Tara Smith posted Entry 1631 on November 1, 2005 12:59 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1626

Answers in Genesis is my favorite little humor site; like my own personal Onion, only the parody is lost on Ken Ham and Jon Sarfati or something. I like to picture them as the butt of some huge Landover Baptist joke, sucking their followers dry for a crazy museum in what is really a diabolical leftist plot to divert fundamentalist Christian funds away from causes that are actually real controversies in the 21st century. (Don’t burst my bubble, mkay? The way I figure it, you gotta laugh or it will make you cry.)

So anyway, their newest illustrations are a riot. Check them out here. My favorites below the fold…

Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

Mo–om! You always let Timmy bring the apatosaurus to school. It’s my turn!

When Hanna-Barbera publish history textbooks…

Damn it, I was that close to scoring with Shem’s wife…

What are your favorites?

(Hat tip to crazyharp at II for noticing the AIG page).

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Comment #54562

Posted by K.E. on November 1, 2005 2:04 AM (e)

Good old Noah….the most counter intuitive ans easily dealt with tale

Why do dreams become Myth? A question I for one have always asked and the closest I can find to any meaningful explanation lies with good old Joseph Campbell

you need to register - its free

an image embedded in the human psyche:

the Great Flood.

http://www.jcf.org/practical_campbell.php?id=15

Comment #54566

Posted by PaulH on November 1, 2005 2:14 AM (e)

I notice that us brits have our very own museum to visit too…

Creation Science Movement

Sadly, it’s not quite as humour rich as the one above, but I find the arguments oddly refreshing after all that specified irreducable information complex flagellum clotting cascade rubbish from the DI.

Comment #54568

Posted by Mike Walker on November 1, 2005 2:42 AM (e)

Seeing all this stuff is actually a little depressing when you realize how many young hearts and minds are being deceived by these cutsy little drawings. One can only hope that at least some of the kids will see them for what they are…. just cartoons.

I did notice this one with “Bible + Nothing Else = 1,000s of years” on the top line, which I thought was rather too honest for their own good :-)

Comment #54573

Posted by Fernmonkey on November 1, 2005 4:42 AM (e)

PaulH: There is also a creationist zoo in Bristol - The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. http://www.noahsarkzoofarm.co.uk/

Comment #54580

Posted by Dean Morrison on November 1, 2005 7:38 AM (e)

I like these - why oh why didn’t Eve decide to stay stupid? - or maybe thats why she couldn’t read Adam’s sign? if only we could all get stupid enough again, just like in the garden of eden!
http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/overhe…
http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/overhe…
.. seriously though any ideas where I can get a cool talking snake? Eve should have realised it was one of them ‘Interlecherals’ - it’s wearing spectacles for Chrisake!

Comment #54591

Posted by Skip on November 1, 2005 9:45 AM (e)

Funny that the serpent would be wearing sun glasses. The world was supposed to be perfect before the fall, so why would he need to shield out those harmful UV rays?

But I’m sure Ken and John would tell you that the cartoons are not their best efforts at scientific accuracy. No, for that you need their stellar publications, Creation Magazine and their “Technical Journal”.

Incidentally, AiG claims that TJ is their “peer reviewed” scientific journal… and they also brag about publishing an article by a 14 year old kid in TJ.

Who were the “peer reviewers”, Wally and Beaver Cleaver?

“Gee, Wally, I don’t get how you could evolve new novel featues through purely naturalistic mechanisms.”

“Aw, Beav, quit being such a goof. Heck, everyone knows mutations can’t increase genetic information. C’mon, we’re gonna be late for school.”

Comment #54592

Posted by Dave S. on November 1, 2005 9:55 AM (e)

Couple of my favorites….

132. Danger: Poison!Is that a series of transitional fossil forms I see?

157. Fish fossils: Week 2. I love the reaction of the fish to the Flood sediments. YAAAAAA!!!

Comment #54593

Posted by racingiron on November 1, 2005 10:07 AM (e)

Haven’t slogged through all of them yet, but did anyone else notice that the “relative morality” in slide 3 (Adam or Ape?) looks as if our furry friend has been hurling feces?
http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/overhe…

Comment #54598

Posted by Chili Pepper on November 1, 2005 10:27 AM (e)

I liked:

174. Dinosaur diet 2: Veggies

175. Dinosaur diet 3: Animals

Can’t help but think the T. Rex was relieved by the whole diet switchover - must have been a gigantic pain in the butt trying to eat a vegetarian diet with those teeth.

Comment #54600

Posted by K.E. on November 1, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

Yes but T. Rex enjoyed a vegetarian in her diet :>

Comment #54602

Posted by racingiron on November 1, 2005 10:41 AM (e)

Comments from 84. Origins of the seven day week:

An interesting research project would be to get people to investigate nations that have tried to change the seven-day week. Such experiments have always failed, because biologically man is set up for six days of work, one day of rest.

Interesting research project, indeed. I’m sure they’ve got some of their best minds on it right now. There’s plenty of evidence that man is biologically programmed for 6 days on, one day off.

Comment #54604

Posted by Flint on November 1, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

There’s plenty of evidence that man is biologically programmed for 6 days on, one day off.

There’s even better evidence that back when the US was a truly Christian country and before the secular humanists started driving it downhill, the common manufacturing worker worked 12 hours on and 12 hours off, seven days a week. Every two weeks, they switched shifts. This meant that once a month, the worker worked a 24-hour shift and once a month, he had 24 straight hours off. This was the day for the family outing. And this kind of schedule was the national manufacturing standard.

Of course, it didn’t apply to owners.

