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Apologetics Press :: Sensible Science

Of Mice, Then Men?
by Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

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The cover adorning the May 25, 2001 issue of Science is a little atypical. A small skull, a paperclip, and a little creature that greatly resembles a mouse, are all located on the lower right-hand side, and the rest is blanketed in white. This attention-grabbing cover is heralding the latest “link” discovered in the reptile-to-mammal evolutionary chain. Discovered in Lufeng deposits of Yunnan Province, China, this little creature has been designated Hadrocodium wui (Luo, et al., 2001). “Hadro” is the Greek word for fullness, and “codium” is Greek for head, referring to what these researchers believe is the very large brain capacity relative to the skull. Wui comes from Dr. X.-C. Wu who was responsible for the holotype discovery. The authors are quick to point out that this is “certainly the smallest mammal yet discovered in the Mesozoic” period (p. 1538). While we do not know how artist Mark A. Klingler determined the multiple colors, ear size, fur length, and fur texture (all from a fossilized skull!) for the reconstruction displayed on the cover of Science, we do know that this diminutive little creature is causing gargantuan problems in the evolutionary timeline.

Evolutionists consider the last 65 million years of Earth history (the Cenozoic Era) the “age of the mammals.” This discovery, however, pushes the appearance of mammals back into the early Jurassic Period. In a perspective review of the Hadrocodium discovery, André Wyss stated: “Meticulous anatomical and phylogenetic analyses by Luo and colleagues reveal that Hadrocodium diverged before the appearance of the most recent common ancestor of the monotremes [egg-laying mammals, e.g. duck-billed platypus—BH] and therians [placental and marsupial mammals—BH]” (Wyss, p. 1497). From a “family tree” perspective, evolutionists believe that humans, along with all other mammals (such as elephants, moles, bats, whales, cats, dogs, pigs, camels, etc.), descended from this paperclip-sized creature. Wyss goes on to say that, based on “evolutionary novelties such as three middle ear bones and a lower jaw composed of a single bone,” this new find clearly belongs before the divergence of monotremes and theria, but after “their nearest living relatives, the reptiles” (p. 1497).

Luo’s data indicate that this mouse-like creature is the earliest known taxon that lacks “primitive attachment” of the middle ear bones to the mandible, and that it possessed a sizable brain vault (suggestive of a large brain). This allegedly extends the first appearance of these modern mammalian features back some 45 million years earlier than first hypothesized by evolutionists. One of the features that has posed a formidable obstacle for evolutionists is the relatively large cranium of the Hadrocodium. The authors of the paper admit “on the basis of the allometric scaling of a large sample of living and fossil mammals, the brain vault of Hadrocodium is larger than expected for mammals of its comparable skull width and far wider than in any other Triassic-Jurassic mammaliaforms” (p. 1535). The reason this poses such a problem is that many current living animals display a proportionally smaller brain vault than Hadrocodium. This could only mean that relative brain size has decreased over time! Evolutionists are adamant that one of the reasons humans bypassed their ape-like ancestors and succeeded in becoming the dominant life form on Earth is because our brains enlarged, allowing us to use tools and adapt to bipedal locomotion. However, this latest find indicates that brain size started out quite large in these “early” mammals and subsequently has shrunk!

Furthermore, evolutionists believe that the mammalian ear evolved from a reptilian ear via a “postdentary bone” that was attached to the mandible. This would require the three little bones in our inner ear (incus, malleus, and stapes, a.k.a. anvil, hammer, and stirrup) to “migrate” up to their current position in the petrous-part of our temporal bone. Evolutionists believe that this migration was facilitated from animals that, at one time, possessed a jaw composed of two bones—one of which remained the jaw, and one of which helped the ear to “migrate north.” To support this hypothesis, evolutionists have tried to document this transition in the fossil record (see Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ). Hadrocodium, however has turned their beautiful step-by-step evolutionary flow chart into a myriad of chaotic dilemmas. According to to evolutionary theory (based on an animal they refer to as Peramus, allegedly 155 million years ago), the mammalian ear was not completely through migrating north until the late Jurassic Period. Evolutionists need the millions of years throughout the Jurassic Period to demonstrate a migration of the ear to its present-day location; however, Hadrocodium already had everything in place in the early Jurassic Period! How can an animal possess a fully working mammalian ear if it is still supposed to be evolving? The answer, of course, is that evolution did not occur. Hadrocodium was created along with all other animals during the six days of creation around 6,000 years ago! Clearly the chain that evolutionists have set forth to establish a lineage of reptilian-to-mammalian traits has links so poorly out of place that even high-powered welding will be unable to meld those links back into place.

REFERENCES

Hunt, Kathleen (1997), “Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ; Part 1B,” The Talk.Origins Archive—Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy [On-line], URL: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional/part1b.html.

Luo, Zhe-Xi, Alfred W. Crompton, and Ai-Lin Sun (2001), “A New Mammaliaform from the Early Jurassic and Evolution of Mammalian Characteristics,” Science, 292:1535-1540, May 25.

Shubin, Neil H., A.W. Crompton, Hans-Dieter Sues, and Paul E. Olsen (1991), “New Fossil Evidence on the Sister-Group of Mammals and Early Mesozoic Faunal Distributions,” Science, 251:1063-1065, March 1.

Wyss, Andre (2001), “Digging Up Fresh Clues about the Origin of Mammals,” Science, 292:1496-1497, May 25.



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