Monday, May 14, 2007

Is something fishy?

I've been spending a lot of time lately watching dvds and occasionally videotape. In the latter category, I started watching (again) "Cosmos", Carl Sagan's PBS miniseries. While I didn't think highly of him as a person, the show is for the most part interesting. When he's not lecturing us about nuclear weapons or other 80's perils, that is.

At any rate, one of the episodes I watched tonight dealt- for one segment- about evolution. It showed a pretty poor artistic progression of how life evolved on Earth (remember, the show came out in 1980, so computer graphics were primitive, to say the least). Along the way, Sagan mentioned the
coelacanth. And I had a sudden thought: this is a fish which was supposed to have been extinct for millions of years. And suddenly, it's rediscovered. Great, but that begs the question: is the coelacanth of today any different from the ones in the fossil record? And if so, how different?

This would seem to be an issue-probably not a major one- for the theory of Evolution. If we can compare fossils from 5-10 million years ago to the same creature today, then we can see whether or not it's evolved since then. And if not, then we would seemingly have to ask whether it's because A) the time frame is too short; B) The animal hasn't needed to evolve because it's "perfect" as it is; or C) Whether any evolution that occurred hasn't shown in the fossil record (or the living examples) because it was a "failed" trait.

I'm not sure about it. I suspect there's an explanation for the failure of some animals to evolve-sharks, crocodiles, etc., but I don't know. Nor am I sure how valid these explanations would be.

I'm not completely convinced by Evolution. It seems fairly solid, but I know there are gaps in the theory. I also know that, like global warming, the gaps can't be discussed.

Amazing how it's always the "liberal" side of the fence that declares certain topics off-limits, while the "conservative" people are willing to discuss them.

Anyway, it's just a thought. If the coelacanth hasn't evolved over the last 5 million years, I want to know why. There must be a good explanation, right?


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