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The intriguing beak of the earliest known pelican

Although geographically widespread, the genus Pelecanus has only 7 or 8 species extant (depending on the classification system used). A similar number of fossil species have been identified, although the morphological differences are quite small. Until recently, the earliest fossil form was dated as Early Miocene. Newly published work pushed the first appearance back to the Early Oligocene, considered to be about 30 million years old. The point of interest for us is that the fossil, and specifically the beak, is said to be “morphologically identical to modern pelicans”.

“All these characteristics of the fossil are identical to those of the species in Pelecanus, the single extant genus in the family. [. . .] Therefore, [the specimen] can be considered a morphologically modern pelican of the genus Pelecanus, but it is not closer to any particular extant species.”

For more, go here.

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16 Responses to The intriguing beak of the earliest known pelican

  1. Thanks for the article David. I will reference it as I have done with several of your other posts. “Coincidently”, I just referenced a quote on “bird evolution”, or lack thereof, right before I read your article:

    The Archaeoraptor Fraud of National Geographic Magazine (In 1999)
    Excerpt: “The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age—the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion.” Storrs Olson, the curator of birds at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History
    http://www.bible.ca/tracks/arc.....n-bird.htm

  2. Natural selection is not “undirected.”

  3. 3

    Petruska,

    The word you have in quotes (“undirected”) does not appear on this page, or the one this page links to.

    Is there a point you wish to make?

  4. You are absolutely right. I thought I was responding to the Meyer video.

    Sorry.

  5. I had two threads open at the same time in my browser.

  6. 6

    No problem

  7. 7

    I am YEC.
    this pelican thing makes a good point.
    Diversity in pelicans was a instant event after the biblical flood. today just remnants are about.
    It also points out how so much, claimed, time can pass and yet nothing evolved very much. another creature in perfect niche. what did ‘we’ look like while this bird looked like its ancestor today? by evolution ideas?

    I say a record of the age this pelican lived would show all the creatures we have today with no difference save in tiny bits if that.

    Evolution should want to find a direct descendent of the modern pelican looking vastly different.
    so long without change hints that there’s no need to suspect previous change regardless of time.

    of coarse the earth is only a few thousand years old as the bible says.

  8. If anyone is interested in the state of affairs and just how bad of shape the truth keepers of science are in right now, then you should listen to an interview of Suzan Mazur on internet radio. She’s the one that broke the story on the Altenberg 16 meeting that was supposed to have original been kept from the press. She claims insiders have been contacting her about all the BS that has been going on behind the scenes in Academia. The url doesn’t work but if you type in (Suzan Mazur is the author of Altenberg 16) then hit the Google video button, it should be the first thing that pops up. I have also posted video of her interview with evo devo Stuart Newman who was one of the attendees, and he spoke of new extended synthesis that was proposed in Altenberg and the calling for a relaxation of the assumptions of the current Darwinian synthesis. Massimo Pigliucci is trying to downplay it, but its obvious the Modern synthesis is on its last legs. The video I posted is on You tube entitled, “Will The Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up” http://www.youtube.com/results.....&aq=f

  9. @Robert Byers

    Why…

    Evolution should want to find a direct descendent of the modern pelican looking vastly different.

    Evolution “wants to find a modern descendant looking vastly different” if there is survival benefit from looking vastly different. What do you know about the pelican’s environment? Is the ocean much saltier than 30 million years ago? Are the fish it preys on significantly different? Would a different beak enhance breeding? In short, why should the pelican’s beak change?

    To put 30 million years in perspective, that’s a mere blink of an eye compared to the unchanged shape of the cockroach or the horseshoe crab. All the constant shape of the pelican’s beak tells us is that it’s a pretty good survival niche.

  10. Eh, Occam, trying to have it both ways?

  11. Not at the moment.

  12. 12

    Occam.
    its a very long time. its not just the beak but the whole bird. Yes everything must of changed in food resources if evolution is true. The fish would not be claimed to be just the same fish as today.
    likewise the fish back then must of been different or the whole envirorment different.
    It suggests nothing has changed.
    This is because it was just a few thousand years ago with more diversity for everything.
    yet not enough to change anything very much from today.

