Orangutans and the Flood

creationist biogeography

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Orangutans and the Flood

#1  Postby Wortfish » Oct 14, 2016 12:46 am

I need some help which is why I have come to this site. I have tried explaining to a creationist that the fossil record does not comport with the notion that all species (or "kinds") disembarked Noah's Ark - presumably somewhere in the Middle East - and then migrated to all corners of the earth. The obvious example to draw is the kangaroo whose fossils are found only in Australia.

The creationist has responded to me by claiming that orangutans living in Sumatra and other places in SE Asia have no fossil record in Africa where the other great apes live. He asserts that orangutans were never related to chimps and gorillas and did not originate in Africa at all. Rather, when the waters from Noah's Flood receded, some apes headed towards Africa through the Sinai while others headed deep into Asia. He notes that in India fossils have been found of putative ancestors (pongids) of the orangutan who may have taken such a route on their migration from Ararat (the resting place of the Ark) to Sumatra.

I am a little stuck. If chimps, gorilllas and orangutans share a common ancestor where did it live? And why are orangutans so far removed in physical distance from their evolutionary cousins in Africa?
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#2  Postby Fenrir » Oct 14, 2016 3:07 am

Creationists don't have to invalidate common descent by cherry-picking specific examples where they can twist a paucity of data to suit their agenda.

They do that by producing actual data that supports another hypothesis while accounting for all (repeat all) the existing data.

Citing a poorly known group extant in environments unsuited to fossilisation where what we do have is compatible with common descent is just desperate wishful thinking. Tell them to get their hand off it.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#3  Postby Fenrir » Oct 14, 2016 3:08 am

I'd edit that typo if only I was allowed.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#4  Postby Rumraket » Oct 14, 2016 6:46 am

Wortfish wrote:I am a little stuck. If chimps, gorilllas and orangutans share a common ancestor where did it live?

The fossil record of primates is quite poor but my guess would be it lived in Africa.

And why are orangutans so far removed in physical distance from their evolutionary cousins in Africa?

I don't see the problem with this, they shared a common ancestor over 12 million years ago. Seems completely reasonable they can slowly migrate across the distances in that time?
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#5  Postby Wortfish » Oct 14, 2016 12:24 pm

Fenrir wrote:Creationists don't her to invalidate common descent by cherry-picking specific examples where they can twist a paucity of data to suit their agenda.


The issue is less one of common ancestry and more about evolutionary biogeography. Creationists are using the orangutan to argue that many organisms have fossils only in places where they currently inhabit and not in proximity to their place of origin or to Ararat.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#6  Postby Wortfish » Oct 14, 2016 12:27 pm

Rumraket wrote:
The fossil record of primates is quite poor but my guess would be it lived in Africa.


That's what the creationists are seizing upon because of the lack of fossil evidence for anything resembling a pongid in Africa.

I don't see the problem with this, they shared a common ancestor over 12 million years ago. Seems completely reasonable they can slowly migrate across the distances in that time?


Agreed. But there appears to be no fossil evidence for such a slow migration. This is relevant because there is no evidence of a slow migration of kangaroos from the Near East to Australia (which is what creationists believe must have happened post-Flood).
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#7  Postby Calilasseia » Oct 14, 2016 1:07 pm

It's bollocks, to put it bluntly.

First of all, migration of organisms to new land masses is well documented in the literature, if anyone cares to exercise the requisite diligent effort. This includes primates. Second, acquisition of novel features post-migration is also well documented in the literature - island gigantism being merely the best documented example. For that matter, organisms have demonstrably engaged in adaptive radiation and rampant speciation whilst still living side by side - see, for example, the Lake Victoria Cichlid Superflock, which is known to have radiated from one well-defined (and identified) common ancestor 12,400 years ago, into the species flock currently observed (though Cichlids are particularly well suited to this process, which is why the process has also been documented for other Rift lakes, such as Malawi and Tanganyika).

Oh, as for the idea that there's no fossil evidence for anything resembling a Pongid in Africa, that's bullshit. You can download, for free, an entire book devoted to Tertiary African Pongidae, published by Yale University way back in 1969. Enjoy.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#8  Postby Wortfish » Oct 14, 2016 1:32 pm

Calilasseia wrote:
Oh, as for the idea that there's no fossil evidence for anything resembling a Pongid in Africa, that's bullshit. You can download, for free, an entire book devoted to Tertiary African Pongidae, published by Yale University way back in 1969. Enjoy.


Sorry, my bad. Orangutans are pongins. "Pongid" is, apparently, an obsolete taxon which has since been replaced with "Hominids" and includes all of the great apes including humans. The creationist claims that there are no fossils of pongins in Africa. There is a pongin species much closer to Africa than Sumatra, Ankarapithecus, but its existence only helps the creationist because it lived in relatively close proximity to Mount Ararat where the Bible claims the Ark came to rest. It would be great if a pongin species were found in Yemen or the Sinai as that would be in accordance with an African place of origin.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#9  Postby Rumraket » Oct 14, 2016 2:24 pm

Wortfish wrote:
Rumraket wrote:
The fossil record of primates is quite poor but my guess would be it lived in Africa.


