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Evolution: shouldn’t Eskimos grow fur?

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Do whales really represent a step in evolution from land back to the sea?

As a Creationist I tend to watch and read more secular material than most might expect. There is a good reason for this. Usually the secular material provides me with the best arguments against Evolution imaginable – and on many occasions, the material provides me with a good laugh as well. While watching a few minutes of the History Channel’s program entitled The Big History of Everything, a few interesting questions shot through my mind along with a few chuckles.

Evolution: sea to land and back?

The program, besides making a number of assumptions that just don’t make sense and can’t be supported by any credible data, attempted to explain how creatures that evolved in the sea made their way onto land; but then had to go back to the sea in order to reproduce; and then these creatures were able to go back onto land and live because they had figured out how to lay eggs. According to the program, figuring out how to lay eggs enabled them to take part of the sea onto land with them, which enabled them to reproduce on land. The program made a point of asserting how important a development this was. It sounds silly when you write it out this way but they present it in a manner, complete with artists’ renditions and computer-generated images that make you think they actually know what they’re talking about.

Do whales really represent a step in evolution from land back to the sea?

A humpback whale shows its tail off the California coast. Humpbacks are one of the best-known members of the baleen order, the same as the desert whales of the Atacama Desert. Photo: Mike Baird, CC BY 2.0 Generic License.

In this case their hypothesis is more than silly; it is an insult to our intelligence. Stay with me. This gets a little confusing. First of all, Evolutionists would have us believe that one phylum of animal – or whatever they were supposed to be – evolved in water; then they tried to evolve on land but couldn’t; so they went back in the water to evolve their reproductive systems; once they did this, then they came back on land and evolved again. Whew! That’s a whole lot of evolving! And the program left out one very important question: how did this animal develop a respiratory system that enabled it to live on land and not in water? Are we supposed to believe they figured out how to do that as well?

Perhaps the most silly and insulting explanation offered is that these creatures “figured out” how to produce eggs. Really? So the program would have you believe that these creatures that were significantly lower than us on the Evolutionist’s evolutionary chain were able to figure out how to change their entire reproductive system and how to produce eggs, as well as how to develop lungs. Do you know of any of us more highly evolved humans that have figured out how we can biologically produce an egg? Perhaps someone should educate these educators on how complex an egg really is. But more importantly, I would like to ask: if these primitive life forms could figure out how to lay eggs, why can’t Eskimos figure out how to grow fur?

After all, the theory of Evolution would have us believe that phyla evolve through mutation in order to adapt to their changing environment. They use the argument of survival of the fittest to support their argument. Although the fittest do survive in challenging environments, there isn’t any data to support that these “fittest” evolve into a new kind of phyla. For example, if a small cat can’t survive in the arctic but a husky can, is there any evidence that suggests that somewhere along the line the cat evolved into a husky? Of course I’m only using cats and dogs as an example. The proper question should be: if one animal phylum can’t survive in a certain environment, is there any data that supports the idea that the phyla evolved into another phyla that could survive in the harsher environment?

Evolution: reptiles to birds?

All the rage now is that reptiles/dinosaurs evolved into birds. Really? Well, here’s a few questions:

  • How did the scales on these creatures turn into feathers? If you think that seems like a reasonable task, look up the structure of a feather and you will be amazed at its complexity.
  • And since flight would not be possible with only feathers or even with feathers and wings alone but would need an entirely re-designed respiratory system and a lighter skeletal system, then how did these creatures manage to survive long enough to reproduce – especially since partial development of any of these physical attributes would turn these creatures into a new phylum, which would properly be called “Bait”?
  • And where, Mr. Darwin, are all the “innumerable species of transitional fossils” you predicted would be found if your theory were true? Remember, a criterion of the scientific method is that theories have to be predictable. Through the years we have heard of a few popping up here and there, but as time went on, all of them have been found to be hoaxes and frauds – although the discoveries that they were frauds never quite make it into the general public’s discourse. Perhaps it’s why Evolutionists fight so frantically for the known errors and hoaxes to be kept in textbooks.