Comment #54609

Posted by PaulC on November 1, 2005 11:34 AM (e)

Cool! Which chapter in Genesis explains the 17 year cicada cycle?

Comment #54612

Posted by Curt Rozeboom on November 1, 2005 11:50 AM (e)

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…

My favorite, love the expression on the girl’s face when natural selection occurs right in front of her face. Unfortunately, she keeps on singing in order to drown out the truth.

Comment #54614

Posted by EmmaPeel on November 1, 2005 12:43 PM (e)

Is the apatasaur in the schoolroom slide related to Monica
DiVertebrae from Dinosaurs?

(Darn, I can’t find a picture of her. She’s basically the apatasaur from the slide, but blue and wearing earrings. She’s a realtor, IIRC.)

Comment #54619

Posted by Randy on November 1, 2005 1:47 PM (e)

K.E. wrote:

Good old Noah….the most counter intuitive ans easily dealt with tale

Why do dreams become Myth? A question I for one have always asked and the closest I can find to any meaningful explanation lies with good old Joseph Campbell

Now wait a minute. There’s some interesting research addressing the possibility that semi-cataclysmic flooding of the Black Sea at the end of the last Ice Age may have given rise to the myriad flood myths around the Mediterranean basin. But I think Joe would still approve.

Comment #54624

Posted by Anton Mates on November 1, 2005 1:57 PM (e)

An interesting research project would be to get people to investigate nations that have tried to change the seven-day week. Such experiments have always failed, because biologically man is set up for six days of work, one day of rest.

Ah, so the modern two-day weekend is biologically impossible. We all actually work 9 to 5 on Saturdays, but fail to notice due to naturalism-induced blindness.

Likewise, the aforementioned manufacturing workers of the olden days actually rested on Sunday, it was just that their idea of “rest” happened to involve slaving away in a factory and periodically losing a limb or a finger.

Comment #54626

Posted by Tony Warnock on November 1, 2005 2:03 PM (e)

Before the Fall diet: vegetarian.
After the fall diet: vegetarians.

Comment #54628

Posted by Tony Warnock on November 1, 2005 2:05 PM (e)

Before The Fall (summer) Diet: Vegetarian.
After The Fall (winter) Diet: Vegetairans.

Comment #54650

Posted by Andrew Mead McClure on November 1, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

Wow. Just… wow.

The “why Noah’s flood couldn’t have been local” part, I think, has to be absolutely the best. Look at this sequence:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…
http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…
http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…
http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…
http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…

I think this may well be the best example of starting with a conclusion and working backward that I’ve ever seen.

Comment #54655

Posted by ega on November 1, 2005 5:55 PM (e)

why you cant argue with some people

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…

Comment #54661

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 6:35 PM (e)

why you cant argue with some people

Sure you can.

“God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

I start by arguing the first claim. It seems to me that they are saying God said it; I haven’t heard from God itself. Until I do, the claim seems to me pure hubris.

Comment #54662

Posted by Engineer-Poet on November 1, 2005 6:40 PM (e)

Clever slogan to give people an excuse not to think, isn’t it?

Comment #54667

Posted by Steviepinhead on November 1, 2005 6:52 PM (e)

So maybe when printing up the T-shirts bearing this slogan, this fine-print preface should be included:

“I’m too stupid to think for myself, so boy was I relieved when I heard that…”

Etc.

Comment #54690

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 8:00 PM (e)

Actually, it takes a certain amount of intelligence to select and interpret sections of the bible in just such a way as to coincide with whatever view you wish to promote.

Comment #54703

Posted by Steve S on November 1, 2005 8:54 PM (e)

It’s actually funnier than the Onion.

““We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture,””

Comment #54708

Posted by DHR on November 1, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

Ever notice how

“God said it

I believe it

It’s settled”

is centered on “I” and puts god in a secondary place to the belief?

Comment #54711

Posted by morbius on November 1, 2005 9:27 PM (e)

To be fair, the referenced AiG article says “The truth is, though, that God said it and that settles it, regardless of whether or not I choose to believe it.”

The ego problem here is the belief that one can be sure “that God said it”.

Comment #54724

Posted by Tevildo on November 1, 2005 11:21 PM (e)

There is one of them that’s actually rather good:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…

However, one I’d choose for special mention is:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…

“So, kids, the Ark was _just_ bigger than a football field. How many of you have been to the zoo? (wait for raised hands) Is the zoo bigger than a football field? (Yes) _Much_ bigger? (Yes!) And does it have two of every kind of animal in it? (No…)”

Comment #54731

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 2:24 AM (e)

There is one of them that’s actually rather good:

A good example of begging the question. But yes, this is a point of view that one can subscribe to without being a moron, unlike most of the other examples.

Comment #54785

Posted by Stephen Frug on November 2, 2005 12:32 PM (e)

I have to say that I think this one is really cute:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/overhe…

I’ve felt like that after Thanksgiving dinner.

Say what you will about his science, but whoever is doing these drawings is a fairly charming cartoonist.

What’s interesting for me after browsing them is how much energy the AIG people spend fighting other creationists (old-earth creationists, etc) and not just evolution. It seems like more of their effort is directed that way than towards evolution as such. Makes sense once you see it but I wouldn’t have guessed it beforehand.

SF

Comment #54799

Posted by Dr. Kate on November 2, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

Personally, I like the reference to “evolutionary termites”: block diagram #2
Nothing like a good ol’ ego boost. Go termites!

Comment #54800

Posted by Tara Smith on November 2, 2005 1:48 PM (e)

Personally, I like the reference to “evolutionary termites”: block diagram #2
Nothing like a good ol’ ego boost. Go termites!

