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Creation 21(2):48, March 1999

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Led by the nose

by Joachim Vetter

From Lehrbuch der Zoologie Bd. 1.
Verlag Fischer, Stuttgart — New York, 1985, p. 543.
Figure 1. Nasobema lyricum (after Stümpke).

Have you heard of the Rhinogradentia (‘nosewalkers’)? A description of this odd group of creatures can be found in a 1985 European zoology textbook.1 Fig. 1 was taken from page 543 of this two-volume text; the original source is given as a monograph by H. Stümpke, a 1989 edition of which is still in print.2 

Most readers of the textbook would have no reason to suspect that either of these sources was offering anything other than a straightforward scientific description3 of a group of creatures which had allegedly evolved a strange mode of life. They walked on structures extending from their nose!

Stümpke’s monograph gives many details of their shape, bony structure, evolutionary relationships—even their embryology. It tells of their discovery on a small archipelago called the Hi-Lay islands, which have since sunk after atomic testing. Just as Darwin proposed to explain the finch varieties on the Galápagos islands, we are told how a common ancestor has given rise to a diverse nosewalking fauna, adapted to many different modes of life.

Who could wish for a more dramatic proof of the power of evolution/natural selection in small, isolated habitats? The monograph has an impressive-looking bibliography, incorporating some well-known names in European bioscience.

The problem is that no such creatures have ever existed—as can be verified by referring to any number of standard taxonomic lists. The Rhinogradentia (and their island home) are a bizarre demonstration of Darwinian inventiveness. They were concocted by a zoologist named G. Steiner, using ‘Stümpke’ as a pseudonym.

Whether a deliberately deceptive hoax or just an intellectual’s prank, we have seen that this convincing evolutionary fantasy appears to have been presented in at least one standard European text as fact. Who ‘nose’ how many have been led astray (as in the case of Piltdown man, a fossil hoax which convinced a generation of students that human evolution was a ‘fact’) by such seemingly factual ‘evidence’?

References and notes

  1. Wurmbach H., and Siewing, R., Lehrbuch der Zoologie, Verlag Fischer, Stuttgart-New York, 1985. Return to text.
  2. Stümpke, H., Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia, Fischer, Stuttgart (first printing 1961). Return to text.
  3. Latinophiles might be alerted by the words incertae sedis incorporated into the scientific description (=‘of doubtful habitat’). Return to text.

[Adapted from the German by Dr Carl Wieland from a Factum article.]
Dr Vetter, a previous contributor to Creation magazine, died in 1996.

Helpful Resources

Evolutionists Say the Oddest Things
by Lita Cosner, editor
US $12.00
Soft Cover
Evolutionists Say the Oddest Things
by Lita Cosner (editor)
US $7.00
Kindle (.mobi)

Readers’ comments

Terry W.
This article reminds me so much of the Concerned Children's Advertisers' 60 second documentary on the house hippo [link deleted per feedback rules] ... they probably made it because of Stümpke's prestigious work.
Francis R.
This article has prompted me to pose the question: Are evolutionists more gullible than Christians/creationists?

Christians believe the Holy Bible to be a book of truth. It is never subject to revision or updating or correction. And this from a time that predates by quite a few thousand years the evolutionary belief system. On the other hand the evolution story has had countless changes at both the micro and macro levels. it is fraught with revisions and wholesale changes that are themselves subject to further "updates" and that sort of thing which continues unabated to this day. Surely its "The Lie" vs The Truth?. I believe if you believe The Lie then you are predisposed to gullibility. And deception. How tragic!
Raul A.
I become a 'nosewalker' every time my wife cooks my favorite dinner, does that mean I share some genes from this creature?
John C.
For those of us that aren't scientifically inclined, small "archipelago" means a chain of small islands and "fauna" means animals. We're just "plain old" Christians that would like to share this information with "plain old" lost people.
Pratha S.
The term 'led by the nose' also has both a practical and spiritual meaning.It generally refers to people who will believe virtually anything -- 'lead by the nose'.But ultimately it gets back to a spiritual meaning.This can certainly include evolution{as well as a lot of other things too}.The Bible actually refers to things like this when it talks about 'being blown about by the wind'. Without the guiding of God's Word,people will be 'lead by the nose',they'll be 'blown about by the wind'.In other words,people will believe virtually anything -- and we see that all too often today.
gabriel S.
ahaa! at last the long lost child of geppetto and twin brother of pinocchio, has been found in germany!

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