“Tiktaalik”, Why it is a failed Prediction

Tiktaalik is still being used as a successful prediction of something. I know it was supposed to be a successful prediction of universal common descent because it is A) Allegedly a transitional form between fish and tetrapods and B) It was found in the “correct” strata because allegedly no evidence of tetrapods before 385 million years ago- plenty of fish though and plenty of evidence for tetrapods around 365 million years ago- Tiktaalik was allegedly found in strata about 375 million years old- Shubin said that is the strata he looked in because of the 365-385 range already bracketed by existing data.

The thinking was tetrapods existed 365 mya and fish existed 385 mya, so the transition happened sometime in that 20 million years.

Sounds very reasonable. And when they looked they found Tiktaalik and all was good.

Then along comes another find that put the earliest tetrapods back to over 390 million years ago.

Now had this find preceded Tiktaalik then Shubin et al. would not have been looking for the transitional after the transition had occurred- that doesn’t make any sense. And that is why it is a failed prediction- the transition occurred some 25 million years before, Shubin et al., were looking in the wrong strata.

That said Tiktaalik is still an interesting find, something that no on else had ever found and it adds to our knowledge base of organisms that once existed. But that is all it does.

Let’s return to our problem of how to find relatives of the first fish to walk on land. In our grouping scheme, these creatures are somewhere between the “Everythungs” and the “Everythings with limbs”. Map this to what we know of the rocks, and there is strong geological evidence that the period from 380 million to 365 million years ago is the critical time. The younger rocks in that range, those about 360 million years old, include diverse kinds of fossilized animals that we would recognize as amphibians or reptiles. My colleague Jenny Clark at Cambridge University and others have uncovered amphibians from rocks in Greenland that are about 365 million years old. With their necks, their ears, and their four legs, they do not look like fish. But in rocks that are about 385 million years old, we find whole fish that look like, well, fish. They have fins. conical heads, and scales; and they have no necks. Given this, it is probably no great surprise that we should focus on rocks about 375 million years old to find evidence of the transition between fish and land-living animals.- Neil Subin pages 9-10

Just as I have been saying- go figure. Got that- he was looking for evidence of THE transition- he was not looking for any ole transitional form. And there isn’t any reason why a transitional form would be around millions of years after the transition occurred.

But anyway, the point is had the new data been available to Shubin- the data that puts the transition back to before 390 million years ago- that whole set up would be meaningless and wrong. Meaning he would not have been looking where he did.

245 thoughts on ““Tiktaalik”, Why it is a failed Prediction

  1. How is this “argument” any different from “if humans evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys”?

  2. Don’t you understand that transitional forms (and isn’t everything transitional?) exist in a continuum? Your thoughts don’t reflect how evolution works.

  3. Rich:
    Don’t you understand that transitional forms (and isn’t everything transitional?) exist in a continuum? Your thoughts don’t reflect how evolution works.

    Geez Rich –

    1- He did NOT say he was looking for a transitional form- that is in the OP you didn’t read

    2- There isn’t anything in the theory that says a transitional form will be around millions of years after the transition was made- you don’t have any idea how evolution works

  4. Ido:
    How is this “argument” any different from “if humans evolved from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys”?

    Well perhaps you could actually read the OP as opposed to responding to the title, you would know the answer to that question.

  5. When looking for evidence of the transition- as Shubin said he was- one looks between two data points- as Shubin said.

    However his data points were wrong as (the new data shows) tetrapods existed before his data had them existing.

  6. Joe G: Just as I have been saying- go figure. Got that- he was looking for evidence of THE transition- he was not looking for any ole transitional form. And there isn’t any reason why a transitional form would be around millions of years after the transition occurred.

    No Joe, he was looking for *A* transitional. There was not enough evidence at the time to declare it *THE* transitional. There still isn’t.

    One possibility is the the transition for fish to terrestrial animals happened more than once, in more than one lineage. Another is the complete transition was drawn out a lot longer than previously thought. The finding of fossilized tracks earlier than Tiktaalik’s doesn’t diminish the importance or transitional nature of Shubin’s find in the least.

