so, had an interesting chat with a creationist, and he posted this gem, i wonder how you guys might respond to such a statement, because i'd like to know how to accurately respond to this in the future.
There's different animals alive right now that look "morphologically contiguous" to eachother.
>If bobcats were extinct animals, and domestic house cats were extinct animals from an earlier time period, they would line up their fossils together and claim that the house cat evolved into the bobcat.
In a way it's kind of true.
You could analyze their morphology relative to whatever "ancestors" or "descendants" you found (i.e. before cats and after bobcats), but assuming this is just a simple thought experiment, then no, you wouldn't really be able to tell the difference.
At the same time, in the fossil record you don't know what species evolved into what species. You just know that they are kin. You don't know if there is a direct ancestry there. Just like all the hominid fossils today may not fossils of our direct ancestors. Or like with Archaeopteryx. Archaeopterix may be the "first bird" (traditionally), but is that dead Archaeopteryx the actual ancestor? Or is an Archaeopteryx from a different population the direct ancestor? or is it not Archaeopteryx?
You can't really know based off of the fossil record which species involved into which. You just know that this fossil is probably related to that fossil.
Me again. Let me put it this way.
If you found a house cat skeleton and a bobcat skeleton, you could say that the bobcat is related to that house cat. Related. You CANNOT say that the bobcat is a direct descendant from that house cat. For all you know, house cats and bobcats could have shared a common ancestor (let's call it desert cat), an in this case bobcats would NOT have been descendants/evolved from house cats, even though the fossil record could have made it looked like it.
so there arent any determining factors that would indicate chronology of a fossil, like the difference in teeth or some such? i guess that makes sense, i knew it didnt break down an argument for evolution as a process by any means, but how do we deal with that in a chronological sense of ordering our fossils, say, for humans and their ancestors? or do we rely more on geology for dating?
Of course there are. You can date the fossil and this gives us a good idea of which species came first. Also, genetic data allows us to determine how far apart two species are very accurately.
The question is silly. There's little we know about cats and bobcats today that is relevant to the evolution of these species that we wouldn't know from looking at their fossils. We don't think bobcats evolved from house cats and there is no reason to think we would if they were extinct.
well, that's a relief, i do know that it's a lot more complex than the layman atheist or creationist knows, and that often their arguments are based on concepts gained from elementary education, but i'm personally more interested in it in the sense that i want to know that there is evidence behind what i say and how i argue, no sense in giving a dead duck argument that when researched will only give the impression that i'm an idiot. i want to actually change people's minds, and help them think and learn and see new perspectives, i know that's a bit of a silly hope, but i'd rather feel like my time isnt being completely wasted.
i do wonder about finding genetic material from certain fossils, don't some bones literally get replaced with other minerals during the fossilization process?
It depends on how preserved the fossil is. It's easy to get DNA from samples in permafrost or amber going back millions of years. Even outside of permafrost, DNA has been found in fossils as old as 300,000 years.
He is sort of right because that's how most paleontologists and evolutionary biologists look at stuff. Most of them look for parsimony so if it was the simplest answer I'm sure that would be the case. However they would look far beyond just those two fossils such as the depth, teeth, bone structure, age of fossils, so forth and so on and in addition it's not a good argument for creationism.
It's more of a science isn't right 100% of the time which is true. I mean hell there was a large amount of confusion around Sauropods for the longest time