I said this on my blog too, but I think this calls for someone to draw up an “evolutionary termite” mascot.

Comment #54812

Posted by JS on November 2, 2005 3:16 PM (e)

At least their artwork’s better than Dembski’s…

Anyone else noticed the sharp decline in the quality of creationist artwork coinciding with the development of Flash games? Of course I suppose it could just be due to lack of preservation…

Comment #54818

Posted by Tevildo on November 2, 2005 3:46 PM (e)

morbius wrote:

A good example of begging the question.

Not wishing to take this off-topic, but isn’t it more an example of affirming the consequent?

1: If God existed, the world would be very beautiful.
2: The world is very beautiful.
3: Therefore, God exists.

I’d be interested to hear how it can be expressed as a pettito.

Comment #54839

Posted by Jason on November 2, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

Oh My God, Skip!!!

This is great: http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2003/0603nel…

How do they expect anyone to take them seriously when they pride themselves on statements like this…

Who ever said that science journals are just for highly trained Ph.D. scientists? That’s certainly not the case with TJ—the in-depth Journal of Creation.

I mean, WOW!

Or:

When Chase submitted his research paper, he humbly added the words, ‘I am currently fourteen, and so really have no significant scientific qualifications. I hope that my writing ability has developed well enough to be suitable for the TJ.’

But look out AiG!!! Listen to old Chase’s plans for the future!

“What’s for sure is that it is my dream to teach science, at either the high school or college level. I’d also like to do some laboratory research, possibly in the field of chemical evolution or some autoimmune diseases.”

Words fail…

(ps. It actually sounds as if Chase is having a laugh at their expense and they are just too stupid to realize it. I’m about to read his paper to see if it is a subtle jab at creationism.)

Comment #54840

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 2, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Thank you for sharing this gem. I was utterly convinced it was a send up site but to my absolute shock it turns out it is ment seriously. Wow.

I was absolutely crying with laughter. I particularly love the snake and eve image. Too perfect for words. In fact, I’m going to use in during my talks on snake evolution! ;-)

Cheers
Bryan

Comment #54847

Posted by Steve S on November 2, 2005 6:33 PM (e)

I can’t tell if it’s begging the question or affirming the consequent. It seems to just be stating the conclusion. I don’t see any argument there, enough to even be a logical error. It seems to amount to “God exists because look at the universe, duh”

Comment #54851

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

In fact, I’m going to use in during my talks on snake evolution!

What’s the latest scoop? _Pachyrachis_ would seem to indicate that the earliest snakes were aquatic, not burrowers. Yes? No?

Comment #54861

Posted by morbius on November 2, 2005 7:14 PM (e)

1: If God existed, the world would be very beautiful.
2: The world is very beautiful.
3: Therefore, God exists

Your (1) is not part of the AiG position – they always start from the premise that God does exist.

I’d be interested to hear how it can be expressed as a pettito.

(You mean petitio principii)

This happens to be the first example of begging the question at skepdic (I didn’t know that when I posted):

http://skepdic.com/begging.html

We know God exists because we can see the perfect order of His Creation, an order which demonstrates supernatural intelligence in its design.

In essence, replace your (1) with “Only God could create a very beautiful world.” or equivalently,
“If God did not exist, a very beautiful world could not.”
That’s the assumption implicit in the cartoon.

Comment #54882

Posted by the pro from dover on November 2, 2005 9:32 PM (e)

is it not true that snakes are the evolutionary descendants of mosasaurs fully aquatic reptiles, but you better not ask pachrachis because he speaks with forked tongue.

Comment #54885

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 2, 2005 9:46 PM (e)

is it not true that snakes are the evolutionary descendants of mosasaurs fully aquatic reptiles

That’s one view. The other is that snakes are descendents of monitor-like burrowing lizards that lost their limbs, lost their external ears and developed eyecaps as adaptations for burrowing.

My money is on the “aquatic ancestors” idea, though.

If true, this would mean that snakes are land-dwelling descendents of sea-dwelling mosasaur-like lizards that evolved from land-dwelling reptiles.

I can’t think, offhand, of any other group that returned to the land after having moved from the land to the sea ….

And then the sea snakes go and reverse the move, again …. ;>

Comment #54890

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 2, 2005 10:16 PM (e)

> The other is that snakes are descendents of monitor-like burrowing lizards that lost their limbs, lost their external ears and developed eyecaps as adaptations for burrowing

That is actually the case (although I’d place them closer to anguimorphs like the American alligator lizard or the European legless lizard, the varanids are actually fairly derived). Interestingly enough, snakes still retain enough of the middle ear to be able to hear but only at the wavelengths that travel well through soil. Fascinating piece of supportive evidence in regards to the early burrowing condition. Anilius and Cylindrophis are perfect examples of this early condition.

We have something coming out in Nature on lizard and snake evolution that will change our view of them forever, to be published through the advance online service on Nov 16. Can’t tell ya on what though, the Nature embargo is still in place ;-) It’ll be fun material to watch IDers try to comprehend let alone explain away ;-)

Cheers
B

Comment #54906

Posted by Tevildo on November 3, 2005 1:34 AM (e)

morbius, thanks for the example and the spelling correction. :)

To more serious matters.

Fernmonkey wrote:

There is also a creationist zoo in Bristol - The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

Looking at that site’s list of mammal “created kinds”, I see there is _one_ entry for “cats” (and a seperate one for “Sabertooths”). They’re claiming that every cat we see nowadays - from P. tigris to A. jubatus to F. margarita (is it not the cutest thing EVAR?) has descended from a single pair of lions in 4000 years?

