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Transitions among reptiles (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article

This article (Transitions among reptiles (Talk.Origins)) is a rebuttal regarding a supposed transitional form published by the Talk.Origins Archive under the title Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ.

Response to Some transitions among reptiles

CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

There are many fossils of this type, but nothing on their alleged ancestors and so there is no evidence of a connection with other types.

Here we come to a controversy; there are two related groups of early anapsids, both descended from the captorhinids, that could have been ancestral to turtles. Reisz & Laurin (1991, 1993) believe the turtles descended from procolophonids, late Permian anapsids that had various turtle-like skull features. Others, particularly Lee (1993) think the turtle ancestors are pareiasaurs:

This quote helps to show that these lists are theoretical constructs and that they may not represent reality. It shows that more than one group of animals can have similarities that may be interpreted as ancestral to another, if you start with the assumption that the general theory of evolution is correct.

  • Scutosaurus and other pareiasaurs (mid-Permian) -- Large bulky herbivorous reptiles with turtle-like skull features. Several genera had bony plates in the skin, possibly the first signs of a turtle shell.

The bony plates in Scutosaurus' skin are not shells. Even the writer of the article at Talk Origins hints at the fact that relating these to a shell is guesswork. Furthermore there is no evidence of a connection to Captorhinus.

  • Deltavjatia vjatkensis ([ Permian) -- A recently discovered pareiasaur with numerous turtle-like skull features (e.g., a very high palate), limbs, and girdles, and lateral projections flaring out some of the vertebrae in a very shell-like way.

Deltavjatia's skull is somewhat turtle like, but the vertebrae projections have no resemblance to a shell. Also note the lack of any evidence of a connection to the skin plates of Scutosaurus. Deltavjatia is classified as just Permian, suggesting that it covers all of the Permian, this would mean that it would predate its alleged ancestor Scutosaurus.

  • Proganochelys (late Triassic) -- a primitive turtle, with a fully turtle-like skull, beak, and shell, but with some primitive traits such as rows of little palatal teeth, a still-recognizable clavicle, a simple captorhinid-type jaw musculature, a primitive captorhinid- type ear, a non-retractable neck, etc..

Proganochelys was a variety of turtle. There is a total lack of any progression to a shell, from vertebrae projections of the Deltavjatia. Just POOF instant shell.

Early reptiles to diapsids:

  • Hylonomus, Paleothyris (early Penn.)
  • Petrolacosaurus, Araeoscelis (late Pennsylvanian) -- First known diapsids. Both temporal fenestra now present. No significant change in jaw muscles. Have Hylonomus-style teeth, with many small marginal teeth & two slightly larger canines. Still no eardrum.

As best as can be determined from the available images Hylonomus, Paleothyris, Petrolacosaurus and Araeoscelis seem to be the same kind of animal. Besides there is a lack of any reference to the mid Pennsylvanian so that there is an apparent gap in the Evolutionary time scale.

Reference: Hylonomus Reference: Hylonomus lyelli Reference: Major Features of Vertebrate Evolution Reference: Paleothyris acadiana Reference: Paleothyris Reference: Araeoscelis

  • Apsisaurus (early Permian) -- A more typical diapsid. Lost canines.

No information available onApsisaurus.

GAP: no diapsid fossils from the mid-Permian.

No fossils means no evidence. At least in this case at least they recognize this gap, they don't always do that.

  • Claudiosaurus (late Permian) -- An early diapsid with several neodiapsid traits, but still had primitive cervical vertebrae & unossified sternum. Probably close to the ancestry of all diapsides (the lizards & snakes & crocs & birds).

Given the fact that Claudiosaurus is proceeded by a gap, it is clear that there is no evidence of a connection to any "earlier" type. Claudiosaurus seems to be a distinct kind without any connection with previously listed types. Talk Origins is showing their evolutionary bias by calling some parts "primitive." Yes, they are different than modern lizards snakes and crocs, but that does no make it primitive or transitional. They don't even show why these parts are considered transitional. Furthermore, other evolutionary sites mention anomalies that cause difficulty with classifying Claudiosaurus

  • Planocephalosaurus (early Triassic) -- Further along the line that produced the lizards and snakes. Loss of some skull bones, teeth, toe bones.
  • Protorosaurus, Prolacerta (early Triassic) -- Possibly among the very first archosaurs, the line that produced dinos, crocs, and birds. May be "cousins" to the archosaurs, though.
  • Proterosuchus (early Triassic) -- First known archosaur.

The above Talk Origins descriptions are nothing but Evolutionary interpretations, the closest thing to raw data is the hint that Planocephalosaurus had fewer skull bones, teeth, and toe bones than Claudiosaurus, everything else is 100% pure evolutionary interpretation with no raw facts at all. Furthermore, all three are classified as early Triassic and as such they would be contemporaries making their order arbitrary.

  • Hyperodapedon, Trilophosaurus (late Triassic) -- Early archosaurs.

Where is the "mid Triassic?" Do they have any fossils? If not, why does Talk Origins not refer to this as a gap? Furthermore, the description of Hyperodapedon, and Trilophosaurus is nothing but an Evolutionary description with no raw data. No useful information is available.

Some species-to-species transitions:

  • De Ricqles documents several possible cases of gradual evolution (also well as some lineages that showed abrupt appearance or stasis) among the early Permian reptile genera Captorhinus, Protocaptorhinus, Eocaptorhinus, and Romeria.

This is no big deal since all it shows is that Captorhinus, Protocaptorhinus, Eocaptorhinus, and Romeria are all varieties of the same animal. It supports the theory that the created kinds can extend beyond genus into family.

1. Many transitional ceratopsids between Styracosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus.

Styracosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus are clearly the same kind of animal. Pachyrhinosaurus seems to be a degenerative form of Styracosaurus that has lost the genetic information to produce a horn.

2. Many transitional lambeosaurids (50! specimens) between Lambeosaurus and Hypacrosaurus.

Lambeosaurus and Hypacrosaurus are clearly the same kind of animal. The main difference seems to be the size and shape of the head.

3. A transitional pachycephalosaurid between Stegoceras and Pachycephalosaurus.

Stegoceras and Pachycephalosaurus are of the same family as are the so called transitions. Since animals of the same family are often the same kind of animal these are just varieties of Pachycephalosauria.

4. A transitional tyrannosaurid between Tyrannosaurus and Daspletosaurus.

Tyrannosaurus and Daspletosaurus are clearly the same kind of animal. In fact, what's the difference?

This so called transition has large chasms not just gaps. In some cases no information is available and some are clearly the same kind of animal. This so-called transition is almost entirely Evolutionary spin with little substance.

See Also