there's a cool 7.5 trillion waiting for you scientific minds out there:
$7.5 trillion for a 'transitional' fossil?
Palaeontologists: this could be your lucky day. Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar has just offered ten trillion lira - a mouth-watering $7.5 trillion - to "anyone who produces a single intermediate-form fossil demonstrating evolution".
In the years before I joined New Scientist I dabbled in Jurassic sea urchin evolution and I think one of my new genera fits the bill nicely - for those who are interested, it provides an elegant transitional form between the very first so-called "irregular" sea urchins and the cassiduloid urchins that still exist today.
Others have suggested Tiktaalik roseae, a late Devonian lobe-finned fish with unusual appendages that are transitional between fin and leg. Its discovery in 2006 added an important piece to the jigsaw of tetrapod evolution.
So, will Oktar cough up? Unlikely. You might call the problem the Sorcerer's Apprentice syndrome. Poor Mickey Mouse found out that every time he chopped up one of his magic brooms, the problem doubled as each half sprouted new legs and continued its duties.
Palaeontologists everywhere can sympathise with Mickey's plight. When a seemingly large evolutionary gap is plugged with a remarkable new fossil, as happened just the other day with the discovery of a new primitive turtle from the Triassic, it just leaves two smaller gaps on either side. Now, instead of one gap in the fossil record there are two, and creationists argue that the fossil record is, paradoxically, even worse than it was before the new discovery.
Is there any hope of satisfying Oktar? The answer is yes, but perhaps only if you look at the fossil record of tiny plankton. How about this transitional series in Orbulina forams? There are literally trillions of forams in the oceans. When they die and sink to the sea floor they remain undisturbed for millions of years, offering palaeontologists a complete set of intermediate fossils.
Colin Barras, online technology reporter
Be a good sameritan and give me one or two million would you? Seeing as I brought this ez bundle of cash to your attention.. Copa?
Edited by Noteaph, 14 October 2008 - 09:58 AM.