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Letters to the Editor
 

Design unintelligent


Clinton Wiles August 17th, 2011

The Rev. Kern’s letter (“Fuel for fossil debate,” July 27, Gazette) on the scarcity of intermediate fossils indicates he still lacks an understanding of evolution.

Let’s look at Lake Yellowstone and a diatom species, for an example: All over the world, a diatom known as S. niagara can be found. However, if one takes a close look at the sediments of Lake Yellowstone beginning about 14,000 years back, one can see S. niagarae transform into S. yellowstonensis within 4,000 years with a resolution as fine as 40 years, becoming a species better adapted to the nitrogen conditions in Lake Yellowstone.

Besides showing the relative speed with which a change can ripple through a population and the incremental nature of evolution, this illustrates that once a species is better suited to its environment, the rate of evolution slows way down because it is hard to improve on a good thing. There is also the point that, if all we had from this series was one of the intermediate examples, we would have recognized it as an independent species, fully functional with nothing to indicate it was rapidly improving its adaptation to the local conditions.

Expanding this example to more typical fossil collection where a time resolution of 4,000 years would be considered an improvement, we begin to understand the situation. If the fossil you are looking at is a member of a still extant linage, you can consider it to be an intermediate fossil and there seem to be millions of examples. This leaves open the question of whether you caught a sample of a well-adapted, long-term stable form or a sample of a form in the process of improving the way it interacts with its environment. Either way, it will appear to be a fully functional, well-adapted species.

Mr. Kern appears to have been selective about what he has learned from various sources. A wider, more fully contextual selection of material might improve his understanding, if not his faith.

—Clinton Wiles
Oklahoma City

 
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08.19.2011 at 08:32 Reply

Clinton, he lacks an understanding of A LOT OF THINGS.

 

 
 
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