There are a myriad of valid questions regarding the veracity of Evolution that people are too intimidated to ask, starting with:

  • If through mutation and adaptation one phylum evolves into another in order to survive, then would someone please tell me why observable data provides us with a record of extinction and not a record of transitions into better and more adaptable kinds?
  • And if Evolution is true, why isn’t there a record of transitional fossils for every family of animals known to man – starting with a simple cell which isn’t so simple after all – and all the way up the Evolutionary chain to man?
  • And if Evolution is true, if kinds do evolve in order to better survive in their environments, then will someone please tell me why Eskimos haven’t figured out how to grow fur?

Evolution may have convinced the general population that it is a reasonable answer to many questions regarding origins, but if it is an answer, it’s only because the right questions aren’t being asked.

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RoseAnn Salanitri is a published author and Acquisition Editor for the New Jersey Family Policy Council. She is a community activist who has founded the Sussex County Tea Party in her home state and launched a recall movement against Senator Robert Menendez. RoseAnn is also the founder of Veritas Christian Academy, as well as co-founder of Creation Science Alive, and a national creation science speaker.

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[…] Evolution: shouldn’t Eskimos grow fur? […]

Fergus Mason

“Perhaps the most silly and insulting explanation offered is that these creatures “figured out” how to produce eggs.”

Ah, a typical creationist failure to understand anything whatsoever about evolution.

Evolution has absolutely nothing to do with organisms “figuring out” how to do things. If you don’t know that you’re completely unqualified to comment on it.

“will someone please tell me why Eskimos haven’t figured out how to grow fur?”

They have. They grow it on seals and polar bears.

Fergus Mason

“is there any evidence that suggests that somewhere along the line the cat evolved into a husky?”

Of course not; that’s just stupid. Huskies are a totally different branch of the carnivora. Questions like this are why people laugh at creationists.

Fergus Mason

“The question is, why are the Inuit not naturally hirsute today?”

Why would they be? What pressure is pushing them in that direction? Answer: none.

Fergus Mason

“And how did the evolutionists decide that?”

The fact that cats and dogs are different was known long before the theory of evolution. It’s obvious from physical characteristics. Only a fool would deny that felines and canids are distinct groups, and only a fool would think “Cats don’t evolve into huskies” is a valid argument against evolution.

Fergus Mason

“The cold climate in which they live, of course.”

No, that’s not a selection pressure; they have clothes, so fur would have costs but no benefits.

Fergus Mason

“He would assume that felines and canids each descended, respectively, from a feline or canid ancestral pair.”

But what would he make of a hyena?

Fergus Mason

“Yet another kind, of course, as different from felines as from canines.”

And that’s why baraminology fails. Hyenas aren’t equally different from cats and dogs. Both DNA and morphology show that they’re much more closely related to cats.

Fergus Mason

“What other animal appropriates the skin of other animals”

Oh, that’s easy. Hermit crabs.

Fergus Mason

“For that matter, why didn’t human beings develop with fur”

We did. Then we lost most of it.

Dmitry72

“How and why?”

Terry, these are very elementary questions. How about instead of repeatedly asking Ferguson questions, you educate yourself on the subject? All of your questions have compelling answers, but you seem unwilling to actually do the work needed to answer them. This also suggests that you know very little about a topic you seem to rail against; many of your questions amount to asking the geologist “if the world is round, why don’t we fall off the bottom?”

Fergus Mason

“That’s a matter of opinion”

Not really. There is overwhelming evidence that hyenas are feliforms.

“The definitive experiment would be attempts to cross-breed hyenas with lions on the one hand, and wolves on the other.”

That’s kind of silly. Could you cross-breed a chihuaha with a seal? No, but they’re both caniforms.

Fergus Mason

“How and why?”

I have no idea. It’s not complicated though. Humans have managed to selectively breed reliably hairless cats in less than 200 generations. Given that 4 million years separates Australopithecus from anatomically modern humans it wouldn’t take much pressure to achieve it.

Fergus Mason

“Maybe you agree with those who say hyenas are just another genus of cat.”