And they deny the existence of macroevolution?

Comment #54928

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:42 AM (e)

We have something coming out in Nature on lizard and snake evolution that will change our view of them forever, to be published through the advance online service on Nov 16. Can’t tell ya on what though, the Nature embargo is still in place ;-) It’ll be fun material to watch IDers try to comprehend let alone explain away ;-)

Well, I’m still in the “aquatic ancestors” camp, so let’s see if your new material is enough to convince me. ;>

Comment #54937

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 3, 2005 10:11 AM (e)

>Well, I’m still in the “aquatic ancestors” camp, so let’s see if your new material is enough to convince me. ;>

Based upon what evidence? The aquatic story was lovely but was based upon an assumed close relationship between snakes and monitor lizards. This, however, hasn’t been supported by evidence (such as the fact that the varanids are no where near the closest relatives of the snakes). Based upon the close relationship with terrestrial lizards plus morphological features of basal snakes and the fact that the most primative snakes are all fossorial not aquatic, the terrestrial origin is the most strongly supported. Further, all the aquatic types of snakes (e.g. files snakes, homalopsines and sea snakes) are actually very derived lineages nested within the advanced snakes.

Cheers
Bryan

Comment #54971

Posted by Dean Morrison on November 3, 2005 1:13 PM (e)

- they are kind enough to offer to produce illustrations for you - so I’ve asked them to produce some for Genesis 9:20-25 -
[the bit after God does the thing with the rainbow, whereupon the first thing Noah does is plant a vineyard, then gets drunk and naked and passes out in his tent.
His son Ham sees this and tells his brothers Shem and Ja’peth, they then creep in backwards and cover him up. When Noah wakes up and finds out what has happened - (presumably from those creeps Shem and Ja’peth) - boy is he mad! He then takes it out on Hams’ son Canaan! - condemning him to be a slave of Shem and Japeth. What Ham actually did wrong, or what kind of morality Noah was working on here is not clear.]
- check it out yourself - I’m looking forward to those illustrations!

Comment #55003

Posted by Tevildo on November 3, 2005 3:16 PM (e)

I’d like to see them do Genesis 19:30-38. After the destruction of Sodom, Lot’s two daughters get him drunk, have sex with him, and become pregnant, so that his bloodline will be preserved.

Especially in the light of their discussion of Cain’s wife. Their argument is:

1. Cain’s wife - and Seth’s wife, for that matter - must have been daughters of Adam and Eve, because there were no other humans around.

2. Therefore, the first few generations of humanity had to engage in brother/sister and other forms of incest in order to survive. But how can this be part of God’s plan? Incest is forbidden by Leviticus 18.

3. A-HA! As incest had to be part of God’s plan, even _without_ the Fall, incest must have been OK back then.

4. So, Leviticus 18 doesn’t apply retrospectivly. Incest, and (presumably) all the other forms of sexual unorthodoxy described therein, were perfectly fine and legal and acceptable until the very moment that Moses wrote down that chapter.

5. So, Lot and his daughters are in the clear. And the angels that visited Sodom would have been in the clear, even if they had “lain with mankind as with womankind”. And as for any woman who wanted to “stand before a beast to lie down thereto” - go ahead!

You couldn’t make this up if you tried. :)

Comment #55074

Posted by AJ on November 3, 2005 7:12 PM (e)

Hmmm ….

Adam aquires a trait called “Sin” and passes it to all his descendents. No living creature that does not have Adam as a common ancestor has this trait.

Where have I heard something like this before …..

Comment #55087

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

Based upon what evidence?

Fossils found in aquatic habitats like _Pachyrachis_ and _Simoliophis_. The earliest known snakes, such as _Dinilysia_, do not seem to have any anatomical indications in the skull of a burrowing lifestyle – instead, they were very simlar to modern boids. And the fact that the modern burrowing snakes, such as the uropeltids and typhlopids, are themselves highly derived – they have compact heavy skulls and short relatively immovable jaws, specialized for burrowing, that are not found in other groups, and also not found in any of the earliest snakes. I’ve heard tell that DNA sequencing shows the modern-day burrowers to be among the oldest snakes, but that doesn’t mean they were burrowers to begin with – it just means that they are descended from one of the earliest groups of snakes, and may have adopted a specialized burrowing lifestyle much later.

As I mentioned, the hydrophiids and acrochordids are indeed recently evolved from terrestrial ancestors. The earliest snakes appear to be more boid-like. And, I suspect, very highly aquatic (like the green anaconda still is today).

And, IIRC, the most snakelike of the existing lizards is the Borneo earless monitor (which, despite the name, isn’t really a monitor), which lacks external ears, has a transparent “window” in its lower eyelid (snake eyecaps are simply transparent eyelids that have become fused closed), and has the same sort of joint in the middle of its lower jaw as snakes do.

And it’s a highly aquatic lizard.

OK, your turn. ;>

Comment #55098

Posted by the pro from dover on November 3, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

isn’t the “most snakelike lizard” the glass snake of southeastern USA? Do sea snakes leave the water to lay eggs or are they fully aquatic throughout their lives? Are there any reptiles still living that are as fully aquatic as sirenians and cetaceans? Info like this is much more interesting than who is the most outrageous fundie.

