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Coelacanth slowly reveals its secrets

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Matt Walker Matt Walker | 15:00 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Coelacanth (Image: Peter Scoones / Getty images)

Generations of coelacanths appear to be missing (Image: Peter Scoones / Getty images)

An odd-looking ancient fleshy fish continues to serve as a reminder of just how little we know about the natural world.

In 1938, scientists discovered the coelacanth, a large primitive deep-dwelling fish that was supposed to have been long, long extinct.

The fish provided an immediate link to our dim evolutionary past, resembling the lobe-fin fish that were likely the first to leave the water and take to land, ultimately begetting the amphibians, reptiles and mammals we see today, including the human race.

The fish’s discovery was a worldwide sensation, and the coelacanth remains famous to this day, its name synonymous with the concept of living fossils and great natural history discoveries.

But new research just published reveals, in its own way, just how little we still know about this fish, despite it being the subject of intensive scrutiny and excitement for more than 70 years.

A team of scientists based in France and Germany has just summarised the results of a 21 year study into coelacanths living in the Comoros Islands, in the western Indian Ocean.

That in itself is impressive.

After its initial discovery in South African waters, another was not sighted by western scientists until fourteen years later, when a few fish were found swimming off the Comoros. The fish was not filmed alive until the BBC serendipitously took some footage of one for the programme Life on Earth broadcast in 1979 (see video below) and the first photos of the fish in its natural habitat were not taken until 1988.

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So considering how enigmatic the coelacanth has been, it is remarkable that we now have a population study of the fish lasting more than two decades.

The study was done on Latimeria chalumnae by Hans Fricke of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany and colleagues.

Latimeria chalumnae is a deep blue fish that has been sighted around Africa, off the coasts of South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar. It is one of two species of coelacanth; the other, Latimeria menadoensis, is a brown fish found much more recently in Indonesia.

The scientists used remote operated vehicles to descend into the sea and survey an 8km-long stretch of coastline around Grand Comore inhabited by coelacanths. The ROVs followed the fish into the caves in which they live, filming and photographing individuals, which are recognisable by the pattern of white spots on their blue bodies.

They have made some wonderful discoveries.

Coelacanths, it seems, are peaceful animals that do not act antagonistically to one another, even when groups of up to 16 fish share the same cave.

Females are markedly larger than males but there doesn’t appear to be any sexual content to their gatherings.

During the day, the fish live at a depth of 170-240m along a steep volcanic landscape of caves, and at night they drift down to depths of 500m to feed, coming back to their caves in the morning to rest.

The survey reinforces the impression that perhaps just 300-400 coelacanths live at Grand Comore and that the fish do not tolerate waters above 22 degrees Centigrade particularly well, as many fish disappeared from the study area in 1994 when the water warmed, returning later.

Remote operating vehicle (image: photolibrary.com)

Remote operating vehicles are revealing a little of the coelacanth's way of life

The study demonstrates how much our understanding of these wonderful fish has improved in the past few decades.

Other research in this time has shown that coelacanth embryos develop for three years, the longest recorded for any vertebrate.

Coelacanths also appear to have the lowest metabolic rates among vertebrates.

But the study by Fricke’s team, published in this month’s issue of Marine Biology, also gives away how much more we still don’t know.

For example, during the entire survey period, the team did not record a single subadult, juvenile, or baby coelacanth. They didn’t spot one in the Comoros, and have never spotted one in separate expeditions to study the fish off Indonesia, South Africa or Tanzania.

Only a single baby coelacanth has ever been sighted, filmed by different researchers in 2009 at a depth of 160m.

So we do not know where coelacanths give birth, where the young go, or why they don’t live with the adults. Such information is vital to preserve species of such rarity.

We still have little idea about how long these ancient-looking fish live for.

The survey by Fricke’s team confirms that coelacanths can live for at least 21 years; they resighted the same fish at the start and end of the survey, while 17 fish were sighted 19 years apart. That confirms that it is unexceptional for a coelacanth to live for two decades at least – the first real evidence of a coelacanth’s minimum age.

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The scientists’ survey also allowed them to calculate the mortality rate of the fish, based on how often the same fish were resighted over the following years.

Their best estimate is that coelacanths have a mortality rate of 0.044. That means that out of a cohort of 100 individuals, we would expect one to still be living 103 years later. Their data can be used to make another mathematical projection which suggests coelacanths can live for between 95 to 117 years old.

Other deep water fish have been found to live for around 100 years, so it’s plausible that coelacanths do indeed reach this epic age. But we still don't know for sure, nor what their average age might be.

One bit of positive news is that accidental catches of coelacanths around the Comoros are declining steeply.

Fishermen in the area used to fish using a long line and hook from motorless canoes called galawas, and would occasionally snare a coelacanth while fishing at night for oilfish.

Nowadays, the fishermen use motorized boats called vedettes to travel further out to sea – mostly avoiding the coelacanth’s habitat. Between 1954 and 1995 two to four coelacanths were taken each year. But after 2000, that has fallen to just 0.3 coelacanths on average.

These fishermen are the only known cause of mortality for coelacanths; Fricke’s team’s survey occasionally encountered large sand tiger sharks in the area but never witnessed any predation on coelacanths by larger fishes.

As ever, though, with extremely rare species, threats to their very existence never seem far away.

In Tanzania, another home to coelacanths, fishermen once took edible small fish from shallow waters. But once these were wiped out, they took to using deep-water gill nets. Since 2003, when these nets were first used, more than 80 coelacanths have been caught, and the number is increasing each year.

That is of huge concern for this population of Latimeria and it also reinforces how similar might happen around the Comoros, one of the fish’s remaining known strongholds.

One answer, if it can be arranged with the people of the Comoros, is to set aside a protected area along the south-west coast of Grand Comore, a policy supported by Fricke’s team and other researchers.

We still know so little about this ancient fish. And perhaps we owe it: having thought it extinct for so long, it might be considered tragic to let it go extinct now.

This is a fish that has survived almost unaltered for millions of years. Yet we risk it becoming extinct in just a handful of years due to subtle shifts in the way we choose to fish, and treat our marine life.

If it does disappear, it will go long before we've had a chance to truly understand it.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Fascinating.
    Seeing as it is so hard to find, and has also been found more recently in Indonesia, perhaps there are a lot more of them than we realise. Where did they go when the water got cooler?

    Having said that, viewers of the videos will enjoy the irony of David Attenborough telling how the locals didn't value catching the fish until researchers started paying them lots of money to do so!

  • Comment number 2.

    About 10 years ago friends of mine found coelacanth off Manado in North Sulawesi, so there is at least one colony established in that part of the world.

    The first coelacanth that they saw was on a wheelbarrow at a fish market.

  • Comment number 3.

    They are amazing - though 'scientists' did not didcover they were still living. A young museum curator and naturalist Marjorie Courtney-Latimer was brought a dead specimen by a fisherman who thought it might be wanted at the museum. She realised it was important as she couldn't classify it so got in touch with her friend Professor JLB Smith who identified it as a coelacanth. This is where the name Latimeria comes from.

  • Comment number 4.

    We've known about them for less than 100 years and studied them in detail for 21 years, and we estimate they live to ~100. Perhaps there are no juveniles anymore? I hope that's not the case, and that they have an exotic life cycle or some other explanation for the missing young, but maybe these remnant adults really are living fossils.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice article, apart from the usual industry standard misuse of the word "primitive". These creatures are as evolved as any other species on the planet, they are not primitive, they are an ancient species having survived and evolved for millions of years. It would be a tragic pity if they now get wiped out for the sake of a peasants dinner.

  • Comment number 6.

    @5 - or a rich person's dinner, perhaps in Japan.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    How does evolution explain that these fish are the same as they were supposed to have been millions of years ago ( = "living fossils" )?

  • Comment number 9.

    amazing science thought they were extinc until one is seen in the catch of a fisherman in african waters.of course at first the establishment scoffed untill the specimen was put in front of them,then it becomes a sensation,somewhat like the
    mountain gorilla?mind this fish should have said goodbye 64 million years ago.it just goes to show,we are not as smart as what we think.an open mind and a need to ponder and question science is alright in my book..

  • Comment number 10.