    What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

  7. Thorton: No Joe, he was looking for *A* transitional.There was not enough evidence at the time to declare it *THE* transitional.There still isn’t.

    One possibility is the the transition for fish to terrestrial animals happened more than once, in more than one lineage.Another is the complete transition was drawn out a lot longer than previously thought.The finding of fossilized tracks earlier than Tiktaalik’s doesn’t diminish the importance or transitional nature of Shubin’s find in the least.

    What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

    Thorton- read my OP- I presented Shubin’s words from his book you never read.

    And your definition of “tarnsitional form” is “it looks like a transitional to me”

  8. So far three evos have responded and not one has demonstrated a reading of the OP.

    Still staring at me Elizabeth?

  9. Joe G: All forms are transitional in a question-begging scenario, yes.

    Oh. Do you believe that evolution has stopped, or perhaps it never happened or it can’t happen? (fixity of species). I’m seeking clarification so I know where I can pick this up.

  10. Joe G: Thorton- read my OP- I presented Shubin’s words from his book you never read.

    I have the book in front of me Joe. Even the section you quoted agrees with me:

    Shubin: “Let’s return to our problem of how to find relatives [plural – T] of the first fish to walk on land.”
    “Given this, it is probably no great surprise that we should focus on rocks about 375 million years old to find evidence of the transition between fish and land-living animals”

    He was looking for evidence of the transition, not “THE” transitional.

    And your definition of “tarnsitional form” is “it looks like a transitional to me”

    No Joe. A transitional fossil between two lineages means it shows morphological traits of both. That doesn’t necessarily mean the two are related by direct descent.

    What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

  11. Rich: Oh. Do you believe that evolution has stopped, or perhaps it never happened or it can’t happen? (fixity of species). I’m seeking clarification so I know where I can pick this up.

    Again you have no idea what evolution is- as I said if you have a simple change in allele frequency over time, within a population, you have evolution.

    But anyway it would be nice if you could stay on-topic by actually responding to the OP.

    First you have to read it.

  12. Thorton: I have the book in front of me Joe.Even the section you quoted agrees with me:

    Shubin:”Let’s return to our problem of how to find relatives [plural – T] of the first fish to walk on land.”
    “Given this, it is probably no great surprise that we should focus on rocks about 375 million years old to find evidence of the transitionbetween fish and land-living animals”

    He was looking for evidence of the transition, not “THE” transitional.

    No Joe.A transitional fossil between two lineages means it shows morphological traits of both.That doesn’t necessarily mean the two are related by direct descent.

    What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

    I said he was looking for evidence of the transition, not a transitional- you have something wrong with you.

  13. Joe G: Again you have no idea what evolution is- as I said if you have a simple change in allele frequency over time, within a population, you have evolution.But anyway it would be nice if you could stay on-topic by actually responding to the OP.First you have to read it.

    Please engage me, Joe. I’m trying to find a common starting point, ground that we can both agree on. The very reasonable question I politely put above is a good faith attempt at that. So please answer me.

  14. Joe G: I said he was looking for evidence of the transition, not a transitional- you have something wrong with you.

    What other evidence of a transition other than a transitional would there be, in fossil format? Please be specific, and more polite. Thanks!

  15. Rich: What other evidence of a transition other than a transitional would there be, in fossil format? Please be specific, and more polite. Thanks!

    Read and respond to the OP, please- or go away.

  16. Joe G: Please read and respond to the OP- or go away

    I’ve read it (found parts to be misunderstandings), have repeatedly tried to talk to you about them, and I’m staying right here, thanks. What is YOUR understanding of intermediaries, Joe? A topic highly relevant to ” I know it was supposed to be a successful prediction of universal common descent because it is A) Allegedly a transitional form between fish and tetrapods ” (your words).

  17. Rich: I’ve read it (found parts to be misunderstandings), have repeatedly tried to talk to you about them, and I’m staying right here, thanks. What is YOUR understanding of intermediaries, Joe? A topic highly relevant to ” I know it was supposed to be a successful prediction of universal common descent because it is A) Allegedly a transitional form between fish and tetrapods ” (your words).