Comment #55101

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 3, 2005 9:26 PM (e)

It certainly is a intriguing question and one without a hard or fast answer. However, the evidence is certainly strongly supporting the fossorial habitat rather than the long favored aquatic origin. Particularly once the varanid assumption is disregarded (which makes Pachrachis and other such fossils a non-sequitor). Similarly, the characteristics of Lanthanotus borneensis are the result of convergence, it is sister group to the varanids and is quite removed from the serpents. The boids are actually a very derived snake lineage, with the constricting form of prey capture a newly developed condition rather than an ancestral state.

————–
>isn’t the “most snakelike lizard” the glass snake of southeastern USA?

In some regards it certainly is.

> Do sea snakes leave the water to lay eggs or are they fully aquatic throughout their lives?

Depends on if you are talking about sea kraits (Laticauda) or true sea snakes (Acalyptophis, Aipysurus, Enhydrina, Pelamis etc.). Both are buried within the Elapidae family but are independent colonisations of the ocean. The sea kraits lay eggs while the true sea snakes are life bearers. The sea kraits are limited in range to the Indonesian region as a result, with Niue being the furthest eastern spread. The true sea snakes however are not limited by land availability but rather water temperature (which is why they haven’t crossed into the Atlantic via the southern tip of South America).

>Are there any reptiles still living that are as fully aquatic as sirenians and cetaceans?

True sea snakes.

Cheers
B

Comment #55102

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 9:34 PM (e)

isn’t the “most snakelike lizard” the glass snake of southeastern USA?

Yes and no. :>

It certainly LOOKS like the most like a snake, but there are lots of very notable differences. First, glass lizards have moveable eyelids, which no snake has. Second, glass lizards have visible external ears, which no snake has. Third, glass lizards have scales on their bellies that look like little bathroom tiles, while snakes have wide rectangular scales on their bellies that help them move. Fourth, glass lizards feel “stiff” when you hold them, not fluid like a snake. This is because glass lizards have tiny little bones in their skin, called osteoderms, that snakes don’t have. And fifth, glass snakes are actually over two-thirds tail, which can be voluntarily shed by the lizard to distract predators. Even the largest of snakes, however, have only tiny tails, which can’t be shed like a lizard’s.

Despite the close appearence, the glass lizards are not really closely related to snakes – they are parallel.

And yes, glass lizards are burrowers. :> I have a bunch in my backyard, which occasionally are driven to the surface by heavy rains.

Do sea snakes leave the water to lay eggs or are they fully aquatic throughout their lives?

Yes and yes. :> Some sea snakes give live birth and never leave the water. Some sea snakes do lay eggs and must leave the water to do so.

Sea snakes are very closely related to the kraits, which are members of the elapid group, along with cobras.

Are there any reptiles still living that are as fully aquatic as sirenians and cetaceans?

The non-egg-laying sea snakes don’t leave the water. In many of them, the body has been so laterally-compressed for swimming (and they’ve also lost the big rectangular belly scales that other snakes have) that they can barely crawl on land and are utterly helpless out of the water.

There are a few other reptiles that spend nearly their whole lives in water (mud turtles and snapping turtles, for instance). But they must leave the water to lay eggs. Reptile eggs, unlike fish or amphibian eggs, can’t be laid in water – they’ll drown.

Info like this is much more interesting than who is the most outrageous fundie.

The outrageous fundies, of course, despite all their pious yammering about “the wonders of God’s creation”, very rarely KNOW ANYTHING about it. They are, for the most part, utterly completely totally absolutely pig-ignorant about life’s amazing biodiversity.

I find that ironic.

Comment #55103

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 3, 2005 9:41 PM (e)

It certainly is a intriguing question and one without a hard or fast answer.

What we need, of course, are more fossils. Alas, not only are snake fossils very very rare (the skull/skeletons are very delicate and fall apart quickly after death), but people who study them are also very very rare. One could probably count them on the fingers of one hand.

And I’m still sticking with the “aquatic ancestors” thingie. ;>

Comment #55118

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 3, 2005 11:42 PM (e)

My comment about the glass lizards had more to do with the genetic side of things rather than implying direct ancestry. In anycase, the key here is that the entire basis of the aquatic origin was the percieved close relationship between the snakes and varanids. This relationship however has not been borne out by the genetic studies. You can’t go from the snakes to the varanids without going through a host of other lizards.

Cheers
B

Comment #55160

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 8:19 AM (e)

But you still need to explain to me why none of the earliest known snake skulls had any modifications suggesting a burrowing existence?

Comment #55180

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 4, 2005 10:17 AM (e)

>But you still need to explain to me why none of the earliest known snake skulls had any modifications suggesting a burrowing existence?

Cylindrophis and Anilius do not have the heavily armored skulls and are fossorial animals. They don’t burrow deep like the blind snakes and prefer looser packed soil. So I don’t think the skull characteristics are hugely important in that regard. Turning it around, there is no evidence for basal aquatic characteristics.

Burrowing vs aquatic is one of those issues that, due to lack of hard and fast evidence, is somewhat dogmatic. It comes down to which camp you believe in. Lets line up the evidence. Here’s terrestrial, lets see the aquatic evidence you come up with and then compare the two.

