Sunday, February 03, 2008

Horse Sense

A reader tries to explain the horse fossils without evolution. He writes:

I just thought I would reply to one of your statments you made. In my opinion, even if every question is answered.. people tend to believe in what they believe anyway.

You ask Pastor Al this:
How do you explain all of the fossil animals similar to modern horses and zebras? What are the Hyracotherium, Epihippus, Mesohippus , Miohippus, Merychippus, and Dinohippus, if not intermediates? And why do we find those creatures buried in strata older than 2 million years, but no modern horses there? And why do we find modern horses in strata younger than 2 million years, but no Hyracatherium? And why is there a progression in these fossils, if they are not intermediates?

What I have read about Horse Evolution:

1. If it were true, you would expect to find the earliest horse fossils in the lowest rock strata. But you don't. In fact, bones of the supposed 'earliest' horses have been found at or near the surface. Sometimes they are found right next to modern horse fossils! O. C. Marsh commented on living horses with multiple toes, and said there were cases in the American Southwest where 'both fore and hind feet may each have two extra digits fairly developed, and all of nearly equal size, thus corresponding to the feet of the extinct Protohippus'.1 In National Geographic (January 1981, p. 74), there is a picture of the foot of a so-called early horse, Pliohippus, and one of the modern Equus that were found at the same volcanic site in Nebraska. The writer says: 'Dozens of hoofed species lived on the American plains.' Doesn't this suggest two different species, rather than the evolutionary progression of one?

2. There is no one site in the world where the evolutionary succession of the horse can be seen. Rather, the fossil fragments have been gathered from several continents on the assumption of evolutionary progress, and then used to support the assumption. This is circular reasoning, and does not qualify as objective science.

3. The theory of horse evolution has very serious genetic problems to overcome. How do we explain the variations in the numbers of ribs and lumbar vertebrae within the imagined evolutionary progression? For example, the number of ribs in the supposedly 'intermediate' stages of the horse varies from 15 to 19 and then finally settles at 18. The number of lumbar vertebrae also allegedly swings from six to eight and then returns to six again.

4. Finally, when evolutionists assume that the horse has grown progressively in size over millions of years, what they forget is that modern horses vary enormously in size. The largest horse today is the Clydesdale; the smallest is the Fallabella, which stands at 43 centimetres (17 inches) tall. Both are members of the same species, and neither has evolved from the other.

I repond:

First, I notice that most of this was simply copied from another site Why didn't you simply post a link, rather than copy from the site? The article you copy made many mistakes. Did you ask if this stuff is true before you blindly copy it from the Internet?

You say that early horse fossils are found right next to modern horse fossils. What is your documentation for this claim? Are you not aware that simply making a claim on the Internet does not make it true? Don't you need evidence?

The claim that early horses have been found with modern horses frequently gets batted around the Internet, but nobody seems to have any documentation for when and where this find happened. See for instance, Did Hyracotherium and Equus Live at the Same Time?, to see one man's attempt to find the source for this claim, and the lack of evidence for it. You see, Hyracotherium lived millions of years before modern horses ever existed. If you ever found thoses fossils together, it would be earth-shattering news in the field of geology. And yet somehow this claim gets made repeatedly by uninformed people who copy what they have heard, and never stop to ask exactly when and where this amazing find occured.

So you are getting off to a bad start here. You simply copied somebody's claim off the Internet, and that claim cannot be supported with any real evidence.

And yes, of course, the early fossils were found on the surface. That is where fossils are. But not all layers at the surface are the same age. That is why scientists date the rocks to see how old the fossils are. And the early horse fossils always date over 50 million years. If you believe otherwise, please show me evidence of a particular fossil that differs with this claim. Simply copying a false statement that has been published on the Internet is not a valid argument.

You say there are cases where living horses have multiple toes. That may be true, but it is certainly rare. But 50 million years ago, all horse had multiple toes, and none had hoofs. Now can you explain why that is so? The most obvious explanation is that modern horses had not yet evolved.

You mention that three-toed horses and one-toed horses were found in the same layer, and ask if this doesn't suggest that they were two different species. Yes, of course, that is exactly what it suggests. Horse evolution is known to have occurred in a branching fashion, in which multiple species were alive on different branches at one time. This has been known for a long time. Eventually some one-toed horses evolved before all branches of three-toed horses died out. That does nothing to contradict the statement that there has been a progression through time, with more and more modern traits introduced into the record as time advanced.

You say the horse fossils come from multiple sites. Of course! You wouldn't seriously suggest that all of horse history should have occurred in the same meadow, and that all we should need to do is dig down into that meadow to see an example of all past horses. Horses are extremely mobile. Even if they traveled at a rate of only 1 mile every 10 years, in a million years they could easily circle the globe. And land bridges frequently existed between North America and Asia. So in 60 million years, we can expect that horses could be found all over the globe, not just in the same spot.

You ask why there would be variations in the number of ribs. Why not? Many things were changing with time. There was no linear progression from eohippus (hyracatherium) to modern horse, but rather, a series or branches in many different directions. So this is not at all unusual.

You mention the variations in size in modern horses, but that doesn't begin to address the findings of the fossil record. Ancient horses were very different from modern horses in many aspect, not just size. So you cannot simply ignore eohippus as though it were simply a short horse.

So the horse arguments you copied from the web do nothing to refute the findings of horse fossils.

You go on to mention several other arguments which have been answered many other times in the past, so I won't get into them now. You can leave them as a comment here if you want. I think it is sufficient to say you have not begun to explain away the horse evidence.

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