Dino demise no trigger for rise of mammals, ABC, March 29, 2007, Anna Salleh ...
The death of the dinosaurs was not the catalyst for modern mammalian evolution that many people think, a new study shows. According to an international team of researchers, mammals evolved much slower than people believe. And it was not until 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct that there was a rise in the rate of new mammal species. ... evolutionary biologist, Dr Marcel Cardillo, part of team that publishes its results today in the journal Nature. Dr Cardillo ... and colleagues constructed the largest, most complete family tree of modern mammals. This involved mapping the relationship between 99 per cent of the roughly 4,500 mammalian species that exist today. "It's the first time anyone has put together an essentially complete evolutionary tree for mammals," Dr Cardillo said. The phylogenetic 'supertree' reveals an evolutionary pattern that contradicts conclusions based on the fossil record. The fossil record suggests there was one big burst in mammal evolution immediately after the dinosaurs died out, Dr Cardillo says. But the new supertree shows that mammals diversified into major groups such as primates, rodents and carnivores, 100 to 85 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs. The tree also shows the rate of evolution of mammals remained fairly constant after the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. And it was not until 10 million years later that the rate of mammalian evolution started to pick up again. By 35 million years ago, most of the modern day families of mammals, such as the dog and cat families, had evolved ... To create their phylogenetic supertree, Dr Cardillo and colleagues combined data from 2,500 different family trees, based on fossil, molecular and morphological data. Molecular studies compare similarities in the DNA of living species to find evolutionary relationships between them. ... The researchers used a large computer to analyse the data and to determine the branches of the tree. For each section of the tree they calculated the length of the branches, which represent the time elapsed between divergent groups, using a known rate of DNA mutations. They then used fossil data to peg absolute dates on the tree. The research challenges the short-fuse 'burst' model of mammalian evolution, which assumes mammals rapidly diversified into the number of species we see today. ... See also: BBC, CBS, CNews, CNN, EurekAlert!, Livescience, National Geographic, New Scientist, New York Times, ScienceDaily, ScienceNOW & The Independent.
Assuming this holds up (e.g. the molecular clock is accurate), this would then be evidence for major genotypic changes occurring hidden deep within genomes, millions of years before they are expressed as phenotypic changes, which then can appear in the fossil record.
This would then be consistent with my General Theory of Progressive Mediate Creation, in which God supernaturally imparts new genetic information:
"OLD-AGE or PROGRESSIVE CREATION: God guided the process of development, injecting information at key stages in the development of the universe and life to design new forms of organization." (Pearcey N., "We're Not in Kansas Anymore," Christianity Today, May 22, 2000, Vol. 44, No. 6, p.42)
at strategic points in life's history:
"Progressive creationism accepts much of the scientific picture of the development of the universe, assuming that for the most part it developed according to natural laws. However, especially with regard to life on earth, PCs hold that God intervened supernaturally at strategic points along the way. On their view, Creation was not a single six-day event but occurred in stages over millions of years. ... The PC view tends to overlap with other views, particularly with old-earth creationism." (Pennock, R.T., "Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism," MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 1999, Fourth Printing, pp.26-27).
But it would then be inconsistent with Darwinian evolution because natural selection can only `see' the phenotype (body), not the genotype (genes), i.e. "natural selection. ... simply cannot see genes ... [it] views bodies":
"No matter how much power Dawkins wishes to assign to genes, there is one thing that he cannot give them-direct visibility to natural selection. Selection simply cannot see genes and pick among them directly. It must use bodies as an intermediary. A gene is a bit of DNA hidden within a cell. Selection views bodies. It favors some bodies because they are stronger, better insulated, earlier in their sexual maturation, fiercer in combat, or more beautiful to behold. If, in favoring a stronger body, selection acted directly upon a gene for strength, then Dawkins might be vindicated. If bodies were unambiguous maps of their genes, then battling bits of DNA would display their colors externally and selection might act upon them directly. But bodies are no such thing. ... Bodies cannot be atomized into parts, each constructed by an individual gene. Hundreds of genes contribute to the building of most body parts and their action is channeled through a kaleidoscopic series of environmental influences: embryonic and postnatal, internal and external. Parts are not translated genes, and selection doesn't even work directly on parts. It accepts or rejects entire organisms because suites of parts, interacting in complex ways, confer advantages. The image of individual genes, plotting the course of their own survival, bears little relationship to developmental genetics as we understand it. Dawkins will need another metaphor: genes caucusing, forming alliances, showing deference for a chance to join a pact, gauging probable environments. But when you amalgamate so many genes and tie them together in hierarchical chains of action mediated by environments, we call the resultant object a body. Moreover, Dawkins's vision requires that genes have an influence upon bodies. Selection cannot see them unless they translate to bits of morphology, physiology, or behavior that make a difference to the success of an organism." (Gould S.J., "Caring Groups and Selfish Genes," in "The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History," , Penguin: London, Reprinted, 1990, pp.77-78).
Of course, such hidden genotypic changes, when they do eventually become expressed phenotypically, "must justify their existence before the tribunal of natural selection" (i.e. they must at least survive), but as the late Neo-Darwinist mathematician-geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964), pointed out, "that is a very different matter" from "aris[ing], as Darwin thought, by natural selection (my emphasis):
"But if we come to the conclusion that natural selection is probably the main cause of change in a population, we certainly need not go back completely to Darwin's point of view. In the first place, we have every reason to believe that new species may arise quite suddenly, sometimes by hybridisation, sometimes perhaps by other means. Such species do not arise, as Darwin thought, by natural selection. When they have arisen they must justify their existence before the tribunal of natural selection, but that is a very different matter." (Haldane, J.B.S., "The Causes of Evolution," , Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1993, Second Printing, p.75)
Whatever, it sounds like yet another one among "nearly all ... evolutionary stories" that "have now been `debunked'" (my emphasis)!:
"It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student, from Trueman's Ostrea/Gryphaea to Carruthers' Zaphrentis delanouei, have now been `debunked'. Similarly, my own experience of more than twenty years looking for evolutionary lineages among the Mesozoic Brachiopoda has proved them equally elusive." (Ager, D.V., 'The nature of the fossil record," Presidential Address delivered 5 March 1976, Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, Vol. 87, No. 2, 1976, p.131-135, p.132)
Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
Exodus 11:1-10. 1Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold." 3(The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.) 4So Moses said, "This is what the LORD says: 'About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt-worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.' Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, 'Go, you and all the people who follow you!' After that I will leave." Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh. 9The LORD had said to Moses, "Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you-so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt." 10Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.