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Thread: The missing link..

  1. #1 The missing link.. 
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    Hey guys,

    I've been in a few debates recently where people have tried to claim the 'missing link' as a reason to consider evolution a less concrete theory than it clearly is, yet when i press them for information about which sections of the evolutionary chain are missing they dont seem to know what they're talking about.
    These people are just reciting something they've heard somebody else say and i was wondering if someone could just point me to any info on what they might be unfoundedly referring to. I understand the premise of a missing link but im not entirely sure which part of our history is missing.

    Pretty simple question to someone who does know im sure,

    Thanks in advance,
    Yaco.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    The great thing about the 'missing link' argument for a creationist is that it can never be fixed.

    If they have, for example, a request to show a fossil animal half way between a dinosaur and a bird, and you show them one (Archaeopteryx), they can then point out there are now two missing links. One between dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx, and another between Archaeopteryx and birds.

    If you fill those gaps with other fossils, they suddenly discover there are now four missing links.

    If you join them in their lack of rationality, they cannot lose.


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  4. #3  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    proof for evolution does not just lie in the fossil record - the genome, embryology and geographical distribution are equally strong factors in its favour
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  5. #4  
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    There is no missing link. Cannibalism propelled our species into its evolutionary surge.
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  6. #5  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Yacobian,
    the problem has been compounded by overly enthusiastic claims for finding missing links that strictly speaking were not. It is commonplace to find a fossil that shows some of the development from fossil A that are now standard in fossil C. Does this mean we have in fossil B a direct link between the two? Not necessarily. More likely B is a cousin of the true link between A and C. Preservation and subsequent discovery of fossils is such a relatively rare occurence that a perfect line is an impractical desire.
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  7. #6  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    There is nothing but "missing links"
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Unless you know who your grandfather and father were.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    Strictly speaking, since the fossil record of the lineage leading to modern humans is patchy and full of what are probably mostly extinct side-branches on the evolutionary tree rather than our direct predecessors, then it would indeed be fair and accurate to describe the record of our evolutionary divergence from the pan-homo ancestor as being full of nothing but missing links as yet unfound.

    However, the "missing link" phrase has become so loaded and misused that it's best avoided and doesn't really have much scientific validity in the context of human evolution. That the sequence of ancestors has not been unearthed (and may never be) doesn't cast doubt upon the theory - it's just detail that would be nice to have; pointing out such gaps in the fossil record as being weak-points or holes in completely inaccurate.
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  10. #9  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I realize my comment was badly worded and open to misinterpretation... What I intended was the same point made by skeptic in post #2: everything is a transitional form between what came before and what will come next.

    Everywhere you look you see a spectrum of possible forms: e.g. from spores forming on leaves, to specialised leaves for reproduction to fully developed flowers of various forms.

    Yes, there are gaps in the record but that doesn't mean those gaps have to be filled by "creation". It is not surprising that there are gaps in the fossil record, given the number of fossils we have compared to the number of organisms that have lived. And the gaps are not just in the fossil record; sometimes new (to science) living species are discovered. If we don't even know all the species on the planet now, how can we possibly know all those in the past.
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  11. #10  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I understood you precisely, hence my whimsical post. At any rates zwirko's point is the key one - scientists rarely use the term missing link. And those that do, shouldn't.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Masters Degree Golkarian's Avatar
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    "Missing links" would be hard to find, because they'd have to be right on the divide between two groups of organisms, but transitional forms are plentiful and sometimes get pretty close to the "missing link": 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: Part 1
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  13. #12  
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    Given that due to the mechanics of fossilization there needs to be a significant population of a species (millions) for it to appear in the in the fossil record at all, no true "transitional " specimen can ever be found since to be truley transitional there could never have been more that a few of them.
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  14. #13  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I disagree. All organisms are transitional since the gene pool is in a constant state of flux.
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  15. #14  
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    John Galt is right, as most of us would agree evolution is a constant process. But, here is a thought, due to our (human) lack of isolation, will homgony slow down the process.
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  16. #15  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by esr25555 View Post
    John Galt is right, as most of us would agree evolution is a constant process. But, here is a thought, due to our (human) lack of isolation, will homgony slow down the process.
    It should discourage speciation. I suspect there are studies that could illuminate the effect it might have on overall changes, but I do not know specifically of any.
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