    Evolution saying every time it finds a fossil creature exactly like todays creatures that things just didn’t change is hinting in reality the whole hypothesis of evolution is not true.

    Evolution does not just say a bug to a buffalo can happen but that it did for everybody except a few.
    Not finding another creature to have “evolved’ is not what evolution desires.
    Why should any bird back “then’ have changed, in 30m, to the modern ones?
    Why shouldn’t it be insisted by evolution all birds today are unchanged from 30m years ago?

  13. Robert Byers (7),

    “of coarse the earth is only a few thousand years old as the bible says.”

    Where in the Bible does it say that?

  14. Robert, your assertion about what evolution says is misleading.

    Evolution saying every time it finds a fossil creature exactly like todays creatures that things just didn’t change is hinting in reality the whole hypothesis of evolution is not true.

    Remember that the origin of evolutionary thinking was explanatory, not predictive. Naturalists came up with evolution as a way of understanding the fossil record. That is, they started with the evidence and formulated a model that fit the data. Somewhat later, Darwin proposed an analogy with the way we tailor breeds of domestic plants and animals through deliberate selection, calling it “natural selection.” This simple and elegant model, augmented by voluminous data and corollary science, has been the backbone of evolutionary thought for the past century and a half.

    Unfortunately, there’s no prediction here. If the fossil record tells us a species has gone extinct, replaced by a very similar species, we conclude that the latter was better suited to survival and out-competed its predecessor. Conversely, if we find a species or characteristic has persisted unmodified over a long period of time (pelican’s beak, cockroach, horseshoe crab), we conclude that nothing has emerged to drive that characteristic into extinction.

    From your post, it appears you find the lack of predictive power disappointing. You want to say, “Evolution says.” I share that sentiment, and as one who majored in physics back when physics was predictive, would be happier if biologists could tell us more about the future of life. But as a layman I’m guessing that the number of factors that make up a species’ environment is so overwhelming that they could never be fully identified and quantified.

    Bottom line? Evolution doesn’t say. Get over it.

  15. 15

    bornagain77 @ 1:
    Thanks for the complimentary words.

    Occam @ 14:
    “This simple and elegant model, augmented by voluminous data and corollary science, has been the backbone of evolutionary thought for the past century and a half.”

    The word backbone can be understood in more than one way. In a vertebrate, the backbone is a structural element without which the animal is unable to function. Certainly, biology can function without Darwinism – most research papers stand independently of the Darwinian backdrop. However, a significant number of evolutionary biologists are calling for new concepts in their discipline – because they realise Darwinism does not deliver new information and complexity. This means that Darwinism takes the role of a “creation myth” for evolutionists, allowing them to think they have a unified and coherent account of origins. You rightly point out that it is not predictive – it is a conceptual framework into which everything MUST be made to fit.
    The pelican beak is a reminder of abrupt appearance which is so prevalent in the fossil record – and which does not fit the gradualist “creation myth”.

  16. 16

    Occam
    A lot of ideas here but to the point.
    Evolution isn’t just saying things change if they need too and don’t if they don’t.
    Its saying that the great conclusions of living biology nd past, extinct, biology have come from processes so wonderfully powerful as to turn a bug into a buffalo. Just add time and niche.
    Then with this great idea of great change including great need for great time passage they say all things don’t look at all like they did millions/billions of years ago.
    Then a box full of some creatures is proclaimed to have not changed at all for most of the time.
    They didn’t need too.
    I think i’m right in saying unchanged pelicans is not what evolution wants, expects, or by its very nature predicts.
    Saying in all this time they found niche perfection in such a world claimed to have forced all else down crazy paths of evolution is just a simplistic cop out of a very unlikely thing.
    Creationism expects pelicans like this because evolution never took place in reality in biology.

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