Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Earliest Known Snake

The fossil of a 90 million year old snake has been found in the Patagonia region of South America. How do they figure it is the oldest known snake fossil? Because it had a sacrum, which helps support a pelvis, which would mean - legs. No living snake or other snake fossil has this.

This find is leading researchers to the conclusion that snakes may have evolved from land lizards, rather than from sea creatures - although I can certainly visualize scenarios that could have led to a sea evolution and a later residence on dry land.

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While it is difficult to rationalize why a designer would have created the most ancient snake with a completely unnecessary sacrum, it is exactly what you would expect to find through an evolutionary process.

6 comments:

Hank Barnes said...

Hey JB,

A 9 million year old snake? Sounds our friend McKiernan:) (just kidding Mack, relax!)

Lemme ask you this, John. Let's say a person was neutral and open-minded on this issue -- Do you think it would be a good idea to read Selfish Gene by Dawkins and Darwin's Black Box by Behe?

I read the first one decades ago, and I read Behe's book, maybe 4 or so years ago. I kinda liked them both -- I'm wonderin' if it would be a fruitful exercise to read them jointly. Or, maybe, you have a better suggestion of a tandem of books that faithfully represent the best of both sides of the issue.

Hank Barnes

John said...

"A 9 million year old snake? Sounds our friend McKiernan:) (just kidding Mack, relax!)"

NINETY million, Hank! Going back to the last 25 million years or so of the Dino's (and probably closer in age to McKiernan).

I don't know what to recommend. Here's MY problem (and it REALLY IS, 'my problem')... intuitively, I'm so utterly convinced of the fact of evolution, that unless someone comes up with strong scientific evidence (not ideas) of something else, I feel like it's probably just as valuable a counter-argument to read the Holy Bible or the Koran as to read Behe or Dembski (although I acknowledge that their basis is not religious).

The problem, for instance with Dembski, is that much of his work revolves around mathematical probability or, more precisely, the IMprobability of life arises through natural means. I say "problem" because it tells us exactly nothing. So it's "improbable"? So what? Life is here, we are advanced enough to be able to contemplate these things. So much more important is - how?

If it was by design, one wishes to show - who designed the designer. How (by what natural process) the designer did his/its work. The cause for the designer building in vestigial organs - the sacrum of our early snake, legs nubs on whales, Hank's nipples, etc. The incredible homologous nature of all mammals. What made the designer work with this same basic design with all of the creatures who just happen to be so closely aligned with us genetically?

See, I would like the answers to all of these questions EVEN IF there is design. But ID doesn't offer me that. Apparently, if it was designed - then "good enough" and end of discussion!

I don't know if you are up to the challenge, but if you want to read Dawkins (and he CAN BE arrogantly annoying) then I strongly recommend his last book (and magnum opus, IMO) The Ancestor's Tale. I'm not saying I believe it as "TRUTH", but if you can read it all and come away thinking that large chunks of it aren't on basic target then I can't offer anything more.

Anonymous said...

See, I would like the answers to all of these questions EVEN IF there is design. But ID doesn't offer me that. Apparently, if it was designed - then "good enough" and end of discussion!

Science is intent on finding the missing forms that connect competing species. ID accepts the science of science and is looking for God in between the missing forms. Evolution and ID end up with the same problem, a mysticism of discovery, the worship of matter and an inability to find all the answers within reason. This causes more problems: the evolutionist cannot measure the immeasurable and therefore ejects God (God is Dead) and the IDer falls back on his creationist dreams (God is Alive). Either side then falls into its appropriate mental, self-reflective funk. Like yeah, go read another book or read another paper (hiv) until you find your conclusion of choice.

McK has different ideas about all this stuff. Darwin found a bunch of species (forms) extrapolated some findings into an evolutionary step process that became known as evolution. His biggest discovery in my view is the finding that the universe was quite older than the biblical 5000-8000 years. Where ID came from, one can only guess, but it isn't science. Science has its limits. It can make no pronouncements whatever on the origin of the cosmos, the genesis of life, the meaning of consciousness, the purpose of human existence etc. So I restricts itself to its own field. That’s good. Intelligent Design is a bummer. It belongs in such erudite scholarship as feminism, home economics and multiculturalism. Science on the other hand has a serious problem with anti-evolutionary forces. Because science lacks a sense of history, it is subject to exploding itself into a nuclear holocaust of geo-il-logic proportions.

So wouldn’t you think, John, that the answers to all of your questions are actually not all answerable ? Or do you not think the answers lies outside of Science and ID ? Or perhaps, Evolution or ID will discover the universe is boundless.

Sometimes I wonder if Stephen Hawkins intuitively knows this as he titled his book A Brief History of Time.


McK

Anonymous said...

That thing looks like a fish not a snake. What measuring device did they use to inform that it is 90 million years old ? And why should anyone believe them ?

John said...

McKiernan said: "So wouldn’t you think, John, that the answers to all of your questions are actually not all answerable?"

Yes.

And despite you (perhaps) trying to 'get me going' we are actually in complete agreement for a change! Loved your comment.

John said...

"That thing looks like a fish not a snake."

OK! It's a FISH with hips!