Missing Fish Link the New Icon
Jonathan Witt, quotes Icons of Evolution, has commented on the new 'missing link' Tiklaalik. Wells notes many of the similarities between this 'missing link' and Archaeoptryx. Some good quotes from his book that are relevant. Reminding us of how fossils are not a good basis for lineage..
Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature... [wrote:] "No fossil is buried with its birth certificate" ... and "the intervals of time that separate fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry and descent." It's hard enough, with written records, to trace a human lineage back a few hundred years. When we have only a fragmentary fossil record, and we're dealing with millions of years -- what Gee calls "Deep Time" -- the job is effectively impossible... Gee concludes: "To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story -- amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific."And then of course, there is the ol Archaeoptryx claims which were announced with the same fan-fare when the fossils were first discovered...
Some biology textbooks continue to present Archaeopteryx as the classic example of a missing link. Mader's 1998 Biology calls it "a transitional link between reptiles and birds," and William Schraer and Herbert Stoltze's 1999 Biology: The Study of Life tells students that "many scientists believe it represents an evolutionary link between reptiles and birds."
But both sides in the current controversy over bird origins agree that modern birds are probably not descended from Archaeopteryx. And although the two factions disagree about the ancestry of Archaeopteryx, neither one has really solved the problem. Following the logic of Darwin's theory to sometimes silly extremes, cladists insist that the ancestors of Archaeopteryx were bird-like dinosaurs that do not appear in the fossil record until tens of millions of years later. Their critics look to animals that clearly lived earlier, but have not yet found one similar enough to Archaeopteryx to be a good candidate. As a result, both sides are still looking for the missing link.
Isn't it ironic that Archaeopteryx, which more than any other fossil persuaded people of Darwin's theory in the first place, has been dethroned largely by cladists, who more than any other biologists have taken Darwin's theory to its logical extreme? The world's most beautiful fossil, the specimen Ernst Mayr called "the almost perfect link between reptiles and birds," has been quietly shelved, and the search for missing links continues as though Archaeopteryx had never been found.
Somethings never change....Evolution continues to rely on a sliding scale of evidence. Every time one evidence collapses, they find something else to prop up their rickety old theory.