Ghosts reveal ancestor, according to reports in Science vol. 339 p656 DOI: 10.1126/science.1233999 and p662 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229237 8 February 2013, and Nature News and ScienceDaily 7 February 2013. An international team of scientists has completed an enormous project that collates anatomical details of 86 species of placental mammals, including 40 fossil mammals, together with genetic data from those that are still living. Placental mammals are the vast majority of mammals, and range in size and variation from tiny bats and shrews to elephants and whales. The researchers then used this information to reconstruct the common ancestor of all placental mammals. According to Nature News: “The critter turned out to be a tree-climbing, furry-tailed insect eater that weighed between 6 and 245 grams. It gave birth to blind, hairless young, one at a time. Its brain was highly folded, and it had three pairs of molars on each jaw”.

The study was part of the Assembling the Tree of Life Program, a project funded by National Science Foundation (USA). According to Maureen O’Leary of Stony Brook University, “Discovering the tree of life is like piecing together a crime scene – it is a story that happened in the past that you can’t repeat. Just like with a crime scene, the new tools of DNA add important information, but so do other physical clues like a body or, in the scientific realm, fossils and anatomy. Combining all the evidence produces the most informed reconstruction of a past event”.

The mammal research team used their data to reconstruct the evolutionary tree of placental mammals, and work out where they fitted in relation to the Cretaceous Tertiary boundary, believed to be when the dinosaurs were wiped out and many new mammals started to evolve. To estimate when different mammals evolved the team used “a rarely used method, ghost lineage analysis”. The way this works is described in an article in Science as follows: “The ghost lineage approach instead uses the defining morphological characteristics that align fossils with living clades to calibrate the phylogeny as a whole. This it does by using direct fossil evidence for the earliest appearance of lineages and by inferring the presence of “ghost lineages” not documented in the fossil record but implied by sister-group relationships.”

Nature News, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: When you build a family tree as evidence of what a missing evolutionary ancestor looked like, and you do so by ‘inferring the presence of “ghost lineages” not documented in the fossil record but implied by sister-group relationships, it’s time to admit you are making it up! You are assuming evolution happened in order to prove evolution! A real no no. Since DNA and fossils exist only in the present, they can at best be used as the basis for inference, not fact, about the past. Any story about how creatures got to be like they are is just that – a story, not an observed scientific fact. Therefore, the supposed “ancestor” of all placental mammals is not a real creature, but the result of the researchers’ imaginations, based on their already held belief that all mammals evolved from a common ancestor.

In 1984 Prof. Louis Bourone (former President of the Biological Society of Strasbourg and Director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum, later Director of Research at the French National Centre of Scientific Research) said ‘Evolutionism is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless’. (As quoted in ‘The Advocate’, March 8, 1984, p.17). Now it seems it has a ghostly basis as well which is just as useless for science.

So never let them laugh at you for accepting the word of God who was there when they have such ghostly blind faith in the opinions of men who weren’t there! After all – the only way to get a truly “informed reconstruction” of the past is to be informed via a record left by a reliable someone who was there. Using ghost stories to invent hypothetical ancestors does nothing for the progress of science, and the National Science Foundation should stop wasting taxpayers’ money on the Tree of Life project and spend it on some real science.

Evidence News 21 February 2013

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