That's what the creationists are seizing upon because of the lack of fossil evidence for anything resembling a pongid in Africa.

I don't see the problem with this, they shared a common ancestor over 12 million years ago. Seems completely reasonable they can slowly migrate across the distances in that time?


Agreed. But there appears to be no fossil evidence for such a slow migration. This is relevant because there is no evidence of a slow migration of kangaroos from the Near East to Australia (which is what creationists believe must have happened post-Flood).

This is one of those areas where, due to the poverty of the fossil record, we don't even know where these primates originated. There are papers where researchers report fossils from asia, such as this: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/26/10293.abstract

Late Middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa

Abstract
Reconstructing the origin and early evolutionary history of anthropoid primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) is a current focus of paleoprimatology. Although earlier hypotheses frequently supported an African origin for anthropoids, recent discoveries of older and phylogenetically more basal fossils in China and Myanmar indicate that the group originated in Asia. Given the Oligocene-Recent history of African anthropoids, the colonization of Africa by early anthropoids hailing from Asia was a decisive event in primate evolution. However, the fossil record has so far failed to constrain the nature and timing of this pivotal event. Here we describe a fossil primate from the late middle Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar, Afrasia djijidae gen. et sp. nov., that is remarkably similar to, yet dentally more primitive than, the roughly contemporaneous North African anthropoid Afrotarsius. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that Afrasia and Afrotarsius are sister taxa within a basal anthropoid clade designated as the infraorder Eosimiiformes. Current knowledge of eosimiiform relationships and their distribution through space and time suggests that members of this clade dispersed from Asia to Africa sometime during the middle Eocene, shortly before their first appearance in the African fossil record. Crown anthropoids and their nearest fossil relatives do not appear to be specially related to Afrotarsius, suggesting one or more additional episodes of dispersal from Asia to Africa. Hystricognathous rodents, anthracotheres, and possibly other Asian mammal groups seem to have colonized Africa at roughly the same time or shortly after anthropoids gained their first toehold there.


There seems to be an extensive literature on asian primate fossils: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?linkname=pubmed_pubmed&from_uid=22665790
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#10  Postby Wortfish » Oct 15, 2016 12:27 am

Rumraket wrote:
This is one of those areas where, due to the poverty of the fossil record, we don't even know where these primates originated. There are papers where researchers report fossils from asia, such as this: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/26/10293.abstract


The paper is interesting in that it proposes an Asian origin for the great apes. Certainly, the lesser apes (i.e. gibbons) are found in the wild only in Asia.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#11  Postby Rumraket » Oct 15, 2016 8:10 pm

Yeah. I think given the poverty on the fossil record here we are in a position where we can't say with great certainty where the great apes first evolved and in turn we can't say much about the patterns of migration either.

But I think that trying to nail down the migration patterns in the first place isn't what is important, and my response would be that it is an attempt at deflection. A red herring fallacy.
Sometimes there are things we don't know, that doesn't mean the things we DO know suddenly don't count. The lack of fossils that would make primate migrations clear, isn't evidence that they came from an Ark somewhere in the Middle East about 4000 years ago. That would require it's own evidence that wasn't just compatible with, but overwhelmingly indicative of it.

The fact is we can have overwhelming evidence for evolution and common descent from comparative genetics and morphology, even while being patently ignorant about where exactly the groups emerged and how precisely they got to where they are now.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#12  Postby Blackadder » Oct 15, 2016 11:21 pm

Rumraket wrote:Yeah. I think given the poverty on the fossil record here we are in a position where we can't say with great certainty where the great apes first evolved and in turn we can't say much about the patterns of migration either.

But I think that trying to nail down the migration patterns in the first place isn't what is important, and my response would be that it is an attempt at deflection. A red herring fallacy.
Sometimes there are things we don't know, that doesn't mean the things we DO know suddenly don't count. The lack of fossils that would make primate migrations clear, isn't evidence that they came from an Ark somewhere in the Middle East about 4000 years ago. That would require it's own evidence that wasn't just compatible with, but overwhelmingly indicative of it.

The fact is we can have overwhelming evidence for evolution and common descent from comparative genetics and morphology, even while being patently ignorant about where exactly the groups emerged and how precisely they got to where they are now.


It's a classic creationist tactic. Trying to find a single gap or flaw in our imperfect knowledge of the past and then asserting that this somehow vindicates the massive crock of shit that is creationist ideology. They conveniently ignore the rest of the enormous body of evidence, painstakingly assembled over decades by diligent careful work, which lays waste to their mythological arse-gravy.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#13  Postby Oldskeptic » Oct 17, 2016 12:33 am

Wortfish wrote:I am a little stuck. If chimps, gorilllas and orangutans share a common ancestor where did it live?


Africa.

Wortfish wrote: And why are orangutans so far removed in physical distance from their evolutionary cousins in Africa?