    #8 Creatures evolve to best exploit their environment. This branch of coelacanth is obviously perfectly matched to its environment. Others, in different circumstances, adapted and eventually some ventured on to land. A bit like a child going off to uni and being changed by their experiences there.

    We should treasure these wonderful fish that have so much to teach us.

  • Comment number 11.

    @8 Actually, evolution explains this very well. A species which is extremely well adapted to it's environment will not adapt through selection very fast at all. Unless there is a change to their environment which causes random mutations to have a natural advantage, the norm will remain the strongest.

  • Comment number 12.

    @11 - well said!

  • Comment number 13.

    @8 How does creationism or intelligent design explain fossils? Oh yes, that's right, put there to give archaeologists something to study. If you're going to denigrate evolution, you might, at least, first learn how it works.

  • Comment number 14.

    "8. ddincyprus wrote: How does evolution explain that these fish are the same as they were supposed to have been millions of years ago ( = "living fossils" )?"

    You're think of Evolution as a ladder or a journey from A to B, it's not.

    There's no such thing as "more evolved" or "less evolved", there's just evolution (a process like water spreading after being spilled, for want of a dodgy metaphor) and in some cases species that don't change because they are very well adapted to unchanging conditions.

  • Comment number 15.

    @8 the extremely long generation of these animals will also slow evolution. Because evolution is basically nature causing selective breeding, animals with a short generation, such as rats or flies, will evolve much faster than one of these. And by 'living fossils' i assume you mean 'living things put there by God to test our faith'?

  • Comment number 16.

    Uh-oh, Matt, I thought you'd done it when your first sentence used the dreaded phrase "just how little we know".

    Saying that sort of thing on some science related blogs or daring to point out how much we pass off as 'knowing' is actually theory based on theory based on theory, risks being flamed to hell.

    To me, though, the hall mark of a truly scientific mind is to be comfortable discussing what we don't know rather than concentrating on so called 'facts', the coelacanth being a case in point, because for a long time it was a 'fact' it was extinct, and even when the South African evidence first arose suggesting the contrary might be true, there were plenty happy to let that information slide into the void of statistical anomaly - the exception that proves the 'fact' - viewing Smith's fruitless pursuit of another specimen for 14 years as verging on the neurotic, (and of course, if he'd've failed completely, he'd've been reduced to a footnote as another example of Don Quixote 'science').

    It's amazing how this syndrome continues to be prevalent throughout all the sciences - until recently, whenever anyone suggested looking below the Clovis People horizon, the thinking of the experts in that particular field went - and this's an almost exact quote - "what'd be the point of that, since we know Clovis was first?"

    Someone finally dares to look beneath Clovis and - lo! - there's pre-Clovis, predating Clovis by thousands of years.

    Who'd bet against some 'expert' somewhere spouting this remark right this very moment, "looking below the pre-Clovis horizon - what'd be the point of that, since we know pre-Clovis was first?"

  • Comment number 17.

    Dear Matt: This was a great article - liked the videos - amazing what has been found out about this little known about creature.

    Is it right that this living fossil is one of thousands discovered which show no change? Others include the liquidambar styraciflua (a tree now growing in the USA and elsewhere); the comptonia peregrina (a fern); the horseshoe crab; the antrimpos (a shrimp); the anthedon (a marine invertebrate); the lightning whelk; the polistes wasp; the syncarid; the shark and so the list goes on. Current theory says that these creatures have lived through millions of years of environmental change and have been supposedly subject to genetic mutation and survival of the fittest. Yet their fossils are identical to the modern day creature.

    Doesn't such stasis and the absence of large numbers of transitional forms in the fossil record suggest that the current theory of evolution needs at least a review and possibly a thorough overhaul?

  • Comment number 18.

    @17 as regards your last question "Doesn't such stasis"....
    Check out the "punctuated equilibrium" flavour of the theory (on wikipedia its
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium ). Lots for you to think and chew over there. Thorough overhaul needed? Dont think so. Just rational thought, observation, study, argument and experiment.

  • Comment number 19.

    @14 "You're think of Evolution as a ladder or a journey from A to B, it's not."

    Agreed - and I put the blame for this common misconception on that picture of "the evolution of man" starting with a stooped-over ape and progressing through more and more human-like intermediaries until we arrive at today's upright homo sapiens.

  • Comment number 20.

    'So we do not know where coelacanths give birth, where the young go, or why they don’t live with the adults. Such information is vital to preserve species of such rarity.'

    Perhaps NOT knowing this is vital to preserve the species.

  • Comment number 21.

    @18. Thanks mikeymop (like the name) for your help. Yeh read the article - familiar with the idea of punctuated equi. Studied at uni then in post grad. Isn't the problem that PI is untestable. It is merely a suggestion, but has no experimental basis - there has never been PI observed anywhere - in the foss. record or today.

    It tries to explain an absence in the fossil record, but evidence for it is also absent. Doesn't it thus go against your "rational thought, observation, study, argument and experiment" formula? There is no observation or an experiment which shows PI.

  • Comment number 22.

    @21. I'm not sure its untestable. I think dogs, plant-breeding/crop improvement etc are good observations and experiment. Do you have a better explanation? And would you share it with us if you do? I want to hear more about your post-grad studies. Did you publish?

  • Comment number 23.

    I sincerely hope pandatank (comment 13) is not a teacher! I can find no denigrating comments in #8. Evolution is not a process which is automatically understood without explanation. It is also not readily demonstrable. If it is anything, then 'evolution' is a summary statement and nothing more. A biological holdall into which we throw our ignorance. It has not been demonstrated to be absolutely right in absolutely every circumstance (how could it be?), and is open to question (as is any theory). If those questions cannot be answered, then the theory must be reviewed, as with any other scientific thought. To dismiss any reasonable question (and one about an animal which has not apparently changed for millions of years is perfectly reasonable if, for example, the questioner were not an evolutionary biologist) as 'creationist' or 'denigrating' simply demonstrates the narrow-minded approach which is being criticised.

  • Comment number 24.

    "21.At 11:58 30th Jun 2011, marcus polo wrote: there has never been PI observed anywhere - in the foss. record or today.

    It tries to explain an absence in the fossil record, but evidence for it is also absent. Doesn't it thus go against your "rational thought, observation, study, argument and experiment" formula? There is no observation or an experiment which shows PI."


    "the fossil record" suggest it's like a ledger.... well it is, but a ledger where at best we have only found a few of billions of entries. Fossiliation itself is an incredibly, incredibly rare event.

    "Living Fossil" itself is also rather a misnomer, bacteria are usually not thought of in a similar way, even though many types will still resemble today very early types of life.

    But yes, of course, "Evolution" (the understanding of the process) is in constant evolution, what Darwin proposed originally is significantly different to what we understand today (he was a genius, he just didn't get everything right, much like Mendel didn't get everything about genetics from his peas, but he laid some serious groundwork for those that came later - although I'd argue that genetics and evolution are essentially the same thing just looked at from differing ends).







    Or in short there's lots we do not know, but that doesn't mean what we think we know is necessarily wrong (although it may be), just that it's fuzzy around the edges.

    Let me put it this way, should all we believe we know about Physics be thrown out, just because there's plenty we can't explain (or can't agree on being correct?) If not then why should Evolution be different?

    Currently there is nothing to suggest that Evolution as a broad process is wrong (which doesn't mean it's right, of course), or indeed that there even IS any other alternative (although by all means suggest one).

  • Comment number 25.

    There really is no mystery about the coelacanth.

    You described this fish as 'wonderful', but also 'primitive'!

    Its wonderful design features, including its buoyancy equipment which equips it for living at certain depth in the oceans, are surely the result of the coelacanth being one of God's special creations.

    Like 99% of all the other fossils to be found in the earth's sedimentary rocks, the coelacanth fossils were buried during the year-long Flood of Noah. That is why today's coelacanths are identical to their fossil remains.

    As with all other creatures, there is nothing in the fossil record to show an evolutionary heritage for it. Both evolution and the claimed long age for the earth and the universe are assumptions which can easily be disproved. Look around the natural world, and everywhere you see wonderful creatures that clearly bear the hallmark of a Designer. Did the butterfly/caterpillar really evolve, for example?

  • Comment number 26.

