Serious problems have been reported for Darwinian evolution in these pages, and by other reporters ever since Charles Darwin lived, that should have long ago swept his theory into the scientific dustbin of unworkable hypothesis.  Yet neo-Darwinism survives, stronger than ever – strong enough to exclude any other alternative from the scientific competition.  How can this be?  A recent article shows how.

National Geographic News just reported the discovery of a fossil tiger skull from China, the earliest ever known, claimed to be 2.5 million years old.  That’s a substantial leap back in evolutionary time from the previous record-holder at 1.8 million years old.  Yet it looks strikingly modern, about halfway in size between a jaguar skull and a tiger skull.  One might think this to be a problem for evolutionary theory, which would predict a sequence of transitional forms from pre-tigers to tigers.  But here’s the headline: “Oldest Tiger-like Skull Yet—Hints Evolution Got It Right From Start.”

The headline should start several scientific sirens.  In the first place, one cannot personify Evolution as an entity even capable of trying to get something right.  And Evolution has no standard of rightness.  But if NG meant that it was a pure gamble – that chance hit a lucky strike by an unguided process – the statement could mean nothing short of a miracle.  To see if that is what was implied, the article can interpret itself.

  • Representing a new species, the skull isn’t that different from those of modern tigers, suggesting evolution hit on a winning formula early on and stuck with it.
  • The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center’s Meachen said the skull’s similarity to those of living tigers and jaguars is more striking than the differences.
  • “[Big cats] were great at what they did right away in their evolution, so their [anatomy] hasn’t changed much … ,” said Julie Meachen, a carnivore paleontologist at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, North Carolina. “They were—and still are—really good predators, in part because of their extremely successful body plan.”

No statement in the short article suggested any problem for evolutionary theory with this fossil.  In fact, they celebrated it as a trophy for evolution….

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