Notices
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Question about incomplete fossil record

  1. #1 Question about incomplete fossil record 
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    3
    I read that we only have about .1 to 1% of the fossil record available. That leads me to a ? about evolution. If the fossil record is incomplete, which it is, then perhaps we have yet to find fossils that will show species that are dated not in accordance to evolutionary theory.

    Please help me understand. I'm not a creationist or anything. I'm simply a person who has begun the study of evolution and would like a solid understanding.

    Regards,

    Muzikan


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2 Re: Question about incomplete fossil record 
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Goomalling, Western Australia
    Posts
    178
    Quote Originally Posted by muzikan
    I read that we only have about .1 to 1% of the fossil record available.
    That sounds like a guess - can I ask where did you read it?

    As a guess, Muzikan, it might not be unreasonable - when it comes to finding fossils, we have barely "scratched the surface" - but it might be worth noting the difference between the number of fossils, and the number of fossil species ...

    That leads me to a ? about evolution. If the fossil record is incomplete, which it is, then perhaps we have yet to find fossils that will show species that are dated not in accordance to evolutionary theory.
    Can you explain what you mean by that?

    If you're referring to species evolution or mutation which show trend reversals or "dead-ends", examples are already known even in modern animals - whales (marine-land-marine trend reversal), and the Giant Panda (diet-restrictive "dead-end"), for instance ...


    Nature abhors perfection; cats abhor a vacuum.

    "I don't know; I'm making it up as I go ..." Dr H Jones (Jr).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3 Re: Question about incomplete fossil record 
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,079
    Quote Originally Posted by muzikan
    I read that we only have about .1 to 1% of the fossil record available. That leads me to a ? about evolution. If the fossil record is incomplete, which it is, then perhaps we have yet to find fossils that will show species that are dated not in accordance to evolutionary theory.

    Please help me understand. I'm not a creationist or anything. I'm simply a person who has begun the study of evolution and would like a solid understanding.

    Regards,

    Muzikan
    I am also puzzled by your questions.

    It might be fair to say that we only have 1% of the astronomical record available to us, but that does not mean we have the wrong idea about astronomy. Does this analogy help?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    3
    I read that in "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry A. Coyne.

    And to clarify, what I mean is, if we for example, find modern human fossils dated before our ancestor's fossils, then that would disprove evolution. And this would apply to any species. Is there a reason why this isn't plausible? Is this idea far-fetched? I'm sure it has been brought up many times. Is there any indication in the fossil record that show that a more modern species predates an ancestral species? I hope this makes sense..or at least partially.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    55 N, 3 W
    Posts
    1,082
    The question probably relates to the old "fossil rabbits in the Cambrian" argument which, if such a thing was found, would seriously mess up evolutionary theory and provide evidence that individual species were created without common ancestry.

    I'm just guessing here but I think we'd have to assume that the fossil record is a random sample of the organisms that lived in certain environments at a particular time and that were prone to fossilisation. We'd also assume that the collection of fossils itself is a random sample of the record. Thus, with these assumptions, it would make no sense for all the created species to somehow escape fosssilisation. If they were fossilised then it would be unlikely that they have, just by chance, not been found.

    Maybe I got the question wrong though.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Ph.D. Nevyn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    881
    I don't think there is any fossil records that show a more current mordern species predating an ancesteral one. And I don't think it would disprove evolution, surely second evolution could occur? as in one species evolved, got wiped out due to unfavourable conditions, then reamerged to more favourable ones...

