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Crocoduck.jpg

Crocoduck

We study evolution, the single unifying theory in all of the Biological Sciences. In fact, a famous article was published around 35 years ago stating flatly that, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (Dobzhansky 1973). This statement is as true today as it ever has been.

Unfortunately, there are many people today who refuse to acknowledge this fact and, worse, insist on mischaracterizing the theory of evolution and the work of evolutionary biologists. Two such people are Ray Comfort and former Growing Pains star, Kirk Cameron. These two individuals have presented what may be the worst mischaracterization of the work of evolutionary biologists ever. During a debate that took place on Nightline in 2007, Kirk stated that "Science has never found a genuine transitional form that is one kind of animal crossing over into another kind either living or in the fossil record." He then goes on to present the crocoduck pictured above as "what evolutionists have been searching for for hundreds of years." Of course, these statements are preposterous for at least two reasons.

First, transitional fossils by the thousands have been documented by scientists for the past 150 years. One of the best and most recent examples is Tiktaalik, discovered by Neil Shubin and colleagues in 2004 (see this link for a wonderful lecture on the subject). Second, no evolutionary biologist is searching for anything even remotely resembling the crocoduck. The fact is that Ray and Kirk are either intentionally misrepresenting what evolutionary biologists actually think about and do or they are woefully ignorant of the topic they are discussing.

In our lab, we use the crocoduck to remind us that if we plan on criticizing something, we should at the very least understand what it is that we are criticizing. If we don't make that minimal effort, we are as guilty of Ray and Kirk of gross misrepresentation and/or gross ignorance. In either case, these are disgraceful states in which to find yourself.

Of course, I have to mention that an extinct crocodilian with a duckbill shaped snout (Anatosuchus minor) was found to exist in Africa around 100 mya. More info via the bottom de-motivator to the right.

Informative Links

Understanding Evolution - a basic guide to evolutionary theory and its impact on our lives. If you plan on trying to explain why evolution is not real, make sure you understand this stuff first.

The Panda's Thumb - a blog dedicated to "giving another voice for the defenders of the integrity of science."

An Index to Creationist Claims - a comprehensive rebuttal of nearly all creationist arguments against evolutionary theory

The Kitzmiller Decision - the complete text of the ruling by a U.S. District Judge on the 2005 Pennsylvania case in which the Dover school board required a disclaimer on Evolution be read in Biology classes. Read the whole thing if you like (I have) but I think the important points start being made on page 64.

"I get frustrated..." - A great response to the statement, "I get frustrated when you guys can't see the impossibilities of evolution."

Project Steve - In 2001, the Discovery Institute got 103 scientists to sign a statement implying that they dispute evolutions role in the development of life. The National Center for Science Education quickly responded with a similar list stating the importance of evolutionary theory to science and culture. However, they limited their list only to scientists named Steve. As of this writing, the list is 1127 names long. That corresponds to ~110 thousand scientists.

The Talk.Origins Archive - A comprehensive analysis of the creation/evolution debate

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster