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Misleading Museum Whale Exhibit


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#1 Air-run

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:33 PM

I recently visited the science museum here in Seattle and was a bit discouraged to see their gray whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

I had been studying whale anatomy for a little while previous to this and it was immediately apparent to me that they had erroneously displayed the pelvic bones. What made it all worse was the sign in front of the skeleton that talked about the whale's evolution from 4 legged land mammals - calling attention to the "obvious" hind limbs in the skeleton in front of the viewer. (I wish I had taken a picture of the sign.)

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In reality the pelvis of a whale is situated parallel to the spine. Here they dangle the pelvic bones perpendicular to the spine, making them look like little legs. Furthermore, they dangle the little "femur" bone at the end of the pelvis, adding further to the limb image.

In reality, the little bone that is attached to the pelvis of certain cetacean species is attached near the center of the pelvic bone - not via an acetabular cavity as in a typical femur/pelvic connection.

Here is how the little bone is arranged in a humback whale:
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I can't imagine how the curators or construction crew of this skeleton botched these details - especially when the sign makes such a point of drawing attention to them in order to "prove" to little children that whales evolved from land mammals.

I contacted the museum. I was told that the skeleton had been hanging up for a long time, and had been put together by folks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and that they would "consult with colleagues to see what can be done."

It has been several months since my visit, so I'm not sure if anything has changed.


#2 gilbo12345

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:04 AM

Classic!

Propaganda at work, good find.

#3 Gerson

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:38 PM

The 90% of the evolution evidence is pure propaganda.

#4 Portillo

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:09 PM

90% of the evolution evidence is pure propaganda.


Museums are filled with imaginary links and illustrations all shown to prove the overwhelming fact of evolution.



#5 Codex

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 02:53 PM

You very well might be right about the position of the bones being incorrect on the displayed skeleton, but the pelvic bone is also a vestigial structure that serves no purpose in Baleen whales as far as I am aware and they do have vestigial femur bones according to all the research I have done. Here is a site that gives a correspondence between the author and an esteemed marine biologist about this issue:

http://etb-whales.bl...os-of-limb.html

I also found this on SeaWorld's website:
"In baleen whales, the only traces of hind limbs are two reduced, rod-shaped pelvic bones. These non-functional bones are buried deep in body muscle, not connected to the vertebral column."

#6 ChrisCarlascio

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 03:01 AM

... the pelvic bone is also a vestigial structure that serves no purpose in Baleen whales as far as I am aware ...

I also found this on SeaWorld's website:
"In baleen whales, the only traces of hind limbs are two reduced, rod-shaped pelvic bones. These non-functional bones are buried deep in body muscle, not connected to the vertebral column."



Welcome to the forum Codex. Glad to have you here.

These bones are different in males and females[1] and they act as "anchor" points for specific "genitalia muscles"[2] and "help strengthen the reproductive organs"[1]

It's also possible that these bones exist because cetaceans used to have an extra pair of flippers (not terrestrial legs) that helped them to swim with more stability and efficiency and possibly functioned as copulation guides (i.e., they helped them to position themselves and hang on). These would have been lost by a degenerative process (e.g., mutations), similar to the way that I believe most birds lost their teeth or "tomia" (fossil birds show that many of them had teeth). The origin of this degenerative process would be Adam's sin and God's curse.[3]

This can be evidenced by the fact that some dolphins still produce an extra pair of flippers (not legs) today.[4] Katsuki Hayashi, director of the Taiji Whaling Museum was cited as saying that:

"Though odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past, researchers say this was the first time one had been found with well-developed, symmetrical fins."[5]

Notice how Katsuki Hayashi mentioned that odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past? Modern whales sometimes sprout 'hindlimbs' larger than those of its alleged ancestors, and thereby contradicting the alleged trend in hindlimb reduction.

So, there is no compelling reason for considering the whale's pelvic bones as useless evolutionary leftovers of a terrestrial ancestry.

References:

[1] Sarfati, Jonathan (May 1999), "Whale evolution?," Refuting Evolution, ch. 5; http://creation.com/...whale-evolution

[2] Chadwick, D. H. (November 2001), "Evolution of whales," National Geographic 200(5):64-77; http://etb-whales.bl...apted-from.html

[3] Genesis 3:17-19

[4] Wieland, Carl (November 8, 2006), "A dolphin with legs—NOT," Creation Ministries International; http://creation.com/...n-with-legs-not

[5] Tabuchi, Hiroko (November 6, 2006), "Dolphin reveals an extra set of 'legs'," msnbc.com; http://www.msnbc.msn...extra-set-legs/

#7 Codex

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:25 AM

Thanks for the response and the warm welcome! I would like to take some time to read the references you presented as I am no marine biologist, but the information I received from marine biologists contradicts the information you have presented so I would like for us to both get to the bottom of this contradiction!

However I would like to state that I will not be considering this explanation:

"These would have been lost by a degenerative process (e.g., mutations)"

as that is not a viable explanation since harmful mutations are not selected for and do not remain in the gene pool of the population. Harmful mutations occur all the time and you can see this in humans with the various genetic diseases, but they are not selected for and remain a rare occurence rather than propogating through the population such that the defect becomes a permanent feature of the species affecting every organism. This doesn't happen.

#8 Calypsis4

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:38 AM

Thanks for the response and the warm welcome! I would like to take some time to read the references you presented as I am no marine biologist, but the information I received from marine biologists contradicts the information you have presented so I would like for us to both get to the bottom of this contradiction!

However I would like to state that I will not be considering this explanation:

"These would have been lost by a degenerative process (e.g., mutations)"

as that is not a viable explanation since harmful mutations are not selected for and do not remain in the gene pool of the population. Harmful mutations occur all the time and you can see this in humans with the various genetic diseases, but they are not selected for and remain a rare occurence rather than propogating through the population such that the defect becomes a permanent feature of the species affecting every organism. This doesn't happen.


Thanks for the comments.

But you can't dismiss harmful mutations like that.

Nature doesn't:

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#9 Codex

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:56 AM

I stated that harmful mutations occur, I am not denying this... harmful mutations do not stick around to become a permanent feature of the species though. Not all humans have sickle cell anemia, nor will they ever... not all humans have downs syndrome, nor will they ever... It is my understanding that every Baleen whale posseses these vestigial structures, that would not happen if they were a result of a detrimental mutation, as it does not and will not happen with genetic diseases in humans or genetic deformities in other animals. To think otherwise is to grossly fail to understand how selection works. Selection is a very simple concept, those individuals who are more suited to survive and reproduce will survive and reproduce more frequently. A harmful mutation is one that reduces the chance of surviving and reproducing. Via inheritence, harmful mutations will be passed on to offspring infrequently and that genetic information will not spread throughout the species.

Has downs syndrom (Trisomy 21), which is a genetic disease, spread throughout the human population? Of course not, as fewer individuals with downs syndrom reproduce than those without it, so the genes that cause it are not passed on through inheritance very frequently at all. The mutation occurs randomly and at a predictable rate, but it is not selected for so it does not propogate the gene pool to become a permanent feature of the species.

To think that I was arguing that detrimental mutations do not happen is evidence that you did not read or did not understand what I wrote, because in that post I stated, and I quote, "Harmful mutations occur all the time". Given that statement, your pictures of animals with genetic mutations confuses me and leads me to believe you didn't read my entire post. Please try to do so in the future to prevent confusion and misrepresentation.

#10 ChrisCarlascio

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 10:32 AM

Thanks for the response and the warm welcome!


No problem.

I would like to take some time to read the references you presented as I am no marine biologist, but the information I received from marine biologists contradicts the information you have presented so I would like for us to both get to the bottom of this contradiction!


Sounds good.

However I would like to state that I will not be considering this explanation:

"These would have been lost by a degenerative process (e.g., mutations)"

as that is not a viable explanation since harmful mutations are not selected for and do not remain in the gene pool of the population. Harmful mutations occur all the time and you can see this in humans with the various genetic diseases, but they are not selected for and remain a rare occurence rather than propogating through the population such that the defect becomes a permanent feature of the species affecting every organism. This doesn't happen.


Thanks for pointing this out to me.

#11 Calypsis4

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 11:02 AM

I stated that harmful mutations occur, I am not denying this... harmful mutations do not stick around to become a permanent feature of the species though. Not all humans have sickle cell anemia, nor will they ever... not all humans have downs syndrome, nor will they ever... It is my understanding that every Baleen whale posseses these vestigial structures, that would not happen if they were a result of a detrimental mutation, as it does not and will not happen with genetic diseases in humans or genetic deformities in other animals. To think otherwise is to grossly fail to understand how selection works. Selection is a very simple concept, those individuals who are more suited to survive and reproduce will survive and reproduce more frequently. A harmful mutation is one that reduces the chance of surviving and reproducing. Via inheritence, harmful mutations will be passed on to offspring infrequently and that genetic information will not spread throughout the species.

Has downs syndrom (Trisomy 21), which is a genetic disease, spread throughout the human population? Of course not, as fewer individuals with downs syndrom reproduce than those without it, so the genes that cause it are not passed on through inheritance very frequently at all. The mutation occurs randomly and at a predictable rate, but it is not selected for so it does not propogate the gene pool to become a permanent feature of the species.

To think that I was arguing that detrimental mutations do not happen is evidence that you did not read or did not understand what I wrote, because in that post I stated, and I quote, "Harmful mutations occur all the time". Given that statement, your pictures of animals with genetic mutations confuses me and leads me to believe you didn't read my entire post. Please try to do so in the future to prevent confusion and misrepresentation.

You're missing the point, friend. Harmful mutations which are deleterious to or a hindrance to any successful offspring are not balanced by beneficial mutations so that organisms can successfully transform into different types of organisms. That never happens and you can neither demonstrate that one organism has ever changed into an identifialy, classifiably different organism nor can any scientist genetically force organisms to undergo such changes. Change happens but always within the family as per what the Lord determined in Genesis: 'after its kind'. Nature will not go beyond the limitations He imposed.

#12 Air-run

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 11:39 PM

I've done quite a bit of research on the subject of the whale pelvis. Anybody that claims the whale pelvis is non-functional is ignoring the published literature on the subject.

Here's a snippet from a paper I wrote on the subject:

Russian zoologist Alexey Yablokov questions whether a universally present organ in a species can rightly be considered useless or vestigial (1966). In his estimation, structures that become evolutionarily irrelevant will vanish. Yablokov quotes A. A. Malinovskii who wrote “…each small organ, if it has no advantage for the animal, is in itself harmful.” In his book Variability of Mammals, Yablokov addresses the general notion of vestigial organs. He summarizes the early view of vestigial organs—that they are rudimentary structures completely lacking any function. While this view of complete lack of functionality is not held today, ambiguity remains as to when to label an organ vestigial. An organ is generally regarded as vestigial if it appears to be an incompletely developed version of a fully developed organ found in an ancestral species. On the other hand, Yablokov points out that if the main criterion for defining an organ as vestigial is poor development, and not functionality, it does not distinguish between the specialized organ and the vestigial organ. He points out that an organ can become altered in structure for a specialized purpose that may differ from its original purpose. Yablokov considers the cetacean pelvis to be a specialized organ whose structure was modified by a significant change in function at some time in its evolution. For this reason he states, “these organs should not be labeled incipient, embryonic, or ‘rudimentary’ on the one hand, or vestigial on the other.” Yablokov contends that calling the cetacean pelvis vestigial is equivalent to calling the cetacean forelimb vestigial, instead of a calling it a specialized appendage. To Yablokov, an organ should not be considered vestigial if it is found in all members of a species. He thinks the term should only apply to structures that appear randomly in some members of a population; and even then, he notes the difficulty in distinguishing between true vestigial structures and epigenetically controlled morphological variability within a species.

#13 ChrisCarlascio

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:25 AM

I've done quite a bit of research on the subject of the whale pelvis. Anybody that claims the whale pelvis is non-functional is ignoring the published literature on the subject.

Here's a snippet from a paper I wrote on the subject:

Russian zoologist Alexey Yablokov questions whether a universally present organ in a species can rightly be considered useless or vestigial (1966). In his estimation, structures that become evolutionarily irrelevant will vanish. Yablokov quotes A. A. Malinovskii who wrote “…each small organ, if it has no advantage for the animal, is in itself harmful.” In his book Variability of Mammals, Yablokov addresses the general notion of vestigial organs. He summarizes the early view of vestigial organs—that they are rudimentary structures completely lacking any function. While this view of complete lack of functionality is not held today, ambiguity remains as to when to label an organ vestigial. An organ is generally regarded as vestigial if it appears to be an incompletely developed version of a fully developed organ found in an ancestral species. On the other hand, Yablokov points out that if the main criterion for defining an organ as vestigial is poor development, and not functionality, it does not distinguish between the specialized organ and the vestigial organ. He points out that an organ can become altered in structure for a specialized purpose that may differ from its original purpose. Yablokov considers the cetacean pelvis to be a specialized organ whose structure was modified by a significant change in function at some time in its evolution. For this reason he states, “these organs should not be labeled incipient, embryonic, or ‘rudimentary’ on the one hand, or vestigial on the other.” Yablokov contends that calling the cetacean pelvis vestigial is equivalent to calling the cetacean forelimb vestigial, instead of a calling it a specialized appendage. To Yablokov, an organ should not be considered vestigial if it is found in all members of a species. He thinks the term should only apply to structures that appear randomly in some members of a population; and even then, he notes the difficulty in distinguishing between true vestigial structures and epigenetically controlled morphological variability within a species.


Thanks for sharing that. What does the published literature say the function of the whale pelvis is?

#14 gilbo12345

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:03 PM

Thanks for sharing that. What does the published literature say the function of the whale pelvis is?


Personally I'd go with structural support so as to create a frame to house the organs and a developing baby. A whale without hips may be too narrow in that area, or there may not be enough support in case something impacts.

#15 ChrisCarlascio

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 07:54 PM

Personally I'd go with structural support so as to create a frame to house the organs and a developing baby. A whale without hips may be too narrow in that area, or there may not be enough support in case something impacts.


Thanks for your help and that information. I'll save it on my computer (I save every little important fact I hear in documents so I can always have all the information available).

#16 AFJ

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 08:03 PM

I stated that harmful mutations occur, I am not denying this... harmful mutations do not stick around to become a permanent feature of the species though. Not all humans have sickle cell anemia, nor will they ever... not all humans have downs syndrome, nor will they ever... It is my understanding that every Baleen whale posseses these vestigial structures, that would not happen if they were a result of a detrimental mutation, as it does not and will not happen with genetic diseases in humans or genetic deformities in other animals. To think otherwise is to grossly fail to understand how selection works. Selection is a very simple concept, those individuals who are more suited to survive and reproduce will survive and reproduce more frequently. A harmful mutation is one that reduces the chance of surviving and reproducing. Via inheritence, harmful mutations will be passed on to offspring infrequently and that genetic information will not spread throughout the species.

Has downs syndrom (Trisomy 21), which is a genetic disease, spread throughout the human population? Of course not, as fewer individuals with downs syndrom reproduce than those without it, so the genes that cause it are not passed on through inheritance very frequently at all. The mutation occurs randomly and at a predictable rate, but it is not selected for so it does not propogate the gene pool to become a permanent feature of the species.

To think that I was arguing that detrimental mutations do not happen is evidence that you did not read or did not understand what I wrote, because in that post I stated, and I quote, "Harmful mutations occur all the time". Given that statement, your pictures of animals with genetic mutations confuses me and leads me to believe you didn't read my entire post. Please try to do so in the future to prevent confusion and misrepresentation.

Codex the point is the pelvic bone in the museum is a scientific misrepresentation. It is exaggerated. Second, ChrisCarlascio has given you plenty of cited reasons for the pevic bone that you had not read yet in your immediate answer. I think you should.

Third, though you have used sickle cell and down's syndrome as examples in your arguement that no harmful mutation permeates species, I can counter with the example of eyeless fish in caves, and polar bears, both examples of genetic degeneration. The arguements that Chris gave fit the exact findings of most mutations--they are downgrades of wild type genetic material, and some of them--like sickle cell, produce a beneficial result in a certain environments.

Fourth, and most important. The time required for a genetic downgrade is one generation. This is empirical. However it has not been shown how an "upgrade" can occur. For instance, how did a blowhole develope genetically? And if it was not useful in transition, selection would delete it. I see no dogs or wolves, or hippos with vestigal blowholes, so the obvious answer is that the blowhole would have to show up complete in one generation--otherwise it would have not been selected for. Can you coherently explain how this transitional change could happen without generalized theoretical jibberish, and give us a play by play on transition? Science requires measured data, not dogma.

#17 Air-run

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:30 AM

These bones are different in males and females[1] and they act as "anchor" points for specific "genitalia muscles"[2] and "help strengthen the reproductive organs"[1]

It's also possible that these bones exist because cetaceans used to have an extra pair of flippers (not terrestrial legs) that helped them to swim with more stability and efficiency and possibly functioned as copulation guides (i.e., they helped them to position themselves and hang on). These would have been lost by a degenerative process (e.g., mutations), similar to the way that I believe most birds lost their teeth or "tomia" (fossil birds show that many of them had teeth).



Firstly, to clarify something, the extra pair of flippers found in this dolphin is something entirely different from the copulation guides found on species like Basilosaurus and Dorudon. Basi and Dorudon had something more akin to an actual hind limb with phalanges and everything. I've photographed specimens in the museum at the University of Michigan.

The hind flippers found in this dolphin is a case of a mutation found in about 1 in 5,000 cetaceans. They would be useless as copulation guides. In my opinion, they are the result of hox gene mutations where the genetic instructions for the forelimb are accidentally copied in the hind region. Hox mutations can occur with a similar frequency. It is telling that in all published cases of this, the extra hind flippers somewhat resemble the forelimbs. If these were an atavistic reversion to an ancient state of a four-legged ancestor, the turning on of the silenced DNA should result in something that looked more like the limb of a Basilosaurus or Dorudon.

Another interesting tidbit is the fact that if the "femur" in a species like a humpback reverted to some ancient developmental condition where it grew to a normal length, it would actually grow deeper into the body rather than out of it, due to the way the pelvis and "femur" are angled inwards in modern cetaceans. John Struthers made that observation in the late 1800s.

As far as pelvic function goes, you are correct about the anchoring of genitalia muscles.

Simões-Lopes and Gutstein (2004) mention their use in copulation and defecation.
Yablokov (1966) mentions that without the cetacean pelvis, penile erection would not be possible, nor would contraction of the vagina.

Interestingly, the whales with the largest penises also have the largest pelvis bones as a proportion to total body length.

Tajima et al. (2004) states that the cetacean pelvis helps in propulsion by acting as an anchor for the abdominal muscles and the M. ischiocaudalis.
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#18 ChrisCarlascio

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 05:48 PM

Firstly, to clarify something, the extra pair of flippers found in this dolphin is something entirely different from the copulation guides found on species like Basilosaurus and Dorudon. Basi and Dorudon had something more akin to an actual hind limb with phalanges and everything. I've photographed specimens in the museum at the University of Michigan.



Thanks for letting me know.

It is telling that in all published cases of this, the extra hind flippers somewhat resemble the forelimbs. If these were an atavistic reversion to an ancient state of a four-legged ancestor, the turning on of the silenced DNA should result in something that looked more like the limb of a Basilosaurus or Dorudon.



Good point.


As far as pelvic function goes, you are correct about the anchoring of genitalia muscles.

Simões-Lopes and Gutstein (2004) mention their use in copulation and defecation.
Yablokov (1966) mentions that without the cetacean pelvis, penile erection would not be possible, nor would contraction of the vagina.

Interestingly, the whales with the largest penises also have the largest pelvis bones as a proportion to total body length.

Tajima et al. (2004) states that the cetacean pelvis helps in propulsion by acting as an anchor for the abdominal muscles and the M. ischiocaudalis.



Thank you for those.

#19 MarkForbes

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 02:42 AM

... This can be evidenced by the fact that some dolphins still produce an extra pair of flippers (not legs) today.[4] Katsuki Hayashi, director of the Taiji Whaling Museum was cited as saying that: "Though odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past, researchers say this was the first time one had been found with well-developed, symmetrical fins."[5] Notice how Katsuki Hayashi mentioned that odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captured in the past? Modern whales sometimes sprout 'hindlimbs' larger than those of its alleged ancestors, and thereby contradicting the alleged trend in hindlimb reduction. So, there is no compelling reason for considering the whale's pelvic bones as useless evolutionary leftovers of a terrestrial ancestry...

They claim to have solved the "mystery of whale evolution":

It wasn't until 1989, however, that the team found the link they were seeking to the whales' terrestrial ancestors, almost by accident. Near the end of the expedition Gingerich was working on a Basilosaurus skeleton when he uncovered the first known whale knee, on a leg positioned much farther down the animal's spinal column than he had expected. Now that the researchers knew where to look for legs, they revisited a number of previously mapped whales and rapidly uncovered a femur, a tibia and fibula, and a lump of bone that formed a whale's foot and ankle. On the last day of the expedition Smith found a complete set of slender, inch-long toes. Seeing those tiny bones brought her to tears. "Knowing that such massive, fully aquatic animals still had functional legs, feet, and toes, realizing what this meant for the evolution of whales—it was overwhelming," she remembers.
http://ngm.nationalg.../mueller-text/5

And they also give some pictures:
Posted Image

Posted Image

http://ngm.nationalg...nes-photography

#20 Air-run

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:02 PM

I'm unclear about the point you are making with these pictures, Mark.

The pictures are from different species. It is funny that they call the top one a whale - because it is supposed to be a part of the whale lineage.

That would be like calling an australopithecus skeleton a "human" - because it is supposed to be a part of the human lineage. This use of terms only serves to try to reinforce their position.




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