    Although it is possible I think it highly unlikely that it exists out there
    Come see some of my art work at http://nevyn-pendragon.deviantart.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,305
    Regarding the human ancestral fossil record, there are many branches that may represent more phenotype than genotype. For example Japanese two centuries ago were tiny people; contrast a modern hulking sumo wrestler. Their leg bones are also shaped quite differently. For other example: Homo floresiensis appears to have lived as recently as the last ice age, but whether it's a separate cousin or ancestor is debatable. If you judge it hideous then you might like to think your ancestors had no relation. But if you note its hugely developed brain frontal-lobes (surpassing modern humans), you might like to think you inherited some of that. It is curious and ironic that the people of Flores hold the last Homo floresiensis disappeared about 500 years ago, insinuating inferiority of different tribes that supposedly interbred with those "non-humans", explaining why this tribe or that tribe is short statued... though modern Indonesians are the second shortest population on Earth. I think much confusion is driven by the myth of "pure ancestral lines".
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Goomalling, Western Australia
    Posts
    178
    Quote Originally Posted by muzikan
    I read that in "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry A. Coyne.

    And to clarify, what I mean is, if we for example, find modern human fossils dated before our ancestor's fossils, then that would disprove evolution...
    or strengthen the argument for time travel ...

    ...

    if such a find is made, it's worth looking at - until then, it's idle speculation ...
    Nature abhors perfection; cats abhor a vacuum.

    "I don't know; I'm making it up as I go ..." Dr H Jones (Jr).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    The fossil record is loaded with examples of fossils of a more 'advanced' type pre-existing a more 'primitive' type.

    However, this just shows the silliness of the labels primitive and advanced.

    I have been doing a little research on dinosaur to bird evolution. A fascinating set of transitions. One of the 'problems' here is that the old fossil Archaeopteryx, which is often viewed as the first bird, was found in strata representing 150 million years ago. A hell of a lot of dinosaur fossils, clearly showing feathers, have been found, which are a lot younger than that. Creationists have tried to make an issue of this, suggesting that a pure dinosaur covered with feathers, like Velociraptor, which existed only 75 million years ago, shows that birds did not decend from dinosaurs.

    However, that argument simply shows their own ignorance of evolutionary processes. There is absolutely no reason why an 'older model' cannot continue to survive while 'more advanced' species continue to change through evolutionary adaptation.

    In fact, a newer fossil has been found in China. Anchiornis is a fossil dinosaur, which is older than Archaeopteryx (160 million years ago) and looks clearly ancestral. While Archaeopteryx is essentially a bird/dinosaur hybrid - a genuine link between the two - Anchiornis is clearly a dinosaur, albeit with feathers.

    So we have Anchiornis at 160 million years. Archaeopteryx at 150 million years. A true bird with a real beak and no teeth, although still retaining some dinosaur features, Confuciousornis, found in 120 million year old strata. And in 75 million year old rocks, we find Hesperornis, which is totally a true bird, although 'primitive'.

    The fact that lots of feathered dinosaurs also survived through this time does not disprove the evolutionary pathway of dinosaur to bird.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10 Re: Question about incomplete fossil record 
    Geo
    Geo is offline
    Forum Junior
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    273
    Quote Originally Posted by muzikan
    I read that we only have about .1 to 1% of the fossil record available.
    99.9% of all living organisms rot. Of this 0.1% the chance of becoming fossilised is very small. It is estimated that less than 1 in 10,000 species has made it into the fossil record. The Earth is estimated to have produced 30 Billion species, there are ~ 250,000 species in the fossil record, that's a proportion of 1 in 120,000.

    So, only 0.0008% of the estimated evolutionary record is in our fossil record!

    Remember the fossil record is skewed, 95% of all the fossils we possess are of under-water animals.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    510
    Sure its a small sample size compared to all the living things that lived on the planet. But even 1% of all livings is alot of fossils, it would seem strange that they support evolution.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    3
    wow you guys really nailed it on the head for me. I appreciate all the responses and for clarifying.

    Skeptic: That makes sense to me now. I used to think that evolution was linear. In other words, one species turns into another but the old species gets lost forever. Obviously this is the epitome of ignorance when it comes to biology and evolution in particular. But that's why I'm here, to understand and to learn. And the dinosaur to bird lineage is quite fascinating!

    Golkarian: Yeah from a statistical standpoint it makes sense. A random sample is much more reliable....even if it is small. I should pull out my stats notes from college and do some calculations...lol.

    Thank you everyone
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •