Friday, December 1, 2023

The Fish That Landed

Tiktaalik roseae is a 375-million-year fossil fish that was discovered in the Canadian Arctic in 2004. Its discovery is believed to shed light on a point in evolutionary history when the very first fish ventured out onto land. It is sometimes referred to as a "fishapod".

Tiktaalik roseae is a genus of extinct lobe-finned fish from the late Devonian period, when the earliest forests appeared along with land animals such as arthropods (myriapods, arachnids and hexapods). Tiktaalik had some features like those of four-legged animals. It is an example of an ancient sarcopterygian fish which adapted to a swampy oxygen-poor water habitat. The creature is regarded by evolutionists as a transition from fish to tetrapod.

What I find exciting about this discovery is the critical method and logistics of the exploration over four summers in the Alaskan Arctic. Tiktaalik was discovered through a well-conceived methodically launched project to find a predicted specimen and demonstrates the predictive capacity of paleontology. 

The discovery by Daeschler, Shubin, and Jenkins was published in the April 6, 2006, issue of Nature and quickly recognized as a transitional form. Jennifer A. Clack, a Cambridge University expert on tetrapod evolution, said of Tiktaalik, "It's one of those things you can point to and say, 'I told you this would exist,' and there it is."
Neil Shubin, one of the paleontologists who discovered tiktaalik, holding a cast of its skull.

"After five years of digging on Ellesmere Island, in the far north of Nunavut, they hit pay dirt: a collection of several fish so beautifully preserved that their skeletons were still intact. As Shubin's team studied the species they saw to their excitement that it was exactly the missing intermediate they were looking for. 'We found something that really split the difference right down the middle," Daeschler said.

Ahlberg and Clack’s review explains Tiktaalik's importance:

The Nunavut field project had the express aim of finding an intermediate between Panderichthys and tetrapods, by searching in sediments from the most probable environment (rivers) and time (early Late Devonian). Second, Tiktaalik adds enormously to our understanding of the fish-tetrapod transition because of its position on the tree and the combination of characters it displays.

Martin Brazeau, gloats:

"Creationists haven't said a lot about Tiktaalik, and it's no surprise. However, a few responses have trickled out and they more or less run in the same vein. I thought this was a rather telling remark on Tiktaalik posted over on Dembski's blog. We're treated to an excerpt of the pre-transformation version of the DI's original response that goes:

I especially like Crowther’s last sentence which I present in its original form (bold type included): “There’s a problem with the Darwinist position that runs even deeper than this, however: If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?”

Icing on the cake! I love it!!!

What I love even more is all this rhetoric and absolutely no reference to the actual fossil material. So, I'll take that as meaning that these guys have nothing to say about its transitional status. The real icing on the cake is all this puff and no real substance.

Unfortunately, the media's response to the discovery is not quite the same as the palaeontological community's interpretation of it. Therefore, by responding to these articles, creationists and their ilk are just blowing smoke. The importance of Tiktaalik has nothing to do with proving the fish-tetrapod transition. That's pretty much taken care of by a wealth of data from the past 100 years."

One wonders why Brazeau even cares what creationists think. Does he harbor a certain fear that maybe the scheme he presents could point to a Creator?

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