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Thread: jawbone of the missing link found.

  1. #1 jawbone of the missing link found. 
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    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11...ink_candidate/

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599...56-401,00.html

    this norwegian article contains a picture:

    http://www.aftenposten.no/viten/article2101742.ece


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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    you forgot to mention what the missing link is from.


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    "the missing link of human origin" then perhaps?
    its the first sign of one of our earlier ancestors, that were not exactly bipedal,
    but not exactly quadripedal either, from the period around 10 million years ago.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    from the articles, i thought it was either the common ancestor to apes and humans, or at least a predecessor to the common ancestor to apes and humans. not really the human origin.
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    As spurious can point out more concisely than I there really is no such thing as a missing link. Evolution is generally a smooth process (despite Gould's punctuation). There is no sudden change from one species to another, except in retrospect. The term is misleading and it provides creationists with false support for their rejection of evolution.
    Every time you find a 'missing link' all you have done to create two more. Find those two and you have created four more. And so on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    As spurious can point out more concisely than I there really is no such thing as a missing link. Evolution is generally a smooth process (despite Gould's punctuation). There is no sudden change from one species to another, except in retrospect. The term is misleading and it provides creationists with false support for their rejection of evolution.
    Every time you find a 'missing link' all you have done to create two more. Find those two and you have created four more. And so on.
    I suspect that full-blooded Creationists do their best never to understand this point. Wonder if it would help to point out that your mother is the missing link between you and your grandparents, but if you're adopted and never find your birth mother, it doesn't mean she didn't exist.
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    the missing link is generally accepted as the transition phase between a ape-like quadriped hip, to a human-like bipedal hip.
    so generally, the missing link isn't 1 fossil, its several.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    there are no transition phases between species.

    There are just different generations that share an ancestor(s).
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    there are no transition phases between species.

    There are just different generations that share an ancestor(s).
    thats nonsense.
    we're in constant transition between each generations evolutionary step,
    back to the very first living organism.
    transition = change.

    you want to turn this thread into a war of semantics, similar to the nonsensical bullshit going on in the religious threads?

    i thought this was a forum for scientific discussion and debate, not semantic quibbling.

    and there HAS to be transitional species between a badly adapted, and exceptionally adapted species.
    an example:
    the emu is far more adapted to being a 2-legged bird than the ostrich,
    as it has been evolving over a larger timespan.
    it has done away with the wings, and developed a way to keep its eggs warm, without the wings that the ostrich needs.
    the ostrich is a more transitional species, than the more fully developed emu.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    the missing link is generally accepted as the transition phase between a ape-like quadriped hip, to a human-like bipedal hip.
    so generally, the missing link isn't 1 fossil, its several.
    I have never noticed in my reading of literature on primate and human evolution any reference to "missing links". It is simply a misleading and unhelpful concept. Yes, you will find it referenced in the popular press and even non-specialist science publications like New Scientist and Scientific American, but they have to sell copy - and 'missing links' have popular appeal.
    However, they do not have a place in a scientific context. They might cite a transition such as you describe as being important, but they will not - in my experience - call it a missing link.
    As Spurious points out, forms can only be observed to be transitional in retrospect. Until then everything is just a sequence of parents and offspring.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    the missing link is generally accepted as the transition phase between a ape-like quadriped hip, to a human-like bipedal hip.
    so generally, the missing link isn't 1 fossil, its several.
    I have never noticed in my reading of literature on primate and human evolution any reference to "missing links". It is simply a misleading and unhelpful concept. Yes, you will find it referenced in the popular press and even non-specialist science publications like New Scientist and Scientific American, but they have to sell copy - and 'missing links' have popular appeal.
    However, they do not have a place in a scientific context. They might cite a transition such as you describe as being important, but they will not - in my experience - call it a missing link.
    As Spurious points out, forms can only be observed to be transitional in retrospect. Until then everything is just a sequence of parents and offspring.
    Thanks for that enlightenment.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    It is worth noting, dejawolf, in your example I have read at least half a dozen news articles which refer to a 'missing link'. In contrast here is the abstract from the original paper:

    Extant African great apes and humans are thought to have diverged from each other in the Late Miocene. However, few hominoid fossils are known from Africa during this period. Here we describe a new genus of great ape (Nakalipithecus nakayamai gen. et sp. nov.) recently discovered from the early Late Miocene of Nakali, Kenya. The new genus resembles Ouranopithecus macedoniensis (9.6–8.7 Ma, Greece) in size and some features but retains less specialized characters, such as less inflated cusps and better-developed cingula on cheek teeth, and it was recovered from a slightly older age (9.9–9.8 Ma). Although the affinity of Ouranopithecus to the extant African apes and humans has often been inferred, the former is known only from southeastern Europe. The discovery of N. nakayamai in East Africa, therefore, provides new evidence on the origins of African great apes and humans. N. nakayamai could be close to the last common ancestor of the extant African apes and humans. In addition, the associated primate fauna from Nakali shows that hominoids and other non-cercopithecoid catarrhines retained higher diversity into the early Late Miocene in East Africa than previously recognized.
    Yutaka Kunimatsu, et all A new Late Miocene great ape from Kenya and its implications for the origins of African great apes and humans
    PNAS published November 16, 2007, 10.1073/pnas.0706190104

    Note the reference (my emphasis) to the last common ancestor. That is the important terminology, not missing links.
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    i seem to have misplaced the meaning of missing link.
    i thought it meant "last distinguishable human ancestor" where it was "human and apes' common ancestor".

    i fully agree that the difference between the human and ape's common ancestor will be nearly indistinguishable from their sons and daughters whose
    genes eventually lead down the path of the human and ape.

    i agree "missing link" might be a bit easier to mold into a different meaning, than "common ancestor", but i'm sure religious fanatics and fundamentalists will find ways to bend "common ancestor" into new and interesting misunderstandings.
    words are malleable..
    on several occasions, i've been uttering sentences, that in different contexts, can serve entirely different meanings.
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    I think while we may not quite be on the same page yet, we are now in the same chapter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    there are no transition phases between species.

