Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cool evidence for evolution

Fossil Fish Sheds Light on Transition

By MALCOLM RITTER, AP Science Writer

NEW YORK - Scientists have caught a fossil fish in the act of adapting toward a life on land, a discovery that sheds new light one of the greatest transformations in the history of animals.

Scientists have long known that fish evolved into the first creatures on land with four legs and backbones more than 365 million years ago, but they've had precious little fossil evidence to document how it happened.

The new find of several specimens looks more like a land-dweller than the few other fossil fish known from the transitional period, and researchers speculate that it may have taken brief excursions out of the water.

"It sort of blurs the distinction between fish and land-living animals," said one of its discoverers, paleontologist Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago.

Experts said the discovery, with its unusually well-preserved and complete skeletons, reveals significant new information about how the water-to-land evolution took place.

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1 comment:

Tommykey said...

Of course, God really put that fossil there to test our faith. At least, that is what some creationists would argue.

On a couple of other blogs where I argued with creationists, I used the evolution of languages as a means of illustrating how species could evolve too.

For example, a couple of thousand years ago, the English language did not exist at all. It grew out of the Germanic languages spoken by the Angles, Saxons and other Germanic tribes that invaded Britain after the Romans withdrew in 410 CE. If we were to go back in time to England a thousand years ago, we would probably me able to communicate with the English of the era, but a lot of what we said would be unintelligible to each other, as English today contains many words and phrases that did not exist a thousand years ago.

Plus, nobody "designed" or "planned" languages. While I am not a student of linguistics, I believe it is commonly accepted that language began as simple grunts and gestures to indicate things that could be seen. Gradually, language evolved to speak of things in the past tense, and then in the future tense.

It was only in the last couple of hundred years, with the rise of nation states, that languages were codified into rules of grammar in order to bring cohesion to what were a collection of related dialects.