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Peregocetus pacificus, 43-million-year–old walking whale?

Have they finally found the missing link?

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Published: 25 April 2019 (GMT+10)
MUSM-3580
Schematic drawings of the articulated skeleton of MUSM 3580 showing the main preserved bones, in a hypothetical swimming and terrestrial posture. Stippled lines indicate reconstructed parts and missing sections of the vertebral column Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia Commons, 2008

An international team of paleontologists led by Dr Olivier Lambert, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, has discovered a new alleged ‘walking whale’.1 This creature was Peregocetus pacificus, 4 m (13 ft) long, found in Playa Media Luna on Peru’s southern coast, and ‘dated’ to middle Eocene, 42.6 million years (Ma).

What was found?

Like many claims of missing links, we should ask: what was the actual evidence? E.g. the original claims of Pakicetus (‘Whale from Pakistan’) as an aquatic whale ancestor were based on skull fragments only. But finding a more complete skeleton showed that it was a fast-running land mammal (see Not at all like a whale and Whale evolution fraud). This is one reason why evolutionary agitprop needs to keep claiming to have ‘found the missing link’, apparently hoping that we forget that they have said that before.

But Peregocetus was represented by a fair number of bones, as shown above. This includes the lower jaw (mandible), shoulder and hip girdle, a front and rear leg and feet, and much of the spinal column, especially in the tail (caudal) region.

But it was missing a lot of crucial information as well: the skull for example, so we have no idea what its ear was like, and this is crucial for identifying putative whale ancestors. And while its tail vertebrae showed widening (“expanded transverse processes”), so it could have helped with propulsion in water, it was more like “those of beavers and otters”. There was no evidence for tail flukes as in real whales.

Evolutionary question-begging

The name Peregocetus pacificus means ‘travelling whale [that reached] the Pacific’ (the name Ambulocetus, meaning ‘walking whale’, was already taken). Nothing like putting the meaning ‘whale’ into a name to push the idea that it was some sort of whale ancestor. Never mind that almost no one looking at such a creature would ever call it a whale.

Where are the normal diagnostic criteria for cetaceans, such as powerful swimming tail, preferably with horizontal flukes, a blow hole, obligate aquatic body design, and middle and inner ears in a cavity outside the skull not inside it as with terrestrial mammals? (See also Whale evolution?) And it had a well-developed shoulder and hip girdle attached to its spinal column, with well-developed legs. Its feet even had hooves, so it could walk on land.

Wrong place and time

It was remarkable, from an evolutionary point of view, that such a fossil could be found so far away from its closest relatives. That’s why the genus name emphasized ‘travelling’. But worse for the evolutionists is the ‘dating’. That is, according to evolutionary dating, Peregocetus is millions of years younger than creatures that are clearly more whale-like, such as Rodhocetus allegedly 4 million years older, and Remingtonocetus 5 million years older and Protocetus 2 million years older (see illustrations below).

Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia Commons, 2008Remingtonocetus
Remingtonocetus harudiniensis, ’dated’ to 48 Ma, but more aquatic than Peregocetus that is ‘dated’ as 5 Ma younger.
Nobu Tamura, Wikimedia Commons, 2008Protocetus
Protocetus atavus, ‘dated’ to 45 Ma, far more aquatic than Peregocetus that is ‘dated’ as 2 Ma younger.

We see the same problem with the other most-touted evolutionary transition series, dinosaur-to-bird and fish-to-tetrapod. In the former, the definite flying bird Archaeopteryx and the beaked flying bird Confuciusornis are ‘dated’ millions of years older than the ‘feathered dinosaur’ ancestor candidates. In the latter, there are undoubted tetrapod footprints millions of years older than all the supposed intermediates, including the much-touted Tiktaalik (actually, footprints in general are often found in rocks ‘millions of years’ older than any animal that could have made them).

Talking about this problem with the proclaimed dino-to-bird series, its leading evolutionary critic, paleornithologist Dr Alan Feduccia likes to say, you can’t be older than your grandfather! His opponents in particular, and evolutionists in general, when confronted by similar problems, respond that sometimes a grandfather can outlive his grandson. This is correct, but one of the major ‘evidences’ of evolution is how the evolutionary order supposedly matches the fossil sequence. So the mismatch of claimed order of appearance with claimed phylogeny undermines the evolutionary explanation.

Furthermore, Peregocetus doesn’t seem to have ‘advanced’ beyond Ambulocetus, supposedly 6 million years older, i.e. virtual ‘evolutionary stasis’. But in the other direction, it is very different from the aquatic Dorudon and the enormous Basilosaurus, which are dated to 4 million years younger—i.e. a huge amount of change to occur by random mutation and natural selection. It’s nice that evolution is so flexible in that it can explain such vastly different rates, although we know of no difference in mutation rates or selective pressures. Also, there are problems in substituting so many mutations in such a short time, as evolutionary geneticists have realized (see the discussions about Haldane’s dilemma and the waiting time problem.

Conclusion

No, there are no four-legged whales. This should go without saying, by the normal meanings of words. But sadly not, with the dogma of land-mammal–to–whale evolution. This new find, Peregocetus, was certainly four-legged, and could stand and walk on land, but it was equally certainly not a whale. Furthermore, it is ‘dated’ as millions of years younger than some much more ‘whale-like’ creatures, opposite to the claimed evolutionary sequence. And there is too little time for mutations and selection to have evolved Peregocetus into something like a Basilosaurus.

A much better explanation is that God created whales fully formed, and on day 5—a day before He created land creatures, including those of the created kind comprising Peregocetus. This is one of many contradictions in the order of events between Genesis and long-age ideas.

References and notes

  1. Lambert, O. and six others, An amphibious whale from the Middle Eocene of Peru reveals early South Pacific dispersal of quadrupedal cetaceans, Current Biology, 4 April 2019 | doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.050. Return to text.

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