    What misunderstandings? Please be specific- Shubin was specific and if he had the new data he would not have looked where he did.

    So with Tiktaalik and the new tetrapod find we have fish-> tetrapod-> fishapod, whereas Shubin wanted to show we have fish->fishapod-> tetrapod.

  18. So on one had you contend:

    Joe G: 2- There isn’t anything in the theory that says a transitional form will be around millions of years after the transition was made- you don’t have any idea how evolution works

    But then you say:

    Joe G: So with Tiktaalik and the new tetrapod find we have fish-> tetrapod-> fishapod, whereas Shubin wanted to show we have fish->fishapod-> tetrapod.

    I hate to break it to you, but “fish” are still with us today! (I try to stay current with breaking scientific news). You might want to revisit one or both of your positions.

  19. Rich:
    So on one had you contend:

    But then you say:

    I hate to break it to you, but “fish” are still with us today! (I try to stay current with breaking scientific news). You might want to revisit one or both of your positions.

    So fish are a transitional form between fish and tetrapods?

    Where are all the transitionals, Rich? Why is tiktaalik extinct?

  20. Still waiting-

    What misunderstandings? Please be specific- Shubin was specific and if he had the new data he would not have looked where he did.

    So with Tiktaalik and the new tetrapod find we have fish-> tetrapod-> fishapod, whereas Shubin wanted to show we have fish->fishapod-> tetrapod.

  21. Joe G: So fish are a transitional form between fish and tetrapods?

    No, between what became before and what came after.

    Joe G: Where are all the transitionals, Rich? Why is tiktaalik extinct?

    What exactly is it you want, a fossil for every tiny morphological change that happened? Is it possible for a father to die but the grandfather and son to still be alive?
    This particular creationist trope is fully debunked here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/01/casey_luskin_embarrasses_himse.php

  22. Joe G: So fish are a transitional form between fish and tetrapods?

    Well, some modern fish are, in a sense, yes (e.g. lungfish), between ancestral fish and tetrapods except that they’ve done a lot more evolving than a fossil population dating from not so long after the divergence. But yes, that’s why we can do cladistics (as Linnaeus did) using just extant species.

    Where are all the transitionals, Rich? Why is tiktaalik extinct?

    Most populations go extinct.

  23. Joe G:

    So with Tiktaalik and the new tetrapod find we have fish-> tetrapod-> fishapod, whereas Shubin wanted to show we have fish->fishapod-> tetrapod.

    I don’t see where you find support for the fish->tetrapod->fishapod transition. Who besides you supports this? Reference?

    That by dating of the tracks, Tiktaalik appears to be a later descendent or relic of an actual ancestor of tetrapods doesn’t change that it evidences transitional features between fish and tetrapod.

  24. Quite a lot of stuff moved.

    Please read the rules, guys. Joe, I know it’s frustrating when people don’t seem to understand, but it cuts both ways. If this site is going to work, it will require tolerance on everyone’s part, including tolerance of what seems like obtuseness or ignorance on the part of others.

    And name-calling is just silly.

  25. RobC: I don’t see where you find support for the fish->tetrapod->fishapod transition. Who besides you supports this? Reference?

    That by dating of the tracks, Tiktaalik appears to be a later descendent or relic of an actual ancestor of tetrapods doesn’t change that it evidences transitional features between fish and tetrapod.

    Well, for one, there isn’t any evidence for a fishapod before the existence of tetrapods.

    There isn’t any evidence for Tiktaalik in strata predating 390 mya.

    .

  26. Rich: No, between what became before and what came after.

    What exactly is it you want, a fossil for every tiny morphological change that happened? Is it possible for a father to die but the grandfather and son to still be alive?
    This particular creationist trope is fully debunked here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/01/casey_luskin_embarrasses_himse.php

    Fish came before and after fish. But as I said before I have an idea for an experiment evos can conduct that would help support their claims- it involves fish and fish embryos.

    What do I want?

    For starters I want you to read the OP and actually respond to it, in its entirety. It appears that you don’t have any idea what my post is about.

    So calm down, take some time, relax and come back when you are prepared to respond to what I am saying.