    @17: Hi Marcus Polo, - I have to admit a lack of knowledge about Punctuated Equilibrium so I can't really comment on that. However I do get concerned when I see comments such as:

    "Doesn't such stasis and the absence of large numbers of transitional forms in the fossil record suggest that the current theory of evolution needs at least a review and possibly a thorough overhaul"

    The anti-science lobby and creationists love to try and confuse the issue with tag lines that sound 'sciency' but have little foundation when examined. I'm not suggesting you are part of this lobby as your post read very well. But, to suggest that there is an "absence of large numbers of transitional forms in the fossil record" beggars belief somewhat and demonstrates a failure to understand some of the core principles of evolution. Firstly, each and every fossil could be argued to be transitional as it is partway between one thing and another. Secondly, there have been a great number of 'transitional' fossils discovered which beautifully demonstrate some of the key evolutionary moments in the history of our planet.

    Secondly, to suggest "current theory of evolution needs at least a review and possibly a thorough overhaul" has dumbfounded me slightly as, (again maybe I'm being naive), I have never come across any evidence or lack of it to question evolution by natural selection at all! Indeed, every new piece of research, scientific discovery, fossil discovery, DNA examination ALL reinforce the current established and totally accepted, (by all rational people), theory.

    ...I will however, now go off read Mikeymop's link to see if there's something in it that backs up your reasoning, - I'll be sure to share it with the world if I find something!! :-)

  • Comment number 27.

    @Zampos - wow, it took slightly longer than I expected for a 'true' creationist to join the foray...
    Same old arguments all so easily dismissed and, dare I say, ridiculed. But I'll try to bite my tongue. The basic premise of your argument for a designer is that complexity = appearance of design = designer, - which means the designer but at the very least be as complex as those things 'he' has designed....you can probably guess where I'm going with this....In which case, who designed the desginer?! And if we even conceded (for the sake of argument), that a designer was involved, - why just one? Why not a whole familly or planet of them?

    Sorry, tried by best with the tongue biting....the year long flood of Noah explains the fossil record!!?! Brilliant! Only people like you can both amuse and frustrate the hell out of me at the same time....

  • Comment number 28.

    @25 If you're being satirical, you've done a great job, let's go for a pint, that was very funny. If you're serious, I'd rather go for a pint with the coelacanth.

    We should do a DNA test on a butterfly/caterpillar. Maybe it has Hox genes..
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hox_genes)

  • Comment number 29.

    "23.distantdalek wrote: Evolution is not a process which is automatically understood without explanation. It is also not readily demonstrable. If it is anything, then 'evolution' is a summary statement and nothing more. A biological holdall into which we throw our ignorance. It has not been demonstrated to be absolutely right in absolutely every circumstance (how could it be?), and is open to question (as is any theory). If those questions cannot be answered, then the theory must be reviewed, as with any other scientific thought. To dismiss any reasonable question (and one about an animal which has not apparently changed for millions of years is perfectly reasonable if, for example, the questioner were not an evolutionary biologist) as 'creationist' or 'denigrating' simply demonstrates the narrow-minded approach which is being criticised."




    It's certainly a hard one, and part of the problem though is definitely that Evolution is a massive field incorporating many, many things. Yet many people misunderstand it as a single arbitrary concept (or get stuck and fixated on a single concept or idea within it).

    So someone saying "Prove Evolution" (or "disprove Evolution") is essentially asking a nonsensical question in just the same manner as if they asked "Prove Geology" (or "disprove Geology").

    For example if Evolution as a whole were some how completely wrong, then many things we take for-granted, but don't intrinsically think of as "Evolution" must therefore be wrong too. We can't ring fence Evolution, because we rely on what we think we know about it every day, in farming, in medicine, in conservation, crime & forensics, software engineering (anything to do with DNA), even in strange fields like industrial clean ups.

    Ironically even if an intelligent designer did set everything up 6000 years ago (or whatever), that still wouldn't mean that Evolution didn't operate since that date and isn't operating today, any more than genetic engineering disproves the general process of Evolution today.


    But it's strange the people will largely accept the more fanciful parts of Physics, yet get quite seriously hung up on parts of Evolution that are much better understood and explained.

  • Comment number 30.

    @17: If you've studied it, I don't see the confusion. If a shape is perfectly suited to its environment, perfectly suited to finding food and perfectly suited to reproduction, evolutionary pressure acts to *keep* it that way. Genetic mutation will throw up variations, sure, but if those variations can only provide a disadvantage then the existing shape will keep going.

    And you're confusing "is a similar shape" with "is the same species". The modern great white is the results of millions of years of evolution from prehistoric sharks, some of which led to successes in new niches like hammerheads, dogfish or basking sharks, and some of which resulted in continuing in a similar shape to stay in the same niche. No modern sharks are the same species as prehistoric sharks, even though they're recognisably descended from the same place. Similarly, we have 80+ species of modern coelacanth, none of which are the same species as the ones in the fossil record - they just happen to be descended from the ones in the fossil record and are similar shapes.

    Unfortunately, the "transitional forms" argument betrays your "intelligent design" roots. There are plenty of transitional forms hanging around, and the fact that we don't have every specimen in the entire chain of ancestry for every creature clearly doesn't mean that these ancestors didn't exist. Do you know who your great-to-the-N-grandparents were in, say, 400BC? That's only 2000 years ago, but you wouldn't have a clue. So why should you think that the lack of transitional forms in a random-chance fossil record stretching over hundreds of millions of years is a weakness? I don't know who my great-grandparents were, but this lack of information doesn't mean my grandparents were created out of nothing by God at some point in the early 20th century.

    Sure there's plenty of discussion about the various ways in which evolution *can* take place, and which are the most important. But there's no discussion about whether evolution *does* take place.

  • Comment number 31.

    #21, marcus polo,
    I've never had a problem with "punctuated equilibrium", it seems more likely than not, to me. Some random (and compounded) mutations will confer much greater benefits than others. The nature of living organisms will then make very for rapid advances by organisms with highly beneficial, but rare, mutations: It's the simple mathematics of exponential growth that then produces a population explosion.

    Simple evolutionary mutations with lesser benefits happen quite frequently in, say, bacteria that might be being tested for antibiotic resistance. This comprises the "equilibrium" between the "punctuations", generating a stop-start pattern. The "punctuation" occurs quite rapidly if the bacteria acquire a mutation such as the beta-lactamase genes which confer protection against penecillin. Hence one of todays pressing medical problems.

    Perhaps the Coelecanth with it's long life span has remained the way it is because it inhabits a deep-sea environment that changes very slowly.

  • Comment number 32.

    Great Article - nature is so fascinating.

    If these fish live in such deep water - how, even after millions of years, do they walk on to a beach, start swinging on trees, then open shops, drive cars and fly aeroplanes etc?????????

  • Comment number 33.

    @32 Because they were open to new possibilities and ways of looking at the world. And they had aqualungs, which is why they are often referred to as 'lungfish'.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    ..... ......

  • Comment number 36.

    @34 QPR4Me

    You wrote: "Instead of spouting the usual creationist bile of 'evolution can't be proved' when there are millions of examples before you..."

    REPLY: Could you please supply one clear case of where we have proof that one creature, or 'kind', or species, has actually transformed itself into a wholly separate creature/'kind'/or species - and then we can debate whether we have even ONE clear example of evoultion in action, let alone 'millions'.

  • Comment number 37.

    @27 CrockyDuck

    Yes, part of our case is that the sheer complexity of creatures points to a Designer. There is nothing in that argument that requires - as you suggest - the Designer to have been designed

    Your wrote: "...the year long flood of Noah explains the fossil record!!?! Brilliant! Only people like you can both amuse and frustrate the hell out of me at the same time..."