I don’t think anyone’s saying they’re a genus of cat. They’re not cats. They ARE in the cat half of the carnivore order, along with mongooses (mongeese?) and of course cats.

“But in fact hyenas are a family removed from cats or dogs.”

This is correct. Cats are in the family felidae. Hyenas are in the family hyenidae. Both are in different superfamilies of the suborder feliformia.

“Because they have just enough dog-like characteristics that taxonomists do not want to classify them as pure cats.”

Er no. Nobody wants to class them as “pure cats” (there isn’t any other kind of cats) because that’s not what they are. They are, however, in the cat branch of carnivores rather than the dog one. Hyenas are no more closely related to dogs than they are to bears or seals. They ARE more closely related to cats (and civets, and mongeese) than they are to bears, seals – or dogs.

Fergus Mason

“What you ought to know is complicated, is how this could happen so precisely in the wild”

Not sure what you mean by “precisely” here. Speaking for myself my lack of hair compared to most other mammals is distinctly relative, not absolute. Large parts of my body are covered in hair. That doesn’t exactly yell “precise.”

MatthewJ

“Why, if natural selection is nearly as powerful as you pretend, did not a naturally hirsute race, or even a new species, “evolve” as an adaptation to the harsh environment in which the ancestors of the Inuit decided, for their own reasons, to settle?”

First, you’re ignoring the anatomic variations that Inuit and other long-term cold dwellers actually do have (nose anatomy, limb/torso/pelvis proportions, BMR, etc) and focusing on something that they don’t have. I guess you prefer to see the glass as half-empty instead of half-full.

Natural selection acts upon genetic variation already existing in a population. Natural selection does not cause that variation – that’s the effect of mutation and sexual reproduction reshuffling alleles. There is no reason why a particular mutation does _not_ arise in a population, any more than there is a reason why a particular atom of a radioactive element does not decay in a given time period. The mere fact that a particular mutation may be helpful in a given environment does not induce, encourage, or favor the formation of that mutation – although if it does by chance occur, the beneficial effects may allow it to be selected for. Inuit would possibly gain an advantage from gills, or a layer of subcutaneous blubber, or the ability to synthesize vitamin C, or countercurrent heat exchange blood vessel plexuses, or X-ray vision, or telekinesis, but those mutations haven’t happened either. Just bad luck so far. If they lived there in isolation for another hundred thousand or million or hundred million years, those features might arise. But then again they might not. Your odds of winning the lottery don’t go up if you really really really need the money.

You also assume that thicker hair or more of it would ‘obviously’ have a survival advantage among cold-dwelling peoples. That may be the case, but it’s not a tautology. Regardless of the specific cause of hypertrichosis, there may be survival disadvantages as well – increased susceptibility to skin parasites or dermatologic conditions, or more time required for personal grooming, for example. When you look at the specific forms of hypertrichosis that have arisen historically, they often come with different complications depending on specific etiology – like gum hypertrophy (a cause of dental pathology) or, if due to increased androgen production, decreased fertility in females. It seems that many of the _known_ ways of causing hypertrichosis in humans have undesirable side effects. That is not to say that some novel dominant mutation might not spring up that produces a thick, healthy pelt with no associated morbidity, but we haven’t seen it yet. Meanwhile we wait for that atom of U-238 to decay while we are looking at it. Also, it’s difficult to predict how much of a survival advantage there would be to hypertrichosis among humans who already know how to co-opt the fur of other animals by making clothing. Certainly it is true that a good hat does more to keep your head warm than your hair does, and a hat can be removed when you wish to dump heat.

In human populations (and to some extent other animal populations), we also have to account for other forms of selection as well. Humans embedded in a particular culture may favor or disfavor traits in spite of their effects on health and fitness. The Hapsburg Jaw, for example, would likely have gone extinct except for the efforts of European royalty to keep their possessions undivided and their bloodlines ‘pure’ by intermarrying only amongst themselves. They were selecting for concentrated political power, and that conscious drive was strong enough to proceed in the face of the deterioration of their health and fertility.