  27. Joe G: For starters I want you to read the OP and actually respond to it, in its entirety. It appears that you don’t have any idea what my post is about.

    Is it about airplanes? Or romantic poetry? Spare me the hyperbole, please Joe. If you want an in depth analysis (as I do) let’s find a common frame of reference. I need to know:

    Rich: Joe G: All forms are transitional in a question-begging scenario, yes.
    Oh. Do you believe that evolution has stopped, or perhaps it never happened or it can’t happen? (fixity of species). I’m seeking clarification so I know where I can pick this up.

    Thanks in advance.

  28. Rich,

    All you need to do is to read the OP- what I think about transitional forms or evolution is irrelevant as the OP has everything to do with what Shubin said- Shubin’s words are the common frame of reference here.

    IOW any hyperbole is all yours…

  29. And for the record no one has argued for the fixity of species for over 200 years- that was also a strawman of Darwin’s…

  30. Joe G: what I think about transitional forms or evolution is irrelevant as the OP has everything to do with what Shubin said- Shubin’s words are the common frame of reference here.

    He used words that I ascribe a certain meaning to. You also ascribe meaning to them – but are they the same meaning? Given your post regarding the definitions of “evolution” I would have thought you’d be sympathetic to that. So, I’m politely asking again, and I know to clear things up and advance your argument you’ll want to respond:

    Rich: Rich on March 4, 2012 at 11:27 pm said:
    Joe G: All forms are transitional in a question-begging scenario, yes.
    Oh. Do you believe that evolution has stopped, or perhaps it never happened or it can’t happen? (fixity of species). I’m seeking clarification so I know where I can pick this up.

  31. Joe G:
    Rich,

    All you need to do is to read the OP- what I think about transitional forms or evolution is irrelevant as the OP has everything to do with what Shubin said- Shubin’s words are the common frame of reference here.

    IOW any hyperbole is all yours…

    We’ve all read the OP Joe. Did it have a point besides more “Evilution is BAD!!” raving?

    If you’re arguing that Tiktaalik isn’t a transitional form between fish and later tetrapods, you’ve already been soundly refuted. If you had another point in mind, please spell it out.

  32. Oh BTW Joe, I’m still waiting for your answer:

    What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

  33. Thorton: We’ve all read the OP Joe.Did it have a point besides more “Evilution is BAD!!” raving?

    If you’re arguing that Tiktaalik isn’t a transitional form between fish and later tetrapods, you’ve already been soundly refuted.If you had anotherpoint in mind, please spell it out.

    Wow, just wow- strange that I never made the point you claimed.

    And yes Tiktaalik is a transitional form if by transitional form you mean “it sure as heck looks like a transitional form to me”.

  34. Thorton:
    Oh BTW Joe, I’m still waiting for your answer:

    What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

    What’s the blind watchmaker’s explanation? Oh that’s right- there isn’t one…

    ID cares about BIOLOGY

  35. Joe G: And for the record no one has argued for the fixity of species for over 200 years- that was also a strawman of Darwin’s…

    Really?

    http://bible.cc/genesis/1-11.htm

    “…After its kind. – This phrase intimates that like produces like, and therefore that the “kinds” or species are fixed, and do not run into one another. In this little phrase the theory of one species being developed from another is denied.”

    The internet must be older than I thought! ;-)

  36. Joe G: Well I don’t see how answering your tripe will advance the argument I made in the OP, so I will pass

    It’s a shame that you don’t want to clarify and support your ideas further, a pervasive frustration many have with ID in general.

  37. Thorton: What is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

    I’d also love to hear this, so I can calmly compare and contrast the two versions of explanatory power. Thanks in advance!

  38. Joe G: What’s the blind watchmaker’s explanation? Oh that’s right- there isn’t one…

    Sure there is. Tiktaalik represents one of the earliest transitional forms between fish and early tetrapods. There is evidence that it may not be the first or the only such transition.

    Now what is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

    While you’re at it, why don’t you give us your definition of a “transitional fossil”, and tell us how to recognize one when you see it. I already provided my definition above; it’s your turn.

    ID cares about BIOLOGY

    Then why can’t ID provide any answers about BIOLOGY?

