to today's animal, is that it has remained the same. This "new" rodent fits well with the creation model, certainly not the evolutionary one. [my emphasis]
I wonder just how and when the creationist writer examined the rodent fossil and compared it to today's animal. And assuming he/she managed to sneak a peak at either the rodent fossil or the dead animal discovered in Laos, what qualifications does he/she hold which would allow a valid scientific comparison to be made? Further, despite the creationist's "obvious interpretation" that the rodent has "remained the same", a careful reading of the scientific report (see link above) produces this information to the contrary:
A recently discovered fossil of Laonastes matched the "living" specimen in skull shape and overall size. The only difference is that the "living" specimen's teeth are slightly more pointed.
"It looks like possibly one of the things that's been changing in the family is improved cutting of vegetation," Dawson told LiveScience. "But over 11 million years, you'd expect some differences in the structures."
Once again AiG has demonstrated that their "science" is based on faulty premises. It happens much too often not to be an act of wilful ignorance. See also:
Answers in Genesis and "Real" Scientists
Answers in Genesis takes the easy (and unscientific) way out
AiG Scientist Monkeys with the Facts