Terrestrial:
- genetically the snakes are more closely to terrestrial lizards than a clade (e.g. varanoid) that includes highly aquatic species.
- middle ear of snakes registers only the sound wavelengths that travel well through ground, not wavelengths that would travel well through water. If an aquatic origin of snakes was the case, the retention of the ability to detect these wavelengths would be illogical)
- most basal snakes are fossorial and have a similar body plan despite taxonomic divergence (e.g. Cylindrophi, Anilius)
- the loss of limbs is not consistent with an aquatic origin since limbs (even limb buds) are useful in aquatic enviroments for steering.
- there is no evidence of lateral compression such as is found in the file snakes or sea snakes or other modifications for aquatic existance (heavy bodied boid fossils are irrelevant since the boids are a derived clade)

As a parenthetical aside, I am very much enjoying this exchange ;-)

Cheers
Bryan

Comment #55182

Posted by Chris Caprette on November 4, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

A few comments on the snake origins thread:

This statement is rather misleading, particularly the bolded portion:

Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry wrote (emphasis added) on November 3, 2005 09:26 PM:

“However, the evidence is certainly strongly supporting the fossorial habitat rather than the long favored aquatic origin.”

While it is true that the aquatic origin hypothesis suggested by Cope in 1869 was one of the earliest based upon careful examination of specimens, fossils in particular, it was never in favor. Rather, it was hotly debated for decades, with the burrowing-origin hypothesis becoming dominant by 1940 with the publication of Walls’ The Vertebrate Eye and Its Adaptive Radiation. Rieppel (1988) provides an excellent overview of the history of this debate. The only mentions of aquatic origins following Walls were few and far between (Rieppel’s review included) but authors in the primary literature, textbooks, and popular literature almost universally stated that snakes evolved from burrowing ancestors, until Caldwell and Lee (1997) published on Pachyrachis in Nature. Since Caldwell and Lee, the debate has renewed with neither hypothesis showing signs of being rejected soundly in favor of the other.

Additionally, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry wrote on November 3, 2005 11:42 PM:

In anycase, the key here is that the entire basis of the aquatic origin was the percieved close relationship between the snakes and varanids. This relationship however has not been borne out by the genetic studies. You can’t go from the snakes to the varanids without going through a host of other lizards.

Again, this is not accurate. The fossils supported relationships between snakes and varanoids, or not, depending upon the character analyses. The morphological evidence for snake origins is, at best, equivocal. Snakes are so derived with respect to all the other squamates as to make analysis of their relationships very difficult, even with the fossil data included. The spectacle (the transparent scale over the eye)is a perfect example of this equivocacy, with terrestrial nocturnal, burrowing, and aquatic vertebrates sharing this trait.

Alternatively, the burrowing origin hypothesis was supported by four lines of evidence:

1. because the extant basal snake taxa were burrowing, the ancestral condition must have been burrowing,

2. that the morphology of snake eyes unequivocally indicated a fossorial ancestor,

3. that the ear was derived under selection for reception of ground-borne vibrations,

4. that the phylogeny of snakes represented a morphocline from basal, burrowing forms that feed on many, small, arthropod prey to derived macrostomatan taxa that feed on few, large prey.

(1) is an assumption, and a poor one at that, particularly when fossils are studied, as nicely illustrated by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank’s post on this thread on November 3, 2005 08:29 PM.

(2) was based upon Walls study of the eye, and has its own problems, about which I’ve published a paper (Caprette, et al., 2004. Biol. J. Lin. Soc. 81(4):469-482).

(3) about the ear seems pretty solid, except that it is tied in with the remarkable feeding apparatus of snakes which is likely to have taken precedence over hearing and rendered the typical squamate ear ineffective.

(4) emphasized by Greene and Cundall (Science 287:1939-1941) seems like a good argument until you consider that the basal taxa are very derived and that position of the intermediate taxa (cylindrophines, etc.) is far from settled.

The only published genetic data recently were the “double-dipping” efforts of Vidal in 2004 (271(Proc. Roy. Soc. Biol. Suppl. 271:S226-S229, & Mol. Phylo. Evol. 31:783-787).

Those two papers don’t really address the ancestry hypothesis, despite the titles and the authors’ assertions, because they rely on the mistaken assumptions that the fossils and morphology do not matter at all and that genes are all that do matter. Moreover, if their analyses are to be accepted, then our entire understanding of squamate phylogeny (not just snake relationships) is incorrect and in need of revision. They didn’t even discuss that their molecular phylogeny places Iguania near the crown of the squamate tree, sister to Serpentes, and contrary to every other study, or that Amphisbaenidae and Dibamidae are no longer sister taxa in their arrangement, or Scincidae, Xantusiidae, and Cordylidae are in the same clade. All of those rearrangements are a big deal in squamate systematics but they chose to ignore them entirely in their discussion. If their data strongly indicated support for a terrestrial origin hypothesis for snakes, then they also strongly support those other arrangements (given the bootstrap and Bayesian posterior probabilities reported), and those are much more serious changes. Also, their phylogenetic arrangement clobbers Greene and Cundall’s morphocline hypothesis (4 above), but they failed to mention that either. The only thing that the genetics currently published speak to is the need for more data. Those Vidal papers were egregious examples of making inferences beyond what the data actually imply. The fact that the two papers were nearly identical, based upon the same set of data, and that the discussion in the second paper asserted “with the fact that a marine origin of snakes can safely be ruled out” referring to first paper was just flat-out galling.

The genetic data may resolve the problem, eventually, but it may not if snakes evolved from an ancestral taxon that was very derived with respect to extant squamate taxa. In that case, efforts to determine the relationship between snakes and other squamates will be very difficult even with multiple gene sequences, because of the accumulation of so many changes. And even if the genetic data nicely resolve the relationships among extant squamates, that says little or nothing about the ecological conditions under which snakes evolved. The morphology of fossils and extant species tell us something about the conditions under which those organisms evolved. The genes do not. One cannot perform a meaningful, detailed analysis of characters with just nucleotides, and the ‘Christmas tree approach’ to hanging morphological, behavioral, and ecological characters on a genetic phylogeny, advocated by some, is deeply flawed IMHO.

Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry wrote (emphasis added) on November 2, 2005 10:16 PM:

We have something coming out in Nature on lizard and snake evolution that will change our view of them forever, to be published through the advance online service on Nov 16.

Gee, not terribly humble are ya! ;)
Congratulations. I look forward to reading your paper.

Cheers,

Chris

Comment #55186

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 4, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Nice post Chris. What are your personal thoughts about the terrestrial vs aquatic origin? I think one of the inherent problems wth resolving the question is the extreme plasticity of the animals involved, both morphologically and in niches occupied. They are most inconsiderate that way ;-)

As for the ‘XMas tree approach being deeply flawed’, can you please expand upon that? It would seem that mapping characters over a robust genetic tree is more informative than making a combined tree which results in loss of resolution.

Cheers
Bryan

Comment #55218

Posted by Chris Caprette on November 4, 2005 2:52 PM (e)

Hi Bryan, thanks for the compliment. I’m not sold on either hypothesis, mainly because snakes are so derived in so many different features (like their morphology and niches as you said), but also because I suspect snakes may not be closely related to any extant taxon.

As for the ‘XMas tree approach being deeply flawed’, can you please expand upon that? It would seem that mapping characters over a robust genetic tree is more informative than making a combined tree which results in loss of resolution.

I’m not convinced the ‘total evidence approach’ is best either, at least not inherently so. I think the problem, and the solution, is with the fossils (as usual). The question comes up as to how to map fossil morphology on a genetic tree? One has to have a basis for the relationships among fossil and extant taxa if one is to investigate the contribution of fossil morphology. Yet we don’t have gene sequences for the fossils. If the genetic data provide a dramatically different arrangement of extant taxa than the morphological data (with or without the inclusion of fossil taxa), as with Vidal’s papers, then any morphological analysis including fossil taxa falls into doubt, particularly if the results garnered with genetic data are considered superior. How does one decide then where to map the fossil taxa since their hypothesized relationships to extant taxa are no longer supported? There no longer is a basis for saying a particular fossil taxon fits in a particular clade on the tree. Yet I don’t think it is valid to dismiss the fossil taxa either. They have to fit in somewhere.

Right now, I think the best approach with current methods is to do separate analyses of molecular, morphological, behavioral, and ecological data and a total evidence analysis, and then compare the results among all the different analyses. One can trace the hypothesized steps in each analysis to look for common pathways to functional solutions - not simply make a consensus tree, but to trace the morphological (or behavioral, or ecological, or genetic) changes hypothesized by each of the different data types. Usually, the trees aren’t totally off and those common pathways or solutions might be revealing. If nothing else, you probably end up generating a bunch of fun hypotheses to test! Ultimately, I think a different way of studying molecules, EvoDevo, will solve the problem. The developmental processes link the genes and morphology and may inform us about the morphological patterns we see in the fossils. Once we understand how the morphology develops, how the instructions for particular body parts interact, and how those particular developmental genes evolved, we can interpret the fossil data with more confidence. I think Cohn and Tickle’s paper (Nature 399:474-479) was a good start.

Chris

Comment #55260

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 4, 2005 6:59 PM (e)

> thanks for the compliment.

No worries. You obviously have a bretter grasp of the literature than I do. The terrestrial vs. aquatic origin of snakes is very outside of my area of research (which is venom evolution) but its something I find interesting (actually anything to do with snakes I find interesting, I’m always on the look out for more knowledge about them. Anything that shows that they are even cooler than I previously knew is good in my book. I’m not hung up on one hypothesis or another. The aquatic origin seems very illogical since no aquatic lineage of lizard has ever lost its limbs but fossorial lizards have undergone limb reduction or loss on multiple occasions.

> I suspect snakes may not be closely related to any extant taxon.

That of course is the entire problem with such deep time questions. Particularly when lineages like serpentes, iguania and anguirmorpha have undergone such rapid radiation and diversification.

As for the XMas tree approach, I agree that when dealing with fossils things are complicated. However, I am bewildered why people, when studying extant taxa, insist on doing combined trees rather than mapping physical characters over genetic trees. Iguania are a great example, by assumed relationships of morphological characters (some of which were decidedly ambiguous) they were placed at the based of the squamate tree. However, genetic evidence showed them to be much more recently derived. Vidal’s paper in this regard certainly upset a few applecarts.

Cheers
B

Comment #55262

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:20 PM (e)

- genetically the snakes are more closely to terrestrial lizards than a clade (e.g. varanoid) that includes highly aquatic species.

I’m not so sure of that, but I’ll concede it for now. There are still a number of anatomical traits that snakes share with varanoids…

- middle ear of snakes registers only the sound wavelengths that travel well through ground, not wavelengths that would travel well through water.

I think that has a lot to do with the way snake ears are arranged – after all, few animals of ANY sort hear with their jawbones. And, most snakes don’t depend on hearing to any great extent anyway – it’s not even certain that they detect sounds at all, beyond vibrations transmitted through the jawbone. Hence, the wavelengths that they can detect best may have more to do with which wavelengths travel best through bone, not on what travels best through ground or water.

- most basal snakes are fossorial and have a similar body plan despite taxonomic divergence (e.g. Cylindrophi, Anilius)

As I noted, certainly genetic data indicates that current burrowing species are closest to the earliest genetic stock. That does not mean, however, that these early ancestors were themselves burrowers. After all, modern burrowing snakes themselves have highly derived characteristics (skull and jaw architecture) that are different from other snakes (the uropeltids, for instance, have highly modified vertebrae to facilitate burrowing), and indicate to me that their burrowing habits evolved independently of other snakes, after they had already diverged.