  39. Joe, don ‘t give ammunition to those that claim “All ID does is bash evolution, it has no theory of its own”. Show them the ID version of how these events occured.

  40. Thorton: Sure there is.Tiktaalik represents one of the earliest transitional forms between fish and early tetrapods.There is evidence that it may not be the first or the only such transition.

    Now what is ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks?

    While you’re at it, why don’t you give us your definition of a “transitional fossil”, and tell us how to recognize one when you see it.I already provided my definition above; it’s your turn.

    Then why can’t ID provide any answers about BIOLOGY?

    Umm the blind watchmaker doesn’t predict fish nor tetrapods- so that would be a big issue.

    And ID has more answers wrt biology than your position has-

    Now stop trying to hijack my thread.

  41. Manuel Vargosa Llano:
    It’s a waste of time arguing with Joe.He’s proven repeatedly that (a) he can’t learn anything (b) he’s not interested in learning anything and (c) he will never, ever admit a misunderstanding despite (d) not being very bright.So my advice is, don’t waste your time.

    And another evotard chimes in-

    Strange how they all avoid the OP….

  42. Rich: Really?

    http://bible.cc/genesis/1-11.htm

    “…After its kind. – This phrase intimates that like produces like, and therefore that the “kinds” or species are fixed, and do not run into one another. In this little phrase the theory of one species being developed from another is denied.”

    The internet must be older than I thought!

    Really- Linne- you know Linneaus- put the Created Kind at least to the level of “Genera” meaning speciation has been accepted for at least twoo hundred years- baraminology does not advocate the fixity of species.

    IOW you have bought the strawman and refuse to give it up.

    Now I understand you issues…

  43. Joe G: Umm the blind watchmaker doesn’t predict fish nor tetrapods- so that would be a big issue.

    And ID has more answers wrt biology than your position has-

    Now stop trying to hijack my thread.

    I’m only asking you the exact same questions you asked everyone else in this thread Joe. You were given our answers. Why is it wrong to ask for your answers those same questions?

    Please provide ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks.

    Please provide your definition of a “transitional fossil”, and tell us how to recognize one when you see it.

  44. Joe G: Really- Linne- you know Linneaus- put the Created Kind at least to the level of “Genera” meaning speciation has been accepted for at least twoo hundred years- baraminology does not advocate the fixity of species.

    Joe, what “kind” was Tiktaalik?

  45. Joe G: Thorton- you off-topic whining, while entertaining, is still whining-

    Transitional fossil- I do not engage in question begging- it is up to the people making the claim to support it. Take some fish and fish embryos, perform targeted mutatgenesis and see what develops and select from there and do it again – support your claims with biology, not imagination- or just say “we don’t know”

    Now get back on topic please

    I’m dead on the OP topic, which makes one of us. Please answer the questions you demanded everyone else answer:

    Please provide ID’s explanation for Tiktaalik and the earlier fossilized tetrapod tracks.

    Please provide your definition of a “transitional fossil”, and tell us how to recognize one when you see it.

  46. Joe G: one species being developed from another is denied.”

    This is what’s written, Joe. So it’s not a “strawman”. Moreover, it refutes your claim. With hindsight, perhaps such sweeping statements aren’t wise?

  47. If the claim were “Tiktaalik is the transitional form between fish and tetrapods,” and if that claim logically entailed “no tetrapods older than Tiktaalik will be found,” then yes, the discovery of older tetrapod tracks would falsify the prediction.

    However, I don’t think that Shubin made such a claim about Tiktaalik (at least, not on a reasonably charitable interpretation of what he did say), so I don’t think that the tetrapod tracks invalidate the claims that he did make — which are that Tiktaalik gives us a lot more evidence than we had before about how the transition from fish to tetrapod was made. It’s a data-point, after all, not a data-set.

    More to the point: there aren’t any “transitional forms” or “missing links”, if we construe those notions in terms of the Great Chain of Being. The post-Darwinian view of natural history is that there isn’t any Great Chain of Being, and pouring post-Darwinian wine into pre-Darwinian skins will produce only confusion.

    Carl

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