February 01, 2011

Missing Link

There is this 'myth' of there being some steps in the story of human evolution which are as yet unexplained as there is no fossil evidence to back that up. This myth persists because lazy folks like me do not like to read the many books authored on these matters by extraordinary men like Richard Dawkins.

So, here's how my good friend cleared my own misconceptions on the matter:

"The main argument against Evolution is that there are several missing links; in other words no transitional fossils have been found to show the existence of intermediate species.

Firstly, Evolution is not progressive.For example several cave dwelling animals lost their eyes; similarly the common ancestor of horse and humans had five digits but horse has simple single digit feet. So human foot is more primitive.

Man is not the pinnacle of evolution. Evolution is mostly managing with what is in hand; natural selection making subtle changes; not going back to the designer board to correct errors. For example dolphin which evolved from a land mammal that went back to water, could not get gills for breathing; instead it had to make do with lungs; the technique nature adopted was a blow hole in the top to manage to inhale air as soon as it breaks surface every now and then.

Biological transition is not immediate - it happens over a period of thousands of years. It is not like a monkey one day gave birth to a human child. It is more like humans and apes share a common ancestor. The ancestors of homo sapiens were Australopithecus, Homo habilus etc.,

There can be no transitional fossil between an Australopithecus and a Homo habilis because any fossil found would be promptly categorized into either of the two. There has been several disputes as to which category a particular fossil would fall in. And if at all a fossil, say B, intermediate to A and C is found, the creationists would then say, 'now there are two missing links - between A and B and between B and C.' (So says Dawkins in his book Evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth).

Contrary to popular belief the human body is not perfectly designed. There are several imperfections - sinus cavity that opens at the top (makes sense when we were four-legged as then it would be in the front and easy to drain fluid); eye has a blind spot and so on. Dawkins gives the example of the laryngeal nerve in the Giraffes which takes a long detour, running throughout its neck, instead of just hopping across, which is what a designer would have done. Animals appear perfectly designed from the outside - eg., cheetah, gazelle; inside they are a mess. Not something a decent designer would be proud of.

Dawkins' book clarifies a lot of things. Nobody in their right mind can dispute the fact of evolution after reading this.

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