Creation Factsheet No. 13: Sea Mammals
Factsheet No. 13
THERE are about 118 species of sea mammals, including the cetaceans (whales and dolphins), the sirenians (manatees and dugongs), and the pinnipeds (seals and walrusses). One thing about which both creationists and evolutionists would agree is that all sea mammals are perfectly designed for their aquatic lifestyle. However, there is a great difference of opinion regarding their origins. Evolutionists have to believe that sea mammals have evolved from land-dwelling mammals, because according to their theory all mammals have evolved from reptiles which had taken to life on the land after having themselves evolved from amphibians. Sea mammals, they say, have 'gone back to the sea'.
Three theories but no proof
Creationists argue that the specialisations found in sea mammals show intelligent design and could not possibly have evolved gradually. They also point out that there is no evidence for an evolutionary origin of the sea mammals, a fact which many evolutionists admit, as evidenced by the following quotations: 'We have no certain knowledge of their origin [the cetaceans], for the oldest-known fossils from the Eocene are already unmistakably whales.'1 'For all we know about them, the porpoises and whales remain an enigmatic group whose early history still lies hidden in the remoteness of geologic time.'2 'We are ignorant of their forebears [cetaceans and sirenians] and cannot be sure of their place of origin.'3
This lack of evidence for the land ancestry of sea mammals is further reinforced by disagreements over which land mammals they are thought to have evolved from. Some authorities, (e.g. National Geographic magazine), claim they evolved from hoofed animals similar to cattle, some claim they evolved from a wolf-like stock, while others suggest they evolved from a dog-like or bear-like ancestor. This difference of opinion proves there is no real evidence for either view.
A few years ago a scientist named Philip Gingerich claimed to have found the fossil remains of a 'walking whale', and a science magazine accompanied his report with a reconstruction of this creature, labelled Pakicetus.4 But what had really been discovered? Just a skull and several teeth! How, then, could the 'walking whale' description be justified? Gingerich claimed that, since the fossils were found in sediment which had once been part of a seashore or riverbank, this creature had lived near the water. Conclusion: it must have been a walking whale! Leg bones? 'It is possible that we will find some', said Gingerich, 'but we will be lucky if we do.'5 So much for the 'walking whale'! Other so-called missing links are similarly unconvincing.
In view of the complete lack of fossil evidence for the tremendous changes necessary to change a creature from a terrestrial to an aquatic mode of life, it seems very na?ve to claim that the numerous specialisations found in sea mammals have been acquired through gradual evolution. Consider some of the amazing specialisations found in the whales, claimed to be the most 'highly evolved' of the sea mammals. Most obvious, perhaps, is the complete lack of hind limbs. Although it is sometimes claimed that whales have the remnant of a hind leg-bone, only the Right Whale has such a bone, which is not a limb-bone anyway. (It is noteworthy that the sirenians, which supposedly evolved later than the whales, have no trace of such bones).
Serenians have no trace of the supposed vestigal leg-bones
Then there is the whale's blow-hole, a very convenient way for these sea mammals to breathe without having to go above the surface. Evolutionists claim that the nostrils have 'migrated' to the top of the head. A major modification of the skull would be necessary to move the nostrils from the normal snout position to the top of the head, and the earliest whale fossils show the blow-hole already in that position.
Mention must be made of the ingenious apparatus with which the female whale is equipped to enable her calf to suckle without imbibing sea water. The mother actually pumps milk into the calf's mouth, using special muscles in her teat. Furthermore, whales have what one evolutionist describes as the 'special arrangement' whereby the larynx is elongated into a tube that is inserted into the nasal passage to prevent sea-water entering the windpipe when the whale opens its mouth to feed. Finally there is the amazing sonar system which enables cetaceans to communicate and locate objects by means of sound waves and echoes. To send out and receive these signals, whales and dolphins have specially constructed sinuses and hearing organs.
In view of these and other facts about the sea mammals, together with the complete lack of fossil evidence for their evolution, it is surely more logical to conclude that 'God created the great creatures of the sea.' (Genesis 1:21).
- L. Harrison: Natural History of the Whale, p. 23.
- Forest G. Wood: Marine Mammals and Man.
- Alfred S. Romer Vertebrate Palaeontology (University Of Chicago Press, 1966) p. 339.
- Science Digest Nov-Dec. 1980, p. 25.
- Reference 1, p. 115.
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