At the other end of the spectrum are groups in which any deviation from the acceptable physical norm at birth results in infanticide (see Spartans or Romans for examples), even if those might not have been genetic abnormalities or even been germane to survival, like a so-called “witches’ mark”. So a novel phenotype has to be acceptable socially as well as being physically advantageous. Here’s an exercise for the reader: the desirability of adult male facial hair seems to be a matter of social fashion: whether men are encouraged to shave or grow heavy beards varies across cultures and over time in the same culture, even among groups where the men have relatively less or more facial hair. But are there any cultural or ethnic groups in which heavy facial hair in _women_ is considered the beauty ideal? I can’t think of any, and if you want an evopsych explanation it could be because many of the conditions that cause hirsutism in women are associated with decreased fertility.

“How and why [did humans lose most of their fur]?”

You didn’t ask when, but I’ll throw that in: probably at least 1.2 million years ago, maybe more. That’s based on genetic analysis, since hair and skin don’t fossilize well. Genetic analysis also suggests that this was followed by the development of more skin pigmentation, which would make sense as the UV protective effects of fur were lost. Failing well-preserved human skin fossils showing hair imprints, there is likely no way to nail this date down without using genetic models.

There are a number of theories as to _why_ humans have less terminal hair than other great apes. Note please that our hair follicle density is about the same as chimpanzees, etc., but humans produce more fine vellous hairs instead of dark terminal hairs. So we didn’t lose hair, we just changed the type. There is no ‘smoking gun’ piece of evidence that can definitively prove one theory over the others; they may all be partial contributors to a combined effect, and no single theory is without significant shortcomings. Roughly speaking, those who favor an adaptive effect for our relative hairlessness point to two or three effects, separately or in combination: thermoregulatory, parasitic, and sexual selection. While we have roughly the same amount of hair as other apes, we do have more sweat glands. ‘Hairlessness’ and increased ability to sweat suggest that being able to dump heat more efficiently was advantageous to our hominid ancestors – allowing them to move out of the trees into the open and/or travel for longer periods without overheating. Perhaps as brains increased in size, tighter thermoregulation became more critical. A second theory suggests that decreased terminal body hair allowed for decreased parasite load or increased ease of detecting and removing parasites – less time spent grooming allows more time for other activities, or allows groups to be larger. A third possibility is that sexual selection plays a role: consider again the finding in modern humans that while hairiness in men’s faces goes in and out of style, hairlessness in women’s faces is almost universally preferred. Why? Well, _if_ facial hair in protohumans became hormone-sensitive, as it is in modern humans (hair development is hormone-sensitive in the great apes as well, but in different patterns [eg silverback male gorillas]) then the females with the least hairy faces would be those with the lowest circulating androgens, and the greater resulting fertility. Males who prefer/mate with less-bearded females tend to have more babies who are less bearded, and the preference is passed on and becomes stronger until protohumans select themselves into more generalized hairlessness.

It’s also possible that human ‘hairlessness’ is not really an adaptive trait in and of itself at all. The embryonic ectoderm goes on to form the nervous system, tooth enamel, and epidermis. Perhaps the mutations that altered the neuroectoderm of protohumans and led to increased brain size and intelligence also affected the other end products of ectoderm development, so relative hairlessness is a byproduct of adaptive changes in brain development. If ‘hairlessness’ is strongly linked to some other adaptive trait, it could be carried along even if it was neutral or even deleterious in isolation.

Yet another possibility is that hairlessness in protohumans was a purely neutral mutation that just happened to go to penetration in the (much smaller) population by genetic drift. The smaller the breeding population, the easier this is of course. Genetic analysis also suggests that the protohuman population of 1.2 million years ago went through a bottleneck of ~14,000 individuals. Just FYI.

There is really no definitive answer to this other than to say “well, it happened”. Whatever the reasons for it’s arising, though, it seems to be pretty well entrenched in modern humans. As you point out, there aren’t any modern human populations that have as much terminal hair as gorillas or chimps, and the conditions that do result in furry modern humans typically come with significant deleterious side effects either survival-based or socially-reproductively based.

