Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On the platypus

The mouthbreathers in the comments at Dembski's blog have retorted with this exquisite argument:

What a bunch of stupid disseminating from the Darwinian narrative apologist at Stranger Fruit.

A beak, webbed feet, lays eggs, and has “duck” in the common name. The best the dummy at Stranger fruit can do is make a lame issue over calling it “bird-like”? HAHAHAHA - thanks for confirming that the scientific case against Darwinism IS largely won.
Yeah, that platypus has been a real challenge to Darwinists. Why, if Darwin knew about it when he wrote the Origin, maybe he'd totally rethink the theory. When was the platypus discovered anyway? 1799! When did Darwin write? 1859! Yeah, that discovery is really the death-knell. It took 200 years to think of that one.

It does have duck in its name. That's a real shocker right there. Ornithorhynchus anatinus means "duck-like bird nose" (anatinus is "duck-like", ornith is "bird", rhyncus is "nose". But names aren't magic. Calling it a duck-billed platypus doesn't mean it actually has a bill. A polecat is neither a pole nor a cat, and has little in common with either.

Look at those skulls again. How many of those skulls have beaks? If you said "one," you get an A. If you said two, you get a D. If you said "none," you need to go back to remedial looking.

See how the platypus nose is totally different than the duck nose? Sure, with the skin on, they're pretty similar, but underneath, they're totally different. This is why I sincerely doubt that Dembski's friend is actually much of a biologist. How could someone not know that, or fail to check into it?

Ms. TfK figured out that the platypus wasn't a bird because its bones were too light. Nothing like that could fly, nor have evolved from something that flew.

What else has webbed feet? Other than an Irish setter. And let's ignore bats. Set seals, sea lions (not really lions!), walruses, manatees and dugongs aside. What about frogs? Fish? Beavers? Muskrats? Anything else? Now let's decide which of those are birdlike. (crickets chirp) Yeah.

Eggs. Eggs are tricky.

Duck Eggs

Here are some duck eggs. Mmmm, tasty.

Plat Egg

Here are some platypus eggs. Not so tasty. The leathery skin makes them ill suited to cracking and frying, and conveniently make them more like reptile eggs than bird eggs. What did mammals evolve from? Put your hands down, I'm waiting for Dembski's biologist colleague to answer.

No guess? Reptiles. Mammals evolved from reptiles. So it's not surprising that a basal mammal would have a reptilian egg. It would be very surprising if the egg were like a bird's. See, we can make predictions from evolution, testable predictions are what identify a science. What would ID predict? Anyone? … Right.

So, what did we learn today? Platypus skulls are like mammal skulls, not bird skulls. I didn't mention it, but platypus have teeth, birds don't. Plus the hair, which is unique to mammals, along with mammary glands. Interestingly, those glands are much simpler in platypus than in the Eutheria. We can see how sebaceous glands evolved to feed the young.

What? Yes, that is a testable prediction, and a transitional state that we can observe. Ah, science.

Stranger fruit was right, the anonymous colleague and the commenter were both wrong and too dumb to look up the answer before they embarrassed themselves. At least the colleague remained anonymous.

And while we're at it, take the quiz.