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Artiodactyls (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article

This article (Artiodactyls (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 Artiodactyls (cloven-hoofed animals)



CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

  • Chriacus (early Paleocene) -- A primitive oxyclaenid condylarth from the Lower Paleocene. Has many tooth features linking it to later Diacodexis; but in all other ways, including the legs, it was an unspecialized condylarth.

Click here to see picture

The above quote shows that the only reason for linking Chriacus to Diacodexis is are some similarities in their teeth. That is hardly enough to prove a transition.

GAP: No artiodactyl fossils known from the late Paleocene. Similar late Paleocene gaps in rodents, lagomorphs, and perissodactyls are currently being filled with newly discovered Asian fossils, so apparently much late Paleocene herbivore evolution occurred in central Asia. Perhaps the new Asian expeditions will find Paleocene artiodactyl fossils too. At any rate, somewhere between Chriacus & Diacodexis, the hind leg changed, particularly the ankle, to allow smooth running.

Translation: There is no real evidence of a link between Chriacus and Diacodexis.

  • Diacodexis (early Eocene) -- A rabbit-sized with longer limbs than the condylarths. The fibula was reduced to a splint, and in some (but not all!) individuals, fused partially to the tibia. Artiodactyl-like "double pulley" ankle (because of this feature, Diacodexis is automatically classified as the first artiodactyl). The feet were very elongated, and the 3rd and 4th toes bore the most weight. Many primitive, non-artiodactyl features retained: collarbone, unfused ulna, primitive femur, unfused foot bones with all 5 toes, could still spread hind limb out to the side, very primitive skull & teeth (all teeth present, no gaps, simple cusps). In fact, in most ways, Diacodexis is just a leggy condylarth. Only the ankle shows that it was in fact the ancestor of all our modern cloven-hoofed animals (possible exception: the hippos & pigs may have split off earlier). There are abundant species-to- species transitions linking Diacodexis to various artiodactyl familes (see below).

Click here to see picture

Click here to see drawing of skeleton.

Please note that the only thing that Chriacus and Diacodexis seem to have that are similar are their teeth. This seems to be a common evolutionary comparison. The available drawing shows hooves, and this would be a sudden appearance of the hooves. The above Talk Origins quote indicates that the ankles are the only reason for considering it an ancestor to artiodactyl. The so called "species-to- species transitions" will be dealt with as they come.

Hippos & pigs

Hippos & pigs:

  • Helohyus or a similar helohyid (mid-Eocene) -- Primitive artiodactyl, larger than Diacodexis but with relatively shorter & stouter limbs, with bulbous cusps on the molars.

Helohyus had hooves and looked very much like a pig. It is probably a variety of pig.

  • Anthracotherium and later anthracotheriids (late Eocene) -- A group of heavy artiodactyls that started out dog-size and increased to be hippo-size. Later species became amphibious with hippo-like teeth. Led to the modern hippos in the early Miocene, 18 Ma.

Curiously, the hooves of Helohyus seem to have reverted back to toes. Anthracotherium is probably a variety of hippo.

  • Propalaeochoerus or a similar cebochoerid/choeropotamid (late Eocene) -- Primitive piglike artiodactyls derived from the helohyids (see above).

No independent information is available on this type. The fact that is described as pig-like suggests that is a variety of pig.

Perchoerus is clearly a variety of pig.

  • Paleochoerus (http://www.ebeltz.net/firstfam/geocolum.html early Oligocene, 38 Ma]) -- First known true pig, apparently ancestral to all modern pigs. Pigs on the whole are still rather primitive artiodactyls; they lost the first toe on the forefoot and have long curving canines, but have very few other skeletal changes and still have low-cusped teeth. The main changes are a great lengthening of the skull & development of curving side tusks. These changes are seen [in] Hyotherium (early Miocene), probably ancestral to the modern pig Sus and other genera.

Paleochoerus is a variety of pig.

Four out of the five of the types in this list are varieties of pig with a hippo thrown in the middle.

Camels

Camels:

Based on this drawing, Homacodon would seem to be a variety of pig. The drawing clearly shows hooves.

  • Poebrodon (late Eocene) -- First primitive camelid. Like other late Eocene artiodactyls, it had developed crescent-shaped grinding ridges on the cheek teeth. A small, short-necked, four-toed animal with little hooves on each toe.

While there is no independent information available on Poebrodon, the presence of separate hooves on each foot proves nothing since Homacodon clearly shows hooves.

  • Poebrotherium (mid-Oligocene) -- A taller camelid with fused arm & leg bones, and missing toes 1, 4, and 5. Longer neck, though still much shorter than modern camels. Had hooves.

Poebrotherium seems to be a variety of camel. Not only is there no evidence of a transition from Poebrodon&squot;s separate hooves to Poebrotherium&squot;s single hoof, but since Homacodon had hooves as well it would be nothing new.


  • From here the camel lineage developed pads in place of hooves on the feet, reverted to digitigrade posture, and began pacing instead of trotting, as shown by Miocene fossil footprints. This camel lineage goes through Protomeryx (early Miocene) and Procamelus (Miocene). The llamas split off here (Lama). The main camel lineage continued through Pliauchenia (Pliocene) and finally, in the late Pliocene, Camelus, the modern camels.

It is interesting that the hooves are apparently replaced with pads in one step, with no mention of a transition between the two. This just show micro evolution in action, not macro evolution. The most it shows is that Llamas are varieties of camel.

Ruminants

Ruminants: (see Scott & Janis, in Szalay et al., 1993, for details)

  • Diacodexis (early Eocene, see above)
  • Homacodon & other dichobunids (mid-Eocene, see above)
  • Mesomeryx (late Eocene) -- A more advanced dichobunid; probably close to the ancestry of the rest of the artiodactyls.