After the split from chimps and gorillas the ancestors the orangutans spread to Asia where their evolution continued. One thing to remember is that orangutans are not only separated from chimps, gorillas, and humans by great distance but also by a greater amount of time, 14 million years.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#14  Postby Wortfish » Oct 18, 2016 5:22 pm

Oldskeptic wrote:
After the split from chimps and gorillas the ancestors the orangutans spread to Asia where their evolution continued. One thing to remember is that orangutans are not only separated from chimps, gorillas, and humans by great distance but also by a greater amount of time, 14 million years.


OK. But there are no pongin specimens in Africa. There are some in Turkey, India/Pakistan and Thailand, as well as their home in Indonesia/Malaysia.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#15  Postby Blackadder » Oct 18, 2016 5:32 pm

Wortfish wrote:
Oldskeptic wrote:
After the split from chimps and gorillas the ancestors the orangutans spread to Asia where their evolution continued. One thing to remember is that orangutans are not only separated from chimps, gorillas, and humans by great distance but also by a greater amount of time, 14 million years.


OK. But there are no pongin specimens in Africa. There are some in Turkey, India/Pakistan and Thailand, as well as their home in Indonesia/Malaysia.


There are no kangaroo specimens in Africa either. It proves what exactly? Why don't you get to the point? The God of the Gaps is waiting in the wings.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#16  Postby jaydot » Oct 18, 2016 7:43 pm

why are you even arguing with a creationist and not treating it with the contempt it deserves? creationists can't even apply common sense to their cognitive dissonance. get away from it and steer well clear in future.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#17  Postby Wortfish » Oct 18, 2016 9:40 pm

Blackadder wrote:
There are no kangaroo specimens in Africa either. It proves what exactly? Why don't you get to the point? The God of the Gaps is waiting in the wings.


There was a report 30 years ago about kangaroo fossils being found in the Siwa oasis of Egypt. Anyway, the point is that biblical creationists have to explain why kangaroos ended up in Australiasia post-Flood leaving no evidence for a migration from Mesopotamia. Likewise, evolutionists need to explain how orangutans ended up in Sumatra.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#18  Postby Sendraks » Oct 18, 2016 11:26 pm

Wortfish wrote:There was a report 30 years ago about kangaroo fossils being found in the Siwa oasis of Egypt.

Once upon a time marsupials were much more widely spread across the globe than they are today. The marsupial remains found in africa are not kangaroos in the Australian sense of the word.

Wortfish wrote:Likewise, evolutionists need to explain how orangutans ended up in Sumatra.

Why is it such a problem that one particular type of primate occupies a land mass far flung from the rest of its relatives, when primates species are widely spread across the globe?

As it stands, remains of extinct ponginae species (dated to 12.2million years ag) have been found in the Indian sub-continent, which is rather conveniently placed between Africa and Indonesia. Remains of a more recently extinct (9-7million years ago) ponginae species have been found in China and Thailand, which is even closer to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Its almost as if successive ponginae species moved east from Africa or something.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#19  Postby Oldskeptic » Oct 19, 2016 1:06 am

Wortfish wrote:
Oldskeptic wrote:
After the split from chimps and gorillas the ancestors the orangutans spread to Asia where their evolution continued. One thing to remember is that orangutans are not only separated from chimps, gorillas, and humans by great distance but also by a greater amount of time, 14 million years.


OK. But there are no pongin specimens in Africa. There are some in Turkey, India/Pakistan and Thailand, as well as their home in Indonesia/Malaysia.


Why are there no new world monkeys in Africa? Answer: Because the geographical split between new world monkeys and old world monkeys happened around 40 MYA and they evolved differently on different continents.

That is the same answer you get for why there are no urangutans in Africa, extant or fossil. The ancestors of new world monkeys drifted away on the South American continent, the ancestors of urangutans most likely walked or swung away in the trees or drifted onto islands on artificial rafts. The reason there is no evidence of urangutans in Africa is because there never were urangutans in Africa only their ancestors that also happen to be the ancestors of chimps, gorillas, and us.
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Re: Orangutans and the Flood

#20  Postby Oldskeptic » Oct 19, 2016 1:26 am

Wortfish wrote:
Blackadder wrote:
There are no kangaroo specimens in Africa either. It proves what exactly? Why don't you get to the point? The God of the Gaps is waiting in the wings.


There was a report 30 years ago about kangaroo fossils being found in the Siwa oasis of Egypt.


And those reports were wrong. It was a marsupial similar to fossils of European marsupials and in the same family as American opossums. It was not a kangaroo.

Wortfish wrote:Anyway, the point is that biblical creationists have to explain why kangaroos ended up in Australiasia post-Flood leaving no evidence for a migration from Mesopotamia. Likewise, evolutionists need to explain how orangutans ended up in Sumatra.


You're forgetting something: Creationists claim that kangaroos got to Australia in a short period time after getting off a boat as kangaroos in the middle east only 4000 years ago. If kangaroos did hop from the middle east to Australia 4000 years ago it could be expected to find some evidence of some kind of just that. Instead what we have is evidence of kangroos in Australia and nowhere else 25 MYA.

Not quite the same burden of proof for "evolutionists" as for creationists.
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