The reason they are thought to be whale ancestors is that they all have a distinctive structure in the inner ear, which today is found in whales and nowhere else. Wikipedia says: "The shape of the ear region in Pakicetus is highly unusual and only resembles the skulls of whales. The feature is diagnostic for cetaceans and is found in no other species." So anything that has this feature is referred to as a whale, even the ones which have four legs.
Imagine the possibilities such logic opens. If the platypus was extinct today we could classify it as a bird since it has a bill, a feature only found in birds. 'So anything that has this feature is referred to as a bird, even the furry ones which have four legs and lack wings and feathers.'
We might also consider classifying it as a viper as it has a venomous spur on the inside of its heel. 'So anything that has this feature is referred to as a viper, even the furry ones which have four legs and lack scales.'
Heck, and since it lays eggs, maybe it's transitional between a snake and bird! A 'twofer'! Oh, the possibilities!!!
The reason conspiracy theorists can introduce a lot of correct facts and still produce weird conclusions is because of the number of dots involved. When you have enough dots, unusual connections can be made.
Let's do a thought experiment. First, the plain truth. Could modern whales have evolved from modern seals? Even if the evolution paradigm is believed, modern whales and modern seals are not in a linage but distant cousins from some other distant relative... "the missing link".
Okay, now pretend that neither whales or seals are known to exist today, how hard would it be to take fossils and imagination to put these two creatures in a linage that professes one turned into the other?
Here is the rub... I've said this before but I'll restate it here...
We have terrestrial mammals, semi-aquatic mammals and aquatic mammals. What does this show? Well it demonstrates that we have terrestrial mammals, semi-aquatic mammals and aquatic mammals. That's it.
The remaining evolutionary inference is assumptions and assertions, not science.
Hippocampus, I do have some questions for you that I'd like answered, when you have time. Can you acknowledge that the OP is correct in questioning the extremely shaky conclusion regarding what the Pakicetus even looked like based in the very limited fragmentary evidence? Also, what does this say about the nature of the evolutionary fields of study in general?
Right on Adam. This reminds me of what Gould once said:
The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils."
Gould, Stephen Jay, "Evolution's erratic pace," Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, pp.12-16, May 1977, p. 14)
and this leads directly to your other point:
I know they're professionals. They have PHDs to make their imaginations more accurate.
An active imagination is a very important - perhaps the most important
- part of the evolutionists toolkit. Let's look at a frank confession of this, courtesy of one Philip D. Gingerich. In the January, 1995 issue of Discover
magazine (1994 The Top 75 Science Stories
). On page 84 we read an item by Carl Zimmer:
The year's second missing-link whale was unveiled in April by Gingerich. Named Rodhocetus, this 46-million-year-old whale falls between the shore-hugging Ambulocetus and the water-bound Prozeuglodon. Rodhocetus's legs were a third smaller than those of Ambulocetus, restricting it to a crocodile-waddle on land. Its legs were shrinking because Rodhocetus no longer depended on them for swimming - massive tail vertebrae indicate that it had a powerful tail that allowed it to go where no whale had gone before. "Ambulocetus was pulling itself up on the shore every night, but Rodhocetus was probably out there for weeks at a time, more committed to the water," says Gingerich. Within a few million years, whales like Prozeuglodon had given up land completely.
While there are many more primitive whales to be discovered, the evolutionary case is now closed. "We were making it up before," says Gingerich. "Now we don't have to."
First, forget about the veracity of the interpretation of these fossils in particular or evolutionary theory in general; what does this say about science as it is practiced by the modern-day evolutionary establishment
? This is a damning admission from a prominent practitioner of the 'evolutionary arts'; the fact that he felt free to offer it and that Discover apparently had no qualms about either the statement itself or publishing it speaks volumes.
Now, a few more things about this confession:
1- Since when is it acceptable scientific practice to 'make it up'? This man should have been run out of the science establishment on a rail; of course he wasn't - because they all do it.
2- Why were they 'making it up' before? He explains in the next sentence; because they 'had to
3- Why did he (and his fellow travelers) 'have to make it up'? Well, in a practical sense, because they didn't have any evidence before. But why did they feel such evidence was so necessary as to 'making it up'? I would say it was because their faith - and the need to convince the public - demanded it. The ends justify the means.
4- I've often wondered what the state of opinion regarding Rodhocetus
is within the establishment these days. If Rodhocetus
has fallen out of favor, is Gingerich and his colleagues back to telling tall tales about whales? I'll have to look into it.
5- Since it is conceded in the piece that '...there are many more primitive whales to be discovered', should we expect more bedtime stories? Such stories may be a bit less...extravagant...as ' the evolutionary case is now closed', but surely these gaps need filled with something
don't they? A little something to tide the faithful over until the 'evidence' is found?
6 - Is the assertion that 'the evolutionary case is now closed' another story?
7- Given that such story telling is acceptable practice in evolutionary 'science', what other stories have we been told in the past? What tall tales are they spinning today while they wait for the evidence to appear?
8- These same people have the gall to poke fun at creationists for believing in the 'religious stories' found in the bible! It seems to me that these evolutionary stories, being motivated by faith (the substance of things not seen - in this case fossil evidence), are at least as religious as those found in the bible.
9 - If a creationist had said this in print (much less in a widely disseminated publication), it would be forever used as proof that creationists 'don't do science, they just tell stories'.
There is a lot to be gleaned from this little story in an old issue of Discover
- I'm glad I kept it.