Monday, 25 June 2012

Nessie, Plesiosaurs and Creationism

It seems Nessie has been brought into the creationism/evolution controversy and the usual invectives that get hurled about ... are getting hurled about. The original story is here but the point is that the creationist teachers presuppose Nessie to be a plesiosaur which is seen as a proof against evolution. I suppose the argument is valid to some degree, plesiosaurs died out about 65 million years ago and if they are found today that would mean dating techniques based on these "key" fossils would be weakened.

But I am not sure that holds since the good old coelacanth was found to be alive and not extinct in 1938 but I do not read of that upsetting paleontologists' dating of rocks/fossils (and I presume most zoologists would be delighted to find a live plesiosaur still swimming around today's oceans). What the creationist Christians need to find is not a live plesiosaur but a fossilised plesiosaur with a fossilised human in or near it. That would upset the scientific apple cart no end, but to date no such thing has been found .

The other problem regarding this theory is that Nessie is not a plesiosaur - or certainly does not act like one. The alleged body shape is similar but that is just about where the similarities end. I would take the personal view that she is not a plesiosaur, sturgeon, catfish or giant eel but something akin to a fish-like amphibian or an amphibian-like fish. It was discussed somewhere else that perhaps Nessie is a highly adapted plesiosaur which does exhibit Nessie-like behaviour, in which case the animal is probably as different from the original as a lemur is from a human and hence irrelevant to this current topic.

Whatever the creature turns out to be, I do not think it will have any bearing on the creation-evolution debate.


  1. It's also interesting how cryptozoologists fulminate against creationists as it reminds me how zoologists fulminate against cryptozoologists!

  2. I will say this much for Nessie, she sure keeps us guessing. It can only mean that they are unique creatures.

  3. I would also add that I try to maintain a hopefully healthy scepticism against the "scientific method". I have no problem with the general theory of it but unsurprisingly it is in practise implemented by imperfect humans. In other words, too often the politics and sociology of that time can influence progress for better or worse.

    And then we have the vested interests of the "incumbents" who tend to oppose paradigm shifts. For example, Einstein's theory of general relativity was not universally accepted by even well trained scientists.

    So when people bring science against the Loch Ness Monster, I say "what kind of science" since not all forms of science are of equal worth.

  4. I try to maintain a hopefully healthy scepticism against the "scientific method".

    Do you go to the doctor when any of your family is unwell, or do you take magic woo-pills?

    When your car breaks down do you call the AA, or roll out the prayer mat?

    1. What about the pregnant mothers who went to their doctor for some Thalidomide?

      Nothing should be taken as dogmatic. Also, I did not mention magic or religion when declaring a degree of scepticism. You assume someone who doesn't bow deeply enough to Science is a superstitious fool?

    2. I tend to think about it like this. If all the knowledge available was represented by every grain of sand on this planet, mans combined knowledge would be equivalent to one single grain of sand. A certain amount of scepticism is essential to many areas of scientific research. For example, experts are still at loggerheads concerning global warming and they have plenty of data available. Having the data is one thing, interpreting it with accuracy is another matter. And on the subject of visiting a doctor, medical science is unsure of the actual cause of many diseases and is only able to treat the symptoms, not actually cure it.