PHVogel

I’m with Dmitri: Your objections reveal such a fundamental ignorance of evolution that it really is like asking “If the world is round, why don’t the people at the bottom fall off?” And, then, when someone explains why, asking “Well, then, why doesn’t all the water gather at the bottom?” A couple of hours spent with a book on evolution that wasn’t written by a creationist would, at least, put you in the position of asking meaningful questions (and writing objections that aren’t foolish).

PHVogel

And creationist books don’t carry the party line? Interesting claim: there exists creationist books that don’t support creationism? More importantly: Isn’t reading creationist books to find out about evolution sort of like reading a book written by an atheist to find out about Christianity? When I want to find out about creationism, I read books by creationists–it seems only fair.

You are free to “punish” whoever you want, of course (interesting word choice). But I hardly think that I’m being uncivil. Would your objection be that I’m not toeing the party line? I thought that was a bad thing…

PHVogel

The second law of thermodynamics says that heat can not of itself pass from a cooler object to a hotter object (thank you Flanders and Swan). I do realize that creationists deliberately reword this to say that a “entropy must increase in a closed system”: but that isn’t what the law says (entropy can remain constant) and it doesn’t even begin to apply to evolution which isn’t a closed system. I don’t know of what science gives you the rule “Information doesn’t write itself” law. Of course “information” is a loaded term, isn’t it: it suggests that something has meaning.

But, of course, if you already have the “truth” no further investigation/learning is required, is it? Certainly, reading anything that disagrees with the truth would be a waste of your time. And that does make things very simple.

By the way, I thought that MatthewJ did what you ask and provided you (and your readers) with the explanation you requested.

James B

Terry, your statement that”Evolution breaks the Second Law of Thermodynamics” is incorrect. SLT says that entropy cannot decrease *in a closed system*. Living organisms aren’t closed systems because they constantly exchange energy with the environment. If entropy is lost from organisms as they become more complex in the course of evolution, a greater amount of entropy is gained by their environment.

James B

Terry, in what sense does the (ir)reversibility of natural processes have anything at all to do with Darwinian evolution? Please would you explain the science behind your statement.

PHVogel

Well, if you’re going to quote the second law of thermodynamics then you have to live with it: The second law only refers to closed systems. You can’t just dismiss the stuff you don’t like about it as “hogwash” (or, if you do, you have to give up on using the second law as part of your proof). The Sun is busy pouring energy into the earth. The sun may be giving up energy but year over year the earth has more energy in it than it did before. If you tried to treat the earth as a “closed system” it wouldn’t make any sense.

And, again, what part of science do you get “only purposive action can inform a system”? If you’re going to invoke consistency with science as the reason why evolution doesn’t make sense then you don’t get to make up your own laws. If, on the other hand, you’re just going to make up your own laws then you can’t claim that it’s some discrepancy with science that you’re objecting to.

PHVogel

Umm: Closed systems can’t gain or lose energy. That’s what “closed” means: nothing in nothing out. In a closed system what happens over time is that the energy locked into the system becomes evenly spread throughout the system (that’s the definition of entropy: no peaks or valleys).

A system that is having energy pumped into it (like the earth) isn’t a closed system–that’s what the words mean. It’s not a case of whether the earth is “immune to entropy” or not. It’s just not relevant. It’s like saying that a hunk of iron is “immune to measles”: the infectious model of disease does’t apply to things that can’t be infected. And none of this has anything to do with the second law of thermodynamics which merely says that energy can’t pass from a cooler object to a hotter object–especially in a system that has a hotter object (that would be the sun) pumping energy.

And what your misunderstanding of the words “closed system” and the second law have to do with your passionate desire to never learn anything about evolution (and, yet, to write articles about it) is also a mystery.

Fergus Mason

“It is still not enough to declare that the earth is open to show it is immune to an increase in entropy.”

Actually yes, it really, really is. Entropy is energy unavailable for work. If you’re constantly blasting gigajoules of energy into a system you can reduce entropy as much as you like.

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