Rats! A toothless argument for evolution
The original article contained accompanying illustrations, which we cannot reproduce for copyright purposes.
The extinct Australian marsupial, the powerful-toothed Giant Rat-kangaroo (Ekaltadeta ima) had a tooth that has been touted as proof of evolution.1 That is, one of its ‘baby teeth’, the second premolar (P2), instead of being lost, was withdrawn and turned so it buttressed a large adult tooth, the third premolar (P3). The author of the article, S. Wroe, claimed that it would be ‘far cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing’ to eject the baby tooth and use extra bone to support P3. Supposedly, like the panda’s ‘thumb’, this is proof that no designer was involved, so evolution must have done it.
However, an assertion about what a designer would do is actually a pseudo-theological argument, not a scientific argument that mutations and natural selection could produce this unique developmental pattern. It also invokes the idea that since creation or evolution are the only alternatives, evidence against one is evidence for the other. Strangely, evolutionists protest loudly when creationists use this approach!
Of course, it matters not what the author thinks is ‘cleaner’ or ‘more aesthetically pleasing’, but what is good for this rat-kangaroo. The author himself admits: ‘the P3 of Ekaldateta had the potential to bite through just about anything’—this hardly sounds like bad design! Similarly, the panda’s ‘thumb’ is actually part of an elaborate grasping mechanism that does just what it’s supposed to—strip bamboo leaves very efficiently.2
References and notes
- Wroe, S., The Killer Rat-Kangaroo’s Tooth, Nature Australia 27(1):28–31, Winter 2001. Return to text.
- ‘Bad design’ arguments are comprehensively refuted by Woodmorappe, J., The panda thumbs its nose at the dysteleological arguments of the atheist Stephen Jay Gould, Journal of Creation 13(1):45–48, 1999; based on Endo, H. et al., Role of the giant panda’s ‘pseudo-thumb’, Nature 397(6717):309–310, 1999. Return to text.