This post is really an excuse to show off a photo of the rather nice coelacanth (Latimeria) we have on display at the IVPP. I rather like these giant lobe-finned fish and this one is both big and in good condition (well, was, before someone killed it and stuck in in a tank of preservative). From the point of view of evolutionary discussions however it has it’s own little role to play which is worth mentioning.
While I generally avoid creationism stuff on here (and after the comments that came last time, it seems like the right choice) there are a few more obvious non-sequiturs that hang around for ever and never seem to die that rather intrigue me. One is the concept that finding a living pterosaur or dinosaur would somehow disprove evolution or the fossil record as a whole. Obviously this would not. What is would mean is that we have a big gap in the fossil record and that somewhere, somehow, something clung onto life in a hidden corner of the world for a long time. Extinction still happens (you could find tens of thousands of supposedly extinct species but there would be hundreds of thousands still only known from the fossil record) and evolution still happens, so the point is moot.
Which of course is where the coelacanth comes in. Until its (re)discovery as a living animal, the group was though long extinct and known only from the fossil record. However, despite the fact that this story is very widely know, it’s pretty obvious that the whole edifice of evolutionary research and biological sciences did not come crashing down as a result of this find. Indeed, it allowed us to look at what changes had happened over the millennia separating the fossils and living specimens to see evolution in action. Why then people persist in thinking that finding a living hadrosaur will kill evolution is beyond me. Not only would it not do this, but similar occurrences have already happened with no effect at all, so why would this be any different?