Thread: A Mathematical Model of the Fossil Record's Creation?

1. Darwin wrote:

Why should not Nature take a sudden leap from structure to structure? On the theory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why she should not; for natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by the short and sure, though slow steps. — Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life."
Given the remarkably slow changes in the evolution of species over time, as required by Darwin's hypothesis, what is the probability that millions of fossils collected randomly from a fossil record spanning 650 million years would show a pattern of abrupt appearances and equally abrupt extinction events for most fossil species and that these highly visible fossil species would span an intervening time of many millions of years without any evidence of evolution?

The evolution hypothesis should not be called true science without passing obvious mathematical tests. Suppose that the millions of fossils already collected randomly from the entire fossil record can be sorted and cataloged as belonging to n distinct species S1, S2, S3, … Sn. Let Mi (i=1,2,3, …,n) be the number of fossils discovered for species Si. Assuming that each fossil was taken randomly from a virtually smooth continuum of fossils, how do we measure the likelihood that the fossil record supports the idea that Darwinian evolution took place?

To imagine a 650 million-year timeline is easy. To reasonably estimate the mathematical distribution of catastrophes over time that caused the ancient animals to be fossilized seems doable. What is preventing us from being able to create a mathematical model of the fossil record's creation?

http://www.everythingimportant.org/devolution

2.

3. your "smooth continuum of fossils" is a mirage
the gaps in the fossil record are such a continuum is possibly the worst imaginable way to model that record

not only are there substantial gaps in the record, but it is also lumpy in space, time and types of creatures that are preserved

the first requirement of a mathematical model is that is a simplification without being an oversimplification, because in the latter case the model's predictions have no validity whatsoever

4. Originally Posted by marnixR
your "smooth continuum of fossils" is a mirage
the gaps in the fossil record are such a continuum is possibly the worst imaginable way to model that record

not only are there substantial gaps in the record, but it is also lumpy in space, time and types of creatures that are preserved

the first requirement of a mathematical model is that is a simplification without being an oversimplification, because in the latter case the model's predictions have no validity whatsoever
Absolutely correct. Further, even something as recent as when the first paleo Americans came to the western hemisphere, we do not have a skeleton of the first arrivals at all, though we have bountiful well dated context with lithic evidence.

5. For a fossil to be found, the past geologic and climate setting needed to be rather restricted. Some much has escaped fossil formation over those 650 million years that we can't ever be sure. Mathematics is so precise, in my opinion, that the gaps prevent any math model to actually be valid. I think the purpose of examining fossils isn't for us to make math models but to perhaps see the transitional steps that we think need to happen for speciation to occur.

6. Originally Posted by Ecosphere
For a fossil to be found, the past geologic and climate setting needed to be rather restricted. Some much has escaped fossil formation over those 650 million years that we can't ever be sure. Mathematics is so precise, in my opinion, that the gaps prevent any math model to actually be valid. I think the purpose of examining fossils isn't for us to make math models but to perhaps see the transitional steps that we think need to happen for speciation to occur.
However, O. C. Marsh did a pretty decent job of stringing Equus (horse) evolution together.

7. Originally Posted by jlhredshift
Originally Posted by Ecosphere
For a fossil to be found, the past geologic and climate setting needed to be rather restricted. Some much has escaped fossil formation over those 650 million years that we can't ever be sure. Mathematics is so precise, in my opinion, that the gaps prevent any math model to actually be valid. I think the purpose of examining fossils isn't for us to make math models but to perhaps see the transitional steps that we think need to happen for speciation to occur.
However, O. C. Marsh did a pretty decent job of stringing Equus (horse) evolution together.
Actually Marsh did are really bad job at a possible line , which has lasted much longer then it should have. Straight line equid evolution has been recognized to be incorrect for almost (over??) half a century now. Modern diagrams of Equidae show a brnching bush like structure with many dead end off shoots which include some of Marsh's direct line genera.

8. Indeed. Creationists love to cite this one as evidence of how screwed up evolutionists are, or alternatively how we will manipulate the evidence to suit our own ends (whatever they are). In contrast it is a beautiful example of the ability of science to self correct, but creationists don't see it that way. (That raises my Haeckels. :wink: )

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