Monday, August 01, 2005

Creationism and Bisonalveus browni

My post on Solenodon and Bisonalveus browni has been linked to by a creationist (as has Pharyngula's)
You can also go here, here and here to get more info on the fossil. A picture of the venom delivery groove is below.

I was somewhat perplexed at first because the creationist titled his post "Killer Mice" - I thought he was talking about the albatross eating mice that has been all over the web. Then I read the post and man, oh, man is it a stinker.

Our creationist says:
Fox believes B. browni's teeth most closely resemble the solenodon's, but are still "unlike any venom-delivery system sported by living mammals."

The link is to a New Scientist (subscription only) article. The abstract qoutes Fox thusly:
According to Richard Fox and Craig Scott of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, the grooves are unlike any venom-delivery system sported by living mammals. But they are similar to those of a poisonous snake called the boomslang (Dispholidus typus).

Boomslangs are a species of venomous snakes that have fangs placed more posteriorly in the mouth than say rattlesnakes or cobras. Boomslangs have grooved fangs to deliver venom.

Why assume the grooves conducted saliva? And why assume the saliva was poisonous? Sure, it's possible, but to find a few fossilized teeth with grooves and conclude decisively that the mammal bit "like a snake," is throwing your own opinion in.

Because of their relationship to the salivary glands, because of knowledge of comparitive anatomy - which tells us grooves of this type exist for a reason.

Finally we get this:

Venom is, in my opinion, a product of the Curse which God pronounced on His creation in Genesis chapter three, following man's rebellion. It likely became more and more common as genetic mutations multiplied, and animals lost resistance to certain types of poison.

Leaving aside the fact that this sounds like god is punishing all of creation for the the sin of two - which hardly sounds just - lets examine this in more detail.

"...animals lost their resistence to certain types of poison" If venom only came into existence after god's "curse" then why did animals need resistence to it?

"It likely became more and more common as genetic mutations multiplied..." Actually, this is not the way it works. If mutations multiplied creating venom then natural selection would create resistence in animals not reduce it - kind of like antibiotic resistence in bacteria, for example. I mean if you are going to spew the standard creationist microevolution line for the orgin of venom at least try and understand how microevolution works.