Horse Evolution More

Scientists protest such foolishness:

"The ancestral family tree of the horse is not what scientists have thought it to be. Prof. T.S. Westoll, Durham University geologist, told the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Edinburgh that the early classical evolutionary tree of the horse, beginning in the small dog-sized Eohippus and tracing directly to our present day Equinus, was all wrong."—*Science News Letter, August 25, 1951, p. 118.

"There was a time when the existing fossils of the horses seemed to indicate a straight-lined evolution from small to large, from dog-like to horse-like, from animals with simple grinding teeth to animals with complicated cusps of modern horses . . As more fossils were uncovered, the chain splayed out into the usual phylogenetic net, and it was all too apparent that evolution had not been in a straight line at all. Unfortunately, before the picture was completely clear, an exhibit of horses as an example . . had been set up at the American Museum of Natural History [in New York City], photographed, and much reproduced in elementary textbooks."—*Garrett Hardin, Nature and Man’s Fate (1960), pp. 225-226. (Those pictures are still being used in those textbooks.)

"Dr. Eldredge [curator of the Department of Invertebrates of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City] called the textbook characterization of the horse series ‘lamentable.’"When scientists speak in their offices or behind closed doors, they frequently make candid statements that sharply conflict with statements they make for public consumption before the media. For example, after Dr. Eldredge made the statement [in 1979] about the horse series being the best example of a lamentable imaginary story being presented as though it were literal truth, he then contradicted himself.

". . [On February 14, 1981] in California he was on a network television program. The host asked him to comment on the creationist claim that there were no examples of transitional forms to be found in the fossil record. Dr. Eldredge turned to the horse series display at the American Museum and stated that it was the best available example of a transitional sequence."—L.D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma (1988), p. 82.

I admit that an awful lot of that [imaginary stories] has gotten into the textbooks as though it were true. For instance, the most famous example on horse evolution prepared perhaps fifty years ago. That has been presented as literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that is lamentable, particularly because the people who propose these kinds of stories themselves may be aware of the speculative nature of some of the stuff. But by the time it filters down to the textbooks, we’ve got science as truth and we’ve got a problem. Niles Eldredge interviewed in Darwin’s Enigma by Luther Sunderland, p. 78

The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living nearly 50 million years ago to today’s much larger one-toed horse, has long been known to be wrong. Instead of gradual change, fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged and then become extinct. Transitional forms are unknown.
The Houston Chronicle, Wednesday, November 5, 1980, section 4, page 15

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