    To summarise the key arguments here:
    * Fossils result from instantaneous burial i.e. very rapidly deposited sediment, take the examples of fossils of fish swallowing smaller fish and fish fossilised in the act of giving birth
    * ...especially in the case of large fossils...
    * ...and especially in the case of 'polystrate fossils' that can be found upright through up to 100 feet of strata
    * The parallel lines of strata that we see throughout the record of sedimentary rocks can ONLY be produced by extremely rapid deposition - see for example Guy Berthauld's laboratory experiments
    * None of the creatures we find in the fossil record have antecedents, take as an example the highly complex trilobite, with its hundreds of interlocking hexagonal eyes that can 'see' in the dark and a shell capable of withstanding the pressure of several miles of ocean depth...this is said to be oje of the 'oldest' creatures in the fossil record...there are hundreds of millions of trilobite fossils, but where is there ONE fossil of any antecedent creature?
    * Name any 'living fossil' (such as the coelacanth which is the current subject of this blog) and you'll see that it is unchanged for whatever long period evolutionists claim it has been around, usually tens or even hundreds of millions of years. No change throughout all this time? If creatures evolved, so would these creatures have evolved...

    P.S. Many thanks to the blog editor for allowing the (young earth) creationist perspective to be aired here



  • Comment number 38.

    @37 Zampos: Excellent now it's getting interesting, - although I mean that in the sense that you are now following the same creationist arguments and techniques that are always used. i.e. throw some 'science' into your argument to give it a facade of credibility. Unfortunately, for you anyway, a facade is all it is.

    • Arguing that complexity=design=designer DOES, by its very nature, require you to answer the ‘who designed the designer?” question. Otherwise the argument lacks all foundation. The reason you and your ilk refuse to answer it is quite simply because you can’t. It is a circular argument with an infinite regress.
    • Thanks awfully for you explanation of how fossils form, - I feel enlightened already.
    • Guy Berthhault is, for all intents and purposes a bafoon, whose techniques and ideas are decades and even centuries out of date and run against the grain of the vast majority of the world’s geologists.
    • With regards to antecedent fossils, - again throwing in some ‘sciency’ words is a feeble attempt to hide, not you lack of intelligence, (which I would never try to debase), but, more dangerously, you inability to lift your eyes out of scripture and view the world with un-blinkered eyes. The fossil record is littered with fossils, (that we are extremely lucky to have at all), that demonstrate clear lines of evolutionary descent. Add to that the DNA evidence that shows all living creatures linked heritage and you quickly realise the absurdity of your argument. It is true that prior to Cambrian explosion, (around 500 million years ago!!!), the fossil record is practically non-existent. But there is a clear, rational and logical assertion that can be made about this, and that is that prior to this period of evolution most of the organisms were soft bodied and thus did not lend themselves to the fossilization process. A modern example of this would be things like worms. Following your logic, the lack of ANY worm fossils must mean that GOD created them yesterday!!
    • A ‘living fossil’ by its very definition refers to a creature that has remained relatively ‘unchanged’ for a very long period of time and thus, again, I am left somewhat confused and frustrated by your obvious ignorance of this subject. Evolution is driven by, among other things, changes in environment that produce extinction pressures on the current population. Those creatures that adapt to those pressures survive and those that don’t, go extinct. The coelacanth is an example of a creature whose environment has remained stable and thus has not placed any undue extinction pressures on the population.

    Please try reading something other than the bible and the bibleandscience.com website.

  • Comment number 39.

    "that were likely" In other words, you don't KNOW. It's never been observed, it never will be. More conjecture.

  • Comment number 40.

    #37 Polystrate fossils were comprehensively explained in the 19th century. Berthault's claims have been utterly demolished. Trilobite predecessor fossils have been found. Modern coelacanths are significantly different from ancient ones - they're different species. It took less than 10 minutes with Google to discover these things.

    As usual, creationist claims fall apart under any kind of scrutiny.

  • Comment number 41.

    Crockyduck - "Arguing that complexity=design=designer DOES, by its very nature, require you to answer the ‘who designed the designer?” question. Otherwise the argument lacks all foundation. The reason you and your ilk refuse to answer it is quite simply because you can’t. It is a circular argument with an infinite regress." Do you have any trouble understanding the mathematical concept of infinity? I should hope not. Then you should have no problem with an infinite God. Eternity stretches both ways.

    lanK49 - "Modern coelacanths are significantly different from ancient ones - they're different species. It took less than 10 minutes with Google to discover these things." But they're still coelacanths. They may have degenerated/mutated slightly, but they are STILL recognisably coelacanths.

    I do not KNOW how old the earth is, I BELIEVE it to be around 6,000 years. The important thing is no-one has ever provided any science to back up the commonly held BELIEF that it is billions of years old.

  • Comment number 42.

    "@34 QPR4Me REPLY: Could you please supply one clear case of where we have proof that one creature, or 'kind', or species, has actually transformed itself into a wholly separate creature/'kind'/or species - and then we can debate whether we have even ONE clear example of evoultion in action, let alone 'millions'."

    There's quite a few examples of observed speciation in plants and animals if that's what you want (that is creation of a species that cannot interbreed with its progenitor species, but can with itself), in bacteria too of course, although that's a slightly different kettle of fish.

    Although speciation itself is just a small part of Evolution as a whole.



    Although if you are a young earth creationist, then Evolution isn't your worst enemy, Geology, Archaeology and Astrophysics are.

  • Comment number 43.

    Crockyduck - "Please try reading something other than the bible and the bibleandscience.com website."

    Try reading the Bible and those websites you deride, with an open mind, instead of blindly accepting commonly taught misconceptions.

  • Comment number 44.

    Pandatank - "How does creationism or intelligent design explain fossils? Oh yes, that's right, put there to give archaeologists something to study. If you're going to denigrate evolution, you might, at least, first learn how it works."

    Not at all. Fossils are made by rapid inundation (ie burial) - excellent evidence of the global Flood. I'm yet to be shown a fossil that shows transition from one species to another - but I've seen plenty of fossilised, extinct animals.

    Instead of denigrating Creation, you might, at least, first learn how it works. That's what many of us did after years of being brainwashed into believing evolution, and we found that the evidence supports Creation more than it does evolution.

  • Comment number 45.

    "41. Quartus45 wrote: I do not KNOW how old the earth is, I BELIEVE it to be around 6,000 years. The important thing is no-one has ever provided any science to back up the commonly held BELIEF that it is billions of years old."


    Huh? I think we'd better start with what is your exact definition of "science".

  • Comment number 46.

    D Dortman - "Although if you are a young earth creationist, then Evolution isn't your worst enemy, Geology, Archaeology and Astrophysics are."

    I've always found that those three disciplines support Creation.

  • Comment number 47.

    46. My definition of science is something that can be tested, observed and proved. Guesswork and assumptions are excluded. What's yours?

  • Comment number 48.

    @40 IanK49 wrote:

    "Polystrate fossils were comprehensively explained in the 19th century".

    REPLY: Examples of polystrate fossils include vertical tree trunks, up to 100 feet long, fossilised and surrounded by limestone and sandstone etc. rocks. The question is, how long did it take for those sediments in which they are encased to surround and bury those tree trunks, and ensure that they were fossilsied? Minutes, hours, days, possibly weeks. But most certainly not hundreds, thousands or millions of years.

    "Berthault's claims have been utterly demolished".

    REPLY: Berthauld proved by laboratory experiment that rapidly deposited sediment sorts into parallel strata composed of different sized material - larger material deposited first, then smaller and smaller size particle material deposited on top. We see this sequence of sedimentary layers time and time again in the geological record; they even have a name: cyclothems.

    "Trilobite predecessor fossils have been found".

    REPLY: Kindly name them and describe them and explain how you know them to have been antecedent creatures from which trilobites descended.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    CrockyDuck, if you are going to address someone, at least have the courtesy of getting their name right.

    "especially all the genocide, rape, incest, slaughter of innocence, slavery, homicide, infanticide, oppression of women, subservience and Godly self-adulation. Not bad for the rantings of a desert tribe of nomads." usual diatribe from someone who does not understand what he is reading.

    "All fossils demonstrate a transition from one thing to another. It’s like asking for a fossil that shows the transition from an child modern human to an adolescent! The very fact that we can't pigeon hole fossils into clear and agreeable categories is a demonstration of their transitional nature." Well done for contradicting yourself. Where are the fossils that show, for example, that humans evolved from some primeval ape?

    "Science=evidence, peer review and reproducible testability." Well, at least we're agreed on something.

    "Religion=faith=belief without ANY evidence." Good definition of the theory of evolution.

    "Show me just one piece of scientifically accepted evidence to support either a young earth OR a creator – just one!" Difficult when peers are so set in their ways as to reject any evidence out of hand. If I try and explain my thoughts on it, would you consider it with an open mind?

