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Featured A cat showed the path to understanding evolution

Discussion in 'Evolution Vs. Creationism' started by Vancouversailor, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. Vancouversailor

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    The whole debate about creation vs evolution was a bit vague to me for many years. I did notice that some people were quite fanatic about taking the bible literally and rejecting the idea of evolution, usually the same crowd that to this day denies there is any manmade global climate change occurring, or who insist that the world is 7000 years old and any scientist who says that they have human made artifacts older than that is a liar who will burn in hell..
    The whole issue became a lot clearer to me some years ago. I had taken in a new cat, or should I say kitten, a beautiful long haired black and white one. Before the time came to take her to the vet for vaccinations and a checkup I had noticed that oddly enough this cat, in contrast to other cats I had owned, had five toes rather than four on each paw.
    I might mention that this occurred while I was living in Norway where I grew up.
    So at the veterinarian, I pointed out the extra toes this cat had and asked if that was something to worry about.
    The vet smiled and said 'absolutely not, you are the proud owner of a genuine descendant of the Norwegian ship's cat'. She went on to explain that during sailing ship days Norway had one of the largest sailing ship fleets in the world, with captains and their crew often spending years at a time criss crossing the globe and hauling cargo between different ports. An essential component on the vessels were the ship's cat or cats. They were used to chase down and contain rodents that otherwise could dig into the ship's food supplies. They would also provide companionship for those sailors who happened to like cats.
    She went on: 'As you know, cats are not very fond of water, in fact they will go to great lengths to not get soaked. And up on the decks of these sailing vessels it was understandably easy to get soaked. Often the cat's only escape was to climb up the rigging or masts to seek high ground. Over time some cats in adopting to these challenging conditions found themselves with litters of kittens that were born with five instead of the standard four toes, giving them an edge when clawing their way towards the top of the masts.
    And over time, which cats do you think had the best survival rate when high winds and huge waves swept across the deck of these ships? You guessed it, the five toed ones.
    Eventually modern times arrived, the sailing ships were decommissioned, and crews went ashore, often bringing their favorite cat with them home. These mixed with the general cat population, and every now and then somebody brings me a cat with five toes and asks if they should be worried! No I tell them, your cat has inherited the Norwegian ship's cat gene!'
    Well to me, that made the process of evolution perfectly clear.
     
    #1 Vancouversailor, Feb 17, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
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  2. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    And to this there are a lot of "fanatics" who would reply "But it isn't a change of species! Show me a change of species and I will then have something to admit to." Though, even if it came down to a species having changed to the point that it could no longer breed with its ancestors, these people would still find something to cavil about - guaranteed.

    But what their minds just can't fathom is the incredible amount of time, and incredible number of generations we're talking about when we say a creature model changed significantly in this vein. The 5-toed cat happened in just a relatively short span of time - just imagine what longer spans of time could produce given certain pressures, and given that the "evolving" organism is cut off from its original "kind" (much like these ship's cats). It amazes me that there are so many people that refuse to grasp these concepts. Time and an isolated gene pool under different survival conditions is literally all it takes.
     
  3. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva
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    [sarcasm]
    Evolutionista drivel! Everyone knows Allah made cats with 4 toes... and like we would believe old Norhoovian wives tales... err, toes...
    [/sarcasm]


    What's to add? Adaptation, adaptation... adaptation... I guess the silver lining about the Creationists is that they are a dying breed and will eventually be eradicated from the gene pool.
     
  4. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    But, WHY are there STILL MONKEYS then?
     
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  5. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member

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    Nice story. Could you check if its true? I am a bit guarded about confirmation bias.

    Cats, mongose, civets etc. are originally excellent arboreal predators and half of the mammalian species live on trees or through dextrous burrowing underground. None have ever evolved 5 toes. If such a thing could be so easily adaptive, I would have expected one mammalian species in the last 100 million years to go that route. None have.

    Wikipedia says that the spread of many toed cats happened as the trait developed in some sailing ports and were picked up by sailors and transported elsewhere. It would be interesting to do an actual experiment to see if they do confer any additional climbing and acrobatic capability. I suspect that it was a case of deliberate selection by the sailors as they were "different".
     
    #5 sayak83, Feb 17, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  6. rusra02

    rusra02 Well-Known Member
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    Good advice. Remember those vestigial organs we had all over our bodies as holdovers from evolution? Turns out they are there for important reasons. Remember junk DNA? Uh, maybe not junk, after all. Equating intelligent design to fundamental creationism is similar to equating scientific discoveries of the cell to the speculative theory that life evolved, IMO.
     
  7. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member

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    Yes well, evolution is undoubtedly true as seen from the tons of evidence many of us have posted time and time again and debunking most of these arguments again and again. Go to the relevant threads...
     
  8. FearGod

    FearGod Freedom Of Mind

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    And if longer then their body will change and evolve wings.
     
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  9. Vancouversailor

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    For the same reason that there are still cats with four toes, fish, amphibious reptiles and those donkeys that most creationists have evolved from.
     
  10. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    They can't afford to grasp them. Just consider the stake they have in the source of their belief in creationism. For them, if the underpinnings of creationism can be shown to be false then what of the faith they have in the other claims of the Bible---as they read it?


    .
     
    #10 Skwim, Feb 17, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
  11. Guy Threepwood

    Guy Threepwood Mighty Pirate

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    Do you think that a cat with one extra toe, adequately demonstrates how a single cell can morph into a human being, by purely accidental mutations in it's design?

    Also- do you take your cat sailing !?
     
  12. Guy Threepwood

    Guy Threepwood Mighty Pirate

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    Belief in Darwinism is about 19% in the US according to Gallup, after 150 years... not a terribly convincing theory apparently!
     
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  13. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Oh great.....another creationist who thinks evolution = atheism.

    What an odd phenomenon.
     
  14. Vancouversailor

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    The answer is yes to both questions.
    Also, we are not talking about a cat (as in 1) with 1 extra toe. We are talking about potentially thousands of Norwegian ship cats, each with four extra toes, one on each paw! And as another poster pointed out, that single cell has had millions and millions of years to evolve into a human being, while the evolutionary process that created the five toed ship's cat took a mere 100 or 200 years, a drop in the bucket in the history of life on planet Earth,
     
  15. Guy Threepwood

    Guy Threepwood Mighty Pirate

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    Argue your your point up with this guy!

    It's certainly a tempting extrapolation... it would give us an apparently very elegant, comprehensive, intuitive mechanism to account for all the observations. Very much like classical physics used to.. the idea that the diversity of physical structures must be guided, by deeper, hidden forces, specific instructions pre-determining specific outcomes, was once 'religious pseudoscience'.

    My dog could use that extra toe though, he falls overboard a lot... but then he probably likes swimming a little more than your cat!
     
  16. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    It says rather more about Americans than the theory.....
     
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  17. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    ????????????? You're the one who selected the 19% from the Gallup poll who agreed with the statement "humans evolved, but God had no part in the process", and tried to pass that off as "belief in Darwinism".
     
  18. Guy Threepwood

    Guy Threepwood Mighty Pirate

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    That too, a tradition of independent inquiring minds, the reluctance to accept received wisdom as gospel, has served us well
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  19. Vancouversailor

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    I would second your point. America is the only country I know of where teaching creationism in public schools is still an issue. But then, Americans are the lot who elected George W, Bush jr. and Donald Trump as president, so I guess we need to give them a pretty broad latitude, intellectually.
     
  20. Guy Threepwood

    Guy Threepwood Mighty Pirate

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    Well we can't all be as intellectually superior and refined as Canadians :D

    [​IMG]
     
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