Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution
Asked for a good example of transitional fossils showing evolution, many evolutionists put forward whales. Museums and textbooks show pictures of creatures that supposedly show the evolution of whales from a land animal.
Key to this story is a fossil of a creature called Rodhocetus, which is portrayed as the first creature with legs changing into flippers and with the tail developing into a whale’s tail. Without it there is really no story, but recent disclosures undo the tale.1
Dr Philip Gingerich, who found the fossil, promoted the idea that Rodhocetus had a whale’s tail. The fossil is on display at the University of Michigan, but Dr Carl Werner noted that the part that would show the presence of the flukes (the rear wings) is missing.1 He asked about the missing tail bones and how they knew it had tail flukes. Dr Gingerich replied,
I speculated that it might have had a fluke … I now doubt that Rodhocetus would have had a fluked tail. (Dr Gingerich)
“I speculated that it might have had a fluke … I now doubt that Rodhocetus would have had a fluked tail.”2
And the legs becoming flippers?
Dr Werner noted on inspecting the fossil of Rodhocetus the absence of any foot/flipper bones. When he asked Dr Gingerich how he knew that the animal had flippers, Dr Gingerich said,
“Since then we have found the forelimbs, the hands, and the front arms of Rodhocetus, and we understand that it doesn’t have the kind of arms that can spread out like flippers on a whale.”2
So Rodhocetus had neither a tail fluke nor flippers, according to its discoverer. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the museums to change their displays or the textbooks to stop portraying Rodhocetus as a neat transitional form. A picture is worth a thousand words, and like the fraudulent embryo drawings of Haeckel, they will be reluctant to let this one go.
Rodhocetus at the Museum of Natural History, University of Michigan, USA. Fossil evidence overlaid on the museum’s illustration from Dr Carl Werner, Evolution the Grand Experiment Vol. 1 DVD. Red Xs added to emphasize the imagination involved in the illustration.
So Rodhocetus had neither a tail fluke nor flippers, according to its discoverer.
There are many other problems with whale evolution.3 Museums and textbooks portray the fossil story as being clear-cut, yet evolutionists cannot even agree on which land animal gave rise to the whales. Based on fossil similarities of teeth, some paleontologists favoured hyena-like animals (Pachyaena), while others preferred a cat-like animal (Sinonyx). But after recent comparisons of DNA, molecular biologists decided hippos were the closest to a whale ancestor!
There are, of course, huge problems in converting a hippo-like creature into a whale. Not even the teeth are similar: hippos’ teeth are flat and rasp-like, good for grinding up vegetation, whereas the toothed whales have pointed, sharp teeth, used now for catching fish and other swimming animals.
It’s all a whale of a tale.
References and notes
- Werner, C., Evolution: the Grand Experiment, Vol. 1, New Leaf Press, pp. 139–143. Return to text.
- Evolution: the Grand Experiment Vol. 1, DVD; interview by Dr Werner on August 28, 2001. Return to text.
- See Refuting Evolution, ch. 5, 2007. Return to text.