  • Comment number 51.

    48> "Trilobite predecessor fossils have been found".

    REPLY: Kindly name them and describe them and explain how you know them to have been antecedent creatures from which trilobites descended.

    Have a look at http://www.trilobites.info/origins.htm Note key words such as "probably", "it is reasonable [to assume]", "we can infer", "been interpreted as", "suggest", "The evidence is neither clear nor unambiguous". All statements of faith. Not proof.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    @48 With regard to polystrate fossils, see the TalkOrigins page on the subject. Flood geology is not an explanation.

    Berthault (do spell the name correctly) showed that sedimentary layers could form rapidly in a small laboratory tank. This tells us nothing about sedimentary rocks in the real world. Your understanding of cyclothems is faulty - they form over very long periods of time.

    Quertus45 @51 has supplied the link for trilobite origins. His/her comments are nonsense - read the article. We don't know everything about trilobite origins; that does not mean you can fill the gaps with creationism.

    As usual, creationists flatly refuse to actually read and understand the science, preferring to rely on the nonsense peddled by earlier creationists.

  • Comment number 54.

    "46. Quartus45 wrote: I've always found that those three disciplines support Creation."

    They most certain do support the Universe being brought into existence and slowly forming to it's present state, they just don't support it happening 6000 years ago ( just ~13,750,000,000 years ago).




    "47. My definition of science is something that can be tested, observed and proved. Guesswork and assumptions are excluded. What's yours?"

    Something similar.

    But for yours to be true you'd have to ignore everything from tidal calculation, heat transfer, radiometric dating, helioseismic verification & geneticists (I dunno if you believe in Genetics or not) calculation of genetic divergence.

    Which is what I find puzzling. You may as well pretend Newton never existed as ignore all that.

  • Comment number 55.

    Two things could easily doom the species: a discovery by traditional Chinese medicine that the Coelacanth has "healing properties" or if the Japanese develop a taste for Coelacanth sushi.

  • Comment number 56.

    36. At 16:58 30th Jun 2011, zampos wrote:

    REPLY: Could you please supply one clear case of where we have proof that one creature, or 'kind', or species, has actually transformed itself into a wholly separate creature/'kind'/or species - and then we can debate whether we have even ONE clear example of evoultion in action, let alone 'millions'.


    Why yes, the recent discovery that the species of mosquito responsible for most malarial transmission is evolving into 2 seperate species would be a good start

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=121210

    or

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=malaria-carrying-mosquitoes-might-b-2010-10-21

    Of course if there was a god, you could ask him why he allows the resulting deaths, over half in children under five years of age (one ever 30 seconds), to continue

    any study of drug resistant bacteria would also be worthy of your attention. Far more so than the creation myths of a bunch of bronze age desert nomads and a lot more relevant to the actual world we live in

    Victor Stenger put it best - Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings

  • Comment number 57.

    I know that this sounds pretty weird but I think I saw one of the fish snorkelling in the Komodo Islands (Indonesia) a few years back. It was lying stationary in shallow water off a beach on a small island. I have done a lot of diving around the world and had seen nothing like it before. When I asked the local boatman to take a look he didn't have a clue what it was. I checked with the local dive centre in Labuan Bajo and described the fish and looked through the local marine encyclopedias but with no results. After seeing the pictures in this article from the BBC I'm pretty sure that this is the fish. Does anyone know if this is actually possible?

  • Comment number 58.

    to all you Creationists/grand designers who challenge scientists for proof, where is your creator/designer now. At the other end of the universe creating another "Earth", having a sleep or a cup of tea? If such an omnipotent entity exists ask "It" to appear on TV just for 5 minutes to explain not how but why It created us and what It does in Its spare time

  • Comment number 59.

    Hello Everyone

    @ Sal. It's possible you did see a Coelacanth, they're appearence is distinctive and theoretically they could move into shallow water if they wished. Some people suggest until relatively recently it was a shallow water inhabitant. May I recommend Fishbase.org ? It's a comprehensive database of fish that may help you identify what you saw. I'd add that if the fish you saw was actually 'lying' in contact with the ground it might have been another species of fish. It's my understanding Coelacanths have yet to be observed resting on those fins (and a whole other can of marine worms).

    @Anyone Interested. There's a good read on the Coelacanth (ISBN 1-85702-907-0), a book called 'A fish caught in time' by Samantha Weinberg. It's got some interesting further reading in the back of it.

    I'm enjoying this thread, it's nice to see different belief systems intelligently argueing instead of it degenerating into the usual internet forum nonsense :)

  • Comment number 60.

    @58 marvinman

    You wrote: "Where is your creator/designer now? At the other end of the universe creating another 'Earth', having a sleep or a cup of tea? If such an omnipotent entity exists ask 'It' to appear on TV just for 5 minutes to explain not how but why It created us and what It does in Its spare time".

    REPLY: Whilst this discussion is now moving away from explanations for the 'mystery' of the coelacanth, which is where we started, in answer to your question, Christians who are also young earth creationsists - and who point out that no verifiable historical statement in the Bible has ever been disproved (whilst many have been confirmed down to the tiniest detail) would also point out that the Lord Jesus Christ has done better than 'appear on TV for 5 minutes', he actually lived here on earth for 33.5 years, for the last 3.5 years of which he answered all the questions you've posed above and many others. He spoke of the original creation of Adam and Eve and confirmed in numerous sayings the historicity of the Old Testament including the account of Noah's Flood. In confirming the historicity and accuracy of Genesis, he confirmed that the coelacanth was created on Day 5 of the magnifcient 'Creation Week'.

    Mystery solved.



  • Comment number 61.

    @ Zampos

    'and who point out that no verifiable historical statement in the Bible has ever been disproved'

    The Tyre prophecy.

    Ezekiel predicted (Ezekiel 26) that King Nebuchadnezzar would assemble an army and destroy the city of Tyre on God's orders (nice guy, that God by the way).

    'I will silence the music of your songs; the sound of your lyres shall be heard no more. I will make you a bare rock; you shall be a place for spreading nets. You shall never again be rebuilt, for I Yahweh have spoken, says the Lord GOD Ezek. 26:1-14'

    Archaeological evidence shows that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the land based part of the city but failed to destroy the island portion of the city. Years later, Alexander the Great came along and captured the island city, but spared it in exchange for 3,000 slaves. The city is a thriving port in Lebanon to this day.

    This is just one of many errors in the Bible (you can't breed striped goats by having them mate near stripy trees, for example [Gen 30:25-43])

    I look forward to whatever verbal gymnastics are required to wriggle out of this

  • Comment number 62.

    A very readable book on the discovery of the Coelacanth (which has the feel of a detective novel and even a political thriller at times) is "A fish caught in time" by Samantha Weinberg ISBN1-85702-907-0. This starts in 1938 and takes the story through to 2000.

  • Comment number 63.

    If creation depends on all fossils being the same age, then it's surely based on wishful thinking rather than any real attempt at understanding. Nothing in science disproves the existence of god, but plenty shows creationism up for what it is: making excuses for irrational belief.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ ALL,

    Creationism rocks; why consider anything else?

    -God made everything in six days (he had a well-earned rest on the seventh). He even made all the stars, some so far away you can't even see. And that was 6000 years ago. Some of the stars' light is only just reaching us, after journeying for 12 billion years, so isn't it obvious that everything was created only 6000 years ago?

    -Lucy didnt really ever exist. God put old bones in the ground to give people things to dig up. He is also a patron of the Palentology Society, which is why he dreamed up a whole plethora of dinosaurs that never really lived, just so people can dig them up

    -And why are people criticising the Bible for rape, pillage, sacrifice, genocide etc. Please just read the good bit, and ignore the bad bits. In fact, don't even talk about them or discuss them. If you do, I and people like me will just come out with some self-serving spiel and rhetoric to avoid the question. Babble, if you like. Ooops, don't mention that word either. Any way, genocide.... what's wrong with it? as long as only non-believers get slaughtered! Any way, the Bible is full of good stories, for example the one where a father is gonna knife his son to please God. Here, here

    -and forget about what that Darwin-bloke and others like him say. Pure babble (ooops, sorry, again). Finches with different beaks? So, what?

