Evolution: What the Fossils Say (by Donald Prothero)

Nov 10, 2015

Is evolution a fact? How do the claims of creationists stack up against the fossil record and the actual science? Dr. Donald Prothero presents the evidence in a presentation based on his 2007 book (and more recent findings).

Prothero is a paleontologist, geologist, author and science educator. He holds a Ph.D in geological sciences from Columbia University, and he has authored over 300 scientific papers and 30 books. He is currently a research associate in vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

http://www.donaldprothero.com

13 comments on “Evolution: What the Fossils Say (by Donald Prothero)

  • I wonder whether we’ll ever get to a point where we don’t need to assert compatibilism before we explain evolution. The thing that annoys me the most is that compatibilists declare their position a proven fact while they have no case, nor do they address the arguments against their position. They just take the existence of evolution-accepting theists as proof the positions are compatible, when for all they know it’s cognitive dissonance on par with infidelity amongst the married.



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  • 2
    Pinball1970 says:

    I cant play the vid but I recognized him.

    http://deadstate.org/here-is-the-shortest-debate-ever-between-a-scientist-and-creationist/

    “On a BBC special from 2013, comedian Andrew Maxwell took five British creationists to the West Coast of America to try to convince them that evolution rather than creationism explains how we all got here.”

    Dr Prothero dismisses one of them in a cutting one liner during the Q&A discussing the Grand Canyon.

    http://deadstate.org/here-is-the-shortest-debate-ever-between-a-scientist-and-creationist/

    He has written many books so I may have to get one now.



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  • Very informative.

    He does hit a major point home in his presentation, in addition to easily defeating the creationist arguments. He mentions what is at the heart of this distorted, evangelistic attack on science: that the people making these house of card arguments are most often not interested in learning what is true. They only want to reinforce what they are comfortable with.

    It does make it very difficult to talk with someone already deeply convinced that snakes and burning bushes talked that not only is sin a tangible thing but that came from a woman biting an apple at the suggestion of a talking serpent, that someone considered to be a god fearing person by their standards can be punished essentially for doing nothing over what amounts to a pinky bet and numerous other baffling things as literal and true.

    But yes, so many misconceptions not only exists but are routinely reinforced by people who care nothing about what is empirically true. And sadly it is on matters where empirical evidence is in abundance most often.



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  • achromat666
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:04 am

    But yes, so many misconceptions not only exists but are routinely reinforced by people who care nothing about what is empirically true. And sadly it is on matters where empirical evidence is in abundance most often.

    I looked at this other thread yesterday, and the closed minded ignorance in the comments of the know-it-all-god-did-it evolution deniers, was only too obvious!

    https://www.facebook.com/RichardDawkinsFoundation/photos/a.496176595154.294030.8798180154/10153613740530155/?type=3

    The creationist “fossil thinking” does not seem to have progressed to the age of science, and clearly has no intention of doing so!



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  • cognitive dissonance on par with infidelity amongst the married.

    Excellent. Much religion, especially in the US I feel is for show, e.g. that badge of being a good person, with the detail of dogma being an effort too far. Divorce, in these instances, is not considered only because of its negative appearance to others.

    Of course, evolution is only compatible with a deist god, button pushing theomorphised principle(s) of physics. Intervention of any sort confounds this, though some very loose teleology might just be permitted…



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  • I have an honest question that I would like someone to help me out with please I’m not a creationist and I’m not trolling just want to understand more.
    There’s a part in this presentation where he says that Humans are more closely related to Chimps than Tigers are to Lions how can this be true considering that Lions and Tigers can mate and have offspring? Is there something happening in the genes that I don’t understand?



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  • 8
    Cairsley says:

    Hi Julian. This is a question I wonder about too. Apparently, lions and tigers share about 95.5% of their genes with each other and they belong to two different species of the same genus and can still interbreed; whereas humans and chimpanzees, which share about 98% of their genes with each other, belong to two different genera and do not interbreed. For all I know (and I know next to nothing about the subject), it may be possible to cross a human with a chimpanzee by artificial means (in which case the barrier to interbreeding between them might be cultural rather than genetic), or the genes that would make that possible may just happen to be turned off, whereas they are still turned on in the case of lions and tigers, or again the genes required for the reproductive process in humans and chimpanzees happen to be among the genes that have changed too much. In any case, I doubt that anyone has yet tried to fertilize a human ovum with a chimpanzee spermatozoon or a chimpanzee ovum with a human spermatozoon, given the ethical questions that such an experiment would raise. In short, like you, I would be glad if someone on this website knows enough to throw some light on this puzzle.



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  • Julian Williams
    Nov 26, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    There’s a part in this presentation where he says that Humans are more closely related to Chimps than Tigers are to Lions how can this be true considering that Lions and Tigers can mate and have offspring? Is there something happening in the genes that I don’t understand?

    In hybrids, the fertility, infertility, or viability, of offspring, depends on the extent of the mismatch of chromosomes and genes in the pairing of bonds in DNA.

    Therefore, the extent and type of mutations which have arisen since the gene-pools separated is important, and the number of minor or major differences will determine if they can be paired or not, and if the new paired combinations will work at all, or if irregularities will disable various functions in the offspring.

    Lions and tigers both have 38 chromosomes so can pair them off, even if some are not a very good match.

    Humans have 46 chromosomes, and chimps have 48, so there is a gross mismatch.

    There is a more detailed explanation here:-

    https://www.quora.com/Hybrid-Animals/When-a-lion-and-a-tiger-mate-why-are-their-cubs-infertile



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  • achromat666
    Nov 12, 2015 at 10:04 am

    He does hit a major point home in his presentation, in addition to easily defeating the creationist arguments.

    It is so easy to defeat creationist arguments when debating with people who have some grasp of basic science, and at least some understanding of reasoning.

    The difficulty with creationists is not only blinkered refusal to look at evidence, but the profound ignorance accumulated due to years of dismissing the pieces if science they need to assemble a coherent big picture.

    He mentions what is at the heart of this distorted, evangelistic attack on science: that the people making these house of card arguments are most often not interested in learning what is true. They only want to reinforce what they are comfortable with.

    Mental D-K blockage:-
    “I’m not descended from apes”, because I am one of my god’s “superior creations, not only superior to all animals, but intellectually and morally superior all non-believers! My (blinkered) ego could not possibly see it otherwise!”



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  • Pinball1970
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Dr Prothero dismisses one of them in a cutting one liner during the Q&A discussing the Grand Canyon.

    Refusing to recognise pseudo-experts as scientists, is a good move. If some creationist comes back at me with, “but he/she has a degree in XXXX” , I usually respond, “Conclusions are only science, if they are derived using scientific methodology!” – Any which are derived from preconceptions and a heap of shuffled wish-thinking semantics, are not science.



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  • There was a movie about that, starring the incomparable Boris Karloff (who was British, btw.) I therefore consider myself an expert on this esoteric subject.
    In the movie the creature was ferocious (and wasn’t supposed to be), but that’s only because the doctor (played by Karloff) made a mistake.
    So don’t worry.
    On a serious note, Neanderthals and homo sapiens interbred. Their descendants are now called creationists. (Ironic.)
    P.S. My esteemed co-member Phil said he has gotten a “glimpse” of the noumenon. Yet we all get “glimpses.” Everything we see is the objectification of the “Will as thing-in-itself” at a particular grade. (Schopenhauer)
    Happy Holidays!



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