No independent information is available on this type of Mesomeryx and Talk.Origins' description is too vague to use for analysis.

  • Hypertragulus, Indomeryx or a similar hypertragulid (late Eocene) -- Primitive ruminants with a tendency toward crescent ridges on teeth, high-crowned teeth, and loss of one cusp on the upper molars. Long- legged runners and bounders, with many primitive features, but with telltale transitional signs: Still 5 toes on front and 4 behind, but the side toes are now smaller. Fibula still present (primitive), but now partially fused at the ends with the tibia. Upper incisors still present, but now smaller. Upper canine still pointed, but now the lower canine is like an incisor. Ulna and radius fused (new feature). Postorbital bar incomplete (primitive feature). Two ankle bones fused (new feature). Mastoid bone exposed on the surface of the skull (primitive feature).

It is evident that evolutionists have yet to settle on a particular ancestor from this group, which may be all the same kind of animal. The repeated use of the word "primitive" shows the evolutionary assumptions behind this description. With such a vague description of Mesomeryx, there is no way to tell if their features are part of any kind of trend.

The so called "telltale transitional signs" are based on the assumption of evolution. Having a different number of toes on front and hind feet is not necessarily transitional—it just means they had different numbers of toes front and back. The descriptions of the teeth and bones sounds like nothing more than expected variation between different kinds of animals. This is particularly the case since none of these features are described for Mesomeryx.

Based on illustrations, Hypertragulus seems to have been a variety of deer.

  • Hyemoschus or other tragulids (Oligocene) -- Slightly more advanced ruminants called "tragulids" that have the above features plus loss of part of the first toe, some more bones fused, fibula shaft no longer ossifies. Too late to be actual ancestors; probably "cousins". Some later tragulids are still alive and are considered the most primitive living ruminants.

Other than a few apparently minor differences, Hyemoschus seems to be much like Hypertragulus Indomeryx, which suggests the possibility that they are the same kind of animal. This is supported by the similarities in the illustrations of Hyemoschus and Hypertragulus. Besides, based on evolutionary dates, they would be too young to be an ancestor.

  • Archaeomeryx, Leptomeryx (mid-late Eocene) -- Rabbit-sized ruminants. Still had small upper incisors. The mastoid bone becomes less and less exposed in these "leptomerycids".

Archaeomeryx and Leptomeryx are dated as older than Hyemoschus. A comparison of illustrations suggest that Archaeomeryx, Leptomeryx, Hyemoschus and Hypertragulus are the same kind of animal. They also seem to be varieties of deer.

No independent information is available on Bachitherium and Talk.Origins' description is too vague to use for analysis.

  • Lophiomeryx, Gelocus (late Eocene, early Oligocene) -- The most advanced ruminants yet, called "gelocids", with a more compact and efficient ankle, still smaller side toes, more complex premolars and an almost completely covered mastoid bone.

No independent information is available on Lophiomeryx and Gelocus. However, they are considered to predate or be contemporary with Bachitherium, and as such Bachitherium cannot be their ancestor.

  • A slightly different lineage split off from this gelocid family in the late Eocene or early Oligocene, eventually giving rise to these four families:
1. Deer: Prodremotherium (late Eocene), a slightly deerlike ruminant, and Eumeryx (Oligocene), a more deer-like ruminant, Dicrocerus (early Miocene), with the first antlers (similar to living muntjacs), Acteocemas (Miocene), and then a shmoo of successful Miocene & Pliocene groups that survive today as modern deer -- cervines, white- tails, moose, reindeer, etc.

These are all simply varieties of deer as is evident from the fact that even the early ones are referred to as deer-like.

2. Giraffes: Branched off from the deer just after Eumeryx. The first giraffids were Climacoceras (very earliest Miocene) and then Canthumeryx (also very early Miocene), then Paleomeryx (early Miocene), then Palaeotragus (early Miocene) a short-necked giraffid complete with short skin-covered horns. From here the giraffe lineage goes through Samotherium (late Miocene), another short-necked giraffe, and then split into Okapia (one species is still alive, the okapi, essentially a living Miocene short-necked giraffe), and Giraffa (Pliocene), the modern long-necked giraffe.

All of these seem to be varieties of giraffe, and it does suggest that giraffes and okapi are the same kind of animal.

3. Pronghorns: Paracosoryx prodromus (early Miocene, 21 Ma) a primitive antilocaprid, probably derived from a North American branch of the bovid lineage. Next came Merycodus (Miocene), with branched permanent horns. Led to numerous antilocaprids in the Pliocene. Only the pronghorn is still alive.

Pronghorns seem to represent a distinct kind of animal. No actual connection is given with other types.

4. Bovids: known from isolated teeth in the late Oligocene, then from Eotragus, a primitive ancestral mid-Miocene bovid. Protragocerus (Miocene) soon followed.

Talk.Origins starts out with nothing but teeth (Nebraska Bovid) while providing no evidence of a connection to Eotragus, Protragocerus, or any other type. They simply are claimed as ancestral making it an unsubstantiated claim.

The first sheep (Oioceros) and gazelles (Gazella) are known from the mid-late Miocene (14 Ma), the first cattle (Leptobos, Parabos) from the early Pliocene (5 Ma).

This is just a list of three different kinds of animal with no evidence presented as to how they are supposedly linked other than the unsubstantiated claim that Eotragus and Protragocerus are ancestral.

Species-species transitions in artiodactyls

Species-species transitions in artiodactyls: ...

These are just examples of variation within different kinds of animals. It is important to note that they resort to punctuated equilibrium to explain a lack of smoothness.

Summary

It seems that distinct kinds of animal have been compared to one another by certain body parts while ignoring the general appearance of the animal. There are several cases were no real information is available and often they are critical to the claim of a link with other kinds of animals.

See Also