    Anyway, better get back to my reading. Gonna teach my children about some of the stories in the Bible.

    Regards

  • Comment number 65.

    Sorry, not ignoring you guys, just very busy. I'll try and get back to you tomorrow

  • Comment number 66.

    "@4: Fortunately, Coelacanths still do reproduce somewhere. In Tanzania, at least 3 pregnant females and several juveniles were accidentially caught by local fishers off Tanga and the adjacent Mwambani Bay. As the highest number of Coelacanths anywhere in the World was caught there, the whole area has in 2009 been gazetted by the Government as the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park.

    However, at the same time, Government now plans a new deep-sea port in Mwambani Bay, though the neighboring Tanga Port is much underutilized. Port experts recommend upgrading of the old port rather than a new one, see
    www.tnrf.org/node/7066 "Does Tanga need a new port?"

    The new planned 'deep-sea' Port will require massive dredging, landfills and blasting of coral reefs right in the middle of the new marine park, and on top of the known location of the local Coelacanth population. No Environmental Impact Assessment has been done so far, but villagers are already evicted from their land and properties for the new port.

    If these plans go ahead, the Tanzanian Coelacanth population will be doomed, and with it, the land, properties and livelihoods of thousands of poor fishers and farmers, and last but not least, also the tourism potential of a wonderful land- and seascape of the new Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park!

    Do we need another battle of the conservation community like the one against the Serengeti highway? For more info see:
    http://www.tnrf.org/files/E_INFO_MWAMBANI_DOSSIER_November.pdf"

  • Comment number 67.

    Crockyduck 49: “Ref. the bible, I have read it, - it’s very interesting, especially all the genocide, rape, incest, slaughter of innocence, slavery, homicide, infanticide, oppression of women, subservience and Godly self-adulation. Not bad for the rantings of a desert tribe of nomads.”

    Please give examples and your reasoning for the belief that it was written by a desert tribe of nomads.

    “All fossils demonstrate a transition from one thing to another.”! For example?

    “It’s like asking for a fossil that shows the transition from an child modern human to an adolescent! The very fact that we can't pigeon hole fossils into clear and agreeable categories is a demonstration of their transitional nature.” (and your response at 52).

    Sorry, no contradiction, I misread it. Humble apologies.

    ““being brainwashed into believing in evolution” – are you for real!?

    Yes, I’m certainly for real.

    “Science=evidence, peer review and reproducible testability.”

    Correct

    “Religion=faith=belief without ANY evidence.”

    Again, correct. But I’m talking about Christianity and Creation, not religion (Islam, RC, Hindu etc). The Bible says (James 1:27): “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” That makes even some atheists “religious” -I’m sure even you are kind to old ladies and help animals across the road! ;-)

    “Show me just one piece of scientifically accepted evidence to support either a young earth OR a creator – just one!”

    If I do, will you consider it with an open mind?

  • Comment number 68.

    52. “apologies for getting your screen name wrong, - although you do appear a bit sensitive about it?!”

    Possibly – blame my upbringing when it was hammered into me that you do not misspell a person’s name when it’s written in front of you. Gracious apology accepted.

    “If you have ever stepped inside a natural history museum, (oh the heresy of it!) and looked at the many, many, many fossils such as 'lucy', 'peking man' and the dozens of others you could not rationally deny the descend of man from some form of 'primeval ape'.”

    Ah, the Natural History Museum in London. One of my favourite places. Founded, of course, by the creationist Richard Owen. I wondered when someone would introduce Lucy and Peking Man to the debate. There are various species of Australopithecus, of which Lucy is one, that have been at times proclaimed as human ancestors. Detailed study of the inner ear, skulls and bones suggest that ‘Lucy’ and her like are not on the way to becoming human. They may have walked more upright than most apes, but not in the human manner. They are more akin to the pygmy chimpanzee. Peking Man, or Homo erectus, has left remains around the world. While they are smaller than the average human today, with an appropriately smaller head (and brain size), the brain size is within the range of people today and studies of the middle ear have shown that Homo erectus was just like us. Remains have been found in the same strata and in close proximity to ordinary Homo sapiens, suggesting that they lived together. If this is so, then we cannot possibly have evolved from them.

    “Comparing the theory of evolution by natural selection to faith/religion is at best a joke, at worst total ignorance and naivity.”

    But the theory of evolution is a faith statement – indeed, some would even say it is a “religion” itself.

    “Ref. evidence for a young earth, -…..“

    If only.

    “the bileble (intentional mis-spelling!)”

    Very mature. Just because you do not believe it, doesn’t mean you should revile it. Show some respect and you will be treated with respect.

  • Comment number 69.

    lanK49 53: “We don't know everything about trilobite origins; that does not mean you can fill the gaps with creationism.”

    Nor does it mean you can fill it with conjecture. I stand by my comments that the terms used in that evolutionist article are statements of faith, not science.

  • Comment number 70.

    D Dortman 54: “But for yours to be true you'd have to ignore everything from tidal calculation, heat transfer, radiometric dating, helioseismic verification & geneticists (I dunno if you believe in Genetics or not) calculation of genetic divergence.”

    I certainly reject radiometric dating, and therefore any findings that follow on from it. Let’s look at uranium. Although it was discovered as an element in 1789, its radioactive properties were not discovered until 1896. It is stated as indisputable fact that the element has a half-life of uranium-238 is 4.47 billion years (according to /ie.lbl.gov’s WWW Table of Radioactive Isotopes. I don’t know what the definition of a billion is. Some say it is one thousand million, others say it’s one million million. For this illustration, I’ll assume it’s one thousand million.

    So how do we test this claim of a half-life of 4.47 billion years with any degree of accuracy? Well, we’ve had 115 years in which to study it. If we take each year as a separate entity, that’s 115 out of 4,470,000,000. The website surveysystem.com gives a sample size calculator. If we want to be 99% certain that we are right about this, with a 0.1 confidence level, we need a sample size of 1,663,481. 99% right may not be right at all.

    However, it you want to get a feel for trends, you must take your samples from across the whole range. When I did my statistics training many years ago, we were taught that you should take at least 10% of the range from across the whole range. 1,663,481 is nowhere 10%. Science has only the last 115 of the years in the range. You simply cannot look at the data from this minute sample and draw conclusions for the whole range. You do not KNOW what the data is 200 years ago, 2,000 years ago, etc etc. To say you do, based on such a small sample, is ridiculous. You are also assuming that the factors that affect decay were the same throughout the history of the thing. You’re actually assuming the starting point and working back to it. It has not been documented what the start level was or what happened in between. From what I have read on all forms of dating procedures, there are too many “assumed to be”s involved. Even if it was true that it takes 4.47 billion years to get back to a projected level of radiation, how do you know the sample being studied was actually formed with that particular radiation level. It was not observed. It was not recorded. It’s sheer conjecture. Thus it is not scientific to state it as fact. The same arguments apply to forms of radioactive dating.

    “You may as well pretend Newton never existed as ignore all that.”

    Would that be Sir Isaac Newton? You do know he was a creationist?

    You say that the fact that coelacanths are virtually the same now as the old fossils shows that they had no need to evolve. It is a fact that they are reproducing after their kind. This is what the Bible says they would do.

  • Comment number 71.

    @post 67 Quartus 45

    You are performing circular logic, as do all religious people who try and justify their "faith".

    Visiting "orphans and widow in their afflictions" IS being KIND....... YES.
    Just because the Bible says "Pure religion is.........etc" does NOT mean helping widows or orphans is religion.

    If we go by your logic (circular) then if the Bible said defacating while reading a newspaper is holy and religion, would that mean going to the toilet is a religious act? A nonsense analogy to a nonsense argument. Being kind is not being religious, it is simply being kind.

  • Comment number 72.

    The problem is with "religious" people is they measure up everything with what the Bible says. But who decided the Bible was the right text for everything? Religious people did. It goes round in circles.

  • Comment number 73.

    Quartus45 (#70),
    Uranium-238 has a specific activity of about 12,445 Bq/g
    That is, 1 gram of 238U produces about 12,445 radioactive disintegrations PER SECOND. So if you wait about 4.5 billion years the same sample would still produce about 6,222 disintegrations per second. That's a lot of data points every second. A fairly cheap radiation counter would probably capture at least half of these decays, so I don't think you would have to do a very long experiment to collect enough data for a good calculation of the half life! A modern computer with a bit of linear regression software will do the rest in a few microseconds.
    I think you're really beating a dead horse by questioning the accuracy of measurement of radioisotope decay. Question some other part of the methodology which is likely to have bigger errors.

    If you just want to question evolution as a scientific venture more generally, I suggest you start asking people for specific predictions that the theory makes.

  • Comment number 74.

    elway999 - unbelievable, have you actually thought about what you wrote?

    thefrogstar - you are STILL basing the half-life on unobserved assumptions. I'm quite sure linear regression software will produce the results you want - but are they correct? The ONLY way to state it categorically as fact is to record the start point. Smoke and mirrors, that's all you guys present. It's just your blind belief that prevents you from seeing it.

  • Comment number 75.

    "70. Quartus45 wrote:

    D Dortman 54: “But for yours to be true you'd have to ignore everything from tidal calculation, heat transfer, radiometric dating, helioseismic verification & geneticists (I dunno if you believe in Genetics or not) calculation of genetic divergence.”

    I certainly reject radiometric dating, and therefore any findings that follow on from it."



    Lets assume that is completely wrong, what about all the rest? All put the age of the Earth far beyond 6000 years old, even Dendrochronology puts us back 11,000 years these days.

    Do for example you believe that the speed of light isn't constant?

    You may not, but then I may as well say "Prove that God exists", you cannot, therefore God does not and Evolution must.





    "Would that be Sir Isaac Newton? You do know he was a creationist?"

    That he was, he was also a Arianist something directly against the teaching of the bible. So does that mean we believe what he said is true or not?

    Darwin, of course, originally trained as an Anglican priest.... so does that make Evolution more or less likely?






    "You say that the fact that coelacanths are virtually the same now as the old fossils shows that they had no need to evolve. It is a fact that they are reproducing after their kind. This is what the Bible says they would do."

    You're thinking of Evolution as ladder, a progression, it is not (although it can seem like that).

    The reality is they will not be exactly the same, nor likely the same species as those found in fossilisation (if you could magic one up and try to get them to breed with current species). They will share a common ancestor and the current Coelacanths have a much closer morphology to that common ancestor than other branches from that common ancestor (assuming as many believe it was ancient Coelacanths that were the branch that produced land based vertebrates).

    Any more than Humans evolved from Chimpanzees, or in fact that Chimpanzees haven't evolved (both Chimpanzee species and humanity just share a common ancestor).

    A lack of morphological difference doesn't necessarily mean genetically the same. We can see this in humanity, there's more genetic divergence in native African human populations than every other human population in the rest of the world. This is because those populations in Africa have had longer to develop such genetic divergence, yet equally all humanity shares the same morphology (certainly if we were to be fossilised) and still likely would even if a population had been isolated long enough to speciate.

  • Comment number 76.

    Quartus45 (#74 and #70),
    I'm quite happy to discuss the assumptions in my post #73. The primary assumption is that the measured decay rate of Uranium-238 is the same today as it was in the past. I can confidently say that it is the same today as it was when it was first measured, and that it will be the same tomorrow. If it is measured again tomorrow it will be the same. Whether it is measured by me, by you, by a person in China, by a person in the USA, by a Christian, by a Muslim, by a person with white skin, black skin, or sky-blue pink skin.
    Calculating the half-lives of other, shorter lived radio-isotopes, works equally well using the same techniques. There are also plenty of other elements that half-lives shorter, and longer, than 6000 years. There is an abundance data in this matter. If someone doesn't believe the theory, they do at least have the opportunity to check it for themselves (but I recommend that you do not try and buy Uranium on the internet).

    Now, by contrast, I can not be confident that the age of the world is given by what I read in book that was written in a foreign language many centuries ago. That book was written (by more than one person?) decades after the events it describes, hand copied inumerable times, translated, recopied inumerable times, retranslated, recopied, and also apparently reflects the opinions of a man in the sky with a beard who never puts in an appearance.

    Can you see why I am more confidant of the chronology presented by radio-isotopes ?

  • Comment number 77.

    thefrogstar - 76: "The primary [ ie, the main amongst many] assumption "

    I rest my case. My argument is equally valid for all other forms of dating.

    "That book was written (by more than one person?) decades after the events it describes, hand copied inumerable times, translated, recopied inumerable times, retranslated, recopied, and also apparently reflects the opinions of a man in the sky with a beard who never puts in an appearance." Typical claim made by a cynic, with the unnecessary sneer at the end about the "man in the sky with a beard". Do please grow up.

    Yes, the original texts have been copied many times. It is known that there was a strict methodology in the copying process, based on checksums. After the various checks were complete, if there were errors, the copy was binned and the work started again. We can therefore be confident that the copies are accurate.

    Even today, many languages have words or concepts that are not available in others. As we learn more, so we can fine tune. For example, the KJV says, in the Ten Commandments, do not kill. The word used actually means murder, so the correct translation, we now know, is do not murder. Another criticism often levelled is that of slavery. Today we think of slavery as being the inhumane kidnap of black Africans, sailing them across the ocean and putting them to hard labour. Slavery in the times of the Bible was totally different - it was more a form of servanthood, and there were laws about respecting the welfare of those servants - including the Year of Jubilee, when servants [slaves] were set free.

    Now, you say God never puts in an appearance. How on earth do you arrive at that conclusion? Just because He cannot be seen, doesn't mean He doesn't exist and His existence has been proved beyond doubt countless times. People like you refuse to accept the evidence. That does not invalidate the evidence. When I get time, I will tell you what God has done in my life.

  • Comment number 78.

    I have been reading this thread for a couple of days now. I smile that people can still actually believe that the world is 6000 years old. i do get why people hold onto faith/religion and how they use it as a crutch for life.

    I like how different isotope decay rates, tree ring etc etc etc all have to be fiddled at different rates to fit in with the Bibilcal timescales. Claiming the "asumption" arguement as resting your case is the bog standard answer creationists give simliar to "missing fossils". I think its the ignorance that annoys me so much

  • Comment number 79.

    @78 Blackwidow

    I know what you mean, I've been following this for the last few days with interest (and a bit of disbelief too!) I've even made a few entries myself earlier.

    The only thing I would say different to your post, is that I don't really believe it is ignorance that that people of religious sway are demonstrating, it is more delusion. They "educate" themselves with circular reasoning and logic (eg if the Bible says that God said to his people to be kind, then anyone who is kind must be religious!!!).

    But if it helps them through their lives, then I don't personally have a problem with it. Live and let live etc. The only time I do have a problem with it is when it is forced down people's throats (eg in a child's classroom). Some schools give a "balanced" view, but in other schools children have no choice and can only learn the religious side.

  • Comment number 80.

    elway999 -79: YOU are the one using circular reasoning. "anyone who is kind must be religious" The Bible does not say that, I did not say that.

    As for your ridiculous comment about "forcing our views down people's throats".. it is the evolution theory that is forced upon us. As it proved here, anyone trying to present the alternative view is rudely shouted down.

    Blackwidow 78, says we're fiddling various "readings" to reach Biblical timescales. I have shown how it is the other way round. You don't want to accept these timescales so you make up these fantastic ages by assumption.

    Give me POSITIVE proof, instead of circumstantial evidence which has been shown to be faulty and then we can talk.

    Anyway, off to work now, to further glorify my Creator.

  • Comment number 81.

    Quartus

    It seems you are actually doing "shouting down". Ridiculous is in the eye of the beholder.

    In your post (#67) you wrote this:
    That makes even some atheists “religious” -I’m sure even you are kind to old ladies and help animals across the road! ;-).

    Is that not saying being kind is religious? You need to read your own posts better. But if you need to delude yourself that some ATHEISTS are religious then that's up to you.

    You also need to understand what circular logic actually means. I tried (but obviously failed) to convey that in post 72.






  • Comment number 82.

    Honestly, Quartus45, you tell me to grow up (#77), but continue to peddle a creation myth that has the credibility of a children's fairy tale. Whether you consider it sneering or not (my post #76), "God as a man in the sky with a beard” was how I understood Genesis when I was 4 years old. I didn't believe it then, and I've not heard a better version from a “young earth” proponent in the succeeding 44 years.