    There are just different generations that share an ancestor(s).
    thats nonsense.
    we're in constant transition between each generations evolutionary step,
    back to the very first living organism.
    transition = change.

    you want to turn this thread into a war of semantics, similar to the nonsensical bullshit going on in the religious threads?

    i thought this was a forum for scientific discussion and debate, not semantic quibbling.
    There is nothing semantic about it. In fact you just repeated what I said.

    so basically we are agreeing, but I like to be anal. as usual.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i'm the link between my parents and my children, but i haven't gone missing yet
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    and there HAS to be transitional species between a badly adapted, and exceptionally adapted species.
    an example:
    the emu is far more adapted to being a 2-legged bird than the ostrich,
    as it has been evolving over a larger timespan.
    it has done away with the wings, and developed a way to keep its eggs warm, without the wings that the ostrich needs.
    the ostrich is a more transitional species, than the more fully developed emu.
    That's a bit drastic isn't it?

    Besides a prejudice against wings, what evidence do you have that ostriches are badly adapted for the savannah?

    Everything we learn about evolution seems ot show that, for a given environmental condition, every species we find there will show signs (amazing signs) of adaptation for that environment.

    All evolutionary biologists also tend to make the point that if a population's environment changes rapidly (geologically speaking) then either that population will get wiped out or, if it adapts, the adaptation will take place over a very small period of time (less than 100,000 years or so) such that the likelihood of anything fossilising for the in-between period (between the population at the start of the rapid period of change, and the population at the end) is so slim as to be almost negligible.

    This is why, I thought, that the concept of a missing link is a biologically bootless one: (as I pointed out above) each generation is connected by a link to the previous ones, and any lost generation is a 'missing link'; there's very little chance of finding fossils representing a rapid transition of a populations morphology from one type to another.

    And has the emu really been adapting for a longer time? There seems to be no particular evidence for this: they're all ratites.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Ratite evolution seems to be pushed into the cretaceous and lived together with non-avian dinosaurs.

    Nature 433, 305-308. Definitive fossil evidence for the extant avian radiation in the Cretaceous
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    Besides a prejudice against wings, what evidence do you have that ostriches are badly adapted for the savannah?
    .
    did i say badly adapted? no, i said "transitional species" as in, its not fully specialized yet. hypocricy abound..

    here's another example of a fully specialized bird, the elephant bird:


    the giant birds of new zealand has had the longest evolutionary history,
    and have therefore had time to adapt more fully.



    "terror bird"

    the moa:



    american rhea:


    notice how they all completely lack, or have smaller wings than the ostrich?
    for a running bird, wings are dead weight.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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  21. #20  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf

    notice how they all completely lack, or have smaller wings than the ostrich?
    for a running bird, wings are dead weight.
    Excuse me! The wings of the ostrich are a specialized structure.

    They regulate temperature.

    The ostrich lives in an environment which has temperature differences that can be quite extreme, from close to freezing to close to baking hot.

    The naked patches of skin on the flank act as regulators in conjunction with the wings. The wings cover the patches when the animal needs to retain heat, and uncover them when it needs to lose heat.

    Never assume things in nature. Because nature will always surprise you.
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  22. #21  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    Besides a prejudice against wings, what evidence do you have that ostriches are badly adapted for the savannah?
    .
    did i say badly adapted? no, i said "transitional species" as in, its not fully specialized yet. hypocricy abound..

    here's another example of a fully specialized bird, the elephant bird:


    the giant birds of new zealand has had the longest evolutionary history,
    and have therefore had time to adapt more fully.



    "terror bird"

    the moa:



    american rhea:


    notice how they all completely lack, or have smaller wings than the ostrich?
    for a running bird, wings are dead weight.
    Apolgies if I misquoted you, but I still find stuff to be puzzled about in your exposition.

    1. There's no such thing as a transitional species - except if you are comparing a species in the past with those that (you presume) preceded and succeeded it. Every living species is a species, period. None of them is transitional - or all of them are.

    2. As I tried to point out, the ostriches, cassowaries, rheas and emus are all ratites, and therefore have the same length of evolutionary history. None of them is 'more' evolved than any of the others.

    3. As Spuriousmonkey points out above, your feeling that the possession of wings is somehow unspecialised or transitional, has no warrant in the evidence of nature. It may simply be a human prejudice in favour of neatness, but it means nothing in terms of evolution: natural selection is not teleological and so has no preference for tidiness. Let's never forget the vermiform appendix, or the ridiculous paths our genital piping has to take - we humans too, are unspecialised transitional (by your defintiions) animals.

    cheer

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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    what i think dejawolf is referring to is the word "apomorphic", further removed from the ancestral condition - despite being equidistant in genetic terms, some species have shown more morphological change than others

    in short, the words specialised and transitional are not characteristics of a species, they only have meaning when comparing related species - but even then this should not reflect teleological values
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    I think you have speared the heart of the apparent contradictions between the different positions being presented here, Marnix. Neat job.
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  25. #24  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I think you have speared the heart of the apparent contradictions between the different positions being presented here, Marnix. Neat job.
    Agreed. Not teleological.
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