Photos of hind limb rudiments on modern day whales (and creationist "answers")

Photos (with discussion) of hind limb rudiments found on modern day whales

Photo of hind limb bud on whale embryo

Photo of hind limb bud on dolphin embryo (dolphins are another member of the Cetacean family, along with whales)



Hi Ed,
Thanks for visiting the BCS web site and for your note. As it happens, the latest issue of "Origins", our journal, has an essay by Paul Garner on "The Whale that Wasn't". I'll forward your post to Paul.

BTW, we're quite comfortable with cetaceans having hind limb rudiments. They are mammals and they have a mammalian body design.

Best regards,
David J. Tyler, on behalf of BCS


From: "Ted Holden"
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 10:35 PM
Subject: Evolution of whales - vestigial hind limbs

There are several things which make whale evolution impossible and not just the question of legs to flippers.

The biggest problem as I see it is baleen. How is a normal predator which kills large animals with its teeth and eats them supposed to start straining plankton through its teeth and somehow or other hold on and survive until his teeth turn into whalebone, 10,000 generations later.

You've got to be seriously stupid to believe anything like that. In fact, the guy who believes that will make Mortimer Snerd look like Albert Einstein by way of contrast.

Ted Holden

Splifford the bat says: Always remember
A mind is a terrible thing to waste; especially on an evolutionist. Just say no to narcotic drugs, alcohol abuse, and corrupt ideological doctrines.


It's always something with creationists like Ted. If evidence of land-based creatures moving to the sea isn't enough, now they want to know how teeth evolved into baleen. And they add, "baleen disproves evolution could have occured!" So they just keep drawing that line backwards. Now the line is drawn as "Baleen!" Heck, think about the line back when Duane T. Gish of ICR was pumelling even the possibility of whale evolution with his "Cow to Whale" slide.
Evolution's come a long way baby, and it keeps on a-commin.


Since whales are based on the "mammalian body plan" we would expect them to sometimes sprout rudimentary hind limbs on occaision when the plan sometimes gets messed up or mutated.


It would appear that the creationist above has not read the entire article nor taken the time to examine the photos. I wonder of course how the above young-earth creationist might feel about this evidence if he could first be convinced that the world is indeed very old, and that fossil succesion has occured, and see for himself what comparative anatomical changes throughout time, imply.

He probably believes that all the whale fossils were of creatures that lived simultaneously with each other and with dinosaurs and trilobites and marine reptiles, etc. Though I would like him to explain why whales are found in the correct relative geological layers for their comparative anatomy to even suggest evolution from previously living land mammals with peculiar ear bones. Or why modern day whale fossils are not found in layers beneath their obvious precursors but only afterwards. Or why other large denizens of the deep that were reptiles from the age of reptiles are never found buried with the earliest whales nor above them but always beneath them? Those large marine reptiles certainly would have swam in the same environments as the cetaceans (whales and porpoises) if they all lived together. Indeed, with a Flood of the magnitude of the Bible there should be out-of-place-fossils galore, out of place fossil fragments too. Only long eons of time could have separated the fossils as they are separated so completely, right down to bone fragments and micro-fossils (single celled fossilized organisms).

Apparently even Duane T. Gish knows this, as he refuses to debate the age of the earth and has even admitted (much to his fellow creationists' chagrin) that the evidence for fossil succession is a challenge that his fellow young-earthers at ICR have not adequately met:

"When I visited the Institute for Creation Research towards the end of 1978... The associate director is Duane T. Gish, who has a PhD in biochemistry from Berkeley. ... Considering that I believe living things have a common origin and have evolved over a long period of time, and Duane Gish doesn't, there turned out to be a surprising amount of shared ground between us. ... Duane Gish and others of his standing are well aware of this problem [for their young-earth views, i.e., the problem of the age of the earth], but in the end they let their faith over-ride it. When I asked him what were the biggest difficulties for creationist science the points in a debate which he felt least comfortable in answering - he answered after a moment's thought that it was the apparently great age of Earth as shown by the fairly recent advances in radiometric dating; and that the the fossil record could be interpreted as showing ecologically complete ages - the age of invertebrates, the age of fishes, the age of reptiles, and so on up to the present. " [from Hitching F., The Neck of the Giraffe: Or Where Darwin Went Wrong, Pan: London, 1982, pp.115-121]

Of course, to creationist critics it's all merely "part of God's plan" to them, including "body plans" that go awry every now and then and sprout rudimentary hind limbs. And it proves nothing to them that land-based ancestors with special "water-hearing" ear bones preceded species that were more adapted for the water. Proves nothing to them that the earliest whales were so different from later more highly specialized and robust species. Proves nothing to them that the record shows it wasn't "Design," but work done in stages, tinkering with some land mammals over tens of millions of years, during which time most of those ancient species became extinct, rubbish heap designs.

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