Thursday, October 8, 2009

Evolution of the Ear

So scientists have found one more example of the evolution of the mammalian ear from the reptilian jaw.

I use the word "example" rather than "evidence" on purpose. We really already have enough evidence to know that bones of the reptile jaw--which some reptiles use for hearing by laying their jaw on the ground--became the tiny bones of mammalian ears, leaving us with just one jawbone, the mandible.

So this is an example of the path evolution--and as a believer, that means creation as well to me--might have taken in going from the reptilian jaw to the mammalian ear. We can use evidence for the exact path, but we already have enough evidence to know that our ear descended from some reptile's jaw over the last 100 million years.

I wish this wasn't such a controversial subject for Christians. Think about how awesome this is. The very bones that allow snakes to open their mouths wide enough to swallow prey bigger around than themselves became the tiny bones that make our hearing drastically better than any other vertebrate class. [i.e.; mammals can hear better than all other creatures with backbones.]

Anyway, the creature is called Maotherim asiaticus, and it's only about 5-inches long. The fossil is remarkably well-preserved and 3-dimensional, so they were able to get a good look at its earbones.

Evidence and Transitional Fossils

The article adds, "The novel ear connection could simply be an adaptation ... rather than an evolutionary link."

Don't be confused by this. This simply means that we don't know that Maotherim asiaticus is a direct ancestor of any current mammal. It could be a dead-end offshoot on the evolutionary tree.

That is always true to some extent. Because we weren't there, we don't know exact lineage. However, we can see the general pattern of life, and we can know generally what happened, even if we don't know the exact spot of any specific animal.

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