    Your attempted criticisms of radio-isotopic half-life determinations don't cross a scientific threshold, and the evidence for the creationist myth is little better than hearsay and anecdote. Many UFO stories are better substantiated. There are at least living people who claim to have seen the Loch Ness Monster and taken photographs. People have written books about that too, but it doesn't make it true.

    I have never stated there are no assumptions in scientific theories. They all have them. Just as mathematics has axioms and the US constitution has “self evident truths”. But scientists have a duty to explain their assumptions where necessary and relevant. I stated the primary one, and gave what I consider to be a reasonable justification. You then continue to dismiss radioisotope half-life determinations on the grounds of.......well.......nothing as far as I can see, other than because you want to.
    Btw Your post #77 seems to have gone-off-the-rails a bit. Where did slavery creep into the discussion? You don't think it possible, do you, that you have misinterpreted my written words and made an incorrect assumption? No. Of course not. Despite the fact that creationists play pretty fast and loose with logic on a regular basis.

    Anyway, I'd better cut this answer short, or the moderators might start objecting. You may pray for me if you think it will help.

  • Comment number 83.

    @Zampos - I think LOL sums it up! There is no point picking apart your argument as if you really believe what you posted, you seem to have managed to avoid using logic all your life so far and I can't see that ever changing.

  • Comment number 84.

    If I say I believe creationism..do I also have to believe all that other stuff like Adam and Eve and talking snakes,walking on water and coming back from the dead etc?I do think that evolution has some truth.Whales have evolved smaller gullets so they aren't able to swallow men(and keep them safe in their bellies for three days)anymore.

  • Comment number 85.

    thefrogstar - all I am asking for is some credible evidence to back your theories. All I get are assumptions, which are then claimed as hard and fast fact. This is NOT scientific. Once you are able to give me proof positive, do please come back and discuss it. For the time being, though, I will continue to accept the theory that has more evidence to support it. I've spent years believing the evolution theory, not even knowing there was an alternative. Now I know there is an alternative (creation) and have compared the two, I find the evidence for creation more compelling than than for evolution. I'm not the one doing the shouting down, as you claim. I would like to put my views in a polite manner and if, for scientific reasons, you don't want to accept them, fine. But please don't do it on the basis of a set of mere, unprovable, assumptions.

    So, some CREDIBLE evidence, please! Stuff that is based on FACT, not ASSUMPTION. Is that asking too much?

  • Comment number 86.

    Is not believing the bible assumption, assumption that over generations that the 'story' has accurately been told.

    i believe Alister Beswick hit the nail on the head theres no point arguing as no amount of evidence will ever be good enough, i feel quite sorry for the people that follow something so blindly.

    i will lead my life by my moral codes of doing whats right towards other people. I shall now go back to my Richard Dawkins book on evolution and smile that 40% of Americans (and a few on here) actually believe the bible word for word. Ark, walking on water and all.

    love how Dawkins picks apart the 'animals left the ark and this is how you can explain world distributions' every single marsupial trooping off to austrialia (no where else on the planet can they be found) so strict they were not to leave one single animal anywhere else on the planet.

    Magnetic fingerprinting on newly formed rocks on the mid atlantic ridge showing the flipping of the magnetic poles, and the age of the crust at either side (from young to millions of years old the further you get from the ridge on either side

    This is of course all 'asumption' and therefore can not be used and i have no doubt will be met with a much more robust reasons how this is all accounted for by the bible.

  • Comment number 87.

    Quartus45
    You have called most people's evolution evidence and science as assumption, and continually asked them to come back with CREDIBLE(caps lock!) evidence. You have also stated the evidence for creationism is more compelling.
    Would you be kind enough to share that compelling evidence to us all? I have never seen any compelling evidence for it.

  • Comment number 88.

    elway99, I have already cited some evidence, must I repeat myself? You guys have even admitted that your timescale of millions of years is based on multiple assumptions. Even if you made only one assumption, if that assumption is wrong, the whole argument is wrong. As there are many assumptions (as confirmed by thefrogstar) there is too much opportunity for more than one to be wrong. I have shown that you cannot state as fact that a half life of zillions of years exists based on observation of a minute percentage of measurements covering solely the end chunk. Measurements MUST be taken over the whole range.

    To get back on-topic, the coelacanth is still recognisably a coelacanth from ancient fossil to current living creature. There may be some minor differences (MICRO-evolution, if you must use the e-word) but it has still demonstrably "reproduced after its kind". This is what Genesis said it would do, and the evidence supports this.

    Please note I have not said creation is PROVED. Conversely, I constantly hear that evolution HAS been proved. You people object to me believing in creation - fine, I'm happy to change my opinion back again, but all I'm asking for is something credible and so far you have signally failed to do so. Repeating old evolutionist mantra and sneering at the alternative isn't the way to do it.

  • Comment number 89.

    Quartus45

    Really? That's it? I asked for your credible evidence, and the first half of your entry was simply saying everyone else's evidence is wrong.

    So, the only evidence that you offered for creationism is that a coelacanth is still recognisably a coelacanth. That makes me laugh out loud that you ask everyone one else for CREDIBLE evidence.

    I think I'm going to stop adding to this blog chain now. There has been more than enough opinions shared, and definately more than enough evidence given in this chain for evolution. But little (in fact, no) evidence for creationism.

  • Comment number 90.

    elway99 - 89: that is NOT what I said and you know it. "the first half of your entry was simply saying everyone else's evidence is wrong." I didn't say that and you know it. I said that there is sufficient evidence to doubt the accuracy of something that you are stating as hard and fast fact. "So, the only evidence that you offered for creationism is that a coelacanth is still recognisably a coelacanth. " Only? Nonsense. How about the fossil record? DNA? There is more but what's the point? You won't look at it.

  • Comment number 91.

    Quartus45,
    "thefrogstar - all I am asking for is some credible evidence to back your theories.."
    No you're not. You are merely insisting, ad nauseum, that the measured half-life of Uranium-238 does not remain constant. I am merely asserting, along with all the scientific literature (i.e. the evidence=data) that it is constant. It has not been found to change. You show me the data that it has.
    You are employing the classical bait-and-switch techniques so often employed by creationists: Ask for evidence; Question the evidence;Ignore the refutation of your argument, and quickly move on to something else if your opponent appears to have some knowledge of the subject.

    I ask you now to show me the evidence that the half-life of Uranium-238 has ever been shown to vary significantly from the published data. I have shown myself willing to discuss the subject, but you continue to revert to the argument that scientific theories encompass uncertainties. Of course they do, but scientists make efforts to quantify and correct the uncertainties, not pretend that there are none.

    I also add that even if you don't want to count tree-rings or annual layers in the Greenland ice-sheet going back many thousands to millions of years, there is a multitude of other independent corroborations. Radioisotopic dating works just fine for dating places/artifacts from biblical times, and further back in recorded human history. But your thesis requires that it must suddenly stop working some time around 6001 years ago, never mind 4.5 billion years!

  • Comment number 92.

    ....and also, Quartus45,
    Just how high do you think this 'biblical flood' went (that apparently created all the fossils at one fell swoop)? The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets also rise thousands of metres above sea-level. Where could all that water have come from? Where did it go? Did it pour off the waterfall at the edge of the earth?

  • Comment number 93.

    thefrogstar

    91: No, laddie, I'm not "insisting, ad nauseum, that the measured half-life of Uranium-238 does not remain constant." I am telling you that it is unknown, it has not been recorded, it has not been observed. Please get with the programme.

    "I ask you now to show me the evidence that the half-life of Uranium-238 has ever been shown to vary significantly from the published data". I have CLEARLY shown you that you CANNOT make assumptions based on a minute fraction of data. The time since the element was discovered is a drop in the ocean compared to the supposed half-life. That is all that has been studied, at the very most. For a trend study to be valid, you must take sample data from the whole range, and at least 10% (although my training told me 17% minimum). In other words, you must have observed data from near the beginning, various points in the middle and near the end. Using purely data in the final 0.01% simply will not do, and to make sweeping assumptions about the other 99+%, and portraying these as fact is ridiculous.

    92: Had you read Genesis, you would have known the answer to this.

 

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