Friday, May 30, 2008

Frogamander

Did you hear about the "Frogamander" announced in the journal Nature a couple weeks ago? What is a "frogamander" you might ask? Well, it's the name of a 290 million-year-old fossil that supposedly provides an evolutionary "missing link" between modern frogs and salamanders.

The "frogamander" has a mixture of frog and salamander features, with fused ankle bones as seen only in salamanders, a wide, frog-like skull, and a backbone that resembles a mix of the two. From an evolutionary point of view, this data confirms the prevailing opinion that frogs and salamanders share a more modern ancestor.

On the surface, this seems to be the perfect evolutionary answer to the common creationist objection, "Where are all the transitional forms in the fossil record?" Well, here it is.

So what are we to make of the "frogamander" from a creation point of view? Well, the first thing we can say as old-earth creationists, is that yes, whatever this creature is, it did in fact live 290 million years ago. I don't dispute the date or the data. What I would question is the interpretation that the "frogamander" automatically constitutes evidence of being a so-called "transitional form". I think there is another option. Fuz Rana at Reasons To Believe posted a short podcast late last week addressing this very question.

"Scientists Discover 'Frogamander' Fossil" with Dr. Fuz Rana

This is a good time to plug Reasons To Believe's "Science News Flash" podcast. If you haven't already subscribed, check it out. It's available through iTunes. The resident scholars give short, pithy perspectives on science news pieces. It's a great educational resource. My daughter and I listen to them in the car while driving all the time. It's a good discussion-starter.

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