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  Columnist: Taylor Reints

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

What would happen if Nessie was discovered ?


Posted on Monday, 23 July, 2012 | 11 comments
Columnist: Taylor Reints


The Loch Ness Monster has received a lot of press recently, due to a bill in Louisiana which gives students state voucher money to attend private schools; of which some have an irrational curriculum (called Accelerated Christian Education, or ACE) stating that Nessie disproves evolution (and so do living dinosaurs, the second law of thermodynamics, the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted–among other falsehoods), even though it has never even been discovered. But what if the Loch Ness Monster was discovered? Could this have implications on evolutionary theory?

First; however, I would like to clear up some confusion. ACE science books claim that Japanese fishing boats caught a dinosaur. This image is probably what they’re referring to. In this image, a boat hauls up a rotting carcass. It does look awfully like a dinosaur, doesn’t it?* In actuality, there is a better explanation, and ACE was too lazy to do some basic research. If you Google the words “Japanese dinosaur”, one of the first results will be of an article by paleontologist Glen Kuban that examines what the carcass found in Japan is. Based upon the anatomy of the carcass and the number of sets of amino acids in the muscle, it was concluded that it was a basking shark, the second largest fish living today. Subsequent studies have yielded the same results.

Now, on to the matter. What if dinosaurs were real? What would happen if Nessie was discovered? Would evolutionary theory be affected?

It is believed by many scientists that the reason humanity is here right now is because dinosaurs went extinct sixty-five million years ago, which allowed mammals to uprise. The largest mammal during the Mesozoic was no larger than one meter in length and thirty pounds, about the size of the European badger. This is because all of the niches were taken by other animals, including dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were the apex carnivores, herbivores, omnivores of the time. Some dinosaurs were even insectivorous and piscivorous. So many mammals had to be nocturnal creatures, and remain small enough to hide in burrows during the day. Shortly after sixty-five million years ago, mammals diversified and grew larger because, after the dinosaurs died out, many niches were left empty and were there to fill. If non-avian dinosaurs were discovered, would that disprove evolution?

To put it bluntly, no. Dinosaurs hiding from us that don’t affect human evolution are completely different from cosmopolitan dinosaurs with extensive range that can affect our evolution. If a dinosaur was found on a South American plateau (like in Conan Doyle’s novel The Lost World) that was remote and they’ve been in hiding for the last sixty-five million years, would that affect mammal and human evolution in the slightest? As said earlier, no. The only way living dinosaurs could really touch our evolution is if they were widespread, like in the Mesozoic (age of the dinosaurs). But if they were widespread, we would have discovered them already.

The same rule doesn’t apply for the Loch Ness Monster, but there is a similar one. Since Nessie is alleged to be a marine creature (never mind that there a few land sightings), they could be widespread in the ocean and not affect our evolution. Humans were never aquatic in their recent evolutionary history (the aquatic ape hypothesis has been falsified) so if Nessie (assuming it is a surviving plesiosaur) was living today, there would be no holes in evolutionary theory, as ACE claims.

Footnotes

* ACE probably meant that it looked like a plesiosaur, a prehistoric marine reptile. However, don’t be fooled–a chicken is more closely related to a dinosaur than a plesiosaur is.

Article Copyright© Taylor Reints - reproduced with permission.



 
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