As for body plans, they differ from group to group. Some have remnants of rear limbs and/or pelvic girdles, some don’t. Some have teeth on the lower jaw only, some have teeth on the upper jaw only, some have teeth on both jaws, some have lost nearly all their teeth. Again, this indicates to me that each of these groups took up a burrowing lifestyle independently, after they had already diverged from each other and from other snakes.

- the loss of limbs is not consistent with an aquatic origin since limbs (even limb buds) are useful in aquatic enviroments for steering.

And indeed, _Pachyrachis_ and other early aquatic snakes do have rear limbs.

- there is no evidence of lateral compression such as is found in the file snakes or sea snakes or other modifications for aquatic existance (heavy bodied boid fossils are irrelevant since the boids are a derived clade)

This would depend on how, specifically, these early snakes hunted. If they were swimming pursuers like sea snakes, then you have a point. If they were fat and lazy ambush hunters, like modern anacondas, then you would NOT have a point. :>

It may or may not be relevant to note that most of the earliest snake fossils were quite heavy-bodied.

As a parenthetical aside, I am very much enjoying this exchange ;-)

As am I. It’s not very often that I, an amateur, get to discuss paleo-herpetology with pro’s in the field. :>

Comment #55264

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 4, 2005 7:31 PM (e)

Ultimately, I think a different way of studying molecules, EvoDevo, will solve the problem. The developmental processes link the genes and morphology and may inform us about the morphological patterns we see in the fossils. Once we understand how the morphology develops, how the instructions for particular body parts interact, and how those particular developmental genes evolved, we can interpret the fossil data with more confidence.

It will also help clear up some of the taxonomic mess that snakes have become. Some taxonomists place the mole vipers with the true vipers, some place them with the colubrids, some place them by themselves. Some taxonomists place sea snakes in a separate group from the elapids (the hydrophiids), some don’t. Within the sea snakes, the egg-layers and the live-bearers are almost certainly two distinctly different lineages representing two different invasions of the sea, and almost certainly don’t belong together in the same group. Of course, the entire colubrid group is a garbage can containing everything but the kitchen sink. And where the heck does the _Loxocemus_ fit into all this? ;>

So it is to be hoped that genetic research will help us figure out who is related to whom. I’m quite sure that the young people who will figure it all out one day are currently watching the Crocodile Hunter on TV. ;>

Comment #55268

Posted by Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on November 4, 2005 7:52 PM (e)

>It will also help clear up some of the taxonomic mess that snakes have become.

Yep, some lineages have been complete taxonomical dumping grounds. Ranging from genus level such as Elaphe (which actually contained animals such as the radiated ‘ratsnake’ that turned out to be racers) to family (such as Colubridae which it turned out contained multiple family level divisions, some of which it turned out were much closer to cobras that corn snakes)

>Some taxonomists place the mole vipers with the true vipers, some place them with the colubrids, some place them by themselves.

This one has been resolved. The Atractaspis species (stilleto snake, mole vipers) are definately in their own family (along with some oddities that lack the advanced fangs).

>Some taxonomists place sea snakes in a separate group from the elapids (the hydrophiids), some don’t. Within the sea snakes, the egg-layers and the live-bearers are almost certainly two distinctly different lineages representing two different invasions of the sea, and almost certainly don’t belong together in the same group.

Yep, the sea snakes are simply very derived elapids. The Laticauda species (sea kraits) are genetically intermediate between Asian and Australian elapids while the true sea snakes are deeply rooted within the live-bearing lineage of Australian elapids. Interestingly enough, the two independent colonisers of the ocean have also secondarily remarkably streamlined their venoms, as is logical as they both have very specialised diets (fish).

Here is a link to a couple of our sea snake papers
http://www.venomdoc.com/downloads/2003_BGF_Colub…
http://www.venomdoc.com/downloads/2004_BGF_Seasn…
http://www.venomdoc.com/downloads/2005_BGF_Aipys…
http://www.venomdoc.com/downloads/2005_BGF_Aipys…

> Of course, the entire colubrid group is a garbage can containing everything but the kitchen sink.

This is slowly being resolved and at a family level things are getting nicely settled. Still much to do at genus levels and species are a complete mess for some lineages. What we are going through right now is a tremendous cleaning up period. The genetic evidence has been invaluable in this regard. The resolution of higher level taxonomical arrangements is allowing us to map the changes in venom over the advanced snake tree. Venom is a basal condition of the group. The only ‘colubrids’ that lack venom are those that have developed constricting prey capture techniques (e.g. the true ratsnakes) or have specialised diets such as eggs or slug. The other ‘colubrids’ all have venom. The reason it was overlooked so long was based upon the fundamental assumption that only the three lineages with advanced venom delivery architecture (atractaspidids, elapids and viperids) had venom, that fangs were required. What turned out to be the case was that venom came first and increased efficiency of delivery logically followed. This of course makes perfect evolutionary sense since there can’t be a selection pressure for the development of advanced dentition in the absense of something worth delivering. We have even sequenced cobratoxins from the radiated racer: http://www.venomdoc.com/downloads/2003_BGF_alpha….

>And where the heck does the _Loxocemus_ fit into all this? ;>

Here’s a link to the EMBL page on them
http://www.embl-heidelberg.de/~uetz/families/Lox…

Cheers
Bryan

Comment #55537

Posted by Carlos on November 7, 2005 3:21 PM (e)

I am waiting for the Chutes n’ Ladders version.

Cheers
Carlos